I used set-up bearings and it worked out great…I don’t know why they get such a bad rap. There must a financial loss for someone over it. At a bare minimum it can get you very close where you only have to remove the pinion bearing once or twice vs multiple times.
Well, in the end there's never a problem as long as you check the pattern again after final reassembly, but then the fun can start all over again. Have set up many rear ends, never used set up bearings or set up tools, never busted a bearing. In 99 of 100 cases you have the old shim out the rear end which gets you there for 80%. The last 20 is easy when using the right tools.
No need to get fancy. A simple bearing separator is all I use. You'll need a way to pull the bearing anyway if the pattern is off on final assembly. Not trying to convert anyone to a new religion, just warning.
i have NEVER had luck removing a inner pinion bearing without destroying it. (and I'm pretty good at this kind of stuff..) I remove the original bearing...steal the shim and use it with my set-up bearing. Set up gear, then install REAL bearing and of course recheck pattern. I personally do not think .001 is going to be dramatic on a pinion depth (GM stuff) but i could see .001 EACH on a dana 60 carrier being an issue of moving a pattern enough to be ...meh...