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Old 10-19-2018, 11:36 AM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: calgary alberta
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axle swapping and the Ford 8.8 stuff

just a couple of items here for the ford 8.8 axle that seems to be a common swap for our trucks.
there are those who will say you also need to upgrade the wheel bearings and axles because they have the C clip style of axle retainers and those can fail. that would be a personal preference but, thinking about it, how many ford vehicles, or any vehicles for that matter, have you seen that have lost an axle due to a C clip failure. maybe for the full on racer that would be a consideration. for most I personally wouldn't lose sleep over it as long as the unit is serviced and the fluid level check plug is located in a plane that allows for the stock level to be retained. some will also use a 90 degree fitting to allow the diff fluid level to be the same when the axle is rotated to allow for pinion angle to be correct with the rest of a home made driveline. some like to overfill the housing so the axle bearings always sit in fluid. personal preference. don't let the axles run dry is all.
the explorer came with an option for the larger axle sizes, posi, a pretty good ratio and disc brakes with a "top hat" style disc/drum (for the park brake) set up, drum brakes are also available for those who want that set up. the explorer came with a couple of sizes of stabilizer bars that go in a U shape towards the rear of the vehicle. the ford ranger has the stabilizer bars across the fron of the axle and the U shape faces the front. again, several different sized stab bars are available there as well.t
the pumkin is not centered in an explorer but if you plan to narrow the axle it becomes something to ponder because you can shorten the long side to be the same as the short side, then use (2) short side stock axles. that way the pumkin is centered and you can grab an axle from any scrap yard or a stock replacement from a gear vendor (suggested if the broken axle is the one that was actually started out life on the other side of the truck. apparently they get work hardened in one direction and don't like to have their mind changed). there are some 8.8's with a centered pumkin, look at the mustangs for this.
when cutting off the stock brackets, to end up with some bare axle tubes, be aware of the heat generated by that process. it could warp the axle tubes on whatever diff you would be using, be it the 8.8 or a 9", 12 bolt or whatever. the same goes for welding attachments or spring pads back onto the housing or axle tubes, take your time and let stuff cool off between welding blitzes. always put the ground clamp on the housing, never on the axle flange. the welding current can go through the axle or diff bearings and cause damage when that is done.
the axle flanges have the ford pattern but that can be taken care of pretty easily by redrilling the flange and brake rotors to the pattern desired and replacing the studs with the size you will run on the front axle.

there are a couple of sites that have some pretty good info here

the ranger station. poke around here for more info

retread has a few points with some links at the bottom

the fabricators series has a few points as well as some links to other sites

the hotrod network did a story on it as well

here is a copied/pasted track width chart from another site. here it is always good to measure from the actual wheel mounting surface rather than the backing plate. a short piece of bar or angle iron bolted onto the wheel mounting surface on each side of the axle will help you make that measurement more precise

welder's series has many kits and individual brackets, rods, tubes etc if you want to fab up your own suspension or build other hotrod stuff. they are Canadian so the USD will buy you more

hopefully this helps somebody out there looking for answers on a diff swap
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Old 10-19-2018, 02:34 PM   #2
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Location: Toppenish, WA
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Re: axle swapping and the Ford 8.8 stuff

I think it comes down to the "can I fix or get it fixed on a road trip a long ways from home or will I have to figure on hauling the truck home or to a shop that can fix it.

The big difference for some of us who put a lot of long distance (500 + 1 way road trips) trips on our rides is that we have to think about what we are going to do if parts that tend to wear out/give out at inopportune times give out on the road a long ways from home.

In theory if you loose a wheel bearing on an 8 inch or 9 inch Ford rear you can pull the axle, take it to a parts house with a press in the back room or to a shop and have the axle pressed off and on and stick it back together and go again. On the same token if you blow the ring and pinion for some reason you can most likely scrounge a get me home third member in a wrecking yard and put it on and be on your way in a few hours. Not quite the same with the Spicer style rear Eat up an axle when you loose a wheel bearing and you have to hunt an axle that fits that specific rear. Loose the gears and you are on a roll back for a long ride home.

The first road trip after I get my 48 back on the road is to Central Texas where my wife's family is. Then on to some of those Bucket list spots from there. Probably 10K before we get home again. That includes distances between gas stations that are further than some guys have ever or ever will drive their trucks from their home garages all the time they own the trucks. If something breaks I want to be able to replace it rather simply and not have to rely on a red label package arriving on the Brown truck to get it going.
Founding member of the too many projects, too little time and money club.

My ongoing truck projects:
48 Chev 3100 that will run a 292 Six.
71 GMC 2500 that is getting a Cad 500 transplant.
77 C 30 dualie, 454, 4 speed with a 10 foot flatbed and hoist. It does the heavy work and hauls the projects around.

Last edited by mr48chev; 10-19-2018 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 10-19-2018, 03:19 PM   #3
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Re: axle swapping and the Ford 8.8 stuff

yep, I hear ya. good point mr48.
if you modify the axle for the "bearing pressed onto axle" scenario, like the ford 9", and something goes awry, you run the chance of the shop "heat treating" your axle when they cut the old one off with a torch, or nicking the axle if they cut it off with a zip disc.
if you leave the axle as is you run the chance of damaging an axle if a bearing wears goes south or wears out.
chances of either scenario can be lessened with routine regular maintenance and proper lubricants.
there is also the repair bearing that uses the existing axle and a different style bearing in the housing. not an awesome fix though lots are driving around.
with all that said, again, we don't see many axle mishaps on the side of the road these days. mostly it's a tire, an overheating issue or a fuel issue. anytime you change something from stock chances of finding a replacement on the road becomes less. thats the reason why I try to use all stock parts. not stock for my truck but stock for something and hopefully some roadside parts guru has one tucked away.
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