Kirbys 1991 Ranger Build Up and Solid Axle Swap


Kirby N.

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I sold my 1993 Mazda Navajo around 2010 or 2011. It was 10 years in the making and finally to a solid, reliable state. I had some other priorities and decided to sell it and get something more versatile. I will include some pictures below of its developing states and final state when I sold it below. In the end, it had 37" MTRs, Arb front, detroit rear, 4.56 gears, D and D doubler and I built all the armor and the Dana 44 front Solid Axle Swap.

James duff 3.5" VR coil lift, 235" defender tires and a home made heavy ugly bumper (around 2000 when I bought it) :


2001 with 33x10.50s and James duff 4.5" lift with extended radius arms, manual hubs and new auto tranny:

Here it is just after the SAS with 34s and a swapped in manual tcase and tranny:



Winching out of Mikeys hot tub circa 2002 or so



Stuck on a tree just after 37s


37s, winch bumper rebuild etc


Final State Explorerforum moab trip 2010







Last Poser Shots




I hear it still gets around Colorado and Utah and I have had buddies call me with airings from time to time.

I have had a few rangers and one explorer since I sold my explorer.
Here are some pics of those:

Beat up 1994 Ranger 2.4l ($250)


Traded 1993 Ranger 4.0l and an abused auto tranny



1991 Manual Tcase and Tranny Explorer Sport




We have also had a ton of cool Jeeps. Here are a couple of pics, along with our current Jeep which we are hanging on to:

2005 unlimited Rubicon Sahara 5.7 L Hemi



2005 unlimited Rubicon 35s and 4" lift


Our Current 2005 Unlimited Rubicon 4" Lift 315 Kevlars


It does great grocery getter, family truckster, and occasional wekend wheeler, but I need a truck and I miss my exploder, so I decided to build a Ranger. However, I want to build it a little different this time.

I have always wanted to build a 1989-1992 ranger, so I spent a considerable amount of time looking for a low mile one with the right engine, tranny and tcase in good shape. 4.0l, m5od and 1354M stock. My explorer ended up with this combo, but started out as an auto tranny and tcase. This made for a ton of modifications and headaches with my explorer. Rangers can be had in many other undesirable configurations because they were available with 3 different v6s in 1989-92 and a 4cylinder. It proved to be a difficult task. Finally in the fall of 2012 I picked this one up. A 1991 4.0l manual tranny and transfer case 4x4 extended cab "mountain States Edition. It had 130k on it and ran great. The paint was toast, it had a rusty bed and (my biggest complaint) it had no factory air.



I drove it for a year until I was ready to have it painted. I fixed a bunch on it- thermostat, muffler, wheel bearings, brakes, had a new headliner installed, etc. When I got a quote for the paint (one solid color and fix the dings) it was 2k. So then I started thinking I better look for a different ranger to build! I settled on this one. It too is a 1991, it has air (huge plus after not having it in my other truck all summer), manual case and tranny and everything else and a 4.0. The body is really straight no rust and the interior is super nice. The odo read 83k and I believed it.



Since then I tracked down the original and only owner to find it has 183 k on it and they were all hwy miles. The only complaints I have is I wish it had the other mirrors and pop out extended cab windows. I can deal with those, though. This truck has been taken care of.

First order of business was a tune up, brakes and leaky valve cover gaskets.

The build plan is pretty simple: build it similar to how my explorer ended up, with out all the half builds in between. It took me a lot of work and money to get my explorer to preform well off-road and on the street and be reliable. On this one I want to skip all the poor performing, cheapskate half steps I took with the explorer.

My goal is to end up with a reliable, daily drive able, off-road capable ranger that will make a great driver, great work truck and great expo vehicle. I like the idea of a truck over a explorer sport because I need to haul dirt bikes and Sheetrock and plywood and all kinds of stuff all the time so I always needed a pickup when I had the explorer even though I wanted to drive the explorer all the time. Hopefully this will do both functions well.

So far, I have installed:

A blue tooth pioneer stereo (replacing the stock tape deck)



A optima yellow top


A Black grill and headlight bezels along with new headlights:


The only body work it needs is the topper it had on it was put on with a loose and poorly placed clamp that rubbed a hole in the bed cap. I will weld it up and hopefully add a LineX bedliner over the top


I purchased a Dana 44 out of a 76 f150 with no guts or outers for a $50 bill. I still have my spare warn premium hubs off my ex, and I plan to build this one stout before I put it in and leave it full width but move the c bushings in about 2" per side. I will likely then run stock style f150 wheels with stock backspacing and 35s or 37s as skinny as I can find. It will get a full rebuild and at least 4.88s, maybe 5.13s. I am not decided on radius arms yet. I suppose extended ones are on the bill instead of the stock wristed ones I had before, but I haven't sorted that out yet. The wrist traveled fine but it clunked and made a racket and it was also a pain to get out and pull the pin when it was time to wheel. Extended arms won't perform quite as well on the street as the stock length ones did with the pin in, but longer arms should stream line things.

For the rear I will rebuild a full width late model 31 spline 8.8 put of a bronco or f150 and install explorer disk brakes. I will likely need to have the axle flanges turned down and drill the rotors for the new bolt pattern.

I will extend the wheel base around 3" by moving the front axle forward and leave the rear axle centered in the wheel well. I plan to leave the bed size stock as I need the truck to haul stuff all the time. I will build bumpers and sliders before I beat it up this time.

Here is the Dana 44


Here is the 8.8 Full Width with disks (X2)


The other 8.8 is going in this Bronco me and my buddy built a few years ago. It has a 77 Dana 44 front.

 


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Kirby N.

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I really need help on lifting the rear of the ranger. I don't have much experience lifting the rear of a ranger. My buddy and I lifted his 1983 Ranger with a Add A Leaf from duff and that is all I have done with a ranger rear axle. The explorer was a spring over, then a dialed it in by adding more stock explorer leaves from various packs. It seems like a Chevy pack is pretty popular. I was thinking of using DIY 4x4 shackles too. Has anyone used these?

http://diy4x.com/cart/index.php?route=product/product&path=24&product_id=113

How much lift will the Chevy springs give me? What year am I looking for? Are they a straight swap or do I have to move the rear hangers? What about the front hangers?

I plan to run 5-6" of lift. A little shorter than my explorer. I will have more uptravel room due to the pumkin being less centered. Probably full height f150 buckets and 5 or 6" BC broncos coils (I ran many different coils on my exploder and the BC ones were by far the best. I am leaning toward 35s now too.
 

Divh

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for 64s you need to move the front spring hanger the rear one stays where it is i am getting ready to do the swap myself i am having the springs reached 13'' and getting belltech 6400 shackles and flipping them i will be using the ford factory block and mite have to drop hanger down a bit to match front witch i using skyjacker 138 coils http://www.therangerstation.com/tech_library/64-inch_leaf.shtml and http://www.therangerstation.com/Magazine/May06/chevy_springs.htm have lots of good info on the set up
 
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Kirby N.

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Thanks those links help a bunch. I ordered up a ruff stuff 8.8 set of perches and ubolts and shock mounts and spring plates and a cover. They had it all as a kit this time. I also got a 8.8 from a 1994 f150 and swapped in 2000 exploder disks. Painted it up. Looking at the DIY4x shackles. Looks like the upped bushing is too small. Anyone use them?


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Kirby N.

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I started ordering parts today. From what I have found, most ranger guys use the Belltech 6400 shackle for lowering the rear end of a chevy to raise the rear on a ranger. My buddy has a set on his bronco and one good hit they bent like this / /. So I found DIY4X and their USDR shackle. I am not sure what USDR means, but they are built out of 3/8" and should hold together well. His belltechs are 6" from eye to eye. We ordered the 7" usdr shackles.

http://diy4x.com/cart/index.php?route=product/product&path=24&product_id=113



one of the many drags that caused failure of the belltechs

 

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Solid Axle Swap 4x4
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I used a set from TeraFlex on my ranger

 

Kirby N.

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Nice! I may have considered those if I would have known.


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Divh

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do you have a link to them
 

Kirby N.

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Mine are 3/8" thick and 7" long and not made for an xj. I think I am happy with my purchase. I can add a zerk if I think it needs one.


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Divh

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Kirby N.

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I guess I should catch this thread up.

I got some Chevy 63"/64"s from the junk yard. They are in great shape.


I also found the rims I had been searching for at the junk yard. Aluminium f150 rims. 15x8 and 5 on 5.5. Got them cheap. Here they are after I cleaned them up a bit.


Got a good deal on 2 used 35" BFGs. Then got a great deal on 2 new ones.


Got them mounted:


Hope it looks like this soon


I got the 5.13 yukon gears setup. Now I am dealing with this disk conversion nightmare!

A little grinding:


A little spacing


Some machining:


And some torching:


Still have some interference on the back of the disks. I need to get them machined or grind them. Then, lord willing, I can put this rear end in!
 
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Looks good, like the progress....

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Kirby N.

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I have the springs in. Front mounts relocated. I had to unbolt the gas tank/ skid to get to the back side of the brackets on the passenger side. I did use the front lower bolt hole for the new rear lower bolt hole. On both sides there was a rivet for a crossmember bracket that interfered with the new location. I blasted the head off with the torch, ground it smooth, then welded it to the frame then ground it
Smooth again so the bracket could go over it. So the rivet is still there doing it's job, it just doesn't have a head on it to get in my way. I did decide to bolt the front upper hole over the body mount brackets on each side.

Before pic with the body mount bracket:


Ground smooth and traced the outline of the rivet with soap stone so I could see it under my hood.


Welded her up


Ground smooth and squirted some paint on it


Springs are in, except for tightening down the bushings


I also added some grease zerks to the usdr shackles.



There is a small space between the two bushings halves when installed so the grease can get down where it needs to.


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Kirby N.

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Question for all you ranger guys out there- what size lift do I need in the rear to clear 35s without trimming the crap out of my fenders? Any guesses??i am wider than stock but not too much. I have the option of moving the axle back a bit too.
 
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