There are so many choices in this area. Independent versus solid...... different splines....... different differentials....... different gearing. Lucky for me many of these choices were already made. What I started with was a newly rebuilt 8.8 traction lock with 3.55 gears, SN 95 - 28 spline axles - 5 bolt hubs . Here is what happened.
|Axles: The car came with Goodyear Eagle 295's which are as wide as most 315's. I was worried that the rim backspacing was not quite enough to keep the rubber inside the wheel well. I knew I could get another 3/4" on each side by replacing the SN95 axles with Fox axles. So... I installed new Fox axles along with Richard Oben offset brackets. (Picture of SN95 beside Fox axle.) |
Note: Ranger axles are the same length as Fox.
Quad shock brackets: Here you can see the quad shock bracket, original axle caliper mount and lots of rust. SN95 axles have been removed. The plan is to remove the quad shock brackets, replace the caliper brackets with new 3/4" offset brackets, sand blast and spray with epoxy primer and frame matching blue urethane.
|Oben Brackets: Looking much cleaner. New axles, brackets and no more quad shock mounts. |
Oben Brackets: Another view of the new bracket. Note the 3/4" offset in the bracket.
|Rear End: Two Lessons learned.... |
(1) remove the rear end from the car before all the cutting and grinding ..... particularly if you plan to sand blast it anyway. The job will go much easier.
(2) Never use a universal joint with an impact gun.... particularly if you have a beefy 5/8" socket on the end. I knew better but did it anyway to remove one of the LCA bolts. The universal jammed.... the socket snapped off.... bounced off the frame and hit me in the eye socket. (I was wearing safety glasses but not a full face shield). Did I mention that it knocked me on my *(%^ (big time). If you blow up this picture you will see the gash above my left eye. (I went out the next day and purchased a full face shield.)
Rear End: Here you can see the sandblasted rear end (Yes...I put new seals, etc. in). Again 80 grit aluminum oxide blasted really well but I had to use 40/60 silicon carbide to remove the FFR power coat on the 3-link pieces.
|Rear End: Although not noticeable, I welded the 3 link pieces (where practical) and the axle tubes to the case. |
The finished product turned out great. I added a Ford Racing differential cover (with load bolts) for added strength and to give it a great look.
This is the only picture I took that captures the frame color you see with your eyes (I'll have to take some photography lessons some day!) The rear end and LCA's were sprayed with 2 coats of PPG epoxy and 2 coats of PPG urethane.
Looks much better now. It is hard to see but I had to do some significant grinding to get the clearances I needed between the panhard-bar bracket and the 15" passenger side rim.
Final Lesson Learned:
This happened to me while replacing the axles. It is hard to describe the feeling when you hear a "clunk" and see your side-gears on the ground. Once the differential pin is removed never rotate the passenger axle (side-gears might fall out). You can however, rotate the driver axle since it is attached to the ring gear.
The good news is that you can get them back in but it is one of those procedures that is hard to explain. Basic 4-step how to:
1. The S-Spring can move freely once the pin is removed. Make sure that it is centered.
2. For orientation purposes: viewing from the driver side you want to place one of the gears in the 8:00 o'clock position and one in the 2:00 o'clock position. You will note that both gears will just barely enter the housing. (As I recall they were tight enough against the housing opening that I was able to take my hands off (at least one gear).
3. Viewing from the drivers side: gently turn the axle ccw to rotate the gears into the housing. You will feel a small amount of binding but not for long and then ...they slip back in (as easily as they slipped out)!
4. Put the pin back in.