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Old 09-26-2016, 12:11 AM
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8.8 axle swap

I'm thinking of swapping out my rear 35 axle for a Ford 8.8. I like the disk brakes and they seem to be readily available. Anyone have advice on this? I want to regear it to the 4.56 gears I have now and add a ARB. Lets hear the thoughts.

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Old 09-26-2016, 12:53 AM   #2
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Are you doing all the work? If not, it's pretty cost effective to have east coast gear supply build one to your specs. You have options too keep it budget or go all new. If you buy new gears you get a warranty( forgot what it is) but it's on the website. Check it out! I spent a little over $2500 with new gears, new brakes, ARB, and solid diff cover with the hammered finish. It was new looking when I got it. Add gear oil, lubelocker and bolt it in. Perches are welded according to your lift. No complaints here.

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Old 09-26-2016, 06:51 AM   #3
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Setting up your gears isn't that hard to do by yourself, but you'll need some tools to do it. You need a dial indicator first and foremost. You need that to measure your lash. The second tool you need is a bear race installer, which you can usually rent from Autozone, OReillys, etc. If you've done any other axle before, the 8.8 is pretty much the same process of swapping out shims on the pinion and checking gear mesh. If you haven't done one before, it might be a good idea to get help from a friend that's done it.

I got a 4.10 8.8 from a salvage yard fairly cheap, 200 bucks. I ran the 4.10 for a while with an Auburn ECTED "locker", then recently went up to a 5.13 gear. I also added a Yukon c-clip eliminator chromoly axle kit. About 2k in parts overall, and it really takes some abuse.
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Old 09-26-2016, 10:52 AM
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Thanks guys, if I swap it out do I need to get a new master cylinder and run brake lines to allow for the rear disk?
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Old 09-26-2016, 11:16 AM   #5
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I'm still using the stock but apparently the dual diaphragm booster from a 95 and tj model is a bolt in mod with some slight modification to the rod to the pedal makes a world of difference, I just haven't done it yet so can't help you much. Search dual diaphragm brake booster
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Old 09-26-2016, 03:09 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Smittyboyjr View Post
Thanks guys, if I swap it out do I need to get a new master cylinder and run brake lines to allow for the rear disk?
I did a dual diaphragm, and durango master cylinder in my jeep and love it. Makes stopping with 35's and an automatic transmission much better!

It is not necessary however, you can leave your system as is and just put the 8.8 in with discs. I do recommend modifying the brake proportioning valve to really increase your front and rear braking but many skip this step thinking it a waste of time even though they haven't tried it themselves. Having run discs in the rear with the stock brake setup, modified proportioning valve on the stock setup, and with modified valve with upgraded booster/master. I have to say modifying the valve makes a big difference. It is also a stupid simple mod to do while swapping the axle anyway.

Here's a link how to do it: Jeep Cherokee Brakes - Brake Proportioning Valve Mod
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Old 09-26-2016, 06:23 PM   #7
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Here's what east coast gear supply unit looks like-bolt in ready!

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Old 09-26-2016, 06:45 PM   #8
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I went ECGS for the 8.8as well.

I did new gears, all new brakes, good used shafts and I feel like I got a great deal on it.

I opted for the stock diff cover (no cost) but wound up putting a Solid on it after the first time off road.

They weld the tubes to the center section for you and use really beefy spring/shock mounts set at the proper angles for your lift.

It was 100% bolt in. For me this was great because I've got 100 other things that need fixing/modding/upgrading on this pile so no need for any DIY satisfaction as concerns the rear axle.

I have kept the mast/booster/prop valve stock and it stops fine, tires will lock up if I really hit the pedal. So you can run it stock without safety concerns.
That said, I'll definitely look into the upgrades others mentioned above.
Nothing wrong with more braking power at all.


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Old 09-26-2016, 07:23 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by c5wagner View Post
I did a dual diaphragm, and durango master cylinder in my jeep and love it. Makes stopping with 35's and an automatic transmission much better!
I have to say modifying the valve makes a big difference. It is also a stupid simple mod to do while swapping the axle anyway.

Here's a link how to do it: Jeep Cherokee Brakes - Brake Proportioning Valve Mod
I checked out the link you posted and everything looks great but then at the very bottom of the write-up there's this update:

"When upgrading your drum brakes to disc brakes be sure to grab a proportioning valve from a disc brake equipped XJ or Grand Cherokee at the boneyard. It is a far superior solution to modifying the stock valve."

So it seems for the ultimate in junkyard brake upgrades you would do the '95+ wrangler dual diaphragm booster, a Durango master cyl, and a disc equipped xj/zj prop valve. Anyone know if wj parts work as well?
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Old 09-26-2016, 09:51 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ROGER B View Post
I checked out the link you posted and everything looks great but then at the very bottom of the write-up there's this update:

"When upgrading your drum brakes to disc brakes be sure to grab a proportioning valve from a disc brake equipped XJ or Grand Cherokee at the boneyard. It is a far superior solution to modifying the stock valve."

So it seems for the ultimate in junkyard brake upgrades you would do the '95+ wrangler dual diaphragm booster, a Durango master cyl, and a disc equipped xj/zj prop valve. Anyone know if wj parts work as well?
WJ's don't make good candidates for much brake parts except for the front knuckles, rotors, calipers, and pads (Which I have and they are awesomely huge for great stopping power). They have too many ABS controls for the master, abs module and a weird proportioning valve. I currently have a 99 XJ booster I cut the rod off and welded my stock one on to get the right length. I also bought a new master cylinder for what I think was a 98 dodge durango since it bolts up to the XJ/TJ booster without any mods needed and clears the hood. Dual diaphragm boosters stick further off the firewall than stock and need to clear the clutch master so hood clearance is something to worry about since the entire assembly will go further into engine territory. Also big air cleaners on 4.2l aftermarket carbs and TBI are an issue to with clearance. I had to get a 6" assembly I found at oreilly auto parts. Just make sure the resevoir cap is level because boosters in YJ's tend to stay pretty flat. The master and resevoir pictured below is ideal.


I do have the ZJ proportioning valve installed too but when I disassembled it, it was the same as our YJ's have but without the red rod, spring and O-ring from this picture. It also has a solid cap without a bleeder. If you have a pull yard to grab one from, that's great. If not modifying is your next best choice.
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Old 09-28-2016, 12:10 AM   #11
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Installed my 8.8 first. Later added the dual diaphragm booster from a late model LJ. The dual diaphragm booster did require some cutting and welding. You can buy late model 1995 YJ brake parts for a complete bolt on experience. I would recommend doing gears and locker at the same time to lower total labor costs.
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Old 10-04-2016, 11:55 PM
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Awesome info guys!! Thanks for all the help. I am trying to decide now though if I skip the 8.8 swap and do 60's full width? There are so many options with these things its crazy!
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Old 10-05-2016, 12:04 AM   #13
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Awesome info guys!! Thanks for all the help. I am trying to decide now though if I skip the 8.8 swap and do 60's full width? There are so many options with these things its crazy!
Do it! I could've got 60's for the price I got my current axles for. I wish I didn't do baby steps and just went with the better axles to begin with....
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Old 10-05-2016, 09:24 AM   #14
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Awesome info guys!! Thanks for all the help. I am trying to decide now though if I skip the 8.8 swap and do 60's full width? There are so many options with these things its crazy!
Unless you are going over 37" tires, there's probably no reason to go to Dana 60s.

There are a few downsides:
- The Dana 60 is much heavier
- You'll lose about 1" of ground clearance at the pumpkin
- You'll lose driveshaft length, since the pinion is longer, so your driveshaft angle will be worse (unless you do a rear stretch).

Typically, when you go to 37"+ tires, you'll want (need) to do a stretch front and rear for tire clearance.

When you do the rear stretch, you'll need to modify your gas tank (Genright, fuel cell or heat/form your existing tank).

The stretch is difficult with leaf springs - you may want to go coil over. The front stretch may require a different steering box, etc.

Also, if your Jeep is a daily driver, be aware of how much weight you will be adding. Dana 60s front/rear with large tires can easily add 600 lbs to your rig. You'll notice that weight everytime you step on the gas.

If you do see yourself on 39" tires, then go for the Dana 60s now. But be prepared for a ton of other issues to pop up.
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Old 10-05-2016, 03:06 PM   #15
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I did the 8.8 swap when I stepped up to 35s a few years ago. With the axle, I had about $500 into it. It was a pretty easy swap, lots of write ups out there.

Then about 1.5 years later, I came across a set of axles from a 1978 F250. A D44HD high pinion, and a rear D60. The 60 is an easy swap, just weld spring perches and shock mounts on where they need to go. The front is also easy to bolt in, as the perches are in the perfect place for SOA. Steering was where it got tricky. WFO Concepts had all the parts I needed for steering and shock mounts. Had to send in the passenger side knuckle to them to get it milled for a high steer arm though.

I also did disc brakes conversions, making all 4 corners take front calipers, pads, and rotors from a 85 Chevy K2500 2wd. Those huge brakes all around were amazing, combined with the stock booster and a master cylinder from a 1978 Mercury Grand Marquis. And with just some grinding on the calipers, just taking off the flashing from the casting, I could fit 15s still. All in all, I think I had $1300 in the swap, including the axles and front Aussie locker.

It was an amazing change in driveability being over 80" wide, with the crossover steering instead of the stupid stock setup. If I did it all over again, I would've skipped straight to the 3/4 or 1 tons.
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Old 10-05-2016, 03:24 PM   #16
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If I did it all over again, I would've skipped straight to the 3/4 or 1 tons.
My point exactly, I wish I didn't take baby steps to begin with. I would've saved more time and money in the long run....
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Old 10-05-2016, 05:36 PM   #17
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Word of warning though. If you don't plan on 35s or larger, DO NOT get 3/4 tons or 1 tons. 35s are the minimum to keep from dragging those things on everything. I had 35s on my jeep, and didn't have any major problems. Some dragging and scraping, but doable with lockers to help me over the obstacles.
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Old 10-06-2016, 10:20 PM
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Ok so I guess the reason I like the one ton idea is the wider stance. I'll never go bigger then a 37" tire though and I don't drive it daily but I'd rather drive it then trailer it to moab so it has to be ok on the freeway. Do I need to go 60's or would an 8.8 hold up to the 37" tire and I just won't have the wide stance? Whats the front axle to use if I do a 8.8 in the back, a 40?
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Old 10-06-2016, 10:23 PM
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Also if I do the full 60's and swap or cut the fenders do I need to do the stretch? I would like to go a simply as possible. Do one tons require all new steering up front? And to I have to do SOA lift?
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Old 10-07-2016, 01:04 AM   #20
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A beefed up 8.8 will handle 37s. There is no stock width front axle to match up with an 8.8 without going custom and expensive. A 30 usually kinda holds up to 37s decently if it has a 1 piece shaft conversion and chromoly axles. Even better if you do the 30 spline upgrade. But 37s are a whole new problems. After 35s, a stretch really should be done. You start getting too tall for the short wheelbase.

With 3/4 or 1 tons, new steering is required up front. And you'll need to go SOA at least up front. I ran my rear 60 SUA to prevent axle wrap. You won't need a stretch, the pinions are only around 1 inch longer. I made up for it by stretching my front 1" and rear 2" when I did the axle swap.

I'm not sure if you realize how much work it takes to run 37s. You're talking putting money into strengthening axles, and low gears to be able to turn those massive things. What engine do you have?
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Old 10-07-2016, 07:47 AM   #21
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There is no stock width front axle to match up with an 8.8 without going custom and expensive.
This. There is the G2 Dana44 that is "bolt in", but honestly, you can get your Dana 30 almost as strong with a set of chromoly 30 spline axles with the bigger u-joints in the knuckles, and a selectable locker for about half of what the the G2 axle costs.
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Old 10-07-2016, 08:19 AM   #22
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There is no stock width front axle to match up with an 8.8 without going custom and expensive.
This is incorrect.

Ford 8.8s were used in 90s F150s with a 5 x 5.5 Lug Pattern, and the wider stance that the OP wants. (roughly 65" wms to wms)

70s Front Dana 44s out of F150s and F250s are a good match - same width (~65"), same lug pattern, driver drop, etc. You have to pick wisely to get what you want - Some are high pinion. Some are low pinion. Some have 8 lugs, which you can change over to 5 lug. (Some F150s have cast radius arm mounts - this is not what you want!)

That being said, you *may* be better off just buying a new axle.
Rebuilding a front axle is not cheap.
(and yes, I've done it: Full-width-axles-under-yj-how-wide-too-wide-3692249/ )
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Old 10-07-2016, 09:31 AM   #23
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This is incorrect.

Ford 8.8s were used in 90s F150s with a 5 x 5.5 Lug Pattern, and the wider stance that the OP wants. (roughly 65" wms to wms)

70s Front Dana 44s out of F150s and F250s are a good match - same width (~65"), same lug pattern, driver drop, etc. You have to pick wisely to get what you want - Some are high pinion. Some are low pinion. Some have 8 lugs, which you can change over to 5 lug. (Some F150s have cast radius arm mounts - this is not what you want!)

That being said, you *may* be better off just buying a new axle.
Rebuilding a front axle is not cheap.
(and yes, I've done it: Full-width-axles-under-yj-how-wide-too-wide-3692249/ )
The OP referenced having disk brakes, which means he was talking about the Explorer 8.8, not the 90s F150. For an Explorer width 8.8, there are no matching front ends without going custom or expensive. Except for the TJ Rubicon 44s which are garbage and expensive and impossible to find. If OP wanted to run a 90s F150 8.8, there are some matching front ends. Like you said, there are pre-78 F150 axles. 78-79 had cast in radius wedges and are impossible to use. And anything older than those are extremely hard to find and expensive. It is possible to run an F250 axle with leaf perches with F150 knuckles, but the knuckles are difficult to find and the steering setups suck for them. That's why the F250 flat top knuckles are the most common.

I did both the 8.8 and 3/4 tons swap. I've researched all the options very well.
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Old 10-07-2016, 04:24 PM   #24
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The OP referenced having disk brakes, which means he was talking about the Explorer 8.8, not the 90s F150. For an Explorer width 8.8, there are no matching front ends without going custom or expensive. Except for the TJ Rubicon 44s which are garbage and expensive and impossible to find. If OP wanted to run a 90s F150 8.8, there are some matching front ends. Like you said, there are pre-78 F150 axles. 78-79 had cast in radius wedges and are impossible to use. And anything older than those are extremely hard to find and expensive. It is possible to run an F250 axle with leaf perches with F150 knuckles, but the knuckles are difficult to find and the steering setups suck for them. That's why the F250 flat top knuckles are the most common.

I did both the 8.8 and 3/4 tons swap. I've researched all the options very well.
There wouldn't have been any confusion if you had said "Explorer 8.8", but "8.8" applies to a bunch of different axles.

If he wants full width, then he may be willing to give up disc brakes.

Personally, I've never been happy with the performance of my Explorer 8.8 eBrake with the stock YJ eBrake pedal. The little eBrake drums inside the disc just don't hold well enough for my taste. To me, I'm willing to trade off a little normal braking performance (if any), for a better eBrake with big beefy drums.

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Old 10-07-2016, 05:42 PM   #25
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I agree. The Explorer 8.8 ebrake leaves a bit to be desired. But I'll take better stopping power on the road with disks over a little better ebrake with drums.

A nice thing with the rear 60 disk brake conversion I had was that you could use Cadillac El Dorado rear calipers on them. They had a mechanical lever built in that actually used the pads as an ebrake.
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Old 10-07-2016, 09:56 PM
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Ok so after lots of looking around the web, facebook groups and this awesome group here......I'm thinking of bagging the one ton idea, I don't want to start stretching and trying to mess with the one ton steering stuff.
I'm kind of not liking the 8.8 idea because I would rather have full width axles then rear disc. I have 4.56 gears now and a granny transfer case, in a lot of cases I have to use 2nd to get down a hill.

So how do we feel about full width dana 44's or a rear ford 9"?
What is a good donor vehicle to pull a set of full width 44's out of?
I think I'm giving up on the 37" tire idea, I want to keep being able to jump in it and drive to Moab.
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Old 10-08-2016, 08:03 AM   #27
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The 44/9" combo will require just as much work as 3/4 or 1 tons. It's hard to find a 44 without the cast in radius arm wedges. And setting up the steering on one of those is just as expensive as setting up 1 ton steering.

There are no real cheap options when swapping front axles, as a complete change in steering is required with all of them.
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Old 10-08-2016, 09:02 AM   #28
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Ok so after lots of looking around the web, facebook groups and this awesome group here......I'm thinking of bagging the one ton idea, I don't want to start stretching and trying to mess with the one ton steering stuff.
I'm kind of not liking the 8.8 idea because I would rather have full width axles then rear disc. I have 4.56 gears now and a granny transfer case, in a lot of cases I have to use 2nd to get down a hill.

So how do we feel about full width dana 44's or a rear ford 9"?
What is a good donor vehicle to pull a set of full width 44's out of?
I think I'm giving up on the 37" tire idea, I want to keep being able to jump in it and drive to Moab.
For the front, you'll want to look for early to mid 70s Ford F150, F250. Key point - they are all driver drop. Read this page and also do some general searching. Mr. N has collected a ton of good info: Mr.N's Dana Articles to Include 44, 60 information.

As I mentioned before, do not get the F150 with the cast radius arm mounts. There are a bunch of them out there.

You should plan on replacing every part inside the axle - spindle, calipers, seals, bearings, etc. I thought I would be able to reuse some parts, but I ended up having to replace almost everything. 35-40 years of use takes its toll. The cost of these parts adds up.

For the rear, 9" are very common. 8.8 full width are also very common. Any 90s F150 had them.

You'll have to match lug patterns front/rear. You can convert the front axle to almost any lug pattern to match the rear you choose (or vise versa). When I looked into it, it was difficult to get an 8 lug rear, unless you go Dana 60. 8 lug conversions for 8.8s and 9" don't really exist.
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Old 10-08-2016, 11:16 PM
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So in my area I have found a front 44 with crossover steering and a lockrite, geared 4.56
Then a high pinion Ford 9 that has to be rebuilt, has a Detroit in it.
or a 9 with the normal pinion ready to go....
Thoughts?
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Old 10-09-2016, 01:28 AM   #30
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The question is, what year 44? If it's 78 or 79 F150, it's a no-go. And you'll need to make sure you can find a pitman arm that'll fit the drag link.

And don't get a high pinion rear axle. They wrap like crazy.

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