The Dana 50 TTB and getting it under my E350 van.

philos

Explorer
hey friends,

I would like to put a Dana 50 twin traction beam axle (with coils, no less) under my van within the next year or so as finances allow; it's the right axle for what I do.
So, while I begin hunting for parts I've got some questions. Again, please don't tell me to just get a 99-04 Dana 60, etc; it's not what I'm after :)

I plan to model my build after what Ramsey is doing at Agile, but with Ramsey edging his way to retirement (hope I'm not spoiling anything, and I also hope Ramsey will chime in...) and with his website down to just the home page, I'm going to have to figure some things out via other avenues (like here!)


1) I'm assuming that the 198?-1997 F250 Dana 50 TTB with leaf springs is what I'm after (I'll be ditching the leafs on this particular axle) correct?

2) It looks like the F250 only had rear ABS with these axles, how do I retain my ABS system?

3) It looks like I can use my factory pitman arm with the stock TTB steering, yes? Drop pitman arms from Bronco/F150 will work as well, yes?

4) I'd love some photos and info on fabricating brackets for the van's cross member to hang the TTB axle's pivot points from.

5) Plenty of transfer case options, I assume my fuel tank will need shortening?

6) I know from some research that Agile uses the van's coil bucket and shock mount up top, but which coil spring? I've got a 7.3 diesel.

7) I'll be building extended radius arms to locate the axle, with that will come a cross member for the frame mounts so the frame doesn't twist. Johnny joints with DOM or modified factory ends with DOM tubing? I like the idea of using the factory ends with rubber bushings...


Pretty sure there are/will be a LOT more questions, but this should be a start...

Thanks in advance :)
 

Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
Best of luck! I'm looking forward to your conversion.

Pls take lots of pics and post details.

Most of the conversion will be similar to Ujoints... Shortening the tank, adding a tcase, positioning the axle... It'll be the coils and Axle that'll be different.
 

radorsch

Adventurer
I'm also gonna follow your build... sorry, but I probably won't be much help, other than increasing your views! :)
I think the D50 TTB setup that Agile is doing is a pretty sweet setup for certain applications and I have been strongly considering it (if I have the dough soon enough).
 

AFBronco235

Crew Chief
1. I'm pretty sure all TTB suspensions had coil springs, but I could be wrong. Either way, coil springs wouldn't be hard to install.
2. You may have to replace the front brakes with something compatible with your current setup. What year E350 do you have?
3. I can't say anything about your stock drop arm, but the bronco/F-series pitman arm should work fine, depending on the vertical distance between the steering box and the axle.
4. Have you considered removing the stock cross member from the donor vehicle and swap that into your van?
5. I would have to see the underside of the E350 to answer that.
6. It really does depend on how much height you want to get out of your setup. I'd figure on 2-3 inches of compression when installed if that helps.
7. Again, this depends on how much height you want to get on your van, but using the stock frame mounts for the radius arms should be okay. What a lot of guys do when they lift a TTB is simply move the frame mounts for the arms back the appropriate amount for their lift.

I hope you're good with geometry because you have a lot of it ahead of you on this build.
 

njtacoma

Explorer
I believe the ttb Dana 50 was only leaf spring. And 8 lug.
The ttb 44 was coil sprung. And 5 lug.

So fabricating spring mounts for the 50 is a necessary step.
 

philos

Explorer
Good stuff so far

AFBronco,
Dana 35 and 44 TTBs had coils (f150 & bronco)and 5 lugs, there's an 8-lug Dana 44HD that I'll be ignoring, and the Dana 50 as offered in the F250 (and a few F350s) had leafs, but yeah easy enough, I'm guessing.

My van is a 2003, and has ABS but not RSC. So yeah, hoping there's a Dana 60 part I can use here.

As to swapping crossmembers, that's a negative. Too much work, and I know brackets can be welded to the van's crossmember, in addition to trimming it for clearance.

The spring info is helpful as well :)

I'm not after a giant van, I want wheel travel (within limits; its a van) for washboard roads and soft dry sand. Occasional snow/slush/ice.
Traction and comfort are the goals.




Sent via flux capacitor
 

Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
I've seen a Dana 50 swapped into a Bronco after converting it to fit with the original Radius arm mounts... it was about a decade ago, so I cant remember too much about it. The owner welded mounts onto the new axle to mimic the mounts on the original axle.
You can likely use your existing spring bucket and shock mount... especially if you're making custom radius arms.
 

philos

Explorer
Indeed. It's my understanding that Agile uses the van's factory coil bucket and upper shock mount.
I also seem to remember reading that they extend the radius arms by 12"
And that axle is 1.5" forward.
Pretty sure I read that on pirate last year but I couldn't find the thread....




Sent via flux capacitor
 

Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
Longer Radius arms make sence, and moving the axle forward is consistent with UJoint's setup to fit bigger tires. If I could do 4x4 without growing to 10' tall, I'd be more willing to consider it.
 

justcuz

Explorer
I think TTB Dana 50's may use Dana 60 spindles, hubs, rotors and calipers. If you can find newer stuff with ABS on a Dana 60 you should be able to swap it over. You can probably use Dana 44 TTB lower spring buckets on your D50 TTB. Maybe the lower spring mounts off your 2wd beams can be made to work. I believe you could make the stock radius arm bushings or urethane work in the rear. I would do it for 2 reasons. 1. It's simple, strong and good enough for Ford. 2. It has no limit to its rotation as the beam goes through its range of motion. I doubt a helm or JJ would bind, but if you broke one 50 miles from nowhere, you would be mad at your self for not keeping it simple.
There is a thread on pirate about installing Dana 60 hubs, spindles and brakes on unit bearing Dodge front ends. It addresses the difference, if any between the 50 and 60 spindles. If there is a difference, you may still be able to install D60 outers on your D50 TTB beams using D60 outer stub shafts, because I think D50 TTB may have used D60 ujoints on the outer stub axles.
As far as springs go, if you kept the stock springs you would gain the height of the beam only since your Twin I beams are straight are they not? If your 2wd beams are dropped then you will gain the height difference of the drop plus the difference in the thickness of the beam from the centerline up. If that is not enough gain maybe an F350 flatbed spring, or maybe a crew cab diesel spring?
 
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philos

Explorer
I think TTB Dana 50's may use Dana 60 spindles, hubs, rotors and calipers. If you can find newer stuff with ABS on a Dana 60 you should be able to swap it over. You can probably use Dana 44 TTB lower spring buckets on your D50 TTB. Maybe the lower spring mounts off your 2wd beams can be made to work. I believe you could make the stock radius arm bushings or urethane work in the rear. I would do it for 2 reasons. 1. It's simple, strong and good enough for Ford. 2. It has no limit to its rotation as the beam goes through its range of motion. I doubt a helm or JJ would bind, but if you broke one 50 miles from nowhere, you would be mad at your self for not keeping it simple.
There is a thread on pirate about installing Dana 60 hubs, spindles and brakes on unit bearing Dodge front ends. It addresses the difference, if any between the 50 and 60 spindles. If there is a difference, you may still be able to install D60 outers on your D50 TTB beams using D60 outer stub shafts, because I think D50 TTB may have used D60 ujoints on the outer stub axles.
As far as springs go, if you kept the stock springs you would gain the height of the beam only since your Twin I beams are straight are they not? If your 2wd beams are dropped then you will gain the height difference of the drop plus the difference in the thickness of the beam from the centerline up. If that is not enough gain maybe an F350 flatbed spring, or maybe a crew cab diesel spring?
most excellent. I'll head over to pirate over the next few days and do some more searching and reading.
As far as I know, the U-joints, spindles, and hubs are the same as a Dana 60. Possibly more, so I think that sounds like the right avenue to retain my ABS stuff.
Good idea on using lower coil buckets from a Dana 44 TTB as well.

And retaining the stock rubber/urethane bushings on the radius arms for simplicity is very agreeable to me as well.

My I-beams are untouched, so stock springs are sounding awesome if they'll work. Makes sense as they're already designed for the weight, and would be working in a similar manner...
 

bcaine

New member
That guy is me

Funny what a small internet this is...

We've been reading the same posts and you do recall correctly about pushing the axle forward by 1.5 inches and extending the radius arms by 12 inches. My plan too.

I appreciate the previous suggestion about buckets from a dana 44 and will be looking into that option.

Also if you find your axle, I know I've some 4.10 gears I won't be needing.

I won't be quick in my build and things began with a center ujoint that resisted a press, torch and liquid wrench, but couldn't argue with my grinder. All and all off to a great start.
 
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