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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
In order to keep from hijacking JRBcougar's other thread ( Linky ) I figured I would start my own.
This swap is not a simple bolt-in and should only be attempted if you are or have access to a competent welder/shop.

I chose to narrow my exploder axle as I wanted to have the ability to run a very deep rim without the tire protruding from the fenders. I'm a 70-80's kid and love the look of deep dish rims and fat tires in the rear, but I am older now and know that 3" of tire protruding past the body can be problematic if you actually want to drive the car. :buck:

I also wanted rear disks and a locker, as well as the strength of 31 spline axles. Eventually we will be dropping in the 5.0 roller and T5 from my donor Mustang. The 3.73 will work nicely with the T5's 0.68 final gear.

A few things I have discovered through this process are:

Exploder 8.8s have the same tube diameter and almost the same thickness as a Ford 9" @ 3.25"

Exploder 8.8s use the same pinion, carrier and axle bearings as a Chevy 12 bolt

Stock Exploder 8.8s are 59.25 inches wide WMS to WMS, this is the same as a factory 67-68 Cougar / Mustang

64-66 Mustang 8" factory rears are 57" so a cut down (3") Exploder 8.8 is almost a direct fit.

Exploder 8.8s have a ~3" offset pumpkin to allow for the Xfer case on the 4x4 models.

Cutting the long tube down 3" allows a short side shaft to be used, centering the pumpkin.

The tubes on an Exploder 8.8 are press fit to the center section and then plug welded in 3 locations. I was unable to extract my tubes even with the use of a porta-power and plenty of heat.

The center section is cast steel, not cast iron, and welds very nicely.

Parts are very easy to attain either stock or aftermarket. Ford put this rear end in everything from Mustangs, to F150s, to P71 police interceptors. I have one of each.

I'll add pics as I go along...:bloated:
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Additional pics...
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
New perches will need to be used, I personally went overkill on these and ordered up some 8" long 1/4 thick 3 hole units. They will be plenty strong enough and the additional length will help with spring wrap. The center hole puts the axle dead center of the wheel well, but I could move it 1" in either direction if needed.

In order to mate the Cougar drive shaft to the P71 flange I have I used a 240-0358 Carquest joint its a 1350 x 1310.

The tubes on the 8.8 are .25 inches larger in diameter than an 8" so the spring plates need to be slotted .125" on each hole. I went a little larger, but to each his own.

More pics...
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
A $5.00 adapter is all that is necessary to adapt the Explorer brake line to the Cougar hardline. I'll post up the part# later once I find the receipt. EDIT: Edelman 258430

As I chose to narrow my 8.8 I will need to cut down the hard line that runs from caliper to caliper by 2-3". Once that is done I'll fab up some simple angle brackets to hold them securely to the tubes.

The 8.8 uses a C-clip setup to retain the axles in the tubes. While this may be problematic for those running drums, the disk braked rears have the added benefit of keeping the axle from "walking out" if the C-clip were to fail.

We installed the backing plates, parking brake and calipers today in preparation for final welding and paint.

We had to pull the cover and pin to drop the axles so I decided to see how the new MAC cover fit... the new 8.8 looks deadly from the rear.
 

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How close are the inside edges of the rims to the leaf springs? Reason I ask is the tire sidewalls will bow outward at least somewhat (how much depending on the tire and rim diameter). It looks like (but the picture may be deceiving) the rim edges are right up close to the leaf springs. How about clearance to the inner edges of the wheelhouses? You probably have all figured out but I was wondering based on the picture. Looks great BTW!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The rims have ~5/8" between inner edge and the springs. The bump stop bracket will definitely need to be shaved down. I am sure I will have some additional "fine tuning" to do inside the wheel house. The rear tires (275/35/18) have a cross-sectional width of 10.8" mounted on 9.5" rim. The actual rim width outside edge to outside edge is 10.375 so they protrude ~1/4" past the lip. This will leave me 3/8" clearance to the spring. I've measured til I was blue in the face, but without the tires mounted I'm pissin' against the wind...

They will be here Monday. I hope to have them mounted and fit on the car by Tuesday.

Cut, hammer, weld... rinse and repeat...
 

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Awesone write-up on this BTW - keep us posted on how it goes.......
 

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Discussion Starter #8
We mounted the tires on the rims and test fit a couple on the car. I'll probably run some 3/8" spacers on the rear to give me a full inch clearance between the tire and springs. There is a ton of room on the outside of the wheel/tire, so rubbing should not be an issue for daily driving. I could definitely go to a deeper/wider rim (11") with a smaller backspacing and drag radials for track days.

All in all I'm pretty happy thus far with the swap.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
We cut an inch out of the original driveshaft, phased the ends and tacked back together so we could get an accurate measurement on the pinion angle. The perches were tacked on at 5 degrees. With the car level and its weight on the axle we have 1.7 at the tranny and 1.5 degrees at the axle. Cant get much closer than that. Also I did NOT use the factory wedges or isolator. The stack is shock plate, springs, perch, axle, u-bolts in that order.

I'll be swapping in a T5 shortly and will need to shorten the drive shaft another inch or so. I also do not know where the custom T5 cross member will locate the output shaft exactly, so I will wait on hard welding the perches until all that is done. I may need to rotate the axle a bit to get my 2 degrees at the shaft.
 

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Very nice. So was the weight of the car on the jack stands good enough for setting the angle of the dangle or did you have the car setting on th ground? if the later, how did you adjust th angle ?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yes, we had it on jack stands, I am way too fat to slither under the car without some ground clearance LOL!. The stands are located on the axle so the cars weight is compressing the suspension just as it would if the tires were on the ground. We also put all the interior components inside the car in boxes so we had that weight as well.

Before we glue it all together I should probably drop the car down and cycle the suspension a few times, adjust ride height front and rear, swap the motor and trans, install the exhaust, and have the drivers weight in it.
 

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Dude, you sound like a younger version of me. I cut down the front springs a little, now I can't get close to getting under it. lol. It doesn't sound like that hard of a swap if you take your time and think it through. I think I'm just gonna get a currie for my 8" though. Maybe at a later point but just not now.
 

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I'm glad you remembered to account for the interior weight - I know I woulda forgot about it! LOL Nice work!
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Loosened up the rear suspension fasteners and moved her out of the carport (aka my shop) into the culdesac to cycle the suspension and get a better idea of what her stance will be like.

These are the "old" '03 Mustang Bullitt rims. They are close in diameter to the 338s but obviously sucked in on the narrowed 8.8.

Front is a bit high still, but the headlight assembles and bumper add some weight to the nose and should pull it down some.

What do you guys think?
 

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Too high front and rear.
 

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I agree with the rear - unless you are going with taller wheels. Front doesn't look to bad I bet once you get all the parts hung back on.
 

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Have you decided what you are doing with the e-brake cables? I have my 8.8 mounted and the cables hanging below the car but need to track down the pedal and hardware to decide what needs to be done to connect it all.

I'm actually in the middle of bodywork right now while the weather is still warm.

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Chris, I will be using the factory 67 cables and hand brake. the drum style parking brake grabs very well with little effort. The cables just need a slight mod to the ends to fit the Expy parking brake "hooks".
 

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I have got the original cable on the drivers side and the explorer cable on the p/s it works but its kind of micky mouse.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thought I would update this a bit. I went with Lokar "Explorer" cables and a center mounted Lokar hand brake. I like this setup a lot better than the old pull and twist.

There are pics of the hand brake in this thread... Click Me
 
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