How To: 8.8 Drums to Disc swap the hard way | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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How To: 8.8 Drums to Disc swap the hard way


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March 4, 2007
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City, State
anaheim hills,california
Year, Model & Trim Level
95 ranger 4x4/ 91 X 4x4

...Before modifying your vehicle, you should seek Professional help..:crazy:..Seriously

Two different ways to do a Drum to Disc swap - "Hard" or "Easy"

...The "Easy" way would be to swap in a whole axle from a 95-01 Explorer and if you wanted to change gears at the same time, you could find one with 4.10's..

...A gear swap and a drum to disc swap for about $300 for the rear axle can easily be done for just swapping another stock 95-01 Explorer axle with all already included and if you did the work yourself...:hammer:

...The "Hard" way is a little more involved, initially costly, and may be a little harder to follow as some of my items are not stock so using the other threads listed may help answer some of your other questions...;)



..This swap is on my 95 Ranger which already has an Explorer first gen axle swap, 4.10 gears and a Detroit Locker...:confused:

Ranger info

..Until the 2010 Rangers, Ford still made the Ranger with drum brakes..The First gen Explorers 91-94 also have drum brakes. This swap works for both of the models with 8.8's ( older Rangers had 7.5's) as well as other 8.8 applications.

Rangers came with 28-spline 7.5 and 8.8 axles, except for the FX4 Level II, which came with a 31-spline 8.8 same as the Explorer. Until 2010 All Rangers came with drum brake rear ends.

To retro fit disc brakes onto a 28-spline axle, you need to use Cobra/Mustang parts, with a slight modification.

..The 95-01 Ford Explorer rear axle which comes stock with disc, is a highly sought after axle in the offroad scene and especially amongst Jeep owners so don't be surprised if they seem a little scarce at times to find...

Searching for drums to disc swap info

...There are a number of threads where they swap the whole axle..There are quite a bit fewer threads to find when looking to do a "hard swap"..Each has their own style and some have different modifications..

...Here are a couple to better narrow down your search as which way you may want to go if you so choose to do a "Hard Swap"..

Reference threads

Stock 91-94 "hard disc swap"

Stock "Easy" disc swap

02-03 FX4 or newer Level II Ranger

ScottB's latest Ranger to receive a swap- starts at post #78

Discussion on front and rear brake upgrades-Rangers & First Gens

..If you are looking for the "Easy way" or the "Cheapest" way, this is not it..

...This swap is not the hardest but it does require a bit more patience and funds to achieve the goal..

...I highly suggest to anyone wanting to do this "Hard Swap" to ask a friend if you can swap their 95-01 emergency brake pads for them first...

Other useful and Notable threads for Reference

Parking Brake Removal and Installation

How to Double Flare a Brake Line

...and without the other info (and drum bashing :bsnicker:) supplied by ScottB, I probably would have never gotten this done without his knowledge..

..This is a work in Progress..:salute:

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Parts Needed

...For the main Disc swap parts I contacted our used parts Forum Vendor Kbabiak back in Pa. and he hooked me up with some really nice rear disc parts from a 98 X..:biggthump

...For the rest of the parts, I had in mind to buy all the parts I could at local chain stores like Pepboy's and O'reillys for ease of future maintenance and warranties...Pepboy's had most of the parts in stock but I did have to get some of the parts out of local wholesale house's..

Q and A

..Now dealing with the parts stores and their computers it seems they are kinda goofy like when it comes to the First Gens but I also found out they don't have a clue when it comes to the second gen parts...

..This spawned a couple questions that I should have known but, not knowing the second gens and the differences in the rear brake parts when it came to 2wd or 4wd and what difference that makes..:scratch:


...This is only some of all the parts you need to get...

Misc parts etc not shown with pics above or below

1- 8.8 cover gasket...Felpro P/N RDS55341 - $7 bucks
1- tube RTV Grey - $7
1- Gallon Gear oil 85-140 - $12 (used due to the Southwest temps)

1- Reman disc caliper Prostop P/N - C577 = rt. side - $39 @
1- Reman disc caliper Prostop P/N - C576 = lt. side - $39@

1- Parking brake shoes Prostop P/N - 701PB - $21 (includes both sets)

1- PB Drum hardware kit Prostop P/N - 7299 - $23

...and of course, some D.O.T. 3 brake fluid...;)


...As for the Disc themselves, I went over to R1 Concepts and got a matching pair of rotors that I recently put on the front end, cross drilled and slotted...They have an E-bay special for the Explorer disc with pads and they had them in stock..$117



...One of the most common inexpensive parts that gets over looked is the Carrier pin Bolt...Anytime you open up the stock rear end and pull the axles, you will need to replace this bolt as long as you still have a stock carrier inside ...Help P/N 81048

...If you forget or decide you will just save the $3 instead, odds are this one time use bolt will snap..Luckily we now have a good thread on how to get that broken bolt out..

...Whenever you pull your axle shafts out, there is a good chance of having to replace the seals and possibly the bearings...I was fortunate enough that it looked like the bearings and seals had previously been replaced not to many miles ago with National brand parts ..The bearings were in really good shape but I did go ahead and replace the seals for good measure..

2- Bearing P/N - 6408 - $22 @
2- Seals P/N - 8835S - $4.50 @

..For the brake lines themselves, I went with 2 passenger side 95-01 stock replacement rubber hoses about $15 bucks a piece..You can also get these made or have some custom steel braided lines built at whatever length for about $50-$75 dollars a piece..I chose to use the stock lines as it would make it easier to give me a mounting location near the caliper..

...This picture shows one of the passenger hoses, one of the 3/16" fittings, and the 2 crush washers need and supplied with each hose..(Also shown is a stock used crush washer and the carrier pin bolt which I got for this writeup only as I don't need it for my swap..:D)

2= Pass side hose P/N - Dorman H380528 - $15 @
2= 3/16" line fitting P/N - Edelmann 121003 - $1.25 @

...If you don't have one or know where you could borrow one from, you will need a tube Flaring kit...I got this one at Harbor Freight for under $10 and the tube bender which I didn't need but may in the future was like $2..

Parts I could not easily get

...You can buy the slide pin bolts for the calipers but they also come with the slide pins but those already come with the calipers...I already bought the complete hardware kit and it did not come with the bolts neither...None of the hardware kit's I bought have the slide pin bolts or the big bolt for the hose..

...I elected to re-use these original bolts as they were in good shape and just needed some cleaning..:hammer:

...I hate trying to shove those slide pins in those caliper boots as sooner or later you will wind up tearing one, and I did..:rolleyes:...The very last one had a problem and would not receive the slide pin...This led me on a search to find these boots sold by themselves...

Score..Now I got 3 spares...:biggthump

Carlson P/N - 16122 - $5

..Set of 4 boots in a pack..

8.8 Girdle

..This is an 8.8 Girdle cover.....This PDF file has the install and torque requirements for installing this girdle..


...It actually has bolts that get tightened up to the bearing caps...It's purpose is to snug up enough to the bearing caps as support to keep the bearing caps from flexing or even breaking under load...

..These covers leak at the bearing cap bolts and with the help of a number of members here that have dealt with this leaking problem, Teflon thread sealant seems to be the answer to resolve this problem..


Dealing with a Detroit for this Swap

...:scratch:...Ok...So I don't have a stock carrier in this truck, I have a Detroit...

...I needed some info on removing the C-clips with a Detroit before I started on this swap and how to do this the easiest way with out opening a can of worms...

..This thread on a heep Forum made this easy..Post number #2

...A couple quick minutes was all it took...Much easier than dealing with the carrier pin bolt..;)

..On to the swap

Note: This whole project was done with the use of only hand tools..:biggthump

...The first thing I did was take a couple pictures...I like to do this during any parts swap as it gives me a quick reference of parts locations before and during ripping everything apart and then trying to figure out "What's missing" and "Where does this go?"..:banghead:

..What I'm starting with...

Pass side

Drivers side (don't mind the shock mount, it's temporary)

...What expedited this swap after collecting parts for a while was necessity..I had a leaking seal not to long ago that I rebuilt with a kit..At that time I looked into the cost to replace all the drum parts as they were completely wore out..

..It was going to be over $100 in parts to freshen the drums up...I never did care for the Rangers drums as I go to the mountains often in the winter...Always dealing with frozen drums and worrying if the pads were going to separate before the drive down an icy hill wasn't to pleasing either..

...Since I put the new front disc and brakes on, I had one real hard stop on the freeway and sure enough, I blew the rear seals out again..Plus the parking brake cable fell off the half moon clip before the previous patch so that cable got ate..:rolleyes:

..So, good bye nasty old drums..:D



Cutting the Brake lines

..As for the actual cutting, flaring, etc., I thought I could save some space and the link in the first post is more detailed on how to do this already..;)

..You need to choose the location of where you want to cut them and from the beginning, and deciding how much you want to spend on flexible brake lines..

..My thought was to keep it simple, inexpensive, and if for some reason one gets ripped off on trail, I can simply get a replacement stock part from any of the local auto parts stores or even a junk yard if I was to far away from town..

..This is the reason I went with two of the same and the shortest, 95-01 stock passenger side rear brake lines..:biggthump

..The only other things I could add that make this a little easier would be to keep some brake fluid on hand (barely even used half a small bottle for the whole job including bleeding), and this are priceless to have handy when dealing with brake lines or vacuum leaks..

..I used 2- 3/16" vacuum caps and installed them on each line immediately as I cut them..This keeps the fluid from draining out and any chance of sucking air..


The Parking Brake Cables...

..The very last thing you need to address and depending on which way you go, can be a relatively expensive bit of parts...

..Some people use their stock cables and do some modifying to achieve this...If you look at the different threads in the first post, you will see different variations to resolve this...



...Now back to my truck...Not to long ago I did the Chevy 63's swap on my Ranger and had to relocate my leaf spring hangers in the front..(I still kept the stock Ranger parking brake set up even though I have the Explorer rear end.)

...I had to come up with a temporary fix for the cables...I made a plate out of 1/4" that would allow the existence of somewhat of a parking brake...


...Yea, I would'nt count on it on steep hills but it did work...I knew I was soon going to swap the rear disc in and resolve this when I did..

Going better than Stock

...I had seen the Lokar set up before but ScottB's set up made it look even easier..:biggthump

...Lokar makes 2 different models of do it yourself parking brake cables designed for the 95-01 Explorers which coincidentally is the same cables used when you use Wilwoods..I ain't got no Wilwoods..:p:

The two models are

EC-81FHT - (Stainless) ScottB's set up- about $175
EC-81FU - (Black) My set up - about $129

..:scratch:..So I dug into searching on the net and I asked my local Speed Shop if they would price match an online item for me.. I think I got a pretty good deal..;),37079.html

it's not that hard...If I figured out how to make Explorer disc brakes work on a f150/Bronco 8.8, you can surely figure it out on a first gen:p:

F-150 8.8 Disc Swap

..What can I say..:dunno:

...But mine are Purdy..:p:

thank god someone is making this happen..i have searched high and low for a write up on how to..cant wait till your done mines nexted:D i got the disc off a donor ranger just didnt have the guts to start with out some light:thumbsup:

...I wanted to include as much info as I could considering all the different variations to be found for this modification..

..The threads in the first post should get you started in the right direction...

...Hopefully I will be finished with this thread within the week...This takes almost longer to do than the actual swap...:D

...Brake lines were a breeze and the thread in the first post is handy if you don't have the instructions for the tube flaring kit...

...As for the swapping of a booster and some have mentioned proportioning valve, neither were needed for my swap as my Ranger is a 95, 4 wheel ABS, and ODBII compliant..

..If someone has some info to a thread where these items are needing to be swapped in and how to do it, I'll be more than glad to add it to the list..;)

..Right now I am looking for a replacement brake booster grommet Help P/N as my stock one has begun to shrink..:(


Waiting for the brake line install :D

Sorry if I missed it, but are you swapping the Master cylinder out for a 95 version as well?

On my '93, I did not swap the master cylinder or proportioning valve, and everything works fine.

...As soon as it was mentioned I remembered when the Rangers came out with the rear disc brakes..:banghead:

...But what I don't know is, did the 2010 and newer Rangers that came with the rear disc brakes use a 28 spline axle or did the FX4 31 spline or Explorer 31 spline replace the 28 spline axle?..:dunno:

...This info may prove useful to yet another way to do an easy 8.8 with disc swap although, the newer axles may be a bit pricey...:(

Well, alrighty then.........

I didnt know if the ranger & Ex M/C were the same or not. I was told when I do this swap to my 94 I HAD to swap in a M/C from a 95 Ex.

As far as brake lines go...I was waiting for pics showing before and after of the junctions on the main brake line going to the new calipers is all. This part is about the only thing I haven't figured out yet in my head. I didn't know if they are a direct fit or a new J-box was needed. I should have clicked the link. :rolleyes:

...Hopefully I will be finished with this thread within the week...This takes almost longer to do than the actual swap... :D

..I currently don't have any pics of the brake lines but I will click a couple today..I am waiting for my welding buddy to come back Tuesday to weld up a couple plates I made to attach the hoses to..:hammer:

..The stock 95-01 Explorer axles route their brake plumbing and E brake cable routing differently though...That is why I used the 2 passenger side hoses, cut the line, flare the tubes with fitting attached, and plug and play..Did not have to re-route or bend any tubing at all...Just cut and flare it...:biggthump

How much of the 95-01 Explorer brake parts are useful to adapt to the 91-94 models?

I still have a spare 98 rear that I bought just for the axles. I need to pull the brakes off and scrap the rest.

How much of the 95-01 Explorer brake parts are useful to adapt to the 91-94 models?

...This is just my theory on it..:scratch:

1)...For shipping purposes and to someone who may be familiar with the 95-01 X rear brakes, just the backing plates and the E brake levers intact...IIRC there is a rt. and lt. side for these levers...Everything else should and could be bought new...I even used my existing bolts but I believe I've included all the P/N's for the various parts to be replaced..

2) Kbabiak sent me everything all the way thru to the ends of the parking brake cables with everything still intact as if they were on the vehicle...This proved to be a very helpful visual aid for assembling the parking brakes and orientation of the pieces...

...But most may need the parking brake cable if they want to modify them up to work with existing as the 2 generations mounting of the cables to the backing plates are completely different...

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Gotcha, so the brake line junction "T" isn't needed then? I also have my old 93 rear I can compare to also.