2000 Explorer rear end


New Member
May 2, 2022
west texas
OK have any of you done this yourselves? Looking for person with real hands on knowledge of the process and measurements to center the pinion. I would also like to maybe narrow it a 1" more than the stock 8" on each side to allow for east tire removal. Thoughts with some measurements if you have them. Thanks in advance. I am installing the COMPLETE engine/transmission/EFI/rearend into a nice 66 convertible. I,ve done this before also installing a title column and O?S Box or power rack undecided on that right now.


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I,ve done this before
If you have done this swap before, why do you need measurements?

Personally I would keep the 8". Put a posi in it if it doesn't already have one. The Explorer rear is not centered, the axle shafts are different lengths. You will need to narrow at least one side, reinstall the leaf spring perch and get at least one new axle shaft. With your 8", all that is already there, just a gear change and posi if needed.
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I’m doing a complete 87TBird drivetrain swap into a 73 Mustang, and I agree, I would keep my stock rear end. If you’re doing it for the disc breaks, the 8” disc break conversion kits I’ve seen are cheaper that the total cost the rear axle swap entails. Just my 2 cents.
I want the disc brakes, not afraid of buying Moser axles and narrowing the housing, I've done others before. I already have the 8.8 31 spline axles with 3:55 gears and positraction so buying axles is ok. Also I have a complete 66 289 2bbl automatic, 8' rear end complete with P/S, Alt., and A/c compressor for sale $1750.00 can drive before you buy if anyone looking for one to swap into a 6 cyl car. Also front 5 lug brakes
The stock dimensions for the 66 Mustang they would be 52 3/8 for the width of the housing, 26 3/8 from center of pinion nut to outside of housing end on the driver side, and 26” from center of pinion nut to the face of the housing end on the passenger side. That would be the same width as stock for the 66 mustang.
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I can't help you with measurements...but if you are doing anything other than the "cut the long axle tube" that most people do(which by the way does come out slightly shorter than the stock 8" by about 1/4-3/8" if I remember correctly)...then why use an explorer axle at all? What I mean is that people are rather silly in choosing the explorer axle to start with....they chose it because it requires just one cut, but in reality...its not that much more difficult to make 2 cuts. The only real advantage the explorer axle has is that you can get away without custom axles(but custom axles really don't cost huge amount for an 8.8 anyway)

When you consider that, then other 8.8" axles become a lot more attractive since they give you a lot more length to work with...which means you can actually center the pinion correctly...for example a SN95 8.8" or a F150 8.8" or a crown vic 8.8" or a S197 8.8" become possibilities(especially if you are looking to go 3 or 4 link since some of those have upper arm brackets built in)

I have looked at it every which way and no matter how you think about it...by the time you get done using an explorer 8.8" and shoring up its weaknesses(such as having to use C-clip eliminators for peace of mind if racing the car) you may as well simply build a 9". If I were to build an 8.8"...I would start with a S197 axle...cut the length to whatever I want...then use 9" bearing ends to avoid c-clip eliminators...and custom axles. Its only marginally cheaper than a 9" at that point and I still have a cast iron center housing that I can't weld to....so if I want a 3rd link bracket up there different from what the S197 comes with...then I have to add a truss system of some type...and there goes the cost advantage over a 9", and now I have a weaker rear end that weighs just as much as the 9" An 8.8" explorer rear end is really only a suitable choice in my eyes if all you are doing is cutting one side and using 2 short-side passenger axles and plan on using leaf springs...once you start going custom length then a 9" is better choice.
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I just finished shortening one side of the explorer housing for mine. I believe the tubes measured 26 1/16" between the flat surface on the center section to the inside of the caliper mounting brackets on each side but that is just going off memory so I could be wrong.. You just measure the short side and shorten the long side to match though so not sure what other measurements you mean.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mayYpK_aPgM

I followed this tutorial. If I had material available I would've much preferred to use an internal alignment bar but I am working with what I got. To cut the section of tube out I used a pipe cutter like this https://www.ridgid.com/us/en/4-wheel-pipe-cutters but i'm sure you could get away with other means of cutting. I beveled the tube and left about 1/8" flat, tacked in several opposing spots, checked measurements, welded and rechecked. I used our large mig at work and I tried to sweat as much gear oil out as I could prior.

The center section is cast steel, not iron. People online say you need a nickel rod but I blasted mine with 7018 no problem, if it was iron it would've melted or split. I did dye penetrant on the housing and my weld spot after to make sure. I pre and post heated but I don't think you need to. Overall I overthought it a lot, but at the end of the day it isn't rocket science when you really start to look at it. The axle bearings and tapered rollers in the housing should both accommodate a little bit of misalignment as well (obviously get it as close as possible however).
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