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Dana 44 Solid Front Axle: Part 1 Reverse Spiral Housing

Copyright © 2002 All International Rights Reserved. This document may not be copied or published without prior written permission. Updated: Feb 01, 2004 - Mr.N

Below is the base article that started it all.  I was so feed up with all the miss information of the "Web Knowledge" so many people were posting I decided to research it my self.  After reading several books from Dana Corp and spending may hours/days on the Dana web page I decided to write a small article to help people avoid the mistakes I made.  All though some of the Books are no longer available from Dana the information is still out there.  I welcome all and any correction you may have, please see where to contact me on the main page.  I'm not the fountain, just a guy who had some drive to do research as in re search and search and search.

 

This article was written to document the early years of Dana 44 Reverse Spiral Solid front axle.  It also includes information on the regular Dana 44 axle to compare the two, it is even expending into some Dana 60 info. It will concentrate on the Ford front straight axle from the mid 60's and several other axles.   Additionally this article should dispel some of the myths about the first front drive axle that Dana / Spicer built with a Reverse Spiral Gear Set.  The Dana 44 Reverse Spiral axle will be refereed to as the Dana 44RS within this article.   

Dana designed the first reverse spiral axle in the early sixties for Ford.   Dana released the 44RS for production in January 1965.   Early enough to possibly be under a few rare 1965 F100's, however no written confirmation on this has been found. The 44RS was a complete new design in axle, with special design to lube the pinion that was above the fluid level.  This axle has also been called the Dana 44 High Pinion, Dana 44 Reverse Rotation, Dana 44 Reverse Cut, Dana 44 High clearance and many more names.  A reverse spiral axle has the center line of the pinion contacting the ring gear above the center line of the axle, and thus has different lubrication passages.  This axle offers a strength increase over a standard rotation axle while in forward movement. It allows the drive shaft to contact the pinion yoke at a much higher level of connection, thus keeping the drive shaft several inches higher.  The gears are not interchangeable with gear sets that are designed with the pinion below the centerline of the ring gear, however the carrier is.  Reverse Cut refers to the direction the ring gear is cut for reverse spiral housing.  The axiom of the reverse cut is to strengthen the gear while in the front drive axle of operation.  Standard cut gears can not be swapped with reverse cut gears, however in the Dana 44 the ring gear carrier can be swapped.  High pinion, Hy-Pinion or Hi-Pinion are all slang used in and out of the industry for a reverse spiral axle.  High Clearance is a Ford marketing term used for the reverse spiral axle.  Reverse rotation: is the single most misused axle term.  Reverse Rotation is a slang term used to describe a reverse spiral cut housing.  Neither the axle nor the axle shafts travel in a reverse motion, or travel 'backwards' compared to a regular housing.  This term only shows the ignorance of the person or company using it.

In 1966 Spicer supplied this revolutionary Reverse Spiral axle, the Dana 44RS, for the new front coil sprung suspension on the Ford F100 4x4.   (Picture 1 - 4.)   The axle debuted with 3.54 or 4.09 gears, drum brakes, open king pin knuckles and running Spicier 5-260x U-joints.   These axles were built in the Fort Wayne Indiana plant, even during the days of Edgerton.   Spicer produced this style for Ford until the middle of 1971.

1971 was a year of change for this axle, the new axle now came with ball joints instead of king pins to hold the knuckles on.  It still had 2 3/4" axle tubes with ½” thick walls and the 5-260 U-joint, with coil mounting brackets in 4 separate cast pieces welded at the top and bottom.  The Panhard bar was still attached with a separate bracket, the axle stayed this way thru 1972.

1973 big change was to the larger 5-297 u-joint.  It still came with ball joints, 2 3/4" axle tubes with ½” thick walls and the Panhard bar was attached with a separate bracket.   The axle stayed this way thru 1975 on all F100’s & F150’s.   The 1973 model year also saw the release of the 3.73 and 3.50 gear set in June.

In 1976 the axles coil mounting cast brackets were slightly changed.   The front passenger’s side was made with the Panhard bar attachment cast in to it.   Additionally 1976 was the first year Ford offered disk brakes as a standard option, although several late 75's have been rumored to have disks. This axle stayed the same for 1977 for the F100 and F150.   The 1976-year also saw the release of the 3.00 gear set in December.

In 1977.5 Ford’s new F250 axle now started to appear.   Previously, the F250 ran a standard rotation closed knuckle axle (see reference pictures below.)   This axle for the F250 44RS is slightly different than the F100 & F150 offered in 1977.   The F250 is a little wider than the F100 & F150, for the wider 8 wheel bolt hub.   The F250 also has 3" wide axle tubes with ½” thick tube walls, and the axle has many different small changes from the F100 & F150 to include larger brakes.   This axle stayed this way until it changed to the Twin Traction Beam (TTB) IFS system of the 1980 model year.

In 1978 the 44RS had its largest change to date for the F100 & F150, which stayed with the axle until the transformation to IFS in 1980.   Spicer changed the coil mounting brackets from separate cast brackets that held on the radius arms to a new design that was a single piece per side, with the tubes pressed into the ends of the casting.   The center of the cast pieces does not have a tube that passes through it!   (See Picture 14)   Instead, a tube is pressed on both ends and welded together.   This system came with outer tubes 3/8” thick and center tubes 3/8” or ¼” thick.

Two more gear sets were released from Spicer for the 44RS, 3.07 in July of 1981 and 3.31 in October of 1992.

 

Pictures of Dana 44 axles Ford ran for the 60's and 70's

Also Ford Dana 60, Chevy Dana 44 and 10 bolt.

Picture 1 Dana 44 Reverse Spiral solid front axle from a 1967 Ford F100 4x4. This axle is the same for the years 1966 to 1970 on the F100 4x4 trucks. Notice the open kingpin knuckles with 5-260x u-joints and drum brakes. In 1966 Ford changed to this new design running a front coil setup and a drag link connected to tie rod style steering. Picture not taken by author.

Picture 2 Dana 44 Reverse Spiral solid front axle from a 1967 Ford F100 4x4. This axle is the same for the years 1966 to 1970 on the F100 4x4 trucks. Notice the 5 on 5.5” bolt pattern with the internal lock-out and drum brakes.   Notice the high fill plug in the diff cover. Picture not taken by author.

Picture 3 Dana 44 Reverse Spiral solid front axle from a 1970 Ford F100 4x4. This axle is the same for the years 1966 to 1970.  Once again notice the open kingpin knuckles and reverse spiral housing.  It runs a 5-260x u-joint but it's rumored a 2-297x u-joint and axle shaft will fit.

Picture 4 Dana 44 Reverse Spiral solid front axle from a 1970 Ford F100 4x4. This axle is the same for the years 1966 to 1970.  This is a close up of the open king pin knuckle.

Picture 5 is a Dana 44 Reverse Spiral solid front axle from a 1971 Ford F100 4x4. This axle type spanned 1971-1972 on the Ford 4x4 trucks. It has open ball joint knuckles and 4 separate coil mounting brackets plus 5-260x u-joints and drum brakes. Picture taken from C_J_Ford's web page

Picture 6 is a Dana 44 Reverse Spiral solid front axle from a 1971 Ford F100 4x4. This shows the open ball joint knuckles again. Picture taken from C_J_Ford's web page

Picture 7 is a Dana 44 Reverse Spiral solid front axle from a 1974 Ford F150 4x4. This axle type spanned 1973-1975 on the F100 & F150 4x4 trucks. It has open ball joint knuckles and 4 separate coil mounting brackets. Notice the Panhard bar has a separate mount on the axle tube.  If you use non-stock steering this could get in the way and cause trouble.

Picture 8 is a Dana 44 Reverse Spiral solid front axle from a 1974 Ford F150 4x4. It has a 2.75 diameter axle tube that is 0.5” thick, drum brakes and 5-297x u-joints. Notice there are no web's on the center housing, it's smooth.

Picture 9 is a Dana 44 Reverse Spiral solid front axle from a 1977 Ford F150 4x4. This axle type spanned 1976-1977 on the F100 & F150 4x4 trucks. The major change was to disk brakes.  They have a 2.75 diameter axle tube with 1/2" or 3/8” thick walls and 5-297x u-joints.

 

Picture 10 This axle type spanned 1976-1977 on the F100 & F150 4x4 trucks. It has open ball joint knuckles and 4 separate coil mounting brackets. Do note the Panhard bar is now attached to a coil mount on the axle tub and thus further back from steering components. 

Picture 11 is a Dana 44 Reverse Spiral solid front axle from a 1978 Ford F150 4x4. This axle type spanned 1978-1979 in the F100, F150 and Full-Size Bronco. The major change was to the coil mount. Most have a 2.75 diameter axle tube with 3/8” thick walls but some have 1/4” thick  inner tubes and all have 5-297X u-joints.

Picture 12 is a Dana 44 Reverse Spiral solid front axle from a 1978 Ford F150 4x4. It has open ball joint knuckles and note the Panhard bar is attached to the cast coil mount. It's rumored there is a 3" tuber version out there, I can't find any info on this.

Picture 13 Compares the different coils mounting methods for the Dana 44-½ ton axle. The picture on the left shows a 66-77 style for the F100, F150 and early Bronco, it's two separate pieces.  On the right is the 78-79 one-piece style of the F100, F150 and full size Bronco. It shows the unit is one piece and is welded 360 around the tube. MUCH better picture -> Link

Picture 14 Shows the 78-79 is not a good candidate for an axle swap, unless you keep the Ford coils. The area between the red arrows does not have a tube in it. The Author cut an axle open and found this out the hard way. Additionally the inner tube was only 1/4" thick from a 79 Bronco that was cut open!

Picture 15 Notice the Yellow line, it's the inner tube. 

 

Picture 15 One more time.  There is no tube in between the read arrows on a Ford 78-79 44RS 1/2 ton housing.  If your going to use the Ford coil mounts see the link below for how to shorten this axle.  Before you destroy the axle make sure it doesn't have a thin 1/4" inner tube.

Resources:

Dana Corporation:

Hollander Interchange Manual Linked is the mini online version http://www.mypartshop.com/.

Detroit public library www.detroit.lib.mi.us

 

Check out a great vacation spot I often say at, My Sister-In-Law runs it! 
www.curryhousekeywest.com

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Copyright © 2002 All International Rights Reserved.  This document may not be copied or published in anyway without prior written permission.