Your Tech Questions Answered
Will a limited-slip differential from a Ford Explorer 8.8-inch rear axle work in my Ford Ranger 8.8-inch rear axle? There are plenty in my local junkyard and I figured it would be an easy upgrade.
The Ranger 8.8-inch rear axle is fitted with 28-spline axleshafts. The Explorer 8.8-inch rear axle has 31-spline axleshafts, so swapping the limited-slip differential from one axle to the other will not work. If you’ve found an Explorer 8.8-inch rear axle equipped with disc brakes, a limited slip, and the gear ratio is the same as what is in your Ranger, swapping the entire rear axle would be a worthwhile upgrade. It will take a little fab work to swap from one axle to the other, but for the braking and strength benefits, it would be worth the trouble. Both axles share the same 5-on-4½-inch bolt pattern so your wheels will bolt right up as well.
I have a wrecked ’84 GMC K3500 4X4 with a manual transmission. I would like to swap the axles and transfer case from it into a ’07-or-newer Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Will this be an easy swap or an expensive conversion that I should avoid?
The ’07-to-present Jeep Wrangler JK is a great build platform and can greatly benefit from a 1-ton axle conversion. With that being said, nothing about your proposed swap will be very easy. Let’s first look at your GM’s NP205 transfer case. The version that you have is mostly likely fitted with an eight-bolt mounting pattern and 10-spline input shaft. Both the manual and automatic JK transmissions are setup for the NP241 six-bolt transfer case and only accept a 23-spline input shaft. You can swap in a 23-spline input shaft into the NP205 without too much trouble, but you will still need an adapter to merge the old transfer case to the late model transmission. Custom shift linkage will also need to be on the to-do list.
Now that you have converted the Jeep from a driver-side drop to a passenger-side drop T-case, you can move forward with getting your axles in place. It’s important to note that post-2011 all of the Jeep Wrangler JKs were fitted with a new style of electronics, which must see tone rings in order for the Jeep to operate correctly. For this reason, we would look at ’07-’10 model years, since their electronics are not as sensitive and, if needed, can operate without the axle-mounted sensors. Understand that ditching your axle-mounted sensors will result in a dash light extravaganza and loss of your speedometer, ESP, ABS, and assorted traction controls. Surprisingly, the ’07-’10 models will still run and drive fine without the sensors.
Now that I have that disclaimer out of the way I can get back to your Dana 60 front axle. Along with new suspension mounts and tabs, a custom steering system will be atop your fabrication list. The axle’s outers will need custom tone rings for the sensors to read off of, which won’t come cheap or easy. As is the case with the front axle, the rear axle will need JK suspension brackets. Both Currie Enterprises (www.currrieenterprises.com) and Dynatrac (www.dynatrac.com) offer axle bracket kits for the JK. Once you’ve welded the new brackets in place you’ll need to machine custom tone rings for the rear. The tone rings are something that you can get from the aforementioned axle companies, but will likely require precise machining and placement in order for the sensors to read correctly. If you can’t get both axles fitted with all four sensors, you’ll find that you actually only need one for the speedometer to work. I don’t suggest doing this, but I am aware that it will work.
There is still the matter of drivelines, clearance issues, brakes, and a host of other items that you will need to consider before jumping into a project such as this. If you are looking for a quick and easy swap—this isn’t it.
I have a ’72 Chevy K5 Blazer and I am looking for a good shop to help me build it before I move to Baja. I currently live in So Cal and have found that many of the shops only seem to be interested in building Jeep rockcrawlers or desert prerunners. Any shop recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
There is no shortage of top-notch off-road shops in Southern California. Off Road Evolution (www.offroadevolution.com) in Fullerton, California, is an excellent option as well as South Bay Truck & Differential (www.southbaytruckand4x4.com) in Hawthorne, California.
I have a ’07 Ram 4X4 and often use it to tow a 6,000-pound trailer. I am experiencing very hot brakes. Do you have any ideas on what I can do to upgrade the brakes on my truck? The brakes on the trailer are properly adjusted.
If your trailer brakes are adjusted correctly and you are not riding the brake pedal, you need to double check that there is not an issue or failing part in your current brake system. Since you didn’t specify, but are only towing 6,000 pounds, I am going to assume that you have a 1500, not a 2500 or 3500. Baer (www.baer.com) offers the Extreme series front brake system for your application that includes new slotted and drilled rotors. EBC Brakes (www.ebcbrakes.com) also offers a number of upgrades and replacement brake components for your Ram as well.
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