The GOD of leaf SAS thread - Ford Bronco Forum
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post #1 of 222 (permalink) Old 09-03-2004, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
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The GOD of leaf SAS thread

PBB's got the God of Suspension thread, this can be kinda like that since some people just can't use search. Rather than embedding this in another reply in another thread, making it harder to find, hopefully this thread can stick around and we can point newbs here. I've seen similar stuff for coil swaps, but maybe the coil guys will want to do the same thing?

I'm not saying leafs are best, just trying to create a database of leaf info

My swap, D60 into a '90:
http://www.superford.org/registry/ve...=13234#content

Seboh's swap, D60 into a '90:
http://www.superford.org/registry/ve...=13190#content

Beerman's swap, D44 into a '96 (of note for crumple zone guys)
http://www.superford.org/registry/ve...=14787#content

Dangling Dave's swap, D60 into a '96 (another one for the crumple zone guys)
http://www.superford.org/registry/ve...=18439#content

Swamp Donkey's swap, D60 into an '86
http://www.superford.org/registry/ve...=13658#content

The Nag's swap, D60 into an '87:
http://www.superford.org/registry/ve...=13618#content

Biggie Truck's swap, D60 into a '95 (also click on SAS redone), another of note for crumple zone guys)
http://www.superford.org/registry/ve...=11689#content

Big Norm's swap, D60 into an '86 (using rear leafs, this should be interesting):
http://www.superford.org/registry/ve...=16448#content

Andy351's swap, D60 into an '89:
http://www.superford.org/registry/ve...=19678#content

Of these I had a personal hand in 4 of them. Now let's hope Superford doesn't crash. Maybe I'll try for an FAQ in another post without turning this into an leaf v coil pissing match

If I missed anyone I apologize; please post up

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post #2 of 222 (permalink) Old 09-03-2004, 02:52 PM
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keith, feel free to move this to your post and ill edit mine and delete it so its all in one place

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post #3 of 222 (permalink) Old 09-13-2004, 03:32 PM
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just dug up a couple part numbers i had that i thought might help people out:

E0TZ 5340 A/B part number for the F350 rear bracket (left and right)
E5TZ 18183A part number for the F250 upper shock mount

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post #4 of 222 (permalink) Old 09-13-2004, 04:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thejuice
Have to link to Chris B's site as well....or is Canadian stuff out? I liked his approach as well, shows there are a couple different ways to mount the leafs.

Thanks thejuice. Here is my Canadian content, whether Keith likes it or not!

My site.

Parts I used.

Summary on SuperMotors.

Chris B
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post #5 of 222 (permalink) Old 09-27-2004, 06:11 PM Thread Starter
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Some random thoughts:

1. Why leafs? Well, leafs are cheap, simple and reliable. Leafs suspend and locate the axle, killing two birds with one stone. Some will argue leafs are old technology, and they're right. However, old is not necessarily bad, but is tried and true. Leafs can be “tuned” to some degree by anyone (however this tends to be more true with rear spring packs than the 2-leaf front packs that are most common in SAS’s). Examples of “tuning” (and I don’t mean “tuners” like sport compact cars) could include adding leafs, removing leafs and/or shaping/cutting leafs. Shaping and cutting leafs is perfectly acceptable but be careful about re-drilling the center pin hole.

Walk out to your Bronco and take a look at the rear suspension. Pretty simple. Which leads me to:

2. How difficult is a leaf SAS?. A leaf SAS is arguably the easiest SAS, provided that your donor axle came with leafs from the factory (78/9 F250/350s and 86-97 F350s are your best candidates). This is because a leaf suspension is very simple, and is comprised really of just three parts:
-front spring hanger (one per side)
-rear spring hanger (one per side)
-shackle (one per side)

One spring hanger interfaces directly with the leaf eye, the other spring hanger acts as pivot for the top of your shackle. The eye at the other end of your leaf goes into the bottom of your shackle. The shackle swings and allows your leaf to change length, which naturally occurs as the suspension cycles up or down.

You need only find a way to anchor your spring hangers securely to your frame, and over the half the battle is won. Beyond this are smaller things like shock mounts, brake lines, and steering but I won’t touch on those much because if you can’t handle that stuff you probably shouldn’t be considering an SAS.

3. Where do all the parts come from? There are many ways to do a leaf SAS. I’ll just cover one possible way here, which is the method with which I’m most familiar, and seems most common among those SAS’s which I linked to above.

Front spring hanger: I used a front hanger for a late ‘70s F250, it’s a very simple piece and is pre-fabbed for you. Also it bolts onto the F250 from the factory, so removal at a junkyard is simple:





We also discovered that 4” square tube with .250 wall thickness works great if you wanna build your own:


Rear spring hanger: Factory Ford stuff can also help you out here, look for this hanger on ’80-97 F250s or F350s. Yes, even tho F250s of this era used TTB, it was leaf-sprung TTB and the hanger is the same from F250 to 350.


You will find this hanger at the rear of the front springs on your donor truck, the same position in which you will be using them. Unfortunately they are riveted on at the factory, so removal can be problematic. Be nice and approach yards when they’re not busy; they may torch them off for you at minimal cost; I’ve had hangers cut off for $10 per side.

Note that this hanger is not as simple as it appears, primarily because it positions the leaf eye about 2/3 under the frame and 1/3 outboard (that’s a VERY rough guess). Thus, trying to build this hanger will be somewhat time-intensive and will require some trial and error. But the positioning on this hanger is perfect if using 36” center spring perch spacing (more on that later), so I recommend looking for the original piece.

Shackle: I used stock rear shackles, ie walk to the back of the your Bronco as it sits now and you’ll see the shackle you need. Fullsize Fords from the early to mid ‘70s all the way thru ’97 should provide a suitable shackle, just be sure it takes a 3” spring as some 80’s F100s used 2.25 or 2.5” rear springs. You might also consider buying new shackles; it’s common for them to be sold complete because when the molded-in rubber bushing wears I suppose it can’t be replaced per Ford specs, ie the average consumer can’t mold more rubber in there. However, if you get some used shackles with trashed bushings, don’t fear as suspension.com will sell just the shackle bushings in poly which basically push in by hand and cost less than $20.



I recommend plating your shackles sooner or later as you can see they endure considerable twisting forces in uneven terrain.

Springs: I’ve always used a main leaf from an ’86-97 F350. Under that I’ve tried a couple different lower leafs to soften the spring rate some, even tho the stock F350 spring pack really doesn’t flex or ride nearly as bad as one might suspect. Under my main leaf I’ve tried a very thin leaf from a rear spring pack, which proved to be too unsupportive and was arched too much causing it to want to curl at the ends – I broke an F350 main leaf up front with this setup. I’m currently running a 2nd leaf from a ‘99+ SuperDuty, it’s a bit thinner than the pre ’98 lower leaf but the arch more closely matches. In any case, I recommend starting out with a stock leaf pack and modding it later if you choose.

You can also use ’80-97 F250 front packs, but they’ll have a bit of negative arch, so plan on slightly less lift and **maybe** a slightly harsher ride.

Steering: ’86-97 F350 steering is a direct bolt-in for your TTB Bronco

4. I have an ’80-’91 Bronco. Do I have to weld? Yes, you’ll probably need to weld at least a little. If this is a problem, you can do what I initially did before I owned a welder:
Step 1: make a cardboard template to box your framehorns and then transfer that onto 3/16” plate which you can (with patience) cut with an angle grinder:

Step 2: take that to a friend who can weld it in place for you. At the same time you may want to install some tube to run bolts thru for the front spring hanger, but there are MANY ways to anchor your front spring hangers to your frame, and this is probably the weakest method (you’ll have to browse thru photos above for other ideas):


From here everything virtually bolts on.

4.b. I have a ’92-96 Bronco. Do I have to weld? YES! Go take a look at your framehorns. Behind that ugly, tinny excuse for a front bumper you’ll find a bunch of ripples, known as crumple zones. Your front spring hangers will place quite a load on these as the framehorn will now be supporting at least part of the weight of the truck – something it was never meant to do. You’ll need to find a way to box these in to provide additional support. Note the crumple zones are much like a sippy straw, ie they could conceivably fold in any direction. For the purposes of your SAS this means they might not only fold UP, but could also fold SIDE to SIDE as sidehill, driving and cornering forces impose various loads on them. Point being not only do you have to plate them, but you need to run a crossmember to tie them together and help keep everything square.

I have outlined the various swaps that are of specific interest to crumple zones above, so take a good look at the pics and decide if you want to do this and/or can do this. You are technically defeating a safety feature of your vehicle here, so do so at your own risk and consult your insurance agent if you wish.

5. What’s the deal with spring perch spacing? This is measured from center of one spring perch to the center of the other spring perch and is pretty important to your swap. There are basically two numbers you need to know here: 32” and 36.25” (approx). Any leaf sprung 4x4 from the late ‘70s will be 32”. This worked great for the framerails of that era which were essentially straight. However, if you look at the framerails of your ‘80+ Bronco when kneeling in front of the vehicle you’ll see that the framerails go in and out, particularly around the coil tower/shock tower.

’86+ (the year which Ford returned to solid axles – Dana 60s- on it’s F350s) is based upon a 36” center to center spacing to accommodate the wider, wackier frame. Note that for the most part every ’80-97 Ford truck, Bronco thru F350, used basically the same frame from the framehorns to the firewall.

*In my opinion* if you’re working with an ’80 Bronco and you want to do a leaf SAS, it is easier to use 36” spring spacing (otherwise the hangers I mentioned above will not work for you). This means if you find a donor axle with 32” spacing, you can simply move the spring perches out to the wider spacing. This what we did with Beerman’s swap. If you are using an ‘80+ frame and want to run the 32” spacing, you will need to build a custom crossmember up front, see Bronco Boy’s swap for an example of this.

You should also read this:
http://www.2bigbroncos.org/technical/d60/index.html

6. Other options for springs: while the ‘86+ front F350 leafs work pretty well, they’re somewhat rare and can be difficult to work with or modify aside from ordering custom spring packs. A better option might be front Chevy leafs (no moaning about your short-sighted brand loyalty please) as they are readily available from the aftermarket and are 2.5” wide which might theoretically allow for more flex, but may require different spring hangers and perches. Also, they’re intended for a half-ton truck and will almost surely be softer.

Do some research if you wish, but remember most springs have unique characteristics – primarily width of the spring, center pin location, and length from eye to eye – which all affect how you build and position your spring hangers.

7. I heard all trucks with solid front axles ride rough. Won’t it be even worse if I’m running F350 front leafs? The bottom line is this: your ride will stiffen some, yes. Is it bad? I wouldn’t say so. “It rides like a truck” is the most common conclusion from those who have completed a leaf SAS. Expect a firmer ride but a more responsive feel with a slightly crisper feel to the steering wheel and less wandering. Nonetheless, this is old-school, basic technology and it won’t handle like a sports car. However, do not go ride in a stock ‘80+ F250 or 350 and think your truck will ride so poorly because:

8. Ford put the shackle up front on ‘80+ trucks. Why did you put it at the rear? Generally speaking a shackle mounted at the rear of your leafs will make for a smother ride. This is because 99% of the time you’re driving FORWARD at speed; as your wheel encounters bumps it must move up. As the wheel moves up the leaf spring flattens & lengthens a small amount. With a front-mounted shackle, when the spring lengthens to absorb a bump, the axle shifts forward just slightly, shoving your axle INTO the obstruction. With a rear-mounted shackle the axle swings back slightly, moving your axle away from the obstruction; a much more natural movement while driving forward.

This is only one explanation and some will disagree.

9. What is a track bar and do I need one with my leaf SAS? In simplest terms a track bar is a rod which runs from one framerail at an angle down to your front axle. It helps to locate your front axle (or rear axle in some cases) laterally under the vehicle, ie it prevents the axle from shifting side-to-side. In most cases a track bar is not required with a leaf SAS, provided your spring hangers and shackles are strong and securely attached to the frame, along with proper u-bolts, etc. If you should find that your axle is allowed to shift side-to-side, a track bar may be required but it is unlikely at best unless you are running heavily arched lift springs, very narrow leaf springs, or Revolver shackles or similar.

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post #6 of 222 (permalink) Old 09-27-2004, 08:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TTBlows
to add to what keith has already posted the rear hanger part number i got off the hangers i ordered is E0TZ 5340 A/B (left and right). i found a place on the internet that sold them for a fairly reasonable price (http://wholesaleparts4u.com/), they also have the popular F250 shock mounts for $8 which is pretty cool. the part number i gave doesn't come up for me on that site, but if you search through collision parts for a 92 F350 you should find it (they label it as a rear bracket under front suspension components; cost is about $35.) all of the junkyards around my area just went "you want what? yea we don't get too many of those." i also got quoted $200 for the set of front leaf springs, so if you don't shop around the swap can be very expensive

in regards to ride and shackle placement: i personally think that the ride is the best its ever been, even compared to stock. its softer, more controlled and more predictable then TTB ever was. its definitely a solid axle and not a sports car, but for 1 ton leafs i was very surprised that it rides smoother now. a lot of this has to do with shock choice (i run RS 9000Xs at about 5-6 on the street) and the rear shackle placement. like Keith already mentioned, with the shackle at the front when you hit a bump you are fighting the suspension; with the shackle at the rear the movement of the suspension is much more natural.

the other info i'd really like to add is that i personally feel its a good idea to have a crossmember (or at least a STOUT winch bumper) up front along with boxing the frame horns (with the crumple zones i'd have to say its necessary, i couldn't imagine doing the swap without it). our frames aren't exactly strong and i personally am not a fan of watching my frame horns move 1-2" in relation to each other like i have seen many a chevy do when flexing. the cross member ties the 2 sides together to keep them from moving. just the engine crossmember isn't enough, the tip of the frame horn is what sees the stress of the weight of the vehicle, whereas the engine crossmember gives more support to a coil spring application. that having been said, a crossmember is super easy to do; just put a piece of 2x4 square tube in between the frame horns.


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post #7 of 222 (permalink) Old 11-21-2004, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy351
a crossmember is super easy to do; just put a piece of 2x4 square tube in between the frame horns.

do you think you could go a little more into detail on how exactly to do this? like placement, capping it off, etc...

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post #8 of 222 (permalink) Old 11-30-2004, 10:58 AM
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Here is my swap D60 leafs with crumple zones.

http://www.superford.org/registry/ve...=21460#content

I was a first timer at this and got all my info off the links in this thread and TTBlows write up. Made life much easier doing this. Also learned a bunch.
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post #9 of 222 (permalink) Old 12-01-2004, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by InkDawg
Here is my swap D60 leafs with crumple zones.

http://www.superford.org/registry/ve...=21460#content

I was a first timer at this and got all my info off the links in this thread and TTBlows write up. Made life much easier doing this. Also learned a bunch.
Nice pics. Are the front springs in your application Skyjacker springs? If so, how much lift are they rated at? I'm curious as to how well they flex. We need some good pose shots Nice work!



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post #10 of 222 (permalink) Old 12-01-2004, 11:35 PM
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Nice pics. Are the front springs in your application Skyjacker springs? If so, how much lift are they rated at? I'm curious as to how well they flex. We need some good pose shots Nice work!

Yeah they are the F-350 3-4" of lift ones. I haven't had a chance to take it out yet but will soon and get some poser picks. I have new rear springs coming in. Im 4" low in the rear. And then I'm gonna get the pics.
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post #11 of 222 (permalink) Old 12-03-2004, 03:57 PM
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eehh might as well post up, heres a link to my swap, its really the same as keiths desighn, although im temped to take it back apart and work with rear leafs or SD leafs and see how well they work (have both at hand). credit has to be given to keith though, what answers i didnt find already replyed by him, i got off other people that had some hand or thought about it.

my truck is still waiting on tires though, that will come soon enough. i dont plan to try wheeling on 33/16.5s for long
linky:http://www.superford.org/registry/ve...=20361#content
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post #12 of 222 (permalink) Old 12-14-2004, 09:33 PM
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I'm hoping my hunk of crap will be done (funny it used to be called a truck) this summer. It's alot of work but it's also some substantial cash. I'm going to be doing my Tcases next. As much as I wanted to mount the shackles to the rear I found it just wasn't possible with the rear spring arch and not go overboard with the lift. After I get it rolling as a far far away project I have considered using some rear lift leafs and moving the shackle to the rear that way. There will be alot more redoing what I have done here but I think the approach angle will be worth it. Something to consider if someone else is crazy enough to use rear leafs up front. Overall great thread. Good reading here. Good job on the SAS andy.

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post #13 of 222 (permalink) Old 12-15-2004, 03:40 AM
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how much lift it give you with teh 3-4 inch leafs

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post #14 of 222 (permalink) Old 01-23-2005, 12:04 AM
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http://car-part.com

Searching for these axles for leaf spring hang:

78/9 F250/350s and 86-97 F350s

When searching for 78/89 F250 (Not super duty) I am presented with:
Select your option:
[ ] 3800
[ ] 4500
Which should I be looking for??

Also, the above is a Dana 44, correct?

An '86 F350 is showing Spicer 60, Im going on the assumption thats a Dana 60 (Dana/Spicer)?

Finally, a '78 F350 appears to be a Dana 44, correct??


I want a D44, I dont need a D60, honestly... Mine is 99% DD and when I do wheel, Im pretty conservitive.

Thanks for helping in my research, Im going to start saving up the money now for this, or next summer's project.

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post #15 of 222 (permalink) Old 01-23-2005, 01:00 AM Thread Starter
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car-part.com will definitely give you options that never existed. I'd guess the weight ratings you're seeing are D44/D60. The F250s with the SnoFighter package had D60s.

Ford technically never made a '78 4wd F350, so don't believe car-part if it lets you check on that.

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post #16 of 222 (permalink) Old 01-23-2005, 01:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MyFullSize
THANX JUICE! Ill put a word in to my parts man... That would make my SAS a lot cheaper and easier too!!

Andrew
Yep, my thinking as well. I did a total analysis today. As much as I would like a D60/10.25, the TOTAL cost I estimate for me at $5790. This includes having to buy new custom wheels and of course tires. Less my possible "for sale" stuff would put me at just under $4k

D44 like I describe, $2575. $3475 with alloy shafts and ctm's, less "for sale" stuff would put me at $1905 or $2805 using existing wheels, and 37x12.5 MTR's

Where are you located?

There is one of these on ebay right now, no reserve, $9.99 to begin. I want to bid on it, but shipping is too much. It's in Erie PA (SW of buffalo by great lakes). If you're up there, grab it.

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post #17 of 222 (permalink) Old 01-23-2005, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
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Juice, a lot of yards know those Supercab fronts were rare. You might be better off looking for a '75 to 77ish coil front. The c-brackets will be welded on..... just cut them off and weld on spring perches. I'm looking to do something similar with my Ranger project. I'm not sure on wall thickness however. I did find a '77ish front in a yard the other day, but the housing was cracked from a front impact.

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post #18 of 222 (permalink) Old 01-23-2005, 02:42 PM
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Quote:
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Juice, a lot of yards know those Supercab fronts were rare. You might be better off looking for a '75 to 77ish coil front. The c-brackets will be welded on..... just cut them off and weld on spring perches.
Now THAT is VERY noteworthy!! I had a D30 from a '68 Bko that I was going to hang under my S-10 Blazer... That project never went though... However, the wedges were welded onto the axle in the same manner. I asked about using the D44 from another FSB with a straight axle but was told "no go". I didnt fully understand why, until someone put it into perspective for me, the wedges are formed as part of the axle and theres nothing that can be cut off.

A 4.5" grinder and some patience, the axle TTBlows suggest would be a killer steal! Off to http://car-parts.com to check on the avalibility of one!!

WooT! This is getting better with more research!!


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post #19 of 222 (permalink) Old 01-23-2005, 02:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TTBlows
Juice, a lot of yards know those Supercab fronts were rare. You might be better off looking for a '75 to 77ish coil front. The c-brackets will be welded on..... just cut them off and weld on spring perches. I'm looking to do something similar with my Ranger project. I'm not sure on wall thickness however. I did find a '77ish front in a yard the other day, but the housing was cracked from a front impact.
Well, found out some added info. courtesy of Chris Bradley...he used an F150 supercab axle as well. From his parts list, looks like what I might be doing is purchasing just the D44HD housing out to the knuckle. Most of the parts chris used from there out were TTB...rotors, hubs, calipers, wheel bearings, seals. From the littlekeylime site, ALL the F250 and 78-79 150 supercabs were the exact same axle/housing/shaft lengths. Only the outer 5 lug is different. So since it looks like I can reuse much of my TTB outer stuff, I just need ANY D44HD housing.

And I may have a handle on one.

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post #20 of 222 (permalink) Old 01-23-2005, 02:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TTBlows
You might be better off looking for a '75 to 77ish coil front.
Sorry, I gotta ask, from which donar? F truck? Which series, 150,250?

Thanx...


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  Ford Bronco Forum > Bronco Discussions > Solid Axle Swaps

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