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Dana 28 / Dana 35 TTB Specifications
Ford Rangers appeared with a reverse cut Dana 28 TTB (Twin Traction Beam) 4WD front axle in 1983. The Dana 28 was replaced in 1990 with the Dana 35 TTB as Ford introduced the 4.0L engine to replace the 2.9L. The Dana 28 didn't completely go away though. A version of it found its way in to the 1990 - 1997 Ford Aerostar AWD mini-vans. It also found it's way back in to the 4-cylinder (and some 3.0L V6) Ford Rangers from 1993 - 1997. The 1993 - 1997 Rangers can be deceiving. Some owners believe because they have a 1990 or newer Ranger that they have a Dana 35. Although their 1993 - 1997 4-cylinder Ranger may look like it has a Dana 35, it's really a Dana 35 housing using Dana 28 components.
In 1998 the Ford Ranger went to a Dana 35 IFS front axle. The Dana 35 IFS switched from a reverse rotation gear to standard rotation gear. The gears in a 1997 and older Ranger/Explorer will not work in the 1998 and newer Rangers.
The below photos show the visual differences between the Dana 28 and Dana 35.
Your front axle may have a code stamped on the left carrier arm between the fill plug and axle end. It will look like 'F17A' or similar. What this code represents is;
Since the Dana 28's were built in the 1980's, their code will start with an 'E' where as the Dana 35's were built in the 1990's and will start with an 'F'. The above mentioned code would indicate that the axle was a Ranger axle built in 1991.
There is a manufacturers label on the back side of the right axle beam that lists the year manufactured and gear ratio.
If you look at the top left of this sticker, you can see 610366 which identifies this as a:
610366 FORD 35 FRONT 1990 1/2-92 1/2 EXPLORER
The second box from top right identifies it as having 3.73 gears.
These stickers are on the back side of the passenger side axle beam.
Here is a picture of a Dana 28 & Dana 35 driver side axle shaft with the dimensions shown.
Here's a picture of a Dana 28 and Dana 35 spindle with dimensions shown.
In the above (2) photos on the left it shows a Dana 35 hybrid that houses the Dana 28 carrier/gears. Note that the housing has a smooth surface. In the (2) photo's on the right you'll see a true Dana 35 differential. Note how the case in the far right photo is ribbed for strength.
The easiest way to check to see if your Dana 35, has Dana 28 "Guts", is to pull the fill plug out from the front. If you can see the main cap, you have the Dana 28 guts (Sorry!). If you can see the end of the carrier, you have "The Real Thing". If you click on the photos above of the carriers internals you'll see a red dot. This marks the location of what you will see through the "Plug".
Ranger 4WD Front Axle 'Build of Material' Numbers:
From the above, we can see BOM #s:
Are the Dana 35 "hybrid" axles with the Dana 28 guts.
This number can be found at the top-left of the label located on the backside of the passenger side axle beam. For SLA axles, it will be on the passenger side axle tube
If you have the Dana 28 there isn't much available to upgrade your axle. Powertrax makes the Lock-Rite locker for the Dana 28 and Precision Gear makes gears up to a 4.56 ratio.
If you have the Dana 35, you have a few more options:
Manual Hubs - You can upgrade to a set of Warn manual Jeep hubs for the Dana 35. Click HERE for more info.
C-Clip Eliminator - The c-clip that holds the axle in the passenger side of the differential can be eliminated (required for some lockers, and also makes shaft replacement on the trail much easier). Click HERE for more info.
Dana 44 Knuckle Swap - This swap involves replace the Dana 35 steering knuckles with knuckles from a Dana 44 and using the bigger brakes, hubs, etc. The main key thing here is the axle benefits of the 35/44 hybrid. You'll have ˝ ton outers meaning you have better hubs, wheel bearing spacing and larger rotors and calipers then on the Dana 35. Shaft wise you have a stronger shaft assemble then a Dana 44. The only shaft of a 35 that has a smaller diameter then that of the neck on Dana 44 shafts is the stub shaft. By running Dana 44 stubs you eliminate this. Granted the Dana 35 shafts taper down to 27 spline that goes into the side gears but this minor diameter is still greater then that of the neck on a Dana 44. And as we all know a chain is only as strong as the weakest link, the weak link of a Dana 44 being the neck. To see how to do this swap click HERE. The hubs will be a 5 on 5.5 wheel pattern which means you'll need adapters for the rear axle so you have the same wheel bolt pattern on all (4) wheels.
Steering Upgrades - Superlift makes a Superrunner steering kit that replaces the stock steering. It has virtually equal length arms to eliminate the bumpsteer.
30 Spline Axles - PowerTrax has developed a special Lock-Rite locker, available only from Superior Axle & Gear (888-522-2953) for the rear Dana 35 that installs in the stock Ranger Dana 35 carrier and accepts a 30-spline axle. Detroit Locker also offers a 30-spline locker for the rear Dana 35. They were originally designed as an upgrade for the Jeep Dana 35-C rear axle to accept Superior Axles 30-spline axle kit. The Dana 44 TTB has 30-spline inner axle shafts that will fit in this locker. The shafts are too long and will need to be cut down. Currie Enterprises (714-528-6957) can do this and says that the axle housing may need machined to accept larger differential seals. The Dana 44 TTB uses a different outer Knuckle and brake design and it's outer stub axles can't be used. You will need to use the stub axles from a 1991 and up 4.0-Liter Explorer which has the same U-Joints as the Dana 44. This will allow the use of the factory knuckles, brakes, and locking hubs. The larger axle shafts will give you a 30% increase in strength.
ARB now offers P/N RD105 and Detroit Locker offers P/N 162C66A 30-spline lockers for Dana 35's.
U-Joint Snap Ring Upgrade - Click HERE to see an article on a snap ring upgrade.
Skid Plate - DynaTrac (714-898-5228) manufactures a skid plate that bolts on to the Ranger TTB front axle using the factory carrier bolts. It's designed to protect the axle from impacts without losing ground clearance.
Replacement Shafts - Jeff Bronco Graveyard carries replacement axle shafts for the Dana 35 HERE.
Things To Watch:
Bearings - Ranger TTB axles are known for bearing problems (particularly when using wide-offset wheels). You should keep a close watch on your wheel bearings to make sure they haven't loosened up or become damaged from overheating. If you wheel your Ranger and carry spare parts you'll probably want to carry a spare hub and wheel bearings. The stock hubs are prone to break from hard wheeling and the wheel bearings could go out on you somewhere between the trail and home due to debris, heat and working their way loose. Loosening of the bearings can be minimized by torquing the outer bearing locknut to 225 ft-lbs instead of the book spec of 150.
TTB Axle beams - A few cases of cracked beams have been reported right at the end of the welds on the backside of the passengerside beam with prolonged hard offroad use. If you use your truck hard (such as rockcrawling), some reinforcement in this area (I.E., boxing up the open backside of the beam) can improve it's durability here. Also, NEVER run with a missing pinch bolt behind the radius arm on the driverside axle beam. Cracking of the beam around the lower radius arm bolt hole can result if you do.