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Off-Road Unloaded - Letters to the Editor - August 2012

Stolen 1999 Ford F350
Posted August 1, 2012

Editor’s Note: If you want to say or ask something, email Unloaded at unloaded@off-roadweb.com or write:

Unloaded, OFF-ROAD Magazine, 1733 Alton Parkway, Ste. 100, Irvine, CA 92606

Remember, we’re giving away swag every month to the author of our favorite letter. Be sure to include your address, so we know where to send your goods.


Letters of the Month This month's letter writers are getting a Blu-ray combo movie pack from Universal Home Entertainment. Two new releases- Safe House and The Grey- are coming to everyone who had their letter published, along with an OFF-ROAD license plate.

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Four-Speed Manual Ranger Swap

I have a 2002 Ford Ranger, 4.0L SOHC manual transmission 4x4. My five-speed went out for the third time, so I looked around for an adapter to put a NP435/NP205 transmission and T-case in the truck. No one makes an adapter, so I designed and built my own bellhousing (working on a new aluminum one, too), crossmember, and modified the transmission so that it has an OSS sensor that talks to the computer. The shifter has been modified so that it retains the stock shifter in the stock location. The interior looks completely stock. The exhaust is original and unmodified.

I have over 2,000 miles on this combo and it has worked flawlessly. I had to install the clutch arm on the passenger side, which made for a long hydraulic hose.  It is sticking out right in between the pipes where both banks of the engine tie together.  I am using a slave cylinder from a Chevy stepvan and have had zero issues with the combination.  Another thing I’d like to look into is changing out the pressure plate.  I don’t like the idea of the current Ranger pressure plate with the pre-load adjustment on it.  You have to have tension from the throwout bearing all the time and I don’t think the older style thowouts like it too much.  I’m thinking a pressure plate from pre ‘99 or so would probably work just fine.

As far as the shift gaps being broader with this transmission, I feel it’s ideal for these trucks with the 4.0L motor.  Going from 2nd to 3rd, the motor does not bog down at all.  In fact, starting out in 2nd, sometimes I spin my tires because the gearing seems just about perfect.  With the original five-speed the gears never seemed matched to the engine.  And, I have a real reverse gear ratio now.

I have 4.10 gears in the differentials and on the highway, while the engine does spin about 3200rpms, the fuel mileage has not seemed to take a hit.  City driving, however, I have noticed a dramatic drop in economy.  I think that’s due to the fact that I have to rev the engine more and seem to drive around in third (gear) most of the time.

I am thinking this might be a popular swap for Ranger owners since there is no aftermarket support in regards to transmission swaps. I am interested in marketing this conversion, but need to get the word out about the kit. I’ve attached some pictures. Currently, I’m working on another bellhousing to adapt an SM420 to this engine.  My preference has always been the SM420 (yeah, I know, Chevy in a Ford?!), so that’s what I ultimately want in my truck.  Things are kind of ugly, but this whole swap was done out of necessity.  From the time I pulled out the original transmission to finishing this up took me maybe about a week.

Anyway, this is it in a nutshell.  If you have any questions or comments, please, feel free in contacting me.

Marc Bergen
Durham, California
Marc_bergen@yahoo.com

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