Before, During, & After | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Before, During, & After

Some of you guys are well aware that I'm in the process of modding my X into more of an off-road capable rig. With that being said, I thought it would be a good idea to document the different mods and all that good stuff in one thread... starting with the X in its near original state.

I purchased the '98 5.0 AWD X back in May with 127,400 miles. Currently, I'm sitting at 139,x... With the exception of a few very minor problems (radio display fade, unlock switch...), it has been extremely reliable. This is my 2nd Explorer. My first one was a 1997 4.0 OHV XLT. I traded it in on a more economical vehicle when it had 156,000 miles. It was still running strong after having much of the back portion annihilated by a huge sycamore tree.

So anyways, I've done most all the preventative maintenance so far and a few mods too. This has included full-synthetic Amsoil in the transfer case, differentials, and power steering. I'm also running full-synthetic Mobil 1 motor oil and I've had the transmission flushed with Valvoline Max Life. Aside from that, I've installed Bosche Platinum plugs, new front rotors and ceramic pads, Cooper Cobra 255/70-R15 tires, a KKM cold air intake, and a custom 2.5" true dual exhaust with 3" chrome tips. I also done a few free mods like removing the factory running boards, pin stripe, and side moldings.

My plans are as follows:

Have my exhaust redone so that they turn down under the X to keep them out of the way. Crank my torsion bars and install shackles so I can clear either 32x10.50x15s or 32x11.50x15s mounted on either 15x8 or 15x10 Cragar Soft 8s in black. I have a Westin Safari bar on its way. I plan to remove my lower bumper valance and utilize the factory fog light wiring to wire up some nice round Hellas or something of the like. I will also be Herculining my bumpers and rocker panels. In addition to all of that, I would like to eventually get a Safari roof rack so I can relocate my spare to the roof and also install some black metal tail light guards. The goal is to eliminate all of the chrome/aluminum. With that being said, I'm either going to spray paint my current grille, order a new grille that is already painted black, or Herculine my current grille. I would also like to get one of the black billet grilles from eBay, but I am uncertain of the quality, so that may never happen. I believe I'm going to try the exterior vinyl spray paint out and paint the trim pieces on top of the bumpers rather than Herculine them. If all goes well, and funds permit, I would also like to get a Class III receiver to tow all of the stuck Chevies to safety.

Without further ado, let the pictures begin!


ExplorerFrontDriver.jpg


PinStripe.jpg


NoPinStripe.jpg


ExplorerEngine.jpg


KKMCAI.jpg


ExplorerLights.jpg


XTerminator1.jpg



That should get us started.



EDIT: It appears that my trusty other forum won't allow me to link. Lemme see if I can find my Photobucket info... its been a while.
 



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You gotta introduce the X to a trail sometime or another. Why not today?

ExplorerTrail-1.jpg
 






Personally i'd skip all the herculiner stuff and the safari bar (makes your approace angle less). Instead I'd invest that money in a good set of sliders...you'll need them if you're going offroad beleive me haha. Also, lockers are your best friend offroad :D
 






Seeing as this is my daily driver, I want to keep the appearance looking good too. I don't plan on doing any radical steep stuff, so I don't think the safari bar will hurt. I got way too good of a deal on one to pass it up, so I'm gonna give it a whirl. Most 80% of my off-roading is gonna be on trails that a stock 4x4 could tackle and 20% will be mudding. As far as the sliders, I've been thinking about them. I don't plan on doing any rock crawling, but I'd love to have a set of sliders to give it a more aggressive look... and to cover the holes that came from the running board removal. The Herculiner is only $60, so I won't be out much there and its more for looks too. I'm trying to do a two-tone red/black rather than my current 4-tone red/gray with chrome/black trim. I plan on doing the T-case swap sometime in the relatively near future... possibly spring/summer '07.

Right now, my biggest concern is the tire size. With 2" TT/Shackles, I'd really like to be able to clear atleast 32x10.50x15 with very minimal trimming. If there isn't that much difference in trimming requirements between 32x10.50 and 32x11.50, I'd definately opt for the extra width. A BL would be an absolute last option.
 






If you're going as far as to swap a transfer case, then IMO definitely skip the safari bar -- its just dead weight.
 






Where is the during and after pics of this off-road machine?
 






I dig what you're saying. I would absolutely 100% still build some sliders, they look good and even if you're not on rocks they are super nice to have. The trail at badlands I originally mangled mine on was the stocker trail! Lockers too man, if you can afford it, get an arb for the rear so you can lock it when you need, and a lunch box up front if you can. Save up for it if you have to.

Here's a pic of mine sliders (i don't have any rocker pannels anymore, cut them out)
DSC00210.JPG

DSC00216.JPG
 












Right now, my biggest concern is the tire size. With 2" TT/Shackles, I'd really like to be able to clear atleast 32x10.50x15 with very minimal trimming. If there isn't that much difference in trimming requirements between 32x10.50 and 32x11.50, I'd definately opt for the extra width. A BL would be an absolute last option.

You should be able to fit the 32's with an almost max TT and shackles. I ran mine like that (265/75 R16) and did some trimming in order for be to be able to do so. It wasn't extreme by any means, there are some pictures I took somewhere on here. They rubbed my sway bar and when I was turning hard and braking, they would sometimes rub the backside of the fender liners.
 






I was sitting outside with my brother about an hour ago and he came up with a pretty good idea.

Rather than Herculining my bumpers and rockers, I'm going to have his buddy build me some sliders and then have them, along with the safari bar, painted toreador red or pewter... can't decide yet. I'm keeping the chrome bumpers and pewter two-tone. I will, however, be repainting my chrome grille... it looks like crap.

You guys that say you've mangled your rockers and everything aren't familiar with the kind of terrain we have here. We don't have huge bolders and rock courses. Its mostly just dirt, mud, and hill climbs. I'm not in any danger of smacking the brush guard or the sliders on anything. They're mostly for looks.



MountaineerGree,

Did you just have to trim the bumper and inner fenders or did you have to trim the back portion of the fender down where the running boards come into the fender wells? I don't mind trimming my bumper at all... or the inner fenders. I just don't want to hack into the rockers.





EDIT: I even thought of fabricating some brackets and having the guy thats going to build the sliders to make another piece that would mount under my bumper in place of the plastic valance. Those fog lights are going to be eliminated anyway. New foglights will utilize the factory wiring, but they'll be on the safari bar. I'm sure I'll have to modify the wiring a little... they look pretty short.
 






You guys that say you've mangled your rockers and everything aren't familiar with the kind of terrain we have here. We don't have huge bolders and rock courses. Its mostly just dirt, mud, and hill climbs. I'm not in any danger of smacking the brush guard or the sliders on anything. They're mostly for looks.

I mangled my rockers comming over a dirt hill, no rocks at all. But it's your thing so rock on :D
 












This will be no problem then! Thanks for the pics.
 






An interesting turn of events has taken place and I will no longer be getting the safari bar. The guy I was purchasing it from had it stored under his carport and someone stole it along with his tools and a few other things. I already received my refund.

Its too bad though, I got an AWESOME deal on it.


Aside from that, one of my good friends is interested in buying my running boards, side moldings, cd changer, air box, and stock wheels. Part of the deal is that he is going to order the new wheels and pay to have my current tires remounted. I originally loved the idea of the black Cragar Soft 8s because everything else was going to be black, but now I'm not 100% sure. Lets get some opinions on wheel choices. I guess I'll be looking at wheels that are $100 or less each. Definately a 15x8. Should I go with 3.75 or 4.00 backspacing?
 






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