Dana 44 Front axle tech for the DIY axle builder.
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The Basic - facts and definitions
1) Caster Angle:
Caster Angle is the amount of tilt through the centerline of the ball joints or king pin in your front axle. As seen above it is measured looking at the side of the vehicle with a POSITVE value being a tilt to the rear and a NEGATIVE value being a tilt to the front. In most situations on a lifted/modified vehicle a caster angle of +4 to +6 degrees is ideal. Factory specs on Dana 44’s have been anywhere from 0 to +7.5 degrees.
You set the caster at the knuckles when you do the cut and turn
2) Camber Angle:
Camber Angle is the tilt in the tire left to right when viewed from the front. With a solid axle like a Dana 44 the camber angle is fairly fixed. When doing your cut and turn it is essential to get the inner knuckle back on the axle tube as square as possible to keep the camber angle stock. Most Dana 44 axles should have 0 degrees of camber. If you do find that it is not correct you can get tapered camber shims that go between the outer knuckle and the spindle.
3) Pinion Angle:
Pinion Angle is the angle up or down that the input flange/input yoke is pointing. 0 degrees would be straight out and parallel with the ground. UP 5 degrees would be pointing up 5 degrees from parallel with the ground. Having the right pinion angle is very important if you want your driveshaft u-joints to survive and to help eliminate vibrations as you drive. With a standard non-CV driveshaft you want your pinion angle to be equal and opposite of your transfer case output angle (i.e. If your transfer case output equals 4 degrees DOWN your pinion angle should be 4 degrees UP). If you have a CV driveshaft you want your pinion angle to be pointing directly at/a few degrees below your transfer case output. In a cut and turn you set your pinion angle by using spring perch degree shims, moving spring perches, moving your coil spring pads, etc.
4) Inner ‘C’:
Also called the inner knuckle, inner yoke or steering yoke. It is the cast ‘C’ shaped part of the axle that is welded to the axle tube. It is the portion of the axle that you remove and rotate in the cut and turn.
5) Cut and Turn:
The common name for rotating the inner ‘C’ by cutting the weld out and rotating the ‘C’ on the axle tube.
SOA is the acronym for Spring Over axle swap. It is the process of taking an axle where the springs mount under the axle tube and converting it into an axle where the springs mount over the axle tube. A cut and turn is almost REQUIRED when doing a SOA swap.
RS is the acronym for a Reverse Shackle setup. A reverse shackle setup is when you place the swinging shackle on the front leaf spring of a vehicle at the rear of the spring. Many vehicles came from the factory with a front hanging shackle but ride and handling can be improved by going to a reverse shackle arrangement. Doing a RS will almost always require a cut and turn as pinion and caster angle will be changed dramatically when you move the shackle to the rear of the spring.
8) Outer Knuckle:
The outer knuckle commonly used to describe all of the parts that attach to the inner knuckle/’C’. The steering knuckle, spindle, hub and stub axle are all commonly called the outer knuckle.