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Old 08-22-2009, 09:08 PM   #1
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Axle swap-Dana 60

I am new to this so any help appreciated. I've looked at a lot of sites and have some idea of the terminology and what I am looking for but would appreciate some feedback. If I come across as though I know what I am talking about, I don't.

I have an E250, 1995, 5.8, V8 (pre triton), about 7500 lbs, 2wd. I plan to keep it for another 10 years, 100,000 miles.

I want to replace my rear axle with a Dana 60 full floater from an older E350 for two reasons. More capacity (I'm maxed out) and I'd like a Detroit locker. Eventually, I may go for the 4wd conversion.

I've found the following:
Dana 60
Full float
Drum brakes
3.54 gear ratio
30 spline

They are asking a couple of hundred. I plan to rebuild (or have it done) and believe I can replace the ring and pinion to get to a 3.73 or a 4.10 gear ratio. This (3.54) is lower (shorter?) than I am used to seeing. I don't need a lot of power as I never go offroading and would need the 4wd I am planning mostly for sand and mud (no ice in these parts except in bags from the gas station).

I don't know if the 3.54 would be ok for an 8500 (loaded) van.

I don't know if 30 spline is desirable or not.

Is getting this thing, rebuilding it, installing the locker and new ring and pinion, and installing a reasonable thing to do? On a 1-10 scale, how tough is this going to be? I've seen lots of sites where people have done this. I've turned a wrench but nothing too serious.

Any advice is good advice.

Thanks

Tom
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Old 08-22-2009, 10:32 PM   #2
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Re: Axle swap-Dana 60

The price is sure right and a full floater is sure the way to go. If the rear end is not out of a similar rig, check all dimensions to be sure it will bolt in.
As far a the ratio, they all can work fine depending on what you want to do. If your not changing tire size and you're happy with your RPM vs speed now, stay with the same gears as what's in your existing rear end. If you need more low end torque or are increasing tire size you'll probably need lower gears. I had a '96 with 3.73 gearing and 265 tires and it was fine for the street and minor off road, but sure would have liked something lower on some of the nasty, low speed crawling stuff.
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Old 08-22-2009, 11:11 PM   #3
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Re: Axle swap-Dana 60

Thanks. I forgot to mention that it is an e350 rear axle.
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Old 08-22-2009, 11:27 PM   #4
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Re: Axle swap-Dana 60

I've never rebuilt an axle, but I know it's critical to have the ring and pinion installed and adjusted properly. The gears have to mesh just so and if done wrong - you end up with metal oatmeal in short order. If you're dropping a locker in, just pay a good shop to handle that.

The 3.54 ratio will provide the best freeway mileage and if you're not towing or driving a lot in hilly country, it should be fine. We have a 1995 E150 Club Wagon van with the same engine, but a 3.73 rear end. It towed a travel trailer all over the western U.S. w/o issue and still got decent freeway mileage (solo).

If you're even contemplating a 4x4 conversion in the future, I think you'll be money ahead to change ratios now to something lower when you rebuild the full floater. That way you don't have to buy two gear sets in the future. Also if you're buying a used front axle, I don't think many 4x4s came with 3.54 gears - 3.73 or 4.10 were more common.
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Old 08-22-2009, 11:34 PM   #5
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Re: Axle swap-Dana 60

You can save on install cost when putting the locker and gears in at the same time, if you are changing gear ratio. You can go too far on the gears... I went from 2.73 to 3.73 on a G20 and the motor was screaming RPMs at highway speeds.

If it's in working condition you should probably install and drive around with the 3.54s before you buy a locker or decide on gears... since you have that option.

Also a full floater is not required for a locker. No reason (that I can guess) that you wouldn't be able to just slap a locker in your existing axle, although I know you're considering weight as well.
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Old 08-23-2009, 05:44 AM   #6
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Re: Axle swap-Dana 60

From what I can tell (from the net), there are no E350s with less than 7800 lbs capacity on the rear axle. That is what I am really after.

I have a complete 1993 e350 in Austin for around $700 so I'm torn about going to a couple of hours each way for the axle or just grabbing a whole van for parts.

I like the idea of driving it around for a while and checking it out. I get the impression that installing it is not all that complicated.

It's interesting how many people rebuild these things like they are changing socks. Seems like kids. I wonder how they figure it out. (or maybe everyone seems likes kids these days....I'm older than the president-wt heck?)

Tom
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Old 08-23-2009, 08:34 AM   #7
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Re: Axle swap-Dana 60

But mine is an E350 and has a semi-float?

Axle rebuilding is not hard, per se. You have to buy a kit for that axle, you have to be patient, and you have to take the whole thing (including pinion) in and out possibly dozens of times, re-shimming to change the way the gears mesh. Experience really rewards in the area of guessing closely the first time, and youthful exuberance in that forking with your ring and pinion is still exciting.

Additionally, I'm sure youth has something to do with the inability to consider the consequences you face- specifically that if you screw it up and grenade your axle it directly affects your mortgage payments.
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Old 08-23-2009, 08:38 AM   #8
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Re: Axle swap-Dana 60

Before some year, I think all the E350s were full float. I believe you can tell by just looking at them. The full float have hubs that stick out about 4 inches. I think.....
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Old 08-23-2009, 08:47 AM   #9
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Re: Axle swap-Dana 60

You can tell a full floater by looking at the end of the axle where it's exposed in the center of the rear wheel. A full floater will sitck out a little and has a removable plate with exposed bolts holding it on. A semi floater will not have the plate and bolts.
For the price you're talking about, the extra strength of a full floater sure seems like the way to go. I just spent $3k to upgrade mine and thot it was worth it. I was going to go your route, but time and hassles got in the way.
Jage pretty much said it on the rebuild. I've done a bunch of them and it just takes a little time to get the gear pattern right. As he said, I'd just run it without opening it up (fluid change for sure) and see how you like the gearing. You don't have to pull the whole rear end to change the gears in the future, just pull the pot - or go to a good shop.
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Old 09-05-2009, 09:39 PM   #10
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Re: Axle swap-Dana 60

For 99% on road use and 1% sand and mud (no rock crawling). Do I care how many splines I have or how tall they are? Or is this one less thing I can worry about?

And what's a spline anyway? I'm thinking it's the gear teeth.

Thanks

Tom
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