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Hunter's '96 D44 Swap

Discussion in 'Offroad Explorer - Ranger Projects' started by Hunter32, April 1, 2017.

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    1. Hunter32

      Hunter32 Active Member

      Joined:
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      City, State:
      orlando, fl
      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      1996 Explorer 5.0
      Got a big update for everyone!

      First off, I moved up to Georgia and soon after bought a 2006 F-250

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      I've done some minor work on it, but it was already bullet proofed with 130k when I got it. I resolved a long start issue, EGR delete, and straight piped it. I installed a 2.5" leveling kit and 35"x12.5" tires, some LED lighting, and it's been good since

      This allowed me some time to work on the explorer and do what I've been wanting to do for years now.. put a straight axle up front and make it 4wd. I had bought a transfer case, linkages, and driveshaft off of an F-150 several months back and it just sat for awhile. I finally got around to doing some real work on it about 3 weeks ago and have some pictures to share, but it's still a work in progress

      WARNING! I enjoy threads that show pictures.. lots of pictures.. so I attempt to do the same for y'all. There's gonna be a lot of pictures in this thread. Anyways,

      It all started with disassembly and cutting out the IFS components:



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      Then I got ahold of a Dana44 off of an early 80's Jeep Wagoneer and started tearing it apart:

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      Last edited: April 1, 2017
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    3. Hunter32

      Hunter32 Active Member

      Joined:
      November 30, 2011
      Messages:
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      Likes Received:
      1
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      18
      City, State:
      orlando, fl
      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      1996 Explorer 5.0
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      Then I got to sandblasting and cleaning parts off the axle to prep for paint and rebuild:

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      I bought some HD 7-leaf Wagoneer leaf springs. The amount of information on which leaf springs to choose is very slim; most guys start out with the waggy 5 leafs that come with the axle but soon say that they became too flat and would have to replace them with 'something'. I'm hoping the 7-leaf HD springs will work well for this setup

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    4. Hunter32

      Hunter32 Active Member

      Joined:
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      City, State:
      orlando, fl
      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      1996 Explorer 5.0
      I started grinding on the frame to see how it cleaned up. I still have some grinding and cutting to do to get the old upper control arm mounts and shock mount off of the frame.

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      I purchased some new U-joints for the axle. I'll end up having to get new balljoints, several seals, and new hub assemblies for either side. More to come on this

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      I've been able to paint some parts along the way. Here are the axles after pressing out the u-joints and prior to installing the new u-joints

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      Here's the diff cover getting painted

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      While I have the explorer up on stands, I can tackle the leaking timing chain cover:

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      This will take a week or two to complete because the notorious water pump bolt got stuck in the block and will have to be removed once I get the timing chain cover off. Waiting on a crank pulley removal tool before I can move any further on this step..

      The next steps are to get some leaf spring hangers, shackles, and some plate steel to waterjet and bend to make into the front crossmember and hanger mounts to weld to the frame. Hopefully have it all welded in within the next 2-3 weeks

      I will try to update you guys at least weekly with this project, but I'm already excited for it to be done!
       
    5. Hunter32

      Hunter32 Active Member

      Joined:
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      City, State:
      orlando, fl
      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      1996 Explorer 5.0
      I started tearing into the axle some more and ground what was left of the springs mounts off of the tubes. (Someone had previously cut most of them off, so I will make new ones to weld on after the axle is mounted in place)

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      I took the axle to work and cleaned off the 35 years of gunk from the housing in order to prep for paint. I also welded together some leaf eyelet mounts that will get welded to the frame

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      Then I completed prepping the axle and eyelet mounts for paint and started painting

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    6. Hunter32

      Hunter32 Active Member

      Joined:
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      City, State:
      orlando, fl
      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      1996 Explorer 5.0
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      I also continued cutting out the upper control arm mounts and shock tower from the passenger side. I still need to do the same on the drivers side

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    7. Hunter32

      Hunter32 Active Member

      Joined:
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      City, State:
      orlando, fl
      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      1996 Explorer 5.0
      I was able to get the timing chain cover off of the engine and cleaned up in the parts washer. I also pressed in the new seal but will need to remove a water pump bolt stuck in the engine block before I put it back together.

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    8. Hunter32

      Hunter32 Active Member

      Joined:
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      City, State:
      orlando, fl
      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      1996 Explorer 5.0
      I managed to get the bolt out of the block by drilling it out (after failed attempts with EZ-outs and welding nuts onto the stud) and tapping new threads into the block. Since I was already this deep and I had significant leakage around the oil pan, I decide to pull the pan, wash it, and replace the oil pan gasket. It all went back together great and the water pump/timing chain cover went back in perfectly.

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    9. Hunter32

      Hunter32 Active Member

      Joined:
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      City, State:
      orlando, fl
      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      1996 Explorer 5.0
      After that, I was able to start tackling the important stuff. I got some 2"x4" tube and cut out slots to mount to the frame.

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      Got it tacked into place

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      Moving onto the axle, I was able to sandblast, paint, and turn down the rotors to prep for installation:

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      I also ordered 4 new balljoints, bearings, seals, calipers and pads, and lockable Warn hub assemblies. I'll be doing balljoints this weekend. After that, I will just need gears to be able to put the entire axle together.
       
      Last edited: April 20, 2017 at 10:48 PM
    10. Hunter32

      Hunter32 Active Member

      Joined:
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      City, State:
      orlando, fl
      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      1996 Explorer 5.0
      Its not a very good picture, but I tapped holes to remount the steering line cooler onto the new frame tube. It fits in there very nicely..

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      I also grabbed a steering box out of a 95 Ranger. I will definitely need a drop pitman arm for this guy:

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      I grabbed some threaded rod to set the center to center distance correctly and tacked the front hangers on the new frame tube

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      Last edited: April 20, 2017 at 10:51 PM
    11. Hunter32

      Hunter32 Active Member

      Joined:
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      City, State:
      orlando, fl
      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      1996 Explorer 5.0
      Then I mounted the springs to the axles and set them up on the new front spring eyelets

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      Last edited: April 21, 2017 at 7:37 AM

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