Could someone please school me on Solid Axle Steering (Leafs | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Could someone please school me on Solid Axle Steering (Leafs


Well-Known Member
May 12, 2009
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City, State
Austin, Texas
Year, Model & Trim Level
99 Explorer Sport
Ok so I am set on getting myself a leaf sprung D30 under my front end sometime as soon as I can afford. I want to do leafsprings for sure, not a huge coil fan, what I was thinking, let me know if I am wrong because what really confuses me on solid axles is the steering. I am thinking if I get a spring under D30 out of a YJ I could use all of the steering on that axle, all I would have to do is convert the axle to SOA and slightly modify the steering to get the angles right. Really if someone could explain all of the different steering terms and what the hell flat top knuckles are and where you get them, etc. I would really appreciate it.

Thanks, Chase

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Search for dana 30 sas leaf.

There is so much information out there to the questions you are asking.

Read, read, and read for days through every piece of information you can find on here. That's what I did to accomplish my sas.

So here is a Spring Under Axle


Notice how the drag link and tie rod are above the springs. So there are no issues.

Once you SOA.. that drag link will need to go under the passenger side spring if you were to use the stock knuckles. So that's when a flat top knuckle with high steer arms is desirable.


A less desirable alternative is something silly like this:


All pics and info below are for a HP (High pinion) meaning when viewed from the side the center line of the pinion gear is in fact higher up in the case then a non HP housing. Now this means also that the pinion engages the ring gear on the stronger side of the gears which is highly favorable. And it also put the drive shaft higher up off the ground for better clearances from obstacles when off roading. This axle and all associated pics are from a 1979 HP Dana 44 which is a much sought after axle. It has the strongest axle tubes of all the front 44s....1/2" wall thickness on tubes, great for strength and all the associated welding that will be done. The axle is in fact in my Chopped top Bronco 2 The complete build can be seen in the Bronco 2 section. Plus there are others thee that have done or doing the same.


First of all here is a knuckle, this is the passanger side that has been modified, more on that later.


Here is a pic of the driver side knuckle that comes stock drilled for a High Steer arm. That's the curved cast part that is bolted to the top of the knuckle.
The stock curved part will be replaced later.
The passanger does not come with the flat top cause the steering hooks up differently on that side.
This will be explained later.


Again the drive side with the stock curved steering arm removed. This will be replaced with a High Steer kit that I bought from Ballistic Fabrication.


Those studs need to be removed so new studs can be installed to hold the high steer arms on. They can be really stubborn to remove.

Here's a trick that's better then anything on the market for removing rusted fasteners. A combination of Acetone and automatic tranny fluid. Mix 1 to 1, note how the fluid separates in the jar, do not use plastic it can dissolve it. Make sure if you do use this trick to mix it up until cloudy then apply and let set over night.


Then the usual cleaning of the threads so you can get some good accurate torque numbers.

Now here is where it gets tricky, again let me say that this is all on the above mentioned 79 D44, but a lot of it can apply to your situation. But I will say this, If you can find one a 44 I would suggest using it over a 30 especially in a heavy truck.
Since the passanger side does not come milled and drilled for a high steer arm, and does not come with enough metal to properly drill and tap, you need to find one. Most people use a Chevy knuckle for this that bolts right on I believe and has enough metal.
What I did was completely different and do not recommend it to anyone other then someone that knows how to go through all the procedures for welding on cast iron. But I'll go ahead a do a brief tutorial on how I used the passanger side knuckle and might note that it has stood the test of time.


Here is a highly modified passanger side knuckle that has been milled for a High Steer arm. Like I said above the knuckle does not come with enough metal on the top to drill and tap adequately to clamp on the arm.
So what i did was to post heat the arm and then build the right hand side of the knuckle with a high nickle composition welding rod. I needed about 1/4" more area on this side. After welding I covered with an insulation blanket to contain the heat, I even gave it some more heat along the way with a propane torch and let it cool slowly.


Next was that I did not like the way it had a structural flaw in the design and added a gusset on the side with all the same pre and post heating welding techniques. And then the top was milled flat.
Now if you do mill a driver side knuckle flat do not mill flat with the top of the bushing hole, you need to do the same angle that is on the driver side.


Here I'm measuring the driver side angle of the new arm and will transfer this to the passanger side knuckle.
Note the slight angle milling of the Ballistic arm, it come this way from Ballistic. This is done to compensate for the angle in the top of the knuckles. Remember what I said about the angle of the milled knuckle. This helps in the strength of the TRE also. I used Chevy K20 TRE on mine and have great strength and working angles.


And here is the middle hole layed out on passanger side with the added welded on part to the right, can't even tell it's been welded.
But like I said, I do not recommend the modifications that I did. But I have confidence in my welding and the way it's been reinforced that it's stronger then stock.


Here is a High Steer Modified D44. Note the same a shallow angle on the track and drag link. Paid off in no bump steer and handles like a dream on the road.
A tremendous amount of time and work went into that including the fact...where is the stock engine brace that goes under the engine?
Even though this is a 44 and not a 30, a lot of it is the same terminology and work required. Hope I explained a few things.
Once i go to the d60 up front, a lot of it still is the same working format.

Thank you very much for explaining this for me, The only real reason that I wanted to go with a 30 was because it has the same bolt pattern, and width. Eventually I want to go to 1 tons, but for now I just want to get rid of the IFS and have leafs up front. So for steering basically you just have a tierod that runs the length of the axle tube connecting both wheels, and a Drag link that connects the tie rod to the steering box. Are those all of the links, I see sometimes another bar that my friend has on his jeep, I think its called a panhard or something, what is the purpose of that and is it only for coils. Thanks alot, Chase

On my suspension with coilover suspension, I need a panhard or some call a track bar to keep the axles located laterally under the truck. Or with out it the truck would just tumble over :eek:
The high mounted link running parallel is the High Steer arm which is great for getting that link high above obstacles and clearing leaf springs and also puts the drag link which is the one that comes off the Pitman arm at a better operating angle by lessening the angle. The more angle the more crappy steering you have as the up and down cycling of the body wants to push the axle further to the side as opposed to a more flattened angle that does not push as hard.
Then the furthest link in the rear is my panhard bar. If you can get angles like this you will have a good working streetable driving truck. Now there's a whole lot more to it then those angles.

Just hold a pencil in your hands. Left hand holds the point and the right hand holds the other end. Now with your right hand holding the pencil about 2 inches higher then the left. Start moving the right hand straight down about an inch not on a arc. You notice that the left hand side gets pushed outward. Now do the same thing with the right hand only an inch above the left side. Then move down an inch, you notice there is not as much sideways push. I like to call that movement the dwell time of the link. Just like a piston once it nears top dead center the movement of the piston is slower at that point even though the crank is still turning the same. Did I loose you.
So with leaf springs the springs them selfs center the axle.

But what I woud do is spend a few hours reserching and this would only be the tip of the iceberg. Check out other sites also.

Ok, you did not lose me, that makes much mores sense, I always thought solid axle steering was really complicated because there were so many links but its actually pretty damn simple. I am going to do some more research for sure and hopefully start scavenging parts here in the next 6 months or so. Thanks alot for taking the time to explain all of that it really helped.


ya deffinately good explanations. im going coilovers if i can get the parts made. no matter if i do or not, i would like to do this for just 6 inches of increased high.

Hey Rookieshooter, is that last photo of the completed dana44 the one from the rocky mountain website write up? I would love that exact setup. Since im just looking to be able to go anywhere during MA blizzards, and occasional offroading only to camp at remote sites.

No it's not on that site but it has shown up on others. But good luck to you guys if you decide to come over on the Dark Side.

Im just fighting for this tech job. If i get it. I can start saving. If not ill still make it by but wont be able to do anything to the truck.

I'd Love to do a Leaf sprung Sas on my Navajo , I See it Being Easier To Do Fab Wise For A First Timer , But Also I Seen What Bryan Bmxking5 Did with the Full Width Hpd44 and 9" Rear With Coils and Radius Arms on his First gen Sport and that Thing looked Tough ! , I Would Only Want 8" Of Lift Maybe , I Have Roughly 5.5" Now And its Taller Than most Wranglers Around me , But Would Love The Full Width Sas with Fiberglass Fenders !!