This project was a lot more work than I anticipated and this
short write-up doesn't do justice to the long hours
involved. On the other hand, a more organized person could
do this faster and better than I did. I would strongly
recommend having a schedule and setting intermittent goals
to keep the project moving along without getting yourself
stressed out. I could have saved money by thinking
long-term and determining ALL the pieces I would need. The
sooner you know this, the more opportunity you have to find
these parts in salvage yards or through private sales.
The long DoetschTech shocks which came with my RE SOA kit
were too long for my new axles which utilized the higher
axle-side shock mounts. I ended up with 3" available
compression in the front and 2" in the back. I was actually
bottoming out my shocks on mild street bumps. I solved this
problem by moving the rear DoetschTechs to the front and
putting a pair of cheap ($20 ea) Canadian Tire MotoMaster
shocks in the rear. These cheap shocks were discards from
my friend's FJ45 Land Cruiser which he had just converted to
SOA. I expected these shocks to lower my articulation but
when I ramped it 5 days later, it scored a 1052 RTI. Not
bad at all! This was the first time I had ever ramped my
Jeep so I can't compare it to my older SOA performance. But
that's not the point. The point is that even with these
shorter shocks, I still have a very respectable amount of
suspension travel. To put it in perspective, my friend's
TJ with a Teraflex 3" lift (with sagging springs, however)
scored between 800 and 900...and his Jeep performs extremely
well relying on that suspension (he has no lockers).
Basically, I'm not feeling any urgency to fabricate higher
frame-side shock mounts just so I can re-install the longer
Here's how the exhaust was re-routed. Looks
like my pinion might be tilted a bit too high.
Fortunately, the adjustable perches prevent
this from being a time-consuming job.
Lou Feger's adjustable spring perches
The final result! It sure is nice to have free-wheeling
hubs again. I can finally run 33" tires and lockers
without worrying about snapping axle shafts.
The ride with the extra full-length leaves was a bit firmer
than the older springs but much more stable. It handled
highway bumps better without ruining the comfortable ride.
It also allowed me to travel much faster offroad, absorbing
large bumps easily.
Moving the lower shock mounts higher made a HUGE difference
offroad. I took my Jeep out for three days of offroading
once I got it back on the road and I only dragged on the rocks once.
If you do an SOA conversion without moving the shock mounts,
you're missing out on a major advantage of the SOA. On one
trail run, I was following a Scout II (with Dana 44s, of
course) with 33" tires (same as me) and he got hung up a few
times because of his low-hanging spring packs & shock mounts. I drove
right over the stuff he got stuck on.
If you look carefully, you can see the extra 1/2" plate I welded
on top of the spring perch to provide clearance between the drag link &
spring pack. The front shock mounts were also raised so they don't hang
below the axle tubes.
The rear shock mounts were mounted so that they
don't hang below the axle tubes
There's just enough clearance for the drag link under the
spring pack. Bump steer isn't too bad. Nothing hangs below
the axle housing.
Even though I had setup the front pinion angle for a CV
shaft and the non-CV shaft I ended up using was not
balanced, I've detected no vibration even at speeds up to
100 km/h. I think a lot of that might have to do with the
fact that the front shaft is one of the skinny ones used in
The bigger brakes on the Scout axles are great. While my
brake pedal still feels too soft for my liking, the brakes
grab much better and can lock up my wheels without too much
effort. Since my Jeep is my daily commuter vehicle,
it's no wonder that I appreciate the bigger brakes
more than any of the other advantages gained with the
The 3.55 gears which these axles came with were an
improvement over the 3.07 ratio in my D30/D35 axles.
However, it's not a huge improvement. I'd still like
to have 4.11 gears with my 33" tires.
THINGS TO DO
I still have to re-route the vent lines to the axle breather
tubes. I found an NPT fitting that I could screw into the
front D44 but the rear had a very coarse thread. I may have
to drill a new hole back there and thread it to NPT specs.
To prevent the dreaded axle-wrap problem, I have to build
some kind of anti-wrap bar. I'll probably make one which
mounts firmly to the axle housing and is shackled to the
xfer case crossmember.
That transfer skid plate is hanging too low. Ron Gooch did
a similar swap and modified his factory skid plate. I'm
going to copy his design.
I want to find another Ford front D44 diff cover for the
rear. The pinion angle is really high so I need some way to
add more oil. The higher fill hole on those covers will do
If you have questions about this swap, feel free to email me