with Bill Johnston
While adding more power to the Grey Ghost project, we realized that harnessing that power at the axles was going to be a big chore. The gears had already been updated with a set of 5.12s and a locker, but we wanted to strengthen it from the axle shafts out. Looking into the Trail Tough Suz-Ana series of front axle housings, we found out that they offered both a Big and Little version. The Big version used a Sidekick/Tracker rear differential, larger axle shafts and a Dana 44 style knuckle setup. While very strong, it meant buying more gears, locker, etc. The answer was the Little Suz-Ana. While it shares the larger axle options and the Dana 44 style knuckles, it retains the use of the Samurai front differential with only a simple side gear swap.
As you can see in the pictures, the upgrade from stock 22 spline axle shaft to the larger 26 spline chrome moly shaft is a huge jump. Stock birfield stubs (Suzuki outer shafts) are 26 spline from the factory, and since this will still use the stock locking hub the outer spline count stays at 26. The 297X u-joints are also stronger than the stock birfield joints.
*Note* Initially this article mentioned a 27 spline front axle, this was incorrect. The paragraph now reflects the correct (26) spline count.
As in any axle change, we made it easy by pulling the stock axle out and positioning it next to the new axle housing so we could move any re-used components straight over. First to get moved over was the differential. You can also see the Hy-Steer system that comes with the Suz-Ana series front axles, another side benefit that not only looks cool but adds beefy functionality. The axle shaft and knuckle components are new and install with ease. They are held in place with a custom machined aluminum adapter. Once the adapter is torqued down, the stock Samurai caliper mount, brake shield, hub assembly can be transferred from the old axle housing. The stock brake rotor, caliper and locking hub finish off the assembly. Transferring the wheels to the new axle made it easier to move it around in the garage. This axle is two inches wider than stock, as Trail Tough offers the Suz-Ana series in stock width as well as two and four inches wider than stock. This made our front wheel spacers a thing of the past.
The axle was ordered with a few options to speed up the installation process. We had Trail Tough weld on new spring perches, shock mounts and a bullet proof pumpkin cap before they painted it. If you go this route, Trail Tough will mount the perches to your specifications. This means that it doesn't matter whether your springs are mounted in the stock location (at stock width) or moved inboard/outboard based on your measurements. If you have a custom spring reversal and need the perches to be at a slightly different angle then just be very clear on how many degrees the perches need to be rotated.
Another benefit of the Dana knuckles is the opportunity to add a taller high steer system. The Grey Ghost had been outfitted with Andys Samurai Steering system during an earlier build, but during extreme articulation it would contact the spring pack. The new Hy-Steer system from Trail Tough gave more than enough clearance for this application. This gives a whole new look and capability to your front end. Watch for a review of its trail capabilities in the near future. Component Source:Trail Tough Products 1031 Narregan St Medford, OR 97501 1-877-SUZUKIS (789-8547)firstname.lastname@example.org