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1996 Bronco XLT 351W/ZF5, 1996 F150 XLT 351W/E4OD D44 Leaf Sprung SAS
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1,427 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
HI all, this will be a brief story about my low cost SAS. Low cost is relative, of course, largely based on luck of finding parts. I wasn't trying to build a rock crawler or show truck, just get my vehicle back on the road.

About 6 months ago, on the rusty red 96 that I bought for its engine (and have kept as my POS/winter vehichle), I noticed that one of my rear leaves was broken. I fixed this by getting some F250 rear leaves from the junkyard. Afterward, I noticed that the rear sat way higher than I wanted. I thought one way to remedy this would be to throw in some E350 front coils that I had. While this lifted the front end a little more, it also exposed the fact that my passenger side radius arm bushing was worn out. When trying to remove the large nut that held it on, I broke the stud and ruined the RA. I tried swapping in another one that I had, but in doing so, exposed larger rust issues in the front TTB assembly. It would not be an easy fix.

Now, about a month or two before, I saw an ad on craigslist where a guy was selling a 79 dana 44 for all of $75. When I went to look at it, he also had a 79 supercab that he was getting ready to scrap. I asked what he wanted for that axle, and he said since it was complete and working, he'd let me have it for $150. That included the leaves, brackets, shackle bars, and about anything else I needed from the same truck. I was also able to get three radius arms and 4 caps for the coil sprung axle.

I decided that I'd use that leaf sprung supercab axle to replace the rusty TTB. I also decided that I'd rather keep the narrower spacing of the old axle after realizing that it would be easier to fab a front crossmember and 'brackets' for the rear shackles than it would be to find or fab rear spring hangers and relocate the spring perches on the axle.

I measured the leaves several times to make sure they were parallel, then built the crossmember. This involved removing the sway bar brackets, 'boxing' the crumple zones with heavy angle, and locating the cross bar based on the spring length, centerline of the axle and the wheel arches.







I should also mention that since I was really just wanting to replace the TTB and not create a monster lift, I tried to make it as low as possible.

Getting it bolted in, I found the location for the rear shackles and where the would land on the frame, and made simple brackets to pass the shackle bolts through.





Heavy wall, I think 1.5"x3". Cut a notch to bend and match the bend in the frame. Pretty much just eyeballed the angle of the pumpkin and shackles.

Once it was bolted in, I had to trim the crossmember. This was a quick and dirty 30 minutes with a cutoff wheel.

For shocks, I bolted on shock brackets from an F250, the same shock mount plates, and bolted those down with the 79 U-bolts.



I didn't want hi steer, so I finally ended up with a 4x2 Ranger pitman arm (since it has no drop), and 90's F350 links (TREs, Drag, Center). That story can be found here:

http://www.fullsizebronco.com/forum/29-solid-axle-swaps/410610-d44-leaf-spring-steering-question.html



Since I did it all cheap in the interest of getting my truck on the road again, I'm guessing my costs were:
axle, springs $150
metal from the scrap yard for crossmember, maybe $50
F350 steering, cheap from rockauto $100
new brake hoses, wheel bearings $100
other $50
total, less than $500. It would have been much more expensive if I'd rebuilt the axle, regeared, or used higher quality steering parts.

I'm really glossing this whole thing over in the interest of time. There are several more pictures on the supermotors page where most of these pics come from. Bottom line is, it drives straight, flexes little, and rides pretty harsh. I'm considering trying some bronco rear leaves with a few removed, to hopefully get a softer ride, but I don't want to go any higher. Oh, and the front is 3.50 and the rear is 3.55. Less than 5% difference, and since I'll only ever engage it when I'm slipping through snow or mud and low speeds, I'm not overly concerned about it.
 

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1996 Bronco XLT 351W/ZF5, 1996 F150 XLT 351W/E4OD D44 Leaf Sprung SAS
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1,427 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Here's a little more detail on the front crossmember, if anyone is interested.

After I decided to keep the narrower leaf spacing, I checked the squareness of the old 79 leaves and determined all the widths I needed, keeping notes.



Since most write-ups show people using 2x4 tubing, and I had some from the scrap yard, I used that as my main crossmember.

To tie into the crumple zones, I used (I think) 3x5 angle. I decided to have the 'support' leg of the angle on the inside of the frame rails. I did this so I wouldn't have to cut clearances around the radiator support frame brackets. If this were a more trail-worthy truck, or if I expected more abuse, I would have added a full U profile around the outside of the crumple zone as well.

I then picked the place where I would run bolts through the frame to mount the angle, and drilled the holes.



Once I got all that figured out, I welded the angles to the 4x2.



Then I found some 4x4 and measured what I thought I needed to bolt up to the springs.



Then I welded them into the crossmember, after cutting some pockets for them to sit in.





If I wanted the truck to sit higher, I would have welded the 4x4 to the bottom of the 2x4 instead of making pockets.

After trying to install the springs, I found that I didn't leave enough clearance for the springs, so I had to cut off a little more.



Once I was sure it all fit, I painted it and bolted it on.



 

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Nice write up! Its cool to see how you did all of that after seeing the truck in person. I got the 351 you sold me to the machine shop last week. The reason it had so much crank case pressure was a big hole in the top of the piston on cylinder 4 lol.
 

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1996 Bronco XLT 351W/ZF5, 1996 F150 XLT 351W/E4OD D44 Leaf Sprung SAS
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1,427 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I rebuilt the engine in my comet years ago. It had blow-by, but nothing like that motor did. Comet had several piston rings that were broken. I almost could have guessed a hole in a piston was the problem with the 351, but didn't want to tear it open to see. I hope the rest of the motor cleans up well enough.
 

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1996 Bronco XLT 351W/ZF5, 1996 F150 XLT 351W/E4OD D44 Leaf Sprung SAS
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1,427 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I should probably also add to all of this, besides needing to repair the front end of my POS/winter truck, I used this as practice, of sorts, for when I do the SAS on my bronco. My plan for the bronco was to go with coils, and that is still my plan. I think the leaf SAS on the pickup was easy enough. If I had better leaves, I'm sure it would ride better. Setup of everything really only took a few weekends. Easy parts of the swap were not having to deal with trac bars, and since there wasn't much lift, i didn't need to worry a lot about pinion angles and caster (much), or lengthening my driveshaft. If I keep this old rusty truck for too much longer, I would like to go back and move the lower shock mounts out more, as they angle in; probably necessary if I decided to to a u-bolt flip anyway. I would also do a nicer job of trimming my engine crossmember. More lift (larger spring arch) would also eliminate much of the steering interference that I dealt with.
 

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If you need some more practice, I started my SAS Saturday. I have the TTB pulled out and getting ready to install the coil buckets.
 

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great job being thrifty!

id be intrigued to know how it ended up height wise and see how it matched the 3" lift you got from the f250 springs
 

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1996 Bronco XLT 351W/ZF5, 1996 F150 XLT 351W/E4OD D44 Leaf Sprung SAS
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1,427 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I think I'm in the 3" range, based on how high the wheel arches are compared to my bronco with a 6" lift. This truck is on 33s and the bronco on 35s. When I did the rear leaves, I tossed in a set of 3" factory lift blocks (have the bump stops) that the axle guy gave me. I'm guessing I'm probably 4-5" higher in back than before, and 3" in front. Still has a 'rake' to it, but I don't think I looks too bad. Maybe if I did dig out my old stock bronco rear leaves and mess around with them, maybe I could get an inch or two more out of the front without having to do anything to the rear.
Either way, I'm guessing at this point. It's dark outside. I can take real measurements tomorrow.
 

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Local # 40 Boilermakers
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To bad I was on much for a while I was in Fort Madison for about 9 months up untill a couple months ago. I would have gave you a hand or we could have got a couple beers.
 

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I'm trying to figure out how much lift I got. I set it down yesterday and the top of the wheel arch is at about 39" with 31" tires. Before I started the arches were at 35". I know I netted 4" up but I'm not sure if the truck had a couple of inches of lift in the front before I got it.
 

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1996 Bronco XLT 351W/ZF5, 1996 F150 XLT 351W/E4OD D44 Leaf Sprung SAS
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1,427 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
I figured I'd give an update since its been about a year since I posted anything specific to the SAS on this truck (other issues still under investigation).

The ride hasn't chaged... its bouncy. Coming up my washed-out driveway is an adventure. Moreso than my stiffly sprung 6" lifted TTB bronco. Maybe it has to do with the used shocks that came with the F250 shock brackets? It has the (I assume) factory 79 supercab leaf springs.

While hauling a load of fence posts to my dad's on sunday, on a concrete highway, it really started to 'hop' or 'buck' quite a bit. like pulling a heavy trailer, but all I had was several hundred lbs in the back. My youngest in the back seat said "I'm bouncing".

Steering still seems fine. On some roads it seems to pull to the left, on others, it runs straight.

Other than unrelated-to-SAS-problems, truck is doing fine. I like looking at it parked places and seeing the solid front axle under there.

 

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If its that bouncy get a set of these ;)
 

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