Another 1998 Explorer Sport V8 Project. . .Completed! | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Another 1998 Explorer Sport V8 Project. . .Completed!

redavis460

Elite Explorer
Joined
September 4, 2008
Messages
55
Reaction score
83
Location
Atlanta
City, State
Atlanta, Georgia
Year, Model & Trim Level
1998 Sport
Hi guys; I wanted to share my project with you. It took three and a half years, but it is more-or-less 98% done at this point.

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A big thanks to all of the guys I’ve worked with on the forum; I haven’t made a whole lot of posts, but have benefitted from a ton of study and research from the website.

1998 Explorer Sport (originally 4.0 OHV and 5-speed)

Engine:

  • Ford FRPP 363 big-bore block (Dart blocks won’t work with Explorer oil pans)
  • Bryant billet crankshaft (internally balanced)
  • Oliver rods
  • Diamond pistons (2618 alloy, 10.5 compression)
  • Ed Curtis cam (0.608” lift, 236/244 duration at 0.050, 112 lobe separation)
  • Ed Curtis CNC 203 Twisted Wedge heads
  • Holley Systemax II intake
  • Siemens Deka 60 injectors
  • Aeromotive fuel rails
  • Custom Headers (Exotic Exhaust and Fabrication, Hiram GA)
  • Nitrous Express controller (max 150 shot)
  • 75 mm throttle body
  • 90mm MAF housing
  • 3-1/2" single exhaust
Driveline:

  • Mazda M5R2 5-speed
  • Mcleod dual disc clutch
  • Centerforce aluminum flywheel
  • QA1 carbon fiber driveshaft
  • 8.8” axle from V8 donor car (Motorsport carrier, 3.27 gearset, override traction bars retained)
Suspension:

  • Explorer Sport steering rack
  • Heavy torsion bars
  • Thick V8 4-door front and rear sway bars
  • 4-door multileaf rear springs
  • Bilstein shocks
  • 15x8 Magnum 500 wheels
  • 275-60R15 Hankook Ventus H101 tires (44 psi max pressure)
Odds and ends:

  • Fuel tank: @20 gallon capacity after modifying internal filler neck, removing stock baffling, installing Walbro 255 with Holley Hydramat and AN10/AN6 feed/return lines
  • Cruise Control added (factory V6)
  • Remote Keyless Entry added (pain in the ass!)
  • NRT1 EEC-V tuning done by Decipha
Motivations and Observations:

  • The 1995-2001 Explorers were the last body style for the pushrod 5.0 in the states (though they did continue on in Australia in the Falcons for several years, and goodies like nodular iron harmonic balancers were made for performance enthusiasts). While I’m not implying they will ever be collectible, they are a good option if you enjoy the small block Ford experience in a usable platform.
  • As a teenager of the 1970’s that predated the Fox bodies, I enjoy the driving sensation of leaf springs, A-arms, and rack and pinion steering with 15” wheels and 60-series radials. For a Grand Touring – type car for American roads, these cars fit the (vintage experience) bill nicely without trying to spend a good chunk of your capital trying to source a restorable car from that era. They are about the same overall length as an AMX (but a 5” longer wheelbase).
  • Compared to Ford’s car division, it was my experience that Ford Trucks provides superior corrosion protection and paint when put side by side with a Mustang from a similar era. This car sat in the woods for 8 years with no appreciable decay (mice nests and all). Admittedly, this was in Georgia, but many other platforms fare much worse.
  • I made absolutely no attempt to shed weight during this project. I added the 3-part sound deadening system from the sadly now-defunct Sound Deadener Showdown company in Maryland, as well as 2000 watts worth of stereo equipment and subwoofers; I even kept the nerf bars on the side. Even with all that and the highway gearing, this vehicle has PLENTY of power for my amusement – and that is before hooking up the nitrous. I historically prefer the 351-based engine platform; however, a fuel injected, roller-cammed, and computer-controlled 302-based stroker with good heads is definitely nothing to sneeze at. Because of the clearance issues on the sides of the engine, as well as front-end dress fabricating issues, a 351-based engine is probably not going to fit in an Explorer without compromising the factory goodies. Luckily for me, everything went under the hood almost like it was meant to go there- even with the nitrous plate, there was a half-inch to spare at the a/c accumulator:
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I've been averaging around 16-17 mpg on the highway at 70 mph average ("according to the odometer") with several 300+ mile road trips under the tires. This weekend, it hopefully will make the 1200 mile round trip down to Palm Springs, Florida. The car is quiet, smooth, and with the cruise control, almost effortless. Of all the project cars I have ever done (which may not be many compared to some of you guys), this has definitely proven to be one of the best values ever, if judged by having something usable after you've spent almost four years of your life and enough funds to have bought a brand new car. But, I am definitely not complaining!
 



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That sure looks sweet! Nice job:chug:
 






Very well done!
Thanks for sharing
 












Nice job
 






@redavis460

I am soooooo envious - that's exactly my Ex (color and model) and in my dreams the next stage I wish to get to!

Excellent job - super clean and neat, looks better than a factory installed engine!

Don't be a stranger - I hope we see a lot more of you and your Ex around the forum!

Say man, does the 4WD still operate or?

351 w/ 5 speed manual AND nitrous - HOLY SHEET!!!!
 






Very nice, great project. I love the headers, that's the big hurdle for the engine in these.

What did Ed think of that combination, and what did those TW 203 heads flow do you recall? Which block did you use then, what about the oil pan won't work on a Dart block? I have both OEM pans, the steel and aluminum versions. I noticed the steel pan didn't like the oil pump on a stock block(just a plan Milodon stock pressure pump(the bolts and cover plate are thicker than OEM pumps)).

Oh yeah, how did you plump the PCV etc, to the valve covers? Those look like the Boss covers I bought to put on two of my EFI engines. I love the VC because the top is flat like a Cleveland VC, but the holes are wrong for the stock PCV system. I figured I'd be having the holes modified/welded etc.
 






@redavis460

I am soooooo envious - that's exactly my Ex (color and model) and in my dreams the next stage I wish to get to!

Excellent job - super clean and neat, looks better than a factory installed engine!

Don't be a stranger - I hope we see a lot more of you and your Ex around the forum!

Say man, does the 4WD still operate or?

351 w/ 5 speed manual AND nitrous - HOLY SHEET!!!!

Thanks for the compliments! This was a 2wd version from the factory; I would imagine that trying to stuff the 4wd componentry up front would probably have interfered with the headers. For instance, on the driver's side, I had to grind the bracket off the frame that was evidently a mounting point for the front axle. For a short while, I did ponder the challenge of going 4wd, but I realized I was going to have too much in it to take it into the mud and eat up the seals, or on icy roads that had been salted. I was also spooked by the guy I met at a car show here in Georgia several years ago who had over $75K in a Jeep Wrangler; when I asked him about taking it off the pavement, he looked at me like I was insane!
 






Very nice, great project. I love the headers, that's the big hurdle for the engine in these.

What did Ed think of that combination, and what did those TW 203 heads flow do you recall? Which block did you use then, what about the oil pan won't work on a Dart block? I have both OEM pans, the steel and aluminum versions. I noticed the steel pan didn't like the oil pump on a stock block(just a plan Milodon stock pressure pump(the bolts and cover plate are thicker than OEM pumps)).

Oh yeah, how did you plump the PCV etc, to the valve covers? Those look like the Boss covers I bought to put on two of my EFI engines. I love the VC because the top is flat like a Cleveland VC, but the holes are wrong for the stock PCV system. I figured I'd be having the holes modified/welded etc.

Thanks! I don't remember offhand what the flow specs are on those CNC203's, but he was aware it was going on a stroker and sized the cam accordingly as a matched set.
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On the block, I had made the decision early on I wanted to use the aluminum pan, as it reminded me of the old Shelby pans from the 60's if powdercoated. The first iteration of this build back in 2009 used a 347 and a steel pan, but in order to use a windage tray, either the oil pan or the tray has to be re-welded for clearance. I sent one of the aluminum pans up to Woody at FordStrokers near Chicago, but he verified it was a no-go on the Dart blocks (I didn't see it personally, but I think it is something to do with the Darts running 4-bolt mains on all caps, where the FRPP just runs them on the middle three).
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I doubt the mustang pans will work on our cars since the driver's side exhaust has to dump out right at the sump and then pass underneath it (for instance, a t-shaped pan won't work for obvious reasons). The Ford Boss 302 8.2" deck "Big Bore" got the nod since it is advertised to fit stock oil pans; but, even then one of the caps had to be notched for it to fit and for the dipstick to clear.

Another issue that gives the Boss blocks a bad rap is the short cylinder skirts; and, I am sure on an engine that sees heavy racing use or dyno time that piston skirt wear may be an issue. In my case, I always let the engine warm up and the pistons expand before I drive it; also, my engine machinist pointed out that many modern engines have the pistons hanging out the bore almost as bad. Like I said, not an ideal block to use with a 3.4" stroke, but so far so good.

On the oil pump, I didn't notice a problem; I am however running the laminated oil pan gasket, and that might make the difference.

On the PCV, the Holley Systemax picks up the PCV valve at the stock 5.0 HO location, and the fresh air source is pulled through the oil fill cap (which is at the rear of the passenger side and admittedly hard to get to, but hey, it looks good)! Those valve covers were a godsend; as you know, they were discontinued years ago, but I managed to find them on an ebay auction last year. Combined with a set of 3/8" valve cover spacers (and a TrickFlow 1" upper intake plenum spacer) I was able to fit a Jomar Stud Girdle underneath them for added valvetrain stability if needed. On the hole for the driver's side front, I was able to find a rubber plug of the correct dimensions to seal it up. It ends up that these valve covers are just the right combination to fit perfectly under the AC plenum on the passenger side; like I said, I got lucky!
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Clean clean clean
 






Thanks, Woody knows how to build these special SBF's well. He did my 347 that I have yet to get into my 92 Mark VII, soon.

I'll get with him about my build and the pan, block etc. I'm after a 3.25" engine, so the Boss block can work fine for me also. I'm glad you made the VC's work great for you. Since not much of them is seen, I'll likely try to fit the OEM fill tube onto a welded bung on one valve cover. If I can I want to change the "BOSS" letters to 327, 332 or 337. I may leave them as is, and paint them as these are the polished version(raw AL doesn't do well long term).

Keep posting any pictures you have of details like the header fitment etc. I wonder how the dipstick and steering shaft fit through your left one? I'm still aiming at a basic log manifold to get an easier fit, but mine is AWD too.
 






Thanks, Woody knows how to build these special SBF's well. He did my 347 that I have yet to get into my 92 Mark VII, soon.

I'll get with him about my build and the pan, block etc. I'm after a 3.25" engine, so the Boss block can work fine for me also. I'm glad you made the VC's work great for you. Since not much of them is seen, I'll likely try to fit the OEM fill tube onto a welded bung on one valve cover. If I can I want to change the "BOSS" letters to 327, 332 or 337. I may leave them as is, and paint them as these are the polished version(raw AL doesn't do well long term).

Keep posting any pictures you have of details like the header fitment etc. I wonder how the dipstick and steering shaft fit through your left one? I'm still aiming at a basic log manifold to get an easier fit, but mine is AWD too.

Best of luck with the project. Here are a few other shots of the headers while they were being built on the mock-up. The shaft ends up going between two primaries; I am running a firesleeve on the shaft, plus the headers are thermal coated. I don't know how it would do in Atlanta traffic in July, but then again, an aluminum flywheel and the cam in this combination means I try to stay away from stop and go situations whenever possible! On the dipstick, for some reason I had in my mind I wanted the stock arrangement, but I finally listened to my header guy and went with a Lokar dipstick; best decision I could have made. It merely fastens in using a header bolt. I have to kind of be patient trying to remove it because it wants to hang up on the inner tube guide, so a slight counterclockwise "threading" motion usually gets it to come out. I will try and get a picture of it for later.
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I ended up trimming a slight amount of sheet metal on the firewall lip on the passenger side just for piece of mind, as well as grinding a little more clearance on the passenger side shock tower. Amazingly, the only time anything hits is when you have it in reverse and the motor tries to stall if you have improperly used the clutch (a real challenge with the tall reverse gear and a 3.27 rear end). Like you mentioned in an earlier post about the headers, they can be a problem, but mainly if you are trying to get them to hook up to the headpipe in the stock location. If you are willing to relocate things, it frees up some options; but like you say, keeping the 4wd/awd setup could definitely be a challenge - especially on the driver's side where the magic happens.

When I visit the website it always serves as a reminder of how many of the members here really USE their 2nd gens; mine is basically a fair-weather toy. With that said, I realize that a lot of what I did may not translate into a practical daily driver; for instance, just trying to get to things to easily service them is now a huge problem; we are talking removing the flaps on the inner fender and removing the airbox tubing just to tighten the headers. Speed comes at a price I guess!

On the airbox, I did change the front air snorkel over to a V-10 sized example. I didn't realize how much this changed the MAF sensor readings (we had to retune the whole thing afterwards). What is funny is how quiet the intake tract is while just cruising; but, when you hit the throttle, the sound is loud enough that you almost p*ss yourself the first time you experience it. I would guess this engine is easily making over 400 ft-lbs of torque from 2500 rpm onwards.
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very nice.
welcome to the v8 sport club, and the second as far as i know it, v8 sport stroker club lol. you also have the cubic inch and block that i dream of having, but wont happen anytime soon because it is way out of my price range! hit the strip and let us know what she runs. for me, there is no better feeling then lining up with some unsuspecting mustang, camaro, challenger ect and handing them their ass lol
 






Awesome looking Explorer!
 






Nice work , That turned out great
 






Looks great, good attention to detail!
 












Thanks for the likes and compliments guys. I thought I would give a quick road report after getting back from South Florida (a 1200 mile round-trip).
  • I managed just over 16 mpg at a (GPS-certified) 79 mph average on cruise control most of the way. With the 3.27 gearing, 275/60R15 Hankook tires, and M5R2 overdrive (0.70?), this puts engine rpm just below 2500 rpm at cruise.
  • Cruising range with the modified fuel tank is around 300 miles at the above-mentioned fuel efficiency rate; I typically stopped for fuel at around the 265 mile mark on the odometer. Using a pint of Royal Purple Max-Boost for insurance, it would usually take between 16-17 gallons of fuel (maximum capacity is about 20 gallons).
  • The more I utilize this body style, the more I am impressed with how viable these platforms are for a V8 project car compared to something like an early Mustang or Torino. By the time of the 2nd-Gen's introduction, Ford really had their aerodynamics dialed in as far as road noise and the capability to run modern highway speeds quietly and efficiently. With balanced tires and sound deadening, the car rivals a Honda Accord in NVH and road manners at freeway speeds. While I am sure a Fox body might have come close in some criteria, I think it could be successfully argued that the Explorer's body on frame construction, larger size, and higher quality materials and fit and finish combine to create a less-fatiguing driving experience by comparison. It is a good feeling to know that something that required this amount of time, planning, and expense results in a usable transportation platform that does more than just look good in a car show!
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The time and attention shows! Very nice!
 



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Congratulations on a well engineered and executed project.
Hope you continue to enjoy!
Magnum wheels are ageless.
Thank you for sharing
God I love this forum
 






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