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Technical / Installation Articles - Engine / Drivetrain

Solid Axle Industries HD44 Install

Article written by Adventure Bob

Date Added: 08/17/2008

We here at MOABJEEPER preach that any breakage is an opportunity for any upgrade; and if you haven't broken it, you probably don't need to upgrade it? yet. Read on to check out how we upgraded the "Turtle's" hind legs.

After six years of beating the snot out of a Dana 35 with an ARB/Super upgrade in it, we finally broke it. Not something simple like a broken shaft; no, we spun both axle tubes, wallowed out the housing, and pointed the pinion straight up dealing the death blow to this axle.

There are many who will say "I told you so" or ?That?s what you get for wheeling a D35.? But to them we answer: $1000 for six years of hard abuse from coast to coast made the Super 35 a great buy, and we still recommend it to the weekend wheeler/daily drivers.

For the Turtle?s new hind legs, we chose Solid Axle Industries (commonly known as Solid Engineering) new HD44. But when we made contact, we found that they didn't make a YJ drop in product...yet.

Working with John and Matt, we came up with a plan to prototype their YJ HD44 axle.



1. Drain the Dana 35 differential.

2. Disconnect the brake line from the splitter block, drain the fluid into a container, then remove the line from the Jeep.
 Brake fluid is caustic and should be disposed of properly.
 Solid supplies a new brake line with the axle.

3. Disconnect the emergency brake cables at the splitter (vehicle end).

4. Remove the driveshaft.
 If you don't have an SYE, be prepared to catch the oil that will drain out of your t-case output.

5. Remove the shocks.

6. Raise the vehicle, and remove the wheels and tires.
 Place the jackstands under the leaf springs, not the spring perches or the axle tubes .

7. Remove the rear bumpstops. This will make it easier to maneuver the axle out.

8. Remove the brake drums and e-brake cables from the axle.
 Your old cables will not work with the Wilwood brakes.

9. Remove the spring plate nuts and U bolts.

10. Remove the axle from the vehicle.
 Use 2 or more people to avoid hurting yourself or damaging your Jeep.

11. Raise the vehicle to open the leaf springs, and place jackstands under the frame (not the springs).
 Never work under the vehicle while only supported with a jack.
 This picture shows there is just enough room to put the axle in without pulling the springs.

12. Place the new axle on the leaf springs, and align the center pins.
 If you had degree shims installed, you will need new centering pins.
 Solid recomends a pinion angle no greater than 15 degrees to allow proper pinion lubrication.

13. Install the U-bolts, spring plates, and nuts.
 Use the supplied hardware, the old hardware will not fit.

14. Bend and install the supplied hard brake lines.
 The long fittings on the supplied hard lines go to the brakes, and the short fittings go to the split block.
 Pictured is an example of how we bent our brake lines.

15. Connect the supplied brake hose from the axle to the vehicle.

16. Connect the breather hose and your ARB air line (if you have one).

17. Fill the diff, and bleed the brakes.
 Fill level is 2 1/2 quarts, not the bottom of the fill hole like the D35
 The Wilwoods need to be bled from both top bleeders, starting with the outside nipples

18. Install the wheels and tires, and your ready to roll.

19. Drain and refill the diff after 500 miles of break in. That's also a good time to re-torque all the mounting hardware.

Installation Issues

As usual we had some issues, but let us reiterate: this is a prototype for a YJ. John has sold numerous axles for TJs and hasn't gotten a single complaint. Also, every issue we encountered has been fixed by Solid.

First, the shipper dropped the crate and broke it, but there was only cosmetic damage to the axle. Not Solids fault, but be aware this thing has some heft to it. Be prepared and if yours is dropped, get a claim number BEFORE the shipper leaves. Just in case.

Second, we had a couple of minor issues with the hard lines for the brakes. The standoffs for the brake connections at the wheel end need to be about 1/2 inch longer to ease the transitions around the u-bolts.

The axle could also use a few blind tapped holes in the axle tubes to allow for brake line hold downs. John agreed and is making this change for both the YJ and TJ versions.

The last brake line issue was routing the new lines so they didn?t look like we were drunk when we bent them. We recommended a pre-bent set of lines, but John told us that every time he's tried this as a production idea he gets more folks complaining that "it's not where I need them because (insert unique Jeep issue here)." We can understand that, so you'll more than likely have to bend your own hard lines to fit your Jeep.

Third, our diff cover has a 9/16 allen stock fill plug. This requires you to carry/buy yet another tool that has a single purpose. We recommended going to a 1/2? or 3/8" square drive so you could just use the ratchet you already have in your tool bag. They're on it and sourcing new fill plugs.

Final Thoughts

This will probably be the last axle any wheeler will need to buy. It bolts in with common hand tools, 2 friends to help you manhandle it, and a single afternoon.

If you're in the market for an axle, this is a must-buy product. It beats the frustration of junk yard or E-Bay axles hands down, at a very comparable price.

Read the review for this product: Solid Axle Industries HD44 Review


Our Thank You's!

John, thanks for choosing us to help develop and evaluate a product line.

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