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Tow Rig or Time Bomb?

Discussion in 'Tow Rig Forum' started by Jumpjets, July 5, 2011.

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    1. Jumpjets

      Jumpjets New Member

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      City, State:
      New Bern, NC
      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      2002 XLS
      My first thread is another question about whether an under-equipped Ex can pull a massive amount of weight.

      I just acquired a 2002 XLS 4door with 88k "very hard, inner-city" miles on it. I am using it exclusivley to tow my boat to and from the ramp. Other than that, it just sits.

      My explorer, at a glance:
      -2002 XLS 4door
      -4x4
      -4.0L v6
      -5R55E transmission ( I think?)
      -Most likely the taller 3.55 rear axle ratio
      -VALLEY aftermarket class 4 hitch
      -4 pin trailer harness
      -shotty brakes
      -tiny power steering cooler (I think? Is it an oil cooler?)
      -Trans cooler lines run into the radiator
      -broker A/C (compressor won't kick on. No OBD II codes showing)
      -No 4x4 low, only 4x4 hi will function (4x4 low light on dash won't light up)
      -Normal Ford maint intervals. Transmission has never been opened.

      My boat, at a glance:
      -1990 wellcraft eclipse 216
      -5.7L Merc v8
      -3300# dry weight
      -300# gas
      -200# misc equipment
      -????# trailer (how much does a 2 axle boat trailer usually weigh?)
      -Very aerodynamic

      I've used the Ex as is to make short distance trips of ~5 miles to the boat ramp. I made a 50 mile trip with the boat to an ocean ramp, and it was a scary drive. I'm thinking that I can make this EX a somewhat safe tow rig, I'll take the following steps:

      1. Replace rear wheel bearings. They sound fine to me, but the dealer said they are failing.

      2. Install EBC green pads and new, not machined rotors on all 4 corners.

      3. Replace trans fluid with amsoil synthetic, and install the biggest trans cooler I can fit in the front of the radiator.

      4. Install trans temp gauge.

      5. The trailer has drum brakes. I need to find out how to get them working.

      Overall, I'm pretty impressed with the Ex's ability to handle my boat, especially it's acceleration ability. The braking sucks, but that will improve with repairs. I dare not go faster than 55mph. It felt unstable the one time I did. Should I press with these repairs, or should I try to sell the Ex and get an F-150?
       
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    3. Ranger379

      Ranger379 Well-Known Member

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      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      '99 XLT 4X4 4.0 OHV Auto
      so you have a 4 flat trailer harness? what connector does the trailer have? do you have a brake controller for the trailer brakes?

      get a tranny cooler and temp gauge, make sure trailer brakes are working correctly and you should be fine... trailer brake rebuild kits arent too expensive.. the magnets do wear out over time, check those out and well as the trailer's wheel bearings
       
    4. Jumpjets

      Jumpjets New Member

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      City, State:
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      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      2002 XLS
      My Ex and my trailer both have a flat 4 wire harness. I do not have a brake controller for the trailer brakes, but I'll definatley buy one once I figure out exactly how to properly install it and interface it with my trailer. I read the sticky about the 7pin harnesses on the sticky section, and seems easy enough to install.
       
    5. Ranger379

      Ranger379 Well-Known Member

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      '99 XLT 4X4 4.0 OHV Auto
      did you buy the trailer new or used? if the trailer has brakes it should have the 7RV style plug. the 4 wire flat connector is ground/tail/ L turn/ R turn.... looks like you might have to do some wiring to the trailer as well

      whats the registered weight of the trailer? by law you have to have (working) brakes for trailers over a certain weight (its 3000lbs in PA, 4000 in NC)

      wiring up brake controller isnt hard, you already have the 4-flat, so just cut it off, and wire it up to a rv-7, the only other wires you need to wire in would be the trailer brake wire (from the brake controller to the trailer brakes) and a Positive wire (for the trailer break-a-way box -- activates the trailer brakes if the trailer is disconnected from the truck)

      i would not suggest pulling a trailer that heavy with an explorer with out brakes. you dont need a bigger truck, the explorer will tow your boat just fine, as long as you have trailer brakes, and a tranny cooler helps too.

      as for brake controllers, dont buy the cheap 40 dollar one from walmart. you dont need anything super expensive (mines the 80 dollar walmart version) but dont cheap on that part... make sure you get one that will work with how every many axles you have (most are 1-4)

      i still need to wire up a brake controller in my 95, maybe ill do a write up since no one has done that yet.
       
    6. Jumpjets

      Jumpjets New Member

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      [​IMG]

      JACKPOT!!! I found what looks to be a massive stone stock trans cooler wedged in between the A/C condenser and and radiator tonight when I was tinkering around. Just from my "eyeball micrometer", it looks to be ~15"x8"x1".

      I also opened up the trans fill hole, and it looks like a pretty easy procedure to add fluid. The current trans fluid was a little dark, and it almost smelled fruity. It didn't seem "burnt" at all.


      My trailer is used. It might be the original 1990 trailer. It looks like it used to have a 7 pin harness, that someone spliced down to a 4 wire.

      I'm going to use the sticky threads in this forum to help me find the correct harnesses internal to the Ex and get it wired correctly.
       
    7. joecrna

      joecrna Active Member

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      Year, Model & Trim Level:
      98 XLT 4X4 sohc
      Thought all boat trailers used surge brakes not electric since they go in the water. Learn something new every day.
       
    8. Ranger379

      Ranger379 Well-Known Member

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      that is a good point. i didnt even think of that, not sure if the electric brakes would get messed up in the water or not... the salt water wouldnt do the metal any good lol....
       

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