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Driveshaft/rear axle/rear suspension issues…




lil_Blue_Ford

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Yes, I believe the fiberglass spring. I've never seen one.
I have seen them, really kinda weird, super thick and super wide but narrows at the axle for normal spring plates. I also saw a steel mono leaf and there was a stack of spring pieces to make up the height of a normal pack, looked factory which seemed strange.
 

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I'm pretty sure @racsan has fiberglass springs.

The '19+ trucks have a single leaf as well, apart from the tremor.
 

racsan

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yes. single leaf fiberglass springs. ‘94 reg cab longbed 2wd/2.3/M5OD. 3.45 originally, has 4.10’s now.
412B5A14-B4B6-4B68-AA32-0E2190512289.png
 

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I am in the middle of a similar situation with my 99 ext cab 5.0 ranger. It was a 3.0 auto and has a 99 wc t5 now with the v8.
When the explorer diff was still spring under the wheel sat about 1” forward in the rear wheel well. Put it in the shop to get it setup like the ranger diff with springs over the axle tubes and while I was at it had them put new leaf springs and caltracs on it.
When I got it back I noticed the wheel is now centered in the wheel well but now around 20-30 mph when I disenff go age the clutch to shift you can feel a vibration from the driveline. I got under it and noticed the front of the driveshaft now sticks out 2” from the transmission instead of the 1” before. If you grab the ds it wiggles around way too much. I’m convinced that is the cause of the vibration. I am going to install a 11/16” hub centric spacer between the pinion flange and the ds in back to see if that gets rid of the vibration. If it does then I need to get the driveshaft lengthened 1” to fix it right. The aluminum driveshaft has part number 2L54-4602-AA on a label it has on it. Wondering if there is a ds on rangers that is an inch longer than mine I could get and swap out. Anyone know anything about this?
 

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I am in the middle of a similar situation with my 99 ext cab 5.0 ranger. It was a 3.0 auto and has a 99 wc t5 now with the v8.
When the explorer diff was still spring under the wheel sat about 1” forward in the rear wheel well. Put it in the shop to get it setup like the ranger diff with springs over the axle tubes and while I was at it had them put new leaf springs and caltracs on it.
When I got it back I noticed the wheel is now centered in the wheel well but now around 20-30 mph when I disenff go age the clutch to shift you can feel a vibration from the driveline. I got under it and noticed the front of the driveshaft now sticks out 2” from the transmission instead of the 1” before. If you grab the ds it wiggles around way too much. I’m convinced that is the cause of the vibration. I am going to install a 11/16” hub centric spacer between the pinion flange and the ds in back to see if that gets rid of the vibration. If it does then I need to get the driveshaft lengthened 1” to fix it right. The aluminum driveshaft has part number 2L54-4602-AA on a label it has on it. Wondering if there is a ds on rangers that is an inch longer than mine I could get and swap out. Anyone know anything about this?
Sorry I missed this. I never did come up with any answers to my driveshaft issues, ended up just cutting and welding and making things work.
 

lil_Blue_Ford

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Apparently I forgot about this, so I’ll post up where I’m at with this all now…

Leaf springs:

I ended up breaking the packs apart, pulling the thicker leafs out, cutting apart a Ranger set and re-building my packs. 98 Explorer main, Ranger main with they eyes cut off, then a mix of Ranger and Explorer leafs for a 5 leaf pack plus overload. Crimped pack clamps front and rear on each pack. They’re on the stiff side and the rear still ended up lower than intended but it’s staying there.

Pinion angle:

I couldn’t get it right with what was available, so I cut the spring perches, rotated the axle until it was right, and welded the perches back on. While I was at it, the Explorer traction bar mounts on the axle tube got cut off and re-located to where they needed to be. I left the sway bar mounts alone.

Rear shocks:

I used the Explorer shock mounts. Took the Ranger upper mount from the passenger side and relocated it to behind the axle, as close to matching the drivers side as possible. Had to drill 3 holes in the frame and do a little custom bending to the top frame rail, but no other mods. Despite lowering, Ranger rear shocks fit fine, forget what configuration the shocks were for, they were used and came off of something I had. I didn’t do anything with the bump stops yet. They don’t appear to really be an issue for the rear.

Rear Driveshaft:

Ended up cutting about an inch and a quarter out of it, welding it, and running it up to the “local” driveshaft shop. In the back of the Choptop. That ended up being enough that they balanced it out while I waited. Got a lot of looks and comments on the Choptop too.

Front:

I pulled the front bump stops and to date haven’t replaced them. Front is still too high. I got T-bar keys out of a 2010, but haven’t got them in yet. Interesting enough, they appear to be a perfect match to 98 Explorer T-bar keys, which I have. I had no idea. I have yet to compare them to what’s in the green Ranger. Stock Ranger front shocks are not the limiting factor of lowering so far. The upper control arm, however, appears to be a problem. Not so much as far as adjusters as the upper ball joint is either maxed out or nearly so. That’s a problem. In order to continue to lower the front to where it needs to be, I’ll need different upper arms. I’m gonna say the front needs to come down ideally about 2” more than it currently is. The other currently limiting factor is tires. 31x10.50-15 tires rub. A fair bit really. They’re also mushy on hard cornering and the entire setup would be happier with smaller tires. It’s what I had though and it will be ok for now. 18” Explorer rims and 29” tires are the plan.

Other notes:

It was worth it. There’s still a bunch of stuff to address yet that will make things better. What it is right now is definitely impressive. It no longer acts like a typical Ranger. Kind of a weird feeling not to have to slow for bends, I’m still getting used to it. Freaks my friends out a little too when I don’t slow for a bend and just rail around it. My inspection mechanic was in awe.
 

sgtsandman

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I couldn't see a difference between the OEM keys and the 2007 Ranger keys even with them sitting next to each other but there is definitely a difference.
 

JoshT

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Apparently I forgot about this, so I’ll post up where I’m at with this all now…

Leaf springs:

I ended up breaking the packs apart, pulling the thicker leafs out, cutting apart a Ranger set and re-building my packs. 98 Explorer main, Ranger main with they eyes cut off, then a mix of Ranger and Explorer leafs for a 5 leaf pack plus overload. Crimped pack clamps front and rear on each pack. They’re on the stiff side and the rear still ended up lower than intended but it’s staying there.

Pinion angle:

I couldn’t get it right with what was available, so I cut the spring perches, rotated the axle until it was right, and welded the perches back on. While I was at it, the Explorer traction bar mounts on the axle tube got cut off and re-located to where they needed to be. I left the sway bar mounts alone.

Rear shocks:

I used the Explorer shock mounts. Took the Ranger upper mount from the passenger side and relocated it to behind the axle, as close to matching the drivers side as possible. Had to drill 3 holes in the frame and do a little custom bending to the top frame rail, but no other mods. Despite lowering, Ranger rear shocks fit fine, forget what configuration the shocks were for, they were used and came off of something I had. I didn’t do anything with the bump stops yet. They don’t appear to really be an issue for the rear.

Rear Driveshaft:

Ended up cutting about an inch and a quarter out of it, welding it, and running it up to the “local” driveshaft shop. In the back of the Choptop. That ended up being enough that they balanced it out while I waited. Got a lot of looks and comments on the Choptop too.

Front:

I pulled the front bump stops and to date haven’t replaced them. Front is still too high. I got T-bar keys out of a 2010, but haven’t got them in yet. Interesting enough, they appear to be a perfect match to 98 Explorer T-bar keys, which I have. I had no idea. I have yet to compare them to what’s in the green Ranger. Stock Ranger front shocks are not the limiting factor of lowering so far. The upper control arm, however, appears to be a problem. Not so much as far as adjusters as the upper ball joint is either maxed out or nearly so. That’s a problem. In order to continue to lower the front to where it needs to be, I’ll need different upper arms. I’m gonna say the front needs to come down ideally about 2” more than it currently is. The other currently limiting factor is tires. 31x10.50-15 tires rub. A fair bit really. They’re also mushy on hard cornering and the entire setup would be happier with smaller tires. It’s what I had though and it will be ok for now. 18” Explorer rims and 29” tires are the plan.

Other notes:

It was worth it. There’s still a bunch of stuff to address yet that will make things better. What it is right now is definitely impressive. It no longer acts like a typical Ranger. Kind of a weird feeling not to have to slow for bends, I’m still getting used to it. Freaks my friends out a little too when I don’t slow for a bend and just rail around it. My inspection mechanic was in awe.
Thank you for the summary update. Was about to start asking some of the questions you answered here.

Near exactly what I've got planned for my 99, right down to the 18" Explorer wheels (at least initially) and 29" tires. I picked up a 2000 Explorer to use as the donor last weekend.

For you rear height being lower than intended, have you considered using the Belltech lowering shackles. It sounds like your hangars are still stock configuration, so they can give a bit of lift on a Ranger.

Do you think having the back end higher or lower could improve the pinion angle issue? Hoping to avoid relocating the perches and other shock tabs. Might have to limit my drop and go a little bigger on tires to begin with. I have got a Ranger 3.73 axle I can use until I get things lined up for the cutting and erlding on the axle.

What was you reason for relocating the passenger side upper shock mount? Was it necassary for something, or just to match up with the Explorer shock mounts? I've already got a second driver side spring plate for when I was planning to use an Explorer axle for bolt in on an older Ranger. Would prefer to use it and leave the frame mount alone if there wasn't an issue.

That's interesting on the torsion keys, I woul dhave expected the '98 Explorer to be the same as the your Ranger, not like the '08+ Ranger keys. I was looking for a set of the '08+ keys but kept striking out. Ended up ordering a set of the "lowering" keys to try out. Sounds like like the keys in my donor may have ended up being what I needed.

From my research I figured that the upper control arm would be the limit factor. I wonder if using two of the adjustable arms to effectively lengthen the arm with spacers would aleviate some of the ball joint angle issue. I have reached out to both companies and they confirmed they made them in the past, but neither was making them at the time. One was Michigan Metal Works and the other was Illuisive Fabrication.

MMW said: "Yea, we have made them in the past, and we can still make them, we have taken them off our site currently but plan to offer them again soon as we expect material for them possibly in the next few weeks so we can run a batch of the upper shafts" That was back in February, but life got in the way of being able to work on the truck and I never followed up after.

It looks like Illusive Fab was out of the game for a while, but is getting back into it. They used to make adjustable arms, but they are out of stock on the site. I think he said that he was considering making them again in the future, but that was almost a year ago and I can't find the message.

Glad to hear you opinions on the results, sound about like what I'm hoping for and imagined when I decided on this move.
 

lil_Blue_Ford

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Thank you for the summary update. Was about to start asking some of the questions you answered here.

Near exactly what I've got planned for my 99, right down to the 18" Explorer wheels (at least initially) and 29" tires. I picked up a 2000 Explorer to use as the donor last weekend.

For you rear height being lower than intended, have you considered using the Belltech lowering shackles. It sounds like your hangars are still stock configuration, so they can give a bit of lift on a Ranger.
You’re welcome!

Yes, the Belltech shackles were my first attempt to deal with being too low. My initial 4-leaf pack I built took the weight when the axle tube hit the bump stops on stock shackles. The 5-leaf pack plus the Belltech put it almost where I wanted it. An inch higher may have been ideal for me, but I was out of time and money and it was gonna work, so…

Do you think having the back end higher or lower could improve the pinion angle issue? Hoping to avoid relocating the perches and other shock tabs. Might have to limit my drop and go a little bigger on tires to begin with. I have got a Ranger 3.73 axle I can use until I get things lined up for the cutting and erlding on the axle.
So, the Belltech shackles made the pinion angle worse. It was bad with stock shackles. The only way to correct it other than cut and weld would be shims or lowering the front spring hangers, by like at least the bolt holes (top spring hanger bolt in the lower hole on the frame, whatever distance that is, something like 3-4”). I played around with it a little, but every potential solution had its own problems. Torching the spring perches off and re-welding them was the quick and easy answer.

With the front end on the ground, I jacked up under the springs with the axle sitting on the spring perches, got the weight on the springs and it all as level as I could, used a screw jack under the pinion and set the driveshaft in and tweaked it all until it looked right. Threw a couple tacks on the perches, set the frame back on the jackstands, flipped the axle over on the springs, slid it out far enough to weld one side, burned it in, and repeated with sliding out and burning in the other side, then put it together. Seems to have worked just fine and wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be.

I also torched off the traction bar mounts on the axle tube and moved them over between the U-bolts, which seemed to be about where they need to be to use the Explorer traction bars without modifications. I’m currently short a bolt, so I haven’t put the traction bars on yet.

What was you reason for relocating the passenger side upper shock mount? Was it necassary for something, or just to match up with the Explorer shock mounts? I've already got a second driver side spring plate for when I was planning to use an Explorer axle for bolt in on an older Ranger. Would prefer to use it and leave the frame mount alone if there wasn't an issue.
So, for one, I decided to not really try and re-invent something. I just wanted to get as close as possible to just slapping all of the Explorer stuff in. The traction bar mount may or may not interfere with the passenger shock mount, I’d have to look, don’t remember. If you use the dampener shock, that would probably interfere with the passenger shock for sure. I’m told the dampener shock doesn’t really make a difference though and haven’t tried putting one in yet.

With the bed off (I would recommend pulling the bed to do the rear suspension, I tried to work around the bed and it was more hassle than it was worth), moving the shock mount was stupid easy. I used an 18” pipe wrench to tweak the top rail of the frame to match what was done from the factory on the other side and got the factory shock mount from the Ranger as close to matching the drivers side location, drilled three holes and called it a day.

That's interesting on the torsion keys, I woul dhave expected the '98 Explorer to be the same as the your Ranger, not like the '08+ Ranger keys. I was looking for a set of the '08+ keys but kept striking out. Ended up ordering a set of the "lowering" keys to try out. Sounds like like the keys in my donor may have ended up being what I needed.

From my research I figured that the upper control arm would be the limit factor. I wonder if using two of the adjustable arms to effectively lengthen the arm with spacers would aleviate some of the ball joint angle issue. I have reached out to both companies and they confirmed they made them in the past, but neither was making them at the time. One was Michigan Metal Works and the other was Illuisive Fabrication.
I never even thought about Explorer keys being the same or not. I haven’t really dug into it yet though, measurements or casting numbers or whatever. I do know that even with the stock 2000 Ranger keys and the adjusters backed out, the upper arms are a definite problem. Lowering more will only make the problem worse.

The passenger side adjustable upper arms don’t adjust in the way needed to solve the ball joint problem. The length of the arm is less of a problem than the angle the ball joint is held at. If they weren’t cast arms I would consider a cut and weld.

[/quote]MMW said: "Yea, we have made them in the past, and we can still make them, we have taken them off our site currently but plan to offer them again soon as we expect material for them possibly in the next few weeks so we can run a batch of the upper shafts" That was back in February, but life got in the way of being able to work on the truck and I never followed up after.

It looks like Illusive Fab was out of the game for a while, but is getting back into it. They used to make adjustable arms, but they are out of stock on the site. I think he said that he was considering making them again in the future, but that was almost a year ago and I can't find the message.

Glad to hear you opinions on the results, sound about like what I'm hoping for and imagined when I decided on this move.
[/QUOTE]
That was going to be my next step, try to come up with arms intended for lowering. Or I’d have to make something. Or the back has to sit higher.
 

JoshT

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Still waiting on that invoice from MMW for upper arms. Said they sent last week, but was still showed as pending in their outbox this morning. Going to get them to send to a different email and see if that works.

Make sure I understand the general suspension in back right. You have Explorer axle spring under with custom leaf packs. Do you still have the extended shackles in place?

Do you have a picture of the current stance? Does it have a reverse rake, or squat?

Trying to decide what I'm going to do with my suspension in the near future. Right now it's staying stockish. I'm trying to decide if I'm going to get as low as possible spring over (convert the explorer axle), go the route.you did, or wait until I can get the arms.
 

lil_Blue_Ford

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Still waiting on that invoice from MMW for upper arms. Said they sent last week, but was still showed as pending in their outbox this morning. Going to get them to send to a different email and see if that works.

Make sure I understand the general suspension in back right. You have Explorer axle spring under with custom leaf packs. Do you still have the extended shackles in place?

Do you have a picture of the current stance? Does it have a reverse rake, or squat?

Trying to decide what I'm going to do with my suspension in the near future. Right now it's staying stockish. I'm trying to decide if I'm going to get as low as possible spring over (convert the explorer axle), go the route.you did, or wait until I can get the arms.
Keep me posted on the arms, I’d like to get a set as soon as I can.

So I have the Explorer axle as spring under on top of a mixed 5-leaf pack made up from donor Explorer springs and a Ranger pack I had, compressed the packs on the truck then clamped the packs front and rear. I used the Explorer lower spring plates in the Explorer configuration and moved the passenger shock mount on the frame to back by the spare tire mount like the other side. I do have the extended shackles on because without them I was still into frame notch territory. Although that doesn’t scare me at all, I knew getting the front low was forever going to be the biggest problem.

I was forced to cut the spring perches and the mounts for the bars for axle wrap and relocate them on the axle. For the spring perches I just loosely put everything in place and rotated the axle until the pinion angle was about perfect, tacked it, took it loose and welded it home. For the mounts, once I had the spring perches welded back on and the axle back in place, I centered them on the top of the axle tube between the U-bolts.

I’ll have to see what I have for pictures, but it’s definitely lower in the back right now. I’m hoping that with different upper control arms I can finish getting the front down. It doesn’t look real terrible right now, just like an old Ranger with sagged out springs. I have basically no up travel in the front though because the balljoint is maxed out in the upper arm. I need roughly an inch more of lowering in the front, no more than 2” though.

Ride is a little harsh as it sits. If I can resolve things in the front to get it where it needs to be, I think it will be a better ride, but it’s always going to be a stiff ride because I want it to be good at cornering. It is still a truck and never be supercar cornering, but it is kinda fun to sail around a bend doing 50 when the sign at the bend recommends going 30. Without drifting.
 

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