Question: I own a '95 F-150 and would like to do a solid axle swap. I have done some research on the subject. I know that Fabritech makes a conversion kit, but it is out of my budget due to me still being in school. I just recently bought a Dana 44 (high-pinion) out of a '78 Bronco. The axle came complete with all of the stock suspension components.
My truck has a 6-inch Rough Country lift, and if I could reuse any of the parts from that, it would be great. If you could locate anyone else who offers a conversion kit cheaper or plans to make the brackets, I would greatly appreciate it.
Answer: I looked at the Fabritech kit, and yes, it is a lot of money, but it's a lot of money for a reason. You're paying for the engineering that went into building a safe and well designed kit.
Yes, I am sure that if you looked long enough, you could find someone on the Internet who has done such a conversion using all homemade brackets. How well it works and how safe it is will depend on the person who built it-and generally speaking, most people aren't going to say, "Oh, I built it, but I sure don't trust it from breaking," "It now handles terrible on the trail," or "It doesn't handle well at highway speeds."
The way I look at it, either you sit down, do some engineering studies, build your own conversion and hope all is right, or you buy the kit.
Question: I bought a late-model 5.4L Ford V-8 that I plan to put into my early Bronco. I got the motor cheap because two of the spark-plug holes are stripped. My local machine shop says that they haven't had much luck with Helicoils. Do you have a solution to fix this, other than welding and tapping new threads or replacing the head?
Answer: Actually, this is a pretty common problem with the 4.6L, 5.4L, and 6.8L aluminum heads. Have your local machine shop contact a company called Lock-N-Stitch (800/736-8261, www.locknstitch.com), which offers a special insert of hard-anodized aluminum that is guaranteed to repair the hole better than new.
And for you Ford owners who have one of these engines, be super careful when changing out the spark plugs. Make sure the engine is dead cold, and soak the area around the spark plugs for a bit with some type of penetrating oil before you try taking them out. And when you're reinstalling the plugs, take the time to use a torque wrench to gain the proper level of tightness, along with some antiseize on the threads.
Question: I recently bought a '99 1-ton 4x4 Chevy with the 6.5L diesel, which was supposedly completely rebuilt just before I bought the truck. It appears that the motor has been out. The truck ran really good for the first month; then one day the engine got a terrible vibration in it like all the cylinders weren't firing. That's not the case because it still has good power-it just vibrates like crazy. I took it to a local mechanic who also was puzzled. I've stopped driving the truck and am considering pulling the engine and replacing it with a big-block gas motor. Any ideas?
Answer: The 6.2 had some issues, but most of these were solved with the introduction of the 6.5. The first thing that comes to mind is a problem with the dual mass flywheel, but you didn't say if your truck has a manual or an automatic transmission. Going on the assumption that by not mentioning any shifting problems, I'll assume you have an automatic. You could have a flexplate or torque converter that the bolts have come loose on. This would be the first thing to check out.
However, if I was going to make a guess, it would be that the bolt that holds the harmonic balancer has come loose and sheared its mounting key. The harmonic balancer has then spun to place the engine in an out-of-balance condition. GM uses a special washer under the bolt, and this bolt should be torqued to 200 lb-ft. Don't drive the truck, and hope that the crankshaft hasn't been damaged.
If the end of the crank at the keyway has been damaged, you may still be able to salvage it. I once bought a small-block Chevy crank that had been damaged the same way. To solve the problem, I had a new keyway cut 180 degrees away from the original, and a matching one cut in the balancer, opposite the original. I had to index it at TDC for the number-one piston and make a new timing mark, but it worked just fine. Yes, the bad news is you have to take the crank out of the engine to do the machine work.
Question: I have an '88 Chevy 3/4-ton that I want to convert to a solid front axle. I've been told that the best axle to use is a front out of a '77-'79 Ford F-250 (Dana 44) if I want to keep using my current six-lug wheels by changing the knuckles. I've checked a few wrecking yards in my area with no luck. However, I have found an '88 Jeep Wagoneer with Selec-Trac, which looks like a Dana 44, six-lug, and full-time four-wheel drive except for springs under the axle. The ring-and-pinion is on the driver side. Would this axle work for my conversion by using a spring-over setup, and would the steering setup work?
Answer: I think that you will find that the Wagoneer axle is a bit on the narrow side, and yes it is a 44. Your truck is not a 3/4-ton if it has six lugs, but a 1/2-ton. OK, maybe Chevy does classify some of its six-lug trucks as a light-duty 3/4-ton but the axle sure in the heck doesn't have the capacity of, say, a full-floating 14-bolt.
I think that I would go with a pre-'88 Chevy solid axle. Yes, you will have to make a lot of steering changes. Be sure to think this conversion over very carefully and have everything completely worked out before you even light that torch.