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Why is there no such thing as a billet U-joint?

Discussion in '1973-1991 K5 Blazer | Truck | Suburban' started by LittlePig, Jul 5, 2001.

  1. LittlePig

    LittlePig 1/2 ton status

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    I was thinking about the axles I plan to put under my truck once I get it. I was thinking about just picking up a 3/4 ton and swapping the axles in. If at all possible, I want a 78 so I can get the dana 44 front, with the bigger spindles. Then I got to thinking about how the 44/10-bolt front is an ok axle, but cannot match the strength of the 60. Now, you can upgrade the diff with a locker or at least higher-strength gears, you can get strong axles, and you can get good hubs, and the 3/4 ton has bigger bearings (I think). But the main sticking point is the u-joints for the steering. They don't seem to be able to hold up to heavy wheeling. So why can't they be machined out of billet? That would certainly bring them up to the strength of at least the 60's stock joints, wouldn't you think?Even if they cost three times as much as the stockers. they will still be affordable, and it's not like most of us will be doing the kind of wheeling that could break them, but we would still like the safety margin they would provide. I'd pay $150 for u-joints that gave me even 90% of the strength of a 60, since I could put together a 44 that would hold up to heavy wheeling for probably half the cost of swapping in a 60 even after all the fancy parts (especially since it would mean all the work could be done without needing to remove the front axle).

    Or am I off base with this?

    Email: xiaozhu@my-deja.com
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  2. pcorssmit

    pcorssmit 1/2 ton status

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    There was a guy making solid u-joints for this app. They used a thin brass bushing around the outside. He is either here or on Pirate, maybe both.

    My feeling is that once you completely upgrade the front axle, you could have bought or almost bought a 60, but you'll still have a weaker unit with smaller shafts, bearings, r & p, carrier/locker, etc. I'd save up for the 60. (Oh wait, I already did).

    Pete

    '83 K5, 350 TBI (ex 6.2), 700R4, NP208, Dana 60/14 bolt, 4.56s, Detroits, 3" lift, 15-39.5x15 TSLs
    '97 Dodge 2500 4x4 CC LB Sport, Cummins 5 spd
     
  3. bigjbear

    bigjbear 1 ton status Staff Member Moderator

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    The plus side of the 1/2 & 3/4 fronts is they are allready on your truck. Also, you can do the upgrades one piece at a time. That is a big plus on a daily driver. The down side is you end up spending more, or at least as much, to get less.

    Jim '80 GMC
    Freedom First!
    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.bigjbear.coloradok5.com>http://www.bigjbear.coloradok5.com</A>
     
  4. pcorssmit

    pcorssmit 1/2 ton status

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    Actually, the 60 is already on my truck. :D

    Pete

    '83 K5, 350 TBI (ex 6.2), 700R4, NP208, Dana 60/14 bolt, 4.56s, Detroits, 3" lift, 15-39.5x15 TSLs
    '97 Dodge 2500 4x4 CC LB Sport, Cummins 5 spd
     
  5. Butch

    Butch 1/2 ton status

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    The guy that builds those calls himself drivelineman on this board and he is in California. I think he gets 139 a piece on them and you use caps off of a regular spicer joint. I think the guy that Pete is talking about is different from this guy as he uses some type of very high maintence brass bushings.

    I thought I was wrong once,
    but I was mistaken
     
  6. bigjbear

    bigjbear 1 ton status Staff Member Moderator

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    Bite me, LOL! Yes, I am jealous

    Jim '80 GMC
    Freedom First!
    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.bigjbear.coloradok5.com>http://www.bigjbear.coloradok5.com</A>
     
  7. Donovan

    Donovan 1/2 ton status

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    Well guys they are being worked on as we speak. The guy that had them is Jess from High Angle Driveline. I am doing the grinding on the joints and Jess is installing them. The problem we are having now is that the caps are blowing out the end and the u-joints are holding up. He is using Bronze instead of needles. Mike Ladd is testing them. He is running a Bronco with 44" tires and a 460. He really beats the piss out of them, more than most people would all year long. We are working on them. We need to find out how long the bushing is going to hold up. Oh ah Mike has Warn shafts in his bronco.

    Donovan
    Bigger is Better
     
  8. Pure Insanity

    Pure Insanity 1/2 ton status

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    Wiping out a U Joint on the trail will make a good day go bad fast,....... but theres gotta be a weak link some where to break thats inexpensive and "relatively" easy to replace or it will break a bigger harder to fix more expensive part.

    just my thots.

    PUREINSANITY If ya can't stop,Smile as you go under![​IMG]I no longer have a photo album. thanx ZING![​IMG]
     
  9. jarheadk5

    jarheadk5 1/2 ton status

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    If you run Warn hubs, they have "hub fuses" that are designed to break before other, more expensive parts. Not sure what applications they have so far, but it's definitely something to think about.

    If at first you don't succeed, failure may be your style...
    [​IMG] <font color=green>Semper Maintenance!<font color=black>
     
  10. Pure Insanity

    Pure Insanity 1/2 ton status

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    I didn't think of the hub fuses. They are a good idea, and would solve the problem of the billit joints.

    PUREINSANITY If ya can't stop,Smile as you go under![​IMG]I no longer have a photo album. thanx ZING![​IMG]
     
  11. LittlePig

    LittlePig 1/2 ton status

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    In the most recent issue of 4wheel and off road they did a column that talks about the hub fuse. If your wheels are turned, the u-joint will let go before the fuse. They broke several parts upstream before they got the fuses to let go, so I am not sure whether they are much use, since they are so tough to blow.

    Email: xiaozhu@my-deja.com
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  12. 84_Chevy_K10

    84_Chevy_K10 Banned

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    Why would you want a stronger U-joint? Breaking a u-joint on the trail would be a rough day, but breaking an axleshaft at the inside would be FAR worse!!

    Tim
    '84 Chevy K10, lifted, loud, fast, and 3/4 ton axles
     
  13. Stephen

    Stephen 1/2 ton status Moderator Vendor

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    This ones been around for a while, you might look up some history on this board and on the pirate board. Basically, you will dump a LOAD of money either way, with a D60, you end up with big stuff, with a D44, you still have small stuff. Like someone said, you can build a D44 a little at a time, which is nice, but regardless, if you plan on running over a 37" tire (give or take a little) you should step up and buy a D60. The 1/2t stuff works really well with 35-36" tires, bigger than that and you start to lose some reliability and do more trail repairs.

    On the joints, high angle is working on some, haven't heard any real convincing progress yet. There will be problems with breaking axles, so I'm not sure what's worse. The chromo shafts run over a hundred bucks for a stubshaft, and that's a pretty expensive weak link. You could custom machine a hub fuse, but then you have the same turning problems. And the ears sometimes rip off the chromo axles as is, don't think a much stronger joint would help it.

    I'm REALLY fond of the warn hub fuses, the 4WOR guys just had to learn the hard way about the joints and fuses, you NEVER CRANK AND STOMP! Doesn't matter what you run, you don't give it much power when it's turned. The only time I broke anything was in straight ahead bouncing on slickrock. That's with the 10 bolt and chromo axles. Went through 3 hub fuses and a ujoint. (ran out of fuses)

    I think what it comes down to is that there's not a really good answer to strength vs weight vs money. There's a lot of ways of doing the same stuff, but in general, if you want big tires, the strength/money/weight ratio is best with the D60 front. I had a lot of fun in my K5 with a 10 bolt, but only with 37" and smaller tires, till I got a D60.
    Hope this helps

    Making the world better, one truck at a time.
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    SW-ORD
     
  14. Twiz

    Twiz 1/2 ton status

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    So when is the book comeing out? (J/K!)

    Stephen, you are sooo the man. In one reply you answered a half-dozen questions!
    Big time- thanks for your time and effort!

    Twiztid
     
  15. 84_Chevy_K10

    84_Chevy_K10 Banned

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    Stephen is absolutely right. Crank and stomp is a really stupid idea.

    I 2nd the motion, Stephen is definitely the man! I would give about anything to own my own 4x4 shop or an ORD type company, even to patent my ideas, it would just be a dream!

    Tim
    '84 Chevy K10, lifted, loud, fast, and 3/4 ton axles
     

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