Chico4554’s Dana 44 Ranger Build

By Jim Oaks:

I came across Josh’s (chico4554) 1993 Ford Ranger 4×4 in the forums as it was going through a Dana 44 swap from an early Ford Bronco.

Josh got tired of wondering when his Dana 35 TTB front axle was going to break with the 36-inch tires and decided a solid axle swap was in order.

Here you can see where Josh removed the Dana 35 and is uhhhh……pointing it out for us in this photo.

Josh’s axle of choice was a Dana 44 from a 1973 Ford Bronco. A lot of Ranger enthusiasts like these axles because their widths are close to the Rangers stock axle width and use a similar coil spring/radius arm setup. Some may like the stability of the full width axles, but having the tires stick out so wide may not be legal in your state.

The early Bronco Dana 44 isn’t an exact match when it comes to the coil mount widths. Josh measured to the center of the coil bucket mounts on the frame and on the axle. On the frame he found that the width was 35-5/8-inches while on the axle they were 37-3/4-inches. That’s about a 2-inch difference which split on each side would mean the coils sit in towards the frame 1-inch on both sides.

This wasn’t a cheap build where he threw in a stock Dana 44 to say he had a solid axle swap and called it quits. Josh set out to do this right.

As you may know, these early Dana 44’s come with drum brakes and small u-joints. Josh upgraded this axle with new axles from a full width Dana 44 to get the larger 760-X u-joints. Josh didn’t shorten the axle on the long side, instead he got a replacement from www.broncograveyard.com.

In order to convert the axle to disk brakes, Josh got a 1978 Dana 44 and took off everything from the knuckle out. Since the Dana 44 has a 5×5.5 bolt pattern, Josh added 5×5.5 adapters to the rear 8.8 to convert it from the stock 5×4.5 to 5×5.5 so he would have the same bolt pattern all the way around.

The 5.13 gears are Yukon’s and the rear has a Detroit Locker with a No-Slip in the front. Both lockers were purchased used. The gears were set up by RWARanger (forum user).

To mount the radius arms, Josh used the rear hole in 1978-1979 radius arm brackets and lined it up with the bottom frame hole from the transmission cross member. Using those holes as a guide, the rest of the holes can be drilled.

Josh used 3.5-inch BC Bronco coils from www.bcbroncos.com. They are linear rate coils and are supposed to give good flex. The upper shock mounts were cut out of the stock coil spring bucket and the buckets were reboxed. F-250 shock mounts were then installed.

The transmission cross member was made by ZainyD (forum user). Josh took ZainyD’s advise to use a new transmission cross member to keep from bending the frame at the radius arm mounts due to flex.

The new cross member is made from 2″x2″ 5/16″ wall square tubing with 1/4″ flat plate on the ends and for the transmission mount.

Josh got the steering from www.partsmike.com. All you need to do is get accurate measurements from the holes on the knuckle-arms, making sure they are as straight forward as possible, then get a measurement from the pitman arm to the passenger side knuckle-arm hole. Call up parts mike and tell them the measurements. Its a really good price, less than new stock steering from broncograveyard and you get 1-ton tie rod ends with thick tubing. Josh used a trac-bar mount from www.broncograveyard.com and modified it.

Josh had to ream the pitman arm because of the taper on the 1-ton tie rod end. The steering kit from parts mike requires a tapered reamer. He used the X-Kut Reamer from www.xkut-reamers.com. The taper you need is 1.5-inch per foot.

To see more pics of this Ranger, visit his cardomain page HERE.