1994 Explorer - Albino Bomb | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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1994 Explorer - Albino Bomb

I've got a new-to-me 1994 Explorer that I'm not 100% sure of what I'm going to do with. It might get turned into a driver (with a lot of work) or, what I'm hoping for in the short term, a running parts and farm truck.

It started here:

I frequently browse Craigslist and came across an ad;

94 ford explorer - $400

94 Ford Explorer. 191,000 on motor. Ran when I parked it. Straight body, has transmission problem.
And rear window glass is broken out. 400$ or best offer.

It got my interest but without a picture and much information, I bookmarked it and moved on. Another week or so goes by and I check on it and to my surprise, the owner dropped it to $200. I couldn't pass that up, no matter how bad it looked. I wrote up an e-mail, asking about the transmission issue and a few other things. Turns out, the transmission issue wasn't horrible, a delayed/harsh 2-3 shift that required high RPM. I'd never ran into that problem before but figured it was not as bad as slipping or no engagement. I asked about one last thing, a title. The owner said it was clean and signed, ready to go. I told him I'll take it, cash, sight unseen.

How it looked when I first saw it:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/464376/vehicles/1994 Explorer/Pictures/2015-10-02 12.08.04.jpg
2015-10-02 12.08.04.jpg

Looked good. Straight body with only minor accident damage to the right rear area, looked like something rammed right into the tail light, which got replaced. Mixed & matched tires with the front ones having obvious ball joint/alignment issues. Most of the tires were from 2001, aside from the factory spare. There were oil drips on the ground which I quickly found out were from ATF puking out of the loose power steering cap, many things inside the engine compartment on the driver's side got hosed with it. The fluids looked fine and were all separate. Coolant was low but not rusty or cloudy (though, it could be all settled) Oil was dark but had no sediment/particles on the dipstick and was not milky. The transmission fluid is in dire need of help though, really no pink/red color left and has a gritty feel.

Got a tow truck to bring it home (no access to a trailer and no real suitable tow vehicle) and here's how it looked when it was put down:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/464376/vehicles/1994 Explorer/Pictures/2015-10-02 13.45.25.jpg
2015-10-02 13.45.25.jpg

2 of the tires refuse to hold air, a 5th tire in the back had popped a bead off the rim. I definitely need some new rubber and being that I don't want to sink a ton of money into this, it's gonna be on the cheap. I also noticed that the deck of the tow truck had a good oil spill I volunteered to clean up once I realized that it most likely came from the missing vacuum modulator the previous owner had taken out in an attempt to fix the transmission issue.

It's been about 3 weeks since I first picked it up. I really haven't done a ton:
- Sourced a used battery, the one in it was tested as having under 50CCA. With the used battery, I've been able to verify that the fuel pump builds pressure and that the PCM and 4x4 computers are alive.
- Hacked together new battery terminals by cutting back some of the old cable, cleaning it and tinning it with a LOT of solder and clamping on one of those 6" battery cable extensions. Not ideal but I just need something to test the viability of the engine for now.
- Pulled the spark plugs which all look evenly worn and have even and nice light tan/brown color. Squirted about 1/4 oz of ATF into each cylinder since I have no proof this thing has ran in the last 4.5 years (last registered in 2011). Also tested the coil & spark plug wires (found a dead one).
- Slowly made progress on the transmission vacuum modulator. The previous owner gave me one that he bought but it had a rotted o-ring. I made a pin since the original was lost and sourced a new o-ring. Unfortunately, the new o-ring was a little larger and I ended up damaging the vacuum modulator trying to jam it back in. A new one is ordered which is probably better off, if this one's o-ring dried up, the diaphragm probably did too.
- Topped up all fluids and have new oil and ATF to go in once I fire it up and warm things up. Also ordered a Magnefine filter to go on the transmission cooler lines since I won't be dropping the pan or draining all the ATF, at least for a while.

So, that's where I'm at. Updates will be slow since this is a very budget and spare time project and since I'm still unsure of what I've bought. Worst case scenario, the engine seems good and the chassis has very little rust, mostly just minor surface rust. I don't have much in the way of pictures but here's a walkaround video:

No real earth shattering updates on this. I've gone through and done some fluid changes. Power steering, transfer case, front & rear differentials, brake fluid (turkey baster in master cylinder a few times) and pumped 2 quarts of ATF out twice. Haven't done a full transmission flush, I don't think it's going to do any good for the loss of 2nd gear. It likely needs a valve body rebuild and/or solenoid. Either way, the pan needs to come off and I'm not going to spend any more time/money pumping out ATF. The in-line Magnefine transmission filter is doing great work, there's absolutely no more specks/grit on the dipstick and the new fluid that's mixed in has gotten rid of the nasty color and smell it had before. The transfer case fluid looked factory, it was as thin as water and dark dark grey. I made a video on it here:

I decided to flush the front & rear differentials just in case I ever decide to get this vehicle into daily driver status. New fluid at this stage can't hurt. I cheaped out and went with SuperTech 80w-90 in both. It's entirely possible that if my Blue Bomb's engine goes south that I might just move over to this vehicle. It needs a lot of work (suspension including radius arm bushings, ball joints, shocks, etc) but I would prefer to drive this since it's got power windows & doors, rear defrost, 4WABS and a bunch of other little things. With that in mind, I've convinced myself to do minor work to it so that if that time ever comes, it's not a huge mountain of work that needs to be done. I'll be ordering radius arm bushings soon, that should be fun.

As far as the transmission goes, it's definitely missing 2nd entirely. Everything else appears to be there. I was able to get it in low gear going downhill and it got into 3rd with no problem. With my foot on the gas and slowly losing speed, it will drop into 1st when it should go into 2nd, this causes RPMs to go way high. From what I can tell, 1st gear is a planetary and 2nd is the outer gear of that planetary that the intermediate band holds. Something like that anyway, it's the intermediate band that isn't activating for some reason. I did perform a band adjustment and the good news is that the band is there, it's not broken but the adjustment didn't help. I'm willing to bet that since it's totally refusing to go into 2nd, not simply slipping, it's gotta be a fluid issue like a clogged passageway or valve that's stuck. This is all an educated guess though and doesn't mean much until I drop the pan and take a look around. It's not that big of a deal since this is a farm truck and with the suspension issues and crappy tires, it's in no way fit for driving on public roads.

Right now, the trans does all I need it to, gripping tight in forward and reverse. I've been using it for watering and hauling stuff around: