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Old 03-12-2018, 04:56 PM   #1
1968_K20_4x4
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Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

Hey all, sorry if this is a stupid question but...

My truck is a 68 K20 with a Dana 44 front axle (Closed Knuckle). I pulled the front diff cover off to find a crack in the base of the diff and no gear oil at all. My question is this: Is it ok to still run the truck in this condition, using 2 wheel drive ONLY, until I can get it fixed? Or am I going to damage other parts of the axle like the front hubs, steering knuckle etc.? It has manual locking hubs... so as long as I only use 2 wheel drive with the hubs unlocked none of the 4x4 components are moving... therefore I wont do any damage...right?? Thanks
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Old 03-12-2018, 05:37 PM   #2
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

That would depend entirely on what transfer case you have. Just because the hubs arent locked to the axle shafts... Doesn't mean the front axle isn't turning with a full time transfer case.

Remove the front driveshaft and unlock the hubs. Now there's no question and safe to do so. I've done this on the trail to get home many times with both front and rear axles.
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Old 03-12-2018, 05:48 PM   #3
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

Unlock the hubs and drive it you will be fine.
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Old 03-12-2018, 05:53 PM   #4
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

Yes I forgot to mention but I do have a transfer case that allows me to select 2wd. (It's an NP205)
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Old 03-12-2018, 06:15 PM   #5
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

In that case, as stated above, unlock the hubs and keep it in 2WD and you're good to go.
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Old 03-12-2018, 07:57 PM   #6
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

I would pump a tube of "00" grease in there and run it for a few yards then unlock it. The double aught will liquefy when the gears mesh. It will not leak. That will put a nice coating on the gears. Bottom line, I wouldn't leave it dry. Or you can get some corn head grease cheaper. You can even run it if you are in a jam.


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Old 03-12-2018, 08:33 PM   #7
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

Make sure your wheel bearings are lubed, that the closed knuckles have lube in them, before running it further!
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Old 03-12-2018, 09:24 PM   #8
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffahart View Post
I would pump a tube of "00" grease in there and run it for a few yards then unlock it. The double aught will liquefy when the gears mesh. It will not leak. That will put a nice coating on the gears. Bottom line, I wouldn't leave it dry. Or you can get some corn head grease cheaper. You can even run it if you are in a jam.


j
Thanks for the good advice. Where do you get "00" grease from? Im in Canada and I have never heard of it. I will call around to see if any of my local farm equipment dealers sell Corn Head grease
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Old 03-12-2018, 09:27 PM   #9
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

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Originally Posted by palallin View Post
Make sure your wheel bearings are lubed, that the closed knuckles have lube in them, before running it further!
Thanks, I will check them also. Are the knuckles connected to the diff through the axle or are they separate? Should I run the corn head grease in the knuckles as well? Ive heard that gear oil leaks out of the seals
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Old 03-12-2018, 09:34 PM   #10
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1968_K20_4x4 View Post
Thanks for the good advice. Where do you get "00" grease from? Im in Canada and I have never heard of it. I will call around to see if any of my local farm equipment dealers sell Corn Head grease
You can order Corn head grease from John Deere on line pretty cheep. Or you can get snapper lawn mower grease, it's "00" but probably a bit more money, you should use the same amount as for required capacity. Get your axle leak fixed!

I just would not make assumptions where so many moving parts are involved. It really needs to be filled to capacity with lubricant, whether it's locked in or not. You can use it with the "00" in a pinch if you get stuck in the mud or something. But you need to get your axle fixed so you can fill it too, and have it maintain capacity so you can operate it at sustained speeds. But I guess you know that and just need to buy a bit of time.... but only a bit please!



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Old 03-12-2018, 09:39 PM   #11
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

Here are a few pics of what I saw when I pulled my diff cover. Not a pretty sight- no oil and a lot of the ring gear teeth are chipped. I hope I can still repair the axle as it is original to the truck. There is a crack in the diff housing on the lower left side as seen in the last two pics
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Old 03-12-2018, 09:49 PM   #12
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

140 wt in those outer knuckles
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Old 03-12-2018, 10:13 PM   #13
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

I would start working the phones to wrecking yards, and looking on CL for a replacement. I wouldn't bother fixing it.


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Old 03-12-2018, 10:21 PM   #14
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

I think the carrier is a power lok, maybe someone can confirm that.
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Old 03-13-2018, 09:55 AM   #15
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

Ok thanks guys for all the advice. For now I called my local JD dealer and they stock the corn head grease. So for now I will fill it with that, until I can find a replacement axle. So now the next question... can anyone tell me what years of axles would be an easy swap? Now would be a good time to upgrade to something with an open knuckle and disk brakes. What should I be looking for?? Or maybe if I find a decent axle from another '68 I can keep it all original.

And yes according to the BOM # I believe it is a power lok carrier. Hopefully I can reuse that when I find a new axle.

Thanks again for the help everyone I appreciate all the advice.
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Old 03-13-2018, 10:38 AM   #16
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

Any 1/2t 73 to 78 or so dana 44 square body is a direct bolt in.
The 10 bolt front from the later years is a bolt in too but they just don't look right because they have a different cover and pumpkin shape.
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Old 03-13-2018, 10:59 AM   #17
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

Why not just clean the crack and put some RTV silicone on it and let it dry then fill it back up with gear oil until you can get a permanent fix. You can always fill it back up.
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Old 03-13-2018, 11:20 AM   #18
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

That axle will be fine with a new ring, pinion, and bearings. Drill the crack and weld it. There's no reason to throw it away.
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Old 03-13-2018, 11:30 AM   #19
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

One axle I would not get, unless it's in great shape, for free and has your gears. The 1970 Dana44 open knuckle drum brake. It's the first year open knuckle and last year drum... kind of a one year aardvark. I had one.

Anyhow, I would go the HD44 with 8 lugs OR you can get a Dana 60. The GMs are pricey and I think scarce now. But they are truly a no brainer bolt in, sort of if you get the gears you want or the gears are on the side of the carrier break you're looking at ratios for. Off Road Design makes bushings and spacers so you can swap in a Dodge Dana 60 easily too, I think there are qualifiers on springs but you can check out their site. I've not done it but check out the 4x4 section, there are some who have. So I'm just Mr. Theory on that one!

If I were doing it, my first choice would be a 60.

What I did. I put in takeouts from Boyce equipment a few years ago. I got 16k mile "take outs" out of a CUCV. It had 4.56, I had 4.10s. It cost me $2500 for the set. Dana 60 and rear 14bolt. Boyce said they had been gone through and were drop in ready. They were, even meat on the pads.

I searched for a Dana 44 in Junkyards. I looked a little over a year and didn't really have any luck. I guess timings is everything. Once you don't need a damned axle... it will start raining axles! Anyhow, based on cost and time to go through a junkyard axle I decided to go with the more expensive option. I am now happy I did. But price was not the driving factor, though I'm not into wasting money either.

My axles are out of a 86 CUCV.

The disc brake panacea! Once in I took out the check valve from the front reservoir. The brakes worked awesome... sort of. They were touchy. So I put in the correct master prop valve and so on, for a disc drum setup. The brakes sucked! I got sick of dickering (which was pretty quick). I went back to the original master and dist block. I'm not a fan of the adjustable valves.

The touchy brakes bugged me! So I moved on to the hydroboost out of an 86 one ton diesel. I put in matching brake lines. My brakes from pedal to wheels are of 86 CUCV, along with the running gear. Makes it easier when getting parts too. But now my brakes are awesome... with no qualifiers.... I love the hydroboost and I'm glad I did it.

So, you see. There is a lot to consider. There is a lot of reading here and the internet at large. I did a brief spiel on my swap you can search on "1970 one ton axle swap" or something like that.

But if you can keep your truck drivable and you have time, you can run around and look at axles and have a truck to haul them home. Figure out what you really want and try to get it. If time is a push, then you get what you find in short order that fits the bill. I got impatient and ponied up the bucks.


Decisions Decisions! Good luck!


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Old 03-13-2018, 11:51 AM   #20
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

Quote:
Originally Posted by randy500 View Post
Any 1/2t 73 to 78 or so dana 44 square body is a direct bolt in.
The 10 bolt front from the later years is a bolt in too but they just don't look right because they have a different cover and pumpkin shape.
Thanks, does that go for 3/4 ton as well? Are the axle housings for a 1/2 and 3/4 ton the same?
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Old 03-13-2018, 12:09 PM   #21
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

Thanks for all the replies and great info guys. My plan all along had been to just keep this axle going for now, and pull it for a total rebuild (or swap?) when I got time. I knew there were some issues with it, but figured it would be ok in the short term. However when I pulled the cover and saw no oil at all and some rust starting to form, it got me worried and I know I need to do something about it pretty soon. Ive been planning a big trip with the truck in the spring, so I dont really want to have the truck out of commission until after my trip. Im hoping to be able to just repair it enough that it is ok to take on my trip, then tear it down once I get back. 4x4 is not required for this trip, but I just dont want to damage the axle any more than it already is.

Like Jeffahart said, there are so many things to consider. I have to decide if I want to rebuild the original axle or upgrade to something with disk brakes etc. Its a big decision, with so many things to consider, and I dont want to rush my choice. Also, as stated locating just the right axle may take a little time.

I really appreciate everyone's advice and info to help me make my decision.
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Old 03-13-2018, 02:04 PM   #22
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

If you use the corn head grease it will not leak, but will liquefy when gears mesh. But if you ran it in 4x4 you would get some leakage, because of the crack, it's not a seal. But when the truck is sitting or gears not meshing, you won't have a class 3 or even class 1 leak, it will stay put! You see the blue from the silicon trick! What it looks like to me anyway.

Keep your ears open for new noises coming from the front end, and hands sensitive to new vibrations coming from the front end. You should be OK to get you by until you make a decision.

Good luck!
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Old 03-13-2018, 03:28 PM   #23
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

I Have a 69 K20 and am in the process of swapping out the front drum brake Dana 44 to a disc brake 44.
I found a '72 Dana 44 (though the 71 to 75 all have the big hubs) with 4:10 gears for $75 bucks, but no knuckles, but everything else. And a complete 1/2 ton Corporate 10 bolt for $40 bucks, this got me the knuckles.
Right now I'm changing out ball joints, u-joints, then will pack the bearings, install all new seals and brakes. I have power brakes, but will be installing a 72/73 Power Brake Master cylinder and brake proportioning valve, and I will need new front brake lines.

So with a little shopping around, and just over $500 bucks I will have a rebuilt disc brake bug hub Dana 44.
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Old 03-13-2018, 10:25 PM   #24
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

so... just for clarification. you Never want to jack up the truck under the differential. and now you know why. under the spring pads one side or the other or both but never in the middle under the diff housing....

you can for the sake of argueing here on the board. but when you got to buy a new differential it makes sense. better to buy two floor jacks at 19 bucks each rather than a 500 dollar differential. Of course I could be wrong.
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Old 03-14-2018, 09:32 AM   #25
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Re: Dana 44 Front axle no oil?

Ok so I think I am leaning towards replacing the front axle with a newer Dana 44 with open knuckle, disk brakes etc. Ill keep my original axle in the truck untill I can find a suitable replacement. So now the big question is specifically what axle to be looking for? I definitely would like to keep a Dana 44 and not go with the 10 bolt, to me the Dana just looks right under the truck. Also I want to reuse my power lok unit as well. Another thing I would like to retain is my "Selectro" locking hubs that I currently have on the truck. So does this mean I should be looking for a "big hub" axle? What are the differences between the "big hub" and small hub axle? Is one better than the other?? I found some info from a site called Torque King 4x4 that I will post below that maybe someone can confirm:

The Dana 44 was the sole front drive axle used in by GM from 1973 to 1976 for SUVs, 1/2 ton and 3/4 ton 4x4 vehicles. In 1977 GM started to replace the Dana 44 with the all new corporate, 10 Bolt, 8-1/2" Ring Gear, beam type solid 4x4 front drive axle, however, the Dana 44 continued to be used by GM to the 1980 model year after which it was dropped entirely from the GM lineup. For the Dana 44, 1977-1/2 also marked a change in the hub and spindle design for all models. Although the differential parts are totally different, the 1977 to 1980 GM Dana 44 and the GM 10 Bolt front axles share a lot of common parts from the axle u-joints out to the hubs.

I have a potential lead on an axle locally which appears to be what Im looking for. It is even my proper gear ratio! But I just want to know exactly what I need before I go out and buy something. The guy says it came out of an 80s Chevy.


Once again thanks everyone for all the great info!! Im sure I will be needing lots more advice as I go along
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