Swapping Scout D44 Axles and a D300 into a YJ
May 11, 1998
When evaluated as a hard-core off-road vehicle, the Jeep YJ
is often praised for its excellent fuel-injected motor and
panned for its weak axles and low, limited-articulation
suspension. Dealing with the suspension is easy enough:
there are many aftemarket kits available to lift the YJ and
dramatically increase the suspension's articulation.
Increasing the axle strength is another matter.
Yes, you can buy a stronger-than-stock custom-made axle...if
you can afford it. For most of us, though, that's not a
viable option. That leaves the option of building it
yourself. The do-it-yourself option does not mean that you
build an axle from scratch. Instead, you locate a likely
donor vehicle whose axle or axles best match your vehicle
and your requirements. The closer the match, the less work
and money you'll need to invest to complete the upgrade.
This write-up will summarize the process of installing Scout
axles and a Dana 300 xfer case into a YJ with an automatic
transmission. I will not discuss the myriad problems I
encountered which were due to bad luck, poor organization or
just plain stupid moves.
My Setup and Why I Made These Choices
After a lot of pondering, I decided on installing a pair of
Scout Dana 44 axles and a CJ Dana 300 transfer case. My
decision was based on the following requirements:
- Whatever axles I chose had to be cheap. In this respect,
I was extremely lucky that my good friend,
located a complete set of Scout axles for me which only cost
- The rear axle had to be compatible (same width, same bolt
pattern) with a front axle
which permitted me to use free wheeling hubs.
- I wanted to improve my brakes so the new axles had to
have larger brake components that would easily handle tires
up to 35" in diameter.
- The axle width had to be similar to my existing axles'.
I didn't want to run full-size axles nor did I want to incur
the cost of shortening axle housings and shafts.
- I wanted a front axle whose front diff was located on the
same side of the vehicle as my factory setup. The Scout
axles weren't a good choice in this respect but I was able
to affordably install a stronger transfer case which moved
the front driveshaft output to the same side as used on
- I wanted to do a swap which had been done before because,
to be honest, I'm not a great mechanic. I relied heavily on
the experiences of Rick Boiros and Rob Bryce, both of whom
had slipped Scout axles under Chrysler Jeeps.