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1987 - 1996 F150 & Larger F-Series Trucks 1987 - 1996 Ford F-150, F-250, F-350 and larger pickups - including the 1997 heavy-duty F250/F350+ trucks

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Old 06-16-2012, 06:41 AM
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8.8 Rear End Upgrade

Hi, I'm brand new to the forums, so a little introduction. My name's Matt, I'm 22, volunteer firefighter, 911 operator, and golf course maintenance/groundskeeping. Now to the fun stuff....


I have a 1987 F-150 XLT Lariat 4x4, Dana 44TTB front and 8.8 Rear, currently geared 3.55:1 (stock). I am running military 36x12.50x16.5, and want to do a regear. I believe I have settled on wanting to go for 5.13, to leave option to go a little bigger tire, and also for more power as I do use this truck to haul/pull from time to time.

I have been doing a lot of research, and have heard of people swapping the Explorer 8.8's into their vehicles, mostly for the L/S, which is what I want, and I'd also like the disc brakes as well. My question is is there a width difference between my vehicle's 8.8 and the Explorer 8.8s? If so, is there a way to correct that? Also, how complicated will switching to disc brakes be?

I figure this would be a better route, as I could hopefully do the regear and then just have to swap out axles, cutting out some of the down time. Yes, I will have to pull, gear swap, and reinstall the front when I swap the rear ends. Any information is great, and if there are any Piedmont NC guys that know a little about regearin' an axle, I'd love to be able to meet you and maybe get some help on this, as I'm kind of going at this alone right now. Thanks guys!
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Old 06-16-2012, 08:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilmatt119 View Post
My question is is there a width difference between my vehicle's 8.8 and the Explorer 8.8s?
Yes the Explorer axle is narrower and therefore not a direct swap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lilmatt119 View Post
If so, is there a way to correct that?
Yes but it involves cutting off the axle tubes and welding in longer versions.

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Originally Posted by lilmatt119 View Post
Also, how complicated will switching to disc brakes be?
That's not a direct swap either, the Explorer uses a 5 x 4.5" bolt pattern while the fullsize truck has a 5 x 5.5" bolt pattern, so the rotors and axle hubs have to be redrilled for the larger pattern.

The better route to an LS diff since you're doing gears anyway is to simply install an aftermarket diff in the axle you have, options start with the relatively cheap Ford TracLok which makes a decent on-road/light off-road diff once it is stacked tighter(factory spec is too loose for much of anything). And then you have the Powertrax or Detroit LockRite which is a true locker that installs inside an open carrier, mixed reviews on this one... it has to be setup just right or it doesn't work at all. And then you get into a range of automatic lockers or remotely activated pneumatic or electric lockers and prices go up accordingly. In the front axle you don't want a locker unless all you do is mudbog because the truck won't want to do anything but go straight ahead. For better trail manners use a true Posi like the Detroit/Eaton TrueTrac, it's an all gear diff that works better than a limited slip and sends power to the wheel with traction instead of the other way around so it'll perform better in extreme low traction conditions, but it still allows side to side differential action so you don't lose any steering control.
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Old 06-16-2012, 01:24 PM
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Well thank you for the answers, though not exactly what I wanted to hear lol.

Speaking of the axle tubes, I've heard of people welding them to the carrier, but have yet to find any one explaining it in detail, could someone possibly do such?
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Old 06-16-2012, 11:11 PM
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The axle tubes are basically spot welded through a hole on the carrier casting. You can see this weld if you look at the carrier, from the back of the truck, at the left and right of the differential cover. Welding the tubes to the carrier will strengthen bond between to two and help prevent carrier to axle slipping under high torque situations; wheel hop being one of them.
I welded mine in short/opposite sections and switching sides to keep the material from getting to hot.
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Old 06-17-2012, 02:59 AM
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I haven't had a chance to look at mine yet, but basically I could do this without taking the axle off the truck, correct? So long as I use good welding procedure and do a little at a time, changing sides to keep heat down?
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Old 06-17-2012, 10:17 AM
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Yes.

Use a wire wheel or brush to clean the area you're welding. You'll want to remove the paint and any oil residue.
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Old 06-17-2012, 10:54 AM
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What part of the Piedmont of NC are you Matt?
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Old 06-17-2012, 11:28 AM
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Right, right. Just makin' sure I could weld it while on the truck.


And ranchero I'm in Alamance county, how about you?
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Old 06-17-2012, 01:05 PM
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So, lookin' at my carrier, do I weld the tubes where they go into the carrier?
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:03 PM
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You can weld them in place with no problems if you do small sections at a time. I went with the Powertrax no slip unit and havent had a problem since. It went in nice and locks both wheels in a straight line and releases quietly around turns. I would highly recommend it.
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:18 PM
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Right, and I'll look into the powertrax. Just trying to make sure that I'm welding on the right place. Lol
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Old 06-17-2012, 06:40 PM
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Yes, where the axle goes into the carrier.
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Old 06-17-2012, 07:35 PM
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And ranchero I'm in Alamance county, how about you?
Denver (of the East) NC, 'bout half way between Charlotte and Hickory on the west side of Lake Norman. I'm in Burlington/Graham/Mebane once a week.
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'10 TRANSIT Connect 210K miles
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Old 06-17-2012, 09:02 PM
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That's cool dude. I live in Burlington, work in Graham and out in the county, and I'm liable to be anywhere in the county at any time lol. I go all over the place.
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:51 AM
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Not sure what your planning on using to weld the axle tubes to the center section, but if your using an arc welder, do yourself a favor and go grab some Nomacast rods. The center section is cast iron while the tubes are regular ole steel, which can be kinda tough to weld if you've never been around cast iron. At least with the Nomacast rods you won't have to worry about heating the cast up prior to welding and don't get any cracking. Here are my tubes welded to the center section.

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 06-18-2012, 10:51 AM
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