I ordered a set of $15 Prothane urethane bushings (red, left) from J.C. Whitney (PN ZX859558W) that I hope will cope with the heat better than the stock replacement type (black, right) that J.C. Whitney also sells.
Budget Left: $843
Turns out my wasted radius-arm bushings killed the TTB pivot bushings too. Now I'm beginning to understand why the truck has such spooky steering. J.C. Whitney's Web site didn't list the parts I needed, so I went down to AutoZone and looked through the Spicer chassis parts book (they keep it under the counter, so you have to ask for it) till I found the right part numbers. The two bushings were only $12, but I haven't had time to install them yet. I just hope that the pivot bolt hasn't ovaled-out the hole in the radius arm.
Budget Left: $831
With the front end halfway rebuilt, I decided to splurge and replace the steering linkage for $110.85, and the ball joints for another $67.80. According to J.C. Whitney's Web site, there are two different types of tie-rod ends: '80-'85 and '86-'94. My guess is the later parts have bigger ends that might be an upgrade for the early 1/2-ton Fords. I'd probably have to get the knuckles reamed out to use them, but maybe I could just swap to the later-model knuckles? I'll look into it and let you know.
Budget Left: $652.35
While the J.C. Whitney catalog was open I added a set of Heckethorn/Rough Country Nitro 9000 gas shocks for $119.80 to replace the worn stockers. Though the brand name is old-school, the dampening technology of these monotube gas shocks is first-rate. Too bad I screwed up and only ordered two shocks (instead of four that are required) for the front end.
Budget Left: $532.55
With just over $500 left I needed some tires. My plan was to get a set of 33s and mount them on the rusted chrome wheels that came with the Bronco. I looked on the Internet and found four Yokohama Geolandar A/Ts for $412 plus $75 shipping at The Tire Rack. That would leave me $45.55 to get the tires mounted and balanced. But...while I was online I also found this used set of 35x12.50-15 BFGoodrich All-Terrains on 15x8 Center Lines for $500.
The aluminum wheels and low-mileage All-Terrains weren't really my style but they came mounted and balanced so all I had to do was find a way to make them fit an unlifted Bronco. The first thing I did was pull the plastic inner wheelwells out of the front fenders. It was easy on the driver side and a pain in the butt on the passenger side. Amazingly the tires hardly rubbed at all. Granted, the suspension doesn't move much with short shocks and both sway bars connected, but I think fitting 35s without a lift on one of these trucks is very doable--especially if you don't mind cutting along the factory body line as shown.
Budget Left: $32.55
Out of Cash, and Just getting Started
So $1,467.45 later I have a Bronco that safely runs and drives on 35s. The downside is that the interior is still a dump, the truck is slow, and I don't trust it to get me to work. On the upside I would have killed to have a truck like this in high school.
For a daily driver, 33s would have been a better choice with 3.50 axle gears. As it is now I almost wish I could drive it on the street in low-range. Unfortunately my budget didn't let me replace all the fluids in the truck, or get the engine to pass the local smog test. My next $1,500 will go toward regearing the axles with 4.10s and slipping a Detroit Locker in the rear. The $1,500 after that will go to cleaning up the interior and a four-barrel carb swap. The $1,500 after that...well, you know how it goes!
The Tire Rack