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Aaron's Mountaineer: Massachusetts

Aaron "V8BoatBuilder"s Elite Explorer Registry Page


Rausch Creek Off Road Park, PA. 33" Tires, 4" Lift



West Dennis Beach, Cape Cod, MA. Truck as purchased, Christmas Eve 2002


Got lost on the way to the mall..... Offroading in New Hampshire. November 2003

I have set up this thread to detail my modifications, provide some step by step instructions for many of them, list my tips for general maintence procedures, and even throw a writeup or two of anytime I decide to subject my truck to the abuse of off-pavement driving.

I strongly encourage all members of Explorerfoum to read this thread, or skim over my dry writing and just look at the photos. Hopefully you can find a usefull tip or learn a little bit about your Mountaineer or Explorer. If you have a question, feel free to PM me, or even post it here. I've edited many posts to reflect conversations I've had over PMs. So yea, check the "older" posts, since I sometimes update them too..... (I have way too much time it seems....)

Now the Disclaimer:
If you follow any of my writeups or tips, I take no responsibilty for damage or injury you may encur. Always double check your work, and make sure everything makes sense. Never work under a truck that is only supported by a hydraulic jack - use jack stands! Remember, some systems, such as brakes, can affect others if you are not careful. Have fun, and get greasy. Make that truck your own.

Specifications As She Stands, 1/19/08:
Year, Make: 1997 Mercury Mountaineer
Color: Black, with gray trim and body cladding
Engine: 5.0 Liter 302cu in. V8. GT40p Heads.
Battery Duralast Gold Grp 65 Wet Cell, custom wiring
Transfer Case: Borg Warner 4406 Control-Trac w/Torque on Demand and low range.
Front Drivetrain: Dana 35 SLA, 4.56 gears, Open Differentail, Center Axle Disconnect
Rear Drivetrain:Ford 8.8" 31 Spline, 4.56 gears, Track-Lock Limited Slip
Tires: Interco TrXus MT 33x12.5R15 on Cragar 15x8 Chrome Plated Steel Wheels
Interior: Gray with Leather and Mountaineer stitching
Options and Creature Comforts Power Seats, Alarm system, remote keyless entry, power locks, power mirrors, overhead console with Autodim mirror, outside temp, compass. Rear Air. Message Center.


Page One (You are here)
- Ford OEM Class III trailer hitch installed 1/10/03
- Rancho 9000x 9way Adjustible shocks installed 2/14/03
- Aux reverse lights installed 2/15/03
- Oil Pressure Sender conversion in progress 3/14/03
- Front Tow hooks installed 3/31/03
- JC Whitney Full Brushguard installed 3/16/03
- Hella 500 Driving Lights installed 3/17/03
- Audio System including: Pioneer MP3 headunit, Pioneer 12 disc changer, Alpine v12 Mono Amp, Dual 10" Rockford Fosgate Subs (Now removed), Sound deading insulation installed 3/18/03

Page Two
- Explorer Express Swaybars installed 4/13/03
- MAC open element Air Intake installed 8/15/03
- Ventshade VentVisors installed 8/15/03
- Custom made Stealth Subwoofer Box with Kenwood eXcelon 10" DVC woofer installed 8/17/03
- Warrior Shackles installed 11/20/03
- Aux Transmission Filter Installed 12/20/03
- Autometer guages (oil pressure, oil temp, trans temp) Installed 12/21/03
- Torsion bar adjusters, January 2004

Page Three
- 2" Front Lift from TT, Add-a-leafs in rear Installed Janurary 2004
- Front control arm Camber Adjusters, Installed January 2004
- 31" BFG AT KO tires Installed January 2004
- Custom Front skidplate, February 2004
- New head Gaskets and a Valve job, June 2004
- Accell DIS coils, Taylor Ignition wires, June 2004

Page Four
- Baumann Engineering Shift kit and other 4R70W Mods, December 2004
- Message Center, January 2005
- Torque Monster Headers, March 2005
- Cruise Controll Deactivation Recall, June 2005
- Control Trac/4x4 trasnfer case swap, June 2005

Page Five
- More on the 1st BW4406 swap EVER!!

Page Six
- Waterpump, Timing Chain, Timing Cover, Cooling Hose Replacement
- Superlift K494 4" Front Lift, Central Axle Disconnect Swap
- Custom Stainless Steel Braided Brake Lines
- Rear SOA, 4.56 Gears

Planned Mods...
- Custom Rocksliders
- Custom Rear Bumper w/Tire Carrier
- Fatmat entire interior
- Sandblast, POR 15, and paint underbody, suspention and frame.
- Replace rear leaf spring bushings with Energy Suspention Poly
- Lockers
- A Pillar grab handles
- Flowmaster Exhaust with 50 series delta flow(s) with dual 2.5" piping or single 3", custom downpipes and high flow catalytic converters.
- Upgraded door speakers and amp
- SCT chip w/87 octane program(s)
- FMS E303 Cam and Roller Rockers
- Cut the roof off and put in a cage!!

Help.... this list is getting too short!

These photos were taken the night I purchased the truck: (Christmas Eve 2002)


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Explorer Express Swaybar Install

The suspension is a part of the vehicle I've wanted to make top notch, especially with the impending lift. The Mountaineer handles turns well in stock form, but after doing hours of research on Explorer Express swaybars, I knew they would be a good mod. When John V announced a group buy, I was sold.

I ordered the front and rear kit, as well as a complete Energy Suspension polyurethane bushing and end link kit for the front bar. Rear bushings are included.

1) Jack up the truck. Remove the spare tire.
2) Remove the lower shock bolt on both shocks. It's much easier to get the impact gun in there with the shocks dangling.
3) Impact away. There is a bolt on each end link, and two bolts on each side of the axle tube.
4) The bar is heavy, don't let it clobber you.
5) With the swaybar removed, it's a great time to change your rear axle fluid!
6) Put the energy suspension lube on the inside of the new rear bushings, and insert them over the swaybar.
7) Bolt the bar to the end links first. Unfortunatley, EE has us reusing the stock ones, which are tiny in comparison to the bar.
8) Bolt up the bushing brackets. Make sure the bar is centered, and install the split collets.
9) Reattach the shocks, and lower.

1) Work can be done with truck on the ground
2) Unbolt the end links from the A-Arms, and the swaybar from the front crossmember
3) The bar is heavy, but not as heavy as the new one!
4) Just like the rear, lube up the new Energy bushings before slipping them on. They have a tiny slit in them.
5) I installed the end links without the lower rubber bushing to center the bar first, then bolted it up loosely to the crossmember.
6) I had my father press down on the tops of the endlinks with some scrap wood to compress the rubber bushings enough to get the "under the A-Arm" bushings, washer, and locknut on. Tighten the end links.
7) Center the bar, and torque down the mounting bolts.
8) Get some food, take it for a drive and....

Wow - What a difference! The truck feels much more stable in turns, I can now take corners much faster, and merge more confidently. Less brake pedal, more accellerator!

Overall a worthwhile mod.

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Polishing, Waxing, Cleaning

With a sunny day, decent temps and a day off from school, it was time to wax the beast. I started off by researching on here what kinds of wax people were using. Wow. $50 for Zaino? The trucks look amazing, and I'm sure the finnish holds up... maybe someday.

For now, I settled on a three step process, after I washed with dawn to remove old wax and winter dirt.

1) Clay Magic clay Bar
2) 3M Perfect-It swirl mark remover/polish
3) 3M Perfect-It Show Car wax.

The truck is very shiny now, the polish and wax really brought out the shine and depth of the finnish. I want to apply a second coat of wax for protection soon. I used a combination of a 6" random orbit buffer and elbow grease.

Wax Update
-May 20, 2003: I put on a second coat of the wax a week after the initial application. A month later, the truck is still shiny and water beads up quite nicely. I've washed it several times with "Turtle Wax Car Wash Concentrate."

Tow Hooks

In my opinion, all vehicles, even the budget Honda should have tow hooks, even if it's just for tieing stuff on the roof down.

Following so many other Explorers on the board, I purchased some Reese Tow Hooks at Pep Boys, and some extended bolts and lots of washers.

I decided I wanted the hooks to be about 1 1/4" below the frame. This would place them right below the bumper and through the lower trim valence.

1) Remove the front lower valence and bumper. Drilling two 1/2" holes into the thick frame metal is much better than drilling 6. There are 4 bolts holding the bumper to the frame.
2) Use the large hole in the frame as a guide for the rear hole, and mark for the front.
3) Drill a 1/2" hole for the front bolt, I like to drill in steps to save the bits.
4) Stack up those washers and bolt the hooks right in. It helps to tape the nut to the inside of the wrench so it can't slip and wander up the frame.
5) Reattach the bumper and valence.


Holes in frame used to attach tow hooks


Tow Hooks installed, bumper and brushguard yet to be re-attached

Rear Brake Overhaul

With a shot e-brake, it was time to do the rear brakes. The hardest part of the job is getting the rotors off, but can be done in a day if you've never done brakes before, way quicker if you have.

Before you start, purchase:
-New e-brake shoes. Mine were in very rough shape. One side was worn to the metal. You can buy re-mans (ok for this application) for as little as $15.99 at pepboys for Raybestos.
-New Rotors, i chose Raybestos from pepboys, $55
- New pads, I used Performance Friction from autozone, $40, lifetime warranty.
-Caliper hardware $7, (rubber slide boots, slides)
-Caliper grease
-brake fluid
-brake cleaner

1) Release e-brake, chock front wheels, jack up the rear of the vehicle, and place it on jackstands. Take off both rear tires.
2) Unbolt the calipers (2 bolts), and place them on the leaf springs. Duct tape them, so they won't fall and strain the hose.
**I did not want to reuse the rotors, so be advised, you may damage them removing with this method**
3) Get a LARGE crowbar and brace against the caliper bracket and push the rotor outwards. Slowly rotate the caliper around and push hard. You can leave the wheel on the other side and rotate that way. The rotor should come off, it may need to be hit with a hammer. Don't worry, you won't break anything, just wear hearing protection!!
4) With the rotor off, inspect the e-brake. On the driver's side, there were tiny bits of friction material stuck to the inside of the drum, but the shoes were bare. On the passenger side, the friction material was all intact, but the actuating lever was frozen.
5) Take the e-brake apart, and make sure everything works. Like i said, my passenger side actuating lever was rusted together, hence no e-brake. My tensioner/adjusters were also frozen. Lots of PB blaster freed everything up. Clean everything with the brake cleaner.
6) Adjust the e-brake shoes outward untill you can just barely get the rotor on.
7) Clean the rotor before Putting it on.
8) Remove and Replace the pads in the calipers. Never put grease on the fronts of the pads, but dab a little on the mounting surface.
9) Replace the caliper slide rubber boots.
10) Replace and grease the caliper slide pins.
11) Replace the calipers, and bleed the brakes.
12) Auto-adjust the ebrake by putting the truck in reverse with the e-brake applied. It should tighten right up.

The job took me about 4 hours, next time I could do it much faster. Brake performance is much better, even though the old pads still had a little life left in them. It's great to have an e-brake again.

Front Brake Overhaul

After such a positive experiance on doing the rear brakes, I wanted to check the fronts. Even though the truck seemed to be braking properly.

I found that the driver's side was wearing evenly, there was still plently of friction material on the pads. The passenger side, however, needed immediate attention. One of the boots on the caliper slides had torn, and dirt/grit had locked up the caliper slide. The inside pad was almost down to the metal, the outside pad was wearing unevenly.

I purchased more Performance Friction pads from autozone, but had my rotors turned at Pep Boys for $8.00/side. The rotors were not Ford OEMs, but were in decent condition.

After removing the caliper mounting bracket, it took lots of brake cleaner, PB Blaster, and big wrenches to finally disloge the caliper slide. Once it was out, I was able to througoughly clean it, and re-assemble with new boots and lots of Sil-Glyde brake grease.

The performance of the truck's braking is now superb.

Air Conditioning Repaired

I purchased the truck in the winter knowing the A/C wasn't working. Even on warm days, the compressor would cycle on for a few seconds and then shut off for ten. Pressures were low.

Diagram of A/C system, courtesy of www.ackits.com

On 1996-1998 V8 Explorers and Mountaineers, Ford wrapped the accumulator with a foam blanket. My guess is they figured since the accumulator is in the low side (hoses are cold) and it is right over the passenger exhaust manifold, they wanted to insulate it. However, the accumulator sweats, the foam trapped in the moisture and the steel rusted.

Comparison of New and Old Accumulators

After peeling away the foam, I found a mess of rust, PAG oil, and flourescent dye. (Ford adds dye in the factory) A new Motorcraft Accumulator was $65.

The system was discharged, and the accumulator removed. One of the fittings is a simple hex nut, the other is a spring disconnect. The spring disconnect tool is also used on the fuel system, and can be purchased at Autozone for less than $10.

While the system was open, I wanted to inspect and change the orifice tube. Located in the inlet to the evaporator (the one that get's cold, near the dash). It is a filter/metering valve.

Old Orifice Tube, 109,500mi

Often times the orifice tube is an excellent indicator of system health. If a compressor is going, little metal fragments will start to clog up the screen. If the compressor is gone, "black death" will load up the orifice tube with gunk. http://www.ackits.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Black Death

My orifice tube was fine, and did not need replacement. However, since the system was open, the tube was out, and a new Motorcraft OEM tube was $4.00, a new one was installed. A special puller is needed to remove/insert the o-tube, I "rented" one from Autozone for free.

When assembling the system, the o-ring seals were dipped in the air conditioning oil, PAG 46. 2.25 oz of PAG were also added to the accumulator before it was reassembled to replace lost oil. The Cycling switch was re-attached to the accumulator.

After the system was buttoned up, a vacuum was pulled. This is where the difficulty was. A/C systems MUST be vaccumed to remove air. The vacuuming accomplishes two things: 1) It removes air from the system. When expanding, air does not get cold like 134a, yet has volume, reducing cooling capacity. 2) A vacuum will lower the boiling point of water(moisture). Moisture in the A/C system can form acid.

The ideal vacuum pump is a dedicated electric refrigeration pump, capable of pulling down to 50 microns, or 29.9 in Hg. No one in the Boston area rented them, they cost $200. I had used a ventrui effect air-driven vacuum pump on two previous R12-R134a conversions, which cost me $30.

Robinair Air-Vac

The the AirVac however did not pull past 26inHg. My medium sized compressor (5hp, 5.1scfm@90psi, 22gal) could not keep up with the 90psi the AirVac's needs. I held the 26in HG vacuum for about 1 hour, with the Air_Vac running. I cycled it on/off not to strain my compressor. I wasn't too worried about moisture since the system was open for less then 30min, on a very dry day. The excess air, would mean higher vent temps. Oh Well. I have since heard that the pull to 26inHG is almost instant, but the AirVac can pull to 29.7in HG if given enough time.
EDIT:Many people who use these make a manifold to run two compressors, to maintain constant high pressure and not damage the compressors. Also, I've heard that it is possible to make a vacuum pump from an old compressor (Refigerator, dehumidifier, window A/C). I may look into this, there a window unit from the 70s in our basement)

With the engine off, the first 12oz can of 134a was discharged into the system's high and low side upside down as a liquid. The can emptied 100%. A second can was attached, right side up. The high side valve was closed, and the engine started. The A/C control was on "Max A/C," the temp all the way cold, and the fan on max. All windows/sunroof were open.

Gauge Manifold

Charging was done using the temperature probe of my Mac Tools 710 Digital Multimeter. Very accurate, it's remote probe reads in tenths of a degree. I added gas untill the vent temps settled on 40.5 deg F. The Ambient temperature was 76 degrees, High side pressure was 190psi, Low side pressure was 30 psi. Adding gas took a VERY long time, almost 30 minutes. I've heard people say that you can dip the can of 134 into hot water to speed of the process, but others say not too. I chose to take it slow and easy. You can see when the clutch cycles by the increase/decrease in vent temp. Often the difference will be by 3 degrees. As the system nears full capacity, the cycling will stop, and vent temps will remain constant. The sticker on the dash says the system will hold 1 lb 14 oz of R134. This is 30 oz, exactly equal to 2.5 12 oz cans of R134. I estimate I was able to add about 26-27 oz of R134, leaving about 3oz of air in the system.

The clutch does not cycle often now, and the air is nice and chilled! Special thanks go out to Chris, Glacier991, who gave me advice along the way.

Midsummer Mods

MAC Intake

In an effort to gain some MPG, a little performace, and spruce up the engine bay, I chose the MAC intake over the KKM. Installation was relatively easy and fast, with one exception. The chrome intake tube contains one hole for the IAT sensor, but not for the PCV hose leading to the oil fill. I drilled a tight-fitting hole, and used blue silicone to glue the original "L" fitting into the tube.
Pics to follow
In initial drives, the intake seems to have made a small enhancement to performance. There is also a nice growl now coming from the intake.

TPS Adjustment
While the intake was removed from the TB, I used the procedure by James T to adjust my TPS: http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=79362

The setting on the vehicle was quite rich at over 1.19 volts. I have it set on 0.96 volts at this time. It will be interesting to see how the intake and TPS adjustment effect MPG numbers.

Ventshade Ventvisors
The look great on the black truck, and will allow the windows to be open on hot days and not allow rain in.
pics to follow

Stealh Subwoofer Installation

I love my bass. I need my bass. I also need cargo space - that's the main reason I bought the Mountaineer! While the large dual 10" box sounded great with 2 Rockford Fosgates, I was pulling it out weekly, and when it was out the sound system sounded like crap. It was also a theft target.

The original factory subwoofer location was prime wasted space now that the original JBL system was completely removed. I looked at pre-made stealth boxes like the Q-logic, JL, and MTX, but none had enough volume, and all were expensive. Besides, I like to build! Some ideas came from FishMan's thread on his home-made stealth box. http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=73898&highlight=stealth

I settled on a Kenwood eXcelon 10" dual voice coil subwoofer, for a decent price it has awesome sound. The one drawback to this sub is it is 1) deep 2) needs decent volume. The sub was picked before construction and design began.

I drew up intial plans in Autocad for my sealed box made from 5/8" MDF. Target interior volume was 0.70cu ft, made possible by contouring the box to all availible space. The seams were sealed with liquid nails, and 1 1/4" galvanized drywall screws were used.

The box is mostly filled with lightly packed polyfill, and ployfill batting surrounds the outside of the box to reduce vibration. It is bolted through the floor.

Here are the pics:

Mid Assembly #1


Back of Box


Radio Shack Terminal Plate


Finished Install, bolted down


Trim Panel Installed

It sounds great powered by:


Alpine V12 Mono amp mounted in rear jack compartment

are u done =) or is there more =)

Originally posted by mhn3773
are u done =) or is there more =)

Will any of us ever be done? I know as long as I own something, I'll be working on it. Stay tuned for more!

looks awesome man! go mass explorers!

Front Hub Greasing

I purchased a new hub/spindle/abs sensor module for $165 at PepBoys. It was made by some random company, but does have a Timken bearing inside. I will get the number off it shortly.

I also pulled both front wheels and attempted greasing the current bearing, in effort to save the expensive cost of replacement. I found there was still grease inside, but not much. I was able to remove both left and right ABS sensors and inject grease untill it oozed from the outside seal. It never oozed from the inside.

I have had several PMs about the greasing procedure:
"Once I pulled off the brake caliper, the ABS sensor was removed using a hex head allen key. Be careful though, and use lots of WD40 or PB Blaster since the bolt is small and there is lots of rust. If it snaps, you need a new hub.

The ABS sensor just pulls out, nothing else holds it in. You may have to twist it a bit to loosen it.

Once out, you can use anything to get a tight seal on the hole to force grease in. I ended up using the top of a gear oil bottle, it wedged in nicely and my grease gun wedged into it. "


Front Hub Assembly, ABS Sensor

Here are some shots of the new assembly (yet to be installed)

2nd Gen Front Hub: Side View


2nd Gen Front Hub: Outside(Wheel Mounting Surface)


2nd Gen Front Hub: Inside (Showing Timken Bearing)

EDIT on 12/21/03: So far the re-greasing has solved my intermittant "whirring" and the replacement hub is going back!!

Warrior Shackle Install


Shackle Removed, That's one rusty truck!


Warrior Shackle vs Stock Shackle. Which would you rather have?

Even though the truck had 114,500 miles, and was over 5 years old, the bushings were in perfect shape, and did not need replacement.


First major off-road trip (I'm beginning to see that dirt roads don't really count...)

B-S/Planning thread for the run: http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=92017
Picture Thread from the run: http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=93711

Pretty amazing, never experienced anything like it before. It was a test of driving like no-other, and a test of the truck like no other. I think I am now a better on-road driver because of the trip, and am truly amazed at the Mountaineer's ability to take a beating and keep going. The AWD, and lack of low range, where an obstacle to overcome and aided to the challenge, but the AWD t-case preformed better then expected.

I originally purchased the Mountaineer not as an off-road vehicle, but as something to haul all my stuff, make runs to the lumberyard, tow boat trailers, haul friends (and beer), as well as something to wrench. I chose the V8 based on it?s great heritage and reliability, and the great snow capabilities of the AWD system. Once I joined Serious Explorations, I saw the amazing adventures that could be had off-roading. I was hooked, and hadn?t ever really been out. When I saw Fred (FourXFred) and others planning a run in southern New Hampshire, I had to go.

After a bunch of us met up in the Wall Mart parking lot, we headed to the trail.


Started out like a dirt road, but quickly we cam to our first obstacle. A ?step? of rock, it required some careful spotting, but the truck, and it?s low running boards were able to get over without a snag.


Here I go!


RydinHigh going over the 1st obsticle]

The trail continued, with the first water crossing up ahead. Not too deep, maybe a foot at its max, but deeper then anything I?d driven through before.


The scenery on the trail was great, New England fall at its best. The trail became harder, with rocks littering the narrow cut between the trees requiring careful driving to avoid smacking anything on the sharp rocks. The skid plates came in handy a couple times.

Things were going smoothly until a relatively tricky section of large rocks strewn in the trail. Although the rocks weren?t that tall, for stock tires they proved a challenge since they were two high to be straddled, and to close or far to plant the tires on them. After quite some time, and great spotting by Fred and my Dad, I was able to get through without a scratch.



Scourmunch making his way through after me

Another water crossing, this time more tricky due to some submerged rocks, and I was at a small campsite. I parked for a while as the other trucks made their way across. Unfortunately the campsite was littered with empty beer bottles, a few vehicle pieces and misc trash. I cleaned it up, but was rather annoyed. This is why off-roaders are getting a bad name, and people want trails closed. How hard is it to pack up the empties? I?ll get off my soapbox.


Please clean up, so we can all drive though and enjoy views like this one

While at the campsite, a Jeep on 36s and a Ranger with a D44 SAS on 37s came by to play in some deep water and mud nearby. That was a sight!


Now that's 4wheeling!

The trail continued on, rock strewn and often with a sharp drop-off too one side. Very fun, edge of the seat driving. We came to a second clearing where Fred showed everyone what a maniac he was (j/k) and how great his ranger could perform offroad by climbing a very sharp hill.

We drove through some nice mud holes, and I now know why mudding is so fun! I never got stuck, but skidded once ? what a ride!

Fred Going through the mud - I'm next!

We came to one washed out part of the trail where a tree had fallen straight across our path. Fred used the mighty Ranger to snap and crush the downed tree to it could be moved out of the way. Not Bad!

Next along our route we came to a lake, which used to be the trail. Too deep for any of our vehicles, we had to turn around. Our first exit had been blocked. Our second exit consisted of two routes up a steep hill under the power lines. One route was too rock-strewn and narrow for our low vehicles to pass through, the other, might have been passable. First it required moving a rather large rock ? a feat accomplished by strapping some chain around it, and then hitching that to the back of Fred?s (our now official trail guide) truck. He then made it up to the top, and I proceeded behind him. Everything was going smoothly until I came to a rather steep rock to climb. The trail was rather muddy, and after several attempts of making tire smoke, we decided to try and strap me up using Fred?s Ranger. The Mountaineer, with no traction on the slick rock and mud, proved to be too much of a challenge for the Ranger. I had no choice but to back down the rock-strewn, curvy hill. On my way down I hit several rocks rather hard, and almost broadsided my rear quarter on the big rock we moved. There was very little traction in the mud.

In the above picture, the route I tried is to the right.

EDIT: Here are some Photos John Derocha took of me at the foot of the trail leading to the large rock Fred tried to strap me up:


So exit #2 was now cut off. That meant we had to backtrack our way out. Not a pretty thought considering the time it took to get where we were, and that it was getting dark. On a water crossing I hit a rock underneath, and bent the passenger side running board a bit. Driving up the rock-strewn trail proved to be an even greater challenge, but this only added to the excitement.

We ended up coming on a hunter who knew of yet another exit to the trail, and did not have to go over the obstacles that took everyone so long to get over during the day. It had become completely dark by then.


Group Photo

Trail Damage:
-Passenger side running board. Took a pretty hard beating, underside is all deeply gouged and it is slightly bent.
-Auxiliary rear reverse light. Mounted on the hitch, below the bumper. I believe I hit it on a rock, backing down a hill that I couldn't get over.
-Torsion bar adjusters. Replaced less then 5,000 miles ago, the Kevlar gave out and the truck started making an awful banging noise whenever the driver's side front flexed.
-Lower idler pulley. This was most likely on its way out, but the repeated submersing in water and mud caused the bearing inside to fail. The truck made an awful screeching noise until it was fixed.

NOT BAD! considering I ran the trail on 235/75R15s!

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. I?m modifying the truck to perform better right now, and as soon as funds become available, some BFG A/T kos are going on the rims. I?ll be back to break them in.


I swear there is more mud in there then on the outside....

Idler Pully/Tensioner/Serpentine Belt Replacement

After the offroading trip, something in the front accessory drive system was making an aweful howling noise. It turned out to be the lower idler pulley.

Upper Idler Pulley: F7CZ-6C348-AA (Smooth and large)
Lower Idler Pulley: F8CZ-6C348-AA (Ribbed and small)
Serpentine Tensioner: F65Z-6B209-BA
Belt: Kelly Springfeild # 940K

The tension is released from the belt by using a socket over the center bolt of the tensioner to to "push" it out of the way.

The upper pulley was quite loose on its center bearing. Removal was easy, the replacement was a tad different in design. No big deal, same diameter. Loosening of the fan from the clutch was required to sneak the new, redesigned pully in.

The Tensioner is held on by two bolts. The lower pully with one bolt.

The old original belt was not cracked, and had life left in it, but was due for a change. There were grains ofsand empedded into the rubber.

Noise gone, preventative maintence carried out.



1997 V8 Serpentine Idler Pulleys

Secondary Transmission Filter Install

After reading of the success of installing an auxilliary transmission filter in this thread: http://www.explorerforum.com/forums...4136&perpage=20&highlight=Filter&pagenumber=1
I decided it would be a worthwhile mod. I also wanted to add a transmission temperature gauage and needed a place to mount the sender.

I decided on a generic filter mount rather than a kit, so I could fabricate everything just the way I wanted. I ordered the TD products #:TRD-1028 Single PH8A filter housing from Summit for 12.75. I picked up a bunch of brass fittings from Home Depot, and 3/8" hose from Autozone.

I struggled to find the ideal mounting location. I wanted to run a full-height filter, have it vertically oriented, be easy to change and be out of the way of rocks off road. I found the ideal spot to be right behind the passenger side bumper.

I fabricated from brass fittings the inlet/outlet for the 3/8" hose and the attachment point for the Autometer temp sender.

It is plumbed in between the two transmission coolers. The circuit runs from the transmission, into the radiator cooler, out to the filter, to the auxilliary trans cooler, and back to the transmission.

The hose for the filter required relocated the vacuum reserve sphere for the climate system from above the plastic fender lining. Fortunatley, there was plenty of space below the MAC intake, and there were even holes in the sheetmetal!

I was not impressed that ford ran the transmission lines under the already low radiator. I cut them back to above and behind the radiator and ran new rubber hose. The hose will be permanently secured soon, and a skid plate will be installed.


The finished install:


The temperature gauge mounted in the center console:

Oil Pressure Gauge Part II

After the failure to convert the in-dash oil pressure "gauge," I am putting in an autometer electronic oil pressure gauge.

I removed the complete plastic inner fender this time, not just the rubber "access door." I also removed the low-pressure power steering hose for easier (hah!) access to this cramped location.

I used 1/4" brass pipe to extend the T fitting away from the block to clear the senders. I hooked up the stock 6psi switch in addition to the Autometer sender. I wanted to retain the functionallity of the idiot light/gauge on the dash, and not compromise the accuracy of the Autometer system.


Day two consisted of installing the gauge inside the cab. I also installed a transmission temperature gauge at the same time. I wanted the gauges mounted in the center console, I'm not a fan of the A-Pillar as it reduces visibility and could be a potential hazard for my head in a severe crash.

I cut out the bottom "pocket" from the center console, and epoxied in some black plastic.

The gauges were mounted, due to tight clearance issues underneith the console, I had to cut down the Autometer mounting studs and cut the clamp brackets in half. The gauges are secure enough without the clamp, it just adds some rigidity. The +12v, dash lights, and ground come from the radio. All connections are crimped and heat shrunk. Connections in the engine bay for the senders are crimped, soldered, and head shrunk.


Final image:

Torsion Bar Adjusters

Earlier this spring the truck developed a nasty clunk/popping noise from the front end. After reading through numberous threads on 2nd gen Torsion Bar suspention clunking, I found this thread,
http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=25873&highlight=torsion And ordered two adjusters from Ford Parts Network, install was relatively easy using a rented 10" 2-jaw puller from Autozone. The old adjusters were very worn after 110,000 miles. The kevlar around the center contact point was gone, remaining kevlar was brittle. Replacing them made the noise go away - for a while.

In early September, a slight popping noise returned whenever the driver's side suspention flexed over roadway bumps. On my November offroading trip, after hitting a nasty rock during a stream crossing, I developed a nasty clunk from the underbody of the vehicle. It happened whenver the suspention flexed, and seemed to be coming from under my feet. Everything "appeared" sound on the trailside. In the weeks after, the clunk got progressivley worse. It was a metal-on-metal popping/banging whenever the suspention flexed.

When I was finally able to disasemble the front end after finals ended, I pulled the driver's side torsion bar adjuster skid plate (now nice and scratched!) to find the now old 6 month/5,000 mile kevlar completely worn:

I was not happy - at almost $30 per adjuster, these get expensive. The "adjuster" is the steel and the kevlar. The steel doesn't wear, and no doubt contributes to much of the cost.

Removal the 2nd time took less than ten minutes with air tools. Before jacking up the truck, I measured the front fender height to retain proper alignment on replacement.


The above photo shows the new adjuster and the adjuster that was in the truck.

The clunking is mostly gone, I still have a minor clunk coming from the rear, which I still need to troubleshoot.

At first inspection, I thought the lower control arm bushings were worn, and thus causing the control arm, and torsion bar to move in many directions and wear the kevlar faster, but upon removal, were as good as the brand new MOOG bushings I had ordered. :rolleyes: The balljoints were 100%, the swaybar links were 100% (and new), the shocks are less than a year old, CVs fine.... What could have caused their failure so soon?

Torsion Bar Adjusters Replaced: July 2003: 110,000 mi
Torsion Bar Adjusters Replaced: December 2003: 115,000 mi

It's 11:00pm... do you know the condition of your Kevlar?

wow.. this is my first post and I have to say i'm amazed at the amount of other mass explorer drivers there are.. cool to see so many people into taking their;s offroad too.. most drivers never let there's off a main road...

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Do you have a photo of your truck with the 31" all terrain tires on it??