1st Gen 4wd to 95-97 Ranger Brake Swap Info/Parts List | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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1st Gen 4wd to 95-97 Ranger Brake Swap Info/Parts List


Well-Known Member
December 4, 2006
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City, State
Year, Model & Trim Level
'94 Sport
First off, special thanks to Tbars4 and 90ranajo for their help in this thread. No way would I have done this without seeing that info first! :thumbsup:

It has been rumored that if you have a 1st Gen Explorer (or other vehicle that uses the Dana 35 TTB front end) you can swap over the knuckes and brakes from a 95-97 Ranger. I did it, and I can confirm it does indeed work quite well. Why would you want to do ALL that work? Well two good reasons:

1. Your inner pad guides have all but disappeared, your truck eats anti-rattle clips as a regular snack, and your brakes make all kinds of fun noises that make you wonder if they will really work.
2. You want better brakes.

Just how good are these brakes? Compared to the standard 1st Gen ones, they use larger, thicker rotors, dual piston calipers, and *replaceable* pad guides. Pretty much the best thing ever. :D

Here's what this setup looks like:

Now before you break out the plastic and start your uncontrollable drooling :p: , you should take a gander at this parts list and make sure either your credit limit is high enough or you live somewhere with nice, rust free junk parts.

----Compatibility Info----
Swap candidate vehicles:
93-94 Explorer with 4WABS and 4x4 (confirmed)
91-92 Explorer with RWABS and 4x4 (should work, just ignore ABS holes)
Any other vehicle that uses the Dana 35 TTB front end (compare and try at your own risk)

Parts donor vehicles:
95-97 Ranger with 4WABS and 4x4, 2.3L (according to Tbars4) and 3.0 and 4.0 engines (confirmed)

(If you have suggestions for this list, please let me know and I will add them)

----Parts Guide----
A listing of the parts you need, part numbers, and where to source them.

An overview of the parts supply before I started:

Steering knuckles:
As far as I am aware, these are no longer available from Ford and will have to be gotten from an auto wrecker. I used car-part.com and lots of phone calls to track some down. I purchased them from the wrecker, and paid around $150 for some rusty lumps of junk. Best thing I could find, rust free parts are not common in the tri-state.

Just for reference, according to Tbars4 the Ford part numbers are:
RH F57Z-3130-A
LH F57Z-3131-A

Now, in no particular order, everything else you will need to complete. Prices and inventories are from 7/2011 and may have changed or no longer be stocked, but I will include them for reference. Part numbers are manufacturer's part numbers so you can get them anywhere that stocks them. Shipping charges not included. Don't forget to use a RockAuto discount code available in the vendors forum or their emails.

Timken 4250 Hub Seal - 2@3.47 from RockAuto
Timken SET37 Wheel Bearing - 4@9.92 from RockAuto

Moog K8673 Ball Joint - 2 @34.79 from RockAuto
Moog K8676 Ball Joint - 2@33.79 from RockAuto

Dorman 13898 Caliper Bolt (pkg. of 2) 2@3.81 from RockAuto

Raybestos FRC11523 Reman Caliper - 1@41.79 + 10.00 core from RockAuto
Raybestos FRC11524 Reman Caliper - 1@41.79 + 10.00 core from Rock Auto

Motorcraft BRR27 Rotor - 2@74.16 from Amazon
Motorcraft BRAB26 Front ABS sensor - 2@72.95 from Amazon
Motorcraft BR47B Pad Set, Semi Met. - 1@43.81 from Amazon

Ford F57Z-1214-A Shield - Splash - 2@64.02 from FordPartsGiant.com

Wagner BH133399 Brake Hose - 1@18.04 from RockAuto
Wagner BH133398 Brake Hose - 1@18.22 from RockAuto

Crown Bolt CB# 82658 Socket Cap Screw M6-1.0 x 20MM (pkg. of 2) 1@(cheap) from Home Depot

Other misc hardware includes the spindle retaining nuts and the 3 short and one long small screws that attach the dust shield and ABS sensor wire clip to the knuckle, salvage these and keep them.

----Install Notes and Info----
Back when I did a guide to doing ball joints, spindle bearings, etc. This job follows that process pretty much exactly, except you swap over to the new knuckles and install the new brakes instead of reinstalling the old ones. I see no reason to repeat that, so I will simply add some notes and facts you should know. In no real order…

1. When you get the knuckles, they will probably have been torched off at the suspension beam. You will quickly realize that it is impossible to break the taper on the lower ball joint to remove the chunk of leftover suspension because it is not attached to anything.

I used a grinder with DeWalt XRP Extended Performance grinding disk to cut the ball joint in half so it could be then pressed out. This is not any fun whatsoever, but those XRP grinding disks are everlasting. I used the one pictured here to grind some welds on stainless and then cut two ball joints in half, still looks like new.

2. If the spindle is stuck in the knuckle when you get it, go to AutoZone and loan-a-tool a slide hammer and the 4wd spindle puller attachment. Don't use a chisel.

3. The 12pt. 6mm bolt used to hold the ABS sensor block on will probably have its head rusted to the point that the socket will just spin. I drilled out the head and punched it with an air chisel to remove the block. Remember the block and the bolt in the abs sensor must be removed to remove the spindle. Once I did this the screw was also seized in the block, so proceed with torching it using MAPP gas and it will free up so you can use a vice-grip to remove what's left.

Use the M6-1.0 x 20MM cap screws to replace them with a much more sane fastener.

4. There is no way that the ABS sensor will be removed from your old knuckle. The sensor casing is made from soft metal and the fit is very tight. The rust makes it practically impossible to remove undamaged. If your replacement Ranger knuckles have good sensors, you can use them. Mine were melted by the moron with the torch who cut them off the donor. I had to cut the sensor off with a grinder and then punch it out with the air chisel.

5. The brake hoses are only for the 95-97 Ranger and Mazda equivalent. Thus, they are hard to find. I was unlucky enough to acquire a left side box with a right side hose in it from a local supplier and the nearest 2nd one took another day to get. I got a free hat though… :rolleyes:

6. You will need to stop the rust and paint the knuckles you get, else there might be nothing left soon. The ones I got had some serious rusticles on them, and I had to sandblast them and chip away chunks. Also due to their metallurgy, they will flash rust like crazy. Don't even think of using naval jelly (really, don't ask how I know) They need to go from sandblaster to taping to paint immediately or they will look like how they did when you started.

7. You really need an alignment when you are done. There is loads of variability in the parts. My alignment was good when i started, I put the adjustment sleeves back right where they were, and it was still all whacked out. Go to a real alignment place. No tire shop will ever get a TTB front end setup right for $79.99. My alignments cost $179 but the guy spends two hours messing with it and gets it right. If you've never driven an Explorer with a good alignment, you really should. It's amazing. The TTB is not easy or friendly to align, but it works great when its done.

8. I spent probably north of 1k on this job, and I spent a lot of time chasing parts and swearing at incorrect brake hoses. If you can source better condition used parts it should be possible for a lot less. Make sure to plan ahead, and have everything on hand, because it might be hard to get otherwise. This swap is not easy, but in my case the pad guide wear was becoming unsafe so I really had no choice. Ford no longer has replacement original knuckles to the best of my knowledge, so unless you want to do all the work to install some half dead used knuckles and get the same crappy problem again, this swap is the only way out, and it provides GREATLY improved brakes.
If anyone has questions, let me know. I'd also like to find anyone else who has also done this swap and hear their input. Hopefully this thread will let someone leverage all the work I put in researching and checking the parts compatibility and enable them to do this mod too! :salute:

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Very cool....now get them bolted on!!


...Thanks for taking the time, making the investment, and doing the write up...:biggthump

...I would have never guessed it would have cost so much but I understand totally after recently doing the rear drums to disc swap on my Ranger...I just don't total up my receipts..:p:

...Some mods you can't skimp on and brakes is one of them while the results are amazing...:hammer:

BTW, it's 90ranajo...;)

BTW, it's 90ranajo...;)

That's what I get for making posts at 1:30am... fixed with my apologies.

The cost was quite high mainly because I pretty much had to buy new everything except the knuckles. If you can get less-rusty donor parts you won't have to buy stuff like the dust shields for $120. That and the ABS sensors are the most painful things to have to buy, but there's not really a way around it unless the knuckles you get happen to have good ones already installed since they are impossible to get out without destroying them.

The rest isn't terrible, ball joints are expensive but there is no sane reason to be reusing them, and there is nothing like real motorcraft pads/rotors. Just everything adds up... if you need new brakes anyway and don't count the cost of pads and rotors and the calipers (since you would need new old style ones anyway to fix it) and can get the swap parts in not-so-rusty condition, then the cost of the actual swap is not that bad at all. There's just a lot of things involved and they all have to happen at the same time.

When I was at the shop getting my alignment done, I was talking with the owner there, he had on the counter a convenience module from a Mercedes, total cost for that module and the labor was going to be like $800.... just so the windows would go up and down again.... :banghead: I didn't feel so bad about what I spent to get much improved brakes as well as having many new parts in the front end.

Very cool....now get them bolted on!!
They are very much bolted on. Pic at the top is from right before I bled the brakes and put the wheel on. Here's a in-progress pic for proof :burnout:

looks great i'm gonna see what I can do..

...Just curious...Did you look at the other ball joints Rockauto has for these?

...I forgot what brand they were but they were the next price down from Moog..I am a Moog fan but as with everything else, I try to shop for similar quality or at least test some other stuff..I was curious if they were a comparable brand or not..

Parts donor vehicles:

..You can add the 2.3L whether it be a hybrid Dana 35 or not, it's the same parts..;)

...Just curious...Did you look at the other ball joints Rockauto has for these?

I have always used Moog parts and had no problems. I haven't tried any of the other brands myself.

Looking at RockAuto there seems to be the cheap ~$10 and expensive ~$30 parts, as well as some midway ~$20 ones. I wouldn't even look at the cheap ones, and at ~$20, why not get the ~$30 ones? An extra $10 x4 = $40 on the job to ensure you have known good parts, especially when so much labor is involved in installing them plus getting an alignment afterwards.

The auto parts industry is flooded with cheap garbage that shops sell at a 200% markup from a parts place that sells at their own 200% markup. One of those ~$10 parts would probably be ~$40 (or a lot more, I've seen a $15 (at RockAuto) belt marked up to $65 by the time it was on the car) at a shop, at least if they are anything like the ones around here.

With the garbage I have gotten from parts suppliers, I wouldn't be surprised if the cheap ones didn't even meet the safety standards of the originals. We already know that the TTB is hard on ball joints (along with everything else) so I don't see the economics of the cheap ones ever working out, and that's if you don't get :roll: in the process.


Ok, so maybe this turned into a rant at the parts industry a bit, but if you intend to keep the truck around and would like them to last, I don't think you can go wrong with Moog. Who knows what the other brands are like? Unless we can get some insider who knows who is really making these parts (I doubt every one of these brands has their own production line making these things) and we find out that Moog is making the X brand ones which sell for ~$20 and are identical, I think the ~$40 premium for Moog is well worth it.

..You can add the 2.3L whether it be a hybrid Dana 35 or not, it's the same parts..;)

Added it to the list...

...Again, I am a Moog fan and was just wondering..

..I know better than asking a parts store as even the local Napa warehouse for one can't give me a straight answer on anything...

...I know Motorcraft and Moog are sold by Rockauto but then again, they sell the Raybestos for about $10 more...I still can't find the other one they were selling for about $4 cheaper than Moog..I was just wondering if it was a quality product and thought you might have looked into it further..:dunno:

...Locally here, Moog are $35 for the lower and $52 plus for the upper, 3-5 days out from the warehouse..They are getting harder to find thru local parts houses..:(

...Locally here, Moog are $35 for the lower and $52 plus for the upper, 3-5 days out from the warehouse..They are getting harder to find thru local parts houses..:(


The price difference for the upper makes no sense, when the price for the lower is really comparable to RockAuto when you consider shipping. But this is the kind of stuff I have come to expect from parts stores. :rolleyes:

I have noticed that various parts for my older vehicles are getting harder to get, and that often the counterman would rather turn me away then spend any amount of time trying to find one (if they even could)

Maybe someone else can comment on who is making these other parts. Like I said before I doubt that every one of these companies is manufacturing their own ball joints. I suspect its like car batteries or whatever else where there are a bunch of brands but there is only 3 or so suppliers who make for everyone. I can't imagine the tooling for making ball joints is cheap.

The price difference for the upper makes no sense, when the price for the lower is really comparable to RockAuto when you consider shipping.

..That price was originally from Pepboys..

...Since I am in need of ball joints on one side right away on my 95 Ranger with this stock brake set up, I swung by O'reilly's..They want $52 plus for Moog, each upper and lower and it will be 3-5 days as they will be shipped from Phoenix..

..Thank God I don't live in BFE..:confused:

You might want to consider what the cost of getting them from RockAuto with 1 or 2 day shipping is. They will probably beat the parts store at least in time to arrive. You can also try Amazon, which has slightly higher prices (at least on the ball joints but not on everything) but if you have their Prime membership or pay a few bucks you can get 2nd day shipping very cheaply (Amazon sent me the rotors for this project, 2nd day air, no cost because I have Prime. Ridiculous)

RockAuto seems to ship same or next day, one time I ordered a MAF for my truck mid morning with 1day (overnight) shipping and had it in hand the next day (and it was cheaper than the dealer by ~$80, and 2 days less wait!)

Alright, it is time. TBars and TedJ, I thank you both for your patience and insight. I would not have even contemplated overhauling these brakes without your invaluable information.

I pulled all the parts required for this mod back in May (I hate cutting through ball joints with hand tools), and now I finally have the time/money to get this done. The plan is to do the dual piston conversion and the Warn premium manual hub conversion (PN 37780) at the same time. Hopefully I'll have to old parts removed and the new knuckles installed by the weekend.

Then... Testing!

Sounds like a good plan. I've put some mileage on mine since the swap, and it has been nothing but a huge improvement. Better pedal feel, better stopping power, no weird noises from the front end. I have had occasion to panic stop (that do not walk sign is there for a reason...) and the ABS works as intended as well. This is how they should have made them in the first place.

I doubt there is any other possible front brake upgrade beyond a totally custom solution once you have done this mod. For cost vs. performance and safety improvement I don't think this mod can be beat. Good luck with yours!

Thanks! I remember reading somewhere that after-market stainless steel brake cables for the 1st gen's calipers would fit with a little grinding on the knuckle... but I can't seem to find that comment now, and I haven't looked closely enough at the parts yet; can you easily confirm/deny my vague recollection?

TedJ, You didnt say in your original post and just for clarification...can I use my current/stock spindles, bearings and lock nut set for this conversion?...or do the ranger knuckles use different ones? Thanks

Racer_X, they use exactly the same spindles, but grabbing spares isn't a bad idea. Therefor, you can use the same spindle nut set for your new brakes as long as you are using the same hubs. I.e. automatic locknuts for auto hubs, and manual locknuts for manuals. As a note, there is a separate bearing and dust boot inside each spindle, which I replaced while I had everything apart as a matter of principle.

After I bleed the brakes I'll post up some pics for reference.

Also, I had one hell of a time getting the lower ball joint to come loose on both sides; I don't know if it was age or Colorado corrosion, but either way, I ended up cutting through the ball joint between the knuckle casting and axle housing so that I could get direct unobstructed contact to the nut (after loosening it) with my 'precision adjustment tool'. Even then, it took way too long to smash those damned pins out.

ive been amassing parts for this swap for about three months now, (work and school) and im ready to start. couple things i waned to clarify: can my old abs senors work in the ranger knuckle? also, when i took the knuckles apart to paint, i removed the little screws that were friction fitted around in inner diameter, the ones that bolt to the spindle. was that a no no? its pretty hard to get them back in.

Old ABS sensor is a go, as long as you can remove it from the old knuckle without damage. Also, I don't think that removing the spindle bolts is a bad thing; I didn't only because mine were rust welded to the point of becoming one with the casting. Just press em back in as far as they'll go and then tighten them down with the spindle & bolts, star pattern.

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Just remember to make sure that your new rotors have the ABS sensor cog thingy, otherwise your ABS system will throw an error.