'86 Dana 300 Transfer Case Shifting Problem

'86 Dana 300 Transfer Case Shifting Problem


Senior Jeeper
Calvert County, Southern Maryland
1986 Jeep CJ

Mostly stock, 258 c.i.d., T-176 tranny, Dana 30 front, AMC 20 rear, Dana 300 t-case, 31x10.50 tires, 2 inch body lift
Hello Everyone,

I am new to this forum and new to the world of Jeeps. I have loved them since I was a child and now, only at middle age, I have I finally gotten the opportunity to enter the world!

Now for my question...I recently purchased an 1986 Jeep CJ7. To the best of my knowledge, it is all original, including a Dana 300 transfer case. High range and low range 4WD operate just fine. However, there does not seem to be a 2WD range...Just a long neutral space between 4 low and high. The stick will stop where I think 2WD should be, but no engine power is actually transmitted to the wheels in that position.

Is it possible for a Dana 300 to lose the 2WD range and still have 4 high & 4 low? If so, what should I do about it? Is it worth a rebuild at this point, or operate it (as apparently the previous owner did) in 4 high with the hubs unlocked?

Any help for this newbie would be helpful!!
If your rear wheels are pulling in 4H, and they must be if you can drive in 4H with the hubs unlocked. than you should have 2H, as it's the same position in the t/c. even though the stick is in a different position. When you go to 4H from 2H the linkage only moves the front wheel side of the t/c.
anyway this sounds like the linkage is hanging up so how.
Clear as mud right. hopefully someone can explain this better than I can.
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Thank you Old Dog for responding!

It definitely drives just fine in 4 high...when I brought it home I had to drive it about 80 miles (in a pouring rainstorm!). And, like I said, 4 low works just fine too. I just can't figure out why I am getting nothing in 2 WD.

Is it possibly a linkage problem? And, if so, is there an easy remedy short of disassembling the transfer case? That may be beyond my current skill level...
I think it's a linkage problem. You can take the cover off the floor in the jeep and try cleaning the linkage, and making sure it's working right.
It's hard for me to explain but if you watch it move you will see that the one shifter moves two shift shafts. it only moves one shaft to go in 2H and than when you pull it the rest of the way down it only moves the front wheel drive shaft and the rear shaft stays still. The shaft on the drivers side is for rear wheel drive and the shaft on the pass. side is for the front wheels.
Still clear as mud right.
Thanks! I will try pulling the cover off and see if I can see anything with the linkage. Would anyone have a picture of what I should be looking at??

Meanwhile, what is the feeling regarding (worst case scenario) just driving it around with the transfer case in 4 high with the hubs unlocked? Obviously, the front axle and differential are then spinning, but I wouldn't think there would be too much wear (even on dry payment) since the front wheels are free...but then I am a newbie!!
you should be ok as long as the hubs are unlocked.
I'll try to find a pic.
If somepne here can help explain the linkage better or has a pic please help me here.
Actually, I think you've explained it nicely... but since I don't have a picture to offer tonight I'll try adding a little language. There should be two shafts sticking straight out the front of the transfer case, next to the front driveshaft yoke. You should see where the shifter connects to them when the boot is removed. If there's any question, shift the shifter from one position to the next.

As you shift from 4H to 2H, you'll see the right-hand shaft get pushed rearward one notch while the left-hand shaft doesn't move (front is now in neutral, rear is still engaged). Shift again, from 2H to N, and you'll see the left-hand shaft move one notch rearward while the right-hand shaft stays still (rear is now also in neutral). Shift one last position to 4L, and you should see both shafts move together one more notch rearwards - now front and rear are both engaged in low.

I think when you shift from 4H to 2H, both shafts are moving together instead of "stepped", right-before-left. I'm thinking the shift interlock or detent inside the transfer case needs a little attention... which may ALSO mean that the previous owner MAY have at one time converted it to a twin-stick transfer case shifter. That's a fairly popular conversion, and it requires a slight modification to the internal interlock. You'd be looking for exactly the reverse of that modification.
Thanks guys!

I am going to remove the shifter boot and take a peak. Will report later on what I find. Meanwhile, a picture of properly operating t-case linkage (if anybody has one) would be helpful!
I removed the transfer case boot and checked the linkage as Old Dog and TDHofstetter suggested. Initially, both of the shafts were moving together when shifting between 4H and 2H...so it was indeed going into neutral. I crawled under there and jiggled things around and presto! I had 2H.

So, the botton line is that the wonderful Dana 300 is working properly....BUT that leads to another question...It appears that the linkage is loose and the "flat piece" that fits into the two shafts is just barely making a connection with the driver's side shaft. Is there a simple way to tighten up the linkage?
That's pretty much how they are.

The only way I can think of to tighten it up a little would be to take the shift fork shafts out & have 'em bored for a bushing so the pins fit a little more snugly. That or use a little larger pins (metric? custom?) and just be sure they'll fit smoothly into the notches in that bent piece of linkage that engages 'em.

I'm not perfectly pleased with that whole shifter mechanism - I can definitely see some improvements that could be made... and I may make up some of those improvements in the future.

One alternative, of course, would be to install one of those hundred-dollar dual-lever transfer case shifters. Ain't much in the world more positive than one lever per shift fork... :)
As tim said they are all pretty sloppy, the best you can do is clean it good and relube it. If it keeps giving you problems it's time to twin stick it and be done.

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