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THE Comprehensive SAS Thread


Explorer Addict
February 13, 2002
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I just thought it would be a good idea to get a comprehensive thread started on Solid Axle Swaps (SAS). I would hope that EVERYONE with firsthand experiences with SASs will take the time to write out their experiences. SAS information is some of the most sought out, yet often most misunderstood, information on these forums.

Before anyone gets started on razzing me, no, I haven’t done a SAS myself with my own hands, but I will give a brief history of myself with Explorer SASs. About 2 years ago, CoryL did a fully furnished SAS on my ’95 Explorer with a Jeep (YJ) HP D30 front axle. To be honest, during 90% of the install, I had no idea what was going on with my truck, nor did I have any real knowledge about solid front axle conversions at all. I completely lacked the knowledge of the very basics. After Cory was done with my SAS, for various reasons (none including the quality of Cory’s work), I decided to dismantle the swap that had been done on my truck, and go a completely different route with the front end of it. I decided to go with a different axle, and a different suspension setup. From that moment, about 1.5 years ago, I have spent MANY MANY hours researching and studying SASs on any and every type of vehicle, mainly IFS (including TTB) Fords. I have befriended two people who have done their own SASs (Toy and Izuzu) and have bothered them for more information than they would ever like to give. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable on the subject, but YES most of my knowledge comes from second hand experience, and I am FAR from an expert on the subject, and will never claim to be such. You can consider me a “web wheeler†on the subject, and I take no offence to that.

Blah blah Robb, get over yourself! Okay, on to the subject at hand……………….

What Axle To Get?

This is a loaded question! Many Many factors involved in this decision. Terrain, budget, aftermarket support, etc all have to come into concern here. A rig that will see mainly mid-level terrain will suit a D30 just fine, whereas a rig that will see extreme rock crawling may demand a D60. The difference in cost between a front D30 and a front D60, probably about $800+. And if you would like to mainly ride “forest†trails with medium obstacles, is a D60 going to serve you any better? Nope. Be practical when choosing your axle, decide for yourself what you honestly need out of it strength wise. The number 1 thing to remember is that, unless you plan to do some very fancy t-case work, is that you need a driver’s side drop pumpkin front axle (Jeep and Ford being the most popular).

Can A SAS Be Bolt-On?

In my opinion, one day there will be enough knowledge and trial-n-error work done to effectively create a bolt-on Explorer SAS list of parts. To my knowledge, this does not exist today. 1st Gen Xs will be the first to make this happen (much less steering work involved), 2nd Gens will follow……………but will ONLY be bolt-on after existing suspension/steering components have been cut/plasma’d off. Once down to a simple frame, with a fabbed up crossmember in place, I think a group of parts from junk cars and aftermarket sources can be gathered to bolt a SAS on. Am I crazy? Just maybe. But to sum it up…………to this date, NO FORM of a bolt-on kit exists to SAS your Explorer. Welding and fabrication skills ARE required!!!

How Much Does A SAS Cost?

Again, a VERY loaded question!! You will notice whenever this question is asked, most guys that have forked out the money duck the question. This is because the answer is all over the place, and most guys don’t like to admit exactly how much they have in it. I am going to throw a cliché’ here that many people won’t like, but I think a few will understand. If you have to ask how much it is going to cost, you probably can’t afford it!! Look at it this way, if you plan to do a SAS by yourself functional, geared, locked, and complete in the near future, prepare to have $3000+ minimum available at your disposal. And I emphasize the word minimum! Many people put more than that in the axle itself, without everything else involved! Basically, be prepared to spend LOTS of dough!

Can A Shadetree Mechanic Do A SAS?

Off the bat, I would say no. But, with the right amount of research and time, a DIY’r can learn! Once again, if you want a functional SAS Explorer in a couple of weeks and you have the skills to be considered a “shadetree†mechanic, you can’t do it. But, if you have the basic skills, and you can park the rig for quite a while for time to be patient, and research, and learn from others, I believe the average mechanic can do it.

How Much Lift Can I Get From A SAS?

Varies way too much to answer. The golden rule in lifting offroad rigs is to try for the least amount of lift possible for the tires you want to run. There are SAS’d Explorers with an overall 6†of lift, to those with 10â€+ of lift. The number of coil of leaf springs available can amount to any amount of lift desired. And on a personal note, PLEASE don’t be worried about how much lift you need to clear a certain tire size without trimming when it comes to SASs. Put it this way, you have ruined the stock susp. gear of your rig, don’t be afraid to cut the hell out of the fenders/quarter-panels!!! There are those with SASs running 37â€+s with no fender trimming, IMHO, this is WAY too much lift and is a danger! Yep, those with this setup will flame me, but I believe this type of setup to be unstable and a danger to all occupants inside.

Aight, I have written enough to hopefully get this thread going in its desired direction. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, those with the knowledge to contribute here, take a little time to help out here. Like I said, I am just a WW, and I know many others here can help here more than I can! Let’s try to create a comprehensive thread of useful SAS information right here!

Thanks Guys!!

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come on now

Well I'll give my 2 cents on solid axle swaps. I have helped with 2 solid axle swaps, one on a 98 explorer with leafs and a Wagoneer Dana 44. The other was a 97 ranger using EB 44 and radius arms. First and foremost in my mind after helping with these 2 and witnessing others on this board and others the biggest thing i can say is if you're going to weld KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. Take classes, learn from others. welding a suspension is no joke, know what you are doing before you do it, your life and the life of others may depend on it. With that aside an SAS is going to be expensive no matter what you do, take what you think it's going to cost and probably double that # and you'll be around where you should be. As far as lift. IMHO the least amount needed to clear the tires you want to run is the best. Unless your truck is going to serve only pavement duty (Stupid imho) your going to want to keep your center of gravity as low as possible the bigger you go the more likely your going to role. As robb said the sawzall is your friend, hack up those fenders till they're no longer in the way, all they do is get damaged on the trail. :p Um, don't take short cuts, do it right the first time or you'll be doing it again. imho (i have alot of opinions tonight :p ) if you have to come on here and start a thread about what axle you should use, or what type of suspension you should run and have no idea what your doing but heard someone say "solid axle swap" and your like hey i want one of those, you might want to look into the subject a whole lot more before you start tackling anything. Go look over on pirate4x4 and on yahoo there are plenty of articles about doing solid axle swaps.

all i can say is BRACKETS!

its all in the brackets, spend time engineering them and have them cut and finished neatly and welded by a master, whether that be you, a friend or a payed professional.

in the end you cant put a price on what it's worth!

What else can I say that Robb hasn't? There is no best way to convert to a SFA. There are many many variations of suspensions available. To each his own. I am prob the closest to fabricating a bolt on setup, however, there are way to many variables to create a true bolt on. Fabratech has a coil kit that is almost bolt on but is very expensive and not worth the money in my opinion. My advise would be to read all the different types that have been done on the SAS forum.

How about taking the discussion to front coils verses leafs. I would also like to see discussion on steering.

unclemeat said:
How about taking the discussion to front coils verses leafs. I would also like to see discussion on steering.

There are many different opinions on this subject, and every time I've seen it brought it up just turns into a war. It pretty much comes down to personal preference.

Concerning brackets if your swapping in an EB style front end Wild Horse makes alot of excellent stuff that can be made to work on our trucks expecially thier radius arm brackets and coil springs. Honestly if you want to learn about various axle/suspension setups go look on pirate4x4 there is more tech over there than you'd ever want to read.

As far as steering, high steer seems to be they way to go in most applications. It gets your tie rods up high and lessens your steering angles.

Could we also see options for the rear? Obviously doing a SAS will require a matched ride height in the rear... So far I've seen that SOA's are very popular, but I would like to hear more information about that, and the possibility of other rear end options as well.

Excellent thread idea Robb!

I am in the process of doing my SAS right now. I have reearched it for months, built the axles, bought bushings, gears, wheels, springs, spring perches.......
Just when you think you have everything you need, you realize you need a few more parts.

I used a 9 inch in the rear (full width) and a Dana 44 from a '78 bronco (full width) in the front. I like the full width idea because it will compensate for raising the truck.