Mighty Mo and Friends

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This is story is about a 1948 CJ2A and how to replace the rear axle

Once upon a time, there was little L-134 engine that powered a little Willys CJ2A named Mighty MO. This little 60 hp engine was sitting in front of a T-90 transmission, a S-18 transfer case and a D 41-2 rear axle. The human entrusted with the care and feeding of the Willys had removed the 2 wd low range lockout pin from the transfer case. He had also performed a small welding act on the spider gears. This human also raced the little Willys on off-road jamborees and pushed the little Willys to the limit. The Willys performed admirably and won many trophies for the human.

One day the human was driving through the woods with some other Willys Jeeps and decided to use 2 wd low range. While doing this, he asked the little Willys' engine to pull the Willys out of some deep mud. One wheel was in the loose mud, one was wedged in a rut. The front was bumper deep in the ooze. The L-134 gave it's 60 hp and 106 foot-pounds of torque to the T-90. The T-90 was in 1st gear so it multiplied the torque by 2.98 and gave it to the S-18, which multiplied the torque by 2.46 and sent it to the D 41-2. The d 41-2 having a 5.38 rear ratio multiplied the torque by 5.375 and sent it to the rear axle shafts. The short side axle sent it to the wheel and the wheel tried to turn. The resulting 4,176 foot-pounds of torque was too much for the spline end of the shaft. It twisted off right at the side gear.

The moral of the story, even a little 60 hp flathead 4 cylinder can and will break your Willys if asked to do so. Be kind to your Willys and don't remove the 2wd low range lockout pin.

At the end there is a picture of the D-44 axle exploded view. In case you are interested.

Now for the repair. This procedure is equally suited for both the Dana 41-2 & 44 rear axles as the 10 spline D 44 axles and D 41-2 axles are identical.

(as usual click an image for a larger picture)

D 41-2 cover, notice the cover bolt locations and the more pronounced ring gear clearance.

D 41-2 Cover

D 44 cover, notice the cover bolt locations and the more rounded ring gear clearance.

The tire(s) must come off

Before you start, back off the brake shoes. This will enable the brake drum to slide past the shoes.

The brake line needs to be disconnected. May as well do it now.

All of the axles I have replaced (2) have sheared off at the side gear. This requires draining the fluid, the carrier must be pulled.

Remove the Axle nut. Be sure to remove the cotter pin first. Oh, they are kinda tight. I use a 1 7/6" socket and a 1/2" Impact wrench.

You will need an axle puller. This one is from JC Whitney. Cost was about $50 not including the slide hammer and box. You can usually rent these.

This is the hub puller installed ready to pull the hub / drum assembly. This is done by hitting 'wrench' with the BFH. Notice the nut is installed to prevent the assembly from flying across the room.

The brake backing plate will need to be removed. I didn't disturb the brakes other than disconnecting the brake lines as previously shown.

Here is the axle ready to pull. The bearing is a press fit into the axle housing, so a puller is required.

NEAT Trick

Here is the puller I used. A home made slide hammer. Slide the hub & drum assembly back on and install the nut on 3-4 turns.

Here is the long side removed. I didn't take pictures of the short side.

Here is inside the pumpkin. The bearing caps must be removed. Make sure they go back the same way they were. Then 2 pry bars will remove the carrier.

The short side axle stub is stuck in the side gear. I drilled a hole for a 1/2" tap.

Once drilled I tapped it for a slide hammer.

Once tapped. Screw in the slide hammer.

Pull the stub and this is what you get.

Here are the two axles I have broken. One from the L134 and the other from a 225 V6.

Clean up the carrier from the drilling operation. To reinstall the carrier, cock the bearing cups and slide back in place. Sorry no picture but didn't want the possibility of dropping the carrier on the floor. This operation is depicted in many manuals.

Be sure to put the bearing caps back the way they were. Then torque.

For those of you that have never seen a LincolnLocker, here one is. The gears are welded together, NOT to the carrier, if you do this

Putting the axles back in requires the endplay be set. If the axle bearings are not replaced, then use the original set and check for 0.004" to 0.008" endplay. Don't be too surprised if you need to add a small shim to one side. Just put one side together with the original shim pack and adjust the other, preferably adjust the new bearing side.

For additional Information check Vern's web page on rebuilding a D 41-2.


Here is an exploded view of the Dana 44 axle. It is similar to the D 41-2

Hope you enjoyed this page.

Visitors since 7/6/2003


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Copyright Richard N. Meagley Sr.
Last revised: November 18, 2011.