Welcome to part 3 of our Ranger Rehash project. Over the past couple of months we’ve torn down the well-used ’97 Ford Ranger (Mar. ’12) and hung the new rear axle and suspension in place (Apr. ’12). This month we’re turning our attention to the front of the truck. This means getting our new front axle prepped and starting in on the solid-axle conversion. The G2 Axle & Gear Dana 44 front axle is similar to what you would find under the ’03-’06 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and is fitted with all of the stock TJ brackets. The axle is only slightly wider than the Ranger’s original Dana 35 Twin Traction Beam frontend, which helps make the transition seamless.The G2 Axle & Gear Dana 44 front axle is similar to what you would find under the ’03- With the front framerails cleared of the original and aftermarket suspension brackets, we were able to examine a handful of fresh suspension options. While a leaf spring setup was possible, we found that the spring mounting points would make the Ranger much taller than we would like. This led us to compare a more advanced coilover setup versus a standard coil and shock configuration. While coilovers come with plenty of tuning advantages and long-travel potential, they also carry a hefty price tag. After reviewing our suspension options and deciding on the front axle, we opted to go with a more budget-friendly coil and shock setup. Inside of the low-pinion 44 front housing is a G2 4.88 gearset. Connected to the beefy ring gear is an incredibly strong Detroit Locker. The automatically locking action of the full carrier Detroit Locker gives us the traction we need while keeping with the strength and simplicity theme that runs throughout the truck.Inside of the low-pinion 44 front housing is a G2 4.88 gearset. Connected to the beefy rin Using a G2 Axle & Gear Dana 44 front axle, we worked with the crew at Low Range 4x4 in Wilmington, North Carolina, to craft a simple and effective way to execute the solid-axle conversion. The G2 Dana 44 front axle is designed as a bolt-in upgrade to replace the factory Dana 30 that’s found under the ’97-’06 Jeep Wrangler TJ, ’84-’01 Jeep Cherokee XJ, and ’93-’98 Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ. This means that while we prefer the stronger Dana 44 differential, a Dana 30 can be used to achieve the same straight axle conversion that we’re demonstrating here. Check back in with us next month as wrap up our solid-axle swap and continue to breathe new life into our old trail truck. Our Dana 44 housing uses G2’s 4340 30-spline chromoly axleshafts, which are fitted with 5-760x Dana Spicer U-joints. While our 37-inch tires ride the limit of this axle combo, our 3.0L’s modest power output should keep us from twisting any metal, we hope.Our Dana 44 housing uses G2’s 4340 30-spline chromoly axleshafts, which are fitted with 5- To upgrade the Ranger’s steering, we’re using a TeraFlex high-steer conversion designed for the Jeep Wrangler TJ. The kit allows us to reuse the factory Jeep Wrangler TJ brake calipers, rotors, and unit bearings. This means we can retain the Ranger’s factory 5-on-41⁄2 wheel bolt pattern.To upgrade the Ranger’s steering, we’re using a TeraFlex high-steer conversion designed fo A key part of the TeraFlex high-steer kit is the weld-on track bar relocation bracket. Since the draglink is now raised and separated from the tie rod, it is necessary to move the mounting location of the track bar. Having the track bar and draglink near equal length allows them to travel in the same arch as the suspension cycles. With the track bar raised it also increases the roll center of the vehicle, making it safer both on the road and off.A key part of the TeraFlex high-steer kit is the weld-on track bar relocation bracket. Sin From the factory the TTB-equipped Ranger had some heavy-duty crossmembers that doubled as suspension mounting points. Since we are trying to keep the Ranger low and not hinder the suspension travel, we trimmed out a large section of the front crossmember that rests below the engine. This gives our front axle more room to travel upward. A few inches of uptravel can make a big difference in the ride and performance of the vehicle.From the factory the TTB-equipped Ranger had some heavy-duty crossmembers that doubled as The Low Range 4x4 control arm brackets are designed to bolt on to the Ranger’s framerails and require removing the stock radius arm mounts. For more extreme use, Low Range suggests welding the brackets on as well. Note that the Grade 5 bolts shown are for mockup; kits ship with Grade 8 hardware.The Low Range 4x4 control arm brackets are designed to bolt on to the Ranger’s framerails To control the front axle, we went with a set of Rubicon Express long arms designed for the TJ, XJ, and ZJ series long-arm kits. The radius style Xtreme Duty arms are 2-inch OD 4130 chromoly fitted with rebuildable Super-Flex joints and heavy-duty rubber bushings. Given the Ranger’s narrow framerails, the radius-style arms create a great packaging solution and allow us to need only the two control arm mounts at the frame.To control the front axle, we went with a set of Rubicon Express long arms designed for th In the midst of all the Jeep stuff, we did manage to incorporate some genuine Ford products. The shock mounts we ordered directly from our local Ford dealership (PN E5TZ-18188-A), and after a little trimming they fit perfectly. We’ll tell you more about our shock setup next month.In the midst of all the Jeep stuff, we did manage to incorporate some genuine Ford product Low Range 4x4 owner Kelly Carter fabricated our custom coil buckets, which were welded onto the frame. As of now the front of the truck is being lifted by stock ’97 Jeep Cherokee XJ front coil springs and 3⁄4-inch Daystar isolators. This may change, but as it sits the factory XJ coils seem to have a nice soft rate and might be the perfect junkyard jewels to support the Ranger.Low Range 4x4 owner Kelly Carter fabricated our custom coil buckets, which were welded ont Keeping our front axle in check are Daystar Stinger bumpstops that sit inside of the custom coil buckets. On the axle side we used a set of 2-inch Rubicon Express bumpstop pucks to raise the bump perch. There is still a gracious amount of sheetmetal trimming in the works to allow for our 37-inch Mickey Thompson MTZs to cycle and turn unobstructed.Keeping our front axle in check are Daystar Stinger bumpstops that sit inside of the custo Coming Soon Next month we’ll wrap up the steering and straight-axle conversion, fit our new transmission crossmember, and even get the drivelines bolted in place. For web-exclusive Ranger Rehash photos and content visit 4wheeloffroad.com. SOURCES Daystar 841 S. 71st Avenue Phoenix AZ 85043 800-595-7659 www.daystarweb.com TeraFlex 5241 S Commerce Drive Murray UT 84107 801-288-2585 www.teraflex.biz Low Range 4x4 105 Portwatch Way Unit F Wilimington NC 28412 910-392-3204 www.lowrange4x4.com Rubicon Express 3290 Monier Circle Rancho Cordova CA 95742 877-367-7824 www.rubiconexpress.com Mickey Thompson Tires & Wheels 4600 Prosper Drive Stow OH 44224 330-928-9092 www.mickeythompsontires.com G2 Axle & Gear 400 W. Artesia Boulevard Compton CA 90220 310-900-2687 www.g2axle.com By Ali Mansour Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!