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Tech & Tools Rear Axle Install on the Craigslisticon – with 30Pack Matt
M: Today we are going to finish up the last piece of the Craigslisticon axle upgrade.
C: Ooh axles. The whole undercarriage is almost done, right?
M: We already upgraded the front by taking out the Dana 30 axle, and putting in a Dana 44 out of a Rubicon with an Artec Truss, 5.13s, an ARB Air Locker, and an RCV front axle shaft. So the front end is now as bulletproof as we can make it.
Then Gabe found a great score on a second-hand Currie rear end, high pinion, 60 with all the bolt in brackets made for a Jeep JK swap. It had the matching wheel pattern, all the brackets slid into place, and the coil buckets were exactly what we needed. We went ahead and started on installing that project.
C: The lucky part is, if you want to say lucky, we didn’t really have to touch any of the internal parts.
M: Luckily Gabe found this axle while we were ordering parts for the front. The rear axle already had 5.13 gears and an Eaton Electric Locker, so when we ordered the parts for the front we made sure to order the matching 5.13 gears to make sure that everything would work. That made it so that this rear axle swap was even easier than the front as far as just unbolting the old parts, and bolting these new ones back in.
C: That’s really what it came down to. It felt like it was just 5 or 6 bolts on each side and wham bam it’s back in.
M: There were a couple swear words, but other than that it when together relatively easy. The axle came with relatively new slotted rotors, which are aftermarket rotors. We installed some new brake pads for Gabe’s calipers. We didn’t even need to bleed the brakes. It all just bolted right together.
C: Very nice! So we lined it back up, attached the driveshaft, bolted it back in, threw on some tires, and sent Gabe down the road.
M: We filled it up with Pennzoil oil, you can’t forget that, because it has happened a few times where the axles get swapped and the person takes off, and there isn’t any oil in the diff. We filled it with Pennzoil Gear Oil, I think Currie said that 3.5 quarts is the fill level, though it was kind of hard to tell because of the way they roll the diff cover up. Normally you fill a diff to where it pours out the fill hole and that’s the fill level. On this one the fill hole was on the very top of the diff cover, so we just had to go by the actual amount that you put in.
Gabe was able to drive it home. He lives pretty far away so he actually had to take a little break. He could only drive for about 20 minutes until everything got hot, and then he had to stop and let it all cool back down before driving the rest of the way home; that helps with the bearings breaking in and the gears meshing together. He should get a long service out of it.
C: What is the break in process?
M: The break in process is the most important in regards to heat cycles. Everyone will say “don’t tow for the first 500 miles” or “no extreme use for the first 500 miles,” but the most important thing is the first half-dozen to dozen heat cycles. The faces of the gears will actually rub together, and the gear faces will actually get so hot that it tempers them and they wear together. At the same time the bearings are actually seeding in where the machine services are actually wearing together. If you jump on the highway and drive 80mph for an hour right off the bat you can actually destroy the bearings and the ring and pinion. Doing the first dozen or half dozen heat cycles where you just drive for about 20 minutes at about 40-50 mph and stop and let it cool off, is really crucial to breaking it all in properly. If you ever crawl under your vehicle you can actually feel how warm the rear end is after driving.
C: Once you get past the first round of breaking in, what is the maintenance schedule for a rear end?
M: With the way that we use these vehicles, we would have more of a problem knocking a diff cover loose and loosing oil that way. I’d have to look**, but I think that 50,000 miles is when the oil is supposed to be changed. Now when you start running higher ratios, like Gabe’s 5.13 in the Craigslisticon, everything is being used harder, and the bearings are under more load so changing the oil more often isn’t a bad thing. Quality oil should last a long time though.
When you do your break in, the first 500 or so miles, there is so much metal particles getting mixed in that the oil starts to look metallic. You will want to change the oil after that initial break in, but otherwise you should be good for quite awhile with normal service intervals.
C: Cool! Can we give ourselves a high-five and say that the undercarriage is handled?
M: For the most part, yes. When we were swapping his rear axle we did have to put in a replacement rear control arm because the factory one was not up to the challenge. I think that might be next on the list, maybe some aftermarket control arms that are a little stronger. As far as the axles go, he is going to get a lot of life out of them without any problems.
C: Well that’s really exciting. Then we will get to put wheels and tires on it next!
**We looked it up: Using conventional gear oil, once every 2 years or every 24,000 miles, whichever comes first, is good enough for changing the oil. Synthetics can normally go 50,000 to 75,000 miles with no problem. If you are doing any deep river crossings or harsh water driving you will want to change the oil more often.
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