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Explorer 8.8 Rear End Swap Ė No weld
Article by: Rocky T. McKenzie ©2014
write up is to show how to swap in an Explorer 8.8 rear end into a Ranger
without welding. The Explorer
rear end swap is pretty common for Ranger enthusiasts, but most guys are
welding on new shock mounts and spring perches to keep the truck in its
original configuration. The
method below is completely bolt in and will lower the rear of the truck
roughly 4 inches from stock while also giving you firmer springs.
motivation for writing this is that when I was planning this swap I was
unable to find all of this information in one place.
In addition there is a lot of bad info out there, with people being
told this is not possible, or being told that it is possible but with the
truck I am working on is a 1998 Ford Ranger 2wd Supercab.
It is equipped with a 2.5l 4 cylinder engine, a manual transmission
and a 7.5 rear end with an open differential.
The Explorer rear end came from a junkyard, it is supposed to have
come from a 1998 Ford Explorer with a 6 cylinder.
Other years and models may be equipped differently, so your
experience may well be different from mine.
said this was my first major mechanical swap in a vehicle and it went very
is not a picture heavy write up. I
simply did not take pictures while I was doing the work and almost all of
the pictures you need can be found elsewhere.
I am not a mechanic and I take no responsibility for your actions.
Please make sure you understand what you are doing before you
modify your vehicle.
rear end, capable of holding more power
leaf springs for better handling
Inch drop in the rear
slip, depending on what you have in your truck now
slightly wider rear end, the Explorer rear end is a little bit wider
depending on the year.
8.8 and leaf springs, painted and ready to install)
Explorer 8.8 rear end. Preferably
in the same gear ratio as you have now.
If you are changing gear ratios your speedometer will be wrong.
Get as much as you can with the axle so you are not scrambling to
find parts. The yard I bought
from was good in cutting the brake hoses and parking brake cable far
enough forward that they were still usable.
Older ones will have drum brakes; I think 1996 and up will have the
U Bolts for the 8.8. The stock
Ranger ones from a 7.5 will not work.
Leaf Springs. If you use the
stock Ranger springs you will get more like a 6 inch drop.
Using the Explorer springs gets you the firmer ride and doesnít
drop you as low. Make sure you
get springs out of a 4 door Explorer, the two door Sport model uses a
different spring that will not work for this swap.
rear Parking brake cables. Should
work with the Ranger setup, mine is currently not tensioned correctly, but
I am still working on it. Full
disclosure, mine did not work before this swap.
I took it to a Ford dealer to have them check out noise in the old
rear end and their ďdiagnosticsĒ resulted in my park brake no longer
driver side U Bolt Plates/ Shock Mounts (2).
This is the trick, and also a source of bad information on the
internet. The Ranger has the
passenger shock in front of the axle and the Explorer mounts them both
behind the axle. The Explorer
shock mount for the driverís side works perfectly, and a second
driverís side mount rotated the opposite direction works perfectly for
the Rangerís passenger side. The
Ubolt Plate/ Shock mount for the Explorer is a single part, and you need
two of them, both from the driverís side.
I obtained one with my junkyard Explorer rear end, and bought the
other at Ford, the cost was about $35. (Ford Part number F57Z-5798-AE)
Pads and brake fluid. We are
taking part of the brake system apart, so why not change the brake pads
while we are in here.
hand tools, wrenches, sockets and a ratchet etc.
The bolts for the leaf springs are quite large, so make sure you
have a couple of sockets large enough to fit them before you get started.
Grinder. This will only be
needed if you have trouble removing your old leaf springs.
I needed a 7 Inch grinder to cut the bolt on mine, a smaller 4 inch
grinder did not have enough reach to cut the bolts easily.
Before you start:
Before you start:
a can of your choice of penetrating oil out the day before and oil
everything you will be removing. I
neglected to do this and it cost me quite a bit of time.
your lug nuts loose on the rear wheels.
Use blocks at the front to keep the truck from rolling.
Jack up the rear of your truck one side at a time and place it on
jack stands for safety. I
placed my jack stands at the point on the frame just before it kicks up,
because my jack stands are not very tall.
the rear wheels. Set them
the drums from your truck and disconnect the parking brakes.
There are guides out there to do this properly, but we used a
Dremel to cut the springs. My
rear brakes had probably never been touched, and were in very rough shape
with 230k on the truckís odometer.
the VSS sensor from the top of your axle.
This just snaps into place, but it can be hard to get apart with
the accumulated road grime.
up to the frame on the driverís side above the axle and disconnect the
brake hose. There is also a
clip on the top holding this in place.
the drive shaft. You can put
the truck in gear to keep it from rotating on you.
You will need to support it so it does not drop.
Also wrap it in electrical tape so it does not come apart.
the shocks by taking out the bolt that attaches them to the lower mounts.
your old axle so it does not fall and then remove the nuts and Ubolts on
both sides. This should allow
your axle to drop free. Make
sure nothing is still connected to the axle and pull it out from under
your truck. My friend and I
had to move it back and forth to clear the spare tire, exhaust, and mud
the bolt holding the leaf springs through the front hanger and the bolt
holding it into the shackle. Make
sure you support the leaf spring so it does not fall.
A combination of rust and the old rubber bushing kept me from
taking these bolts out. After
struggling with them for a long time I carefully cut the bolts out with a
7 inch angle grinder and a cut off wheel.
If you are forced to do this be very careful not to damage the
front hanger or the shackle. I
had planned to sell my old leaf springs, but I ended up grinding them up a
bit while cutting out the bolts.
you have the leaf springs out you can start getting your new rear end
under the truck. Iím not
entirely sure that the process I used is the easiest way to assemble the
Explorer rear end and leaf springs. I
had an easy time with the passenger side, and a much harder time getting
everything aligned on the driverís side.
If there is a trick to doing this more easily I hope someone else
can contribute it.
move your Explorer 8.8 under your truck, and then slide the new leaf
springs in under them. I then
attached the rear of the passenger leaf spring to the shackle.
Next I used a pair of jacks to lift the other side of the leaf
spring and the axle up so that I could put the u bolts in through the U
bolt plate to secure everything. Make
sure you have your U bolt plate positioned so that the shock mount points
in the correct direction to mount up to your shock. Next
I used a jack to lift the front side of the leaf spring so that it was
aligned with the front hanger. Make
sure all your bolts are tight.
side photographed from the front to show the shock mount)
to the driverís side and do the same thing.
I had a little bit of trouble getting the bolt through the shackle,
and my shackle did not want to move at all to accommodate me.
Once you have the bolt through the shackle side use a jack to
support the leaf spring and put your U bolts through the mounting plate.
Again, make sure your shock mount is pointed the right direction.
Use your jack to position the leaf spring to get the final bolt in.
I had a lot of trouble getting this to line up, but with careful
positioning of the jack and a little muscle I got it to line up.
Make sure you get the bracket for the parking brake on there; the
leaf spring bolt holds that on as well.
side photographed from the rear to show the shock mount)
Axle with the drive shaft connected)
you have everything else connected you need to attach your shocks.
Each shock is held on by a single bolt that passes through the
mount and the shock itself. You
will have to compress your shock to get it to line up so you can put the
next step is attaching the new parking brake cable.
Your Ranger cables should still be attached, pull them out and
route the explorer cables in the same manner the old Ranger ones were
mounted. There are a couple of
connectors holding the rear brake cables to the front cable.
Mine were corroded and even soaking in PB blaster and prying on
them would not get them apart. I
ended up using a Dremel cut off wheel to carefully cut the end of the
Ranger cable apart without damaging the connector.
I actually tried to just order a new connector from ford, but they
insisted it was one piece and I would have to order the entire rear brake
cable setup. The rear
connector is a little easier to take off, there is a small tab holding the
cable in, you can pry this with a screwdriver.
The cable passes through a bracket by the leaf spring, I had to cut
out the old ranger one. The
Explorer cable should just push through the hole and click into place.
is as far as I got with the parking brakes.
The Explorer ones seem to be the same length or very close to the
Ranger length and everything fit together perfectly apart from the
corrosion issues. My parking
brakes did not work before, and still do not.
I think it is a tensioning issue that was present before the swap.
Assuming yours work correctly you might want to read up on taking
the tension off using the drill bit trick before you start working with
them. I canít offer any
guidance on that because the Ford dealer broke mine.
current plan for the parking brakes is to try a universal parking brake
cable adjuster, Dorman part number 03006.)
actually ran the truck for a day before I cut my bump stops down.
The ride was very rough, every little bump in the road felt like
the truck was bottoming out. Trimming
the bump stop made the truck ride much smoother.
you are doing a brake pad swap your next step would be to work on your
brakes. If you are not
changing pads you need to go ahead and bleed your brake system.
I am not going to include the brake work in this write up because
there are articles out there that are better than I would be able to
write. Either way you need to
bleed the brake system before you go any further.
you need to put your wheels and lug nuts back on, and lower the truck back
to the ground. Donít forget
to tighten down the lug nuts after the truck is on the ground to ensure
they are safe to drive on.