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Discussion Starter #22
Man, I'm jealous. I wish I had your experience and knowledge in fabricating. This project is awesome.

I am flattered. But really everyone lacks experience. It's just something you jump into, and learn as you go.

Also, this swap is coming together pretty easily. I bet you could even do it. Hell, this whole thing is even looking like it'll be under $2,000 for me too.

I'll try took document as well as I can to make it easy for the next guy who tries it
 

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Discussion Starter #23 (Edited)
Not a ton of progress today. Just bump stops.
I measured the slope of the frame to be 9°
So I cut some tubing I had laying around to 9° and to have the 1" on the short side I needed.
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Took a fender washer and a grade 8 nut. And used a bolt to hold the nut while i welded it to the washer



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Then welded the washers to the flat side of the tube pieces.

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Then welded them to the frame
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And then threaded in the energy suspension bump stops.
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The force is going to transfer straight through the tubing into the bump stops. The washer is really just there to hold the nut.

These bump stops can be incrementally cut down. Between that, and the ability to put fender washers between the bump stops and the mount. I'll be able to fine tune the height of the bump stops as needed.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
I started a thread over in the electrical section to help with a part of this project.

Anyone that might know, it would be helpful to hear from you

 

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Discussion Starter #25
So basically (If I'm right) in order to keep the auto 4wd function.

I'm hoping the Chevy front diff actuator is power to engage. And when the power is removed, it self disengages - (this is what i need to find out)

Here's the dodge function broken down

It works by vacuum, vacuum to engage. Take vacuum away to disengage.

Putting Those 2 things together means that if I can find a 12v DC vacuum solenoid.
Hook that solenoid to vacuum (either engine, or electric vacuum pump). And wire that solenoid to the factory Chevy diff actuator wiring.

Then badda-Bing, badda-boom auto 4wd will still function.

And yes, I'm totally aware that the auto 4wd t-case sucks hard.

And I'm totally aware that both the Chevy and dodge axle disconnect systems also suck hard.

But the wife wants it, and if I'm honest i kinda like the novelty of making it still work.

And if it totally sucks, putting in the manual cable actuator isn't a big deal.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
Nope, not expressly for strength. Flex? Yes. Bored? That too. Novelty? Heck yes. Improving ride quality with springs? That's an affirmative.

Doing this plus a lift for barely more than a comparable torsion bar lift would cost parts only? Again that's a yes.

I've not broken a single front end part in the Chevy to date. Strength just isn't an issue for what I'm doing. If I were using it in such a way that i was blowing up parts constantly, that would be a different story.

That being said, that wasn't originally the plan. I had planned to do as I have in the past with YJs which is grab a one piece shaft and a seal and toss it in.

Strength-wise there's no way to do away with it if i wanted to.

Once upon a time, one piece axle shafts for this axle were available.

They are not currently available any longer. I called 5 axle shaft companies. None of them can make a shaft longer than just over 36". Their machines can't do it. And this Dana 44 needs a 39" shaft. And no factory Dana 44 ever came with a shaft that long. Some guys use a Chevy long side shaft at just under 37".
but i just can't picture "using barely any splines in the carrier" as "stronger".

I was able to find RCV performance whose CV joint style shaft might be able to be made in that length. But i was given an estimate of at least $1500.00 and 2-3 months

I shrugged it off because if i was keeping the factory T-case, and not huge tires. no sense in sinking a fortune to strengthen something not yet proven to be an issue.

And if somehow it's an issue in the future. It's changeable.
 

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Mmm Sandwich
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Ok. Don't get me wrong I would rather have a low cg solid axle too. Just that I hate the auto function in any of my trucks. Engagement is too aggressive for my liking. Trying to understand why you would go through it that is all
 

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Discussion Starter #29
I'm happy to explain in further detail.

We've had this Tahoe and found ourselves wheeling it gently, and exploring with it as a family the past couple years because my previous rig seated 4. And we had a third kid....

I found how much I actually enjoyed the light duty wheeling and overlanding much more than the "5.38 geared on 44" tires" heavy duty rock crawling.

But what I enjoy more even still is the building it. I always spent more time building than wheeling anyway.

The Tahoe being stock height on BFG A/Ts was enough. But we wore the tires down to racing slicks. And that's where it all began

I didn't want to buy brand new stock size tires, might as well go bigger. But how much bigger? For off road it would help

I didn't want to just crank the keys, my '03 sierra has that. It rides rough and has no downward travel.

So Then comes the thought of a lift. But $1300 + to still have torsion bars? Which means still not great travel and ride. Plus solid axle geometry works better on trails than independent.

Then came the obvious thought "solid axle swap"

This is where every one of my previous projects takes a left turn.

I end up over building "well if I'm upgrading this.....then this needs to be done too.....And now this attached to that" the project takes years, and when it's done, it doesn't resemble the rig that it started as. Which is why I wanted to build it up anyway

So out of covid-19 boredom i started searching the classifieds to see what's out there. And that's where this axle came from.
And the desire to keep the vehicle having the same personality it had as before motivated me to keep finding all the easy ways to do the swap, and keep the vehicle's modern refinement and feel. Rather than a monster truck, with cumbersome manual transfer cases, and hubs. And worse yet...leaf springs lol.

An SAS i did 12 years ago with leaf springs soured my wife on the idea. She still pictured the long time building, tall, loud, bad-handling truck it ended up being.

So to sell her on the idea I had to promise not to do that again lol.

Plus being trapped bored with the pandemic, i needed something to do.

So lots of little reasons that all add up to what you see before you
 

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Discussion Starter #30
As i put it down on a post and re read it

I know i said it's a lot of little reasons.

But really it's my wife. I wanted to do a build, she didn't want to let me. This is the compromise. All the little reasons are appendage reasons to that main one.

If it were up to me, I'd probably build the hell out of it without even thinking twice.

I do appreciate your concern that I'm going down a bad path thinking I'm going to end up with something weaker than what i wanted.

But as my 4th solid axle conversion, I'm fairly certain that it'll end up what we (she) wants for now.

And it's a win-win.
Either we wheel it and continue to not break parts. So it can stay as is
Or
We start breaking parts with the bigger tires, and she'll see the need. Then I can upgrade the Dana 44, and the rear to something bigger.
 

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Mmm Sandwich
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As i put it down on a post and re read it

I know i said it's a lot of little reasons.

But really it's my wife. I wanted to do a build, she didn't want to let me. This is the compromise. All the little reasons are appendage reasons to that main one.

If it were up to me, I'd probably build the hell out of it without even thinking twice.

I do appreciate your concern that I'm going down a bad path thinking I'm going to end up with something weaker than what i wanted.

But as my 4th solid axle conversion, I'm fairly certain that it'll end up what we (she) wants for now.

And it's a win-win.
Either we wheel it and continue to not break parts. So it can stay as is
Or
We start breaking parts with the bigger tires, and she'll see the need. Then I can upgrade the Dana 44, and the rear to something bigger.
Well that makes more sense.

But if you are using this in remote areas would you not want to eliminate fail points? Not attacking your decision just asking.
 

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Discussion Starter #32 (Edited)
Yes, definitely.

In my mind I've done that.
In going from (2) CV axles to a 2 piece axle on one side. That alone lessened chance of failure.

I have to literally talk myself down every time i think about it.

But looking at hypothetical failure points and upgrading each one on the chance it "could" fail is how Simple project turns into an overbuilt behemoth 2 years torn apart later, that isn't the same car it started as.

But looking at what it is, versus what it was. Definitely an upgrade. I'm trying to stay objective.

I did this professionally for 7 years, and on the side like 20.

It was so frustrating to have customers walk in and spend money to solve hypothetical problems. And when some asked "I've got $___, what should i spend it on to upgrade. . ?"
I would say "spend it on fuel, go use it however you're going to use it. And then tell me what complaints you have. And upgrade accordingly"

I don't think a single time anyone actually did that. What every single person did was needlessly spend preemptively on something that internet scared them into upgrading.

I actually took my own advice and started with a stock rig, used it how i was going to use it. And am upgrading accordingly.

Also i would have people (usually Toyota guys) come in and get a 2"-3" lift, then a year later a 3"-4" lift, and then a 5"-6" lift. And I'd say "dude, do an SAS it'll be cheaper in the long run...trust me" especially because at 33" and taller tires, Toyotas rub the body mount and require literal frame cutting to clear. But an SAS would allow adjustment of front axle location an inch to eliminate the need to chop parts of the frame. No Toyota guy ever listened either

I always said on my own vehicle I wouldn't waste my time like that. Hence why the Tahoe has gone this long without getting lifted.

There's a couple choices on this build yet to be seen on this thread that customers never listened to. And I will be doing because I always hated having to do it wrong because the customer insisted on it.

But like I said, I still have to talk myself down every time i think about it. When it's your own vehicle it's hard to be objective. But I'm trying. Otherwise I'll have a Tahoe on Rockwells.
 

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Discussion Starter #34
The rear coils are in, and the correct length Pro-Comp ES9000s showed up today.
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So what's currently on it are very worn 265/75R16.
Here it's sitting on the rear lift springs, and the front is roughly level to it. The tire measures just a hair under 30"
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Who knows, maybe the 285/70R17s won't be so small. I'm also going to test fit some 35x12.50s too. But that might be too much tire. We'll just have to see.

Hopefully tomorrow I can get over there and fabricate the frame side control arm mounts. *crosses fingers
 

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Discussion Starter #36
It's up in the air in that pic so it's totally drooped. The fairly short track bar makes it shift quite a bit side to side as it cycles.

It Also has bow-string tight brake lines. I've not dealt with those either yet.

To answer your question. I didn't take a specific measurement of how much the axle shifts towards the passenger side with bigger springs on the stock track bar. So i can't give a solid number
 

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Discussion Starter #37 (Edited)
How much did those new springs cause that axle to shift?
I was able to make it over to my dad's for a couple hours to work on it. I let it sit on its weight on the rear springs overnight. I took a measurement for you today. Sitting at ride height, if the track bar was 3/4" longer it would be 100% centered.

I put the transmission jack under the transfer case, and pulled the cross member.
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Then came the cutting the frame mounts for the cross member out.

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Then came cutting a piece to weld inside, at the correct angle. And then mocking in the mount to be sure it all jives.
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Once that was all test fit. I drilled a corresponding hole into the inside plate, used a bolt to line it up, and welded on chromoly weld washers to prevent wallowing of the bolt hole
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Then the inside plate will get welded into the frame mount.
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Then The control arm mount will get welded to the inside of the frame mount. And plating/gusseting will go where it can. I'll probably plate over the front hole in the mounts ( where the original t-bar passed through). I just need to be sure to leave the rear hole open so i can get a wrench inside to hold the nut.

Then will come shortening the cross member, and fabricating a new way for it to be held in.

But i only had enough time to get this far today. 2 hours here and there is going to make this take forever
 

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Discussion Starter #38
So I got the mounts done, and the cross member re done too
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I'll need to get longer grade 8 bolts got the cross member tomorrow.

Where i left off in the previous post. The inner plates got welded to the inside of the cross member mounts.

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Then the mounts got welded to the inside of the cross member mount.
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Then the holes got covered over because i took out so much material around them.
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Then i took two different length tabs to make up for the angle and made new cross member mounting points
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Shortened the cross member
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And welded in New sleeves for the bolts
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And put the cross member back in.

Here is sort of a rough eyeballing of how the frame and axle side mounts will line up at ride height. Allowing for as straight of joints at ride height as possible
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The original cross member had 2 bolts per side. But it seemed like overkill. And i needed space for the head of the lower control arm bolt. So I opted for one grade 8 1/2" bolt per side. I'm sure it'll be plenty
 

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Discussion Starter #39
So it's sitting under its own weight as of now.
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It all has to come back out for paint and other finishing points. Plus all the little nickle and dime stuff. Brake lines, ABS wiring, installing the 3.73s, driveshaft, possibly modifying exhaust to clear the shaft.
But at least i can see what it's going to look like

All The bolts are loose, some don't even have nuts. No shocks installed, just ratchet straps in their place.

Track bar and radius arms aren't adjusted etc.

I think 285/70R17s are a real possibility of looking, and fitting well.


Right now it has 30" tall tires in the rear, and 29" tall tires in the front. The rear is currently 3/8" higher than the front. But with a. Inch taller tire, that's 1/2" in tire so it'll actually be 1/8" lower than the front.

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Building the radius arms with Jonny Joints and 2" x 1/4" wall DOM
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They fit awesome right along where the T-bars went. This is at full compression.
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The caster control Arms ended up being short little things to clear the frame at full compression

They're Jonny Joints and 1-1/2" x 1/4" wall DOM

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Normally I'd be worried about the uppers being so short and fighting flex.

But with steering and shocks disconnected it has flex to spare. I'm not worried even if i had to give some up.
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Discussion Starter #40
From this angle though, it looks like it might want a bigger tire than 285/70R17 (which already is 2"-3" taller than what you see here)
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