Ford Ranger Rear Disc Brakes Conversion


Belay On
Site Team
Jun 30, 2009
Sierra Nevada Range
[SIZE=18pt]Our 2003 Ford Ranger is in great shape. We've thought about a new truck. We've looked at and driven new Rangers and new Nissan Frontiers. Although very nice trucks, nothing about them grabbed us, got us excited, and said, "Buy me, buy me! You want a new truck!"[/SIZE]

[SIZE=18pt]Our last truck payment was when we bought the Ranger in 2009.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=18pt]So the decision, for the time being, is to keep the good old solid workhorse. The camper fits it perfectly, it gets us everywhere we want to go, runs great, uses no oil or coolant, it is nice and comfortable, and it still looks new. Gas mileage remains constant. I would not hesitate to hop in it and drive anywhere.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=18pt]I posted on Wander the West when the odometer turned over 100,000 miles and then 200,000. -[/SIZE]

A Milestone

[SIZE=18pt]It now has 217,000 miles on it. It will take us more than 4 years to get to 300,000. Who knows, perhaps by then our travel needs will change, but I doubt that.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=18pt]We have kept up with the times. The truck has a backup camera connected to a new head unit and bluetooth phone operation. We recently steamed the foam in the seats and added heated seat inserts. Oh, the decadence. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=18pt]A few years back Julie and I spent a weekend rebuilding the front end -[/SIZE]

Front End Rebuild

[SIZE=18pt]During the coronavirus stay at home orders I posted about this project -[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10pt]On a little different subject, the Lady and I took advantage of this extended break from travel with maintenance on the old truck.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10pt]We turned over 200,000 miles on Christmas Day. I have the recommended and my own maintenance schedule we keep. And, we do the majority of the work. After all, the old truck is our partner out in the backcouuntry. We should be aware of what makes it tick.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10pt]Changing out the spark plugs, I noticed a minor oil seep from the right valve cover gasket. Everything needs to come off the top of the engine to accomplish this task. This makes it good time to get to other parts too, since they're exposed. New valve cover gaskets on both sides along with intake manifold gaskets. Cleaned the throttle body and idle control valves. New gaskets for them, also. Replaced the fuel injectors and found the insert seats in the heads for the injectors hard and brittle. Those were removed and replaced.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10pt]Had to wait over two weeks for the new OEM Bosch injectors. It was nice not to be in a hurry. Most all the other parts were easy to get.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10pt]Finished up end of last week. Yup, remembered where everything went. Julie is getting to be a great mechanic's helper. She wouldn't let me start it up until she did her own under the hood inventory to see that everything was correct.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10pt]The old truck purrs like a kitten. :) [/SIZE]

[SIZE=10pt]I discovered an oil seep from the pan gasket. We'll take care of replacing that next oil change. Yup, even with 4x4 drive, we can pull the pan with the engine in the truck.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10pt]Yesterday we washed the truck and camper and took care of some maintenance items in the camper.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=10pt]Sitting on our butts is not an option.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=18pt]A few years back I investigated what it would take to covert the rear drum brakes to disc brakes. Our truck is a rare FX4 Level II model with an 8.8 inch ring gear, Torsen limited slip differential and larger 31 spline axles. This made it easy. Ford Performance parts sold a kit many years ago and it is no longer available - [/SIZE]

[SIZE=18pt]This swap will not work on any other 2nd generation Ranger. I don't remember the research but I found that the rear disc parts from a 2001 Ford Explorer are the same Ford parts used in this kit. I ordered the new parts a couple years ago. They are now discontinued and no longer available. I also researched and found the same master cylinder is used on both vehicles.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=18pt]We don't stop traveling long enough to take on a project like this but Julie's recent knee replacement surgery and physical therapy and rehab gave us the down time to do the change over last Memorial Day Weekend.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=18pt]It was a fairly simple mechanical endeavor. [/SIZE]

[SIZE=18pt]Here's the new right hand backing plate, parking brake shoe assembly, and caliper bracket. [/SIZE]


[SIZE=18pt]The parking brake shoes and assembly were the most difficult piece of the project. It all needs to be disassembled to reinstall the axle and then reassembled behind the axle flange - tight, unfriendly quarters.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=18pt]Here's the drum brake parts with the brake drum removed.[/SIZE]


[SIZE=18pt]The differential cover was removed and oil drained. The center block is removed and the axle pushed inward to remove the C clips. Simple stuff and there's nothing like the smell of gear oil to start off a morning (I'm kidding on that one).[/SIZE]

[SIZE=18pt]All the brake shoe assembly needs to be removed to make clearance for pushing the axle shaft inward to remove the clips.[/SIZE]


[SIZE=18pt]The parking brake cable was also disconnected.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=18pt]The old backing plates and axles were set aside.[/SIZE]


[SIZE=18pt]This was a good opportunity to install new wheel bearings and axle seals.[/SIZE]


[SIZE=18pt]A bearing puller and slide hammer is a handy tool. Here's the seal and bearing removed.[/SIZE]


[SIZE=18pt]And the new backing plate, bearing, and seal installed. A clean shop rag to keep debris out.[/SIZE]


[SIZE=18pt]And the gawdawful miserable part, getting the parking brake shoe assembly installed behind the axle flange.[/SIZE]


[SIZE=18pt]The right side took 25 minutes. The left side took 5 minutes. It is rare these need to be replaced as these are not used for active braking, only to engage when stopped.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=18pt]The new rotor[/SIZE]


[SIZE=18pt]and then the new caliper and brake pads.[/SIZE]


[SIZE=18pt]I also installed new parking brake cables (2001 Explorer) on both sides. These connected to the original front cable from the cab of the truck. I put together two new brake lines (right and left) to run to the calipers - bent and ends flared. I used two new short rubber brake lines from the line to the calipers after drilling and tapping mounting holes to anchor them in place.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=18pt]Here is a back side look.[/SIZE]


[SIZE=18pt]and the new parking brake cable visible on the right side.[/SIZE]


We reinstalled the differential cover and after 24 hours filled the differential with new synthetic gear oil.

[SIZE=18pt]Next up was bleed the brake system (we flush the system at least every two years) with new Dot 4 fluid. With a thorough check, no leaks were found. I connected the new parking brake cables and assured that everything functions properly. With a test drive we found the brakes work and feel great. We'll take it on a couple long drives with double checking operation and checking for leaks before heading out on a long trip, just to be on the safe side.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=18pt]We'll take care of that pesky seeping oil pan gasket the next time we change oil. We've put that chore off waiting for warm weather. It is an easy job, just real messy.[/SIZE]

[SIZE=18pt]Here's to an easy 300,000 miles. [/SIZE]
The "Exploder" Rear Disc Brake conversion is a popular one. Places like Moser Engineering still have the kits. I'm about to put one of their kits on a Dana 60 going under my FSB. I'm mostly doing that swap to get the full float rear hubs and the larger front brakes.
In the past Ford axle flanges had a large hole in them that allowed access to the backing plate bolts. A friend just went thru the process of installing those shoes on another friend's Bronco. That was a JOB! My sympathies.
The 2007 Ranger XL I had was, hands down, the most dependable vehicle I’ve ever owned. I bought it when diesel hit $4/gal here in VA in ‘07 and I was spending $130 a week on fuel. I figured if I only drove the Ranger 50% of the time it would pay for itself in 2 years. I ended up keeping it until 2020 and put almost 200K on her. Unfortunately it was only the 2wd version otherwise I would still be driving it.
Sometimes I still miss that simple dependable truck…..
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