Adding Beef to Ford's TTB - More traction, more strength.
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 1
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 2
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 3
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 4
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 5
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 6
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 7
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 8
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 9
Project Fiery Redhead - Part 10
With almost 150,000 miles showing on our project Fiery Redhead F-150's odometer, it came as no surprise that the front end was manifesting some signs of wear. The most aggravating problem was ungodly front-end vibrations when in four-wheel drive, clearly caused by axle joints that had been ignored by the previous owner. Other problems included a wheel bearing that ran hotter than its mate and a hub lockout that was spewing grease.
Now before we go any further, we need to note that early on, we decided to retain the Redhead's stock Twin Traction Beam (TTB) front suspension for this project. Sure, it would've been predictable to replace this butt-of-many-jokes suspension with a solid axle. But we're not predictable. The Ford TTB is a unique animal that offers good handling and a decent ride while still being able to accept a fair amount of abuse. Even though some TTB upgrade parts are hard to find, ultimately the suspension can be made to work better than it does when left stock. Besides, we know that many of you own TTB-equipped vehicles, and many of you want to know what can be done to improve its function and reliability.
We called the axle gurus at Custom Differentials in Bloomsdale, Missouri. We've wanted to work with these guys ever since we showed you owner Jeremy Nager's ultra-functional '72 Blazer on the Aug. '02 cover of Four Wheeler. After hearing our story, Nager recommended that he and his crew breathe new life into the TTB by completing a total front-end rebuild of the mechanicals, and he set aside a day in his busy shop for us.
Our goal was to replace all the normal wear items, so we contacted Randy's Ring & Pinion and told them what we wanted to do. As usual, they had everything we needed in stock, including wheel bearings, axleshaft U-joints, seals and ball joints. Not only did we want to replace worn items, we also wanted to complete a couple of mandatory upgrades. Since the truck would soon be getting a 4-inch suspension lift and 33-inch tires, we contacted the folks at Motive Gear about some 4.10:1 gears.
Motive Gear is a massive wholesale supply house in the Chicago area. The folks there quickly sent out their Motive Gear ring-and-pinion, as well as the install kit we would need to complete the job. We also contacted Warn Industries for a pair of that company's heavy-duty Premium Hubs (see sidebar) to ensure that things would stay together under load. Finally, we contacted Tractech. We explained that the vehicle would be used as a combination work/play/commuter vehicle, and the folks there recommended the Truetrac limited-slip differential (see sidebar) due to its excellent road manners and traction-enhancing qualities.
The Truetrac limited-slip is a helical gear-type limited-slip differential. Its patented design of parallel-axis, planetary helical gears provides a smooth and quiet automatic division of torque. The Truetrac can transfer up to 3.5 times more torque to the high-traction wheel than that wheel would get under normal driving conditions. This torque transfer ratio (called the bias ratio) is accomplished by using helical side gears and pinions. The bias ratio is the result of pressure exerted by the side gears and pinions against the surface of the differential case. Why did we use a limited-slip in the front of the Redhead? Well, unfortunately there isn't an Electrac application available for the TTB system yet, and we strongly feel that non-selectable lockers up front are inappropriate.
The result of our day of labor is a front end that's better than new. Out are the annoying vibrations and worn-out parts. In are enhanced traction, new gears and reliability. Follow along as we highlight the major components in the Redhead's front-end R&R. The following will give you a basic overview of what can be done to your TTB front end to enhance durability, reliability and capability.