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Starkman's Explorer build thread

Discussion in 'Modified 1995-2001 Explorers' started by Starkman, August 18, 2013.

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    1. Starkman

      Starkman Elite Explorer

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      Fender trimming.

      I had already trimmed the rear of the front flares and fender to stop interference while turning but there is still rub on the inner body seam. So I got tired of tearing the flares off every time I went wheeling. At full compression there is contact and the plastic push pins would pop out and the next bush or tree would take it off completely.

      First I made a line an inch and a half down from the mark left by the flare. It's interesting that the flare is thicker at the rear and it looks off to me but after trimming the flare it now is even all the way around the flare. Next I cut the fender with a 4" grinder with a thin cutting wheel after removing the inner plastic fender.

      Here is the cut, ignore the holes I drilled them to mount the inner fender but it didn't go that way. Pics shows clearance at full compression.
      [​IMG]

      You can sort of see the inner seam work. I used a adjustable wrench to fold the seam over and then a hammer to flatten the seam. The antenna cable needed to be moved some also. I used the factory clip to attach it at a different place to move the cable up and out of danger. The e-brake cable is also close but I think it won't be in the way. I trimmed the inner fender extensively. Added a new panel to stop dirt from getting into the door hinges and that panel holds the factory sound foam in place.
      [​IMG]
       
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    3. Starkman

      Starkman Elite Explorer

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      Cut the flare with a utility knife to match the new fender opening. I had already painted the flares with spray on truck bed coating. I'm happy with how durable the paint is. Now that the only thing holding the flare to the fender is those plastic push pins I added some 3M double sided tape to the surface around the pins to help keep the flare attached.

      [​IMG]
      [​IMG]
       
    4. Starkman

      Starkman Elite Explorer

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      I think it's good to see how far a project has come by looking back at where it started.

      Before
      [​IMG]

      Now
      [​IMG]
       
    5. Starkman

      Starkman Elite Explorer

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    6. 96EXXLTinCO

      96EXXLTinCO Active Member

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      Nice attention to detail!! Well done. I think that size tubing on the front is perfect. Is it 2"?
       
    7. Starkman

      Starkman Elite Explorer

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      Thanks, yes 2".
       
    8. 96EXXLTinCO

      96EXXLTinCO Active Member

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      Ok, thanks. In post #3 , you said one of your future mods was a front sway bar disconnect. Have you done that? That ones pretty high on my list. I unbolted em once and dont care to do it again. I got a bit of an idea how to do it, but always interested in seeing other ideas implemented, and pros and cons of each.
       
    9. Starkman

      Starkman Elite Explorer

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      I've been running without a front bar for 2 years now. I still have the rear installed and it works really good when I ice race it.

      I have the parts to make my own disconnectable links but just haven't finished. I bought a set of shock adaptors that Jeep guys use to convert a stud style shock end to eye end. My plan is to bolt the adaptor to the control arm and make a link that uses the stock stud in the swaybar and a heim joint at the control arm with a pin like a hitch pin that can be pulled out easily. If you do a search for TJ Wrangler disconnect it will look very similar.

      Yes I know that it's not safe to run without a front bar but it rides so much better and it keeps me from driving too fast. If I had more front travel it would be very hairy but with the shocks set on full hard it doesn't snap back from a fast turn even though there is a lot of body roll but I've pushed it really hard on dirt roads and find it fun as it will oversteer and you can carry slides and flick it quickly. In the snow it really comes alive and I feel like a rally driver on tight slick roads. On the ice at Georgetown it will actually turn and then you can power out of turns with the throttle. But I will eventually finish the links and then I can have a bar on the highway.

      Last year up on the lake...
      [​IMG]
       
    10. dersch6221992

      dersch6221992 Active Member

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      just checked your thread out interesting thought to use a TJ bumper
       
    11. Starkman

      Starkman Elite Explorer

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      I actually designed a plate front bumper and made all the templates but walking into the TJ bumper for a good price reminded me of a thread where someone else on this forum did the same thing and I went that direction. What I see is that the rounded body lines of the Gen 2 Ex seems to look better with tube bumpers. Some of the plate bumpers made for other vehicles look good but they are very expensive and not made for our vehicles so I don't have the tools or skill to copy them so I went with the TJ bumper. A friend and I made a bumper for my Ranger and after we were done we both agreed that it was way too much work and time to get it right and finding one already fabbed was attractive.

      Here is the template I made.
      [​IMG]


      Here's the Ranger bumper.
      [​IMG]
       
    12. dersch6221992

      dersch6221992 Active Member

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      i agree i really enjoy tube front bumpers and i will throw a big stinger on the plate bumper. but im going to do an exo cage so i am going to need a sturdy bumper to tie that into.
       
    13. Starkman

      Starkman Elite Explorer

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      F150 Spring mod

      Visited the local Pull and Save and there was a rust free F150 just waiting for me to use its springs on my Ex.

      Donar
      [​IMG]

      The rear spring bushings were shot, took advice from Tom and got new stock type bushings from a local shop called Denver Spring and Suspension. They are real car people. Also picked up a set of spring clamps. The old ones were in bad shape and bending the tab to remove them resulted in it breaking off. These are important to keep the leafs from rotating and must me installed.

      Mod done
      [​IMG]
      Before
      [​IMG]

      As it sits with the stock shackles and fully loaded with full size spare, HiLift jack, box full of offroad gear it is about an inch higher then before unloaded. Perfect! Interesting thing is that the RS9000 adjusters are seized. I sprayed with PB Blaster, hopefully they will release as now they are set at full soft and need more damping with stiffer springs.

      Trick to removing spring bushing. Use a two arm pulley puller to push out the inner sleeve. If the rubber is still attached (the rubber in mine was completely gone) heat up the spring with a plumbers torch until the rubber releases from the metal. With pressure from the pulley puller applied it will let go and come out. Then use a sawsall to cut the outer sleeve and chisel out. Then hammer a screw driver into the seem where the spring is wrapped around to open the gap. I did that and the bushing went in much easier. Not easy but easier.
       
    14. 96EXXLTinCO

      96EXXLTinCO Active Member

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      Awesome!! I've been keeping an eye out for the right set anytime I'm at the junk yard. It looks like you just unbolted the u-bolts and center pin? One of the yards I go to up north sets all their cars on the axles. Been meaning to ask em how I'm supposed to get springs, but haven't worried about it since I hadn't come across a set I wanted yet. Looks good, nice job.
       
    15. Starkman

      Starkman Elite Explorer

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      Yes, unbolted the u bolts and center pin and they fall out. Yes I had to ask a worker to lift it and move the wheels they use for jack stands to the back bumper. Lucky that it was on a aisle that could be accessed. You could also use their a-frame with a winch for lifting engines I suppose. $44 with tax...

      Here is a link to Camburg's prerunner springs with that style clamps.
      http://camburg.com/all-products/09-11-f-150/deaver-leaf-springs-pr/
       
      Last edited: August 12, 2015
    16. rabbit91

      rabbit91 Elite Explorer

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      Did you use the entire f150 leaf pack or use the smaller 150 leafs with the explorer main ?
       
    17. Starkman

      Starkman Elite Explorer

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      I used the Explorer main. Took it on a overnight trail run last night and it works good. I was worried that it may be too stiff and no flex as much off road. I'm happy so far...
       
    18. rabbit91

      rabbit91 Elite Explorer

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      That's good to hear, I just the the swap using the 150 main, drilled out the front hanger for the larger bolt but the leafs are too long, the shackle contacts my hitch going to see if I can press the 150 bushing into the explorer main and go the same route you have
       
    19. Starkman

      Starkman Elite Explorer

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      After a trail run last week I developed a front rattle, found it to be a failed shock. 32,000 miles ago a installed Rancho RS9000X shocks. I've been happy with them but had to run on full hard damping to get the ride I like. Lately I noticed they were starting to have less control over the wheels. So I decided to try Bilsteins this time.

      After removal I noticed bluing on the shafts. When I pushed the shock in and out by hand I can feel the piston is no functioning correctly. It will move with no resistance then grab and bind. No complaints with 32,000 miles of abuse.
      [​IMG]


      Comparo
      [​IMG]

      Drove on the Bilsteins today and they seem to have less rebound damping then the Ranchos of full hard. No bad but softer slightly.
       
    20. Starkman

      Starkman Elite Explorer

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      Got out today. This trail dead ends at a perfect high country lake call Bill Moore Lake.
      [​IMG]

      Flex shot
      [​IMG]

      Poser rock
      [​IMG]

      I just have to say that this Explorer works off road very well. I went up and over and down some very intense terrain today. When I finally get the rear locker it will be unstoppable.
       
    21. dejan.s

      dejan.s New Member

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      Love the project. Do you have any close photos of the rocksliders?
      I'm getting ready to do a pair and hunting for ideas.
       
    22. Starkman

      Starkman Elite Explorer

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    23. Ryan87LX

      Ryan87LX Member

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      How are these holding up? I'm in love with this idea, especially as I have some rocker rust to repair.
       
    24. Starkman

      Starkman Elite Explorer

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      They have done great. I haven't taken a big hit on them but I have hit some and no issues. It's interesting as they are tucked up higher then most sliders that are mounted below the sills so I seem to touch on the torsion bar cross member more than anywhere else. I did slide off a trail that was mostly loose river rock and was completely hung up on the frame and sliders and they saved the doors. Good luck with your build...
       
    25. TheYeti

      TheYeti New Member

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      Starkman,

      I'm interested in installing one of those bumpers on my explorer.

      I read your post saying its a smittybilt. But what is the model number? Is it 76721?
       
    26. 96EXXLTinCO

      96EXXLTinCO Active Member

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      Hey Rich!!! Not sure if you saw my post over on RMO, but I've been talking to the guy that has your old Ranger now. Guess he lives in Pueblo.
       

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