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Ranger light duty towing


DoctorPhate

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Well recently the girlfriend and I have bought a house and will be moving in this summer(I know a ridiculously long wait time but its from a family friend so courtesy is a must) and I've always said the moment I have a house with a garage where I'm not bumming off other people the trucks getting a tear down. Now what I do in that tear down I've never really been sure.

This truck was my mothers before she passed and I dont really have anything else to remember her by so I'm keeping it until it falls apart or gets totalled some how but being a 2.3L Lima manual rwd its not much use to me really except for an econobox daily driver. but with my business I need something that looks a little nicer than a ranger for a daily driver so thats not going to be its use.

Today browsing around I got the idea, maybe I could use it to tow my cherokee offroader to local trails with the right modifications. Its all flat easy roads around here and I know many people who use dodge dakotas to get to the local trails and then use big ass ugly beat up F250/350s to tow farther.

I figure why not with the ranger? Well I see that the XLT ext. cab short box with the 4L auto has a 6000lbs towing capacity. My Cherokee weighs in at about 4500lbs with all the mods fully fueled and ready to go. So that leaves 1500lbs for the trailer. Trailers that i'm looking at are around 2200lbs but come with double axle brakes.

So heres what I was thinking...


Frame
Fully box in the frame, cross bracing in a few locations.

Suspension

I was thinking 4 link front and rear on air bags(stock height is the goal)

Considering mirroring the stock D30 front suspension system instead of a 4link depending on how it all fits in the Ranger. Coils up front on the D30 is also an option.

Drivetrain
Ford 8.8 rear, HP D30 front

Engine/Trans


Heres where I havent done a ton of research, I was thinking 5L, auto, and obviously a t-case but I havent looked much into it. I could probably scavange the engine/trans/t-case out of an explorer.

Brakes
Stock 8.8 disc brakes(obviously new parts though) ZJ(Grand cherokee) brakes.

Steering
I feel like the stock box would be fine but I'd replace the tie rods and ends with upgraded ones. Chevy 1500 ends and DOM tubing for the tie rods.

----
The reason I am considering air bags is because i have fibromyalgia so the ride is pretty damn rough and it hurts me quite a bit to drive it. I could do coils up front on the D30 along with quality shocks too depending on price.

Whats everyone think? Im fairly certain it would tow my XJ fine, just wondering what everyone thinks. Criticism? Feedback? Suggestions?
 


85_Ranger4x4

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You are going to need a bigger engine, a trans that fits it... make that a 4wd trans that fits it if you are doing a 4wd conversion (plus a t-case and driveshafts obviously) You are a little ways over the weight rating of a 4.0 and you are going to bury the weight rating of a 2.3 out of sight. Dragging a tall boxy vehicle through the air takes a fair amount of effort too, IMO you will fight that as much if not more than the actual weight of the thing.

Compared to the craptacular A4LD I would go with an M5OD transmission, it would free up some power and would be more durable as long as you know how to run the clutch.

No need to box the frame.

You will probably need more beef in the rear suspension. For the weight involved I would go with something like a 31 spline 8.8 out of an Explorer.

One thing to keep in mind on the solid axle swap (SAS) in the front, usually it takes 4-5" if lift to keep the differential from hitting the engine crossmember. Simply putting a TTB front axle doesn't work worth a darn because the engine crossmember is different (unless you are willing to cut it out and weld in a new one while you are doing your engine swap... not a simple undertaking)

As long as they are in good shape I wouldn't worry about the steering parts. If they are worn I would just go with name brand replacement stuff.

Keep in mind, doing all of this to it and there will be very little left of your mom's truck... it would probably be cheaper and easier to find a 4wd 4.0 truck that is ready to go. The longer the truck the better it tows too, keep that in mind.
 
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DoctorPhate

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I should have pointed out that its a extended cab flareside bed.

I'm not towing with a 4L or 4cyl, so thats really not the question. 5L V8, Auto with trans cooler.

Engine cross member I'm not worried about, 5 minutes with my torch and its gone then 30 minutes with a grinder and my welder and I've got a new one pushed up closer to the rails.

I've seen people SAS these on zero lift. I might lift it 2" max.

8.8 was the plan already, 31 spline i thought was a given, do people even both swapping in the 29 spline? And you dont think Air bags would handle the weight?

I'm from the school that when something breaks you upgrade it so I wouldnt be replacing with the same small steering. I'd replace with similar steering strength of a half ton.

And realisticly theres still much left of the truck, box, body, grill, interior, frame. All I'm changing is hitch, axles, suspension, and powertrain.

I have considered the wonky half axle things that ford uses but I think I'd be better off just replacing that whole front end with something that doesnt have a million breaking points and joints to replace. HP D30 is much easier to replace.

Thanks for the suggestions, hope my clarification helps.
 

85_Ranger4x4

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Alrighty, now I know what you are up to. :icon_thumby:

I missed the engine part before :dntknw: Keep an eye on pushing your crossmember up with your 5.0's oil pan, don't get too carried away. I have tons of clearance in places with my stock crossmember and in other areas it is kind of tight. (dual sump foxbody and some other 80's cars used it)

The D35 is comparable strengthwise to a D44. A D30 is a little closer in strength to a D28 than a D35 without bukoo bucks in aftermarket crap thrown at it. TTB's have two pivot bushings that rarely give troubles and one more u-joint than a solid axle. My only complaint after 11 years with mine is that it acts like a snowplow in really deep snow. There are some D30 swappers running around here, dangerranger83 is one off the top of my head.

http://www.therangerstation.com/forums/showthread.php?t=92330&page=4

http://www.therangerstation.com/tech_library/Dana30.htm

5.0 Explorers have an electronically controlled 4R70W trans and AWD t-case. It will take some work to get the engine computer not to miss the t-case and/or transmission. There are people more knowlageable about the computer aspect of it in the V8 swap subforum.

I think it was James Duff that was working on a SAS kit for a RBV, dunno if they ever got that done or not. Awhile ago (probably a year or better) a member had a prototype kit he was trying out, there was a thread going in one of the suspension subforums.

I have never been around airbags which I why I left that kind of vague, you are going to need more back there than the stock 4cyl springs at any rate. If it was me I would just go with springs for simplicity but that won't work for you.

I was clarifying about the axle, some people don't know there is a difference. A lot of people upgrade to the 28 just because there is more stuff available for it than a 7.5 (lockers and gears) I haven't had a problem with my 7.5 to date... and here lately I haven't been very kind to it. I do have an Ex 8.8 sitting in the shed awaiting a time and place to put it in though.
 
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DoctorPhate

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The D35 rear is a craptastic axle and the D30 is substantially better. The D44 is actually equal to the D30 front but with different knuckles and IIRC another bearing on the pinion which really only helps with high torsion use like rock crawling for example which the truck wont be doing.

I was going to have the crossmember infront of the engine and another one go under the bell housing but the bell housing one will be detachable. I figure the strength lost from the cross member can be made up with two just more spread out.

Eep. I dont think I want to deal with electronically controlled anything really. lol

SAS I think honestly is the cheapest and best option. I can build a set of arms for it for maybe 200$ and and then another 100$ in metal for playing around with mounts and such.

As for the 8.8 I never bother thinking of the 29 spline 8.8 because I'm from the offroading community so it basically doesnt exist to us lol. I would keep the 7.5 but i HIGHLY doubt it'll stand up to the V8 AND towing.

Springs rear isn't an option as far as I'm concerned, I'll be sore enough from a day out on the trails with the jeep, last thing I need is a ride home in a leaf sprung vehicle. It may not seem like a big difference to you but for me with the fibro its very painful.

I'm also just thinking about the idea of leaving it 2wd... what do you think? A lot less work but I'll still need to revamp the front to make it ride better. I drive it for 15 minutes and am sore for 30-45 minutes after as it sits.

Edit: http://www.ridetech.com/store/air-spring-26c-double-convoluted.html

That sucker there is 100$, good for 3400lbs each, so 6800lbs between the two i think is the way it works.

Min Height: 3"
Ride Height: 5-6"
Max Height: 10"

So ride height should be about right for me I think.. to be honest I havent even measured the distance from frame rail to the axle at current.
 
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Original_Ranger84

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Actually I believe he is talking about the D35 front TTB axle that pre 98 rangers had. There were beams for the 2wd then from 83 to 90 or something like that they had the D28 and swapped over to the D35 from then until 98.

If I was you i would find a wrecked or rolled awd explorer with the 5.0L v8 and swap in the whole drivetrain. then you would have the power of the v8 with an auto trans and awd which is essentially the same, and plenty of comfortable interior parts and the disk brake 31spline 8.8" all in one package. Not to mention the mounting hardware for the engine and trans and computer and wiring.
 

DoctorPhate

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I know I was just surprised that the Front D35 is so much better than the rear. I've seen stock jeeps snap those things like twigs. So the idea of a front D35 in my truck made me cringe.

Buying a wrecked Explorer is the plan basically. But i dont want any of the interior. I like that I sat on these seats with my mom growing up camping and even the week before she died we were out camping in the truck so as far as the interior the sound system is changing to something that isnt ripped and falling apart and the seats are probably getting new padding. besides that keeping everything original.

I wouldnt really need any of the bracketry for the explorer anyway, I'd be mounting it all my own way using my own mounts. When OEM breaks, I make my own out of 1/4" steel, the way it SHOULD have been. lol.:icon_welder:

I spoke to the guys at ride tech and they are awesome, the guy recommended I go with different springs, cheaper ones and the ride control system I had picked out he said has far too many bells and whistles for what I'm doing and recommended one less than HALF the price. Total my rear air ride system would be running me 940$ then I could run soft springs up front with quality bushings and good shocks to dampen the vibes.

Seems like this might cost me quite a bit less than I had first thought.

I think I'll do this whole upgrade incrementally starting with rear air ride and 8.8 in the fall. then I can put her under the knife again from the cab forward to do everything else. for now I could repaint the whole frame from the cab back and basically rebuild it all for around 1800$ which isnt all that bad really. that ofcourse includes the rebuild of the 8.8
 
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85_Ranger4x4

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I know I was just surprised that the Front D35 is so much better than the rear. I've seen stock jeeps snap those things like twigs. So the idea of a front D35 in my truck made me cringe.
With the Jeep D35 lockout hubs (for some reason people want to unlock their rear axle on their Jeep :icon_confused:) that are a bolt on upgrade they then pretty much have the same weakness as a D44, the u-joint crosses. That is to be expected since they use the same one.

Guys run up to about 35's on them fairly regularly with all sorts of power plants. The ones that are really rough go to something like a D60 but that is completely out of the D30/35/44 relm.

I would be leary about a axle out of a rolled car, if she went all the way over at least once it has had a lot of weight dropped on it. That could have bent shafts or the housing.

Keeping it 2wd would vastly improve the simplicity of the build and would shed a couple lbs that you could then shift to pull on the trailer.
 
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DoctorPhate

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Well I want the lbs because a 6000 lbs load behind a 3500-4000 lbs truck isnt quite as safe as having an extra few hundred lbs in the truck.

D35 REAR is whats in the Jeep, thats garbage, the D30 front in the Jeep can be upgraded with locking hubs and the reason they do that is because they probably have a detroit locker in it thus making them next to impossible to steer. D30s weakness is the ujoint until you upgrade to the 760 joint in the 98+ XJs which is bigger than the ujoints in the D44.

The D35 I would never ever ever ever in any realm put money into, its a turd and always will be. I've seen guys truss them, do the Super 35 kit which is locking hubs, chromolly everything and they still break on 33s. Where as the STOCK 8.25 in the cherokee which can be had from any u pull for less than 100$ can run 35s with ease even locked. The D35 if you locked it, it would snap the shafts even on 31s.

More than likely I'll end up buying the entire vehicle from a local upull. How I'm going to get it home I'm not sure yet... I'm sure I could borrow a trailer from someone around.

entire vehicle could probably be had for 500$ from there and then I'll have all kinds of extras then just give them the shell with the interior back later.

But anyway I think for simplicity and so I'm not tieing up my garage for a year or more I'll just take off the bed, roll the sucker in the shop do up the rear, paint everything up make it look all perfect then throw the bed on(after painting it too ofcourse) and then drive it for a while as is until I have time to rebuild the rest. I think that sounds the most reasonable. I really enjoy bringing it to clients houses, its a bit of a conversation piece.
 
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85_Ranger4x4

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Wherever they put the Jeep hubs the housing is thicker than the RBV speced ones, they cost close to the same and are interchangable.

Rear axles see more stress than a front axle, that is why usually they are heavier.

A D44 is laughable in the back of a truck, D30's plain and simiple didn't happen.

A 5-760X cross is a common upgrade to the D35, the same upgrade is also availabe to the TTB D44.

The TTB D35 has the same shaft diameter as a D30 but has a larger ring gear and pinion. Breaking shafts in the front of a Ranger (which is heavier than a Jeep) is pretty uncommon. Usually it is u-joint related (popping caps off) which is an easy fix.
 

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Hmm, well although the D35 is stronger I feel like its going to be more work to run the TTB D35 than to cut everything out and radius arm the front for the D30 solid axle.

This truck wont be wheeled or put through that much stress, its just to get the jeep to the trail and back. I MIGHT DD this in the winter once its done if its 4wd..

But the possibility of running it 2wd even after the V8 drivetrain is still there.

What would you suggest? Do you think as a tow rig I'll need the 4wd? Keeping in mind the parking for the trail is rarely an actual parking lot, usually its down a dirt road then park in a dry field.

I can see me at some point maybe needing the 4wd but I'm not sure that it would be worth the expense and time to run it. Would it make towing easier you think?

I'm honestly thinking about the weight of the ranger in comparison to what it would be towing. I'm concerned that because how light weight the ranger would be even with the 8.8 and V8 powertrain it would still get pushed around a lot by the trailer. Thats sort of why I was thinking 4wd just so i have an excuse to add another couple hundred pounds up front.

I was also thinking maybe 2wd then throw a couple hundred pounds of weights in the bed of the ranger when I tow, take them out when not?

lol, I have a mild case of ADD... :icon_bounceblue:

Dana 44s in the XJ btw were very common upgrade. Many people swap them in so they can run up to 33s. Why I'm not sure when the Chrysler 8.25 is good for pretty much up to 35s and is a direct swap since it came on cherokees without ABS. sorry that was my last ADD edit.... maybe.
 

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I wouldn't be overly concerned about the weight difference between truck and load.
I towed a 24 foot 5000lbs travel trailer behind my Sport Trac with the 4.0L V6...it handled it just fine. Same as my 7500lbs 08 f350 handles my 10,000lbs 35 foot travel trailer I have now.

I would want a weight distributing hitch for sure.
 

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There wont be much tongue weight, probably 300lbs. Still think I'd need one? I'm not adverse to putting one on but my towing experience is limited to towing a small camper with this ranger and towing my Jeep with an F150 so I defer to better judgement.

I've been googling and I'm having a hard time finding one specificly for the ranger, I would simply build one but I'm not entirely sure how these damn things work so I wouldnt know where to start really.

This is the suspension system the ride tech guy pieced together for me based on what I told him about what I'll be doing to it and with it.

https://www.ridetech.com/store/air-spring-1500lb.-tapered-rear.html

https://www.ridetech.com/store/2-way-analog-compressor-package.html

Edit: Wow I'm stupid. I found a PDF of how it installs and realized how it goes on. ok so 200-300$ for a weight distributing hitch. I can live with that. Looks like it replaces my regular draw bar am I right? If so that would be nice because then I can still run my standard Class 3 with a regular ball for my small pop up camper and the weight distributing hitch for the Jeep/trailer combo. And I just noticed my tw max is 400lbs so I'll try to keep the tw under 300 without the weight distributing hitch and under 600 with out.

Edit 2: Well my girlfriends not too happy.... We're still living in our apartment until the summer when we move into our house and I already found a complete 8.8 31 spline, disc brakes for 90$ so I'm going to pick that up tomorrow. I guess its getting stored at her parents place. All I could say was "Its 90$ !!!" lol
 
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DoctorPhate

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What kind of rod ends would you guys suggest for the 4 link rear? I would normally order up a set of ballistic JJs but I dont need crazy flex(or any really lol) nor will I be pounding on it.

What do you guys think would be the best bang for the buck? I love ballistic joints but theres not much point in going ridiculously overkill on it lol. if I can get away with cheap 20$ joints without any sort of worry I will.

I'm just thinking its going to be fairly heavy on the back end when towing and it IS a v8.. but I'm also not going to be going rock crawling with the damn thing lol.
 

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Just pick up an older explorer 8.8 and grab the leafs with it and you should be good to go... I got expo leaf on the back of my truck and they are hella stiff in comparison to the 2 leaf packs that came with the light duty trucks.

If you feel you need more then add airbags with it. Simple and easy to repair
 

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