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Old 01-01-2013, 08:13 AM   #1
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Towing Jeep Cherokee XJ 4 down--front axles shafts removed

I have towed my 2000 XJ behind my motorhome in the past with 4 wheels down without issue. A few years ago, after breaking the front spider gears and an axle shaft while snowplowing (Boy do I wish I was retired then!!!), I added an Aussie lunchbox locker in the front Dana 30 axle. The only thing that typically wears out now is a front axle shaft u-joint, because of the stress of plowing.

I noticied if I now tow the XJ, even for about 100 miles, something seems to break in the front end (typically axle u-joints or hub bearings). I'm at the point where I don't want to tow the XJ anymore. My best guess is the extreme stress on the front end while towing is being worsened by the Aussie possibly locking up and not releasing (probably from the tires scrubbing while turning). The wheel speed differential may be binding the u-joints or wearing the hub bearings on dry pavement.

My Jeep's Owner's Manual states: "Internal damage to the transfer case (I have a NP231) will occur if a front or rear wheel lift is used when recreational towing.", which means I can't tow the XJ on a dolly (which I really don't want to do!!). In this mode, I'm thinking the damage comes from the rear driveshaft turning, but the front driveshaft can't turn because the front wheels are locked down on a dolly.

Is this a correct assumption?

If I were to remove the front axle shafts (and possibly the front driveshaft) and tow 4 down, effectively making my XJ a 2WD, will the transfer case still get damaged? Of course I would remount the outer stub shaft so the bearing hub doesn't come apart!

In a few days, I will be towing the XJ about 1,500 miles to Florida and don't want to have ANY issues with the XJ. I won't need 4WD in FL, so I can live without it for a few months until I get back North in the Spring.

So what do you LJ, TJ, XJ, transfer case experts out there think?

Can I remove the front axle shafts and tow the XJ 4 down, without destroying the transfer case?

Thanks, Fran

PS, I thought about unbolting both DS, but disconnecting the rear DS may not be a viable option. I'll need to fill up my 75 gallon gas tank every 400 miles in strange gas stations along the way. If I get into odd situations, I won't be able to back up. You guys know the drill!!! I don't think people waiting to get gas would appreciate it when I'm under the XJ reconnecting the rear DS!!!
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'13 Ford Focus ST or '10 Prius on Master Tow Dolly 80THD-SB or '00 Jeep Cherokee 4-down
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Old 01-01-2013, 08:42 AM   #2
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Sounds like you know your XJ pretty well, far too many are not aware of the unit bearing coming apart without an axle shaft to hold it together.

Hopefully you'll get someone who has towed their XJ in the same situation but I think you have a viable plan. The output of the NP-231 drives the oil pump and the issues caused by dolly towing are caused by the front shaft not being able to turn while the back is spinning down the road so in THEORY you're on the right track. With the front able so spin freely there should be no issues.

Here's hoping someone can help out. Of course the sure fix (and expensive one) is an ARB in front .

EDIT: And some Ten Factory or Superior alloy shafts.
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Old 01-01-2013, 08:47 AM   #3
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With all the trouble you have had with the XJ, maybe you should consider a JK wrangler. The Rubicon model comes with lockers front and rear and a sways bar disconnect. And they are the easiest vehicle to tow four down. No steering lock and now fuses to pull. And your choice of auto or manual transmission. And it's a real jeep not the soccer mom edition. The 2 door anyway. And they make a 4 door soccer mom edition if you need the room. Hard top, soft top or both. Half doors if you like. And the highest resale of any car in America.
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Old 01-01-2013, 08:57 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daveshan View Post
Sounds like you know your XJ pretty well, far too many are not aware of the unit bearing coming apart without an axle shaft to hold it together.

The XJ and I have become very close!!! Snowplowing puts a ton of stress on the drivetrain and requires constant maintenance, which I do myself.

Here's hoping someone can help out. Of course the sure fix (and expensive one) is an ARB in front .

Nice, but I'm too cheap!!

EDIT: And some Ten Factory or Superior alloy shafts.

Or the Alloy USA shafts that I installed, when everything broke (I left that part out for the non-techies!!)

Thanks, Fran
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'13 Ford Focus ST or '10 Prius on Master Tow Dolly 80THD-SB or '00 Jeep Cherokee 4-down
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Old 01-01-2013, 08:59 AM   #5
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Did your XJ orginslly hsvr the vacuum disconnect for the right front axle shaft? And that lo longer existing? If so, that's maybe why - the ausie locker is locking up sometimes. Either get the axle disconnect working again - with a manual disconnect for off-roading. Or install free-wheeling hubs on the front.

The free wheeling hubs would likey resolve the issue in any case.
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:13 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vsheetz View Post
Did your XJ orginslly hsvr the vacuum disconnect for the right front axle shaft? And that lo longer existing? If so, that's maybe why - the ausie locker is locking up sometimes. Either get the axle disconnect working again - with a manual disconnect for off-roading.

I have a 2000 XJ, which didn't have the vacuum disconnect feature. The right side is a solid axle shaft.

Or install free-wheeling hubs on the front.

The free wheeling hubs would likey resolve the issue in any case.

Free-wheeling hubs would act the same as removing the axle shafts (I think). If FWH or removing the shafts doesn't damage the transfer case while towing, I'll probably go the FWH route for a long term solution.

Thanks, Fran
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Fran, Mary & Zoey (silver Cocker)
2006 Itasca Sunrise 35A, 2005 W-22, Allison 1000 5 speed
'13 Ford Focus ST or '10 Prius on Master Tow Dolly 80THD-SB or '00 Jeep Cherokee 4-down
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:25 AM   #7
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I think you are right about removing the axle shafts. Posing the question on one of the Jeep forums would get you a difinitive answer. Such as JeepsUnlimited.com Forums - Powered by vBulletin. A HUGE amount of knowlege on all things jeep there.
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2011 Tiffin Phaeton 40QTH (Cummins ISC/Freightliner)
Flat towing a modified 2005 Jeep (Rubicon Wrangler)
Previously a 2002 Fleetwood Pace Arrow 37A and a 1995 Safari Trek 2830.
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Old 01-01-2013, 12:04 PM   #8
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Jeep Forum's XJ specific forum is also a good choice as is NAXJA. Of course the drivetrain is common to Wranglers also so any Jeep forum could help.

Here's a screaming deal on a set of Mile Marker shafts/hubs to convert the front to free wheeling. Warn sold the rights to their setup to Randy's Ring and Pinion a few years ago but I don't see them on the website, just did a quick search so I may have missed them, 2x the price of this set of Mile Marker hubs last time I looked.
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The above post is just my experience/opinion which is worth exactly what you paid for it.

'05 Lance 845/'06 F-250 or '99 Alpine 36SDS Usually towing an '01 Wrangler locked on 35"s or moderate '98 Cherokee on 33"s (rear locker only)
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