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1988 e-150 | 351w | TTB D44 front | D60 rear
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’ve been on the forum constantly the last few months. Such an awesome resource! This is my first post. I realize this isn’t a custom 4x4 van group, but my van is at least 80% Bronco at this point - so here goes nothin :)

A little back story: I came into ownership of a Dana 44 ttb a few months ago and made the bold decision to put it under my beloved econoline van. Yes, I know a solid axle would have been a much easier project, but that’s not the route I went and for the most part I’m extremely happy with the results.

The frame on the van is considerably wider than a bronco/f-150. That along with some other dimensional differences made for quite a few technical challenges. Most were sorted easily enough with a cutoff wheel and/or welder (honorable mention to the 10 or so step bits I wore out over the course of this project as well). A problem I’ve hit a dead end at is that my coil springs rub on the outside of the frame and there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to alleviate it.

I’ve rotated the springs to maximize clearance and trimmed the coil towers behind them through to the frame. All of this greatly improved the situation, but they’re still rubbing enough to make for a somewhat noisy ride. And while it “feels” safe on pavement, I’ve driven less than 20 miles on this setup and I’m really not eager to test the limits.

Coilovers aren’t in the budget right now, so I’m hoping to find springs with a smaller outside diameter. This spec isn’t particularly relevant to people with mostly stock vehicles so the majority of vendors don’t seem to list it, however I’m sure there are deviations between brands. I’m currently running the pro comp 24612’s (6” lift), which have an outside diameter of 5~5/8”. Does anyone have any knowledge on the dimensions of common coil springs or know of a resource that might be of use?

Another thing to keep in mind - the van has roughly 6,000 lbs above the axles, so spring rate is very important. The pro comp 24612’s are rated at 450 lbs per inch and make for a pretty nice ride aside from the rubbing. Some of the softer springs out there may very well be out of the question.

Here are some other lukewarm ideas I’ve been throwing around:

-coil spring wedge
-spacer/platform to move springs out (ball joint/camber bushing an obvious problem with this)
-cutting into the frame and welding concave reinforcement plates behind the springs (a last resort, probably not realistic)

Any help would be much appreciated. If anyone would like to know more about the build, I’d be glad to make a post about it :)

Thanks!
 

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Addicted to Junk
85 Bronco, 309ci I6 w/4bbl, np435, 4" lift, 37" Irok NDs, 4.56 w/ Detroit Locker and tru trac
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16,334 Posts
Welcome! Some pics might help us decipher a solution. And i just wanna see the van! Im an econoline aficionado myself. I would measure my springs, but they are 6" pro comp springs as well! The PC springs are on the softer side. Many are 650 lb/in. I did just measure a stock bronco spring and it was about 5.375" diameter.

I dont know exactly how you adapted the TTB, but there are companies who do Cut N Turns on the beams and extend them. That would be very beneficial on the wide econoline. Solo Motorsports, Threat, and Desolate all do those beams. Crafty individuals have done the cutting and extending themselves. Another resource i would point you towards is U-Joint Offroad. They specialize in 4x4 econolines, though usually solid axles. Maybe even the sportsmobile forums.

I had all intentions of making my 99 e250 a 4x4, but the body is far too rusty to put that work into. And it has a 4.2L v6. I commend you for going TTB. It will ride much nicer than a solid axle.
 
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1988 e-150 | 351w | TTB D44 front | D60 rear
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4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Nice! I figured there had to be some econoline fans in here. And thanks! The TTB install certainly wasn’t the easiest project but the ride is a lot better than a lot of solid axle rigs I’ve been in. Turning radius is way better too!

So my girlfriend and I got the van in North Carolina and built out the interior in FL. We lived in it and traveled around the US & Canada for the better part of a year. This is what it looked like then:

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As you can see, the rear end was slammed under the weight of the build. The van took it like a champ til the very end of our travels, though. After much abuse, the diff finally gave up in Northern California. The only suitable replacement in the nearest boneyard was a Dana 60, which is 8 lug. The van is 5 lug stock.

My girlfriend landed a job in Portland, OR right around this time, so I limped the van back up there and got it back to a fully drivable state. This included a modest lift on the front end to match the new diff/rear suspension along with some 5 to 8 lug adapters & 31’s.The new setup looked like this:

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It was a big improvement, but seeing so many awesome 4x4 rigs in Oregon got me yearning for something a little more substantial.

A few months ago, a buddy of mine who’s a huge bronco fan spotted an abandoned mid 90’s f150 on the side of the road. We staked it out for a couple weeks and watched as more and more parts went missing. Coming to assume it was fair game for salvage, I eventually worked up the moxy to go nab the axle and transfer case.

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Some improvised bits for installation:

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Here’s how it’s sitting now (test fitting 35’s):

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All and all a pretty fun project. The only gripes I have at this point are some minor alignment issues which are getting sorted out and these dang coil springs...
 

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1988 e-150 | 351w | TTB D44 front | D60 rear
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4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
The frame on the van is about 4” wider than the Bronco/f150. The 5 to 8 lug adapters I have are also 2” spacers, which brings the track width right where it needs to be. Since the rear end is 8 lug, there’s no good way around running the adapters, so cutting & extending the arms isn’t really an option.

Here’s one of the springs from underneath:

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..still touching even after trimming the towers through to the frame.

Here’s the bottom of the spring, situated as far out as it can go:

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Smaller diameter springs would be a huge help if they exist. All other options I’ve come up with are either out of budget or undesirable for other reasons. Any ideas?
 

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Addicted to Junk
85 Bronco, 309ci I6 w/4bbl, np435, 4" lift, 37" Irok NDs, 4.56 w/ Detroit Locker and tru trac
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16,334 Posts
How long are the springs when uninstalled?
If you take that measurement, along with the desired diameter, and weight requirements, a spring company (Moog would be my first call) may be able to point you to a correct coil.

I found a measurement for the Moog cc820 spring (not tall enough for you) at an inside diameter of 4" with a bar thickness of .718. That puts the diameter at 5.44"

Another option, albeit a bit more work, is to widen your beam pivot bracket 1/2 or 1". That would move the lower coil perch outwards, away from the frame.

Love the van!


Heres my rust bucket. This one on top of the 12k ft Independence Pass in CO. These old 33s were just too big.



New tires! 32x9x16s
 

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1988 e-150 | 351w | TTB D44 front | D60 rear
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4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Your van is sick! Those 32’s look great. I have a Spartan locker in the rear of mine which made it pretty capable with 31’s - surprisingly so in snow. If it were me, I’d probably either take a stab at fixing that little bit of rust on the rocker panel or just hit it with converter and call it a day (subtle zombie apocalypse vibes 👌). That beast has a lot of years left in it. If the universe gifts you a front axle as it did me, should definitely reconsider your 4x4 conversion :)

I believe my springs were 21.25” extended. They’re 17” compressed, which = roughly 5” of lift. Wouldn’t mind going an inch or so higher. I’ll hit up some spring manufacturers and see if they have any useful info.

The idea to widen the pivot brackets is actually brilliant. Not really knowing what kind of tolerances I was working with, I was extremely careful to replicate the mounting locations on my buddy’s Bronco. There’s definitely some wiggle room in the splined part of the axle shafts where they meet in the middle though. I’ll definitely put more thought into that if my spring search comes up short.

Thank you for all of your help!
 

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Addicted to Junk
85 Bronco, 309ci I6 w/4bbl, np435, 4" lift, 37" Irok NDs, 4.56 w/ Detroit Locker and tru trac
Joined
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16,334 Posts
My van is much worse than it appears in that pic. The rockers are gone. I can drop bricks out them from inside. The deep freeze we had a few weeks ago made it even worse, living on mud roads. But yeah, the lil V6 is running like a top, at 174k miles.

Sad thing is i have a pile of D60 front axles and ZF5 transmissions that would be great. Even a spare transfer case.

Using the bronco dimensions means the lower coil perches are 2" to far inwards, if the frame is 4" wider. Of course, then the axle shafts would need to be replaced with longer ones.... An extra .5 to 1 inch slid out on the stub shaft splines should be fine unless you plan on really thrashing on it.
 
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