Cutting and Turning

Cutting and turning is probably the most difficult and most “feared” aspect of a spring over.  But in reality, if done correctly, it is not that hard at all, and I believe any rig lifted over 5” should have it done, regardless of whether it is sprung over or under.  It provides such a big advantage, especially in the case of a spring over, and since you are already there so you might as well do it right the first time.

If you think that you are not up for the task of cutting and turning, several companies cut and turn axles for people, including Cruiser Outfitters and Proffitt's Cruiser's.  Proffitt's even offers a SOA kit.  It is usually about $150-$200 to buy a cut and turned axle + core charge.

**If you are thinking of doing a Shackle reversal (see page 7 later in the article to read about them), do the shackle reversal BEFORE you take measurements for your cut and turn.

A good, unofficial description of cutting and turning is basically: "a way to correct your steering on your front axle because you are rotating your pinion up toward your transfer case."

Because you are lifting your rig so much, it will create fairly "extreme" front axle angles if you do not cut and turn.  Here is a photo of an axle before cutting and turning - you will see the front pinion output is level - exiting at 90 degrees.  Because you are lifting the rig so high, you want to rotate the pinion up, out of the way of rocks, and up, towards to the transfer case front output, to get a better u-joint angle.  Otherwise it can bind and cause something to break.

A front axle, sprung over, before cutting and turning, with the weight of the 
vehicle sitting on the front axle using jack stands:


First, take your measurements:
First, you want to take your measurements of where you want your axle to point.  Before you weld on the front perches, you want to place the weight of the vehicle on the front axle as seen in the photo above with u-bolts bolted up loosely, mostly for safety.  Then, using a floor jack, push the pinion up so that it points at your transfer case output.  Use an angle finder to figure out how many degrees of difference you have changed it.  It does not matter where you take your angle, as long as you use the same place for all measurements:

(Photo taken by Tien Do)

For Steering and Caster measurements:
The OEM caster (steering) degree point are a good place to start and reference as "zero," whether the angle finder reads that or not.  Ideally, especially when going to larger tires, you want to increase your steering arm angle (move the end of the arm higher than it was before) about 4-6 degrees.  This makes steering easier and creates less wandering.  Therefore, you will need to add about 4-6 degrees to whatever your pinion angle is rotated at.  For example, if you rotate 14 degree up for pinion angle, you will need to add another 4 degree so your total rotation will be 18-20 degrees.  When you do the actual rotation this will all make sense....

C&T in a vise or on the rig?
Cutting and turning can be done in a vise or in a jig, or it can be done by simply bolting your whole axle to the front springs tightly, and doing it while on the truck. 

Actually Cutting:
To cut and turn, first break down the knuckles to their bare housings.  When you rebuild it, you should replace the seals and bearings while you are in there.  You want to break them down because it’s easier to “turn” the knuckles when they are bare (those two large holes), and because of the heat your axle will experience when being welded back up could potentially melt your inner axle seal and cause it to leak, which will force you to have to tear it down again later.

Next, cut the axle just a hair inside of the OEM weld:

You want to cut about 1/4" wide and you should visibly see the line between the outer and inner axle sleeves.  In the photo above, the inner sleeve is red, while the outer is black.  Do not cut too deep, the outer sleeve is exactly 6mm wide.  The trick is to cut consistently 1/4" (6mm) deep completely around the outer perimeter which is why a pipe cutter does such a good job cutting and turning. (actual cutaway photo courtesy Jack Rice)

Here is an example of good leverage to turn the housing.  Because a new front axle rebuilt kit is recommended (and most come with new trunion/steering bearings), simply use your old bearing races to protect the housing from damage while using the pipe to turn. 

Here you can see the bearing races, kept in place to turn the housing.  You can also see where the axle was cut and turned:

Once down to the bare housing, you can use a variety of devices to “cut.”  The most popular one is a large pipe cutter, but you have to grind down the old welds and bump stops before you can use it.  It does make the nicest and cleanest cut, though.  You can also use an angle grinder with a cutoff wheel, and simply widen the cut later with a grinding wheel.

Another example of a good cut with an angle grinder:

(Photo by Cruiser Ken)

You want to go about a hair or two deeper than 1/4” because that is the thickness of the outer axle.  The knuckle housing is sleeved into the axle, so there is an inner and outer layer, with the only thing keeping them together being the visible OEM weld at the end of the housing.

Then weld it all up, bolt it back under the truck, and put the axle back together!


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6. Drive Shafts
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