Bkennedy's SAS and Rebuild Thread | Page 117 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Bkennedy's SAS and Rebuild Thread

As some of you know, I am working on building a parts list for a shortened Dana 44, long radius arm with coil overs SAS. 5:13 gears to match my rear axle and an ARB, maybe an electric locker. I have a pretty good list so far. At the same time, I am going to swap out the rear drum brakes for discs off of a 99 Explorer.

Please note: The plan is to keep this project as simple as possible with mostly off the shelf parts. I am not a fabricator, just a decent welder with a what I would consider the minimum required tools (chop saw, cut off wheels, air tools, welder, etc.), who likes doing his own work. Your opinions are welcome, but what I really need is technical advice. I have been thinking about this for several years and now have the time and cash to make it happen. Please keep on topic with your advice and don't go off on a side track about how you would do it as a four-link, or caged arms, or leave the axle full-width because that is not what I want. I want a simple-ish set up that works.

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The wife had all of last week off, so the Explorer didn't get much of my time. She is working the rest of this week, which will give me time to finish up the Explorer. Spent most of this lovely hot and humid day working on the floor. I got the holes repaired, installed all the Kilmat and installed the shifters. I was going to just do the Kilmat under the front seats but ended up removing the rear seat and doing the entire floor. Its ready for me to put the carpet and interior back in, but I decided I was done for the day.


Hole was for wiring to OEM transfer case


The round hole towards the dash is from the old cable shifter for the NP231, all the rest was me trying to get the cable shifter to fit.



It didn't have to be pretty because of the Kilmat

The Kilmat is the Federation of Russia's version of Dynamat and was available on Amazon with good reviews. Its basically some type of tar like substance bonded to very stretchable aluminum foil. There is a small learning curve, but it went down easy. It cuts easily with a POS pair of HF scissors. You can move it before you start to press it down, after that it bonds. You can just push it over the seat studs sticking out of the floor. I think it helped it was a hot day here, I imagine in the cold this stuff would suck. It came with a roller which helps it to seal. It does beat up your fingers where the roller doesn't fit, and its very time consuming. I ordered 50 square feet and ended up with about 1/4 of the box left over. I got the thinnest I could find, and ended up doubling it up across the transmission tunnel. I am very pleased with the end result. It was completely worth the effort to seal up the floor and maybe quiet down the road noise as well.



Shifters mounted

I don't think they will look this clean for very long


Neutral front and rear. It took me a few tries to get them straight and aligned with each other.

Tomorrow I should have the entire interior reinstalled. The rear drive shaft should be ready by tomorrow, and the front is scheduled to be delivered by tomorrow as well. I should have a drivable Explorer again by Friday. I am going to get it together, and drive it for a while before I modify the skid plates.

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Interior, DONE!!

I spent the entire day reinstalling the interior and the shift boot. The majority of the time was my center console and the boot. I installed the boot, then carefully cut slots in the carpet so it could fit over the boot. I didn't like the way it looked so I removed the boot, installed the carpet and mounted the boot on top. Much better! It also covers up the blackened bolt holes from the NP231 shifter. I used some more of the Kilmat and some rubber sheet I have to make rubber slots for the shifters to help seal the body as best as possible.

I had to get out my wiring diagrams to get the center console back together, sure glad I was detailed when I made them. Feels good to have it mostly done.

I really like how the shifters turned out. My leg only touches the front shifter when its in 4low. My old shifter did that and it didn't bother me.

The front shifter looks like its much shorter than the rear, but its only about 1" shorter in actual length. The rest is how they are orientated on the shift tower.


All I have left is to refill the transmission with fluid and install the drive shafts. The Tom Woods drive shaft came in today, but my rear shaft isn't finished yet.

I am considering rhino lining my interior instead of carpet when mine goes back together. What do you think of that process Brian? Also, mine has that weird painted cracking floor liner stuff around the driver and passenger feet too. I noticed some of yours is removed- any pro tips on taking it out? I would imagine I need to take it all out for rhino.

Those big chunks fell off when I was making a little room underneath with a hand sledge. When I used my shopvac to clean up the floor, I knocked all the loose stuff off with the nozzle. I followed that up with a flat bladed screwdriver and knocked off all the rest of the loose chunks. I laid that Kilmat over the top of the rest because it was still attached to the floor.

When I was putting in the cage, that floor sealant Ford used came right off with some brake parts cleaner. I sprayed it on and waited a minute and I could knock it off with a scraper after that. I also remember using a heat gun some spots. If you are having it Rhino Lined, ask whoever is going to apply it if they can go over the top of that stuff before you try to remove it. Might be able to leave it there for extra insulation.

I made the Explorer all pretty again. Its becoming counter-productive to make it pretty, beat it up, then make it pretty again. At least lately I have made the interior pretty, but not worried about the exterior that much. I don't want to cave in a door or panel, but don't mind a few dents/dings.

Edit: I picked up the rear drive shaft so all the parts are here to make it go. I will report back tomorrow.

The day did not go as expected. Installed the vent tube, no problems. I got all fancy with rerouting the transmission shifter cable to keep it away from the front output. That went great, but took much longer than I expected. I used the end of the transfer case shift tube for a clamp mount to get the transmission shifter cable where it needed to be. The idea came to me when I was putting a nylon insert lock nut on to make sure the nut holding the transfer case shifters in place didn't come loose.


Now the transmission shifter cable has nice radius curves at both ends. It used to have a sharp curve at the shifter end. Crawled around under the Explorer and zip-tied everything that needed zip-ties, and then some. I double them up in case of failure.

Mounted the rear drive shaft, no problem. Mounted the front drive shaft, no problem. Filled the transmission, started it for the first time in over a month and shifted it through all the gears. Transmission shifter is smoother and easier to shift with the new cable routing. Transfer case functions properly but with the 700R4 and a brand new case, its hard to shift when the engine is running. AA says to shift when the vehicle is moving slightly to help it, but its hard to do when you are already not moving and its in neutral. Hopefully, I will get the hang of it soon.

Then, I got out my trusty floor jack and a 18" piece of 6x6 I have lying around just for the purpose of jacking up the front suspension. I put it lengthwise on top of my jack, and jack the Explorer up by the front of the rock slider. The brand new front drive shaft I paid extra to have a 35* double cardan is binding with about 6" to go in rebound. Oh, Oh (I said something else, but this is a family forum). I jacked the Explorer up until the left front was a little off the ground and crawled under. Both of my angle meters showed 26*. I figured out what parts were binding and removed the drive shaft. I spent three hours breaking down, clearancing and rebuilding a perfectly good, brand new drive shaft. I was very careful with the U-joints because they are some special Tom Woods joints and I don't have any spares lying around. Got it all back together and repeated the install, jack, and check for binding. It was binding slightly at another place, but it would fully rotate. I removed it one more time, clearanced that part without having to break it down again and called it good without rechecking. Its outside waiting for the paint. What a pain to have to spend all day on a driveshaft I had custom made so I wouldn't have to spend any time with it. Almost funny that I had the rear shaft retubed and it bolted right up with no issues. It even has a better driveline angle with the longer shaft.

I was really stressing out about the possibility of having to clock the Atlas at more of an angle to allow the front driveshaft to function. At the rate I'm going, that would have taken me two weeks. I'm going to install the front drive shaft and back the Explorer out of the garage for a quick bath to get all the metal dust off. Maybe I will take it for a drive tonight or tomorrow afternoon, or maybe even Monday. But, hey, its a roller now.

What in the world? So their double carden joint wasn't capable of as much misalignment as they advertised without mods?

What in the world? So their double carden joint wasn't capable of as much misalignment as they advertised without mods?
This is the first time I have purchased a drive shaft from Tom Woods. I paid an extra $50 for them to clearance their 30* double cardan to make it a 35*. After I took it apart, it appears all they did was smooth out the inside of the link yoke and grind a little off the outside edges. I had to grind down the underside of the socket and drive shaft yokes because the U-joints were contacting them. I would think that would be where to clearance the joint because there is a lot of metal there. That's how my other one was, and it lasted a long time.

I don't know, maybe the double cardan was at 35*, not the shaft.

I do like they extra long slip yoke. Its 6" long instead of the standard 3.5". At full rebound, there is still 3" of spline engagement. It sits at ride height with about 2.5" showing. They got that right.

Got it outside, cleaned up the garage / work area, and washed all the metal dust off the Explorer. Drove it around the cul-de-sac and everything works. I had it in 1st gear and low range and it seems like it will be a very good crawler. Am going to go for a long drive around town in a few minutes to get all the parts used to each other.

Edit: Lets talk tires. I know that going to 37's is not worth all the suspension mods to get there, but...I have seen a bunch of talk that the BFG MTR 35's are undersize compared to other brands. I can get a set of Goodyear MTR's from Discount Tire for $220 each. Are they larger in diameter than the BFG's because they look bigger mounted?? Specs say the Goodyears are 34.8" in diameter, while the BFG's are 34.5", not much of a difference. The BFG's KM2's I have now look small and are less than 1/4 worn, and they are getting noisy on the pavement.

I have MTRs on my Ranger and Tracy Jeep. 37s and 33s. Overall I am happy with them. However I have noticed I have to air down a lot to get them to work. 6 psi in the Ranger and 8 in the Jeep.

That is a lot, I usually air down to 15-18 pounds. Matt, I remember your 37's look big for 37's

I put 75 miles on the Explorer today, all highway miles. The road noise is quieter. I did drive around Fiesta Island which has a large dirt area. I played around with the shifters and found its a lot easier to shift the transfer case in the dirt. Its also a lot easier to shift the front with the hubs locked. I had one of those aaaaahhhhhaaaaaa moments when I figured out that less rolling friction and a turning front axle means gears move easier. I think I chose correctly with the 3.8 low range. Its seems plenty low with the trans in 1st. It seemed that no matter how high the RPM's the Explorer was still not going to go over 7 MPH. Need to get it out in the rocks to really tell.

When I got home, I did notice the transfer case bottom cover is seeping slightly at one of the bottom corners. It was probably something I did when I tore down the case even though I used a new gasket. I will put the 500 break in miles on it, then when I replace the oil, I will replace that paper gasket with some good old fashioned ultra RTV. There is a drain plug on the bottom so using sealant shouldn't be problematic.

You guys end up with such nice trucks you must cringe at the rather large tree branches you scrape against, not to mention the massive boulders you slide against.

I love following yours, and others threads on using these trucks like they were meant to be used. The craftsmanship and ingenuity is amazing.

Thanks for the compliments Dono. That picture was my Explorer's good side. I really don't like body damage and try to minimize it, but if it is part of getting to where I want to go I accept it. I also knock out the dents and touch up the paint as best I can when I get home. I was told by one of the more adventurous off-roaders with an Explorer (Josh), that mine will go anywhere his could go. I agreed, but said I just wasn't willing to kill it to get there like he was/is.

Most of the ideas I get for modifications have already been done or come from somebody else on the board. I do on occasion come up with my own way of doing things, but its usually based upon an idea I get from somewhere else.

I know I said I was going to drive it for a while before I redid the skid plates, but phase II:

After I fixed the dryer, and the barbecue, I had some free time on my hands. I set the rear skid plate (transfer case) in place and it was not even close to fitting. I cut a notch in the plate and bent it, then another notch and more bending and got it where I wanted it. I added some plate to the front to get it to line up with the new cross member. I am making this version so its doubled 3/16" plates for the front 8" of the plate for a total of 3/8" skid plate. This, and a few gussets, means I can keep it higher without fear of it contacting the transfer case. I figured out how to make both plates flush mounted instead of having the front plate overlap the rear plate like before. I will explain this as I go along because a few pictures when its finished will tell the story. I'm just glad I could reuse the old skid plates.

I also decided I want to add a torque arm to the transfer case / transmission mount just for peace of mind. I don't expect to have any problems, but am going to make sure the transfer case doesn't over torque the transmission bolts. I have that all planned out and will build the arm and modify the cross member when I pull it for the weld nuts to mount the skid plate. I have to work the next three days at KABOO in the Command Center, so this is all for now.

A few horrible pictures
Getting ready to cut up this beautiful piece of 3/16" plate

Old skid plate with new bends

New version but its hard to see what's going on with it. Its about 5" longer and 5 pounds heavier than the old version. After I get it all mounted I will pull it, paint it and set it aside until I drive the Explorer for 425 more miles to break in the transfer case.

How did the 'boom' mat do for sound deading?

The mat worked fairly well. It dropped the noise down considerably.

I noticed that where the speedo cable goes into the housing that goes into the transfer case is seeping fluid. Is there a O-ring in there somewhere that I can replace? I have an interesting speedo cable setup, its a Jeep NP231 housing and the Explorer housing fits directly into it and its all sealed up with RTV. I need to take it apart and see what's leaking.

I dug out the Explorer speedo setup that came with my Atlas. It does have an O ring to seal it up. I was told that this is made by AA, and is a copy of the Dana 300 case speedo housing. (Make sure the fork clamp is tight) I no longer use this after going OBD2.

Atlas speedo housing with 35t gear and cable.jpg

The O-ring on the outer housing is sealing fine, its coming out where the cable goes into the top of the OEM housing. You interested in selling that to me, send me a PM?

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