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Solid Front Axle sawp

4454 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  RXT
Im interested in building a full on trail truck that will be able to crawl up some hills occasionally. I used to have a 4.7Dakota but got in an accident and had to get a daily, but i did learn IFS sucks for any type of crawling or decent trails, Im not flying down desert roads like a pre-runner.

So my problem is, i have found a few threads about SAS on dakotas but nothing seems definitive. Im not an experienced fabricator but i will be able to use my resources to get the job done. I need to know if its worth it to change over to a solid axle or do i just go buy a Cherokee and use that.

If it is worth it whats entail, ik i will need a Dana 44 front, but parts steps and and guidance will be very need for this project.
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Each option you have, is going to have pros and cons.

In honesty, it's far less work and hassle (And probably less money) to buy a used Cherokee. Those are good platforms to build and there are tons of parts out there for them and best of all, they already come with a pair of solid axles. But the Cherokee only comes with a Dana 30 front axle, which is marginally stronger than the junk they put under the Dakota. You can run a larger tire, up to 35 inches on a Cherokee, but you still end up with the same type of crap azz unit hubs. Now, if you're ok with the limits of the Cherokee's chassis and drivetrain, it will be hard for a Dakota to beat, but if you want to make upgrades later down the road, the costs can sky rocket very easily

Any SAS you do on a Dakota is going to be a custom job, but since you'll be swapping axles anyway, you're not stuck to the limits of a factory offered axle. Want to run a big tire? Are you rocking it in the boulders? You might want to swap in something like a Dana 60 or Rockwell, or whatever. On the flip side, none of this is cheap and if you don't have fabrication skills, you'll be paying someone to do the job at whatever their hourly fee is.

This is a pic of my junk. When this photo was taken, I just finished doing a cab swap which was a big deal all by itself but it will illustrate what you'll go thru

Most people doing a solid axle swap (or 2wd to 4wd conversion) think this is all you need, but to complete this kind of swap requires far, far more parts. Not included are driveshafts, springs, steering components, brakes, linkages, and dozens of other parts you will need to buy. Can you say Cha-ching?

Besides all the parts you have to buy, theres a ton of labor involved, such as cutting off the old IFS and a bunch of brackets that will no longer be needed. After that, fabrication begins. You'll need to build new suspension mounts and make a ton of other changes.

Now I left out a bunch of details and all of the photos I took, but this should give you an idea of just the absolute basics. In my case there was also an engine swap involved. I had a Cummins dropped in while we did the SAS. I decided to do the engine swap at the same time to make sure everything came together in one cohesive package.

Theres still a ton of work left to do, to get this thing road worthy, but for now, this is what it looks like;

From the perspective of cost……Yes, I paid a bunch of money to do this. Some would argue why spend a small fortune on an old truck? Well, I feel that I saved money by using an old truck. Had I bought a new truck to modify, I could had easily tripled the overall cost when you consider how much new trucks sell for. So the meaning of "worth" is completely depended on what it means to you

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