Last year I purchased a 1982 Ditch Witch 2200 that had been sitting outside for a few years. I replaced all of the hydraulics, rebuilt the carburetor, installed a new seat, re-packed the boom lift cylinder, and then went to using it. Immediately, the left front axle seal began to leak. The normal procedure for this requires 2 people and about 1/2 a day in labor to install the new seals. For a couple hours of shop time, my method to repair is the better way.
Step 1: Front Left Axle Is Leaking - Dana 44 on Ditch Witch 2200
Identify the Leak. Notice the oil absorbent on the ground.
Before the modification, the only way to re-seal is to remove the axle.
Remove the pinion gear (behind the black cover), drive out the seals from the outer axle tube towards the middle, and then install the new seals approximately 3 inches from the gear box on the axle tube.
The axle tube is hollow from the seal outwards and exposes the axle to the elements.
Here, we did as required, and also put a new yoke seal in while we were in there. This is a 2 person job and is rather messy.
Then, after we put it all back together, the seal was leaking on the left side......We did not want to do this again. So, watch what I did.
Step 2: Remove Tire and Axle From Side That Is Leaking.
It will slide right out of the differential. Also, the axle tube is probably going to be rusty and dirty. I used a stone hone to clean it up.
Step 3: Turn the Axle in a Lathe to Clean Up the Imperfections at a Place Where the New Seal Will Be
I measured about 1" from the outside of the axle tube and turned an area about 2" wide to give me some buffer.
The axle shaft is 1-3/8" in diameter so you do not want to turn over a couple thousands off. The new seal is 1.375" inside.
Step 4: The Proper Name for This Is Called a Seal Carrier
Take a piece of 2"(if I remember correctly...) round stock with a thick wall, make sure the inside is approximately 1-1/2" and then on one side turn out the groove for the seal. I wanted a common seal to go in this carrier, so I made the outside dimensions 1.875" or 1-7/8". The seal should fit nice and tight in the carrier.
Step 5: Install Carrier Into Axle Tube
The final step is to install the carrier into the axle tube. I coated liberally with locktite red because I never want this carrier to come out...ever... and then after proper placement, I coated the inside of the tube/carrier circle with RTV for better sealant. The last photo is the final product.
As a side note, I left the leaking seal on the interior of the axle tube.
Now, if and when another leak poses itself, I can remove the axle from the side of the leak, and install a new $4 seal and put it all back together within about an hour or less. This is something that Dana could easily have done when they designed the axle, but they did not. I hope this helps anyone with a vehicle or piece of equipment that has a leaking Dana 44.