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How To: Early Bronco Style Solid Axle Swap

This is becoming a pretty popular topic. I thought it would be time to make some resources available to those who really need to see what it takes.


I'm not going to get into why you should go solid axle vs. the TTB nor will I get into the debate of leaf springs vs. coils. Also I will not tell you that this is the absolutely best solution to a solid axle swap but to the likes of myself, Froader, Stic-o, KirbyN, JTX, Diff Whack Daddy, Muddwhore, and others there is proof out there this is a good solution that will put your Explorer or Ranger in Big Dog category and I believe I will be able to show you every part you need to get there in a bolt-on application.

What this topic will discuss is essentially a "Bolt On Solid Axle Swap"

Parts list (if you find a donor axle still on the vehicle at the junk yard you can get most of the parts or search the early bronco sites)

1) axle $50-500

Early Bronco Dana 44 or 70's style F150 Dana 44 without cast wedges cut down 6" (for info on cutting down look here http://www.4wheeler.ca/index.php?showtopic=391) If you get this at a junk yard take as much of it as you can get.

02252008_1_Small_1.jpg


1) set of early bronco or F150 Radius arms (included in axle - $500

aftermarket arms like CAGE may also work at the same location. Get the retaining rings for your coil springs at the bottom as well. These are different from year to year and can be hard to match up.

RadiusArmCloseup.jpg


This is a wristed arm, not hard to do and will gain flex, but not absolutely necessary.

RadiusArm.jpg


1) set of 7 degree c-wedge bushings $55
http://www.wildhorses4x4.com/category/front_end

128_1052_popup.jpg



1) Crossmember $100-200
for radius arms to bolt up, Ford Explorer/Ranger skyjacker extended radius arm cross member is a bolt on application. Also radius arm mounts for a 78-79 F150 will bolt up as well.

(this photo is on a TTB truck, but thanks to DeRocha it shows how a nice clean extended radius arm setup is mounted)

496after022.jpg



2) Early Bronco/F150 Coil Spring Buckets $129
these will take some cutting out with a grinder to clear the bulge of the frame on the drivers side (you will see if you look at a bare frame after you cut off the stock coil buckets.
6677COILSPRNGTWRS.jpg

http://broncograveyard.com/bronco/i-13211_new_coil_spring_towers_1966_-_77_pair.htm


2) Late 70's style F250 Shock Towers $39.99
http://www.wildhorses4x4.com/product/Long_travel_shock_towers/Front_Shock_Mounts

1455_a.jpg



1) Ford Explorer drop pitman arm for 6" lift $65
http://www.jamesduff.com/broncoII/radiusarms.html

2) extended brake lines with fittings for the Dana 44 calipers $100



2) 12" travel shocks any brand

2) Coil springs for Early Bronco 5.5" lift $159
http://www.wildhorses4x4.com/product/Rock_Crawler_5in_pr/coils

1) 70's style Bronco or F150 track bar with frame mount $129 + $ 35
here are a couple options from Wild Horses for not a bad price
track bar- http://www.wildhorses4x4.com/product/Adjustable_Trac_Bar/Trac_Bars
frame mounting bracket- http://www.wildhorses4x4.com/product/Trac_Bar_Drop_Bracket_7677yr/Trac_Bars

(note I braced my track bar to the engine crossmember, this elimited a major amount of stress that a track bar mount has to handle)

0601060747.jpg



Steering $150
Some may not like my ideas on steering but I will share what I did.


1) 12' section of DOM tubing 1 1/4" diameter with 1/4" wall thickness for steering
4) 3/4" heim joints

I used castle nuts with a cotter pin and drilled out my knuckles and never had a problem. I have seen heim joints fail so I tried to use a large washer to retain the steering in the event of a heim failure. I've heard Chevy 1 ton is pretty good steering and the above mentioned early bronco websites will make custom steering.

refer back to the photo above of my steering to see it as well, my truck is winched down in this photo to a trailer so angles and coils look a little off

94ex_002_Medium_.jpg




Tools & Misc parts $150

I purchased a box of grade 8 bolts, washers, lockwashers and I suggest nylock nuts plus I used locktite.

1/2" drill bit and a good drill because you will drill 4 holes in the frame per coil bucket, 2 for each shock tower, 1 in the engine crossmember for the track bar mount, 3-4 for the radius arm cross member. I attempted to use the same size bolt in each hole if possible, makes it easy to prep the truck if everything is a 3/4" nut.


******************************************************

My setup used a little different approach, I extended the radius arms long enough to replace the transfer case skid plate with a crossmember and used heim joints. I paid a fab shop about $150 to weld up that crossmember after I had it completely designed to bolt up in my existing transfer case skid plate mounting points.

This shows my equipmet which will someday hopefully be seen under RangerX's Ranger. I enjoyed it and it worked quite well.

parts_006.jpg


What you see in this photo

custom crossmember that bolts to t-case skid plate mounting locations

track bar (I chopped the F150 one that came with my 44, drilled it out and tapped it to make it adjustable with heavy duty threaded rod. If I were to do it again I would have chopped it in half and had that threaded with a long hex nut (don't know what the real name is but it would look like this)
nut.jpg


steering with spacer between tie rod and drag link to reduce binding

radius arms extended by welding a solid piece of stock to the radius arms and tapping for heim joints.

You should use jam nuts with heims to keep them tight and avoid damaging threads from vibrations.





I will try to add up the price of all this stuff to help those guys out that are trying to pull this off. For the rear I used my same spring over axle you see in the $32 thread, I purchased 1.5" wheel spacer adapters for about $100 to make all of my wheels 5x5.5 that the disc brake front axle came with.

Once you get to this point you will need to get gears and probably a locker, you should really go through that old axled with a full rebuild if you plan to go out in the middle of nowhere and go wheeling.

My front drive shaft bolted right up to the Dana 44 and cleared, it came close to the engine crossmember.




369755961_l_Medium_.jpg




also here is a comparison of a full width with 15x10s on 36s vs. stock width 15x8 on 37s.
 

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97Rangerboy

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I'm just wondering about the springs I'm doing eb sas and matching the rear axle do I need to get matching 5.5" leaf springs?
 
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Darthdaddy

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:dead: I don't know how old this thread is and hopefully I can get some good ideas and help. . . ...
so i have a 2001 explorer. SOHC v6, 2 wheel drive. I have been fighting my brother on how to do the swap. I found this thread, and wow I love it. So I noticed it was done on mostly 4 wheel drive and older rangers and explorers. What would I have to do different?
 
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jrgaylor

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:dead: I don't know how old this thread is and hopefully I can get some good ideas and help. . . ...
so i have a 2001 explorer. SOHC v6, 2 wheel drive. I have been fighting my brother on how to do the swap. I found this thread, and wow I love it. So I noticed it was done on mostly 4 wheel drive and older rangers and explorers. What would I have to do different?

It is basicly the process, you would need to add a transfer case and 4wd transmission if the transmission was not setup with a dummy 2wd transfer case. I am not sure how your model is setup
 
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604Tom

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Hi All... I had to sign up for an account just to ask a question regarding this swap...been looking all over for info and can't find the answer.
I'm planning to buy a ranger very soon and want to do this bolt on sas ,since my welding skills are 0.

Can this method be used on later generations after 97, and if not...why?
The reason I ask is because if I were looking to use new parts from jamesduff, they list everything being for 88-97 Rangers, so I'm wondering what the problem is with 98 or newer models.
 
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BKennedy

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I believe the Rangers went to the IRS type front suspension in 1998, which is completely different than the TTB suspension of previous models. I do not think the kit would fit. Call Duff, they are very good with customer service and should be able to answer all of your questions.
 
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Kirby N.

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Yep, IFS makes is a whole new ball game. You can still hack off all the IFS stuff and install a Solid Axle. The main issues I would think are the giant crossmember that goes under the engine for the IFS and the rack and pinion steering that would require adaptation to a regular steering box.
 
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bronchole

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So on my 97 Mounty, the motor cross member was removed and in place of the rack and pinion I have a Toyota steering box. Full width axles may make some different compared to the EB axles though.
 
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Stic-o

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Yep, IFS makes is a whole new ball game. You can still hack off all the IFS stuff and install a Solid Axle. The main issues I would think are the giant crossmember that goes under the engine for the IFS and the rack and pinion steering that would require adaptation to a regular steering box.

I'm running a 1st gen Explorer steering box. Cut all the old stuff out.
 
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604Tom

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Thanks for the help guys, definitely pointing me in the right direction. I already have a bunch more questions but will keep on reading everything around before I come back.
I found 2 98+ rangers in my apartment parkade I was able to crawl under and get a better idea...I've only been able to see photos online of the TTB front end but I can tell its quite the difference.

Maybe 1 question to hold me over....is the frame the exact same apart from the engine crossmember? I guess what I'm saying here is side by side...TTB and IFS, everything in the front end removed, IFS crossmember cut-off....are the frames the same at this point?
 
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Stic-o

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Thanks for the help guys, definitely pointing me in the right direction. I already have a bunch more questions but will keep on reading everything around before I come back.
I found 2 98+ rangers in my apartment parkade I was able to crawl under and get a better idea...I've only been able to see photos online of the TTB front end but I can tell its quite the difference.

Maybe 1 question to hold me over....is the frame the exact same apart from the engine crossmember? I guess what I'm saying here is side by side...TTB and IFS, everything in the front end removed, IFS crossmember cut-off....are the frames the same at this point?
No there different. I one a 1st gen and and a 2nd gen. Width may be close.

1st gen is open "C" channel
2nd gen is closed box

The frame from the transmission back is the same.
 
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604Tom

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No there different. I one a 1st gen and and a 2nd gen. Width may be close.

1st gen is open "C" channel
2nd gen is closed box

The frame from the transmission back is the same.

C Channel vs closed box, assuming this is exactly why the "Bolt-On" parts wont work....obviously you can get a wrench in the C-channel but you'd have to bolt right through the box frame...
well shit...my mechanical capabilities are pretty good, which is why I am gunning for the bolt-on style....I don't know how to weld...and the 98+ seem like there's a lot of fab work to do a swap.

I guess I have to decide what I really want now....A newer model would have to be taken to a shop for the swap and I would pay upwards of 10K I'm sure...
An older model I could do myself, would cost 10x less...but I miss out on the interior aesthetics of the new models...

First world problems o_O
 
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