Dana 44 drum to disk?

Discussion in '1969-1972 K5 Blazer | Truck | Suburban' started by Jimman207, Jan 2, 2021.

  1. Jimman207

    Jimman207 Registered Member Premium Member

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    I have a 70 dana 44 up front with drums. Anyone know if I can replace the knuckles bolt up disks and use all the same internals? (Hubs, spindles, shafts) or is there more to it. Found several axels to swap in from mid seventy's and eighty's but the gearing is different. Looked into swapping gears but looks like all the advise is find one with the correct ratio(3.73)? thanks
     
  2. bradshawtech

    bradshawtech 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    Replying to see what the experts say, I have the same questions about my 68 K20.
     
  3. bp71k5

    bp71k5 3/4 ton status Premium Member

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    you may not even need to swap knuckles. Just the spindles out should be enough. Be careful about using old spindles though cause I remember early models sometimes had a smaller spindle size that doesn’t work with later parts. Not sure where 70 fits on that spectrum.

    edit: cancel that. I’m thinking of the swap from 6 lug to 8 lug. No idea about drums for sure, but I’d be surprised if the axles aren’t the same from the knuckles inward.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2021
  4. ashman

    ashman What's a pigeonrat?? Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    May need to post about this in the Garage forum for more eyes to see it. I'm pretty sure that replacing from the knuckles out will work just fine, but I've never done it myself so I can't be sure.
     
  5. Wes Harden

    Wes Harden 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    replacing the knuckle would depend on the axle being an open knuckle or not, Iirc the 1gen had open knuckles, but many drum brake 44's were closed knuckle. If closed knuckle you will need another complete axle housing.
     
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  6. sweetk30

    sweetk30 let it all BURN ! Premium Member

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    had a open knuckle drum front under my dads old truck .

    and knuckle is cast different to clear the body of the caliper . so yes you will prob need knuckle out and some spindles the bearing size is different .
     
  7. bradshawtech

    bradshawtech 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    That’s, that. I’ll need a complete axle, mine is closed knuckle. Is there any value to mine other than keeping it original?

    I haven’t checked the ratio tags but on my drive home from the shop this weekend after pressure washing the truck it seemed like my top speed is going to be very conservative.
     
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  8. Wes Harden

    Wes Harden 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    Many older 4x4 had 456 so if you had 30 31 inch tires then 55 would be pushing it. I put the ring carrier and pinion from a closed knuckle 67 first in an open knuckle 76 ford. Parts swapped no issues.
    Chevy d44 shouldn't be to hard to source, get one with disc brakes.
     
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  9. Jimman207

    Jimman207 Registered Member Premium Member

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    Yes its an open knuckle. So I can just use a mid seventy's d44 and swap in my pinion gears? I mean just pull the pinion and ring gear without any special tools or presses and swap? Videos I have watched on changing pinion gears looks like alot to it?
     
  10. 76zimmer

    76zimmer Flyin Rat Staff Member Moderator GMOTM Winner

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    You would need to do a ring and pinion gear setup to do it right. Not just a plug and play part!
     
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  11. diesel4me

    diesel4me 1 ton status Premium Member

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    Just get a complete 72 up disc brake front axle from a salvage yard ,unless your proves to be an uncommon ratio like a 1/2 ton with 4:56's the 73-up trucks didn't use very often ,you can likely score a complete take out for about $300 or maybe less...
    I see many 1/2 ton axles selling cheap because they are being upgraded to 1 tons around here...

    I believe the GM corperate 10 bolt front ends they started using in 1977 or so still bolt up the same,but some internal parts differ from a Dana 44,so its best to know just what year & model the axle came from so parts needed in the future can be had without guessing.


    It is "involved" swapping just ring & pinion's around,you need a bearing press,and dial indicators,the skill to use them all,and sometimes even if everything is done right there are still problems.

    Swapping in a complete axle can be done in an hour or two,hardest part is getting the u-bolt nuts off ,you may have to buy new u-bolts ,cutting them off saves a lot of labor & time and you aren't really supposed to re-use them anyways..
     
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  12. Wes Harden

    Wes Harden 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    I try to always use new u bolts @$40 from most spring shops. @$80 for HD from ord. So if you get new and old ones are rusty cut'm off with a sawsall or whatever works for you.
    Nice to have an old I bolt or 2 for mock ups thou.
    Yes when I swapped the d44 gears I had to set pinion depth and back lash. Ran a pattern. The housings are never exactly the dimensions, 004 or .008" in the housing will change the pattern.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2021
  13. Jimman207

    Jimman207 Registered Member Premium Member

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    I have located a 1976 dana 44 with disks 3.08. I am going to swap everything axel shaft and outward. It will probably take me a while to get to it but I will post if successful!
     
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  14. 19Tim69

    19Tim69 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    I know from the spindles out it can be done but why would you?
    The older drum axles are not as good as the later disc axles.
    Here is a good read on the difference if you want to check it out.

    http://d44tech.com/69-72_front.html
     
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  15. bradshawtech

    bradshawtech 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    Handy, thanks
     
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  16. 19Tim69

    19Tim69 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    I swapped in a 76 Into my 69 once I found that the whole unit was better than the drum unit.
     
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  17. LVJimmy

    LVJimmy 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    Some D44 had different length axle shafts.
     
  18. 19Tim69

    19Tim69 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    Yes For GM the K5 & the K10/20
     
  19. Stephen

    Stephen 1/2 ton status Moderator Vendor

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    $45 for ubolts if you want just the Ubolts but a good point to remember here is that a lot of the early axles had 2.75" tubes and they'll use different ubolts and plates compared to the later trucks. Going to the later 3" tube is nice and using the later model plates with swaybar mounting points gives you some options for putting a swaybar on the truck pretty easily if you want.
     

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