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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys quick question. Does anybody know about how I can upgrade my axles for more towing capability on a '95 dakota? If I can I would like to be able to keep the independant suspension on the front. is it possible to just swap the rear axle for a more HD one? and would a heavier axle end up being longer than the orignal? any insight would be greatly appriciated.bounce
 

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For a rear axle you can put anything you want under the truck with the right tools. The tricky part is you have to match the front axle drive ratio, or change both, and as you've aluded to, depending on what axle you decide to use you may have to modify it for length, mounting, brakes, etc. You may also need new wheels if the bolt pattern doesn't match your current one. i.e. a 2 1/2 ton Rockwell is going to take a lot of modification to fit right, but you may find that a certain year and model Ford 9" is an almost direct bolt in replacement.

I'd think a Dakota or Dodge forum would be the best place to start as far as options. It may be that stronger axle shafts or a lower ring and pinion setup will give you what you need far cheaper and easier than a full axle swap. You should also look at what is the actual weak point for towing heavier loads with these trucks. You can change the gearing if you just need more grunt, but the strongest axles in the world won't help if the chassis or suspension isn't built to handle the weight.
 

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Hey Danger_Dakota.

I see you are new to this forum, so welcome. I'm pretty sure one of the Dakota builds has a front and rear axle swap. I think it was vandever metalworx that did an axle replacement. You probably should bookmark ALL of the Dakota build threads ---- I did. They will be a useful resources. Google is your friend. Try searching for this:

Dakota 3500 Dodge site:www.4btswaps.com

and see if you find vandever's thread. I think he might have swapped a Dodge Ram 3500 axles under his Dakota.

Good Luck!!!
 

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you may need to run an axle with an antilock tone ring in it----on the 97-98 dakotas the speedo runs through the antilock tone ring----i dont know the year this system started or if it is still done---on my sons truck we ran a 2001 dodge dana 60 4.10 ratio and for the front a high pinion dana 60-----a previous poster here was lamenting the speedo doesnt work and he had a ford 9 inch on the dakota truck----bob
 

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How much weight do you want to tow with your dakota?? Just putting in stronger diffs doesnt mean you can tow more weight safely.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Thanks for the advice guys. Ill start looking into all these options to see what i can find out.

How much weight do you want to tow with your dakota?? Just putting in stronger diffs doesnt mean you can tow more weight safely.
well with the 4bt swap I would like for the truck to be capable of safely pulling around the ballpark of the motor's GVWR minus the weight of the truck of course. from what ive read the 4bt has a GVWR of about 16,000 lbs. (correct me if im wrong on that). I'm assuming that with the modifications the truck could end up weighing about 6000 lbs. With that said I would like the truck to be able to pull up to 10,000 lbs. if thats possible. I've been told that with the right transmission, ratios and engine mods the 4bt can easily handle that weight, but now I'm looking into gettin the rest of the truck to; brakes, suspension, drivetrain, ect. Any thoughts? am I completely insane, or is this a practical desire?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
almost forgot

I should add that though i would like to pull 10,000 lbs at the very least I would like to be able to pull a 31' airstream that I think weighs around 7,000 lbs. In about 3 years me and the lady are gonna go nomad in the camper around the country for awhile and work freelance in our careers wherever we set up camp.:D
 

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Here's a thought, what if I put a 2002 -2008 RAM 1500 front axle (so I can keep the independent suspension on the front) with say a Dana 70 in the back and match the ratios. I wouldn't mind the wider stance so long as the front and back match. It would take some suspension fabrication, but hey what kinda welder would I be if I couldn't do a little fabricating.
 

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While I completely understand the desire to do your own thing but I guess I'm not clear on the benefits of this vs getting a bigger truck considering the age of your truck and what you want it to do. All the time and money spent on upgrading a smaller truck to try and do what a larger one is designed and built to do.
 

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i have put a dodge van 9.25 under a dakota with modern high offset wheels and it fits---i have the same setup under my 64 plymouth daily driver---guys cant believe a c-body truck width axle fits under there---got the idea when i stuffed a c-body dana 60 under my V10 64 plymouth---the 9.25 is plenty strong the only drawback is a c-clip axle on extreme sideloads----bob
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
While I completely understand the desire to do your own thing but I guess I'm not clear on the benefits of this vs getting a bigger truck considering the age of your truck and what you want it to do. All the time and money spent on upgrading a smaller truck to try and do what a larger one is designed and built to do.
I have actually realized that it seems ridiculous vs buying a 2500 RAM or even a 1500 RAM with a 4bt swap. I think its that I want to be able to serve up some humble pie when people say it can't tow worth a damn. Also the Dakota I'm using for the project is one of two, and is a gutted extended cab that is essentially missing everything that I would need to swap anyway. My reg cab daily driver is in way too good of a condition for me to feel comfortable slicing into it, though I will likely sell it if the tonka tow rig project goes well. :(
 

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I got the full-float 8-lug Dana 60 from a '78 D200, it's sitting nicely under an '84 T/A towing project build, using the wheels from a '79 C-20 CS, and the axle is rated to carry 6500# It's about 65" between the wheels.
Even the round-body-style Dakotas may not be as wide as my car, but if that be the case, just get a pair of dually wheels. The backspacing on those is around 8.5"
If you want to do that, you might consider the stronger, cheaper GM 14-bolt, the 10.5" full-float version. Most are 67" between the wheels, but since the housings were made in 2 different widths, and there are 2 different styles of hubs, you can do 4 different widths: 65, 67, 70 & 73" plus they're rated to 8600#
Towing 10k isn't the concern. The primary concern is brakes.
With a normal 1500-style axle, you can carry around 3800#, which means 2000# of payload. That's adequate for bumper-hitch, but not for gooseneck or fifth-wheel. You should be able to fit LT225/75R16E tires, around 29.3" diameter, but if you want to go smaller, there are 215/65R16D tires, around 27.0" diameter, rated for 2271# ea SRW, or 2149# ea DRW
 

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I too try not to discourage anyone's swap dreams......for your plans of lots of towing I'd seriously think about finding a 1/2-3/4 ton full size truck with a front straight axle drivetrain that someone is looking to part out. Drop your nice Dak body on its rolling chassis and proceed with your build. You should net bigger brakes, heavier frame, and less axle oilpan clearance headaches. It would suck to do a swap only to break the frame from the towing stresses. A 31' TT exerts a lot of force on the bumper/frame area at highway speeds. If you found a 5th wheel TT, I'd likely be giving different advice. I've had bumper pull and 5th wheelers, large trailerable boats (#8K+), and a "little" oilfield transport experience, the stresses and handling differences b/w bumper pull and 5th wheels with the same weight is astounding. Bumper pulling twice the weight of the tow rig (esp when not specifically engineered for this purpose) can get exciting.
 

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I too try not to discourage anyone's swap dreams......for your plans of lots of towing I'd seriously think about finding a 1/2-3/4 ton full size truck with a front straight axle drivetrain that someone is looking to part out. Drop your nice Dak body on its rolling chassis and proceed with your build. You should net bigger brakes, heavier frame, and less axle oilpan clearance headaches. It would suck to do a swap only to break the frame from the towing stresses. A 31' TT exerts a lot of force on the bumper/frame area a highway speeds. If you found a 5th wheel TT, I'd likely be giving different advice
I believe this is good advise. I am now in a position where putting any more hard earned cash into these stock axels would be a waste. The front is undersized (8") and it's been nothing short of a pain in the azz. I didn't make the diff mounts so I can't say for sure that everything is aligned up right but both the front diff that was in the Durango (which is where i got the 4bt drive train from a previous swap) and the Dakota are leaking badly.
I have a pair of 03 F-250 axels that I want to smoose under there, but I don't look forward to it. I will have to regear and buy lockers just for a start. Then I have to make them fit. I already have a 3" body lift and by the time I make the d60 fit up front I will be running much bigger tires and be a lot higher up than I wanted. In the mean time I'm going to take the leaking front diff out an run around 2 wheel without a locker, how thrilling.
Regards,
Al
 

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If it were me id swap in some half ton dodge axles. D44 front and c9.25 rear. Probly just a plug and play with the abs sensors & speed sensor, easy to find and pick up cheap. Unless your gunna throw big power to it, big tires and wheel it they should hold up well. Only downfall is the unit bearing front end but that's what you already have and it works fine. For the diff actuator you could just run the cable actuated posi-lock system.
 
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