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Mini-Spool in a Dana 44?

After some unexpected down-time... I got some repairs and improvements done on the CJ. One of which, is a rear traction aid device. In my case, I chose to install a mini-spool. Available from most any reputable gear supplier, mine is made by YUKON. I had much to consider on this, most of these are mentioned below.



Things to consider in reference to a Locker or other traction aid:

My answers:

In short order, I began making lots of phone calls and internet resarching. I looked at lots of comments made by people with limited slips and lockers of various makes. I didn't Run into really anyone who had installed a spool. Well, I kept it up, finally calling the guys at Randy's Ring and Pinion. I asked for the price on a mini-spool. I like the idea of simplicity. Use the original carrier. No pressing of bearings... no setting backlash and gear pattern.

I got the surprise when the gave me the price. $101 delivered. I got it a week later. Simple little piece. Since the CJ was already on jack stands, I removed the cover and gear oil and drums. Since the backing plates are on teh axle shafts between the flange and bearing, the brake lines must be disconnected. I went ahead and removed the brake shoes and springs. A little metal cover was removed from the flanges and the 6 nuts holding the backing plates and seals in were removed.

Draining the DIFF:

This is the mini spool. All 4 pieces of it.

I did a test fit... just to be certain.

The axles slide right out. No big fuss. I took this oportunity to inspect the bearings. They were fine. I then jumped down to remove the carrier. Mark the caps for "left" and "right" in some form or another. I was gonna used white-out, but it didn't work. I still have "M-NU" which is an enamel, so I used it. Lynn (J.U.) remined me to put this in here. ;-) Next, remove 4 big bolts and a bit if a pry with a long screwdriver, and the differential(herein refered to as "DIFF") slipped out. I immediately went into the shop to removed the guts. I had taken a DANA 35c apart before and was able to remove the spider gear pin without removeal of anything else. Not on my Dama 44. The ring gear must come off. I removed the bolts and the gear slid dowm onto the rag I had luckily placed on the top of the vice which was holding the diff still. (not on the bearings)

With that done, I looked to the spider gear shaft. Dana 44's have a drift pin which holds the shaft in. I found a tool to drive the pin out (old drill bit). Once it was out, I still had to use a soft solid item to drive the shaft out! Upon inspection, I found the shaft worn excessively. This would not do. It's bad enough to have a worn shaft in there, but the fact that there was the possibility for more stress on the diff and shaft made me worry.

I called Randy's back. They sent me a "heavy duty" shaft... I believe it is for a Power Tax". It arrived and was quickly taken to the shop.

I went ahead and removed the spider gears by swinging them out and the side gears, simply lifting them out. There are shims on back of the side gears, so make sure they come out. Next, I installed the side "gears" for the spool. They fit in perfectly. One side goes in first. I think it is the side that the ring gear is on. A clearance problem... As I type this, it has been a month since I put the thing together...

Now put the square center pieces in. This is easy to figure out. They go in with the tapered parts OUT. If you get it backwards, it won't spin back into place. Once in position, the shaft goes in. This is where I installed hte new "H/D" shaft. It was a tight fit. It actually shved off a bit if meatal in the diff as I GENTLY guided (hammered) it into place. I took the time and fore-thought to align the hole for the pin and made sure it was pointing in the right direction.

Now the ring gear can be installed. Evenly. Carefully. Once the bolts are torqued down, you can now clean the unit for assembly. I poured a bit of gear oil on the bearings before reassembly. I used the soft side of a 2x4 between a hammer and the diff to guide it into place. Next, I put the caps on and tordued them down properly. I ran around the Jeep and grabbed the axle shafts. The bearings had been cleaned already, so I repacked them and slid the shafts home. As I torqued way, I found that the axles wouldn't spin freely. (?!!!) Well, it turns out that the new spider gear shaft is marginally thicker. It pushed the axles out slightly causing the side stress on the backing plates. This was remedied by using a good grinder to remove some of the material on the end of the shafts. Not much... just enough...

I got that done and got the shafts in. Backing plates on, brake lines on, shoes and springs installed and the parking brake cables hooked up. Once the case is cleaned, I put some universal blue RTV on the cleaned diff cover and the case. Sealed up and filled with gear oil.


ROAD TEST! I pulled out and tore the already deteriorating road apart. I ventured on to the church parking lot which was empty and made a few sweeping turns. i imediately felt the load on the engine and the suspension when turning sharp. Even the mini-spool with a bit of slacka nd the loading/unloading of the springs caused a "chirp-chirp-chirp" to be emitted by the inside rear tire. Whith a little gas, the "chirp" became a "SCREEEEEEEE"....
With that, I whipped it into a ditch and crossed the axles up a little. At the angle I was at, this would have required the Tcase in low and front locked in to traverse. Went right through. No spin.

I'll have more on this as I get the CJ worked out. Until then... PARTY ON!!!

October 31, 2001
Well, it's been a few weeks. Here's what I got to share with you:
On the road, it seems to track exactly the same as it did prior. There doesn't seem to be any "pushing" in normal turns at highway speeds. You can feel the Jeep lean a bit more than it used to at lower speeds in a turn. The CJ has never had a sway bar, so I do have something to campare it to.

When making tight turns, the springs bind a bit... I can hear the poly bushings creaking, and then they unload and begin to chirp, or squeal a bit. If you drag the clutch and start a turn with minimal throtle, the Jeep tends to bounce a bit. I've already gotten used to it. The wife doesn't mind it either. She is considerated enough to take the "longer way" to the house at late late hours to keep noise down. Between the loud exhaust and the chirping tires... :)

Offroad: Sweet. I drove all over the fields at my in-laws. It was dry (:() but I did back it into the pond for kicks. Most everything I did was in 2WD out there. I've drivne up steep inclines. ditches and some steep ledges where the fields are higher than the dirt road. All in 2WD. It's pushed up and over. That's what I got for now.