'99 to Live Axle Swap: Noob Advice?


RangerJoey

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Hello,
I'm getting prepared for a full front suspension overhaul and in the process, converting from a locking hub system to a front live axle. I've read this article in the tech section but still have some questions.

First, I've picked up new upper control arms, lower control arms, inner tie rods (with new boots), outer tie rods, struts, end links, and strut bar bushings. I got some grease and an inner tie rod tool, (from Harbor Freight). Now I'm looking to the specific components needed for the axle swap. The article said from a '95-'01 Explorer, but was that written before the Rangers switched? I'm basically trying to see what OEM part numbers I'll need. I know I need a left & right front axle shafts new axle nutes, and wheel hubs. The axles don't intimidate me, but I've never done a hub before. Is there any special tool I need to get these things off the knuckle and press the new hubs in? It looks like it's just 2 bolts and some prying. I just don't want to oversimplify.

And finally, the torsion bars. I wasn't going to do any big coil swap and I've picked up the struts, but how do I remove these? The jaw tool is crazy expensive and I've read horror tails about the more generic jaw pullers. What's the "bottle" method or something?

Thanks for any advice in advance - and please feel free to talk down to me. I've never done this before and want to make sure I'm getting as much info as possible!
 


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The torsion bars someone else will need to chime in about, but for the axles & hubs, you do need '95-'01 Explorer parts, or parts from a '01 or later Ranger (the last half of '00 Ranger production might also have what you need as well, the switch to live spindles was made mid-way through that year).

The bearing hub should have three bolts holding it to the knuckle.
 

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When I did the torsion bars on my 95 Explorer:

I set the frame on tall jack stands. I lowered the lower control arms down until they pointed straight down. At that point there was no tension on them... just knock the old torsion bars out.
 

don4331

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Specific on the parts:
'95-'01 Explorer 5 door​
'95-'03 Explorer 3 door aka Sport​
'01-'05 Explorer Sport Trac​
'97-01 Mountaineer​
'00½-'11 Ranger​

Just as side note: If pulling axles from wrecker - knuckles for '04 & up Rangers* have holes drilled for 12" rotors, while your '99 has 11.26" brakes.
'course the 12" rotor requires 16" rims, which may/may not be issue.​
*I know at some point Explorers changed too as wife's '02 Explorer Sport has 12" rotors - so, she can't steal my 33s on 15" rims. All Sport Tracs have 12" rotors.

Also, there is a CAD PVH axle Explorer in '95-96 to watch out for.
 

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Thanks guys - this is great! I think the torsion thing scares me a bit and I don't want to work on a car "scared", but that sounds simple. (Famous last words of mine).

As for the bearing and hubs, is it really just one unit that bolts to the knuckle or do I need to press them or something? I have a '06 Explorer with bad rear hubs and was told I need to take it to a machine shop to have it pressed out. Never did this level of suspension work before and the downside to getting your hands on a lot of information is getting your hands on a lot of information.
 

don4331

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For the hub in newer knuckle, you have a 32mm nut on the axle, then the 3 bolts. Personally, I loosen them about 3 turns, then tap them to free the hub. then I can finish removing the bolts and the hub will drop out.

Reassembly is pretty much the reverse.

Torsion isn't that scarey when the adjusters are backed right off, frame is on jack stands and the suspension is at full droop. I have my floor jack under the lower ball joint on the a-arm when I separate the upper ball joint. Then lower the jack until torsion bar is completely released. Then you can pull the torsion bars.

Re-assembly is the reverse, reinstall torsion bar, use floor jack to lift to point where you can reinstall the upper ball joint (remembering to thread the axle through the knuckle).

Really pretty easy and safe.
 

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Thanks don, (and sorry for the MIA). Stupid question, but I jacked up the front of the truck for the first time to flush the power steering and noticed when I jack the center of the front crossmember, my jack takes up too much room to put the actual jack stands under the crossmember. For the flush, it wasn't a big deal and I just left it on the jack, but where are you putting the jacks to the frame? At 2:12 of 1A Auto's video, it looks like they're using the torsion bar plates. But wouldn't I need to remove them in order to yank them out of the lower control arms?
 

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no way in hell would I put the stands under the torsion bar plates. that's a flat surface with nothing to prevent the stand from popping out while jerking on a stubborn bolt.
I always put the stands under the frame rail with the raised ends on either side of the frame.
for the rear I jack by the shock mounts.
 

RangerJoey

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Thanks! I'm super comfortable about the rear, but the front - which should be straightforward - has me concerned. When you say frame rail, can I ask where? The torsion bars seems to block the side rails.
 

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on the front I put the stands right in front of the torsion bar plates, close to the cab support bracket. my stands all clear the bars there.

they did something else in that video I frown upon.
when the jack lifts it swings in an arc. a high lift needs something to move forward/backward a couple of inches.
if you already have the rear secured, and the jack's wheels don't like to roll on your uneven driveway, the jack may slip on the frame.
 

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Thanks for all the advice! I think I just need to jump in and go to town on this already. I'm set to order some parts and was just checking over RockAuto. I expanded a 2001 4WD Ranger & a 1999 4WD Explorer. The hub part numbers are consistently different. And I mean across all brands from Motorcraft, Timken, SKF, & Moog. I want to go with those under the Ranger for obvious reasons, but when these swaps were first appearing, it seems folks had a lot of success with that generation Explorer. Can anyone shed some light on this? And appreciate all the help!
 

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I went to Timken's page - http://www.showmetheparts.com/timken/ And there does indeed appear to be some differences:

The critical dimension "H" (bolt circle diameter for the bearing mount to the knuckle) on the attribute page shows 4.75" for the Explorer (Timken part SP450200) and for '04-'09 Rangers (Timken part SP450202), but 5.23" for the '01-04 (Timken part SP450201) and '10-11 (Timken part (SP450204)....who knew... So, you would want get the bearing which match your knuckles! There is enough difference that a quick measure with tape would confirm which bolt pattern your knuckle has.

Note: All the rest of the dimensions are within 0.010", which is probably why putting '04 bearings into my '99 Explorer knuckles wasn't an issue*. There are difference. *Exception is the length of the ABS wires as the Explorer routes slightly different from Ranger but that isn't show stopper as there is lots of length, even with suspension lift.

A lot of us did the Explorer knuckles/hubs/shafts as part of the 5.0 conversion as all the parts were right there.

Learned something new today Joey, thx.
 


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