1990 C-350 axle rebuilds: w/ lockers and high steer - Ford Truck Enthusiasts Forums

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1990 C-350 axle rebuilds: w/ lockers and high steer

  #1  
Old 09-19-2018, 05:13 PM
cajohnson
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1990 C-350 axle rebuilds: w/ lockers and high steer

I decided a while back that my C-350 should have better gearing and lockers for off-road use. Things have snow-balled ever since. First, you might as well go ahead and add high-steer so that exposed tie-rod is out of harm's way. It turns out this is a significant project all its own.

You need new knuckles for high steer. After some research it seems that there are two choices; Reid and Crane. Reid is a bit cheaper but are made of cast iron. Crane is made of chrome-nickel-moly. Well worth the extra hundred bucks for the pair as far as I'm concerned. The Crane knuckles also are designed with a male "key" that fits into a slot on their steering arms. This is designed as an interference fit guaranteeing that the load from the steering arm to the knuckle stays secure and properly transferred even if the mounting bolts are no longer properly torqued. Crane's steering arms are already slotted to match (and they are "matched" since there is an interference fit), however they do not have any tie-rod or drag-link holes bored in them. You have to poke your own. Well, I don't know where they should be! So I started shopping around for arms from another source.


Ballistic Fab makes arms specifically for these knuckles, and advertises them as "double shear" and, I suppose, technically, they are. I'll let others ponder the actual validity of that statement. I got annoyed with the limited and short responses I got to my questions and felt I had no choice but to move on.
Ballistic steer arms for Crane knuckles

Ultimately I settled on ORD's high-steer arms and linkage, with the intent of having them slotted for the keys on the knuckles. ORD had far more info on their website than anybody else, including insight into the Ford version of the D60. The ORD arms are monstrous items at 1-1/4" thick and while they don't advertise it, these arms are also chrome-moly. These arms are available in either spring or springless versions (why would anybody go springless?). I loaded up the arms and knuckles and headed for the machine shop.
ORD D60 steering parts

One thing I overlooked was that the ORD arms used 1/2" mounting hardware and the Crane knuckles used 9/16" hardware. Boring the holes on the arms up to size was no big deal but I defy anybody to find a 9/16"x18 Grade 8 stud anywhere. Crane's arms are designed with a cap that makes using a 9/16" bolt very easy but it doesn't work with the ORD arms. The ORD arms are countersunk to accept tapered nuts, an idea I like, but in the end we milled the top of the countersinks to accept a narrow diameter grade 8 machine washer so that a bolt head would be better supported by the arm.



Crane knuckle










More to come. . .
 
  #2  
Old 09-19-2018, 06:06 PM
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I assume this is a kingpin d60? Pretty nifty stuff you got going. I recently got a d44 from a 78 f150 to put under my 85 bronco.

 
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Old 09-19-2018, 06:14 PM
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What is a C-350? Is it a Centurian conversion?
 
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Old 09-19-2018, 06:55 PM
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Yes, this is my '90 Centurian C-350 conversion with KP D60.

It was my intent to have the new knuckles and arms powder coated before sending them to the axle folks. However, at the last minute, it occurred to me that the arms would probably have to be heated to a few hundred degrees in order to overcome the interference fit at room temperature, and the paint would be destroyed, so we changed the plan to have the axle folks go ahead and paint the entire assemblies with the good quality wet paint. Oh well.

My local shop pulled the axles from the truck and loaded them on our trailer for us. A friend loaded up and drove them to the axle folks in Ogden UT. This had all been scheduled in advance with them and, indeed, they jumped on them.
Boyce Equipment Ogden Utah

Everything was proceeding along just fine until I got a call from Brett at Boyce this morning telling me we had a problem. Apparently, the caliper mounting bracket interferes badly with the knuckle. This is a "Ford specific" knuckle, so what gives?


That's a pretty big error!

I called Rocky at Crane and he told me that, indeed, you have to grind the center section of the Ford caliper bracket in order for it to fit. How much? Oh, about 3/8"! Rocky sent me a photo of a Ford bracket that had been ground appropriately.



More to come. . .
 
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Old 09-19-2018, 07:12 PM
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How much lift are you installing?
 
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Old 09-19-2018, 07:15 PM
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The caliper now has room to hit the knuckle itself. So I call Rocky at Crane again.
 
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Old 09-19-2018, 07:30 PM
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Nice parts.
 
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Old 09-19-2018, 09:22 PM
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Thanks for the positive comments guys.

Brad, I'm not planning on doing a lift. I put 35" tires on it a while back and it's plenty high. An astute reader would note that this probably means that the drag-link may run up-hill rather than down-hill as would be the case with a, say, 4-inch lift. Getting the new drag-link bent with the proper offset should still let it operate just fine. Other comments are very welcome.

In the mean time, the guys at Crane had also been mocking up a knuckle/spindle/hub/rotor/caliper bracket assembly.My last conversation with Rocky indicated that the caliper would clear with "minimal clearance". I asked what would happen as the caliper slid as the brake pads wear, and was then told that you may well still have to grind some material off the knuckle so that the caliper wouldn't hit.

It pains me terribly to grind on those beautiful knuckles but what you gonna do?

The core issue is that every body is working with GM D60 variants and they do virtually zero Ford axles. In the case of the Crane knuckles the casting is exactly the same for both the GM and Ford D60s, the difference between them being the order of assembly of the caliper bracket and spindle. On a GM axle the spindle goes on first and the caliper bracket goes on second, spacing the bracket out away from the knuckle by approximately 3/8". The spindle and caliper bracket go on in reverse order on a Ford axle creating the interference problem.

We'll pick this up in the morning and see where we're at.

More to come. . .
 
  #9  
Old 09-20-2018, 05:30 AM
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I'm steering off of the top knuckle on my kp d60. With about 5" lift and a drop pitman arm,the drag link is parallel with the tierod. You'll prob be fine with the stock pitman arm.
 
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Old 09-20-2018, 07:12 AM
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Old 09-20-2018, 10:51 AM
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That seems like a pi55 poor business model, to sell a Chevy made part as a ford part, when it doesn't even fit properly. If they know it has to be ground, they should do it. Especially for the coin I'm sure you spent on them.

 
  #12  
Old 09-20-2018, 11:36 AM
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It is a bit disheartening. However, I'm not ready to start poo-pooing them yet. Let's see how this project finishes up.

The good news for the day is that Boyce has the front axle finished! These guys don't mess around.


Note those very cool axle stands!

There is also bad news though. One of the spindles on the rear axle is badly beat from a spun wheel bearing and Brett thinks the axle housing should be replaced. He has a spare Sterling 10.25 and is willing to part it out for the housing for the price of $400. I asked him to proceed.


No caliper needed. You can see a slight narrowing of the bearing seat with the naked eye. And look at all the nicks in the spindle! There was some bad stuff going on in there.
 
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Old 09-20-2018, 01:25 PM
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I feel like you got taken for that rear axle, I canít even give away a sterling 10.25 never mind selling it for $400 bucks, you can get that axle for free to $100 from almost anywhere.
 
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Old 09-20-2018, 01:37 PM
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Yeah, I know. If I was dealing with it locally I could probably get that done easily enough but they're 600 miles away and they live by billing man-hours. There is no way I could put another housing in their hands for less than $400, especially if I had to deliver it. My local shop also has the truck up on one of their two lifts, waiting to get those axles back. The longer it sits there, the more it's going to cost me.

Sometimes you bite the bear, and sometimes the bear bites you.
 
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Old 09-20-2018, 01:45 PM
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Definitely understand your situation, in that case you are probably cheaper buying their axle then wasting time finding one and traveling all over the place.
 

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