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'97 Torsion Bar Protective Cover/Barcket - Not Broke Enough to Fix?

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by Lonnie-S, October 4, 2012.

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    1. Lonnie-S

      Lonnie-S Member

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      I have a '97 XLT 4x4 I bought recently. I love the vehicle, but I didn't do the under-the-truck inspection I should have done when I bought it. When I took it in to my local Ford dealer for service on another issue, they informed me of some damage to the passenger side protective cover and mounting bracket at the rear mount for the torsion bar.

      I've annotated some photos of the damage and provided a picture of the stock, undamaged driver's side for comparison.

      Photos here ==> https://picasaweb.google.com/107833...orsionBarXmember?authkey=Gv1sRgCKum08K4uKP9DQ

      The suspension man at the dealership looked at it, and in his judgement, there is no safety or structural problem. Although there is some local bending of the transmission crossmember and the cover, the torsion bar is not compromised, he feels. All the welds are intact and sound in the right places. I've pretty much made up my mind that nothing needs to be done. However, I do see that the bent cover has done it's job many times for the previous owner (I'm the 2nd) and I do plan to use the vehicle off-road myself.

      So, I guess my real question is, "How can I best restore the protection the cover provided?" If I just bought a new cover, it would not fit. The front and rear tabs where it mounts to the cross member are bent. The cover is too thick to shape using hand tools. I'm looking for suggestions on an effective solution to the protection issue.

      And, there is a "bonus question" to be answered. What does the part I've labeled as the "Mystery Part" do in relationship to the torsion bar and mounting apparatus? I can't figure it out.

      Thanks in advance,

      Lonnie
       
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    3. Turdle

      Turdle Freelance Stuntman Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      Ride height ( torsion bar) adjuster bolt, threaded into the stop block.
       
    4. colintrax

      colintrax Elite Explorer

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      Take the new bracket to a welder and have them weld it in place. Both of my covers are bent in, as well as other damage down there. Part of offroading
      But I wouldn't worry about it, at worst the torsion bar breaks (HIGHLY doubt it) and you ride with a low side for awhile. Torsion bars are just springs, they don't hold the tire on or anything serious.
       
    5. swshawaii

      swshawaii Explorer Addict

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      Probably the angles, but I don't see torsion keys in the pics. Missing?
       
    6. 01STrunner

      01STrunner Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      Hard to tell if there missing without a more direct shot.
       
    7. swshawaii

      swshawaii Explorer Addict

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      Agree, and would be very difficult for a suspension "specialist" to overlook. Or would it? LOL
       
    8. 01STrunner

      01STrunner Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      On the plus side it looks like the skid plate took almost all the damage doing its job. Mine have a thousand scratches on them but I'm actually curious how the heck the previous owner did that. I've hit mine on rocks before and they just scratch the crap out of it (knock on wood).
       
    9. colintrax

      colintrax Elite Explorer

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      Slamming into a rock/tree. Or curbs :)
       
    10. Lonnie-S

      Lonnie-S Member

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      I wondered the same thing. I'm voting for a big rock or a rock ledge that was hit at speed or with the whole weight of the vehicle behind it. I think the compressed edge that I noted is the point of impact. I do have the original owner's contact info. I'm going to ask him.

      You point about the skid plate and having it do its job in the future is my main concern. It is clearly compromised at the moment.
       
    11. Lonnie-S

      Lonnie-S Member

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      Thank you. I'll have to see if I can find some info on that piece in a repair manual.
       
    12. Lonnie-S

      Lonnie-S Member

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      Torsion keys? Hmmm, more homework. But, homework is a good thing since I'm just getting to know my Explorer. Thanks.
       
    13. Lonnie-S

      Lonnie-S Member

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      I was thinking I could fabricate something to replace it. Welding it up permanently doesn't appeal to me because it would likely get in the way of other repairs or maintenance later.

      The Ford dealership did give me the name of a local frame/body shop that can straighten everything out and make a new skid plate fit again. I don't know that it would be economic though. It sounds like a Big-$$$ operation. I suppose I could get an estimate.
       
    14. snoranger

      snoranger Well-Known Member

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      You can clearly see the torsion key in the first pic. If they were missing that truck would be sitting 6" lower and have no suspension travel at all! (that and the fact the torsion bar would have fallen out already without the key.)
       
    15. 01STrunner

      01STrunner Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      Good point.

      By the way, OP torsion keys are bolts that hold tension on the torsion bars.
       
    16. colintrax

      colintrax Elite Explorer

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      Good luck fabricating that :D I smashed up a bracket on the running board, got the running board straight by taking the bracket off but I still haven't gotten the bracket straight. The vise was working but it started curving it, so not sure what I'm gonna do. Got lots of cool toys at school but I haven't found one that will do it right.
      Those "sheet metal" parts are hard to reproduce.
       
    17. my98nnj

      my98nnj Well-Known Member

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      It's just a smashed/bent cover. Leave it alone, it's doing/done it's job.
       
    18. swshawaii

      swshawaii Explorer Addict

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      Should be an abundance of torsion bar cover plates in salvage yards.
      Four bolts holding it on, one appears sheared off in the the first pic.
       
    19. snoranger

      snoranger Well-Known Member

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      No they arent. Torsion keys are the plate that the torsion bar locks into (and the bolt pushes on), even easier.....

      Here this is a torsion key:


      [​IMG]
       
    20. Lonnie-S

      Lonnie-S Member

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      They look small in the above photo, but honking big in my first picture. Does the skid plate we've been discussing have any role in keeping the torsion key in place? If not, what keeps the torsion key (and thus torsion bar) from slipping outboard?

      Thanks,

      Lonnie
       
    21. swshawaii

      swshawaii Explorer Addict

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