The ‘donated’ Dana
60 out for a cleaning.
|IFS Front axle removed,
time to get the grinder out.
|A – Location of protruding
bracket AFTER being ground down. B rivets holding bracket to frame
|A – The bracket as viewed
from the drivers side, after being ground down. (Click image for larger
|Axle positioned under
truck, u-bolts finger tight, looking good!
|Why can’t I make it up
this slope? Actually I did but only with generous amounts of throttle.
|The solution to all the
problems: a locked, 4.56 geared, 35" swamper pushing Dana 60.
First a donor vehicle with a Dana 60 must
be found, look for 1986 and up F-350 trucks, see background
for more information. To the left is the Dana 60 with hubs, spindles
and axle shafts removed.
Before you start
A complete rebuild of the Dana 60 is recommended, however if the gear ratio is
what you need and you do not plan to run a Detroit locker the rebuild process
is greatly simplified. Before removing the old differential jack
the truck up so that there is no weight on the front wheels, note the amount
of travel of the front driveshaft. Now compress the springs as much
as possible, note the travel of the driveshaft. Measure the distance
from the center of the spring pad to the yoke on the differential, you’ll
need a straight edge perpendicular to the yoke. With the vehicle
weight on front (wheels on ground) disconnect the drive shaft at the diff
and measure how much the drive shaft compresses relative to the axle pinion
yoke. Save these numbers for later to determine if you need to have
your driveshaft shorten / lengthened. I had to have mine shortened
one inch. If the driveshaft is too long it could jam into the transfer
case causing major damage. At this time also note the clearance between
the driveshaft and the transmission cross member with all the weight of
the vehicle off the front wheels. To do this jack up the truck and
place jack stands under the frame, after lowering the front wheels should
still be off the ground, if not you’ll have to jack it up higher.
The Dana 60 sits lower than the IFS front, you may need to add a spacer
between the cross member and transmission to maintain driveshaft clearance
if using the original driveshaft. More on this later.
Removing the old axle
After rebuilding the Dana 60 remove the
old Dana 50/44, steering linkage and sway bar. For a quick and dirty
removal just pop the pitman arm to tie rod joint and leave the rest of
the steering linkage attached to the axle, this makes it a bit harder to
maneuver when removing the diff and you may end up separating the two half’s
anyway (possibly ruining the axle seal in the process) but it is quicker.
If you think you may want to reuse or sell the axle than follow the procedure
in the Haynes manual, which is to remove one half at a time. The
cross member bolts and nuts were metric (sizes 18 and 21) on my ’91.
You do NOT need to remove the front calipers if you have the Dana 50 front
(maybe true for Dana 44 HD, check first), as they are the same as the calipers
used on the Dana 60.
Once the old IFS axle is removed you’ll
have to remove the cross member to axle brackets to make room for the Dana
60. There were two brackets which unbolted and came off with no problems.
A third, on the drivers side, is riveted and bolted to the frame near the
engine mount. It also appears to provide structural support to the
engine mount. You may wish to grind down the rivets and remove the
bracket altogether, however we felt it best to leave it in place and grind
down the part that would interfere with the Dana 60, see the following
pictures. But if you do this you can’t go back, so understand the
consequences before getting out the grinder.
Once the cross member has been prepared
you’ll need to remove the pitman arm from the steering box since the pitman
arm is different for the Dana 60 than for an IFS steering linkage.
The socket required to remove the nut holding the pitman arm on is larger
than found in most 1/2" drive socket sets, so you’ll need a 3/4" drive
socket set as well, you’ll also need the same 3/4" socket set for rebuilding
the axle. After removing the nut you’ll need a puller to remove
the arm. Some auto parts stores will rent or loan (Lisle loan a tool)
a pitman arm puller. Canadian Tire loans the tool in Canada.
You may need to remove the steering box to do this, but if using the proper
tool you should be able to do it on the truck. Attempts with a wimpy
2 jaw puller will require removal of the gear box, and probably a broken
vise or stripped puller… its much easier with the right tool. Alternatively
if you remove the steering box with pitman arm attached you can take it
down to your local Ford dealer and ask one of the mechanics to impact it
off (they have a special tool), for 10 bucks or so. If they are nice
they may even do it for free.
Next you may need to grind down the leaf
spring center bolts. Measure how far they protrude from the bottom
of the leaf, then measure the distance from the spring pad to axle housing
on the Dana 60, through the hole where the center bolt goes. If the
bolt protrudes farther than the space between the spring pad to axle you’ll
need to grind down the spring center bolts. I had to take about a
1/4" off each bolt. Don’t take off too much or your axle wont center
correctly on the springs.
Installing the new axle
If you have rebuilt your axle it is easier
to leave the axles/hubs off until the axle is underneath the truck and
bolted into place. If you need new u bolts the Dana 60 uses the same
length as the old IFS axle.
Place the Dana 60 on a jack and position
it under the springs. With the help of a friend center the axle on
the leaf springs, and start the u bolts/nuts. Tighten the nuts to
Once the axle is firmly in place put the
axles back in and assemble the spindles and hubs.
I did not get the sway bar and sway bar
brackets when I purchased the Dana 60, if you did now is a good time to
install them. My F-250 only has the little 302, we figured that I
probably wont see much body roll given how stiff the front springs are.
I am going to try it out without the sway bar and decide if it is needed.
An added benefit is that I’ll gain some extra articulation with the sway
If you choose to replace any of the tie
rods make sure to count the number of turns when removing the old rods,
and put the new rods in with the same amount of turns. If you do
this you are more than likely to have the alignment close to spec.
Straight axles can be aligned by the home mechanic, with the weight of
the vehicle on the wheels, put a small pin (to hook your tape measure too)
in each front tire, at the front of the tire, measure the distance between
the pins, roll the truck backwards, until the pins are 180 degrees from
the first measurement. Now measure the distance between the pins,
this will give you the amount of toe in or toe out. You can then
loosen off the tie rod sleeve and rotate the sleeve the desired amount
to adjust the toe in.. Or pay the $50 bucks and take it to an alignment
shop when done.
If reusing your IFS front driveshaft you
must check for proper driveshaft length (do not attach the driveshaft to
the front diff yet) measure the distance from the center of the spring
pad to the yoke on the axle pinion, using a straight edge perpendicular
to the yoke, next with the weight of the vehicle on the wheels, measure
how much the drive shaft can compress relative to the axle pinion yoke.
Compare the numbers with those measured with the old axle. We found
that the yoke on the Dana 60 was an inch further back than the yoke on
the Dana 50, requiring the drive shaft to be shortened one inch.
You must also check the driveshaft to transmission cross member clearance.
We found that at full axle drop (jack stands under frame, wheels off ground)
I only had about 1/4" of clearance, this may be OK for most ‘normal’ drivers,
it didn’t give me a good feeling. A good hard landing and the driveshaft
may meet the cross member. I make a up a 3/8" spacer (1/4" was probably
more than enough but I had 3/8") out of a 3" by 5" piece of aluminum, with
two 9/16" holes drilled in it. The spacer was placed between the
mount and cross member (with a coating of never seize to prevent corrosion).
Once you have the driveshaft installed
your done, if you rebuilt the front diff
make sure to follow the break in procedure or all your hard work will be
ruined. However you may notice something odd with the rear to front track.