My main goals for the rear axle were to:
1) Be a full floater
2) Have disc brakes
3) Common enough to find gears/lockers for it
So that narrowed the field down to the 14 bolt, Sterling, and rear 60 axles. All of these have their strengths and weaknesses. The big selling point for all of them is that they’re cheap and plentiful and more than strong enough to handle a lighter rig.
The draw back to the 14 bolt/Sterling’s is that the huge center section. Its not uncommon for people to shave the heck out of them to regain some of their lost ground clearance. This is not so much of an issue with the Dana 60 as the center chunk is smaller, and more than sufficient enough to “hold itself together” for my application.
It took a few tries to get a good 60. Most of the issues came from a lack of knowledge on my part as to what to look for on these guys.
The first Dana 60 I got was part of the package deal when I bought the Dana 44. Everything looked ok on the surface, but once I dug into it, things turned ugly where the spindles were trashed from spun bearings, and lots of water had made its way into the housing
The second D60 I picked up looked pretty good on the spindles and inside the housing. However, once I started to clean it up, the tubes had some significant rust damage (thanks Midwest rust!). So That wound up getting scrapped as well (lesson 2!).
Axle number 3 came out of a ‘99 E-350 van that a friend had bought for his project (he later wound up going 14 bolt so this axle was taking up space). ’99 was a changeover year to the metric bolt pattern. Thankfully, I got lucky and this is one of the early ‘99s as it has the standard 8×6.5 bolt pattern.
As an added bonus, it already had disc brakes from the factory. Unfortunately, it did not have the calipers (which weren’t cheap!). This is actually a Dana 60U, the U denotes a smooth bottom of the pumpkin. The axle also has the larger through bore spindles, so if I find myself snapping the 32 spline shafts, I can upgrade to 35 spline shafts without the hassle of boring out the spindles. It also has the larger (and thicker?) tubes over a standard Dana 60.
I picked up the Ruff Stuff Dana 60/70 swap kit as I was feeling kinda lazy and didn’t really want to fab up the leaf perches. Plus what Dan charges for some of this stuff, it isn’t worth it to make it myself. Pre fabed stuff means projects go faster
Eventually I’ll weld it onto the axle after I get the doubler installed so that I can set the correct pinion angle.