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XJ Dana 44 Axle Install

Author: ThePhantum

In the first part of this write-up, I described the tear down of a Dana 44 axle out of a 1987 Jeep Cherokee. The second part described the preparation for installing the axle in my 1997 XJ. Follow along as I install the "new" axle.

This was pretty much a bolt in job, but axles are not exactly light and I was doing this by was not too bad though.

I started by jacking up the Jeep, chocking the front wheels and using jackstands to support it at the "frame." The tires were then removed and it was time to start unbolting stuff. First the shocks were disconnected at the axle. Then, the e-brake cables were removed at the frame by loosening the tension nut until enough slack existed to remove the cable ends from the housing. This was followed by removing the drive shaft at the axle yolk (tape was used to keep the cups from falling off the u-joint while it was disconnected).

At this point I decided that I should probably start taking pictures. You can see all of the above disconnected in this one.
Rear Axle
Next the rubber brake line was disconnected from the hardline at the body (I put a can down to catch the fluid as it dripped out of the line). Then, the bolts on the diff cover were loosened and a catchpan was used to drain the fluid out of the diff.

Now it was time to get ready to drop the axle out. First, a jack was placed under the diff to support it.
Support the old axle
Then the u-bolts and nutplates were removed.
Remove the u-boltsRemove the nutplates
At last the old, bent, POS 8.25 was dropped out of the Jeep. The drums and brakes were removed to extract the e-brake cables for re-use.
Remove the old axle
Now it was time to install the new axle.
Prepare the new axle for installation
This was kind of an adventure lining it up on my own. What I ended up`doing was getting it under the Jeep using the floor jack and then setting it on jackstands. I would then shift it around on the stands and reset the floor jack. After a couple of resets I finally had it lined up and installed the new u-bolts/nutplates as well as the shocks and connected the driveshaft and brakeline.
Line up the new axle
Now, it was on to the e-brake install. The parking brake is incorporated into the caliper. You can see in this pic where the parking brake cable goes. The cable runs through the spring and connects to the lever.
Parking brake cable
This step could not be skipped as the rear calipers adjust off the parking brake. The rear calipers utilize a one way clutch inside the caliper pistons. When the parking brake is applied the clutch senses when there is .030" or more clearance between the friction material and the rotor on the inboard side. When there is more than .030" the clutch turns inside the piston adjusting it out keeping the rear brakes adjusted. If the parking brake is not set every time the Jeep is parked, it will start to lose brake pedal (low and spongy) and the adjuster mechanism will not work any longer.

Although, it sounds like it was really just a matter of installing the cables onto the was a bit more than that. The springs on the stock cables have to be removed as they will bind up with the system on the GM calipers (which was a PITA to do). In addition, the stock, drivers side cable is just barely long enough to reach from the frame to the caliper when the axle it at full droop. It will no longer reach when I lift the Jeep further, so I will eventually need to have some longer ones made.

The`final step was to bleed the brake system. Since most of the fluid had dripped out of the main line, first I used a vacuum pump to draw fluid back to the calipers. I started on the passenger side which is furthest away from the master cylinder. While constantly checking the master cylinder fluid level, I used vacuum to keep drawing fluid until no more air bubbles were present. I then did the same for the drivers side.

Install the finished axleNext, since calipers (especially rears) have all kinds of crevices that can trap air, it was time for a gravity bleed. To do this I removed the caliper from the bracket, then holding the caliper so that the flex hose was going up hill and the bleeder screw was at the top, I opened the bleeder and tapped the caliper with a rubber mallet a few times to knock any air loose. This procedure was repeated for the drivers side.

After one more, quick bleed with the vacuum pump (and filling the diff with synthetic gear oil), it was time for a test drive. There is a noticeable increase in stopping power, although the pedal was a bit lower then it had been. I'm going to keep an eye on how the rear pads wear over time to determine if I can bring the pedal up by adding some residual pressure.

Proportioning feels fine and there are no weird pulls or anything, even under hard/emergency braking.

Overall, I am very happy with the I just have to git 'er offroad!

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***DISCLAIMER - Please note that this writeup reflects my experiences only and anyone using it for reference or as a guide, etc. does so at their own risk. You may link to this writeup, but you must obtain my permission to re-post it elsewhere.***


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