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Any experiences with the forged aluminum dropped axles?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by sidevalve8ba, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. 32coupedeville
    Joined: Dec 10, 2006
    Posts: 1,253

    from cincy


    all i can say is that my dad got into an accident when an old lady stopped to make a left ture on i70 in the middle of kansas and dad hit here at 70 mph. this axle was a 5" dropped axle. it never broke. but it bent very back . i would hate to think what an aluminum axle would do !!!!! those aluminum axles look great ........ on a show car.
  2. Lytles Garage
    Joined: May 6, 2011
    Posts: 621

    Lytles Garage

    Ford used Forged droped Aluminum axles on big rigs in the 70s a friend of mine had a log truck with one on it, he wore that truck out, never had a problem with the axle. Chris
  3. ago
    Joined: Oct 12, 2005
    Posts: 2,199

    from pgh. pa.

    How can you compare forged truck axles and landing gear to an aftermarket aluminum axle? You know the landing gear and truck axles went thru many hours of durability tests. that the after market did not. Do you know how many different Alum alloys and heat treatments there are. Aluminum is not just aluminum. The Australian or New Zealand rules will not allow any aftermarket axles that are not certified. Look at all the junk coming into the USA. from China and being used and failing. Not saying that is the case with these aluminum axles. Just something to think about.


  4. wondering when that question would come up yes some tractors have aluminum axles under them. They are big knarley pieces. Some semi-tractors have aluminum chassis as well. When I was working for thermobond paving in the '80s we had a kenworth tractor with an aluminum chassis.

    There is no comparison, anything street roddy is going to be thin by design, so as not to takre away from the look. I think that the question becomes are we looking at a forging or a casting, there is a world of difference and it becomes more pronounced when you are working with aluminum.
  5. Bert Kollar
    Joined: Jan 10, 2007
    Posts: 981

    Bert Kollar

    All the technical info is available at Pete and Jakes tech article on developing the Super Bell aluminum axle. Very impressive
    invada likes this.
  6. Use what you like,,my roadster had a super bell tube axle when the car hit a guard rail in the rain,,,the tube bent about 45 degrees from the original position but never broke.

    While the roadster was being transported back home on the trailer the only axle that was available at the show was the aluminum,,no venders had a axle with them,,several venders had the aluminum axle.

    If I ever buy a car with a aluminum axle I'll post it in the classifieds because it would be the first thing I change.

    BTW,,Comparing a I beam hot rod axle to a huge semi axle is ludicrous.:rolleyes: HRP
  7. Lytles Garage
    Joined: May 6, 2011
    Posts: 621

    Lytles Garage

    Why? A truck axle has 12-14 thousand pounds on it, a hotrod axle has 12-14 HUNDRED pounds on it , useing that the hotrod axle is bigger than it needs to be! Ever see the rods in a top fuel motor? 1000 HP per cyl. Forged Aluminum, the Aluminum acts as a shock absorber when that huge load of nitro fires. you need to have a little more RESPECT for Aluminum !! THANKS Chris
    invada likes this.
  8. As I said earlier,,do what you want,,I've had one and won't use one again,,Forged axles are traditional and safe,,that's one less thing I will have to worry about. HRP
  9. The OP was asking if anyone has had experience and it sounds like only a few (three) posts are from guys that have actual experience, and while not failures, causing concern, when the axle flexes when kicking the tire (I can actually see this with my cast iron superbell axle too) Most of the other posts are not relevent, or baseless.

    To get back on track here is the advertising for the axles which have been on the market for 12 years, and the street rodder article that details the level of engineering and testing that went into the axle:

    Super Bell's Alum'I'beam is computer designed and strength tested. This axle combines Super Bell's traditional I-beam 'narrow upsweep' with the original 1932 truck (wider style) belly and features a raised "Super Bell" shield on only one side of the beam. Measuring 46" king pin to king pin our Alum'i'beam is designed for use under the 1928-34 Ford using '37-48 Ford passenger car spindles. Forged from 7175-T74 aircraft aluminum and "Made in the USA", Super Bell's Alim'i'beam is lighter (9.5lbs), stronger, and better than ever.

    Read on From Streetrodder web:

    Anyone who's read the Window Shopper column on a regular basis knows it's usually the first place most parts make their debut. Some manufacturers even wait until a release publishes before introducing a part. It's a debutante ball for parts, if you will.

    So new entries often excite us. Well, so do glittery things and certain bodily functions, but that's another story. In the March '02 Window Shopper, we ran Super Bell's new forged aluminum axle. As you can imagine, it's tough to reinvent something as simple as a beam axle, so the release piqued our interests. After all, we're talking about a lightweight suspension part, and whenever you decrease unsprung mass (the stuff not supported by the springs, like axles, wheels, etc.), you improve ride quality and a wheel's ability to follow irregular surfaces and bumpy roads. When we started thinking of the weight savings over conventional iron beam and tube axles, we got downright excited.

    Of course, we tempered our enthusiasm with a little dose of real-world skepticism. Yes, pound for pound aluminum is four times stronger than steel, but we're talking about a considerably lighter part: It tips the scales at about 10 pounds! How could something as critical as a load-bearing axle hold up to the strains and rigors of braking, steering, and the odd pothole?

    For answers, we went straight to the horse's mouth. As many of you know, Pete & Jake's Hot Rod Parts in Peculiar, Missouri, acquired Super Bell Axle Company in June 1999. They didn't just acquire the product line, either; they acquired the Super Bell name and reputation for strong and true axles. To push the envelope, they first had to establish what traits a sufficiently strong axle maintained.

    They started by stress testing both the cast I-beam and tube axles at Arrow Laboratories, an independent laboratory in Wichita, Kansas. What they found was both the tube and cast-iron I-beam axles could sustain up to 12,000 pounds of vertical load with little to no distortion. As a bonus, they found the tube axles they made in Missouri had a slight strength margin over the California-produced axles. With the benchmark established, they started on plans for an aluminum axle.

    With CAD (computer-assisted design) plans in hand, Super Bell shopped the market for a proficient forging house. Super Bell said they chose to forge the axles since forging yields a stronger component over casting or machining the pieces form plain billet.

    For example, when molten metal cools from casting, it forms a random, non-directional crystal structure similar to the grain pattern of sand. Heating metal to just below its melting point and forcing it into a shape (forging) will align the crystal structure, or grain pattern, making the grain pattern less like random sand and more like the grain in wood. Since the metal isn't allowed to melt and reform its crystal structure, we call this process cold working. Now the part is shaped so the grain flows where the strength is needed the most, much like wood. Forging also makes the metal denser than cast, thereby reducing or eliminating porosity and stress risers. That's why a cast part requires more material and bulk to equal the strength of a forged part.

    As for raw billet, since it's cold worked during its manufacturing process, it has a grain structure of its own. However, the cold working is done in one direction and the grain only has one orientation--very similar to a 2x4, if you will. To further follow the wood grain model, cutting either material in any way disrupts this grain structure. Making a part from raw billet is akin to cutting a part from ordinary lumber. Forging a part, however, is like growing a tree exactly to the shape you want.

    And this means a lot to us. Under finite element analysis (FEA), a type of CAD stress test used by the aerospace industry, Super Bell found definite advantages in the 7175-T74 aluminum axle. They discovered the aluminum axle has greater tensility (the greatest longitudinal stress a substance can bear without tearing apart) and yield (how much stress a material can tolerate before permanently deforming) properties than 65-45-12 cast ductile iron axles, the staple of the Super Bell lineup.

    The FEA testing revealed the aluminum axle holds up to a 62,000-psi load before yielding whereas the cast-iron unit holds 45,000 psi--a 17,000-psi increase in yield strength. The aluminum axle has a tensile strength of 71,000 psi over the cast-iron's 65,000-psi rating. They also found that the aluminum axle would have a fatigue life of 10,000,000 cycles (anything from small bumps to full-blown potholes) before showing any physical property changes under a 1,500-pound frontend.

    To back up the theoretical info Super Bell commissioned Arrow Laboratories to test the aluminum axle in the real world. The axle they tested remained solid on one side with 1-inch lightening holes in the other for comparison. The solid side deformed at 10,500 pounds while the lightened side deformed at 10,800 pounds. Not only was the lighter side stronger, it also deformed less, at .18 inch vs. the .24-inch deflection on the solid side. The end result proved the aluminum axle would handle vertical loads up to 20,000 pounds on the frontend--8,000 pounds more than their fabricated iron and steel tube axle or traditional cast-iron beam axle.

    That's one strong axle. And considering it's lightweight aluminum, it's big news to us solid-axle drivers. Since this forging is a mysterious and intriguing thing requiring BIG machinery and exacting processes, we persuaded Super Bell to let us tour the facility they commission to forge their parts. When there, we snapped a few photos, some of which should shed some light on the process. It was one heck of a tour, and we consider it a privilege to let you in on it. Enjoy!

    Read more:

    invada and Aluminum1929 like this.
  10. Pewsplace
    Joined: Feb 10, 2007
    Posts: 2,785


    Old thread, but Boyd used aluminum front and rear A arms on all of his hot rods. GM uses aluminum on the Corvette suspensions and Boyd (Lil John) had vast experience in the industry where it is has been subject to vast engineering studies. I drove my Boyd chassis hard, hit curbs and never had any problem with the aluminum suspension components. I would have no problem with using one if I could afford a $1000 front axle. Just my thoughts on this Sunday afternoon with no football. I just purchased a CE forged unit for my new project for $250 and that will have to do for now.
    invada and Aluminum1929 like this.
  11. Ebbsspeed
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 5,272


    I'll post on an old thread as well. Kick a tire on the front of any car and you'll see a bit of movement, whether it's a tube, beam, strut or A-arm type. I just went outside and kicked the front tires of a 1996 Buick Roadmaster, a 1993 Dodge Caravan, a 1950 Chevy 3100, and a 2004 Chevrolet Silverado 4X4, and I could see movement on every one. Not much, but they all moved.
  12. maniac
    Joined: Jul 11, 2005
    Posts: 539


    Before the end of the 70's they were gone from the big trucks, and they haven't re-appeared since, once the king pins wore out they were converted to steel axles, never could get the old king pins out without damaging the axle, bad idea then......still is.
  13. GearheadsQCE
    Joined: Mar 23, 2011
    Posts: 2,630


    There you go, Lynn. Stirring the pot again! I'd like to try one on a really light car.
    I'm not skeered!
  14. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 6,638

    anthony myrick

    heres a machined aluminum one that I wouldn't be scared of from Johnsons rod shop
  15. This thread is funny.
  16. pitman
    Joined: May 14, 2006
    Posts: 5,014


    Driving when no salt was used on the roads, I'd run one without reservation.
    They aren't cheap however.
    The flanges are thicker, w/an alum. fourbanger had no problem with the axle.
    It rode and handled very well.
    Roadsir's post on the manufacturing and testing procedures confirm.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2018
  17. blue 49
    Joined: Dec 24, 2006
    Posts: 1,305

    blue 49
    from Iowa

    Any one who's used a really big pipe wrench appreciates the light weight of forged aluminum over forged steel. They seem to stand up to cheater pipes just as well, too.

  18. tommy
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 14,758

    Member Emeritus

    An aluminum front axle now that's traditional!!!:rolleyes:

    I don't even like the modern forged reproduction steel axles. I can spot one from across the street.:D All my axles started life some where on an old Ford and were dropped by an old time hotrodder. The less perfect they are...the better. I'll shut up now! :D
  19. mlinton1941
    Joined: Oct 17, 2012
    Posts: 491


    I have one under my roadster and it works GREAT ! I love it.....
    invada likes this.
  20. Blues4U
    Joined: Oct 1, 2015
    Posts: 5,025

    from So Cal

  21. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 5,329


    After reading the posts from "Roadsir" and some others whose opinions I have learned to respect, I find your post confusing. Can you explain what you are trying to say here?
  22. Yea but as has been pointed out it is relevant, nothing I sad was relevant. :D

    Here is an interesting observation, there have been some posts about the axle flexing. Now everyone's beef with a tube axle is that it doesn't flex like an original Henry. So the question becomes is flex only desirable if it is an original Henry?

    @tubman I think he was referring to dead thread, as in nothing happens for years and someone drags it back up. Personally given the bent of the forum I wouldn't think that anyone would want to admit to using anything that was not original Henry steel.
  23. Tim
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
    Posts: 11,784

    from Raytown Mo

    Pretty sure @racer-x used 2000 hp to slam his into a cement wall and it didn’t break. I wouldn’t hesitate to use s super bell anything
  24. Spooner Clinton
    Joined: Feb 14, 2018
    Posts: 16

    Spooner Clinton

    I am currently developing a hard rubber dropped axle. It rides much better and if you have an accident, it will return to it's original shape.
  25. I always hope to not have an accident when using a rubber hard or otherwise.

    yea yea I know not relevant. :rolleyes:
  26. I’ve had an Aluminium Super Bell (oval holes) under my ‘32 3W for about 10 years now, with about 55,000 kms (34,000 miles) on it. And they have been hard miles of driving on some of our lousy roads in Australia.
    More than happy with the Axle, would definitely buy another one if needed.
    Only drawback is the cleaning & quick polishing of it, to remove the road grime.
    As for failures, never heard of any breakages or bad reports about them.

    Sent from my iPad using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  27. Theres alot of comments from those with no real world experience using a super bell axle. The material used is the same thats on viper and corvette suspensions. The axle wont break on impact. It will bend just like a original ford. In fact the super bell is stronger than the original ford. Im probable the only one on this thread with real world hands on experience crashing a race car with a super bell. Aftèr i repaired the car i put in another super bell because im that impressed. If you are ever at pete and jakes ask to see my old axle they use it for display purposes now. Im very comfortable street driving and racing my car. I do drag week with the car so that requires driving with a trailer. We stress every part of this car to the max. The only thing to fear is fear itself. The challange has been made what do you have for hands on experience that says they are bad? 20170716_171420.jpg 20170717_133205.jpg 20170717_133151.jpg IMG_1994.png 20161101_085815.jpg

    Attached Files:

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  28. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 6,638

    anthony myrick

    how dare you use logic
    clem likes this.
  29. Mount a go pro on the front of your car. Then tell me your steel axle doesnt flex. To think someone posted they are concerned about going 65-70 mph. Try 200 mph. The axle doesnt even cross my mind.
    invada and Dave Friend like this.
  30. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 7,056

    Bandit Billy

    The use of a heavier axle may help keep those tires from hopping off the ground like that.:cool:
    Blues4U and clem like this.

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