2001 XLT D44-SAS | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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2001 XLT D44-SAS

Ok, I'm going to start this thread since I'm hoping to be done with this by the end of September.



Ok, those were the pretty pics...then I cracked the cover off the pumpkin-







The thing had a ton of water inside...no gear oil came out, only water...

Now the questions for all you axle Gurus...

I can rebuild this no problem right?

Are the axle tubes sealed from the pumpkin, or did the water travel down the tubes?

I'd appreciate any opinions on this cause when the water came pouring out I got disgusted and put the cover back on...I'll have at it again tomorrow and start stripping it down.

From what can be seen- any ideas on what would have to be changed right off the bat?

Or am I looking at a total rebuild?

I want to swap out the knuckles and spindles for 5-on-5.5, they're hard to get here...any body know anyplace in Jersey or PA that I could contact and secure some F150 knuckles and spindles?

Opinions would be greatly appreciated!!

Particularly since I'm hoping to pick up the springs this weekend. :D

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Ok first off i will remind everyone about the golden rule of diff buying.... TAKE THE COVER OFF FIRST!!!!!!!!!

Well with that outta the way

I can rebuild this no problem right?


Are the axle tubes sealed from the pumpkin, or did the water travel down the tubes?

There is a seal on each tube but you cant see it without removing the carrier..... by the looks of it that diff spent a long time submerged in water

From what can be seen- any ideas on what would have to be changed right off the bat?

Or am I looking at a total rebuild?

The gears maybe be ok but every seal race and bearing needs to be replaced...

First remove the large nut holding the pinion yoke on then take the yoke off then the outter bearing, you may need to jam a bar in the carrier to stop it from spining when removeing the pinion nut just be carefull not to damage the spiders....

Take the main bearing caps off DONT MIX THEM UP they need to be re-installed exactly as they came off as they are line board, so scribe or stamp each end so they dont get mixed up.

The carrier can then be pop'd out, it maybe stubborn but the caps are the only thing that holds it in.

Once the carrier is out the pinion should slide right out, if not grab a piece of wood and a hammer and tap the yoke end gently.

That takes care of the gear removal.

You will need a long chisel or bar to remove the races in the pinion hole, just make sure not to damage the housing where the races are.

Save all shim's, races, bearings in order so the guy who put's it all back in saves a bit of time and when it comes to gear install time = money.

Get emery cloth a tooth brush and some varsol or paint thinner and start cleaning the housing, soak the gear set in thinner atleast overnight and use a wire wheel to remove the rust..... they are good as long as its only surface rust and comes off with a wire brush, any pitting and they will be noisey running and prone to breakage.

Richmond gear and percision gear make master overhaul kit's that include everything from shims to slingers i highly recomend richmond gear, so does NASCAR :D

Dont freak out, my F150 D44 was in the same shape plus once apon a time the carrier had exploded and blew holes in the cover (they welded em closed and ground the welds smooth, thoughtfull of em eh?), plus one of the axle shafts had been welded back toghether in 2 places.... buyer beware LMAO

Any more questions?

This link may make things a bit easy'r fer ya http://www.off-road.com/ford/bigbroncos/tech/dana44/

What vehicle did that axle come out of?

I'd replace everything. Unless those are 4.56 or lower gears, I don't see the point in keeping them.

Cool plans and all, but I almost puked at first sight of those pics!:eek:

I sure hope that axle was free, esp being a waggy. That's a rough start.

When I built my last D44, I stripped the entire housing including all seals and ball joints and took the housing to a driveline shop to have it hot tanked. That stripped absolutely everything to the bare metal. You can do that with grears if you plan on keeping them. Ours was almost as bad as yours but we took the sacrifice because it was a EB with disc brakes

P.S. Very nice bumper.

Actually, it's out of an 82 Grand Waggy. I hadn't planned on keeping the gears since I figured I'd put a locker in it and that pretty much kills worrying about the gears.

The Locker replaces the entire carrier?? Right?

That also means I'd be changing the pinion gear also...if I go with a more applicable gear ratio??

I've been doing a lot of research and although I've read tons of stuff...I'm still a little unsure about some things when it comes to the axles.

I'm going to try and rebuild it myself.

Nope, wasn't free...it cost me 2 bills, final sale. I went for it because first of all I planned to totally rebuild it- I'm putting it into a 2001 and I'd rather not have to deal with problems over a long winter...which is why I'm planning on getting this done right from the start.

You gotta understand- when it comes to doing stuff like this in NYC--> you're screwed! You gotta make due with what you can get.

I SEARCHED junkyards in Brooklyn, Bronx, anyplace I could find and that what the only axle I could come up with.

I could have gotten a full-width from the F150, but then I'd have to get it cut down.

I went looking for knuckles and spindles to swap to 5-on-5.5 and the only option local was to buy an axle out of an F150 pickup for $500.

Anybody know of a place I can order knuckles and spindles from for a reasonable price?

Thanks for the link and the info- I'm gonna call on Monday and order the kit.

I got a 2 week window in September...I'm going to try and rebuild the axle before that and knock out the SAS then.

Thanks, I think that bumper will look good once it's up there w/35s...I'm gonna try and get something similar together for the rear...

By the way, I truly appreciate the replies!! Thanks guys!

I'll do some searching, pretty sure I can get a good set for you for fairly cheap.

Could've had a Waggy axle in great shape shipped to you for slightly more.

I look at it like this- with the expertise on this board, I should be able to get this together no problem.

If I rebuild it myself, I'll know it was done right, I'll know exactly what is in it, how it was put together, and what every little piece does.

When it is all done and I've taken that first drive- I'll be able to pat myself on the back. :D

And when I post the pics on the board for my bragging rights- I'll be able to both thank you guys for the assistance and curse you for getting me fiending in the first place. ;)

Every time I go outside and pull an extension cord out all the neighbors come over and ask- what the f^%k are you doing now!

They all think I'm crazy...wait till they see it roll out of the garage after this!

They'll be like:

He's freakin burnt! :D
Holy ****e!! :eek:
Damn!! :p
That looks sweet!! :cool:

Originally posted by NOTAJP
I'll do some searching, pretty sure I can get a good set for you for fairly cheap.

Could've had a Waggy axle in great shape shipped to you for slightly more.

I wish I'd have known...I put a wire wheel to that things exterior for about an hour just to clean it up...haven't painted it yet so I'll hit it with the wire wheel again before I do.

I'm trying to time painting so I don't waste the gallon of POR15 I got. I also got a quart of the Gloss Black Chassis Coat from them...I figured it'd look nice under there. :)

I'd definitely appeciate if you could find some knuckles AND spindles I could get shipped here quick- if not I think I'll just deal with setting up the axle with whats on it for now- get the 5-on-5.5 adapter for the rear to even it out and for when I can get some knuckles...and try not to get a flat.

But I'd rather get it all done one time- job done, finished!

Where did you get that front bumper from? Tha looks very cool...

Not to sound like a total *******, but...

I really think you need to do a LOT of reading BEFORE you go on any further or befriend a mechanic qualified to rebuild axles.

From how things sound you really don't know what you are doing or where you are going.

Just some helpful information.

1) When you change to a different gear ratio, you need to replace the ring gear and the pinion.

2) You can get lockers that replace the entire carrier or ones that replace the spider gears.

3) Gear install is NOT something that should be attempted without any prior knowledge or without someone who has done them, with the proper tools standing by your side.

If I were you I would take the axle somewhere when it is time to get the gears/locker installed and pay them to set it up correctly. This is an area where precision is absolutely neccessary.

This goes out to you and everyone else for that matter.

I strongly suggest you start reading up on SASs and suspension design. That kind of modification is something where your life and the lives of your passengers depend on the quality of your fabrication.

When you are in over your head, please step back and get help from someone who knows what they are doing.

Don't become a statisitic because you want to claim to have done all the work yourself.

The bumper is from Trail Ready, I had to have steel plates welded to the end (front) of the chassis to make it fit.

I appreciate the heads up Cory, but to be honest, although I have no experience with 4x4 technology ie. drivetrains, t-cases and gearing...and haven't done any "real" work on a vehicle in a little over 10 years I pretty much play stupid because no matter how much you think you know somebody always knows more or if they've got experience...a better way to do it.

I used to rebuild antique autos at one time- granted it was a long time ago, but I've worked (major work) on Auburns, Cords (30s)...old Impalas (50s), in fact a lot of different 50s model vehicles. Most of the stuff I've done has been simple stuff like timing chains, lifters and pushrods, valve adjustments, engine/tranny swaps, rewiring, cutting body parts to rebuild rear body structures...

I'm not totally inept, just a little lacking in the area of 4x4 drivetrains.

I work seriously whacked out hours, and although I sat home most of the year-to-date on my azz while getting paid a full salary- that's coming to an end.

So I'm faced with doing this within the next month, month and a half or waiting till next year- I'd just as soon do it now. No time like the present.

Don't mistake the fact that I can't get **** for support up here where I'm at for being an idiot...my first stop after picking up the axle was at a machine shop.

Their song and dance was- oh geez that's a job and a half...you're looking at some major bucks- c'mon now I'm not stupid- the axle isn't even under a vehicle.

I know when you change out the carrier for a locker and going for a different gear ratio you're looking at changing the ring and pinion gears.

I've read plenty of information on it, I'm well aware of the fact that you have to measure every little part of the install when putting in a new pinion. I think I said that in the post...

Everybody has to start somewhere...

And seriously I do appreciate the help...insight, comments...I take it all in.


check out some EB boards for knuckle-outs.
That's how I had to get mine, to do my disc brake swap (I didn't wanna use chebby parts)
and you being in the states, you shouldn't need to worry much about shipping costs (around $200 USPS to Alaska :( )

Originally posted by Hotweels
Here ya go... $50 a piece just fer knuckles.
Shop around and you can get em cheaper.

Cool! They're in Michigan so shipping shouldn't be too bad...

I forgot all about that site...I was looking at Parts Mike and that was a little on the pricey side...

I'm gonna give JBG a call today. Thanks!

be careful with Jeff's Bronco Graveyard, they have a bad rep going for them. And I know I will never buy from them again.

Looks like you've got a start here, are you the one that's going to be doing the welding and fabbing of brackets?

I'm anxious to follow this through.

People on this board are here to help, but like Cory said, this is major stuff here.

Even though i had Cory do mine, there are still things that are going to need to be tweaked and things that will need adjustment. But you've been asking questions for a long time here, so i'm sure you'll find you way through it! Good luck.

Just incase--is there a shop around you that could do the work if you get in to deep?

Talk to these guys down in Philly http://www.upnover.com They regeared my axles for 250 each labor + cost of the gears and install kits. Nobody in NYC will come close to that. The closest I got was 500 each + cost of gears and install kits. Not to mention they're good people, when I had a problem that was my fault they totally sorted me out no problem. I've set up gears in a 44 before and without a bearing press it's not worth it, I wouldn't do it again. I take it you're going leaf setup? Honestly if I were you, I would throw an Atlas in there before the 44, you'll get 20 times the bang for the buck in your current setup with a Atlas than a 44. Gears are everything, worry about articulation later.

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I am going to be doing the fabrication myself, actually I've been hunting and came across a few sites that have some real nice spring hangers- they're plain, basically original equipment replacement, but beefed up a little...I've got so many damn links bookmarked for info pertaining to the SAS it takes me forever to find stuff.

I figured I'd go with the hangers I found and integrate them into the crossmembers I'm going to be putting together.

I've already got the springs...nice packs, if they don't hold the weight (I think they will) I'll take them to the shop that did my rears and have them beef them up some more...they did a real nice job on the rears, good shop, good people.

I'm trying to stay away from doing anything directly under the engine, support wise, in case I've got to do a timing chain in the future...so I'm going to try and do something like what Lizard has in the front and something integrated with the rear hangers, if it won't interfere with the front shaft under compression.

I priced out 4.56 gears for the front and rear, along with an ARB for the front...I totally forgot about the locker for the rear when I was on the phone...but I'll just tag on another $6XX.

I'm going with the ARB since I've already got a 150psi air pump (cut-off set to 110, plenty for the ARB) and 1.5 gallon reserve tank hooked up for the air horns...all I'll have to do is T-off to pressurize the ARBs. I'm going to put a larger reservoir in after I get the spare out from under the truck.

The plus is the ARB runs as an open carrier when it isn't locked, which is what's there now...the Detriot is a ratchet type about $100 cheaper than the ARB, but I think I'll forgo the ratcheting and chirping tires on turns...

The Atlas II is a definite...I was figuring on getting that from Cory...but I was kinda hoping, and here's a question for you guys-

Can the AWD T-Case run without a front driveshaft??

If I can run without a front driveshaft for a while, I can run to Philly have them do the rear and leave the D44 front and pick it up the following week...that'd be cool.

Plus, I've got to swap out the knuckles, caliper brackets, spindles, hubs, rotors from a Ford to get the 5-on-5.5 lug pattern, I can order and drop the parts along with the rear, oh and- the outer shafts, the inner are the same...then I can use spacers to even out and run with one spare istead of two...

I'll have to run without a front shaft for about a month though, if the AWD T-Case will run like that...the lockers, gears and master rebuild kits for the front and rear are going to set me back about $1,800...now tag on the 5 bills to get them done.

I don't know, but a couple of places I talked to said rebuilding the axles and swapping the gears wasn't all too tough of a job...a little work, but do-able, if you have patience.

The shop I went to told me about the same thing to rebuild the front~~$5-$600...IF they didn't run into any problems...yeah ok- that's like saying prepare to dig deeper! Or that the axle is about to get screwed!

There is a shop here that'll do the SAS work, they won't touch a leaf setup, they'll do coil, for about $9,000 just for the swap! :eek:

Thanks for the help guys...I'm hoping this comes together real quick! But correct! :D