Dana 60 Diff
First off, awesome magazine. I love the combination of horsepower and lowrider lifestyle. Here's my question: I'm wanting to upgrade my rear axle in my currently lowered suspension Dakota with a 318 to something that will be able to handle whatever I throw at it in terms of torque. I was wondering if a stock Dana 60 axle would be a good axle to start then have shortened. I basically want to know what vehicle I could relieve of its Dana 60. I was thinking a Jeep Wrangler, but I wasn't sure if they came with a Dana 60. Should I look into a 2500-series Dodge Ram like a '98-and-later model? I want a strong rearend, so that when I build up my 318 to something like a 360 or 408 stoker and narrow it, it will be able to tuck my current 20-inch wheels and possibly 22-inch future wheels. Keep up the great work, and thanks for your time and help

Let's back up a minute. It sounds like you're going to build a pimp wagon with the 20s and eventually 22-inch rims. It's not impossible to build a corner-cutting G-machine on 'bags, but if you want it to lay frame, the proposal becomes improbable. When setting up a G-machine with an air suspension, the ride height, air spring rate, airbag position, and damper location become an important part in G-machine mechanics. Setting the 'bag to support the truck at the appropriate ride height, in the best location in the 'bags overall suspension adjustment, will reduce how far the suspension will drop. By putting the ride height in center of the suspension travel for optimal performance in suspension articulation, and air spring efficiency, the 'bag will only be able to use half of its travel for dropping the suspension. This will, more than likely, prevent the truck from lying all the way down. The editor from one of our sister publications, Mini-Truckin, is tackling that task as we speak. He started the task of fitting airbags to coil springs, so he could have a canyon-carver and a frame-dragger. This is done by bringing the truck's suspension up to a performance-set ride height, and locking out the airbag with an air ram and pin. The story started in the Aug. '05 issue on page 54, "Project Dragged Daily, Part I.

If you're building a daily driver, 408 cubic inches will support about 500 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque on pump gas. If that's the plan, then the Chrysler 8.25 can be built up with a locking carrier assembly, axles made from superior materials with a beefier spline configuration, and some hardened gears. If the plan is more power, by way of NOS or Race Fuel, then you will need a better axle for sure.

The Dana 60 is a killer axle. The nodular iron construction provides a gob of strength to support big power. These axles were used as early as 1966 and are still in production today. The axlehousing itself can be found in a couple different casting configurations, but the Dana 60 cover hasn't changed and can be identified by the 12-bolt pattern configuration. The Dana 60 was used on '67-'85 Ford F-100 and F-150 trucks, '67-'92 Ford F-250s, '78-'92 Ford F-350s, and a slew of GM and Dodge 3/4- and 1-ton vans or trucks. The real question is: How much would I really save by not ordering a custom axle? You might get lucky with a junkyard diff, but you'll still have to cut the axle tubes down, order new axles, replace all the bearing and seals, cut off and weld on new spring perches, and who knows what else to fit the axle to your custom truck? Then there's the carrier, gears, and brakes to consider. If you want to change the gear ratio to fit your new rolling stock, put a locker in the diff, or need to replace the brakes, and so on, gears ($400), brakes ($100), axles ($300), and a locker ($400), plus the installation kit ($125) alone will run you $1,300, if you build it yourself.

This is considering the axle you wind up with is straight. If the axle comes off an old truck, there is a really good chance that it may have been overloaded a few times. This could very well have twisted or bent the axle tubes on the junkyard diff, in which case, good luck on getting the new bearings and seals to align properly with the axles. If by chance the housing is twisted, you can pretty much forget about getting your new locker and bearing to fit properly. You won't find many shops willing to drill out the welds to remove bent axle tubes, press then weld in straight tubes when you can order a complete rearend for less. It doesn't take but a couple of these cons to make your money-saver a money pit. Dynatrac's standard Dana 60 axle costs about $2,700 from lug to lug, which includes brakes. The Dynatrac 60 is brand-new nodular iron cast housing.It features: Model 60 semi-float; rear axle assembly with 3 month limited warranty; nodular iron housing; set pinion angle; 35-spline, 1-1/2-inch-diameter, 1-ton, heavy duty, semi-float axleshaft assemblies; choice of ring-and-pinion ratio; differential; steel heavy-duty differential cover; input yoke; brake tabs welded in place; drum brake assemblies; billet steel housing ends; large tapered roller axle bearings; clean tubes; and heavy-duty steel axle retainers. They can be reached at Dynatrac Products Inc., (714) 596-4461, www.dynatrac.com.

For the money and time involved, it would be cheaper to buy a custom diff with all the mods needed to make it plug and play. When your talking about big power, the last thing you want is a junker.

Chrome Alone
I have a chance to buy some mid-'90s Chevy Suburban factory five-spoke mag wheels that have been chromed. The mounted tires have 50 percent tread. I'd like to run the wheels and tires on my '95 Chevy W/T that currently has plain steel wheels. The price is attractive, but two of the wheels aren't as attractive as I'd like. The problem is that several big chunks of chrome plating are missing. It's like the chrome got chipped and then started lifting. The damage is quite noticeable. My question: Would it pay to have the wheels re-chromed? Can you tell me what it costs to have poorly chromed wheels re-chromed? Your answer will help me decide whether or not to buy the wheels.
Ernie Sanchez
El Paso, Texas

Unless the price is so low that you're basically getting free wheels with some nice tires, we'd pass on them. If you can tolerate the ragged appearance, fine, but it sounds like that's unacceptable. Having wheels re-chromed can be expensive because these blemished wheels are worse than wheels that were never chromed. All the old chrome has to be removed before the process can begin anew. If you just had two wheels re-chromed, the others two would look shabby by comparison. By the time you paid to have four wheels unmounted, re-chromed, and then remounted, we think you'd be in the wheels far more than they're worth. Our advice is to keep looking for another wheel deal.