Q I recently bought a '75 Ford Bronco chassis. I want to convert it to disc brakes but don't want to buy an expensive kit. I have heard you can swap in parts from other trucks instead. First I heard that you could directly replace the old knuckles with those from a '78 Bronco with disc brakes. Second, I heard that you could use the knuckles from a '70s Blazer. I have been told that you use the Chevy knuckles and the Chevy calipers with the Ford rotors and spindles. Third, I have been told that you can use the knuckles and brake system off a newer truck, such as an '88 F-150. What can you tell me about this?Andrew BernardVia the Internet
A To get the straight scoop I went to Jim Cole, product manager and all around good guy, at James Duff Enterprises (360/683-2160, www.jamesduff.com). Jim works with customers every day on this stuff so he's pretty knowledgeable about it. Here's what he advises:
"You can use '96 and older fullsize F-150 and big Bronco knuckles, caliper brackets, spindles, and hubs, but you'll need custom steering linkage to work (i.e. cut and rethread the fullsize stuff to fit). The '78-'79s work best for this since they share the same pitman arm spline taper as the '67-'75 Broncos. Available from James Duff Enterprises are custom knuckles that use the steering arm configuration of the '75-and-older Bronco with the spindle-mounting pattern of the '75-'96 F-150 and Bronco. The knuckle is also beefed up with additional material in high-stress areas and uses stronger iron than a stock knuckle. The caliper bracket is designed just like the Ford item, with the same stronger iron used. Rotors, wheel hubs, and calipers are stock-type '76-'96 stuff. This setup means being able to keep all Ford items, and it uses off-the-shelf items (with the exception of the knuckle) for easy replacement down the road. The biggest benefit here is it's all in one kit, with no mismatched parts, so you know it works well. Also it is stronger than stock, uses stock steering components, and is basically how Ford did it. If replacement parts are needed, just hit the local auto parts store and collect the parts for a '76 Bronco."
Transmission Trauma I
Q I own a '97 Ford F-250 Crew Cab with a Power Stroke diesel, a five-speed tranny, and 4.10 gears. I bought the truck new and it was used as a work truck for three years. It has 137,000 miles on it. The problem is with the transmission. At 39,000 miles the synchronizers started going out. Now it's at the point where I need to fix it. My question is whether I should or not. I could put a six-speed manual tranny in it from a '99 or newer Ford F-250 or F-350. Will it bolt up directly or will it require a lot of modifications? An alternative that I would prefer is to convert it to an automatic. How much trouble would that be?Brent MurrayFrontenac, Kansas
A I consulted Ford truck guru Mike Kelly of Helena, Montana. He said that a six-speed will bolt right in. But to make this swap work, you will need a different flywheel and clutch, as the six-speed does not use a dual-mass flywheel like the five-speed does. Also, the output splines on the six-speed are much bigger than on the five-speed, so you will need the matching NV27 (manual shift) or NV273 (electronic shift) transfer case to complete the swap.
If you choose to go with the automatic, you will need some kind of a transmission-fluid cooler, a new steering column or a shifter, and most importantly, the correct engine-management computer and all the sensors and wiring.