* The front axle's a Dana 30. It's normal cut (the MJ and XJ got the reverse cut D-30s). It can hold either of two carriers - one will take gears from 2.72 to 3.54 and the other 3.73 to 5.38.
* The *standard* rear axle offered in a Jeep ZJ from the time it came out in 1992 as a 1993 model was the Dana-35C. Regardless the engine and regardless the trim package.
Another axle that showed up at the ZJ's introduction (it wasn't really an option) was the Chrysler 8.25" axle. These were put on ZJs whenever the D-35C was short in supply. So there's no way to tell if you have one OTHER than to look underneath your rig and see for yourself. If you have the 8.25", then count your blessings...it's a better axle than the D-35C. And it is almost as good as the Dana 44.
The aluminum Dana-44s weren't offered in your year. They didn't arrive on the ZJs until 1996, and only then when the ZJ was purchased with the V-8 option. And yes...yes, you could have the V-8 before 1996. The 318 CID was first offered in 1994. But that 318 was pushing either the D-35C or 8.25" in the rear. As it was in '95.
Got most of the info from one of my Jeep history books. They break down the vehicles by stock engine, suspension, toys, etc. I can see where they could have made the D-30 mistake and I don't have any personal CJ history to pull from myself to agree or disagree. I listed what I read.
The info you wrote about the D-44 just agreed with what I wrote.
As for the 8.25 - as I said...it wasn't the official axle, it went in when there were shortages of the requisite D-35. This is an old auto manufacturer trick and one that Jeep's historically used from the beginning. They even had back-up engines that aren't stock back in the 50s and 60s. As for the 8.25" - I've seen at least 2 ZJs with them installed stock. So I believe it.
Tell ya what. We can go to the source of all Jeep knowledge, maybe, and ask Jim Allen. I get the impression he's got a barn full of manufacturer provided info and an army of insider friends.
Fair enough - believe what you want. It's not important that I convince you.
Nah, I can't call Jim Allen. Except by writing the tech letters article he does an then getting picked out of the pile. He's a legend in the 4x4 writing industry, I'm surprised you haven't heard of him. He written a few books, like the ubiquitous 4 WHEELERS BIBLE, as well as articles in most issues of FOUR WHEELER and elsewhere, and does the tech letter section at the end of OFF-ROAD ADVENTURES. His tech letters section is my favorite reading, just because he's got no problem occasionally telling people they're stupid for what they're saying they want to do. Yeah, he can sound arrogant at times - but that's hardly rare in our community.
I would give yourself a good 3-4 days to pull the D35 out, cut all the brackets on both axles, weld the D35 ones on the 8.25/re-enforce them and install the 8.25. It's a fair amount of work since there's a lot of brackets for the 5 link.
Might also need to change the length of the driveshaft.