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  1. #1
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    CgAlpha's Solid Axle Swap - Step by step....

    The following is a step-by-step how to for guys wanting to do an SAS/SOA to their H3's or H3T's. Lets get right to it...

    STEP 1


    PREPARATIONS:
    The very first thing you need to do is get your rig sitting on a nice level floor slab. Good lighting, good jackstands, and some pre-measuring will make your job easier. Plan on leaving your rig in one spot for 4 to 10 weeks. I am skipping the axle build since its sort of a separate project. So you will see a pre-built Dana 44 ready to get installed (more on that later). Here's CG's rig in my small shop...
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    I start by using a plumb bob and locate the centerline of each wheel, and transpose this up to some painters tape on each fender. This will give me a record of where the stock wheelbase was, (important since I will be cutting off all reference points).
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    Next I record the "bottom-of-fender-lip to floor" dimension at each corner. I know we typically refer to "bottom-of-fender-lip to hub" but, I like using the floor. The floor doesn't move and its more accurate than eyeballing the center of the hubs. Also...since I'm not really comparing the height to any other vehicle, it doesn't matter. The key thing I want to know is where THIS truck was sitting before I start chopping. After I get this stuff recorded, I can jack the truck up and prep it for surgery...
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    I cannot stress enough how important good jackstands are. Get some big ones. I prefer to use (4) concrete blocks as base platforms. This gives the height I need without having the jackstand raised to its limit. I believe they are stronger in shorter positions. Take time getting these in place. I very much recommend supporting the truck from the rock rails, as this frees up the frame for cutting & welding. This truck has Rocky Road rails, and they are a bit scary...not near as sturdy as the GM rails. They should work but, I will be keeping an eye on them...
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    The rear jackstands must be placed forward of the rear spring hangers, and the front ones must be placed aft of the front fenders. This means you will have quite a bit of weight overhanging each end of the truck and it makes it slightly unstable...so be very careful. They must be placed this way so you can gain access to the frame for cutting & welding. I also put smaller jackstands under all four hubs just for piece of mind. Obviously, these smaller stands will be removed with the axles. Of course as with ANY front end work on an H3...TIE OFF THE STEERING WHEEL!!!!!...
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    And because we will be plasma cutting and welding...DISCONNECT THE BATTERY!!!
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    One comment about the aftermarket positive terminal you see here. It doesn't do much good to only replace the positive one. Nine times out of ten...the negative terminal is the culprit. So if you're going to the trouble of replacing the stock cable ends...do them both.

    Now your H3 is moth-balled and ready for disassembly. See Step 2.
    Last edited by 4speedfunk; 11-09-2018 at 01:40 PM.

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  3. #2
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    Step 2...

    STEP 2:

    FRONT END DISASSMBLY:


    Start by removing the wheels. You will need to keep the rotors, calipers, and brake lines. Everything else goes. There are a lot of other threads that deal with removing stuff, so I'll just hit a few highlights. There is nothing complicated about this. I soak everything with PB Blaster the night before...makes bolts come off easier. This truck is very low-mileage and super clean, so I did not have to deal with rust. As evidence of the 30,000 mile odometer, it still has the factory clips holding the rotors in place...
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    You'll need to unbolt the entire front suspension...
    • torsion keys
    • torsion bars
    • shocks
    • diff skid
    • front crossmember
    • half-shafts
    • differential (don't forget to pull the vent hose and un-plug the locker)
    • upper & lower A-arms, knuckles, and hubs...can be removed as a unit.
    • front sway bar & ends
    • steering rack
    • front driveshaft

    All this stuff must be removed. Contact cgalpha08 if you want to purchase any of these parts. I can vouch...they are CHERRY. This truck has never been wheeled.
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    Once you get the truck to this point...you are ready to start chopping. Take a few minutes to disconnect the rubber front brake lines from the rigid lines at the frame. These are held in place with a small metal clip. Save all that stuff. The rotors, lug-nuts, calipers, rubber brake lines can be set aside for use on the new solid axle. Disconnect all the hoses & wires that are clipped onto the frame. There are numerous clips and they all must be removed to clear the way for the plasma torch.

    See Step 3.

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  5. #3
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    STEP 3:

    START CUTTING!:

    Before cutting, I will take a few minutes to run down the list of tools you will need. A plasma cutter is awesome for this job but, if you don't have one...use a Oxy/Act torch or (gulp) an angle grinder with a cut-off wheel. Trust me...the plasma torch does this job in mere minutes. You will need an air compressor and a 220v source to use a plasma cutter. It works by blowing a concentrated jet of air past an electrical arc. When you pull the trigger...the arc strikes and the jet of air start at the same time, and off you go! It slices 1/4" steel like buttah...
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    Be prepared for lots of sparks, and I usually have singed hair and pin-hole burns in my shirt when crawling around under the truck. A BFH and a pair of pliers come in handy as well.

    Here's what you will start with. This is what it will look like after you un-bolt everything...
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    Start by cutting the shock towers and bumpstops off the frame. Then you can chop off the crossmember mounts. With the plasma torch...its pretty easy to simply trace the factory welds. Be careful about what's behind your cuts...I use a piece of 1/4" plate to slide in behind my cuts so I don't cook any hoses or wires...
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    Next...remove the steering rack crossmember. This truck has the PS cooler, so it needed to be un-bolted first. This last shot shows the frame rail with everything removed. I try to cut and leave small stubs a bit proud of the frame rail. This allows me to grind them down, and make everything pretty. If you try to cut them too close...the plasma will blow a hole in the frame rail, so I always leave some slight stubs...
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    Now you are ready to spend a few hours grinding. See Step 4.

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  7. #4
    Street Tire
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    Thank you ! Where is part4 ?

    Отправлено с моего SM-N950F через Tapatalk

  8. #5
    Bald Tire
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    Great detailed thread. Really shows whatís all involved with performing this type of swap. You got it down to a science.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  9. #6
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    Love the attention to detail. Not sure I would ever be up to this task but it sure is cool to see

  10. #7
    a.k.a. "The Jackal"

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    Awesome love to see the work so detailed. It allows people to see what is involved
    Squeaky3: 06 H3 ALPHA SAS Hi pinion Dana 44 front/Eaton HO72 rear 5.13 gears, custom crossmember for long arms, lockers, 4:1 T-case, v8 swap, gobi, Smittbilt 12k Custom bumpers....do it all vehicle

    "H3 front axles are like drunk cheerleaders....just use em until they get mouthy...then toss em and get another." -anonymous


  11. #8
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    STEP 4

    BLANK CANVAS:

    After three hours of grinding...your frame rails will be shaved and smooth. I use a chisel & hammer to get the remainders of the factory brackets off the rails. At this point you need to prep the rails for some reinforcement plates. The plates are from THORparts, and they are laser-cut to fit the H3 frame perfectly. The stock frame rails are not suitable for supporting the nose weight of the H3, so adding a .250" thick layer of steel helps keep them from bending. Before welding the plates on...take a close look at your rails and repair any digs that the plasma torch may have made. The closeup below shows some jagged cuts from the plasma torch. These get welded up and ground smooth.
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    The frame plates come "flat" and must be bent to fit the contour of the frame. This can be done without heat but, using an Oxy/Acl rig will make things go easier. Additionally, there is a small loop that needs to be bent 90 degrees. This will align with the factory IFS mounting hole in the bottom of each frame rail. Go slow and test fit often...the curve is very slight...
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    The loop is there to help you get the plates in the right spot. I use a big socket on the super long factory IFS bolt, and snug it down to hold the plate in place. Then I can get my C-clamps in place and adjust the plate so its centered on the frame. Clamp the plate and start doing 1" long stitch welds around the perimeter. Move around as you weld so you don't overheat and distort the plate. Once you get a few welds on it...you can remove the C-clamps and finish it off. You can remove the loop with a cut-off wheel, after you get the plate tacked in place. There are also some holes in the plate for rosette welding the center of it...
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    After all the welding, grind down the welds and hit the whole plate with a wire wheel. Now you are ready to start figuring out your suspension, and welding on the necessary bracketry. See Step 5

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  13. #9
    All Terrain
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    I'm enjoying this series. Thanks for taking the time to document all your work.

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  15. #10
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    STEP 5:

    FIRST MOCK-UP:

    Grab your axle and slide it under the bare frames. Don't be alarmed if you start to get a semi-chub at this point...its the first look at the solid axle in its new home. But don't get in a hurry. This is the point in the project where you must slow down and start to "think in 3D". It looks wide open right now but, all of that empty space will fill up quick with link bars, track-bar, steering box, drag-link, tie-rod, springs, shocks, bump stops, etc. There is not near as much room as you think. I'll start off with a 1.5" wheelbase stretch, and use the plumb bob to get the axle sitting where I think it will be. I also use a tape and measure from the bob to the end of the hubs...sliding the axle left/right and fore/aft to get it in its approximate position. Mind you, at this point...its just a guess, and this is where I would like to see it sitting. Hub to fender is 27.25" inches for those that are wondering...
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    Right away I see a problem. One of my customers called me with this same issue. This is my first Alpha SAS, and it becomes immediately obvious that the motor mounts are completely different from the L5 motor. The "hole" that is there for the link tower on the L5...is not there on the V8. Hmmm. Normally this link tower fits without issue, and you can choose from three different mounting holes. But on this build, the motor mount is basically requiring me to chop this bracket way down. I suppose I could debate this but, in the end...the motor mount wins. So rather than try to come up with a way to make it fit as-is...out she comes for a quick trim...
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    I know 06H3 is playing around with link bar angles, and I have done some tuning on mine as well. But, on this rig...its a no-brainer. The link tower must be chopped to get the axle in place. Period. So after ten minutes with the plasma torch and a flapper wheel, she is all cleaned up and back in place under the truck. Now I can start to cram 10 pounds into a 3 pound bag. Things I am focusing on at this point are: Steering box location. Spring bucket locations. Bump stops and available up travel. Track-bar bracket location. I basically lay on the concrete floor and stare up at the emptiness that will become the front 3-link. I try to visualize each component and how much room it needs to not collide with other imaginary components. I picture each item in full droop, and full compression...trying to catch a problem in my head before its welded in place.

    The steering box on this build is a departure from previous builds, and I'm excited to see how this box (Toyota FJ-60) fits compared to my usual choice (Nissan Xterra-Gen I). It is a front steer box, with the pitman arm pointing forward, where as the Nissan is a rear-steer box. I am hoping this difference in design will free up some space to slide the axle forward, and lower the ride height slightly. More to come on this topic. Stay tuned.
    Last edited by 4speedfunk; 11-13-2018 at 05:07 PM.

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  17. #11
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    STEP 6:

    STEERING BOX:

    Before welding up the suspension brackets, its a good idea to take a closer look at the steering. The box location must be closely coordinated with the axle placement. So I did some chopping on the left front fender to make a big hole for the new box. This needs to happen for either the Nissan or the Toyota box but, the two will sit in different locations. So I wanted to get this figured out before finalizing the axle position. The hole can be cut with cut-off wheel. The plastic inner fender must be cut, then the double-thickness steel fender behind it. Lurking behind the steel fender is a junction block for the rear brake lines, and it must go...
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    Here's the pieces I cut out to make way for the steering box. And another shot after the brake line junction box is removed. These two brake lines must be removed to make room for the box. They are attached to ports #1 and #4 of the master cylinder. Once you get this section of brake lines out...the remaining lines (still attached to the frame rail), will be re-bent and re-routed up near the firewall and reconnected to the master cylinder. This works really well, and there is no need for new brake lines or re-flaring. The only catch is that you must make sure to hook them back up to the same ports, so take the time to label them before you tear it apart...
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    I also removed the remnants of the stock PS hoses (and cooler). The end on the high pressure side is different from the 5-cylinder, and it looks like I might have to track down this weird fitting to fit the Alpha PS pump. Lastly here is a shot of the new box clamped in place. I will be shifting this around and looking closely at how it relates to the nearby coil spring bucket, bump stop, and track-bar bracket. You can see the stock Hummer steering shaft clamp and close it is sitting to the Toyota input shaft....shouldn't be to big of a deal hooking that up. On the other end...you can see the Yota pitman arm, and how it relates to the THORparts front bumper. Looks like I have room for it to swing, and my initial thoughts are to taper the hole from the top down, so the 1-ton drag-link end will sit on top of it...
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  19. #12
    a.k.a. "The Jackal"

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    That box might even allow the factory sway bar to be reused!
    Squeaky3: 06 H3 ALPHA SAS Hi pinion Dana 44 front/Eaton HO72 rear 5.13 gears, custom crossmember for long arms, lockers, 4:1 T-case, v8 swap, gobi, Smittbilt 12k Custom bumpers....do it all vehicle

    "H3 front axles are like drunk cheerleaders....just use em until they get mouthy...then toss em and get another." -anonymous


  20. #13
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    That box might even allow the factory sway bar to be reused!
    Yeah, that was my initial thought too. But, after getting all the components in place...I doubt that I can make it work.

  21. #14
    a.k.a. "The Jackal"

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    Iíll send you some pics of an FJ80 rear sway bar Iím working with right now up front...it mounts off the axle. Itís not done yet but I think it will work
    Squeaky3: 06 H3 ALPHA SAS Hi pinion Dana 44 front/Eaton HO72 rear 5.13 gears, custom crossmember for long arms, lockers, 4:1 T-case, v8 swap, gobi, Smittbilt 12k Custom bumpers....do it all vehicle

    "H3 front axles are like drunk cheerleaders....just use em until they get mouthy...then toss em and get another." -anonymous



 

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