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Rust to Riches, Blue's 98 Ranger

Discussion in 'Ranger / Mazda Registry' started by Blue91Ex, January 26, 2015.

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    1. Blue91Ex

      Blue91Ex Active Member

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      So I finally said it is time to buy. The explorer (whole story here: http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/...06#post3122306 ) is on its way out, of the DD duty. She just needs too much to be worth while economically for me, with a bad combo of mechanical and body rust issues. So, i went out looking and saving for another vehicle.

      But what to buy? I thought about 3rd gen rangers, 1st gen and 4th gen explorers, expeditions, 90s f150s, escapes, I even considered getting a freestyle until I read up on their transmissions... I ended up settling on either a 1st gen explorer with a 5 spd and no rust, or a 90s expedition or f150 with no rust and a 4.6. So I bought a 98 ranger, ugly front end, torsion bars, trashed interior, and plenty of rust, with 244k miles with the small 3.0 v6 (wanted a 4.0 if I bought a ranger) but it does have a 5 speed that I can't figure out how to drive! Victory?

      Is it what I planned to buy? no. Does it have many of the things I specifically wanted to avoid? yes. But, the price was right (700$) and heres the thing, it runs really well. with a quarter of a million miles, the engine runs 3x smoother than my explorer, it shifts good (when I don't dump the clutch and stall it) and from what I could tell without having it on a lift, the suspension is in very good shape.

      The only structurally unsound rust is the lower radiator support, I will have to pull that apart and rebuild it from scratch (parts are expensive) but all of the other rust I could see, was solid, just surface rust, no holes (other than tailgate, easy to replace) and most can be fixed with a lot ( aka craptons) of sanding, grinding, and buffing with a nice thick coat of truck bed liner.

      So, even with all its faults, I can fix all of the rust (also have a welder for bad spots) myself and have until the end of april to do it. By the time I need to register it, the truck should have no more rust at all and a nice new coat of paint with untextured bed liner underneath.


      Anyways, I don't have pics as of yet due to the only functioning camera in the house no longer functioning, but I will get some soon. She isn't much to look at right now, but time will tell.

      Thanks for reading guys, and sorry I deceived you all with a lack of pictures and so much text, I was going to hold back until I had a camera but I couldn't help it. I promise though I will get pics asap. Not sure of mod plans as of yet.

      Edits: Ahaha what a joker with all this not-that-bad stuff....
      I have moved the current list of all the major projects I need to complete on this truck to this post to make it easier for you guys to keep track of progress.
      The List:

      Completed projects will be colored in RED

      1. Rebuild rear 3ft of frame
      1.5. drop gas tank, remove/disconnect rear brake and fuel lines

      2. plate up/reinforce the rear frame half

      3. Grind off rivets holding front and rear of the frame together, either plate up or rebuild the upper cross-member that attaches there.
      (Turns out that I am lucky and will not have to do this)

      4. Replace cross-member in front of gas tank with new one, likely made from angle iron. ---Mostly done aside from skid plate mounts, pg.6

      5. cut out rust and add plate to area of frame rails where the gas tank x-member attaches

      6. Disassemble front clip and replace lower 1/3 of radiator support.

      7. Replace parts of cab floor (pg 6)

      8. Grind down surface rust on rocker panels/door jambs

      9. Replace metal around wheel arches and fix hole on bed floor

      10. Full tune up, plugs, wires, oil, trans fluid, differential fluid and gasket (I have the gasket though I might have bent it, not sure if that hurts anything?), radiator flush,clean MAF sensor, maybe brake pads up front.

      11. Install proper, safe seat belt buckle mounts on the floor to go with the seats.

      12. Replace the clutch , they are cheap and mine is probably 2/3 worn out, as well as the throw-out bearing. (Thanks Rick for helping me figure out what that noise was).

      13. New rear fuel and brake lines, new charcoal canister. (not really sure if this is actually needed?)

      14. Patch and repair rust and holes on front fenders (1 of 2 done, 2 is in progress, holes patched, needs more finish work,body filler, and paint.)

      15. Remove rust and repaint wheels Buy new wheels.

      This list may change or grow if I remember anything else but right now, that's the plan.
       
      Last edited: October 6, 2015
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    3. Blue91Ex

      Blue91Ex Active Member

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      Let there be pics!
      So I now have a camera I can use again. Took some pictures of the new truck. Looks rough but its got potential.

      [​IMG]
      I took the rear fender plastic off to 1. see how rusty it was underneath (not bad) and 2. they will have to come off to do the body work anyway.

      [​IMG]
      Could use a bumper (muhaha) and the headlights need a polish, but I was very happy to see the factory tow hooks.

      [​IMG]
      Ugly cap, will be selling hopefully. It would clean up alright but I can't have the color mismatch and I don't like caps anyway.

      [​IMG]
      the wheels will hopefully be repainted this summer, I got a set of summer tires from the explorer I can use on it for a while until I decide what to paint them with.

      [​IMG]
      and I gotta learn how to drive the thing haha. And that whole nasty interior is coming out. It's bad. plastic floor is ruining the metal underneath, seats are complete garbage, and its just gross inside, might have some new seats and stuff lined up though soon.

      Well there ya go, any comments or thoughts would be very appreciated as always.
       
      Last edited: January 30, 2015
    4. Blue91Ex

      Blue91Ex Active Member

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      Alright so I got a set of seats today for the ranger, they were from my friend's rolled 02 explorer sport. They don't look real pretty but I am going to take them apart, clean the fabric, sew up the one rip, and bolt them to the ranger seat tracks. Should be a pretty good upgrade and especially for 20 bucks.
      [​IMG]
       
      Last edited: February 9, 2015
    5. Blue91Ex

      Blue91Ex Active Member

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      Alright so more news on the new seats.
      I cleaned them, determined the pass side won't require swapping the tracks, I'll just have to redrill the feet on a couple of the legs to accommodate larger floor bolts in the ranger.
      pics.
      old pass seat:
      [​IMG]
      NASTY!

      new pass seat before:
      [​IMG]
      kinda dirty

      new pass seat after:
      [​IMG]
      pic is dark but it's actually much better

      new driver side seat rip before:
      [​IMG]

      after:
      [​IMG]
      [​IMG]
      the darker spot is just wet from me using a wet washcloth to clean it before sewing up the rip and hadn't fully dried out.
       
    6. Blue91Ex

      Blue91Ex Active Member

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      more parts!
      [​IMG]
      [​IMG]
      very nice haha

      I also have the dash trim for the cluster and radio to put in the ranger, as well as a couple sport trac floor mats and some other little odds and ends
       
    7. Blue91Ex

      Blue91Ex Active Member

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      Alright so a little update.

      Seats fit, pass side is bolted down already, but still working on the belts, in this pic I have the dash torn apart and the drive seat is not attached. I found to make the seat buckle tracks fit I have to make custom brackets, so I have a bit of work to do there.
      [​IMG]

      I did get the 02 explorer dome light hooked up (direct bolt in aside from dremeling off some plastic guides on the housing) and it seems to work just fine, I do have the lens for it as well.
      [​IMG]

      Now for the ugly.
      Rear fenders are rusted, I'm going to buy repair panels to weld on, but it is deffinitely going to be a PITA and take up time I would rather spend fixing the structural rust.
      [​IMG]

      Underneath, it isn't pretty, but everything aside from two of the cross-members and the very far back of the frame is very solid, much of the frame still has 1/3-1/2 of the original undercoating on it. The cab body is good aside from a bit of surface rust and the radiator support.
      [​IMG]

      The cross members that are really rusted will get cut out. I'm taking out all of the stock tire carrier hardware and the crossmembers behind and in front of it and build new cross members out of box tubing, this goes for the gas tank cross member as well. I may plate/ and or box parts of the frame where the added support could be worthwhile.

      edit: probably mentioned it but all that ugliness underneath there, that will all be taken back to bare metal (frame, springs, axle, etc) and all coated in truck bed liner, either from Duplicolor cans or maybe even splurge the 200 bucks for a couple Herculiner kits/cans



      Last thing for this post: Could any of you guys tell me if those odd triangular looking blocks under the springs are stock? I've never seen perches/blocks like that. If anyone could shine some light on that it would be helpful.
       
    8. 5spdman

      5spdman Elite Explorer

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      They look like some sort of lift block to me...looking forward to the project!
       
    9. Blue91Ex

      Blue91Ex Active Member

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      Yea see I thought that too but at the same time, the f150 I got my leaf springs from (still havent finished refinishing those things) had blocks under teh springs too and I think they were stock since the truck would have sat extremely low without them... Only real reason I'm suspicious of these is the shape, like they are supposed to double as bumpstops or something..

      And thanks for reading, it's nice to know people are interested. I deffinitely have plenty of work to do. I think my dad has some 1/2" thick 4" angle iron laying around somewhere, should make some super heavy duty crossmembers in back haha
       
    10. mr cribb

      mr cribb US Army Retired Elite Explorer

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      I wonder if swapping the Explorer seat tracks in favor of the old ranger tracks if the seat belt buckles line up like intended.
       
    11. mr cribb

      mr cribb US Army Retired Elite Explorer

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      Driving a 5 speed isn't hard.

      Let out on the clutch slowly until you feel it engage and slowly apply the gas. 1st and Reverse are the ONLY two gears that NEED any type of clutch riding.

      To make a clutch last:

      DON'T dump the clutch

      DON'T rest your foot on the clutch pedal while driving.

      I fully expect with a quarter million miles, that the clutch will need replacement one day, and the fact you are inexperienced with a manual transmission you might kill the clutch life prematurely just by learning.

      I killed a clutch by learning 20 years ago, so it could happen.

      Most learning can be by listening to the motor or watching the tachometer. If you watch the tachometer try to run the motor between 1000 and 1500 rpm when taking off. 2000 to 2500 rpm is a normal shift point.
       
      Last edited: March 3, 2015
    12. OffTrac

      OffTrac Elite Explorer

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      Silently watching with no input to offer.
       
    13. madbutcher

      madbutcher Elite Explorer

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      Me 2 :)
       
    14. Blue91Ex

      Blue91Ex Active Member

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      Well I looked into that, the tracks bolt to the seats in COMPLETELY different ways, I would have to drill out about like 12 rivets in each of the ranger seat tracks to get them off and they likely wouldn't sit quite right. also the seat belt iirc on the ranger bolts to the seat pan (its solid instead of suspended springs holding the foam up) instead of the tracks. Using the angle iron as an adapter should work just fine after i get everything taken apart (soon)

      Yea I expect to burn up the clutch while learning, it is worn out to an extent (I seriously doubt it's original) so I figure I'll probably invest in a new clutch by the end of the summer, even if it isn't completely worn out, they are only like 130 bucks.

      Last owner said shift at 3k, I thought something might be odd with that.

      I think I have the basic technique down, it's just a matter of no experience and needing practice.
       
    15. Blue91Ex

      Blue91Ex Active Member

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      I sort of figured/hoped that, I know I do the same thing on a lot of registries (including both of yours, sweet trucks btw) but just remembering my ex's registry, having almost no comments at all for like 2 pages just got sorta demoralizing haha, just the little "heads up I'm reading this" is very appreciated (and I think this goes for most people on here)

      Also plans for this sunday I hope:
      Remove bed cap
      Throw away ranger seats after making sure they are not needed
      Unbolt bed if possible (cut it off if I have to)
      cut off rear bumper in prep for frame restore and better bumper mounting

      Not sure how much of that I will get done due to rust and cold weather but that's the plan.

      and because everyone likes pictures, here's the oh-so-fancy mounts for this bumper:

      [​IMG]

      Yea, that junk is just a couple booger welds to the end of the frame with a couple of those little scraps to brace it haha, going to go with 1/4" plate with holes for actually bolting it to the frame. need to find some 3/16" plate to box the frame in back as well.
       
    16. Blue91Ex

      Blue91Ex Active Member

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      Here's some pics of the work we did today which was not nearly as much as I wanted, we didn't get the bed off due to lack of the right tools. Anyone know for sure what size torx bit the bed uses? it looks like a T55 or T60 but I don't really want to buy both and then have to return one later if I don't have to.

      Also didn't get around to taking the gas tank out because the truck needs to be where I can weld on it before I remove the tank so that I can re-attach it later, so I'm going to wait until the bed is off, which hopefully will be tomorow since I have the afternoon off and my brother is home to help move it around.

      anyway..
      cap on..
      [​IMG]

      poof.

      [​IMG]

      tailgate and bed liner off.
      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]
       
    17. Blue91Ex

      Blue91Ex Active Member

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      btw the material you see in the 3rd pic in the last post is what I'm going to be using for my back rack, I'm going to cut it down and make a square tube frame for the rack and bed rails and then the metal mesh there will be fitted inside it instead of expanded steel.
       
    18. RangerX

      RangerX Elite Ranger Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      Those winged blocks under the rear leafs are stock. The wing part lines up with the bump stops. It's different from Explorers due to the leafs being outboard of the frame.

      The bed bolts should take a T-55, my 93 does anyway.

      Moved this thread to the Ranger Registry. ;)
       
    19. Blue91Ex

      Blue91Ex Active Member

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      Oh, thanks I didn't know I couldn't have it in the elite registry, and I figured they were stock after seeing other ranger like that, reminds me I need to buy new bumpstops for it.

      I'll probably get both a t55 and a t60 just to be sure since ford likes to do weird changes between years it seems,unless someone with a 98-00 knows for sure. I work next to a parts store so I'm sure I can return the unused one, thanks for the input!
       
    20. 5spdman

      5spdman Elite Explorer

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      $20 at Sears gets you a big ol' set of Leslie torx bits....they're not Craftsmen, but my sets been pretty good so far...
       
    21. rkh58

      rkh58 Elite Explorer

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      Looking forward to watching your progress. Keep up the good work.:thumbsup:
       
    22. mr cribb

      mr cribb US Army Retired Elite Explorer

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      I bought a set of torx bits from autozone last year when I did my head gasket. I think aroud 20 dollars for a whole set versus 10 dollars for one or some similar cost.
       
    23. boominXplorer

      boominXplorer Elite Ranger Elite Explorer

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      I had the same issue with the seat swap in my 01. I used 93-97 extended cab seat tracks with explorer seats and they bolt right in with the exception of drilling the mounting holes a little bigger. I tried the cutting the rivets route, unless your 4ft tall your head will be in the roof. Use the earlier model seat belt bracket too, you will need it to mount your buckles. I had to cut some metal off the back side of them for my buckle with pretensioner to fit correctly.

      Bed bolts are T55 also
       
    24. Blue91Ex

      Blue91Ex Active Member

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      Got the bed off today. It's bad, very bad, fixable, but going to really suck.
      bed off:
      [​IMG]

      tire carrier:
      [​IMG]

      driver frame behind springs:
      [​IMG]

      frame under gas tank (both crossmembers by the tank are bad as well)
      [​IMG]
       
    25. mr cribb

      mr cribb US Army Retired Elite Explorer

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      Mmmhmm the side effects of unprotected metal and road salt.

      It would almost seem easier to find a roll over southern truck for the frame, axles, and other important items.
       
    26. Blue91Ex

      Blue91Ex Active Member

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      unfortunately that isn't in budget or time constraints, back of the frame is getting cut off, I'll buy either some plate or box tubing to rebuild it, then new spring hangars and shackles, plate up the holes farther forward (gas tank and all cross members are going to go and be rebuilt, I may keep the one above the gas tank and just reinforce it) Or for the very back I might just buy some thick 5" (didn't measure frame width/hight) wide channel iron so I can use stock brackets etc.

      I don't know I need to come up with some sort of plan and materials/parts list and go from there I guess. It's just kind of discouraging is all.
       

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