2wd to 4wd Change over guide!
After searching this and other forums for info on parts needed, and just the project itself, I found more questions than answers! TDS was a big help, but the forum is lacking a decent write up on the swap. I just changed my 2000 F-350 2wd dually into a SRW 4wd. Big project, but it really wasn't as bad as some said it would be. Definently NOT worth selling your truck and going through all the BS of finding another just to get 4wd. I wouldn't hesitate to do it again!
First and foremost, the only way to do the project for a reasonable price is to have a donor truck! There are quite a few nuts and bolts, brackets, and other pieces you probably haven't even thought of untill they are all sitting in front of you. In my case, I bought the axle lock out to lock out from one guy, and ALL the front suspension components from someone else off Craigslist parting out a '99. I only gave $200 for the front end suspension pieces! Going to the dealer for more than a couple parts will end up costing an arm and a leg, making the swap much less cost effective!
Here's a list of parts you will need. I'm focusing on the front end suspension and steering here. The trans and T-case is another story.
Front axle (obviously!) I would recomend buying one thats disc to disc or at least to the lockouts so your not trying to piece it together too. The rest of the list is assuming the axle is complete and doesn't include any axle parts.
front leaf springs
front mounting brackets
rear shackles and mounting brackets
front tow hooks if you don't have them
Upper shock mounts on frame
lower shock mounts/leaf spring top plate
lower left side "axle cap" Thats the ford name for the part, I was missing it and it cost $66 at the dealer. This is the plate that the U-bolts go through that tightens up to the bottom of the axle on the drivers side. On the pass side, this is welded to the axle and is also the lower track bar mount
Upper track bar mount
Track bar and bolts
sway bar and linkage rods
linkage rod mounts at frame, sway bar clamps and rubber bushings at axle
Tie rods (all of them, I bought all this new, non of the 2wd stuff will work)
4wd pitman arm
All the nuts and bolts to bolt all these parts on! The guy that I got the front end stuff from had all the hardware that came off when the parts were removed. That saved a lot of money (esepecially if you go to the dealer). If you end up taking the parts off another truck, save everything! You can get generic bolts from the hardware store sure, but they wont have the little tang welded to them like the factory bolts. These tangs hit the frame or whatever is near by to hold the nut so you can tighten it down without holding it at the same time. That makes assmebly much easier!
There are a couple things I ran into that might be helpful to know for those of you thinking about doing this project:
You may notice I listed front tow hooks. The tow hook is threaded to recieve the three forward bolts that hold the front leaf spring mount to the frame. Without them you will be missing over half the bolts that hold the bracket to the frame.
The 2wd pitman arm looks like it will work. It has a little bit of a drop to it, and I figured that it would just help with tie rod alignment since I was putting a leveling kit on the front anyway. They do after all sell drop arms. WRONG! The drop is just right for the drag link tie rod end to smack into the track bar bolt. With the 2wd pitman you can only turn about 50% of the way left!
There are two different styles of front axle U-bolts. I only found this out because I got u-bolts with the axle, but the hardware and suspension pieces from the other guy didn't include them. There are squared top and rounded top. According to the dealer, there is no year break off, or vin number look up for this. Its just whatever the factory had that day. I had the rounded bolts but the shock mount/top plate was for the squared off style. The problem was obvious, the U-bolt didn't seat across the plate correctly and only made contact on the corners. The U-bolts are about $10 a piece from the dealer and don't come with new nuts! If you need them make sure to order them as well!
If the axle you get doesn't have brake hardware, don't sweat it. The 2wd caliper brackets, and calipers are the same and will bolt up. I used mine on the 4wd front end since mine were newer. The caliper bracket bolts are also the same so if the axle is missing the bolts no big deal.
I also reused the brake hoses, and just bent the metal line forward slightly. Only thing I need to come up with is a brake line bracket/mount of some kind. The 2wd spring perch held the metal line originally. The 4wd trucks have a independant little mount on the frame if I remember correctly. Not a huge deal at the moment. I installed a 2" leveling kit and the lines are long enough for that. If your just doing stock height it will be no problem at all.
The front discs are different, you will need 4wd ones.
About the tear down/assembly:
I removed the entire 2wd front end in about 5 hours by myself. I unbolted the I beams from the cross member, and unbolted them at the frame under the doors. Once you take off the little bracket that holds the spring on the perch, the whole works just falls off. (assuming you have the brakes and shocks disconnected already). Each side is pretty damn heavy, but once it was on the ground I was able to drag it out from under the truck myself no problem and get it out of the way. If you want to save some time and are worried about getting the truck going as quickly as possible, you don't need to remove the rear mounts off the frame. The leaf spring mounts are farther ahead so the 2wd stuff wont interfear with it. You can remove them later. The rest of the mounts need to come off though. The spring perches are by far the biggest pain in the ass of the project. They are rivoted on with huge rivots by a very big machine obviously. Even after grinding off the rivot heads, I still had to use the largest pipe wrench I have along with a 3 foot section of tubing to hang off to get them to bust off the frame. I took the pipe wrench to the top of the perch and pushed downward to pry it off the frame. It takes some time to work it loose.
Once everything is off, you will be happy to know all the 4wd stuff just bolts up! All the holes are already there, right down to the 3 bolt holes for the upper shock mount. They are behind the spring perch. There was no drilling or messing around with any of it. I got all the front end stuff on in about 15 hours. You need a friend to help position the axle under the truck as it is OH MY GOD heavy. Other than that, you can do the job yourself.
Overall I had around 20hours in the whole project. If you have the parts ready to go, you can easily do it in a weekend as long as you have a friend to help with the axle positioning.
Hope this is helpfull for those of you thinking of doing the swap. Thats pretty much it for the front end, I'll add more if I happen to remember anything I didn't list.
2002 F250 Powerstroke Crew Cab Lariat 4wd auto, Bone stock for now...
'00 Excursion Limited, 4" turbo back, Dura-Lite filter/intake, 20% tint all around.. The highway cruiser!