Bkennedy's SAS and Rebuild Thread | Page 114 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Bkennedy's SAS and Rebuild Thread

As some of you know, I am working on building a parts list for a shortened Dana 44, long radius arm with coil overs SAS. 5:13 gears to match my rear axle and an ARB, maybe an electric locker. I have a pretty good list so far. At the same time, I am going to swap out the rear drum brakes for discs off of a 99 Explorer.

Please note: The plan is to keep this project as simple as possible with mostly off the shelf parts. I am not a fabricator, just a decent welder with a what I would consider the minimum required tools (chop saw, cut off wheels, air tools, welder, etc.), who likes doing his own work. Your opinions are welcome, but what I really need is technical advice. I have been thinking about this for several years and now have the time and cash to make it happen. Please keep on topic with your advice and don't go off on a side track about how you would do it as a four-link, or caged arms, or leave the axle full-width because that is not what I want. I want a simple-ish set up that works.

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I received the new hub today. Does anybody use the races that always seem to come installed in new hubs? I have always knocked them out and used the races that come with the bearings.

I always use matched bearings and races.

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I picked up a HF transmission jack but I am not sure it will go high enough. Installed the new hub so at least it has all four tires on it now. Put the Atlas up on the bench, dang its heavy. Removed the bottom plate because its the first step to swapping out the input shaft and gave up for the day.

For those of you who have not seen the inside of a Atlas II transfer case, behold...


Have a smaller set of tires you can use? If not, wheels off and let it sit on stands.

Those gears make for zero slack, and instant power to the wheels. Cool stuff!

Did you get the sensor for the 4wd dash lights for it? I have it, but have yet to install it.

Have a smaller set of tires you can use? If not, wheels off and let it sit on stands.

Those gears make for zero slack, and instant power to the wheels. Cool stuff!

Did you get the sensor for the 4wd dash lights for it? I have it, but have yet to install it.

If the jack is too low, I am going to do just that.

I haven't had or needed the sensor since the NP231 was installed. I don't think the dash lights work anymore. Entire 4x4 wiring harness was pulled out when I rebuilt it.

I pulled the "input ring" out of the Atlas. Since I don't have a press, I considered knocking the shaft out with a dead blow hammer like the guy at AA said he has had people do, then decided NOT. I am not risking damaging a brand new transfer case to save a few, and I mean a few dollars. I took the input ring over to my transmission guy and dropped it off. He said depending upon how long it takes, it could be as much as $40, and as little as nothing. He is very cool.

A few more pictures of the insides of an Atlas II



I love those beefy gears :D

Elden the transmission guy says the Atlas is a D300 in a nicer case. He is very old school. He swapped out the input shaft and charged me $30. I should get it all together tomorrow and see if it fits......

I got the transfer case back together. I got it under the truck, jacked it up and there is NO way its going to fit in the space where the NP231 was. The transmission / transfer case adapter is about 1" from the top of the hump as it sits now. That is not the real issue, but its not helping. The floor takes a down turn right behind there, which means the Atlas contacts the floor and cannot be pushed forward onto the transmission output gear.

Am I correct in thinking I can get away with lowering the rear of the transmission 1" - 1.5" without causing any issues?

Current cross member and adaptor; In the first picture, you can see if I lower the transmission, it will give me more clearance. Still might have to smooth out the floor a little with a BFH.


Torque Arm


The 700R4 is wider, but shorter than the Ford transmission. When it was installed, they properly got up as high into the trans tunnel as possible. I need to fab a new cross member that is even with the transmission mount, not behind it like it is now. It will put the cross member in front of the Atlas instead of directly underneath it. It will be 1" - 1.5" lower because I can do away with the torque arm and large GM bushing by using standard 2" bushings and mount the adaptor directly to the top of the cross member. Too bad I just purchased a new transmission mount and bushings.

I believe that your only issue would be driveline angle which could be adjusted with pinion shims.

You mean for the front axle or the rear? The rear would decrease, front would increase. The rear I am not concerned about, the front I can't correct unless I cut and turned the inner C's or took out all the positive caster which would make it undrivable on the street. Not doing that. When I did the SAS, I had to clearance the double cardan joint so it wouldn't bind at full passenger side suspension drop. With that driveshaft being shorter and at a slightly increased angle, its got me a thinking.

I pulled the big GM transmission bushing and the torque arm so the transmission would drop about an inch. That inch allows me to push the transfer case into place. Its sitting on the cross member, and needs to clock down a little more, but it all clears the floor. Proof of concept, yes.




The Atlas clears everything but the cross member so that needs a redo. Here is my big issue with a new cross member:

I had it in my head that I could fab up a cross member with bushings at each end like this one only with rectangular tube and the transmission mounting directly to the top.

Then, I realized I could no longer incorporate the skid plate mount into the cross member if I did it like this. As soon as I bolt a skid plate to the cross member, it becomes a solid mount. So now, I need to figure out a new cross member that can also work as a skid plate mount. I could have separate cross members for the transmission and skid plates, but what would be the fun in that?

I think I might have a solution for the cross member. I found these mounts for early Bronco transmission/transfer case cross member.

Since these are transmission mounts, I feel comfortable that they would hold up. I could mount them through the cross member and still have it as a mount for the skid plates. I just need to know the bolt size.

I did a full bench mock-up of the cable shifters this morning. I am glad I did, because I am missing this little part that attaches the Atlas end of the cables. The threaded one is what I am missing. The other little part is what was in the bag. I think its the end of a machine run for the little threaded one. Vic at AA is sending me a new one.

I also found out that in my head I had the shifters backwards. The cables go into the shifter mount from the front, so the cable loop will be wider and all the hardware will be in front of the Atlas. This is good because I did not know how I was going to fit all that stuff in one spot. If I had all the parts, I could do a complete mock up, but that's how it goes.

The cable is very rigid, but shifts smoothly when in a tight radius. More good news.
One cable mocked up with rear in Hi and front in Neutral.


Here is a question for everyone; If you had a choice, would you have the right or left shifter operate the rear?

I know I am going to spend way too much time with this. With the solid, rod type shifters the right shifter would operate the rear, correct? That is the one that will be mostly forward, unless in Low range. The front shifter will be mostly in Neutral. I am not sure if it actually matters since the shift throw is very short, but I am trying to figure out which orientation would rub on my right leg less. If I can't decide, I guess I should orientate them the same as the rod type shifters, in case someone else ever needs to drive my Explorer. I know I am getting a little ahead of myself, since the Atlas is still sitting on my work bench.

Back to work.

With the rods, the rear is on the right, and pulled back is High, pushed forwards is low.

The Left (front) shifter only hits the back of my calf in N, and Low. Which is most of the time. lol

Got it. The cable shifters are backwards compared to the rod shifters by having H forward. I think I will put the rear on the right.

As I messed with the Atlas and the transmission, I realized I have multiple clocking options with the Atlas, plus the adaptor has two mounting positions, basically doubling the clocking options. I clocked the Atlas down one more hole, and jacked the transmission back up almost to where it was before. I only had to beat the very corner in of the floor where the trans tunnel ends to clear the front of the Atlas. The current skid plates will also clear the bottom of the Atlas, I just need to make the rear plate longer and the front plate shorter. The front drive shaft angle appears to be about the same as it was before. Now I know its going to fit. I need to wait until some parts come in and I need to go buy some metal for a new cross member. 1.5x2.5 or 3" wide x 3/16" wall rectangular tube for the cross member and a 2'x2' 3/16" thick piece of plate to modify the skid plates and make the frame mounts for the cross member.


When I pull it out again, I need to beat on the floor a little bit more..

Those holes in the floor above the shift rod are where the old shifter used to be. I think the new shifter will clear the shift rod by a few 10's of a inch. Its really the only place it will fit since the trans hump actually narrows just forward of that spot. That red cable is for the transmission shifter. It used to sit less than a inch above the old joint so that tells me the angles are pretty close to the same.

That looks about how mine is clocked too. I wish I could clock mine higher, as it would allow the shifters to move to the center more. I think the next position would make it straight horizontal. :(

Just for reference, as I know you don't run the stock skid...The Dr side hangs down just a hair lower than the stock skid plate allows, and I had to space it at the frame by 1/4" to give a gap.

How much clearance do you have off the floor? I am thinking there is about 3/4" at the highest point on mine. I normally like at least a full inch all the way around, skid plate included. Don't seem to get any hits when I have done that in the past.

I have a body lift, so there is lots of room above it.

Before the 5.0 swap, it had tons of room all the way around it. That's all changed with the exhaust now. Exhaust was built with the case in, (plus tucked as high as possible), and I would have to re-do the exhaust if I moved the case.

This was with the 4.0 when first installed. Hard to tell how much exactly is on top, but there is a body lift, and lots of room because of it.

Best picture I could find of it right now. Sorry it's not much help with the body gap visual. I can climb under tomorrow and get a measure and a better pic.

Atlas2 4.3.jpg

I am having trouble sourcing the steel to build the cross member. I might end up purchasing a 10' section of 1.5x2.5 tube if I can't find a small piece in the next few days. A friend is calling his friend who owns a metal supply place. I am also still waiting on parts. I think I figured out how to put the shifter side of the cable shifter together after I get the Atlas in place with its side of the cables already adjusted and mounted. I think I can push the cables up through the hole in the floor and mount them to the shifter body before I screw it to the floor. I was going to mount the shifter body to the floor, then install the carpet, but there is no way to attach the boot that way. The body needs to be on top of the carpet to install the boot. I need to remember to label the cable ends so I know which is which.

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I received the early Bronco transmission/transfer case mounts a few minutes ago. I didn't realize they are 2.5" wide and 2" tall, and they have a 7/8" sleeved bolt hole. I don't think those will work as I will have to cut too much metal off the cross member, making it weak.