Burb is the Answer
Q I'm 12 and trying to convince my parents to get me a four-wheel-drive truck. I know it would be a good way for me and my dad to spend time together and learn different things about the 4x4 world. We already have a '71 Chevelle and an '87 T/A, and we could use it as a tow rig. What would be a good two- or four-wheel-drive, pre-'89 truck that is good for wheeling, won't break the bank, and would be a good project?
A What you need is a late '80s/early '90s Chevy Suburban. Just make sure it is a 3/4-ton. This has the bigger rear axles, and it would be both a great tow rig and a good trail rig. It isn't exactly small, but the whole family could go to the local mud hole and tow the Chevelle to the drag strip. Plus you could pull a boat, camp out in it, and still have enough interior space to haul parts, groceries, and all your girlfriends.
The other great thing is that the Chevy trucks are very abundant and parts are available at nearly every auto parts store for a Chevy truck. LMC Truck (800.LMC.TRUC, www.lmctruck.com) has lots of replacement body panels and all the interior bits and pieces if the Suburban you find is missing some small parts or has rust. Plus the Suburban nameplate has been in use for 75 years, making it the oldest model in continuous production. I think it would be a great father-son project, a useful 4x4, and a great truck for you to get into four-wheeling with.
Q I have a GM 14-bolt rear that I want to make a frontend, but I can't find an axletube thick enough for the Dana 60 axle seals. The 14-bolt is shaved and has a 31/2-inch OD axletube. Any help or info on axletubes would be very helpful. I have been looking at DOM tubing. It is going into an F-150 with a 14-bolt in the rear already, 460 ci, NP435, and a married NP205 running 4.88 gears.
A Seals-it (www.sealsit.com) makes various custom axle seals, otherwise you need to get some new tubing and have it machined for the seal and then pressed into the housing. You will also need 30-spline, 11/2-inch-diameter custom front axleshafts, but many custom axle places can make them for you.
Wrong Way 'Round
Q Why can't I just flip over my front axle to put the pumpkin on the other side? Is it just that the ring-and-pinion gears would be pointing the wrong way? Since I plan on putting in lockers and switching to a lower gear ratio anyway, it seems like as long as I get the right gears for the high-pinion application, I should be able to put the Dana 44 from my Power Wagon under my Wrangler.
A It would turn the wrong way, and the high-pinion gears will only fit in a high-pinion housing. A high-pinion housing is not the same as a low-pinion housing flipped upside-down.
The front driveshaft and pinion always turn counterclockwise (unless the transmission is in reverse).
The front pinion is always on the left side of the ring gear, no matter whether it's high or low pinion, driver or passenger side.
If you flip the housing, the pinion will be on the right side of the ring gear. If you then turn the driveshaft counterclockwise the ring gear (along with the axleshafts and tires) will all turn backward. If your rear axle is turning forward and your front axle is turning backward, your Jeep won't go anywhere.
The only time to flip an axle over is when you have three-gear portal axles or the engine in the back of the vehicle, such as in many rock buggies, because it will then turn everything the opposite direction. However, by doing this you can run into issues with lack of oil getting to the pinion gear and bearings.