I recently destroyed my Dana 35 rear end. The parts to replace the whole set up would have run me nearly 500 to 600 dollars (that's including the special tools I would need to set up the gears correctly). Fortunately for me I have access to this site and was inspired to upgrade my rear end with an 8.8. This is my attempt.
Surprisingly, it wasn't hard to find an 8.8. My local salvage yard had several ford explorers. Fortunately for me, I found one with the correct ratio out of a 97 for $240.
The boys did a good job of taking it out for me. They left the brake lines intact as I requested. This should no doubt save me money.
Before getting started, I decided to double check the gears myself for wear, and for the correct ratio. I was surprised to see just how beefy the 8.8 is! It's no wonder people are putting these in their jeeps. Everything was in good shape.
After verifying that everything was ok, I got started on cutting the sway bar brackets off. I started with an electric cutting wheel, but soon found that the die grinder, being smaller in diameter, made a closer cut around the contour of the axle.
Take your time and do not cut too close and damage the axle. A small amount of metal is nothing to grind down. You can always take away, however it's harder to put back.
Grind it smooth.
I got to measuring, and at first it looked as though the spring perches were about 1" over all closer together than my existing set up. I measured a few more times and found other wise. When I take my old axle out I will verify this again before cutting the perches off.
That's enough for today. Tomorrow I plan to take my old axle out and cut off the shock and sway bar mounts and weld them onto my new axle. I plan on getting new U-bolts but I'm going to try and reuse the plates.
I needed new brakes anyhow so I'm not going to add that to the cost of this project. I plan on rebuilding the calipers, which by the way are a lot smaller than I had previously thought they would be, and get new e-brake shoes. A little chassis saver I have left over from a recent project should ensure a good, rust free, future for my new rear end.
One thing I found that worries me. While measuring, I found that the punkin is an inch or two further towards the passenger side than my current axle. I'm wondering if this will cause me vibration problems. I guess I'll find out soon enough.