Rear 609 axle on the cheap...


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Thought I’d start a thread here for my slow progress rear 609 axle build.

Some might be wondering what a 609 axle is, well, it’s a hybrid axle that uses a Ford 9” 3rd member and Dana 60 outer components. You get the benefit of the dropout 3rd with almost Dana 60 strength but without the weight.

My axle is based on a home fabricated housing that’s from ‘’, it’s sold as .dxf files that you have laser or water jet cut & bent up, final welding in done in your own shop. I went this route as purchasing an off the shelf housing (Ruffstuff or Trailgear) was going to be about $1500cdn to my door... ouch !

I’m estimating I’ll be able to fabricate my own for around $800cdn, on top of that there will be some cost for the axle tube assembly jig but as I’m planning on building a matching front axle next, that cost will be shared.

One other benefit of this axle is that I can redrill the Dana 60 axle hubs that are 8 on 6.5” PCD to the Rover 5 on 6.5” PCD and use my existing bead lock wheels.

This is where we’ll start....


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To begin with I researched all the major manufacturers rear axle hubs as I needed one that had a flat back face, this I found on a Dodge 3500.


The studs were removed and 2 holes were plugged along with the spigot OD being turned down to 4.5” to match my wheels. I then drew up a drilling jig, had it water jet cut and used it to drill in the Rover PCD.

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Next I found rotors that slipped over the hubs from the front and using another jig redrilled them too.


Once piloted I opened up the holes to stud clearance diameter to fit over the hub. As all the drilling was done on a pedestal drill press, a couple of the holes needed just a little fettling for a snug fit.

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For brakes we’ll be using the tried & tested Chevy 3/4t ones with Ruffstuff mounting brackets.


Now, the good bit... the spindles are also from Ruffstuff and are machined to accept 1.5” diameter 35 spline half shafts.... 💪

This is a spare 24 spline shaft in the spindle for comparison, looks a bit on the skinny side 🙁


Rest of the outer ends are all stock Dana 60 parts.


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That about sorts the outer components, next onto the axle casing, this is a rendering from the vendor.


I was going to build it as a centred 3rd as my truck is 99% for trail use but... due to technical difficulties... the axle tubes were cut too short and the spindles were welded in before I realized.... oops 🙄


Not only were they burnt in hot the spindles were shrunk fit into the tubes too, so, change of plans and we’ll be building the axle with an offset 3rd as per stock. One of the tubes will be trimmed for the short side and the spindle will be recovered from the other for the long side. The piece of tube that’s left over should be just long enough for the short side of the front axle when that gets built.

Have had the weld turned off and undercut just enough to reveal the shoulder on the spindle, next I’ll cut the tube down and slit the remaining piece to release the spindle. Will add a few $ to the build cost but lesson learned !

Have also taken the vendors assembly jig and redrawn it to use a piece of 5” x 7” 1/4” wall tube as a backbone rather than the flat formed plate to save water jetting cost. These are the renderings of the revised parts.

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The larger assembly secures the centre section whilst the smaller clamps locate the axle tubes and prevents warping whilst it’s being welded up. After assembly I’ll design a top truss for the 4 link brackets to locate on.


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Spoke to the water jet company today, parts will be cut later next week. They can also ‘water mark’ all the bend lines so that’ll make it much easier for the fab shop.


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Got back on the axle project today, I’d had the weld turned off one of the axle tubes and after some cutting & grinding, recovered the spindle leaving enough tube left for the front short side axle.... I hope

Trial fitted the hub & rotor onto the axle tube, will need to relieve the outer brake pad as it rubs the drum of the rotor since it’s over the hub and not behind.


Also, been reading & researching for the front axle build, was looking to use Ford D50 TTB knuckles but no one makes an after market C that’ll fit them and they don’t fit D60 ones. Looked at D44 stuff, would work but costs add up quick and this is supposed to be budget friendly. Ford D60 ball joint knuckles will fit 99-04 SD C’s but there getting scarcer now and ones I’ve seen are all over $300 each for used 🙁

Came across some good threads on Pirate about Dodge owners swapping out the unit bearings for Ford D60 hub & spindle stuff. After a bit more reading seems that’ll be a good way to go, knuckles are cheap and will fit up to 99-04 SD C’s. So, can either buy a couple of new Dana ones or wait and see if the tow yard has any scrap SD axles under the 20’ piles of snow.

Going this way will also mean if anyone else wanted to build an axle and wasn’t tied to 15” rims they could use 99-04 SD knuckles & unit bearings. Only downside is if the bearing has to be replaced you have to redrill the lug nut holes.


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Little update as been busy moving the front 609 axle project along...

Picked up the axle casing centre section from the fab shop week or so ago, bent up nice.

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Now I have the front plate I can use the Ruffstuff 9” gauge to measure the pinion centre line in relation to the tube sockets and work out the actual tube lengths needed to meet the WMS/WMS measurement.


I’ve also drawn up the rear caliper bracket as it wasn’t an ideal fit for the slightly larger rotors I’m using, as well as I wanted to use it as a basis for the front brackets too.

Managed to find a used 9” 3rd member last week, can now work on welding up the centre section.... as soon as it’s not freezing outside !


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Burned some wire today, cooling overnight for final weld out in the morning.

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Certainly makes for a robust centre section.


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More wire burnt & centre section welded out. Fairly happy with it, just a few areas where I could have slowed down a bit & got a better tie into the sides.

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Once cool, I can remove the 3rd casing and see it it stayed flat ??


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Had to give the inside corners of the shell halves a quick buzz with the die grinder, then the short side tube slipped right in.


Long side to get, order the assembly jig & spring seat parts from the fab shop. Then I can assemble & draw up a top truss for the link brackets to mount on.


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Pretty good looking glue job. Tell me again how you align the axle tubes and generally keep everything straight?


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Pretty good looking glue job. Tell me again how you align the axle tubes and generally keep everything straight?
The drawing supplier has a set of files for an assembly jig that mounts onto a long formed base plate.


For me the cost of having a plate water jet cut & the edges bent was prohibitively high, so, I made the jigs clamp onto a piece of 7” x 5” x 3/8” wall structural tube that just happens to be the same as we use at work for snow plow pusher frames.


Once the larger jig is clamped to the tube, I can mount the centre section and then I’ll have the smaller clamp assemblies on each end aligning the axle tubes. Any pull from welding in the tubes will be minimal and I can work around & opposite sides to minimize further.

The end jigs do have a removable shim to add some pre-bend for welding on a full back truss but I’ll just be adding a top truss to mount the upper link brackets, so, will clamp it to the bench and put a bit of tension on using ratchet straps to resist it pulling. The truss will also not have long welded sections so that’ll minimize distortion too.

Here’s a great video from Nate (Dirt Lifestyle) on modifying a Superduty axle for use under his D2 project.

D2 front D60 axle build

My truss will be 3/8” top and a single 1/4” web with vertical stiffeners as it needs to be quite slim in width.
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