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Brian1's Twin Trail Build (Lift, Gears, TTB Mods, Bumpers, Sliders, Cage & More!)

Discussion in 'Offroad Projects' started by Brian1, May 25, 2016.

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    1. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      Thanks guys! Stay tuned, lots more fab work coming up (and more fab equipment is used!)

      Sweet! Not a lot of info out there, glad to see more people doing it. Unfortunately no, the camber bushings would have to be priced too high to make it worth my time machining them and then if I would have to ream the beams and do the other stuff it just makes the whole thing too expensive. I have "outsourced" some parts I designed in the past for a company I worked with and I have a little experience doing it but I don't even think there is a big enough demand to make a run of them.
       
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    3. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      Cutting the Rusty Rockers Out

      The rocker panels were full of rust. Being a trail truck there was no need to repair them, cutting them off would give more clearance! I did 98% of the cutting with a 4.5" cutoff wheel on my grinder and only used a sawzall and plasma very briefly. I basically cut the rockers off right at the bottom of the door. IIRC the inside cut removed about 5" of body! With the rockers gone it really gives the Explorer a more aggressive look. I removed about 15lbs of metal from each side which really helped for the lightweight goal.

      In cutting the rockers, the bottom fender attachment is removed so I welded a small tab on the body that worked with another hole in the lower part of the fender and simply reused the stock bolts with the threaded clips and thick washers.

      DSC04968.jpg DSC04971.jpg DSC04975.jpg Driver side scrap metal (2).jpg DSC04976.jpg
       
      Last edited: June 1, 2016
    4. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      Rear Bumper Build

      For my rear bumper I wanted something lightweight, simple, high clearance, strong enough for recovery or jacking, and hopefully good looking. I decided to make a bumper using 1.75"x.120 wall tube and 1/4" frame plates. The frame plates were cut on my cnc plasma and then I used laminated construction for the recovery point. That's basically using thick weld washers to increase the thickness of the metal around the shackle hole. The tube is 1 piece and passes through each plate so it is captured. I added side body protection bars so I didn't wind up with a dent and broken light like the ones it came with already. Those tubes are 1.25" and are 1" away from the body at the top - they angle out from the main tube slightly.

      Some brackets are easier just to make manually without having to draw them and then program the cnc. I did cheat and used my iron worker to cut them out and shape them. These brackets are the front frame tie-ins to gain extra strength in the bumper. They are also gusseted.

      The bumper sticks out maybe 1/2" past the door knob on the hatch so it is tight to the body.

      DSC05000.jpg DSC05001.jpg DSC05078.jpg DSC05080.jpg DSC05086.jpg DSC05089.jpg DSC05093.jpg DSC05095.jpg
       
      Last edited: June 1, 2016
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    5. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      Front Fender Cutting

      I had already removed the inner plastic fenders and rough cut the back of the fenders to be able to steer with the big tires. Now it was time to make the final and finished cuts. I drew a line that followed the stock fender curve that was 2" offset and cut it out with a cutoff wheel on the straight parts and a jigsaw on the curves. I lined the fender with painters tape to make the marks and prevent scratches and paint chipping. It worked out well. I decided not to roll a lip under so I used a deburring tool to make sure the fenders were not sharp.

      I also sliced the body seams inside the back of the fenders and hammered them back/flat with a small sledge to get as much room for the tire as I could.

      DSC05015.jpg DSC05017.jpg DSC05026.jpg DSC05029.jpg DSC05034.jpg
       
      Last edited: June 1, 2016
    6. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      Rock Sliders Pt1

      Now that the fender was trimmed and the rockers cut out I could measure and build my rock sliders. I decided to keep it simple and lightweight yet again and just go with 1.75"x.120" round tube. I drew them up in Bend-Tech which gave me a print out of the cut lengths, bend locations and angles. I bent it up, notched them and welded them. I mocked them up to make sure everything looked good before setting them aside. I would wait until I do my cage to finish them up for reasons you will see later :D

      IIRC the centerlines are 5" apart and the inner straight tube centerline is inline with the bottom of the door. The front and rear angles are about 50 degrees which allow forward or backward progress against any obstacles instead of an abrupt edge.

      DSC05041.jpg DSC05047.jpg DSC05060.jpg DSC05061.jpg DSC05062.jpg
       
      Last edited: June 1, 2016
    7. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      hinge pin replacement (1).jpg hinge pin replacement (2).jpg hinge pin replacement (3).jpg lock replacement (1).jpg lock replacement (3)-cropped.jpg Door Hinge Pin & Lock Replacement

      When I got the Explorer, both front doors were sagging so I ordered 2 hinge pin kits made by Dorman. This was one of the easiest projects I did to it and took about 2 hrs total for everything. I marked the hinge locations and then removed the door, ground the heads of the pins off and then hit them out with a punch.

      I also ordered a new set of door lock cylinders with keys (eBay ~$25 a pair) since all I got with the Explorer was the ignition key that didn't work anything else. Pop the clip off and then swap them out, put the clip back on and snap in the door rod to the lock.
       
      Last edited by a moderator: June 23, 2016
    8. jrgaylor

      jrgaylor Power through it! Elite Explorer

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      Great thread Brian, I like your approach for fitting the 44 knuckles.
       
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    9. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      Front Bumper Build

      With less than a month to Moab I still didn't have a front bumper, cage or even the seats mounted yet. :eek:

      Design goals for my front bumper were to be as light as possible, fairly simple (not a lot of pieces, angles, etc.) and high clearance. I picked up a Warn M8000 on craigslist and got to work making the winch mount first. After lots of fitting and measuring I had some sketches to transfer to CAD and then to my CNC. I made my frame plates very similar to the rear bumper with tube pass-throughs and laminated shackle recovery points. All 1/4" steel.

      The bottom of the winch plate is even with the bottom of the frame. I also cut dual fairlead mounts in case I ever wanted to use it for a suck-down winch in the future - and it lightens up the plate a bit.

      I again used 1.75" x .120" tube with 4 bends to keep it fairly tight to the body. The tube passes through but I had to cut it and slug it this time since the frame plates were now unable to move to "thread" the tube through with the bends.

      I put in some tube gussets and a 1.25" x .120" hoop to protect the 12" LED bar. I tossed the stock LED bar mounts in favor of some tabs I welded on.

      DSC05111.jpg DSC05109.jpg DSC05119.jpg DSC05120.jpg DSC05132.jpg DSC05134.jpg DSC00403.jpg DSC00405.jpg front2.jpg
       
      Last edited: June 1, 2016
    10. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      Extended Diff Breathers and Fuel Door

      In between big projects I tried to do a few smaller things like run extended diff and t-case breathers and cut an access hole for easy fuel pump servicing (see the sticky post in body forum)

      I bought some cheap breather filters on ebay and a 25' spool of 5/16 hose and a few brass fittings to join the filters to the hose. I ran the rear diff breather to the top of the driver side taillight and the front diff and t-case to the corner of the driver fender near the clutch fluid reservoir.

      For the fuel door I cut out the body using step bits for rounded corners and a 4.5" cutoff wheel between the holes in the corners. I placed a piece of sheetmetal over the top of the tank to protect the pump and lines from sparks and accidental cuts. I made a cover from 16ga steel and bead rolled it for strength and to match the factory roll so it would fit over the bead in the floor and lie flat. I used rivnuts and 1/4" bolts to hold the cover in place. It is sealed up with some weather stripping foam.

      I also found the Explorer had a newer fuel pump installed although the last sucker had to drop the tank! If I ever have problems in the future it is a 20 minute job at the most now. I do carry a spare fuel pump with me just in case.

      DSC00390.jpg DSC00391.jpg DSC00407.jpg DSC00408.jpg DSC00409.jpg DSC00410.jpg DSC00413.jpg
       
      Last edited: June 1, 2016
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    11. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      Corbeau Seats Pt2

      21 days to Moab...

      When I ordered the seats I looked up the part # on Corbeau's site for the seat brackets and found a listing for the 91 so I also ordered brackets instead of modifying the stock ones. 91 Explorers have a different bracket and floor configuration than the later Explorers. The brackets that showed up said Bronco on them with the same part numbers however they didn't fit! Their customer service took care of the issue and I sent them the dimensions of my floorboards and the bolt locations. Turns out the Bronco II brackets were the correct ones so hopefully Corbeau corrects that part # discrepancy on their site. The correct part #s are D854T & D799T for the 91s only.

      When I bolted the Baja XPs to the brackets and then bolted them in they sat way too tall and the steering wheel was in my lap and I was looking into the top of the windshield. It could be the Baja XPs have a thicker/taller bottom and other seats work better with the brackets, I don't know. I wound up cutting 2" out of the brackets and rewelding on the mounting feet. The passenger side went easy but the driver side took much more time to get them realigned because the feet are staggered and at different angles. Once they were in, they were the perfect height.

      I cut and bent custom brackets to adapt the harness to the factory seatbelt bolt in the floor. the harness belt tabs needed to be vertical but the bolt was in the wrong orientation. The inner bolt was fine. The shoulder harnesses would be mounted to the cage bar behind the seats

      DSC00422.jpg shortened bracket.jpg harness brackets.jpg
       
      Last edited: June 1, 2016
    12. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      Rear Fenders Cut

      I needed to take 2" off the back of the rear fender for tire clearance when stuffed. (I actually needed more in the front too but didn't find that out until the 1st day on the trail :hammer: )

      I traced the fender opening on a piece of cardboard and then cut it out. I slid it back 2" and then traced it onto the painters tape so I would get the same factory radius on the fender. I wound up cutting a hole into the inside of the passenger tub and had to patch it with silicone and an aluminum Dr Pepper can :dpchug:. The driver side was different and I only had a small hole to silicone closed.

      rear fender trim (1).jpg rear fender trim (3).jpg rear fender trim (4).jpg
       
      Last edited: June 1, 2016
    13. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      Cage Building

      At this point I had already stripped most of the interior out, no need for carpet in a trail truck. I also took all of the plastic panels off and I really debated about removing the headliner too but in the end I left it to try and keep the roof and interior cooler and some of the noise down. My plan for the cage was to make it simple and the minimum to be safe. I would tie it into the frame and body and try to be tight to the sides for plenty of headroom and leg room as well as easy ingress/egress.

      Step 1 was measure for the b-pillar and bend it. Step 2 was drilling holes in the floor to run the tube through. Step 3 was measuring and bending the A-pillar tubes. This is where Bend-Tech really came in handy as it took 3 bends at 3 different rotation angles to make it tight to the body and bend-tech software did all the tubing calculations including total length, bend locations and degrees of rotation between bends. I did mess up the measurements and the first A-pillar I bent was off so I wound up recycling it into the center bar and bending it more for the hoop around the dome light. Step 4 was fitting the top X-bracing in the B-hoop and fully welding them on the bench and then putting it back into the Explorer. Step 5 was rolling the upper windshield bar to follow the lines of the roof which would allow the sun visors to function (...mostly). My home-built tubing roller put curved the tube out around 4" in the center and then I notched the ends to fit the a-pillar tubes.

      Step 6 was putting everything together and welding all the joints as much as I could. Step 7 was dropping the entire cage through the floor to access the top of the joints to weld them. At this time I added some 1" tube for handles and that somewhat gusset the bend in the A-pillar. I also painted most of the cage, especially the top that would be against the headliner and the front against the windshield. Step 8 was raising the cage back up and fitting and welding in steel plates around the tubes to cover the holes up. Step 9 was cutting and fitting the lower X-bracing in the B-pillar hoop and welding them in. Step 10 was cutting and fitting the rear diagonal down bars to the back plate and welding them up along with 2 weld-on tie down loops that I keep a supply of for various projects. Step 11 was cutting out and welding some tabs to mount the B-pillar hoop to the seatbelt bolts for extra strength, both for the cage and body itself since it was all going to be tied together. Step 12 was to finish the sliders and tie the bottom of the cage tubes into the frame which will be in another post later.

      I didn't see the need for a dash bar since the down tubes at the A-pillar are fairly straight down and they are captured between the door and dash with nowhere to move. For a high speed desert truck, sure, but for a low-speed trail truck I think it will be fine. If the windshield ever gets removed I will likely add plates that tie in the body A-pillar to the A-pillar tubes. I also never plan to put the rear seats back in obviously. That area will now be for storage.

      B-hoop, diagonals and rear down tubes are all 1.75"x.120". A-pillars, front roof bar and center bar are all 1.5"x.120". I used around 40' of 1.75 tube and about 30' of 1.5" tube.

      m_DSC00445.jpg m_DSC00449.jpg m_DSC00453.jpg m_DSC00454.jpg m_DSC00455.jpg m_DSC00460.jpg m_DSC00466.jpg m_DSC00467.jpg m_DSC00470.jpg m_DSC00473.jpg
       
      Last edited: June 1, 2016
    14. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      A few more cage photos to go with the above post...

      m_DSC00482.jpg m_DSC00490.jpg m_DSC00509.jpg m_DSC00511.jpg m_DSC00518.jpg
       
    15. mounty71

      mounty71 It's green, not gray. Elite Explorer

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      This thing is turning out really nice and thought-out! On your radius arm mounts, are those square cuts to register tabs for a transmission crossmember? Could you post a picture of that? And how far below the frame do they put the heim? The ones I got space the heim pretty far down and they may end up hanging down farther than I want them to. Thanks.
       
    16. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      Thanks! Good catch, that is exactly what those holes do, they index the tabs into place. Heim is 2.25" below the frame at the center of the ball/bolt. Total bracket drop is real close to 3.75" below the frame. They hang lower than I wanted to but it allows a bolt head to go up through the frame without the head being ground down to fit.

      Here is a photo Rick got in Moab:

      [​IMG]
       
      Last edited: June 1, 2016
    17. Kris Guilbeaux

      Kris Guilbeaux Elite Demon Secretary Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      This is a fantastic build!!!
       
    18. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      Rock Sliders Pt2

      Now that the cage was in, it was time to finish my rock sliders. I cut the legs to the frame and some 3/16" plates that would weld to the frame to spread the load a little better. The B-pillar would tie directly into one of the center legs and the A-pillar would be 2"-3" offset from the front leg so I made an extension off the front leg to weld the A-pillar tube to.

      Normally I prefer to bolt sliders on but since the cage would be welded to them there really was no point and direct welding to the frame would be the best and easiest. I also went with 4 mounting legs instead of 3 because that is just the way they lined up with the frame and cage legs while being spaced close to equal along the length of the sliders. It also makes it stronger because the sliders are the base of the cage and the more frame tie-ins, the better it should hold up.

      The cage was officially finished now after being tied into the frame...2 days before leaving to Moab!

      DSC00497.JPG DSC00498.JPG DSC00499.JPG DSC00500.JPG
       
    19. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      Door Panels

      Now with the major fab work over it was a final push to be ready for Moab, with under 2 days to go. There was some wiring to get done including the LED lights, CB & HAM radios, hooking up the winch and putting new terminals on the battery cables. I used an auxiliary fuse block mounted to the driver side fender for the LEDs and CB while I ran the HAM radio straight to the battery along with the winch power leads.

      Another project to get done was make new door panels for the front doors since the stock ones would no longer fit with the cage bar. I could have notched them out but the handles were falling off so I just made some out of some very thin sheet metal. I used the stock panels to trace the shape and then added enough material to bend for the lip to hook into the top of the door like the stock ones. I bead rolled them to add stiffness then used self tapping screws to hold them on. They were installed the morning I left for Moab along with making and installing a radio bracket for my HAM radio.

      DSC00522.JPG DSC00523.JPG DSC00524.JPG DSC00525.JPG DSC00526.JPG DSC00814.JPG
       
    20. RockRanger

      RockRanger Elite Ranger Elite Explorer

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      Where is pictures of the ham radio mount. That was the best part of the whole truck ;). I never noticed the door panels.
       
    21. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      Took all of 10 minutes maybe just before loading up. I kind of liked it and I think it will stay. All it needs is paint now and I need to figure out a mic mount. Pictured without my Yaesu ft2800

      IMG_20160602_165231325.jpg
       
    22. RockRanger

      RockRanger Elite Ranger Elite Explorer

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      20151227_160948.jpg It is a good location forsure. Did you see my mic holder? Holds the two mics on each side of the radio. Still easy to adjust the radio and the hvac controls. Both are easy to reach as well. Only sown side your hand can hit the right mic when shifting into 5th gear.
       
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    23. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      Matt, I should have taken a better look at your truck in Moab to see all the cool little things you have done like that and the center console, etc. That might be an option. I hang my CB mic from the rearview and in my other Explorer I have a clip on the ashtray which I may just do to this new one. Im not sure just yet.

      Here are a few details of how I had my interior in Moab. 2 fire extinguishers on quick release mounts I made (a long time ago), a hilift on some mounts I made a day before leaving, a small shovel, ammo cans with spare parts ratchet strapped down to some of my bolt on tie down points using the stock rear seat bolts, a 20lb CO2 bottle in a mount bolted down using the stock seatbelt bolts and my spare tire layed flat with a recovery strap inside along with a tarp, hi lift base, and lug wrench. I use a few molle bags attached to the cage for the first aid kit, another one to hold misc. stuff like the winch controller, guide books, sunglasses, etc. The 3rd, smaller one which cant be seen in the photos holds a handheld HAM radio which serves as my APRS tracker.

      DSC00528.JPG DSC00529.JPG DSC00530.JPG DSC00532.JPG DSC00534.JPG
       
    24. RockRanger

      RockRanger Elite Ranger Elite Explorer

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    25. Brian1

      Brian1 Elite Explorer

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      Harbor freight customized by me. Same for the tube roller except I only used the dies and sold the rest of it since I made my own frame and used bigger shafts.
       
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    26. BKennedy

      BKennedy Elite Loser Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      Great build. Gives me ideas.

      I removed the stock trans cooler and replaced it with a much larger unit from Summit when I installed the 700R4. Kept the old trans cooler and now I found a use for it.
       

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