Recently went thru the same dilema..... The front diff cover is SO close to the crossmember the upper bolts are a little tedious to access.... Decided to consult my FSM to see if I was making the job harder than it should be.....
To my surprise..... the FSM says that you suck the gearlube out thru the filler hole with a GIANT cyringe and then refill it thru the same hole.
Took me about 15 mins to draw out about 95% (compared against the amount required to fill in the FSM).
To replace the carrier, bearings, gears or pull the axles.... it appears you will need to lower the differential to access the 3rd member....
2000 Ranger 4.0L 4dr 5 spd 4x4 w/ ORP
Modifications: 265/75R16 BFG AT KO, Detroit TruTrac l/s, K&N FIPK, 66mm BBK TB, Gibson 2.5" catback exhaust, BAMA SCT Tuner, Underdog Performance 25% underdrive pulley, James Duff Traction Bars, Taylor 8mm sparkplug wires
Future Mods: JBA Headers