well, after hearing mixed opinions on how well people got away with installing their explorer rear ends. I decided to narrow my rear. the bonus is. it can be done without buying aftermarket axels. and by doing it as described in this sticky it also centers the pinion solving driveline misalighnment issues. this sticky is performed the backyard tech way. no special fixtures or antying is required. just a decent welder, a chop saw, or band saw, (band saw preffered) and a little knowledge and time (and about 60 bucks for new spring pads and axel, they might actually trade you axels depending on the wrecker you deal with)
step one, remove the brakes, backing plate, axel etc, from the drivers side of the diff. (it's the longer one obviouisly) this step is self explanitory. if your not capable of this, you should be paying someone to do the job anyway this is how your diff will look when you get this step completed (click to enlarge)
step two, go to a salvage yard and get a passanger side axel for an explorer 8.8, disk brakes or drum brakes, they are the same. attached is a few pics of the differences of the axels. (click to enlarge)
the axel you took out, will be exactly 3" longer than the passanger side axel you got from the wrecking yard.
step three cut off the old spring perch, and sway bar mount and grind the housing smooth. on the side your cuting 3" out of, you don't need to cut the sway bar mount since thats where you will be cutting 3" out of the housing
(click to enlarge)
step four, set a peice of angle iron on the axel tube open side down, it will self center. scribe a line across the housing length for later reference
(click to enlarge)
step five, measure twice, cut once. honostly measure as many times as you need to untill you feel confident, you only have one shot at this. you will be removing 2-15/16" exactly from the housing, or, if prefered up to an 1/8" over, less than 2-15/16" is trouble, but 1/8" you can get away with. and 1/16" over 3" would be perfect to allow a small gap for welding. this cut needs to be as square as possible, a band saw is preffered, but a chop saw will do the job, if your using a chop saw go slow with the cut or the blade will wander. take your time to set it up correctly and make sure it will cut properly (click to enlarge)
step six, bevel the edges of the cut for welding purposes, then take 4 pieces of angle iron, clamp them open face to the tube holding the axel tube straight, this is where your scribed line comes into play, line the scribed line up so that your housing end is in the same clocked position as before cutting. now, slide the axel in and spin it to check for any binding of any kind, the axel should slide in with no effort, and should spin freely in the diff (with the brakes removed from the opposite side) if it's all working great, do some 1/2" long welds between the peices of angle iron (leave the axel in place) spin the axel again to make sure it spins free with no binding. (click to enlarge)
step seven, remove the angle iron and finish welding the tube. while your welding, it's not a bad idea to weld the axel tube to the center section as well. the "spot welds" can break on a hard launch, and things get nasty. during the welding process, stop once in a while and spin the axel to make sure it's not pulling the tube crooked from the heat of welding. (click to enlarge)
step eight, reassemble your backing plate, reinstall the c-clip and cross pin in the center section, at this point your ready to put the diff into the truck, center it, set your pinion angle, and weld on your new spring pads. when I get to this point, I will add my measurements from the housing ends to the spring pads etc. to make everyone else's job a little bit easier.
*no pic yet*
step nine. swap out your u joint, bolt on the drive shaft, and go do some hard launches and smokey burnouts now that you have a much stronger diff to take some abuse. (be sure to post pictures or we'll be dissapointed)
doing this swap after narrowing the housing 3" the complete assembly is a little less than 2" wider than the stock s-10 diff. (once I have them both out I will measure with a tram bar for an exact measurment) but, if you use a 15x8" wheel with 5.5" backspacing, and 5x4.5" bolt circle. the wheels will fit perfectly with this diff, it may require 1/4" spacers if you are running a 11.5" slick to clear the frame rails on the inside. again, I'll let you know when I get this far.
i decided to open this topic to opinions and questions now that it is completed. feel free to knock my abilities or ideas, if i'm wrong, i am willing to accept it and correct the problem. i can tell you right now, after doing this how damn easy it really is... i spent no more than 3 hours on it. if i had this sticky to go by, i could have it done in a matter of 2 hours. it's very easy to do, but because of the couple extra tools like the welder and the band saw. not everyone will be able to do it, but any machine shop would be able to do this for you in no time