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4wd conversion endeavor

Byronator

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Originally Posted by Byronator
Now how will this (TTB) fit with my frame?



Well, the illustrious Jim Oaks asked the same question (although his technically was has anyone done it).

As Adms08 says - for TTB, it is probably easier to swap a pre-'98 frame, front axle & steering than to adapt the '98+ frame. You would just need to do something about the 3" wheelbase difference, assuming this is the regular cab you have in your signature.

Course for just needing 4wd for occasional bad weather day, SLA is the way to go, IMHO. And for that, I would find another '98+ Ranger 4x4 (with same engine) and work from there. This assume you have to much invested in body/engine/sentimental value to walk away from your current truck.

As Denise says, the only reason to modify is when Ford didn't offer it:

Ford didn't offer 5.0 which is why I did the swap myself.
Ford didn't offer long bed on SuperCab, which is again, why I did the mod myself.
And I might do the TTB frame under my truck, because, I want to keep the 4dr cab, and 4dr SuperCab long box was never offered by Ford. (My daughter wants me to restore a '51 F-1 off the farm for her, which might take precedence..)

Note:
I have the tools and like to think I have the skill, but in hip pocket, I have a running 2nd vehicle. :D
Your point with the SLA was my same thinking. Same model truck. But apparently the difference in frames is too much.
 


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Here's the thing guys! I propose what I am thinking and I get a suggestion from someone to do a certain thing, I think about it, ask a question about that suggestion, and then that idea gets shot down. I need better answers than "that wont work" or "just do this instead"
If that's the case please tell me why that's the way it is or why it won't work with some info and facts. I know a lot of this stuff you are already telling me. I was hoping to find better info.

I'd like to use the SLA that was used on my model ranger. I know the frame is different on my 2wd. But surely there is a way to make it work.
 

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The big crossmember that your engine sits on and the axle pivot brackets are riveted to? That is different.

You have to pull your powertrain, pull the powertrain out of the donor, cut the crossmember out of the 4x4 truck and bolt/weld it into the 2wd truck. And then reinstall your powertrain. It is a rather large PITA.

No idea on the SLA but I would wager it is a even bigger PITA.
 

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Here's the thing guys! I propose what I am thinking and I get a suggestion from someone to do a certain thing, I think about it, ask a question about that suggestion, and then that idea gets shot down. I need better answers than "that wont work" or "just do this instead"
If that's the case please tell me why that's the way it is or why it won't work with some info and facts. I know a lot of this stuff you are already telling me. I was hoping to find better info.

I'd like to use the SLA that was used on my model ranger. I know the frame is different on my 2wd. But surely there is a way to make it work.
I shouldn't speak for everyone, but I bet a lot of us are reading it like this,

Asking a question as open-ended as the ones you ask are akin to asking "I have a old beer keg, what do I have to do to turn it into a wheel?" I doubt it was the intent but, it seems there are some assumptions that frames or other parts are at least somewhat similar. Like that since the keg is round it's most of the way to being a wheel.

With some VERY few exceptions on some models (Edge? Which was a 4wd frame with the 4x4 stuff removed IIRC) and just a handful of models and years, there difference is everything. Literally everything is different. It might as well be swapping into a S-10, or a Dakota, or a Crown Vic, etc... They're just not the same at all, nothing will bolt up.

Is there a way to make it work? always. But a lot of conversions like that either:

Buy a different truck and/or swap drivetrains
Frame swap
Solid axle swap
Chop the front of the old frame off and weld the new one on
Full custom - where they chop the front of the frame off and either build a fresh box section or tube it.

The latter is advanced stuff and if you have any hope of completing the project, let alone functional and SAFE, you need to have a plan, and there's going to be problems that you're the one who's going to need to solve it based on your measurements and creative prowess.

I hope I don't come across as being a jerk, but there is a reason you generally don't see these kinds of projects. The alternatives are easier and/or once they get into them, THEN they realize how big that can of worms was and it never sees the light of day again. Even aside from the $$$ amount of equipment to make such a thing work, benders, welders, etc.

Just understand that there is only so much we can do to help, and can't figure out the project for you. When it comes to highly custom stuff like this, you're going to have to get out that measuring tape yourself and start crawling around the salvage yards and making templates.
 
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adsm08

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Here's the thing guys! I propose what I am thinking and I get a suggestion from someone to do a certain thing, I think about it, ask a question about that suggestion, and then that idea gets shot down. I need better answers than "that wont work" or "just do this instead"
If that's the case please tell me why that's the way it is or why it won't work with some info and facts. I know a lot of this stuff you are already telling me. I was hoping to find better info.

I'd like to use the SLA that was used on my model ranger. I know the frame is different on my 2wd.
Ok, I cannot offer a lot of super-specific advice on this as I have worked on a number of 4x4 Rangers in the year range you are working with, but just this week got into my first non-Edge 2wd one. Now that I have a little better idea what they look like underneath I can offer a little more insight. It was a 99 just like yours.


Go look under the front of your truck. Find the big blocky cross member that your lower control arms attach to.

That piece occupies 95% of the space the front axle would sit in. You will have to remove it to put the axle where it needs to be, not just take it out, install axle, reinstall block. It can't be there at all.

Now you removed the mountings for your lower control arms. You gotta build new ones and find a place to put them. That means either using the forward section of a 4x4 frame, or custom building it from scratch.

Also, your frame doesn't have the mounting points for the axle. More stuff to cut, measure, weld and re-weld.



Look, I have done a 2wd to 4x4 frame conversion on a TTB truck. For all the trouble I went to I should have left it be a 2wd because after all the work I put in I won't take it out when there is salt or brine on the roads anymore anyway.

85's description of the work involved is incomplete, and most people consider it too much trouble, but it is MUCH less involved than what you are proposing because at least the frame rails are the same and all the correct holes are there already. That can't be said of the SLA frames.



It's not that we don't want you to do this. I am all for you getting your truck to be a 4x4, go do it man. But you come in asking "what has to be done", we tell you the best, most efficient way to do it, and your response is "I don't want to do it that way". Nobody that I know of has converted a 2wd SLA frame to 4x4. I have no idea what other pitfalls you might run into. I want to see this thing succeed, but that isn't going to happen if you insist on taking the harder route, get in over your head after the point of no return, and give up.



But surely there is a way to make it work.
We have already given you this answer and you rejected it out of hand.
 

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85's description of the work involved is incomplete, and most people consider it too much trouble, but it is MUCH less involved than what you are proposing because at least the frame rails are the same and all the correct holes are there already. That can't be said of the SLA frames.
What did I miss for future reference?

You ought to make a tech article on this so we could just drop the link and let it explain itself. :icon_idea:
 

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First off let me thank everyone for their advice!
Especially this time around.

I knew that my last post would not sit great with everyone. Like, I guess it seems I am just complaining about the answers I get. But no one replied in a bad way to it and I appreciate the input.

Now I have decided I want to do a frame swap. I will look around for one that works well.
 

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What did I miss for future reference?

You ought to make a tech article on this so we could just drop the link and let it explain itself. :icon_idea:
The engine must be removed. The front axle should be removed, but probably isn't 100% needed. Same with the cab, or at least the front clip (I've done removed the cross member both ways, guess which I prefer).

Now we get into the fun stuff.

The engine cross member is not only riveted to the frame, it is welded inside the channel as well. There are 6 welds and, IIRC 8 rivets, holding it in. There is a weld at the fore, top and aft of each side that must be cut out. There are rivets top and bottom as well, the bottom ones being shared with the coil buckets, which do no need to be removed, but if you have a hole behind one, which is common on the passenger side, this is the time to fix it.

But the best part is on the driver's side. The Rangers have a reinforcing bracket that I never noticed on an F-series, but then I never noticed this one either until I had to take it off. It sits on the in-board side of the frame and goes around the outside of the rails, and is welded on, about 18" long welds top and bottom. It must be removed because it blocks access to two of the welds that hold the engine cross member to the driver's side rail.



Now I know I said most people consider this to be more work than it is worth, and it is a lot of work, but I think I first saw that characterization from from AllanD. With my tool set (air grinder, torch, and pry-bar with striking cap), having already tore down my 2wd donor frame for sanding and painting, I was able to go from driving the 4x4 truck into the garage under it's own power to having that cross member out and the husk of the truck (because that's what it is by that point) back out next to the garage in a little under 3.5 hours.
 

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First off let me thank everyone for their advice!
Especially this time around.

I knew that my last post would not sit great with everyone. Like, I guess it seems I am just complaining about the answers I get. But no one replied in a bad way to it and I appreciate the input.

Now I have decided I want to do a frame swap. I will look around for one that works well.
I'm glad you've seen the light. Like I said, I did an enourmous amount of work, pouring many more many hours than it was worth into restoring a truck that had a lot of sentimental value, that is now less than 90% the same truck I started with, so I know how this goes, and I want to see you succeed.

You will a 98 or up frame with the same cab configuration as your current truck. Matching bed length is less important as in 98 the rear of the frame became modular and so if you end up with the wrong bed length you can cut out a few rivets from both frames and use the rear portion of your existing one to get the correct bed length/wheel base.
 

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The engine must be removed. The front axle should be removed, but probably isn't 100% needed. Same with the cab, or at least the front clip (I've done removed the cross member both ways, guess which I prefer).

Now we get into the fun stuff.

The engine cross member is not only riveted to the frame, it is welded inside the channel as well. There are 6 welds and, IIRC 8 rivets, holding it in. There is a weld at the fore, top and aft of each side that must be cut out. There are rivets top and bottom as well, the bottom ones being shared with the coil buckets, which do no need to be removed, but if you have a hole behind one, which is common on the passenger side, this is the time to fix it.

But the best part is on the driver's side. The Rangers have a reinforcing bracket that I never noticed on an F-series, but then I never noticed this one either until I had to take it off. It sits on the in-board side of the frame and goes around the outside of the rails, and is welded on, about 18" long welds top and bottom. It must be removed because it blocks access to two of the welds that hold the engine cross member to the driver's side rail.



Now I know I said most people consider this to be more work than it is worth, and it is a lot of work, but I think I first saw that characterization from from AllanD. With my tool set (air grinder, torch, and pry-bar with striking cap), having already tore down my 2wd donor frame for sanding and painting, I was able to go from driving the 4x4 truck into the garage under it's own power to having that cross member out and the husk of the truck (because that's what it is by that point) back out next to the garage in a little under 3.5 hours.
I'm glad I found a similar '97 donor for mine. I only had to patch a small hole by the gas tank where a brake line had rotted out and ate away at the bottom rail. I just cleaned mine up (the rest was hardly rusty at all) sealed the rust and bedlined it. I intend on driving mine, maybe in however many years I'll "restore" it, as it will be a classic at that point. But really being in the heart of the rust belt, no matter what you do, it'll return from whence it came.

I was just thinking a couple weeks ago I should start a thread on it. I'll hopefully have a 4wd related Tech Article to add shortly here too if everything goes back together like I think it will.
 

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I'm glad I found a similar '97 donor for mine. I only had to patch a small hole by the gas tank where a brake line had rotted out and ate away at the bottom rail. I just cleaned mine up (the rest was hardly rusty at all) sealed the rust and bedlined it. I intend on driving mine, maybe in however many years I'll "restore" it, as it will be a classic at that point. But really being in the heart of the rust belt, no matter what you do, it'll return from whence it came.

I was just thinking a couple weeks ago I should start a thread on it. I'll hopefully have a 4wd related Tech Article to add shortly here too if everything goes back together like I think it will.
I looked long and hard, for two years. Looked here, looked there, looked in Georgia, and all I found in supercabs was either too expensive, too new, too rotten, or two wheel drive. I eventually settled on a very nice, nearly rust free 2wd in my home town, that I bought, towed 45 home to where I was living, got running, drove for a month, and then ended up moving back and now live less than 3 miles from the guy I bought it from.
 

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So anything after 98? I was going to look for 98-01.
 

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So anything after 98? I was going to look for 98-01.
Pretty much. 98 to 01 is going to be the easiest. Going later may or may not require using the front bumper that matches that frame, which in turn may or may not result in a slight mismatch between bumper and body.
 

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First off let me thank everyone for their advice!
Especially this time around.

Now I have decided I want to do a frame swap. I will look around for one that works well.
You're not the 1st and won't be the last not to like bad news.

So, some assistance in your search:

Terms RC - Regular Cab, SC - SuperCab, SB -short bed and LB - Long Bed

Frame:
The '98+ frame is modular; it split front and rear just behind the cab. There are 16 rivets holding the 2 pieces together.

Ford made 6 front sections - 3 coil sprung (RCSB, RCLB and SCSB), and 3 torsion bar (RCSB, RCLB and SCSB). The difference between the RCSB and RCSB is the frame rails are 6" longer on the LB frame. The difference between an Edge (2wd with Torsion bars and 4WD), is a bracket to mount the front axle to. The LB front frame can easily be shortened to SB length (few minutes with sawzall, drill) Then you would need 8 - 1/2" bolts and 8 - 7/16" bolts to reconnect a SB rear section. Getting the bracket from a 4wd and welding into Edge frame is next level more involve (no longer strictly bolt up). Extending a SC or SB frame for a LB is more involved - you need to weld on a 6" extension (and some "fish plates" to ensure strength).

and 2 rear sections: LB and SB. The LB being 6" longer behind the rear wheels.

Short answer: Any year from 1998-2011 Ranger 4x4 or Edge RC frame can be used as starting point for 4x4. Technically, you only need the front 1/2. If you get an Edge, you will need front spindles.

Front Axle:
Ideally, you get one with same ratio as the rear, otherwise, you need a matching rear.
'98 - mid '00 have vacuum hubs for which you would either a. have to plumb in all the associated vacuum controls or b. convert to manual locking.
mid' '00 - '11 and Explorer '96-'01 have full time hubs.

Aside: Edge + V-8 Explorer = all parts to make 5.0 Ranger 4x4.

Note: '04+ and Explorer spindles have larger brakes. (12.0" vs 11.26")

Rear Axle:
9 chances out of 10 your will want the lift blocks and u-bolts off a 4x4. You can lower the front to run without, but rarely do people do that.

Transmission/Transfer Case:
I'm a wimp, getting transmission/transfer case out of 4x4 as combination is the easy solution. Ideally you are matching manual with manual or auto with Auto.

You can pull the rear housing/output shaft from an existing 4x4 transmission to mate up with transfer case, but for an automatic I would only do that if I was rebuilding the transmission as you start from the front to get to the output shafts.

Transfer case - >90% of what you find will be electronic shift. A manual shift is sooo much easier. Get the wiring in either case.

Cab:
If you get electronic shift transfer case and want it to shift from dash, you will need to rewire the dash to install the 4x4 GEMS. At this point you basically HAVE 2 HAVE a '99-'00 dash to work from, with same engine, same transmission, same drive, same options - e.g. a/c, power window, etc.

I've probably missed a couple, but those are the highlights.

I've restored 10 damaged '98 -'00 Rangers to working condition (out of 12 + 2 Explorers); 6 are still in extended family hands. Closest to what you are doing that I have done is the Edge to 4x4 + V-8.

I've assisted with SAS of coil Ranger - but that truck wound up lifted 8"+ to get clearance/larger tires, and wasn't exactly as daily driver after - fun truck though.
 

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I'm exhausted just reading about the amount of work it takes! Can your present truck be that priceless that you can't make the next just as good?

I understand how we get attached to our vehicles I ended a 30-year love affair with a Pontiac underdog about 2 years ago.
 

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