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Dana 35/ 44 hybrid simplified


New Member
January 7, 2011
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Starkville, Mississippi
Year, Model & Trim Level
'94 Explorer Sport
I have been meaning to do this for some time, but just now getting around to it. A couple of years ago, I was interested in modifying my Dana 35 ttb with the Dana 44 ttb outers and spent a good deal of time scouring the internet, only to discover that for most of these applications, one needed a machine shop, a grinder, and a machinists degree to work it out.

Eventually, I bit the bullet and began assembling parts for the conversion. Having acquired the necessary 1985 F150 outers from my local pick and pull (I took a saws-all and cut both of the 44 beams behind the ball joints after removing the axle shafts), and new wheel bearings, shaft bearings, seals, and 44 upper and lower ball joints, I drove my project to a friend of mine that had a machine shop and explained to him what I hoped to accomplish.

After some discussion, we began tearing things down. It was then we made the discovery of the holy grail of information that all of those that had gone before had failed to notice. Specifically....

The top explorer ball joint is the same diameter as the top ball joint in the 44 knuckle.

The lower 44 ball joint shaft is only a little wider than the explorer ball joint shaft.

Sooo... we bolted the upper ball joint from the explorer in the Dana 44 knuckle, and the we bolted the 44 ball joint in the Dana 44 knuckle. Then we took a ream and reamed out the lower hole a bit on the dana 35 beams so that the lower 44 ball joint would fit. Then we bolted everything up. I turned the tie rods ends over to fit the 44 knuckles, mated the 44 outer stub shafts to the 35 inner shafts, slipped them in, and set about bolting up the spindles and hubs. I kept all the alignment shims originally used in the 35 beams, and except for having 44 outers, it is still factory, so if I need parts in the future, they will not be an issue. I even got some of my money back when I returned the two upper ball joint for the 44.

All in all this is not as complicated as it has been made out to be.

I used two front brake lines from an early 80's f250 (straightened out a bit) to accommodate things better, and split a rubber hose to wrap around the brake lines, secured with zip ties, just in case something rubbed. I also cut just above the holes where the lines affix to the shock towers, and bent them down for a little more clearance.

If i could discover how to post photos, I would show you the finished product.

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Did you get any measurements on how much wider it made your front end? and any chance of getting the part number or size of the taper you used? thanks I advance.

Did you get any measurements on how much wider it made your front end? and any chance of getting the part number or size of the taper you used? thanks I advance.

I want to say that the total width is around 56 or 57 inches. It is just a little narrower than my rear 8.8 axle. What we did was to get a good cutting taper from NAPA, and a BIG drill. We stuck the tip in the bottom hole and ran the drill a bit. Then we stuck the lower 44 ball joint in the hole and saw where it fit. Through this method of cutting and measuring, we were able to obtain the proper size hole for the ball joint. Then we marked the taper and drilled the other side.

So, I too have been digging into this swap. The one detail that is shady to me is how to do the upper ball joint. To use a D44 upper ball joint it sounds like you need a custom camber adjuster as the D35 hole is slightly larger than the D44 hole. I’ve read where some just run the D44 adjuster. They must be able to take up the slack with the pinch bolt?
You installed the D35 ball joint into the D44 knuckle, are those the same diameter?
Is the D44 ball joint beefier?

He said he used the "d35 alignment shims" so I'm guessing he used the camber bushings from the 35 and used the word shim to confuse us .

This is amazing news . I'm definitely going to try it .

I had to modify my wheel bearing spindle nuts to get them to stay tight. I still have to check my hubs way more than I'd like to so ill be doing this in the future .

Oh and I also had to tac weld my alignment bushings to my beams just to keep them from spinning when running them hard in the desert. So if I have to do that to the d44 to keep them in there its no skin off my back .

That is some quality intel right there. Uncertainty about the reaming is why I only did D44 spindles vs the entire knuckle swap.

Went and messed around in the garage and re-read the threads I bookmarked a few times. There's two ways to do it. The method described here uses the upper D35 balljoint in the D44 knuckle. Ream the lower hole as usual and use the D44 balljoint in the lower. Re-use the upper alignment cam since it's still a D35 balljoint.

The other method uses BOTH D44 balljoints. That one requires some clearencing on the upper balljoint mount on the beam to get the D44 camber adjuster in there. D44 camber adjusters fit in the slot just fine but the top of the crown isn't flush like the D35 adjusters. Maybe you could do some fine clearenceing to get them to seat flat? The Dana44 adjusters also receive the shaft at an angle and the 35 ones it goes straight in.

Another clarification - use Dana 44 TTB knuckles. D44 solid axles knuckles are different.

The steering mounts to the D44 knuckles 'upside down' but they WILL slip right in. If you're feeling super ambitious you could use the reamer and make them sit the right side up.

Does anybody have a semi-accurate measurement on how much wider this mod makes your front end?

I'll be doing this swap this winter. Picked up my D44 parts today. I'm curious about the difference in width. I'll post what I figure out

Hey @bats, @Brian1 and @rambler, I've done a bunch of research on this swap and am now thoroughly confused on the path recommended here.

I've got a D44 knuckle from a 1996 F150 and a 1993 Explorer upper ball joint laying on the bench in front of me. The F150 upper ball joint hole measures 1.750". The Explorer upper ball joint is 1.63" (Moog 8676). So, there's no way it's installing in the D44 knuckle. In reviewing the Mood website, the D44 upper ball joint (K80026) appears to be the same from 1980-1996.

Did I miss something in how @rambler did this swap?

Looks like the next option is to follow the process outlined in the TRS article (TRS Magazine - Dana 44 Knuckle Swap On Dana 35 Beams) and ream the beam upper mount to accept the D44 camber adjuster and upper ball joints.

Thanks for any thoughts

@Dzrtcj7 I've always had a suspicion that the original info in this post is wrong. When I did mine I spent a lot of time measuring to come up with the best solution to do the swap and never once did I see the ball joint swap as being possible.

I just went out to measure the ttb 44 knuckle and a ttb 35 knuckle upper ball joints side by side. The 35 is 0.100" smaller +/-.005. Ttb 44 is 1.725-1.730" and the ttb 35 is 1.631 +/-.005. These are fairly accurate measurements but the ball joints were installed in both knuckles so it was hard to get a precise reading. Still, 0.100 is a big enough difference where it obviously won't work.

I consider the method on TRS to be a hack-job way of doing it because of how much is cut out which weakens the structure and building up weld outside is just a Band-Aid to that issue not to mention the heat you put into it. That just leaves my method of machining an adapter or using the 44 bushing and pinch bolt.

There is another method I saw when doing mine and that was someone TIG welded a piece of tube inside the D35 adjuster to give it enough meat to then ream out to fit the D44 tapered ball joint. They cut the slot once it was reamed. I think this is a good alternative to mine and easier since all you need is a welder and the reamer and not machinery. Using the D44 adjuster I think is a little weaker because, as I recall, it doesn't fit all the way down in the bore of the 35TTB upper ball joint holder.

TTB D35:


TTB D44:


Brian1, I don't remember how pertinent was it that the upper balljoint mount is modified. Is there just not enough room for the body of the balljoint for it to seat correctly?