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Old 03-22-2020, 09:15 AM   #1
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2013 front axle build

I have a 2013 front axle housing, diff, and axle shafts. Need to put together the rest. I've done some googling on dana 60 builds and they can go from mild to wild. My original plan was to basically build an axle as it would have came from the factory in 2013 - get a set of knuckle assemblies, rebuild them, then add brakes and hubs. However while I'm in there, are there any particularly note worthy upgrades? 2016 knuckles? Spyntec hubs? I'd love to add a truetrac or similar to the front but that's not quite in the budget at the moment.

Edit: while it's off, are the factory bushings something to replace? I can't imagine those are fun to replace while they're on the van.
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Old 03-30-2020, 09:16 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by b. rock View Post
2016 knuckles? Spyntec hubs? I'd love to add a truetrac or similar to the front but that's not quite in the budget at the moment.


As you've likely already learned, it's a slippery slope... but since I'm spending your money



-Figure out your steering geometry now, decide on high steer or not, figure out your track bar and steering damper strategy, so if you need to fab and weld, you do it on the bench
-Big brakes w/new parts (if bigger is an option, if not, than just new pads, caliper, hoses and rotors)

-Sort out the speed sensor compatibility between your new axle and your van (there's often more to it than meets the eye)

-Best quality replacement ball joints

-Manual locking hub conversion (If the used axle doesn't already have that)
-Ring and pinion ratio that you want (now is the time to add a locker if you can afford it), figure out what driveshaft you'll use, make sure you have the correct yoke before setting up the pinion bearing crush. Internal axle work is easier to do now

-New seals, bushings, axle u-joints, stub axle bearings, new brake calipers
-Better hubs (than stock unit bearing) if planning on larger tires and wheels

I'm not sure where the cutoff is for the larger ball joints (than the 2001's), but if the '13 inner C and knuckles take the larger ball joint, use the best ones you can get, if '16 knuckles take the large BJ, then I'd do that. bigger front bakes too, F450 maybe (but you need a 17" or larger wheel I think).



I'm not sure what Dana Engineers were thinking with the unit bearing deal, both inner and outter bearings are almost right next to each other. As if the 4x4 customer isn't going to upgrade the tire and wheel package? I digress... If you plan to move the wheel center outward, (from stock F truck) or put on larger tires and wheels, look at doing the Spyntec upgrade. The non-servicable unit bearing deals are junk. If your budget won't allow the pricey Spyntec route, then go with Timken units. Ditch the vacuum engagement locking hub set up, and convert to manual hubs, but you want to decide on bearing units before you order Warn manual hubs, I'm pretty sure Spyntec takes their own hubs, they are a different design than unit bearing Dana.



Then there's a 1/4: thick steel diff cover, and 1-1/4" tie rod w/Chevy tie rod ends, better shock mounts to accept longer shocks, different bump stops, differential vent hose set up....
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Old 03-30-2020, 10:03 AM   #3
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Since I don't have any hubs at the moment - this is why I'm asking. Now that I see the unit bearing design...that's definitely not happening. Thanks for the recommendation on that one. Looks like Dynatrac makes one too? You are correct though...not cheap.

I'm keeping the 3.73, hoping that makes the big diesel happy with 35s at highway speeds. I'm torn on a locker or lsd up front. It's definitely easier to do now, just adds another layer to the pile of parts I need to get. It'll probably be that OR the hub upgrade.

Good point on the sensor calibration. The engine swap may make that a little more complex.

Manual locking hubs were a definite. I really don't mind the vacuum stuff but since I'm starting from scratch, manual it is.

I'll do some digging on the ball joints. Do the vans chew through these pretty quickly? Year compatability is kinda blurry, including on the brakes. Would be nice if there was an online parts tool like the dealers have access to.

Yes to the crossover steering. That welding is already done.
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Old 03-31-2020, 04:40 PM   #4
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Ball joints have been the topic of several posts here, mostly from guys who travel washboard roads, w/heavy rigs. I replaced mine a few years ago, it's a big job. You can do a replacement parts search for the various years, to figure out what's what. I know my 2001 Dana 60 front has the smaller BJ's. Chris at Ujoint knows a lot about the various brakes that fit the Dana 60, probably tell you which knuckle is preferred, as well.


I wouldn't want the vacuum hubs, they have a high failure rate on the trucks after about 6yrs of wet use. Since the vans never came with 4x4, there's a bunch of logistical things to tackle, lines, indicator lights, solenoids, who knows what all, it could become a big project within a project.



Same with the T-case, there are electric engagement types, but you want a manual one. These conversions are complicated enough, I say keep it as simple as possible.
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Old 03-31-2020, 08:13 PM   #5
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I do know that the 2013 brakes won't fit on the 2016 knuckles. After that it's all about the money & time ya got.
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