Make Vans 4X4 A Journey.

RVD

Member
Here goes.
Documenting a build and leaning in for questions.

After selling off my 98 Discovery on Coilovers and my 4x4 Econoline E350 along with all my tools etc..
I bought a 1986 Ford E150 2wd with 80k on it about 8 years ago for $800 from an ex girlfriend's dad to use as my Daily Driver.

in September I bought a 2017 Taurus LTD for my DD and the van, being only 2wd started a curiosity that lead to me grabbing a 1979 Ford Bronco front end from Pick N Pull in Reno.

I got a mostly complete front assembly including the Dana 44 from rotor to rotor, the radius arms and hangers and the steering drag link and tie rod.

The axle needs a complete rebuild. The U joint seals are wasted, the outers are rusty and the calipers are toasted. It only had one locking hub as well.

Before I start removing the stock front end on the van, I need to rebuild the D44.

So that starts the "leaning on the community" part of this build. Advice? Part suppliers?

Show me what you got... Hahaha.

Should be noted, Ideally I would upgrade calipers and rotors and go with high steer for the axle build.
 

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3rd Petal

Member
What size tires do you plan on running? On 35’s or smaller I would stick with stock shafts, at 37’s, or maybe 35’s if you are hard on stuff, I would look into aftermarket axle shafts. Most of my Dana 44 stuff comes from Tom’s Bronco, or Wild Horses. Jeff’s Bronco Graveyard is pretty good too, but shipping from Michigan sucks....
Run spicer 760x u-joints, none of the parts house brand ones hold up the same.
I’ve always felt pretty good with stock Ford calipers and rotors, I don’t think those are worth messing with over stock.
High steer is kinda difficult with Ford knuckles. But you can ream the stock steering arm from the top down to flip the tie rod to the top of the stock arm, that is easy and gets the toe rod up some. Most of the Bronco parts places sell inserts to reduce back down to stock Ford tie rods, or you could just step up to bigger “1 ton GM” tie rod ends
 

RVD

Member
I have a set of 5 37" Toyos on beadlocks that are pretty much new I was planning on running. I imagine once the front end is in and the Transfer case sorted, I will be more inclined to upgrade the axles to a beefier aftermarket set but for now, getting it rolling on the new front end is priority number 1.
 

RVD

Member
Hiccup number 1. Sat down and finally ordered a mess of parts. Grabbed some 4" lift radius arm brackets from Summit. Also ordered a full outer rebuild kit from Tom's Bronco parts including full hub and rotor assemblies, loaded calipers and locking hubs. Turns out, the stuff from Tom's wont work for the 79' Bronco D44 as they're aftermarket for pre-79 models and the bolt patterns do not line up with the 79'..

Spoke to the Team at Tom's and apparently its difficult to find the 79' parts. Anyone have any experience with this and can offer some insight?
 

RVD

Member
Summit to the rescue. Besides lower spring cups, shock mounts and Track bar stuff, I think I have most of what I need to get the van sitting on the 44. Updates once I start the tear down of the axle.
 

3rd Petal

Member
What bolt pattern is different? Unless I’m forgetting something, the only bolt pattern I know of that changes is the spindle and caliper bracket, which bolts down with the spindle. I’m thinking you got a kit for an early Bronco Dana 44 75 or older, which would be conversion stuff for drum brakes. The caliper should be the same 75-79, and the rotor and hub stayed the same from 75 up till the 90’s
If it’s the spindle bolt pattern you are talking about, it isn’t symmetrical, you have to rotate it to the one spot where the holes will line up
 

RVD

Member
What bolt pattern is different? Unless I’m forgetting something, the only bolt pattern I know of that changes is the spindle and caliper bracket, which bolts down with the spindle. I’m thinking you got a kit for an early Bronco Dana 44 75 or older, which would be conversion stuff for drum brakes. The caliper should be the same 75-79, and the rotor and hub stayed the same from 75 up till the 90’s
If it’s the spindle bolt pattern you are talking about, it isn’t symmetrical, you have to rotate it to the one spot where the holes will line up
Just going by what Tom's said. They apparently use GM 44 calipers in their rebuild sets and the hardware does not match up. I'm trusting their assessment since they cancelled the order and lost a sale over it.
 

3rd Petal

Member
Okay, then they sold you a kit for a disc brake conversion on 75 and down knuckles. Those older Ford knuckles use a small 6 bolt pattern for the spindle and calipers bracket, which is the same pattern GM uses, so GM parts are easy off the shelf parts to use. But 76-79 uses a big 5 bolt pattern, and brackets and calipers obviously are different. The guys at Tom’s should know better than that.... but oh well, as long as you got it figured out one way or another
 
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RVD

Member
While I'm at it. Anyone have recommendations on a 9" disc brake conversion kit? Would love to retain the E-Brake and prefer a bolt-on kit but am not opposed to welding. There seems to be a BUNCH of options of widely varying designs out there.
 

RVD

Member
Also, jumping into the cleaning and painting of the axle before teardown. Suggestions on axle paint are welcomed. I painted my bumpers with a paint that is weldable but do not see the need to do so on the axle. Also the weldable paint is a little janky for the price and is already showing signs of rust. Would love to get something for the axle that seals the metal surface and encapsulates any rust I cannot see developing. Going to use it on the stock Bronco radius arms as well. Once it's cleaned and painted, I am going to dive into the axle rebuild. Parts should start arriving this weekend.

Is it okay to paint the C bushing wedges? Can't imagine it's an issue but this is 100% new terrain for me.
 

RVD

Member
Most parts are here. Still need to finish stripping the grease and road grime off the axle before I paint it and rebuild with new parts. Also looking for a diff cover. Suggestions on axle paint are appreciated.
 

3rd Petal

Member
The 70’s Ford diff covers are thicker than any other stock ones, I still run a stock Ford cover and haven’t smashed it yet. If you want to go aftermarket, maybe try a fabricated cover from RuffStuff. Most of the thick cast ones will rub the tie rod, at least in my experience.
For the last few years I’ve been using summit chassis shield on axles and such, it’s a 2 part epoxy and seems to hold up good
 
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RVD

Member
I realize it's a long shot but since I am pulling the knuckles and replacing the ball joints, anyone have a PS flat top knuckle and high steer arm they want to let go? I'd love to move my drag link off the tie rod for better angle.
 

RVD

Member
I realize it's a long shot but since I am pulling the knuckles and replacing the ball joints, anyone have a PS flat top knuckle and high steer arm they want to let go? I'd love to move my drag link off the tie rod for better angle.
Scratch that. I put together a modest and sensible crossover steering setup from WFO. Only using 1 flat top knuckle and high steer arm. Picked up the DIY drag link kit from them and drop pitman arm as well to button the whole thing up in one shot.
 

RVD

Member
An update on progress, or lack thereof. Most of the parts are here, with the exception of the crossover steering and knuckle. Axle is “mostly stripped” but I’ve got the passenger side spindle and backing plate not playing nice. Any tips on getting this turd off? It’s soaking in penetrating oil now. I really need to get this side off, the U-joint is wasted and I’m replacing the knuckle as well. The driver side backing plate caliper bolt sheared off when I started stripping the axle and the threads are stuck in the backing plate.

wondering if it is wise to replace the spindles and backing plates since everything else is being replaced. They also appear to be pressed together as one unit.
 

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RVD

Member
C4EDD348-51F8-47C4-891C-80845A7E0B14.jpegAxle is cleaned up, outers stripped, new Reid knuckle arrived today. Steering from WFO tomorrow. Radius arms and C caps are at the powder coater now. Assembly starts Friday. Stoked!9D9C21B9-161A-4923-BDE4-8215A8171ED2.jpegStill need to press the new ball joints in. Hopefully tomorrow.
 

RVD

Member
Rented a ball joint press kit from Auto Zone. Hands down the worst tool I have ever put my hands on. Like holding a puzzle in pieces in your hands and trying to put it together. Fucking garbage. Need to go get the ball joints pressed in locally. Luckily, after I gave up, I realized I forgot to put the knuckle studs in first so I guess it’s a win? Sourcing knuckle studs tomorrow and then tracking down someone to pop one set of haggard ball joints out of one knuckle and press two sets in to the new and old knuckle.
First time on this build I got “throw the tools” mad.
 

CashMoney

I piss excellence.
What was up with their ball joint press? I can't say I've ever had too much issue with them but I've only used them a hand full of times. I want to say we used to have a Matco one at work that looked a lot like the harbor freight one. It had some adapters too so you could use it for some other things as well. Some work ok on U-joints too
 

RVD

Member
What was up with their ball joint press? I can't say I've ever had too much issue with them but I've only used them a hand full of times. I want to say we used to have a Matco one at work that looked a lot like the harbor freight one. It had some adapters too so you could use it for some other things as well. Some work ok on U-joints too
It was the C clamp style. I have watched a number of tutorials using the same style press but with a completely different set of die or adapter and it looked pretty straight forward. This was not that set.
 

RVD

Member
Not bad for only a couple hours after work. Still need to clean up the caliper mount and thread the last stud into the knuckle. Managed to snap a diff cover bolt under the torque spec. Will have to sort out how to pull that and replace it. Axle U joints tomorrow.
 

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