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The Ford Ranger Dana 28 TTB
Ford Rangers come with a Twin Traction Beam (TTB) front suspension up to 1998. 1998 and newer use a Dana 35 IFS suspension with a centrally located differential. The two (2) TTB axle assemblies used were the Dana 28 and Dana 35. The Dana 28 was the original front axle offered in the 4x4 Ranger and was available until 1990.
Warning - 1993 - 1997 Ford Rangers with a 4-cylinder engine have a Dana 35 with Dana 28 guts and should be avoided.
Note - When the Ranger went to an IFS suspension in 1998, the Dana 35 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.
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.
-Manual hubs- these hubs are readily available from Warn, and with this replacement, you will actually be able to adjust your bearings correctly (not too tight or too loose, which are your only choices with the auto hubs)
-Brakes- many companies make aftermarket rotors that are of far superior strength and quality over the stock rotors. Slotted and cross-drilled are also available.
-Radius arm bushings- urethane are available.
-Steering- Superrunner makes a steering kit that replaces the stock steering. Has virtually equal length arms, to eliminate the bump-steer.
-Bearings- While there is no upgrade available, there is something that people can do to extend the life of their wheel bearings. Bearings in the Dana 35 respond best when run tight. This is due to the fact that they will loosen up as driven (any do), and will then settle at a correct tightness. Too run them loose will cause too much heat to build up, and due to the closeness of them, will cause premature burn-out. For the vehicle that is used hard, I would recommend changing them once a year, just to be safe, as they have a tendency to make very little noise when bad.
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.
Dana 44 TB knuckles, outer shafts, spindles and hubs will exchange with factory Dana 35 parts. You could also use Yukons 4340 outers, or another brand, as well as yukon Super Joints or Ox Joints. The hubs will be 5 on 5.5 wheel pattern.
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.
Lightnin-Motorsports carries brake upgrades for the Ford Ranger.
The easiest way to check to see if your D35, has 28 "Guts", is to pull the plug out from the front. If you can see the main cap, you have the 28 guts. (Sorry!). If you can see the end of the carrier, you have "The Real Thing". If you click on the photos above, you will see a red dot, on the photo that opens. This marks the location of what you will see through the "Plug".
Ranger 'Build of Material' Numbers:
From the above, we can see BOM #s:
Are the D35 "hybrid" axles with the D28 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
(Dana35/28 Hybrid information gathered by Bob at www.mybronco2.com