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10Bolt vs. D44 vs. D60

Discussion in '1973-1991 K5 Blazer | Truck | Suburban' started by Stephen, Sep 27, 2001.

  1. Stephen

    Stephen 1/2 ton status Moderator Vendor

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    Ok, there's tons of stuff floating around here about the merits of each axle for the front, so let's start by agreeing on some facts here. If anyone has info indicating these aren't actually facts, let me know.

    Our K5's were built with a 1/2T axle in them, therefore they're cheap. We have them already.

    10 bolts and D44's are equivalent strength. I know there's some difference in the housings and tube thicknesses, but practically speaking, it's not enough of a difference to purposely seek out one axle over the other.

    For most people, a D60 will cost at least $1K. Depending on what you get it can be way more or way less, but for the most part if you find a GM D60 for $1K that's in usable condition, you're not getting hosed by the seller. I know there are cheaper ways to get them, don't turn my stomach with tales of $200 1-ton trucks, unless you're selling it to me for that price!

    Upgrades to a 1/2T axle can be done for $100 or less. This won't get you a long ways on the axle shafts, but it'll get some hubs which are a good start. More can be added one piece at a time.

    There's very little to do to upgrade a D60. 35 spline stubs and hubs, a locker, maybe inner shafts for the early versions, that's about it. Trussing is generally considered un-necessary as they seem to take run and jump driving in stride.

    There's not a lot you can do to a 1/2T axle. 6 to 8 lug swaps, upgrade axleshafts, good diff, good locking hubs, that's about it. The torque strength is basically set by the ujoint (297X) and while development on new joints is taking place, there's nothing really practical on the market yet. I don't doubt that someone will have a joint that's a bit stronger, but I doubt it will gain you more than 20% or so. For frequent flyers, trussing the housing is highly recommended.

    6 lug brakes are up to stopping 36's generally, not a lot more. 8 lug 3/4T axles have bigger discs that really get you decent brakes up to about a 38-40" tire? These are guesstimates of course, subject to a lot of other factors.

    A D60 has good brakes for stopping anything. With 35's my K5 seems in danger of going over the front!

    1/2 or 3/4T fronts are about 200# lighter than a D60.

    Unsprung weight is important in some types of 'froading. usually less is better for going fast and flying.

    Is there anyone with a 38" or bigger tire that uses it off road and honestly doesn't want or need a D60?

    There are an infinite number of levels of wheeling. Some drive on streets to look cool, some never see pavement. Some drivers can break a D60 with 35's, some can hold together a 10 bolt with 38's pretty well. Lots of variables.

    People's acceptable level of breakage varies greatly. Some can't fix a truck on the trail so they can't afford to break because then they can't get home. Some are just as at home installing a R&P in the muddy darkness as they are in a shop, so it's not as big a deal.

    Breaking a front axle will generally allow you to roll home, maybe without front power, but you'll stay on your wheels and be able to drive. It's not like breaking a transmission or t-case.

    Mark Boyce told me several years ago that I should go ahead and buy a D60 from him when I got the 14 bolt because I'd probably need it sooner or later anyway. He was right. I probably spent an amount equal to the price of that D60 on the 1/2T axle since then, but it was spread over the last 8 years and some of that amount was for lockers that I would have had to buy for the D60 anyway. And I wore out 2 sets of 33's in that time and carrying the D60 around would have been a complete waste in that application. There was no way I could swing the money to get a D60 then, I could barely scrounge up enough parts and cash to trade for the 14 bolt. Moral of the story, if you know you're getting into big tires (38" and up) and plan to use it hard offroad, it's a no brainer, save up for a D60. You may not know that at the time though. That's the way it goes.

    I'm kind of out of facts to throw out here. But, maybe there is a point here. Some people need to spend $1K or more to replace a perfectly good front axle. For some it makes economic sense, and is the only way for the rig to make it on the trail.
    For others it doesn't. Let's stick to the facts as much as possible and give people some room to do what they want, regardless of how stupid we think it may be, or how stupid it really is.
    After writing all this, I'm not sure it's going to do any good, the debate will always rage on............






    Making the world better, one truck at a time.
    SW-ORD
    <a target="_blank" href=http://www.offroaddesign.com>www.offroaddesign.com</a>
     
  2. muddin4fun

    muddin4fun 3/4 ton status

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    I will be going with 35's and keeping a front 10 bolt. I will upgrade it some, but prolly not much. The rear however, I'm swapping to a 14FF cause it sees more weight generally speaking.
    My wheeling style right now? I'm not doing extreme stuff. I'm still a baby at this. I've gone mudding a lot, but I'm very very new to rock crawling. So, right now a D60 would be a waste to me cause I'm not to that point yet to need that much strength. I need to learn about axles and how to work on them and such. I also need to learn how to keep stress off the rig as much as I can, and I think if I'm breaking the front, I'll learn fairly quickly what to do and what not to do and I'll also learn how to repair it. I could slap a D60 under there and call it good. But then I might get some bad habits and break D60's left and right because I didn't learn what will cause breakage. If I can wheel some pretty tough stuff and keep from breaking a 10bolt up front, then that says something about my driving. If I do break it, I'll be more likly to be expecting it and learn how to do 'on site' fixes which I think is extremly important.
    So, that's why I'm sticking with my 10 bolt up front. There are things I need to learn before I upgrade to something like a D60.

    If you see my truck on a trailer, call 911 cause it's <font color=red>STOLEN!!!</font color=red>
    Website link is in my profile [​IMG]
     
  3. Storm Trooper

    Storm Trooper 1/2 ton status GMOTM Winner

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    Nice artical Steve.
    I'm one of those, need a D60 guys.
    I have 38.5's as you know but haven't broke the 10's yet.
    Lets not forget that they are open so they are much more forgiving.
    The thing is, I need lockers bad and we all know what happens when you lock a 10 bolt. I keep spare axles with me but I would much rather keep on rolling then to stop for some trail repair. I would much rather hunt down a deal on a 60 if I can than to pay the big $$ for one. Besides, my truck still holds it own now so I can have fun and I'm not in a major rush. I do like to fly a little (makes good pic's) and have a slight bend in the rear tube so a D60 will help. The weight will hurt but the strenght is worth it I think.
    My question is, should I keep looking or can I find someone that has one ready to go that won't put me in the poor house and won't be that much more than if I find a deal and have someone go through it and add a locker? I'm OK with axle changes etc. but the R&amp;P is a nother thing.

    [​IMG]<font color=red>[/b]"Rid'in HigH in my K5"[​IMG]
    ....[​IMG]<font color=blue>[/b]"8" Lift -<font color=purple>38.5's"[​IMG]....
     
  4. Derf00

    Derf00 1/2 ton status

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    Great article. I am going D60/14B. My Jimmy is my son's daily driver and even though he has shown a great deal of responsibility with it, he has also "locked the hubs" at every opportunity. I agreed to go with bigger tires and lift provided one thing. We do it right and do it once.

    Derf00

    "A WISE MONKEY NEVER MONKEYS WITH ANOTHER MONKEY'S MONKEY."
     
  5. thatK30guy

    thatK30guy 1 ton status Premium Member

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    Very well done. I couldnt have said it better than that! [​IMG]

    While I'm a street cruiser (for now), I drive a K30 purely because its the only GM truck that I like and prefer because of all the heavy duty stuff it has. [​IMG]

    Whether my truck sees the dirt or asphault, it dont matter as long as I know it has all that HD stuff in it. I believe I'm not going to break down running over a curb or doing some hill climbing, etc. Just the fact its got all that makes me feel good. [​IMG]

    <font color=red>I'm a "black top mudder"!!!</font color=red>

    <a target="_blank" href=http://coloradok5.com/gallery/thatK30guy>http://coloradok5.com/gallery/thatK30guy</a>
     
  6. BOWTIE

    BOWTIE 1/2 ton status

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    Great article, Steve, and Muddin you have a very good point. I'm one that has wheeled my K5 with 39's and 10 bolt's front and rear and believe me it has gave me plenty of practice with "on trail repair", and I came to know what will cause some of that breakage with my truck, but it came to a point where I wanted the confidence of going out and wheeling with no worries. A D60 and 14ff will give you some of that confidence which is why I went with the setup.

    Ric


    <font color=red>Wheel hard or go home.</font color=red>
    <a target="_blank" href=http://www.ofoto.com/I.jsp?m=75454312203&n=1247070060>check out my K5</a>
     
  7. Grim-Reaper

    Grim-Reaper 3/4 ton status Author

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    Thanks Stephen! That's what I been telling folks for years. See my debunking the HDD44 that some guy was trying to pawn off as better to get more cash out of the guy.
    D60 is over kill for most of us. Dep, Keith, BigJBear and I have run this back and forth a few times and we all agree for the wheeling we do it's not worth the price of admission. Sure if we could score a D60 for $300 we would be all over it and we do keep an eye out for them. Keith is up to 38's now. I'm debating tires sizes right now. BigJ is on 35's and Dep is on 36's. If we wheel straight rock it might be different but our part of the coundry we have plenty of give with mud and dirt. I just keep a spare set of axles and Ball joints with me when I wheel and I can fix any break I will see.
    For those that raised a eyebrow at my carring ball joints. Some times when a U-Joint blows it will wedge the ends and act like a shear and cut the ball joint off and you will loose the wheel. Seen it happen and carry the parts to fix.

    I don't need no damn shop manual, I got a pornographic memory.
    <a target="_blank" href=http://communities.msn.com/OffroadK5s>communities.msn.com/OffroadK5s</a>
    75 Jimmy, Dollar
    Grim-Reaper
     
  8. wayne

    wayne 3/4 ton status

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    Very good article Steve.

    See <a target="_blank" href=http://coloradok5.com/gallery/Waynes-Toy>Project Mighty Mouse</a> here.
    <font color=blue>Wayne<font color=blue>
    <font color=blue>Happy Trails<font color=blue>
     
  9. Mudzer

    Mudzer 1/2 ton status Author

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    Well said Stephen. When you purchased your Dana 60, did you buy the Tera 60 High pinion center section? When you purchase this center section, where do you buy the axle tubes and ends for the 60? Just curious... Also, tell me about the cut down ring gear, are you limited any ratios or are the standard D60 ratios available. Thanks again for the info. I am struggling with the upgrade syndrome as well. I have ran my 1/2 ton stuff with very few problems and am not sure if I need to upgrade. I am pushing the envelope by running 37" boggers. I think you are correct in saying driving style has a lot to do with it. I usually "attack" rock ledges at a slow pace and any time my truck bounces or spins, I typically stop and regroup. One last question, have you ever seen a 35 spline D60 shaft break and if so, what was happening at the time - was the truck bouncing or spinning or was it a torque shear?

    Mudzer 1978/91 K5
    <font color=blue><a target="_blank" href=http://www.mudzer.rockcrawler.com>www.mudzer.rockcrawler.com</a></font color=blue>
     
  10. four_by_ken

    four_by_ken 1/2 ton status

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    I see Dana 60 shafts go many times. It is usually under high wheel speed in deep mud. Goes either from suddenly getting some traction, or just the strength of the truck that was blowing them. 510 with 44 Boggers will break anything that comes off a lot built truck. He also broke rear 14 bolts, ring and pinions, anything you can think of.

    For the majority of people... Dana 60 with 35 spline shafts will hold up VERY nicely. Thats what I want next.

    Ken H.

    '78 K5 in process
     
  11. BurbinOR

    BurbinOR 3/4 ton status

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    Well said, Stephen.

    As you know I am a D60/14BFF guy.

    One thing I feel was important TO ME as far as reasons for our one ton mania is Peace of Mind. Maybe throw in a bit of economics.

    I mean this - my truck is/was 22 years old. That 10 bolt/12 bolt under it had a lot of miles on them, and by upgrading to a D60/14B that were both rebuilt, I feel I ended up with a major benefit that we are missing - Peace of Mind. I believe that a 12 bolt will survive with good maintenance and judicious use of the stupid pedal, but as they age and you keep beating on them they are getting more likely to have problems. I have owned 5 K-5's, all had 12 bolts, and I broke two of them. So I in effect, with a 'new' D60, 'new' 14BFF, new TC springs/bushings, etc. have a brand NEW truck from the frame down. Built once and not to be worried about. Trail fixes are not in my plans, and I bow to those incredibly talented guys that change axle stub shafts/u-joints, etc. on a muddy/rainy trail, but I choose a different path. And in my book, the extra $$ spent on my setup versus rebuilding a 10 bolt/12 bolt, adding the lockers, etc. makes this a 'sellable' economic value (wife even agreed [​IMG]).

    Kind of goes back to that thread that has realllllllyyyy gotten nasty above about the 10 bolt/D60 thing. None of this stuff is 'unique' (save for Stephen's 1/2 ton stuff with a truss on top, etc.) but just a choice that we all make. Live and let live.

    My truck is a hybrid. Very nice interior, good stereo, very comfy, every power option known to man (and they all work [​IMG])...........but it also has a one ton drivetrain with Detroits at both ends! Some would say I am nuts for doing this. But that is what this hobby is all about - building what YOU want.

    <font color=blue>'79 ONE TON TPI K5 - See it at---&gt;<a target="_blank" href=http://www.blazzinor.rockcrawler.com>www.blazzinor.rockcrawler.com</a>
     
  12. 1990K5

    1990K5 1/2 ton status

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    im glad we can all share our feelings and come out with our inner selfs WTF!!!!!
     
  13. Brian 89KBlazer

    Brian 89KBlazer 1/2 ton status

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    I guess I've missed the "nasty" side of this conversation but I agree with the comfort factor that BlazzinOR spoke of. I have 2 10bolts with over 200K miles on them &amp; the thought of sinking money into them for 37" SSR's, no matter what kind of driving I'm planning seemed foolish to me! (but that's just MHO [​IMG]) For $5500 Canadian ($3600 US), I got a D60 w/ ARB (including the compressor) &amp; 4.88's &amp; 1350 yoke completely rebuilt from end to end along with a rebuilt end to end 14 FF also with 4.88's. To me; I just wanted the comfort factor knowing that I'd invest once; not multiple times!! [​IMG] Not sure about anyone else's wife but mine has no problem with me buying what I need but she is not going to be overly friendly if I have to go back again &amp; again with busted parts!! [​IMG][​IMG] ...........Again, the comfort factor. [​IMG]

    Brian
    89KBlazer

    Build it Right or Don't build it at all!!
     
  14. michaelm

    michaelm 1/2 ton status

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    i wouldnt replace a functioning 10bolt with a dana44, but if i shattered a 10 bolt i would use that opportunity to go dana.
    that is probably a hold over from a few years back when your dif choices on the 10 bolt were open govlock or auburn, things have improved in that regard i understand. another benefit is shear number of d44s produced and they spread of usage seems to me to lead to better support for parts.
     
  15. Stephen

    Stephen 1/2 ton status Moderator Vendor

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    We took a perfectly good GM D60, cut the yokes off the end of the housing and used the knuckles out on the new axle. We bought the Tera center, built the tubes and pressed it all together (with a little help from the guys at Tera), then assembled it with new inner and outer shafts. It's built to use all GM parts, except the center of course. The gear set came from Tera and I assume there's good availability of ratios, it wasn't a big deal to get 5.13's.

    I did break a joint out of the front this summer. Full right turn, good bit of traction, brake lock inadvertantly applied. I was in 4:1 and just gave it some gas and it made a big noise. The ujoint flew about 6 feet toward the back of the truck, pretty spectacular from what I hear. It also put a slight twist in the spline on the inner and outer shaft on that side. I haven't checked the long side, it didn't have as much traction, so I think it's OK.

    Making the world better, one truck at a time.
    SW-ORD
    <a target="_blank" href=http://www.offroaddesign.com>www.offroaddesign.com</a>
     
  16. BurbinOR

    BurbinOR 3/4 ton status

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    Hey by the way, awesome job on the TTC. Read the whole story/article in the mag last night. You had that thing won.........great job.

    <font color=blue>'79 ONE TON TPI K5 - See it at---&gt;<a target="_blank" href=http://www.blazzinor.rockcrawler.com>www.blazzinor.rockcrawler.com</a>
     
  17. 84_Chevy_K10

    84_Chevy_K10 Banned

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    Very well said Stephen, at least you talk rationally.

    "Is there anyone with a 38" or bigger tire that uses it off road and honestly doesn't want or need a D60? "

    Yep. My friend Josh. His truck has destroyed many, many driveshafts, but never broken an axle u joint. He runs 44" Gumbo Monster Mudders. It is an open diff. He has said he will attempt to upgrade when he breaks it. He only has a 350 though. He has a 12" Superlift and a 3" body. No crossover steering either, he's not the slightest bit interested in that.

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

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