Dana 44 Narrow Track vs AMC 20 Wide Track

Dana 44 Narrow Track vs AMC 20 Wide Track

gerth21

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1983 CJ7, 258 (4.2L), Borg-Warner T-5, Dana 300
So I got my hands on a Dana 44 Narrow Track rear axle with wheel spacers. I am debating if I should swap it for the wide track AMC20 that is already on 83 CJ. I need to do a ring and pinion upgrade on my front and either rear I install to accommodate the larger tires I am running. Just wondering what people's opinion is on it.
 
Is your front wide track?

If so stay the same front and rear in my opinion. So you track correctly.

Wider = more stability around corners and while wheeling side hill (basically) and narrower easier to get in tight places.

Personal preference really.

Also what "version" narrow track? basically narrow track from my 74's rear Dana 44 vs a 76+ narrow track i believe is different.

I don't have the measurements in front of my, but believe it changed...

Edit: Just seen "with wheel spacers" - Same basic advice, dont know much about wheel spacers. are they considered a weak link when used? Kinda like the "cheaper" way of doing it?
 
I do not like wheel spacers because the farther away your wheel is from the bearings of the axle, the more load you place upon them. Spacers are needed for todays Jeep but they are a band aide in my eyes.
 
I'm with JR74CJ5 if you have a wide trac in the front I would not put a narrow trac in the back you need to keep it the same front to rear.
 
Put good one piece axles in the 20, weld the tubes to the center section, and you damn near have a 44.
 
CJ narrow track = 50.5”, CJ Wide track = 54.5”

Wheel spacers although convenient do put extra pressure on the axle bearings and studs and should be reserved for mild use only. An AMC20 axle with one piece shafts should also be reserved for mild use as the axle tubes are thin and prone to bending plus the cast pumpkin is prone to cracking where the tubes are pressed in. I’d try to find a wide track Dana 44 however I know that is easier said than done. Failing that it is a hard call and depends on your wheeling needs but I would reluctant to put much money into a CJ AMC20. A FSJ AMC20 is a different matter as the tubes are much thicker.

(DISCLAMER: The above is only one man’s opinion, other may vary)
 
I'm with JR74CJ5 if you have a wide trac in the front I would not put a narrow trac in the back you need to keep it the same front to rear.

:notworthy: but,

I believe i misunderstood the question / situation in the beginning... It sounds as if he has wide track all around currently. and wants to substitute the stock strength potential "betterness" of the Dana 44, for the AMC20, but its narrow, so to keep the same tracking and width it has wheel spacers. ;)

I do not like wheel spacers because the farther away your wheel is from the bearings of the axle, the more load you place upon them. Spacers are needed for todays Jeep but they are a band aide in my eyes.

I still think, especially with other's posts (Kane and Saddle Tramp) that the wheel spacers, while cheaper than two new diffs in certain circumstances (larger tires on stock narrow track older CJ's) they create a weak spot. I personally would:

Put good one piece axles in the 20, weld the tubes to the center section, and you damn near have a 44.

And truss' to beef it up. Tube walls will still be thin, as saddle tramp pointed out, but a lot of members here have testified they're AMC20's hold up to good wheelin' What size tires are we talking here, and gear ratio? might help to avoid or add over powering / torquing advice.

This would be the "easiest and best outcome" and cost wise too most likely.

But it is Your jeep buddy :cool: And I am no where near an expert. :D

:chug:

~ JR
 
I agree with the tubes being thinner, hence why I said "damn near". This is also why I'm going to truss mine. That will then overcome the 3 pitfalls of the AMC20 that usually gets a bad rap. The 20's gearing though is on the large side as well.
 
Let me throw a different 'wrench' into it:

What exactly is wrong with the rear being a little narrower then the front? Other then tracking in ruts, it wont make a difference. And ruts are still ruts, affecting anything with wheels. ;)
 
Let me throw a different 'wrench' into it:

What exactly is wrong with the rear being a little narrower then the front? Other then tracking in ruts, it wont make a difference. And ruts are still ruts, affecting anything with wheels. ;)

I think this is a preference, and not sure I have done enough off road wheeling to supply a better response than this: I like to assume my rear wheels are going to track the same as my front:cool:. When I place my front drivers tire on a rock instead of inside it, i don't want my rear to then go inside it, maybe there was a large "hole" inside it, and i didn't want to tip my COG too far, or bang my diff on a rock in the middle.

I assume, if you're going into a rut, with your front wheels fitting in the ruts, and the rear on wheel is one in and one out or both are (for example) on the inside edge of the rut, your creating extra stress on the rear tires unevenly, possibly busting a bead?? but at same time, may keep rear diff our of harms way? I'm just not experienced enough to know for sure.

Not really sure if any "real good reason" not to... I am also just picturing it in my mind thinking it would look funny :D
 
Yes. But how many ruts are "perfect" ruts? My CJ has never found a set it fit perfectly into :D

Edit: :popcorn:
 
Last edited:
Yes. But how many ruts are "perfect" ruts? My CJ has never found a set it fit perfectly into :D

:laugh: So true... I was stretching to play devils advocate. :cool:

Normally wide and narrow tracks have both gone through it making them "uni-ruts" fits all sizes! :D

:chug:

~ JR
 
I might as well jump on here with my 2 cents too.

first to jr. your rear is already narrorer than you front by 1.5" from the factory.:eek:

I do think a narrow trak would need wheel spacers or a wheel with very little backspace to work with the wide trak.

I don't take it easy on my 20 but I don't do things like jump it either, I only crawl around in the rocks, and it has held up well.

It would help us though if you would tell us what the jeep is being used for and the tire and gears you plan to run.

The 44 could be built cheaper and stronger than the 20. :chug:
 
I was just checking some axle widths and found that the waggie and cherokee chief have front axles that are 3" wider than there rears.
 
I don't do anything crazy yet in the jeep mainly moderate to hard trails but nothing extreme like jumping it. I was looking at putting 4.56 gears in it to go with the 35" tires that are already on it. Would more than likely do some type of locker when I do the ring and pinion since the carriers are going to have to be changed.
 
Just my 2 cents, I would think about building the 44 and either run 1" wheel spacers or 10" wide wheels with 2" backspacing on the rear.
I believe it would be cheaper in the long run.
With aftermarket axles maybe a little stronger too.
 
im gonna throw my 2 cents in. if wheel spacers are so bad, then effectively wheels with more offset will do the same thin. i think wheel spacers get a bad wrap. mabye when they first came out the quality was poor. but i guess you get what you pay for will apply here too.
 
Use the 44 with spacers. Do not change the backspacing on the rear wheels because you'll then have different wheels front and rear. No worry about overloading the rear wheel bearings, they aren't centered under the wheel centerline anyway.

If you keep the 20, you should install one piece axles to make it reliable in heavy use, at the least. Other than that the 20 is a pretty good axle and actually has a larger ring gear than the 44. The 80's Waggy AMC20's are pretty desirable if you wanted to do a Waggy conversion. Much thicker tubes and one piece axles right out of the box.

Once again, the poster wants recommendations based upon no information on what he really intends to do with his Jeep.

Regarding a difference front to rear in track...on short wheelbase Jeeps, they should be fairly close. The rut thing is a reality, just ask anyone who's driven one of those terrible little post office vans in the snow. They have about 2.5" difference front to rear and are nearly unmanageable in anything deeper than 4" of snow/slush. They "hunt" continuously.
 

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