Trick Five-Lug 60
From the March, 1999 issue of Jp
By Rick Péwé
Photography by Rick Péwé
Until now, rear full-floating 60 axles were only available in an eight-lug pattern, and the existing wheel hubs were too big to machine down to a regular Jeep pattern. Sure, a flanged five-lug 60 with the 5-on-5 1/2-inch pattern was available from any of the custom axle builders, and some even came stock in a few pickups, including the Jeep J-4000. But the desire for a genuine heavy-duty Dana 60 axle with full-floating shafts and a standard wheel pattern took some work to do.
So, what’s the big deal about full-floating rear axles, anyway? The standard design of most Jeep axles is a semifloating design, where the axle supports the weight of the vehicle through the axle bearing, in addition to turning the tires. On a full-floating design, the vehicle hub and bearings support the weight of the Jeep on the spindle, which is part of the housing, or in the Warn conversion, which is bolted onto the end. This allows the axle to be used only to turn the wheel and tire. If an axle ever breaks, the tire and wheel stay in place and can be driven home. Additionally, the locking hubs in the Warn kit can be used to easily flat-tow the Jeep without removing the rear driveshaft.
Clearly, the full-floating design is better, and the Warn kit allows for the use of 1 1/12-inch-diameter 35-spline axles on both ends of the shaft for ultimate strength-but wait; there’s more! Jason Bunch of Tri-County Gear has come up with brand-new, special Dana 60 housings that can bolt in to your Jeep. These housings are lighter and smaller than a standard Dana 60 and still retain all of the strength inherent of these castings. These special 501 castings have the same diameter tubes as a Dana 44 for better ground clearance, and the housing can be ground down for even more clearance.
By using these unique castings and Warn’s new 60 kit, Bunch has developed a bolt-in assembly to complement his standard offerings of custom Jeep front and rear axle assemblies. These units can be had with or without brakes, and various disc or drum variations can be custom-made, as can your choice of ratio and differential. Even a Dana 60 front with the 5-on-5 1/2-inch pattern and disc brakes is available to fit a flatfender or a larger Jeep.
If you’re running with the big dogs and keep wasting rear axles, you should consider this new setup for your Jeep instead of replacing the weak stockers time and time again. If you want to build an axle yourself, Bunch can supply you with all the parts necessary. And if you’d rather just slam a whole axle assembly in place, give them a call.