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5spdman's slow and cheap XLT build

Discussion in 'Modified 1991-1994 Explorers' started by 5spdman, March 11, 2014.

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    1. 5spdman

      5spdman Elite Explorer

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      Welp, it's time....I've had this 91 XLT for 4 months now and it's time to upgrade the thing! I have been wanting to build an EX since dad came home with our 93 sport 12 years ago and now the time has come where I have the materials to build, some know how and time...

      Backstory:
      I live on the Hopi reservation working at a mission school in Kykotsmovi, AZ...when I first started, I had brought my little 92 Ford Escort 4dr hatchback...it was great on gas and got me from A to B, but looking around at my surroundings and places not too far away, I decided during my Christmas break, I was going to leave the escort at home in Ohio and bring the 93. Finally, a rig to drive on some real trails and not just back-woods muddin'! All was great....had a four day weekend in April and decided to head down to Sedona and hit the trails and do a little camping and hiking while I was at it.........never made it to Flagstaff. Head gaskets finally gave out to the point that in the hour and a half drive home, I had to drop in 7 gallons of water just to keep the thing cool enough to drive....$#!+.....

      I kept adding antifreeze and water just to get around on the rez...added some Bar's stop-leak headgasket fix, which seemed to help a bit, but it was too far gone...why not just replace the head gaskets you say? The body was so far gone, it had no rocker panels to speak of, holes in the floor, a rear bumper that had almost entirely disintegrated and body mounts that where nowhere to be found...I had even had a radius arm completely buckle while driving....it wasn't worth my time and money to fix. (see illustrations)


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      Well, now what to do? Save my money and hope to find another sport for a reasonable price in Flagstaff, Phoenix, New Mexico.....all out of my price range...keep searching and hoping something out there will come up. And in the meantime, with some materials in the schools scrap pile, I ended up making version 1.0 of a tire swing gate and a roof rack (also version 1.0)


      [​IMG]


      AND THEN IT HAPPENED!! A few of us had gone to a friends birthday party in the next village and sitting behind their house was a two-tone tan Explorer...it was a four door, but at his point I thought to myself "ENGINE SWAP!" I asked who the vehicle belonged to, and our friends father said it was his. Hoping for the best, I asked if he would consider selling it. He told me it was not running...great.....but it was because it did not have a transmission. "I can deal with that...I really just need another engine." After a bit, he said he would sell it, so I asked him to think of a price and get back to me. Three weeks went by and I hadn't seen the man or heard from him. Then one night at a country dance (it's a big thing out here) I saw him and inquired about the price....thinking he'd say, $800 or some figure around that mark, I was gearing myself up to negotiate a lower price....

      "$200" I couldn't believe my ears! If I would have had it in my pocket I would have paid him on the spot! Still thinking engine swap, I thought of other things I could swap out to improve the almost dead sport...but when I finally got a look inside the XLT, my mind was made up.....tranny swap! It was a 5spd manual, the engine had been rebuilt three years prior (and then it sat), had almost no rust and a good interior...and to add, I had a good 5spd in the sport! Got everything squared away on price and title, loaded it up and brought it to the school!


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      It was a little rough...almost no clearcoat left, sand and dust everywhere, carpet stains, missing pieces, slight rust on the rear portions of the rocker panels, exhaust held up and together with fencing wire and pie tins (no joke.) Time to get to work if I was going to drive this thing home to Ohio for Christmas. Where to start? Gut it...run wire for stereo, amplifier, lights, emergency lighting and siren (volunteer firefighter in Ohio) and battery....for some reason, the 93 liked to have it's battery drained for no good reason, so I decided not to take any chances and add a battery kill switch on the floor.


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      In hindsight, I probably should have started with the transmission and worked on wiring later as I ended up with only two weeks to get everything put together, many projects and things happening at the school, and problems I didn't know were lurking in the shadows....but I got things together and ready to roll!


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      (That is a custom fabricated (not the cleanest though) interior light bar that houses both the controls for the emergency lighting as well as the siren controls

      I had pulled the transmission out of the sport before pushing the XLT into the shop...it was a mess....


      [​IMG]


      Clean it up and bolt it up....now what to do about the missing exhaust from the manifold to the Y...salvage that from the 93 as well! Bolts in, now attach the clutch hydraulic line....again, try and attach the hydraulic line...not working. Apparently parts were changed between the 91's and 93's....great...well, only way I can think to do this; switch master cylinders...bolts don't match up on the fire wall...so I switched lines...


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      Bleed the lines, works like a charm! Just a few days before I leave for Ohio and; IT'S ALIVE!!! Everything worked great on the drive home and back to AZ!! And this is how he sits now;


      [​IMG]


      Edgar (yes, I named it) still has a few issues though...holes in the exhaust, leaking slave and master cylinder, [recently] broken auto hubs, sagging leaf springs, rear passenger door that opens only from the outside and rear driver door that only opens from the inside, spark plugs that need replaced (thank you NAPA), and other misc. things that need attention. Thankfully the gas gauge just started working again, so I won't have to look into that much, but the speedometer still runs a little fast. I'll be cutting the Thrush muffler off of the sport soon, getting some extra exhaust pipe from NAPA and slappin' that puppy up under there to take care of the exhaust issue, and also installing manual hubs I picked up from Maniak. Tire gate 2.0 is being painted and awaiting application.

      So why am I writing and showing all of this to you fine folks you may ask? Well, with some searching, more asking, and talking to other members here, I have not only fixed a majority of my problems over the years, but am ready to lift! Well, sorta....in my head I'm ready to lift, but still need to get some parts...

      Thanks to input from my previous thread "[thread=402100]looking to lift...cheaply...options[/thread]" I have a parts list in mind now and will spend the next few weeks acquiring said parts and cleaning/painting/fabricating/building! In about two weeks, I will have drop brackets for the TTB (also from Maniak.)

      Here is the general idea:

      TTB and radius arm drop brackets
      4" Tuff Country(?) coil springs
      Dock washer coil spacers
      F250 shock towers and shocks
      Pro Comp FD400(?) drop pittman arm
      MOOG camber bushings
      F350 brake lines
      SOA rear
      Post-'95 Sport leaf pack

      Altogether: ~5" of lift

      As it sits, the XLT only has 3.55 gears, so I will scrounge around the junkyards for axles with 3.73 or 4.10 gearing and inquire about a straight-up axle trade (hey, it could happen.) I do have 3.73 axles on the sport, but they are extremely rusted, the rear axle is leaking diff fluid at the end of the driver side axle tube and the knuckles in the front are actually stretched, soooo, I think I'll skip on that....I would just swap the diffs, but I have no experience doing that, nor do I have the necessary tools to do so. I will also be in the market for 31" tires (I may have some lined up from a friend here, but they're currently sitting in NM and I haven't seen them yet.)

      With all that being said, stay tuned for updates!
       
      Last edited: March 12, 2015
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    3. teletekman

      teletekman Member

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    4. malohnes

      malohnes Active Member

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      I'm waiting!!!! HAHA

      Sounds great and I'll be looking forward to regular reports on your progress.

      Now go get em...
       
    5. 5spdman

      5spdman Elite Explorer

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      Nothing big as of yet, just a bit of paint today....there wasn't a lot of paint left on the wiper arms after 23 years so they got touch ups...

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      So did the rear hatch around the glass...

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      The school I work at is on spring break, so I needed something to keep me busy in my spare time while I'm waiting for parts. Went snowboarding in Flag yesterday and stopped in to the local U-Pick-It...the guy I talked to about prices for parts was new, so no help there, but I did leave my number with him and a parts list to give to someone with a little more experience, so hopefully I'll have prices on parts by tomorrow afternoon!
       
      Last edited: March 12, 2015
    6. 5spdman

      5spdman Elite Explorer

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      Well I got around to doing some work on the XLT today.....got the tire mount and hinges bolted up, and a subwoofer enclosure built! Things are lookin good!!

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      Hinges mounted (now to get the wrench out that I lost in the body)

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      Ready to mount the receiver to keep it closed

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      All done! Finishing touch will be getting enough wire out to attach the CB antenna.

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      Making sure the box will fit...

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      Everything in and in it's proper place!

      Will be a while before any more updates come...next "quick" projects will be painting the roof rack, installing new rear lighting, exhaust/muffler replacement, most likely a slave cylinder and master cylinder replacement, and possibly mounting some tow hooks on the front chassis.
       
      Last edited: March 12, 2015
    7. 5spdman

      5spdman Elite Explorer

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      Don't get too excited, these aren't final or purchased yet lol...I've been busy calling the local U-Pick-It and doing some research all night online and have some prices on parts for a lift! And since I can't fall asleep to save my life tonight, I'll just go ahead and post my findings.....

      From the salvage yard or other members:
      Drop Brackets------------- $50
      F250 shock towers-------- $15/ea
      Shocks-------------------- $2/ea
      Leaf packs---------------- $24/ea
      Brake hoses---------------- $6/ea
      F150 coil spacers----------- $10/ea

      Brand-new online:
      Tuff Country 4" coils-------- $116/pair
      MOOG camber bushings------ $23/ea
      ProComp pittman arm------- $70

      With two of those previously listed parts, who knows...I could get lucky and find an explorer or ranger with a lift kit to pull:
      Coil springs----------------- $21/ea
      Pittman arm---------------- $17

      I may (if I ever make it to the yard to look around and do some "snooping") work my magic and try to talk down a few prices (not that they're bad prices, I'm just cheap.) There are a few more things to get from the yard, like a rear door panel, rear door latches, a spare tire that matches the rest of the wheels, etc.....those mods/repairs will come soon than later! :)

      I also got a sweet price on a set of tires: FREE!!! A friend out here has a slightly lifted Chevy Astro that broke down on her in New Mexico....she told me I could have the wheels and tires (almost new) in exchange for going to transport it back here to AZ, replacing the tranny and putting stock tires back on it for her.....not sure on size yet, but hey, they're FREE!!!
       
      Last edited: March 18, 2014
    8. FR-425

      FR-425 Used to be a road here. Elite Explorer

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      Looks like that radius arm was soaking in salt water for ten years straight!
       
    9. 5spdman

      5spdman Elite Explorer

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      Yeah...thank you Ohio DOT for heavily laying salt on the roads every winter, and thank you dad for never washing the thing! :thumbsup:........:roll:
       
    10. FR-425

      FR-425 Used to be a road here. Elite Explorer

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      Use it! Or else!

      :splat:

      [​IMG]
       
    11. 5spdman

      5spdman Elite Explorer

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      Hmm.....where would I find that? I've never seen it before, but I don't think I'll need it for a while now that I'm living in AZ, but it'd be good to have when I go back!! :thumbsup:

      Speaking of "where would I find that," since my father will be out here next week, I figured I'd get him to help me replace the clutch master cylinder and slave cylinder. This is where I run into a bit of a problem....I'll pay the money for a new slave cylinder, but would rather rebuild the master cylinder. Anyone know where I could find a seal kit? I called the local NAPA (who said they didn't have anything like that) and they referred me to another local auto supply store. The guy there said they had one, searched for about 5 minutes, and then told me they didn't have one and couldn't get it either...do I have any choice on this, or just fork up the money for a new master cylinder?
       
    12. FR-425

      FR-425 Used to be a road here. Elite Explorer

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    13. FR-425

      FR-425 Used to be a road here. Elite Explorer

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      Ok, just Google'd your town, Yikes! where's the nearest AP store?
       
    14. 5spdman

      5spdman Elite Explorer

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      There may be one or two in Tuba City or Winslow (45 minutes at least), but we usually work through NAPA for all or our parts here at the school (tax free account), so we have to go to Flagstaff (1hr 30min if you drive the speed limit)! It's a pain in the butt lol
       
    15. 5spdman

      5spdman Elite Explorer

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      Updates on moving forward with the build:

      Waiting on the manual hubs from Maniak (should have them tomorrow) but in the meantime, I simply took the auto hubs from the 93 and threw them on there....and threw my handy-dandy-custom-made sway bar disconnects on there too while I was at it!! Haven't gotten a chance to throw in 4x yet, but soon! :bounce:

      [​IMG]

      I also took the chance yesterday to drill out the hinges and put thicker grade 8 bolts in to keep the ends from sliding around...I then took the chance to take my roof rack off and paint it (should have done that after I fabricated the stupid thing.) While I was at it, I welded on a stiffer plate to mount the roof lights so they weren't bouncing all over the place while I'm driving around (before paint obviously)....oh, and I replaced the muffler and welded up all the leaks in the pipes too! :D

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      On a side note, I contacted U-Pick-It of Flagstaff about possibly scraping the 93 and asked for a quote...they emailed back and said they'd buy it form me for $350 (that's if I take it in myself.) I emailed back and asked about just trading it for all the parts I'm looking for. Haven't heard back yet on that, but even if they don't go for that, it'll still take a big chunk out of the cost for parts! (Still hoping to find something with a lift already on it for springs and pittman arm.)

      Stay tuned...more updates to come!!
       
      Last edited: March 12, 2015
    16. mr cribb

      mr cribb US Army Retired Elite Explorer

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      Cool build.

      Did you use any metal to stiffen the body where you mounted your tire carrier?
       
    17. unometooo

      unometooo New Member

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      I'm new to 4wd, and dont even have a complete one yet. What is the purpose of the sway bar disconnects?
       
    18. 5spdman

      5spdman Elite Explorer

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      I did not. Where the bolts on the hinges go into the body there were some, for a lack of better words, reinforcing seams and I hit them all by dumb luck....I will get around to reinforcing it sometime soon though just for ease of mind.

      unometooo, the sway bar disconnects allow the front to travel more freely. With it connected, when one wheel gets stuffed (travels up), the sway bar keeps the other wheel from dropping. This is more for road driving to cut down on body roll (sway). By disconnecting the sway bar when off-road, this allows the other wheel to travel down more and give you more traction by keeping your tires planted on the ground. You'll get the same and/or better effect by deleting the rear sway bar as well (a mod that is still to come for me!) :D If you don't plan on really wheeling with your ex, I wouldn't do the disconnects, or rear sway bar delete for that matter.
       
    19. 5spdman

      5spdman Elite Explorer

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      Update: brackets and manual hubs got here!

      [​IMG]

      :eek: Aww yeah!! Here we go!! :bounce: :D
       
      Last edited: March 12, 2015
    20. mr cribb

      mr cribb US Army Retired Elite Explorer

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      I'm just jealous you scored a 5 speed 4wd for cheap. I keep finding auto's here and the one 5 speed the guy wants a bit too much for it.
       
    21. 5spdman

      5spdman Elite Explorer

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      Just always keep an eye out...if there's one in your community that you never see move, ask the owner about it. The guy I bought mine from had been using it for storage...he kept his cottonwood root, feathers, antlers, and a few other things in there for almost three years, until I came along lol! :D
       
    22. 5spdman

      5spdman Elite Explorer

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      Well, it happened....................:splat:

      Ran out here to Tuba City to run a weekend shift (fire department) and figured I'd replace my leaking master cylinder while I had some downtime. Got the old one out, installed it, and started bleeding it. Two hours later, I thought to myself, "gosh, this should be good to go by now" but there was still no pressure on the pedal....I then looked to the front of the vehicle and noticed fluid dripping from the front of the bell housing. Stuck my fingers in the bell housing only to start playing around in brake fluid...........:roll:

      I have a new slave cylinder, fluids and tools being brought to me tomorrow night. I'll take this opportunity to reseal the transmission and change fluid in the transfer case while it's all out as well....here's to a long day laying in the dirt on Sunday............:thumbdwn:
       
    23. Pollarican

      Pollarican Active Member

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      Watch some videos online of how to bleed the clutch setup - it is an incredibly stubborn SOB if you attempt to do it installed in the truck. A better option is to bleed it preassembled on the bench, then install it in the truck.


      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgNTDGwcjZc

      Found it - you will thank me later!
       
    24. 5spdman

      5spdman Elite Explorer

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      Well, I'm going to have to take it back out to do all that (I don't know why I didn't do it before I installed the stupid thing... :banghead: Guess I was just so ready to install it that it slipped my mind, but it will get done!) Thanks for the video link! It's really good info! :thumbsup:
       
    25. unometooo

      unometooo New Member

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      Off topic for a moment. I just noticed in your "Ride List" you have a 92 Escort. I use to have a 94 Escort Wagon 5 speed car that was a blast to drive. It was pretty peppy (or so I thought) and fun to drive, I was always looking for a GT motor to put in it at the salvage yard but never came across one. I even bid on a turbo kit for it on Ebay that someone had pieced together but lost interest when the bid hit 500. I miss that little car.
       
    26. 5spdman

      5spdman Elite Explorer

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      I wish it was a 2 door 5spd, but when a friend sent me a message asking if anyone needed a car for $350, I couldn't pass it up! I originally planned to use it in replacement of the 91 Mercury Tracer I used to tear around the woods in (and rolled,) but it was in such good cosmetic and mechanical shape, I started using it as a daily driver.

      I saw a 2 door here on the reservation that hasn't moved since I moved here a year and a half ago. I've seen the car pretty close (owners kids go to the Mission school I work at) and I know for sure it at least needs a new windshield, but if it's a 5spd with just engine problems, I'd love to take it off their hands! (I know the family could use the extra money too, so why not help out!) I'll have to ask...thanks for lighting that spark again haha! :D

      Right now the hatchback is sitting in Ohio with some sort of transmission problem...it will shift from 1st to 2nd just fine, but then it won't shift any higher. There's some sort of pump valve (I think that's what the guys on the FEOA forum were saying......I've been away from it too long) that I think is the culprit, but didn't have the time during the summer or Christmas while I was home to look at it...will have some more time this summer to check it out. :thumbsup:
       

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