2wd SFA swap....thoughts - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


Suspension Tech General discussion of suspension for the Ford Ranger.

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Old 04-16-2007
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2wd SFA swap....thoughts

yesterday while messing around with the range, my wife came outside to laugh at me for putting the hellas on there. i said, "why not? they were just sitting in the garage not being used...yada yada." anywho, she mentions again (not that i'm not aware) that it needs a lift. not just to be huge or anything, but just so it is not so damn low to the ground. of course i can't agree more. it is my DD and i do enjoy the decent gas mileage, but something's got to happen vertically here. i'm 6'5" and it's a damn pain in my *** getting in and out of this thing. now in the end, i will more than likely just do a 3" body lift and call it a day, but i love to come up with different setups.

and now, on to the point....

first off, i have no desire to convert this truck to 4wd. i just have no need for it with this truck.
so here is an idea i've been toying around with, and it will take some more looking around under the front end, but it would honestly be simple and cheap enough. rangers and cherokees/grand cherokees are roughly the same width.....at least the trac width is close (that's why 8.8 axle swaps into jeeps are so popular). XJs, ZJs, and WJs all came as solid front axle vehicles. however, not all of them were 4wd. the 2wd models had what is called a dummy axle (explaination for the dummies). basically it is just a tube the same width and diameter as it's live axle counterpart. attached are knuckles, brakes and all that jazz....all the same as a live axle, minus the differential. the added bonus is the wheel bolt pattern is the same from jeep to ranger. although i probably would not swap in one from a WJ as they use a larger diameter brake rotor which requires at least a 17" rim.
my basic idea would be to remove the I-Beam setup up front and replace it with a dummy front axle out of a XJ orZJ (all the same). then for simplicity's sake, weld on spring hangers to the frame up front, shackle hanger for the rear portion, spring perches to the dummy axle and run leaf springs. then adapt YJ steering to the frontend, which will likely adapt flawlessly because the steering is basically the same design.
on the more technical side of things, i could keep a coil spring setup and swap over the control arms from the donor jeep, and weld up the frame brackets to mount the arms to.

now you're probably asking why all the trouble. why not just buy a kit with the I-Beam lowering brackets and longer coils and such.
the answer, basically just because once the SFA setup is in place, it is 100x easier to modify from that point.....taller leaf springs, taller coils, longer shackles, coil spacers, etc. it's just a less complicated setup that performs very well, is easy to maintain, and is easy to modify.
oh, and it could be pretty cheap. figure a d30 live axle from any jeep can be found for next to nothing, or free. a dummy axle would go for less than that and are less in demand (not that anyone wants a d30 anyway). i could pull stock leaf springs from a YJ (wrangler with square headlights, '87-'95) for pretty cheap. cut some steel up to make the spring hangers, or have a shop make some, or depending on the frame width, make a crossmember to mount to. the steering would be the most expensive part and i could probably get the whole setup for $50-$75 from the jeep salvage yard or as a take-off from someone upgrading theirs. and basically, that's it other than mounting the shocks. a SFA setup really gets complicated when you start factoring in custom suspension with coils and links and stuff, driveshafts, mating xfercases to trannies, etc. this is basically swapping a more complicated setup for simplicity. just carrying over the same setup from one vehicle to another.


just kickin around ideas while i'm sitting here at work.


edit...man that was long.
then when it comes time to add some lift, depending on what the stock YJ springs give me, i can do shackles or swap in some taller leaf springs (wouldn't have to use YJ springs, just the first thing that popped into my head). if i wanted to go crazy with it and go higher, i could do a SOA setup front and rear, but that would then require the driveshaft to be lengthened, antiwrap bar in the rear, and a crossover steering setup up front.

Last edited by TXST8tj; 04-16-2007 at 05:33 PM.
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Old 04-17-2007
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anyone have any input?

i'm going to start pricing stuff out today. i figure the 3" BL will cost close to $200 between the lift and the shifter adapter, so we'll see how close i can get to that going the other route.

i was talking with someone about this and noted that i could weld the spring hanger and shackle hanger on without interfering with the stock suspension, so i could start the transformation while still driving the truck. once the dummy axle is ready to go under the frontend, i can unbolt and remove the stock suspension components and throw the new stuff under there. if i run into any snags, i would be able to bolt the facotry stuff back into place. it would be a pain in the a$$, but it would be possible to do. then i could iron out all the details on the swap, put it back in place and then cut off all the unused factory bracketry.

Last edited by TXST8tj; 04-17-2007 at 11:16 AM.
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Old 04-17-2007
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save your self the money and throw a body lift in.
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Old 04-17-2007
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I think from what you described it wont be what you want...

you want to lift it yet its your DD and not to go overboard...

you want good MPG (like you have)

and you want to keep it simple...

I say get some coil spacers or larger coils and try that first, if you like it then keep it. or look into solid axles...

but why go with leaf springs if your truck already has the coil buckets?

something you have neglected to talk about was steering... i have spent a good penny on steering and it still does not work as well as i think it should...

What size tires? Gears? lift for the rear?
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Old 04-17-2007
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fair enough. as mentioned, that has been the original plan. just kicking around other options. i don't want to waste my time and money on a sus. kit from pro crap or skycrapper, etc. on a system that is really just more complicated than it needs to be. if i could do this for around the same cost as a BL, i would rather go this route. then i could adjust it from there as i want. i just like the idea of a better designed system from the get-go to build off of.
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Old 04-17-2007
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Quote:
I think from what you described it wont be what you want...

you want to lift it yet its your DD and not to go overboard...

you want good MPG (like you have)
MPG....all depends on the tire size and axle gearing. i just threw that in there since i was rambling so much anyway. hell, i could lift it 3"-4" and keep the stock sized 25" tires it has on it. the main issue is getting some lift under the truck, and deal with tires later. i'm just tired of having to fold myself up just to get inside. i will say, i am very impressed with how much space it has once i'm in the seat. at 6'5" i am actually quite comfortable driving......the seat leaves something to be desired, but that's another issue.

Quote:
and you want to keep it simple...
more or less. i come from the world of jeeps. nothing is simple. and i'm not afraid of complicated issues. so by simple i guess i mean i would use leaf springs rather than coil springs and control arms to keep fab work and custom configurations down. leaf springs are a tried and true suspension component. inferior in general compared to coil springs, but simple and reliable. not to mention having an array of modification choices....shackles, add-a-leafs, taller springs.

Quote:
I say get some coil spacers or larger coils and try that first, if you like it then keep it. or look into solid axles...
coil spacers are a decent idea. not a fan of killing my balljoints though. longer coils (beyond what a spacer and stock coil would give me) will require lowering the i-beam bracketry....basically equals a kit. for what i would spend on a kit, i could have done the swap and a body lift. what i am talking about is basically a sold front axle...minus the differential. it would require the same suspension design and setup, but would not have the driveline aspect included. i don't need 4wd, so there would be no point.

2wd cherokee "dummy axle":





Quote:
but why go with leaf springs if your truck already has the coil buckets?
back to the top....for simplicity. leaf springs require a spring hanger, and a shackle hanger and shackle. the leaf springs locate the axle. coils with a SFA will require control arms, trac bar, and swaybar. as i'm sure you know, this will require additional fabrication work and costlier parts. the stock coil buckets are the least of my concerns.

Quote:
something you have neglected to talk about was steering... i have spent a good penny on steering and it still does not work as well as i think it should...
i would use the steering from a cherokee or grand cherokee. all of the brackets are already in place on the dummy axle. i would just have to mate the drag-link to the ranger pitman arm. the length there might be the only hang up. otherwise there would not be anything else to worry about. it's already a working system on other vehicles.

Quote:
What size tires? Gears? lift for the rear?
tires...i dunno. not concerned at the moment. not really an issue. that can be worked out later. gears for the rear axle will be determined by the size of the tires. an explorer 8.8 could be swapped in if gearing selection appears to be an issue with the current axle. lift for the rear will be determined by how much needs to be compensated for the front, and how high i want to go overall.

Last edited by TXST8tj; 04-18-2007 at 10:04 AM.
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Old 04-18-2007
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anyone else see any hang ups? anyone out there done a SFA swap on a '95 ranger?
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Old 04-18-2007
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I'm using the entire front end from a 1979 F-150 -- HP Dana 44, coils buckets, steering box, tierod, drag link -- EVERYTHING.

Then I'll modify it once I have this up and running. Lots of stuff available for the F-150 and Bronco from this period. I'm behind schedule on this swap, but I'm going to do it before August for sure.
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Old 04-18-2007
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sounds like it will be nice. more than i want or need to do, but if i was going that route i would probably do something similar.
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Old 04-18-2007
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found this on the ranger station....97 4x4.








basically exactly what i am looking to do, but with a dummy axle, and not as much lift.
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Old 04-18-2007
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^^^^ that's all well and good, but he's got no drag link or tie rod! lol.

It's an intriguing thought to do it like you want to... I say if you've got the skills, go for it! Would be interesting to say the least.
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Old 04-18-2007
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at least you wouldnt have to hear stone saying "wheres the driveshaft" all the time.
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Old 04-19-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gearhead61
^^^^ that's all well and good, but he's got no drag link or tie rod! lol.

It's an intriguing thought to do it like you want to... I say if you've got the skills, go for it! Would be interesting to say the least.

yeah, he mentioned that he was still waiting on his high steer arms to finish the steering.
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Old 04-19-2007
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Originally Posted by got-dirty
at least you wouldnt have to hear stone saying "wheres the driveshaft" all the time.
i could see getting that kind of response from a lot of people if i used a live axle. with no intention of converting this truck to 4wd, it would just be better not to have all of the moving parts and maintanence of a live front axle.
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Old 04-19-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TXST8tj
i could see getting that kind of response from a lot of people if i used a live axle. with no intention of converting this truck to 4wd, it would just be better not to have all of the moving parts and maintanence of a live front axle.
I have the feeling that its going to end up costing you more then you think when its all said and done. Im not going to say you shouldnt, cause I think its a cool idea. But I do think your underestimating the costs of a project like this. I think you will be in at least the 500-700 range when all said and done.
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Old 04-19-2007
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that is quite possible. i am fully aware of things costing more than originally projected, but that's where the searching comes in to play. as long as everything is priced out first, plus a little extra for unexpecteds...then i will know exactly what it will cost.

i have started a tally in my head and i add to it as i come up with more stuff....

2wd XJ beam - $50
brakes - $115
leaf springs - $50
shackles - $30
spring and shackle hangers - $50
weld on spring perches and u-bolt kit - $40
steering - $75-$100
fudge-factor - $50

total - ~ $400

and even if it was more for some reason, i would still rather have that setup which can be modified further, than spending that much or more on an aftermarket kit for the stock setup, and then being left with only a body lift as a last additional option.

Last edited by TXST8tj; 04-19-2007 at 08:36 AM.
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Old 04-19-2007
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i say go for, as long as you can fund the project!
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Old 04-19-2007
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personally its a 4cyl... i have the same gen truck as you with same motor pushing 32's with a mild 2" lift and i wouldnt ever EVER go any high with a 4cyl its just pointless...
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Old 04-19-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TXST8tj
2wd XJ beam - $50Actual price or is this just a guess?
brakes - $115 New BallJoints? New bearing assemblies depending on the beam.
leaf springs - $50 What springs?
shackles - $30
spring and shackle hangers - $50
weld on spring perches and u-bolt kit - $40
steering - $75-$100
fudge-factor - $50

total - ~ $400
I think you may be missing some stuff, bearing assemblies are pricey, new ball joints will run prolly 100 dollars at least.

im seeing an average price for the beam as 100-150
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Old 04-19-2007
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going off of prices people i'm talking with have gotten for them. a complete d30 can be had for $150 any given day of the week. it's no question that its 2wd counterpart would be less...and they are, cause that's what people have been paying for them.
there is nothing to say that the ball joints would need to be replaced. there are 20+ year old XJs and YJs out there running stock ball joints. they don't wear out on SFA vehciles as fast as they do IFS.
used leaf springs from just about anything. i would probably start with some stock YJ springs. those are a dime a dozen and i could probably get them for free through jeep friends. from there i can see where i sit as far as lift goes and adjust from there.
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Old 04-19-2007
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Originally Posted by Redneckstone
personally its a 4cyl... i have the same gen truck as you with same motor pushing 32's with a mild 2" lift and i wouldnt ever EVER go any high with a 4cyl its just pointless...
i understand that issue. i'm not talking about going sky high here. it's more about the lift than the tires. i could lift the thing 4" and run 30s (25" tires currently) for all i care. and hell, i could always throw an explorer 8.8 under the rear for a 3.73 gear ratio for extra help, but that's completely different issue.
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Old 04-19-2007
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seems like you know exactly what to do get started dont need us...
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Old 04-19-2007
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Originally Posted by TXST8tj
i understand that issue. i'm not talking about going sky high here. it's more about the lift than the tires. i could lift the thing 4" and run 30s (25" tires currently) for all i care. and hell, i could always throw an explorer 8.8 under the rear for a 3.73 gear ratio for extra help, but that's completely different issue.
you can fit 30's now why do 4" of lift with dinky *** tires... waste of time...

i have 2" leveling in the front and have 32's and have the same suspension yours does...
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Old 04-19-2007
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Originally Posted by Redneckstone
seems like you know exactly what to do get started dont need us...
guess so.
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Old 04-19-2007
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LOL well read the thread everyone that has given you advice you like say oh i know oh i know.. this is what i am gonna do

so whats the problem? lol call junk yards and get started looks like you know enough.. done this before eh? quite a few guys here have and they have given you advice and you just sayi know this is what i am gonna do....
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