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Hey guys,

I'm trying to figure out what to do to my Bronco to continue making it a sweet off-road machine and am looking for ideas & recommendations.

Like the subject says, it's a 1983 with the 300CI I6. The engine has been extensively worked on [It's now fuel injected and has had a ton of other stuff done (it dyno'd 315 HP / 420 Ft.Lbs at the wheels a few years ago). I plan to post info & pictures once I finally get it back in my possession in a few days) so I'm not looking to do anything to that or swap it out]. I've also currently got a Rancho 4" lift (I think I'd like to get rid of this and will talk about this below), 35x12.50s (I'd like to keep this size or upgrade to 37's), and 4.56s (ideally, I wouldn't change these, purely for monetary reasons, though I am flexible here). It's currently got a limited slip in the rear end and the front end is stock (open).

I'm pretty sure I've got the SROD transmission (it's a 4 Speed with Overdrive and I have to push down to get to Reverse...I just don't have it with me right now and it's been a few years since I've driven it).

I think I've got the NP 208 transfer case (it's a manual shift with the standard drive options and the front driveshaft is on the left...I'm sure I could identify it by reading info from the housing but, again, it's not yet with me).

My goal is to improve overall off-road ability but the focus, if any, will be on making the Bronco "pre-runner style," if you know what I mean. Thus, I'm not going to SAS it.

Here are the things I'm currently looking to do / thinking about:

5 Speed Manual Upgrade (I'm looking to keep a manual transmission...I think I'm aware of any and all advantages of an automatic, it's just that I enjoy rowing through the gears!) - The ZF-5 seems to be a reasonably priced / compatible option (Please chime in if you disagree). How easy / difficult / justifiable would it be to swap in a ZF-6? Are there any other OEM transmissions that you recommend instead? Are there any aftermarket transmissions that you recommend instead?

Transfer Case Upgrade - If I change the transmission, I'd be willing to change the transfer case...if it's worth it. Assuming I have the NP 208, are there any weaknesses to it / strengths to other transfer cases that would make it worth it to swap? I realize that I probably don't need anything too fancy, transfer case-wise, for a pre-runner style truck, but that's not all I'm looking to do with the Bronco. I would consider it worth it if there were an alternative that was significantly stronger or offered significantly more flexibility (e.g. all the options you get with a Klune or a twin-stick Atlas).

Rear End Upgrade - I'd like a selectable locker. My new F-150 is the FX4 with the GKN Electronic Locking Differential; this has made me love e-lockers. Thus, I think I'd like to put an Auburn ECTED, Detroit Electrac, or Eaton E-Locker in. Do you recommend one of these above the others or anything else (e.g. ARB, Detroit, Ox, etc.)? While I'm talking about the rear axle, would it be worth it to upgrade to a 9"?

Front End Upgrade - I must admit that I'm apparently ignorant here. What are my options for upgrading the Dana 44 front end? Can you lock a TTB? Is a limited slip my best bet? What are the options as far as making it stronger (I've already got manual hubs)? Can you use any Dana 50 TTB parts?

Suspension Upgrades - While I would love to purchase a welder and start fabricating (seriously, I would love it), I must admit that I am currently a newb, at best. I did a little bit of stick welding with my dad growing up and I have a Mechanical Engineering B.S. (yeah, like that helps), but I've never actually MIG or TIG welded. Considering the previous and the fact that I want to focus the upgrades toward "pre-runner" type stuff, I think parts from AutoFab, Camburg, Solo, etc. are my best bet, though pricey. Right now I've got my eye on AutoFab's rear 18" travel suspension kit and I can't decide what I want to do to the front [again, I'm looking at AutoFab: the 16" travel (3 different varieties here, actually, all of which employ cut & turned beams and would get rid of my Rancho 4" kit: basic lift, single shock long travel, dual shock long travel) kit or Extra Wide Dana 44 kit (extended, cut and turned beams with extended ChroMo axles (and the option for ChroMo outers); if you get everything it includes the equal length steering set-up and heavy duty heim'ed radius arms...PRICEY!...but ~20" travel!!)]. It seems obvious that these would be terrific for the "BroncoSpeed" type stuff, but are there any downsides with regard to the other types of off-roading I might do (e.g., trail rides, rock crawling, mudding, etc.)? I realize that the extended beams would make narrow trails and the like more difficult / impassible. As far as rock crawling and/or mudding, I realize that the TTB isn't the best, but will a long travel front kit make it any worse? If I'm not actually pre-running or racing, is the Extra Wide Dana 44 ridiculous overkill? John at AutoFab told me that the 16" travel front kits are designed for 33" tires and to fit 35s or 37s will require the extra wide. I don't doubt him, but it seems like he probably means with stock fenders or his fiberglass panels. Even if I go with "just" the 16" travel front kit, I'd like to keep my 35s and think I would like to upgrade to 37s later so I'm willing to trim my fenders and fit fender flares if I need to. I wonder if anyone with AutoFab stuff around here is willing to share his or her experiences.

Cage - I've been told that in order to run a strong and well designed coilover set-up, I need an engine cage tied into a cab cage (or whatever you call it) tied into the frame. What say you? What is the ballpark cost for a cage set-up like this? I'm not convinced I need a coilover set-up (talk me into it!), but I would like to have a full cage inside the cab...eventually.

For all of this cost IS an object, though I should be able to afford a decent amount.

Wow, this turned out to be a lot longer and consist of significantly more questions than I originally intended. If you're still reading, thanks! Any info / opinions you can provide will be appreciated. Also, if I'm completely out to lunch on any of this, please let me know!

Cheers,
 

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aka: kemicalburns
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7,830 Posts
check out the vendor forum for upgrades to the TTB if your wanting to the pre-runner route. changing to lower gears will help in this also especially if you go 37's. the zf is a great tranny i must say for a pre runner though a C6 would be easier to drive and be strong.
 
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