While I sit around staring at my in-operable truck, I decided to turn some scrap metal into something productive.
One troublesome area on any solid axle vehicle is the front diff. But especially for a vehicle equipped with a dana axle as the only protection from the rocks is a 1/16" cover.
So to protect all of this:
I started with the stock cover :
notice the nice saucer size dent right in the center of the cover
and I began with reconstructing the flange using the old cover as a template. I cut one inch strips out of a piece of 3/8" metal I had, and welded eight pieces together to make it. (no photos as I tend to become too absorbed in my work to take photos)
After taking precautions to make sure the flange was not warped from the heat of welding by clamping each end of metal to the bench as I welded. I copied over the bolt holes to the new flange. Unfortunately I guess Dana does not deem it important to keep the holes consistant as you can probably see some of the holes are close to the edge of the flange.
After making the flange, I cut the walls out of cardboard to construct my template for them. From the template I transferred the shapes over onto 1/4" metal.
After welding all the walls solid and again clamping the flange to the flat surface while welding to keep everything straight all the pieces went together nice and easy. I never had to recut a single piece.
while constructing the walls for the diff cover, I should mention that the stock D44 cover only has one fill plug. To drain the axle you must remove the cover do so. I have always hated that. So when I located fill plug inserts from Ballastic I ordered two. One as a fill and the second as a drain plug. The holes were cut before the actual wall pieces were cut and shaped to make things easier. Then once the walls were tacked in place the inserts were welded into place so that I could weld completely around not only the exterior side but also the interior side of the insert.
you can make both of inserts out in the photo above.
After the walls were put together. the diff cover actually was bolted to the axle to check for clearances. Everything checked out so it was onto making the "cap".
Again, I had another piece of 3/8" laying around so I traced where the walls landed on the plate and cut to size. So to recap the dimensions of the actual cover, I have the flange made out of 3/8" the walls made out of 1/4" and the cap made out of 3/8" where the stock cover was merely 1/16" or roughly 22 gauge.
From there I decided to add a little more weight to the cover and welded a "cage" around the cover out of 1/2" solid round stock. Total amount of metal used for this cage was exactly 4 feet. The cage top is not completely round but contours the cap fairly well. to bend it, I used my bare hands, vice, and at times a 5lb sledge. But with a little bit of patience I think the cage contours the cover pretty well. both the legs of the cage are welded to the flange as well as the intersection corners of the walls. Once the top piece of the cage was placed onto the legs. I also welded the inside of the "halo" to the cover of the actual diff cover.
This cage was completely overkill on my part, but what can I say, that is the way I like things, after all my spring hangers are made out of 3"x4" tubing with 5/16" plates actually holding the springs on. I have actually split rocks with my spring hanger without so much as slight bend to them.
Onto the photos, again, not any of the actual construction, but enough of the final product minus the finaly cleaning and painting of the "top hat"
you can see why I think it resembles a top hat from these photos
here you can see the extra space I built into the new cover. I did it for both added protection from any possible bomb going off as well as extra fluid capacity.
So there you have it, the new bomb proof diff cover I'll be pushing around and cracking rocks with if I can ever get the truck back on the trails.