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25/05/2009
An '89 Ranger came into Joel's hands from a trade with a friend. A high-pinion Dana 44 front axle and Ford 9" rear axle were swapped in right away, but we had issues with the setup and it did not perform as well as we wished. Therefore, the decision was made; order some parts and do it right this time!! Heim joints, misallignment spacers, jam nuts, and tube adapters were ordered from Ruff Stuff Specialties, 0.25"x2.00"O.D. DOM and 3/8" mild steel plate were purchased through a family member, and some used Jeep coil springs were found on eBay. The project began by tearing off the bed and cutting out the rear axle. We decided to shorten the wheelbase by 12 inches, and the rear axle was placed into it's new position under the frame rails.

Once the rear axle was where we wanted it, we started coming up with our link placements. We downloaded an Excel spreadsheet from a link we found on Pirate4x4, and it turned out to be very useful in the design of our 4-link. It took numerous attempts to get everything how we liked it, but after a few hours of scratching our heads, we were finally happy with the results! We proceeded by cutting our links to length, and fabricated a crossmember for the lower link tab locations.

We built a beefy axle truss for the Ford 9" from the same DOM used for the links. The truss adds strength to the axle, and also serves as a mounting location for the upper link tabs. After that, we made the tabs to mount the lower links and got them into place.

The axle tabs for the upper links was a little more tricky to fabricate, in comparison to the tabs for the lower links.

Then we boxed in the frame at the location for the upper link tabs. A bolt-on bracket for the upper tabs was built out of the 3/8" plate, and then all 4 links were bolted in. So far, so good!

A large section of the rear frame was chopped off, and capped with a piece of c-channel. Then, all of the tabs were braced, most of the welds were finished, and some of the various parts were coated in Chassis Saver. The rear of the frame was strengthened significantly with some bracing, and a center tow point was added.

The next step was to get the coils into place. The lower coil bucket is simple and welded to the truss on the axle, as seen below. The upper coil bucket was built as an adjustable unit. The adjustability was designed so that different coils can be bolted in, while keeping the same ride height.

The rollbar was modified with bracketry to bolt to the frame. This was done to improve the appearance and serve as a mounting location for the spare tire. The original gas tank in the truck has an internal fuel pump and is made of plastic. So it was very simple to strap down the gas tank ontop of the frame and run it like that (there are plans for a custom fuel cell in the future).

With everything tacked in place, it was time to cycle the suspension and ensure no binding. Turns out, the Jeep coils seemed to be a fair stiffness and allowed the Ranger to articulate very well. This also allowed us to also measure for shocks and figure out mounting locations on the chassis and on the axle.


We determined the coil mount to be the best place to mount the shocks, and the spare tire was simply mounted on the rollbar.

The next step required attention to detail. With no access to fancy tools, we were able to cut out the Goulet Films logo from a piece of plate using only a drill and jig saw. Two holes were added for styling, and a second piece of plate was cut to fit inside the truss and match the other side (without the Goulet Films logo). The two pieces of plate were welded onto the axle. A drain plug was also added to the axle and then the assembly got a treatment of green and black paint.


Custom disc brakes were fitted to the Ford 9" axle by modifying Ford front Dana 44 rotors and brackets. Also, a solid rear tow point was fabricated.

Paint, reassembly, and final touches.

All done and very proud of our work. Now it's time to go wheeling!


Joel tested this rig better than anyone else could have.... He really abused it! The pictures below are proof of this. There was never a single issue with the rear suspension, and considering the level of abuse, that's impressive! The suspension worked flawlessly and we couldn't be happier with the durability and performance.




 


 

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Serge Goulet & Joel Goulet