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87 ranger brake upgrades

GilroyRacing

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Trying to get ideas on what all will need to be done brake wise with the ranger.

How well are the front brakes on these trucks?? Are the calipers pretty decent, what are some upgrade options for the front??

We will be using an explorer rear with disc brakes.

What brake booster and master cylinder would be best to use???

Does any one have some links???

Thanks for any and all help!!


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JoshT

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Well normally it'd be a good idea to give more specs on the truck when making a post like this one. Since I'm in a similar situation to you (building first gen v8 and want brake upgrades) I did a little searching and found out what you have.

The stock brakes on a 2wd first gen (83-88 in case you wander) Ranger are just a single piston, pin type caliper, and work okay for a stock First gen Ranger. They might even be fine for a V8 swapped Ranger, people have been doing it for years. Like you though I want to upgrade brakes to go along with the engine.

So with our trucks you are really limited by the front suspension in it's stock form. As I mentioned the pistons are pin type and no other calipers will mount to the spindles in their place. About the only option there is to buy the best pads and rotors you can. That said there are other options but they require a little parts swapping.

For the 89 year model the front suspension design was slightly changed to where the ball joints are in the spindle rather than the beam otherwise they are pretty much the same. This change stayed through 1997, then Rangers changed to SLA suspension in 98. Those 89+ beams will bolt right in place of the 83-88 beams, as long as you also swap in the 89+ spindles and calipers. So now you're wandering why if they stayed the same does it matter (or maybe you're just wishing I'd get to the point) that they can be swapped. Well in 95 there was another change to the suspension design, or more precisely the spindles in brakes. The 95-97 were redesigned to hold bolt-on dual piston calipers, which is a major upgrade to the prior single piston calipers. The good news is that because they still use the same beam as all the 89+ Rangers they'll still bolt on to the first gen Rangers.

Quick rundown:
Option 1:
  • Stock Single Piston calipers
  • Good Pads
  • Good Rotors

Option 2:
  • 89-97 I-Beam swap
  • 95-97 Spindle swap
  • 95-97 Dual Piston calipers
  • Good Pads
  • Good Rotors

If you decide on option 2 that will probably be enough to satisfy your need for better brakes, but that set-up potentially opens the door to bigger options if you decide you need/want them.

Personally I'm going with Option 2, plus a few upgrades. FWIW I'm building a '86 regular cab, short bed. It's going to have the drive train and EFI system out of a '98 5.0L Explorer, with later plans to turn it into a 331 stroker. While it's going together it'll be getting 3" drop beams, Explorer disk brake rear axle (axle over), along with 12" sport trac front disks (one of those bigger options).
 

GilroyRacing

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Do you mind going into more details about the larger 12" brakes or into more detail about the upgrades that you plan to do with yours?

We are going to be building a 347, looking to run low 11s to high 10s.

The only thing I'm kinda worried about with the 12" rotors is clearance issues with the front wheels.

I know on my 91 mustang, we swapped on 94-95 mustang spindles/rotors and used 99 GT dual piston calipers..... I had clearance issues with the 3.5" skinny wheels hitting the calipers.


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JoshT

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Lets see. In I want to say 04 the Explorer Sport Trac moved up to a 12" rotor. The spindle on the sport track is the same as on all 2wd Rangers as such the rotor will slide right on like it was made for it. Other than the larger rotor this upgrade uses the stock components on any 95-97 Ranger. Catch is that you have to space your caliper out away from the knuckle enough to clear the larger. Only way to do that is to make a bracket that goes between the caliper bracket and the knuckle. That's why you have to have the later model knuckles. There's a member over on Ranger Power Sports (RPS) that makes (or made) these brackets, can't tell you if he's still got any available. Looks like they would be fairly easy to make if you can weld really good and have the patience to do the measuring required. I have neither so I bought a set from him a few months back. As for your wheel clearing the caliper that's on you. Have to make sure you get the proper offset/backspacing to clear it. A 16" wheel is recommended for this upgrade, some 15" wheels may fit but not all will. FWIW the brackets cost $130 when I bought them.

The difference between stock and 12":


This is what the brackets look like. (click the pic for larger)



The other upgrade is to 13" Mustang Cobra brakes. This one is a kit made by another member over on RPS. Big difference is it uses both the cobra rotor and caliper. The Cobra rotor is made to slip over the studs on a hub (like most Mustangs I guess), rather than mount directly to a spindle like the 2wd Rangers. To adapt these the guy takes a brand new Ranger rotor and machines off the braking surface, leaving just the hat to make a hub for the mustang rotor. He also machines off a little on the back side of the rotor so the track width will remain stock. You mount this hub to the spindle just like you would a stock rotor, and slide on the cobra rotor on over it. He also machines a bracket out of 6061 T6 billet aluminum to mount the cobra caliper. There are varying opinions about which of these two kits are better. The big advantage to this kit is that if those big 13" cobra brakes aren't enough you can also install any aftermarket big brake kit or calipers made for that car. There are a few disadvantages as well, including wheel size, price and availability. First off the 13" brakes require a 17" wheel like, the other option a 16" may fit but most won't, and if you go to one of the after market options with this kit then you you have to go even larger on the wheels. The price is the biggest issue though, they are $425 for the kit. That's just the hubs and brackets, the rotors, calipers, etc. are not included. There is also availability to contend with. They will only be made in sets of 10, and a $225 deposit is required prior to production, as you can imagine it is difficult to get 10 people who want them and are willing to put that up front. There's currently a group buy on going for these, sitting at 8 participants myself included. Hoping it will reach 10 by the end of the year.

As I mentioned in my previous reply to use either of these requires the following parts to also be swapped onto your truck.
  • 89-97 I-beams
  • 95-97 Knuckles
  • 95-97 Calipers (12" upgrade only)

As for my truck. It's currently torn apart and I've already installed the newer beams and knuckles. I am doing the 12" brakes on the front, and Explorer disk rear axle. I'll also be swapping the master cylinder out of my 98 Explorer V8 donor, not sure if there's any difference from my stock 86 Ranger one but it had a busted reservoir. I'm also going to attempt to retrofit the 4WABS system from the Explorer into the Ranger but that's just a personal challenge, if it don't work I'll do away with it and go non-ABS which the Ranger already is. I'm going to stick with that set-up for a while.

I'm also attempting to buy the 13" brake kit and the plans are to after I have the Stroker and TKO combo in the truck (few years down the road) to do the swap over to them. Will not install them right now because obviously I don't have the kit yet, and it'll allow me time to collect the parts to do the swap to mustang brakes on both front and rear rather than drop thousands on it at once. By then I should have decided on a set of 17" wheels I like, or if I decide to stick with 16" wheels and the 12" brakes I can sell all of it back off probably for what I paid for it. FWIW this is going to be a street truck not a strip truck, and plans are to after the Stroker is in and running good to make the move to forced induction (remote twin turbo). It'll be a rather light truck with way too much power built to handle turns a stop well. Will all of it come to reality, probably not but a guy can dream and scheme right.
 

GilroyRacing

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Thanks for the reply I really appreciate it! I think I'm going to go with the newer beam and dual piston calipers.


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onelif2live85

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So this is a really old thread. But, I have an 86 4x4 my understanding is the dual piston calipers came in 95-97 years. Which were also dana 35s. I have a dana 28 and want to upgrade to a 35 and better brakes. Will the 95-97 ttb front end swap over? Can I just swap the entire ttb setup? Hopefully someone sees this, thanks!
 

twoll86

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So this is a really old thread. But, I have an 86 4x4 my understanding is the dual piston calipers came in 95-97 years. Which were also dana 35s. I have a dana 28 and want to upgrade to a 35 and better brakes. Will the 95-97 ttb front end swap over? Can I just swap the entire ttb setup? Hopefully someone sees this, thanks!
Yes i have done the swap on a B2 it worked great!
 

SenorNoob

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For the Dana 35 swap:

Don't forget about the difference in "pinion depth"?. It means you end up needing a shorter drive-shaft. I used a front drive-shaft from an FM145 truck. If you're lifted 3" or more you "should" be fine with the stock parts.
 

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