View Full Version : dana 30 knuckle switch

July 18th, 2005, 22:04
I'm trying to put my 2000 shafts, hub assembly, knuckle, and calipers onto an '89 hp dana 30. To move the knuckles from the 2000 to the 89, do I need to use a pickle fork? Also, the ball joints are on the axle, not the knuckles, right? What's a pickle fork? My name is in red but I'm still a newbie to the dana 30.

I got all the way to trying to put '00 calipers onto this 89 knuckle (with '00 rotors and hubs and shafts) when I found out that in fact all of the brake hardware will not just easily bolt up (a search would've disclosed it sooner). I'd love for someone to reassure me that moving the knuckles over will be painless and require no special tools (I don't any access to a press), and that this is the best plan. Talk me through a knuckle switch.

July 18th, 2005, 22:35
Excuse my terminology, but I guess you´ll understand. The ball joints are pressed into a big yoke welded on the axle tube. The cone shaped bolts, sticking down out of the ball joint, hold the knuckle on. The pickle fork is a double wedge, used between the big axle yoke and the knuckle around the cone bolts (both sides). To wedge the cone bolts out of the knuckle.
Pickle forks mess up the grease cups, I´ve often used a combination of a sacrificial nut on the cone bolt, wack it with a hammer, but not too hard and single wedge (half a pickle fork) that I found handy in my body dolly box. Saves the rubber grease cup. Same technique also works on other joints with a grease cup. Actually a single wedge, instead of a double pickle fork wedge, works really well on the upper trac bar joint, not germain but nice to know. I´ve got a whole box of body dollies, old metal working hammer heads and handy whatnots. Pickle forks aren´t one size fits all, they come in sizes and some are a better fit than others.
Wether the 2000 knuckle will fit in the early axle yoke, I haven´t a clue and if it does fit the castor will be correct, also no clue.
Next guestion is why? The 2000 brakes from all I´ve heard aren´t superior in any way to earlier brakes.
Not being a wise arse, I´m on a learning curve here also.
A ball joint press looks like a big "C" clamp kind of, no big deal really.
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber=38335 Finding one with the right size adaptors, will require a little research, probably.
If you get one too small, it can be hard. I have one way to big and made my own adaptors. My ball joint press, could probably crush the knuckle.

July 18th, 2005, 23:26

July 18th, 2005, 23:55
Not sure about you're exact situation but I put 87 knuckles, hubs and brakes on an 04 Rubicon D44 no problem.

July 19th, 2005, 03:28
reason is the only '89 hardware I have is the housing and the knuckles (no other hardware). Plus, I've already sunk money into gearing it. I have a complete stock '00 Low Pinion from which I have removed the shafts and such to place into the '89. Too bad the knuckles have a different design, and also the hubs(?). Anyway, if I don't try to switch the knuckles, then I'll need to buy plenty of replacement '89 hardware: calipers at least, if not rotors and hubs too, not to mention tearing it all apart just for that.

I don't want to touch the ball joints (no press here)
So, I just undo 2 bolts on each side and pry it off? (and do that 4 times). To install it over, I just tighten it down, or is there a special tool or requirement here?

July 19th, 2005, 06:13
I haven´t got a clue about the 2000 knuckle, somebody else may have the answer. The break point for ball joint parts listings is 96 up? 84-95 is the same joint. There is an adjustable sleeve on the bottom of the early knuckle for the ball joint cone bolt. Kind of a stupid design, the redesign probably addressed this, among other things.
Possible it´s just that easy, but unlikely. The early to late TJ swap mentioned, makes the likelyhood better.
You may get lucky, and a sharp wack on the bottom of the cone stud, with the bolt loosened enough to protect the threads, might dislodge it. But would in all likelyhood ding the bolt, before it moves.
Prying is in my experience, is not smart, with cast iron, better of with some kind of wedge (pickle fork) and jaring it loose.
Have you measured at all? Only way to know for sure is to try it and see.
I used to spend a lot of time, in the junk yards in San Fernando, might be worth a telephone call, they network really well.
Brake lines?
Hubs? Know they are a differnet parts listing 90-93, 94-01 (but they use the same rear seal race 84-01). The U-joints are the same listing, 84-01, the axles and stub shaft appear the same 84-99 except ABS and 92-01 with ABS (think everything 99+ is ABS). A lot of overlap, mix and match possiblities with the axles.

July 19th, 2005, 15:06
I theorize that knuckles would move over, even if ball joints have different designs from year to year. I figure that if one could purchase a teraflex knuckle, or a WJ knuckle, and install it onto their own XJ dana 30, then the ball joint makes no difference to the knuckle. Does anyone know if knuckles won't move from year to year?

July 19th, 2005, 19:39
Well, so far, the driver's side kinda fits. The castle nut on the upper ball joint went on up to a point (high enought to insert the cotter pin) and now turning it in either direction does nothing to move it up or down the threads. At least I was able to tighten both ball joint castle nuts to the point that the camber is 0 degrees off of vertical. Oh well. Maybe I'll have the ball joints professional changed later.

July 19th, 2005, 19:51
Not sure about your swap, but I installed a 1987 disco axle and kept the 94 steering knuckes, bearings, brakes. and all worked out well. both of my axles used the same ball joint. The 1987 steering knuckle did have the adjustable seat, where as the 94 did not. Changing the ball joints is no big deal, the ball joint press (Special c-clamp) was rented from Auto Zone for no charge and a $99 deposit and got it back when I returned it.

September 9th, 2005, 14:27
Hi guys,
I'm in a similar situation. I'm trying to swap TJ knuckles onto an '87 d30. I went and bought all new ball joints and hubs to match the knuckles. It seems the holes that the ball joint studs go through in the knuckles are a slightly smaller diameter than the ball joint studs as the knuckles won't fully seat. (they're about 10mm too low). What do you guys think of reaming out the holes until knuckles seat properly? This is really frustrating I thought I had all the I's dotted and T's crossed. I really don't want to have to buy more parts. Thanks for any help.

September 9th, 2005, 15:07
IIRC TJ 's use diffrent ball joints on the uppers

September 9th, 2005, 15:14

XJ brake calipers are $20 each and rotors are about $25 each
toal is like $100 for all new brakes??
I run em and they work fine..

September 9th, 2005, 15:22
isnt the 2000 TJ a lowpinion axle ??
Not sure but I dont think the axles willl even work bro..

here is a link to a knuckle switch
not what you are trying but yoiu get the idea


lots of fab work here

and the last question is why?????
new calipers are like $25 each and rotors are like $16 each at autozone
axles are like $50 each from a junker

September 9th, 2005, 15:30
If you are going to go as far as switching the knuckles, why not upgrade your brakes at the same time to something that will truly stop your jeep?


You spend a bit more dough but in the end you have vastly superior steering and braking for almost the same amount of work.

September 9th, 2005, 15:56
Hi guys,
I'm in a similar situation. I'm trying to swap TJ knuckles onto an '87 d30. I went and bought all new ball joints and hubs to match the knuckles. It seems the holes that the ball joint studs go through in the knuckles are a slightly smaller diameter than the ball joint studs as the knuckles won't fully seat. (they're about 10mm too low). What do you guys think of reaming out the holes until knuckles seat properly? This is really frustrating I thought I had all the I's dotted and T's crossed. I really don't want to have to buy more parts. Thanks for any help.

10mm too low?
or 10 mm smaller in diameter?

reaming it out sounds very bad and also very hard. It would also suck to discover any further incompatibilities after all that work.

On my switch, I went back and replaced the suspect ball joint entirely and got rid of an extra 5 degrees of camber that made my tires look funny.

September 9th, 2005, 16:47
Don't know if this is going to help you much, but one poster said he put his 94 D30 stuff on a 87 D30 housing. I put my hubs, axle shafts, rotors, knuckles and calipers on a 1995 axle with no problems. Fit perfect.


September 9th, 2005, 23:10
Thanks for the replys. First let me clarify my first post. I'm swapping TJ knuckles onto an '87 XJ D30. W/4.10 gears, and putting it under my '94 XJ that has 3.55s now (yes I'm doing the rear too lol) The reason I'm using TJ knuckles is that I've read that they are the same as XJ knuckles and I found them cheap. It apears that it would “work” as is but the ujoint wouldn't fully clear the greese zerk on the lower ball joint (it would only need less than 1/8” more clearance to do so though). I did some investigation (read tore the whole damn thing back apart) and it seems that only the hole that the lower ball joint stud goes through is about 1/32” in diameter smaller and only at the bottem of the hole. (the upper fits perfect) The hole stops tapering about 1/4” from the bottem so I would only have to ream 1/32” off that 1/4” high flat spot in the lower hole to make it fit. It shouldn't take me more than 10 min. with a sanding drum on the dremel to do both sides.
I did look into the WJ swap but I felt it was overkill for my application. 31's are as big as I plan on ever running. The only steering mod I am doing is swapping in a V8 ZJ tie rod. As for the brakes I'm doing a rear disc conversion using crown vic parts on the non c-clip d35 I'm putting on the rear. Yah I know I'm polishing a turd but if I ever score a XJ d44 they will bolt right up to it.

Here is the rest of my buildup for those interested:
'94 2 door 4.0 auto np242 soon to be 4.10 geared
Rustys 3” ALL lift beefed up in the rear w/ an extra XJ main leaf with the eyes cut off.
Custom rear bumper w/tire carrier, reciever and D rings
custom front bumper w/hoop, D rings and mounted with the Ridgid co. mounting system
high flow cat w/dynomax super turbo catback
bored tbody
tbody spacer (bored to match tbody)
K&N stock replacement
GDI 3 core rad
aux trans cooler
hood vents
TJ flares
16” electeic fan and high output aux. Fan on a thermo switch w/manual kill/override.
More bombproof motor mounts
31x10.5 r15 Wide Climber AT tires on stock wheels
WJ lca's
custom basket style roof rack
floor pan and undercarrage base coted with POR15 and top coated with herculiner
alpine CD head unit
4 blapunct 6 1/2” 2 ways in stock locations
8” kicker bass tube powered by an old 400w jensen mosfet amp

future mods:
engine oil cooler
manual control of aw4
offroad lights
paint exterior with smooth green duraback
on board air
truetracs front and rear
rear Dana 44

September 10th, 2005, 08:17
Remove the grease zerk? I can't fit a grease zerk on my D30's lower ball joint either.

September 10th, 2005, 13:03
I thought about just not using zerks on the lower ball joints but it seemed that was only a symptom and not the actual problem. I didn't like the fact that the uppers whern't fully seated and worried about the knuckle turning on the stud instead of the ball turning in the joint. After pricing TJ lower ball joints at advance ($55 a pop ouch) I went and reamed the lower holes in the knuckles. Now they fit perfectly and I saved $110. It did end up being a pia to get them just right but if I ever run into a similar problem in the future I'd do the same in a heartbeat especially considering that I only paid $60 shipped for all 4 joints from an ebay seller called world suspension. Anybody in the market for balljoints shocks or tierod ends should check these guys out. They are the cheapest I've found. They have saved me a ton of cash on this buildup.

September 12th, 2005, 21:54
maybe not pertinent any more, but a lower ball joint kit for the XJ may include both a grease zerk and a plug. Grease it, remove the zerk and use the plug in its place. Low profile. Need to move shafts just to grease it anyway.