Highboy Axle Swap

catbird7

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Anyone ever do a Sterling axle swap on a Ford highboy? Unbelievably I actually broke the end off the original dana 60 rear {shouldn't say "unbelievably", because I've been abusing this rear for over 30 years, constantly overloading it), anyway net result it needs to be replaced. Looked around for a direct replacement and found a few (none nearby) and then looked at the spare Sterling sitting in corner of garage and thought wonder what it would take to make that fit? It has the same gear ratio (4.10) and the reason I kept it was just prior to removing it, had new bearing and gears put in it, therefore sound replacement so long as it fits. Took some measurements and think I could make the swap rather easy??? Anyone know of major issues with this swap? Obviously, the spring perches are spaced differently and highboy springs are 2.5" vs sterling 3". Found a web vendor (rough stuff) who offers a "Sterling Swap Kit" that includes the long 13" U bolts, spring perches for 2.5" leaf springs, shock mounts, and spring plates again designed for the 2.5" leafs. I measured both rears from centerline of housing to yoke where the U-joint seats and they're both 15". So original drive shaft should be usable? I'm not seeing anything difficult. Am I missing something?
 

Rdnck84_03

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As long as the track width is the same it should only require relocating the spring perches and possibly a conversion u-joint.

James
 

Black dawg

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Have any pictures of how it is broken?

Know a few guys that replaced broken 60s in the old fords with 10.25s. Didnt sound like they ran into anything difficult.
 

u2slow

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My understanding of the f250 4x4 dentsides is the 77-older have narrow frames (34") and ~40" perch spacing. (Aka 'highboys')

77.5+ have 38" frames and ~45" perches.
 

catbird7

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There are wide variances in the configurations available utilizing the Sterling 10.25 - 10.5 rear and I should've listed what mine originated from. It was an 1989 F350 4x4 single cab diesel. One main difference with this rear vs say one from a powerstroke (other than the wheel bolt pattern) is it has a conventional U-joint yoke on the pinion vs the flat plate you see on the stroke. This feature makes it great for the swap I'm doing. Reason I'm using it is simply because I already have it.

Regarding Ford dentside Highboys, yes they have a unique frame between the years 1973 & 1977.5 which is narrower than say 1979. To my knowledge they never had a fuel tank at the rear between the frame rails, it was always behind the seat.

I'll get some photos of the rear and post illustrations of where it broke. Best description is it broke almost perfectly in line with the backing plate. When the failure occurred I was convinced it was the typical wheel bearing failure. I even went as far as ordering new bearings, a seal and even new hex nuts and those funky lock washers simply because I knew it would be apart and the existing ones had been removed many times (incorrectly with a chisel and hammer). Yep, even bought the correct socket! I was prepared to make the repairs when I discovered the broken axle tube. Never saw anything like it. Lucky (and equally unlikely) this failure occurred when the truck was empty and I was driving on a two track dirt road going to my camp. Imagine what could've happened at highway speed with a load...... Must be livin right!
 

catbird7

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Pics of failed dana 60. What it should look like vs snapped off.
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catbird7

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Sterling swap kit from Rough Stuff is "beefy", however while it's not installed yet I have discovered the highboy blocks will require modifications.
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Black dawg

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On that broken spindle, any sign of a welding repair or previous failed bearing damage?

Has to be a pretty rare failure.
 

catbird7

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No signs of previous repairs. Actually, the spindle portion where the bearing and race are located are still in place in the brake drum. Failure occurred between the race and backing plate. Truth is, I was not exaggerating when I said it has been overloaded many many times during the last 30 years. The addition of that heavy flatbed dump and dual wheels brought weight up to a little over 7000lbs empty and I often hauled more than 3 tons in the bed with many of those loads traveling on rough unpaved roads. It's actually a better representation illustrating the strength of a dana 60 than weakness. Truely performed well beyond what it's rated for. Zero complaints on the dana 60! The Sterling will fit this application like "peas & carrots" (forest gump).
 

catbird7

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Sterling wheel bearing vs Dana 60, no comparison!
 

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u2slow

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The old small inner bearing/journal did get phased out. The Dana 61 from the 80's-on and 60 from
mid-90's-on use the traditional dana 70 spindle which stacks up better.
 

catbird7

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Update on the sterling swap. Only parts required are the Rough Stuff kit + a Moog 348 U-joint. I also ended up replacing most all of the brake components.
 

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