Bkennedy's SAS and Rebuild Thread | Page 157 | 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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Make a good license plate.
On my 300Z TT I had ILK2SPD
"I like 2-speeds" ??? I thought the 300's had a 5-speed! just kidding ;) Cool plate though.

I always wanted "O2BNAZ" when I had my '71 240Z, but I was poor and couldn't afford the personalized plates back in those days!


Don't you guys need the moisture isn't there a drought?

The Explorer was such a muddy mess from driving around town, and a small snow wheelin drive up to a overlook, I took it to a self-service car wash, with the high pressure wash wand and a soapy brush too. I tried to get the attention of the attendant who was in the process of cleaning the last bay as it appeared he had already did the other three thinking it would be better for him to have me make a mess in the only dirty stall, but he ignored me to his own peril. Make a mess I did, the inside of the bumpers and fender wells seem to hold a awful lot of mud. He walked by and said HI, and I apologized. He replied it will happen all day long. Dodge dually covered in ranch road mud pulled into the bay after I finished, so i guess thats the nature of the job.



Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the release of "The Big Lebowski", one of the best movies to come out of the 90's. Only pic I got of the clean Explorer is through the RV windshield when I started the DVD. The Dude abides....

Vampire Mine and Swansea Ghost Town drive today.

Just got back from a epic drive, 125 miles, 80 of it dirt.
Drove up Arizona 95 from Quartzsite to Parker. Took Shea Rd (dirt) 20 miles east to the Vampire Mine Trail, which I probably shouldn't have done myself. It was real fun though. Not what I would consider difficult with the Explorer, but very technical. Narrow, switchbacks, rocks, steep, and again narrow. Sheer drop off inches away for about three miles. Have to pay attention to the trail every second while moving. I missed the trail head and turned around to go back. I came upon two side by sides and was warned about a washed out rocky area in the road that I just went through in 2WD. I think the side by side crowd doesn't have any experience with well built off road vehicles because I have had several of their drivers warn me about a trail that was what I would consider moderate/easy.

Anyways, Vampire Mine, beautiful scenery, very remote area.






When I do these crazy mountain mine trails, I always think about the prospectors that first went up there on foot. It's mind boggling that someone climbed up a cliff and started digging into near solid rock. Then they built roads, living quarters, all the other infrastructure, then to get the ore out. Huge brass clangers.

After that trail, went through the slot canyon as a short side trail before heading down to Swansea Ghost Town. 20230312_122559.jpg

Swansea Ghost Town.

After about 30 miles on what Arizona considers a registered road, I came to this 4 way stop. Really, it's in the middle of nowhere. I stopped, used my blinker, looked both ways, and headed down to the ghost town, which is seven miles down a dirt "road".

Swansea Ghost Town is something to see. Everywhere you look there are diggings, shafts, buildings, huge tailing and slag piles. They mined mostly copper and it was smelted on site. They pumped water from the Bill Williams River about ten miles away. It's a protected site, and some of the buildings are partially restored.




They dumped the slag while it was still molten, it looks like a lava field. There are a few "molds" from when they dumped the boats after they had cooled. Couldn't upload the pics of those as they were too large.



Very cool place. All the shafts are covered and it's fairly safe for a old mining ghost town.

You have to drive up the same "road" to get out, back to the 4 way stop in the middle of nowhere. Again, full stop, left blinker, looked both ways then proceeded. 20 miles to Bouse, Arizona. The "road" is awful for about half the way. Washboard, but the fins are three inches high and a foot apart. I need to upgrade my rear shocks and front bumps. I would adjust my speed so the road didn't shake the Explorer apart, then hitna smooth section and accelerated to 45-55, then dunk, dunk, dunk, dunk, dunk, more giant washboards. I looked out the window at my front tire while going through a section of these perfectly placed bumps from hell, and was impressed at how much travel they sucked up. My poor new coil springs and freshly rebuilt shocks. I passed two side by side groups and a Jeep on the way to Bouse. Jeep occupants I had spoken to in Swansea, they are snow birds from Canada, eh. They had left about 30 minutes before I did and I passed them about 12 miles from the ghost town.

Stopped in beautiful downtown Bouse for a few pics. I think the only buildings in town not pre fabricated are these. It's still a quiet little town, even if it could be moved in it's entirety in 24 hours.


20 minutes of pavement later, back at the RV.

It was a good day.

The reason Bouse was ever a town, was it was the main supply stop for Swansea. Most of the original buildings are gone, that old miners shack in the pictures was moved there from Swansea and sits on the foundation of the Alaska Hotel.

The smelter and workers quarters look much different than when the author of a guide book I have was there in 1980.




The size of the equipment that they hauled into the back country always amazed me.

Few more pics of the Vampire Mine Trail and one of the slag boats forms, resized the pic. Ranger is the photo bombing king now.

Going up!

Looking back at what turned out to be the easy part.

Top of the trail

Char worked with a woman from Bouse. She would always say "Bouse like house".

Today I went for a drive through the mountains to the west of Quartzsite. I have some downloaded maps and the BLM maps don't show the trail system. They didn't get budgeted for trail surveys in 2021, so instead of not putting out new maps, they removed all the trails. I think someone over there had a hissy fit. Got a late start because it was a very nice night, I had a good fire and stayed up way too late drinking real good bourbon

In any case, went around the south side of Old Man Mountain, then through the valley between that and the next unnamed mountain to the west. That was the fun part of the trail. Just enough to make it worth it to get out and lock the hubs. Besides, Ranger had to poop. Trail was not so much difficult as fun and technical. I would consider it easy in the Explorer, but challenging for a stock 4x4 just because of some rocks, soft washes and steep breakovers coming in and out of the wash, which you do several times. It mostly looked like this:

Real pretty country. I came across a monument to Jimmy. RIP Jimmy, he must have liked that area and had some cool friends. He also must have been a Pink Floyd fan.


This trail ran into Boyer Rd, which really isn't a road, it's a trail. Maybe there was a road there a long time ago. This part is easy, a stock 4x4 would have no problem. A few miles of this:

Come around a bend and find the Dome Basin Mine.

The Dome Basin Mine was a copper, gold and silver mine. There used to be a mill on site to process the ore so it must have been a good producer. I found a old pdf file of a mineral report from 1960 on line. There are two 100' shafts that are loosely fenced with Tposts and barb wire. Watch if your dog is running around like mine does. There is also a adit around the corner that apparently ties all the workings together underground. Lots of stuff to check out, lots of pretty dark rocks with white quartz veins, and green and red parts, all over the debris pile. Very cool looking, which gives me some ideas about using local mined rock for my fireplace.
Some pictures of the mine.



This pic was taken looking down into the shaft. It appears to be a adit in the pic, but its 100' almost straight down.


Pretty rocks


On the way out I took the easier road, it was raining and getting dark. At the end of the graded portion of Boyer Rd is a newer, inactive mine.

20 minutes of bombing down the graded road and I was back in downtown Quartzsite. On a connector road to get to Hwy 95, I saw this giant plantation style house, that appears to be in the middle of a restoration. It was so out of place I had to stop and get a picture.

Quartzsite is mostly small houses, lots of pre fab houses, and a few hundred RV parks. There must be some type of history with this place. 15 minutes of highway driving and I was back at the RV, just in time for it to start really raining.

Edit; found an old listing for the house. It doesn't mention any historical value. Funny how much house you can get here for $390,000.

It was raining on and off all night and most of today, so I hung around the RV. Planning on leaving mid-morning tomorrow in any case. Glad I did because these two toy haulers pulled right next to me, maybe 50' away. I would have come back to a bunch of new neighbors. Entire desert to park, no one here is within 100 yards of each other. They are talking about if the rest of the group can fit here. That's when I asked them if they were really planning on camping 50' from someone they don't know with all this open desert. Dude responded with "yes". I said that was very inconsiderate. They started in that I was the problem because I'm from California. Then Large Marge said that Arizona people get along. I said it's because they have the room. The way the one guy was parking, we would be looking at each other through the RV windows.

They moved and are in the process of placing traffic cones in a 200' circle. I guess they want their space, but don't care about other people. I might seem to have overreacted since I'm leaving tomorrow, but they don't know that. Having the courage to speak up when people are being inconsiderate isn't overreacting. I try to be aware of others pretty much all the time. I guess there are entire groups that don't. Never seen anything like it out here.

It doesn't look so close in the picture, but it's about 25' to the last Bush in the picture, so they were less than 50' away.

Now there is a thunder storm. Constant thunder booming from the northwest.

Edit: I've been coming out to Arizona since I was a baby. I've always loved this state and have rarely had any issues with Arizonians. I plan on being one in the near future. One of the things the guy said was very telling about his personality. He said it right away when I asked him if they could move a little further away than 50'. He said "That's what happens here", like it was their common practice to force their will upon others. I replied at the time that I've been camping around here for 20 years and this is the first issue of this kind. That's when the big gal had to get involved, and it all went farther downhill from there. I think they are also the type of people who when called out on something they know is wrong, double down instead of admitting any wrongdoing. We have those in California, but mostly in politics and colleges.

I had actually started trying to deescalate the situation. I took a few steps closer to them so I could speak normally and said I may have overreacted a little, and I was sorry, but they had to see I was right. The guy kept saying "Don't, we're leaving" like he was getting scared or worried. I quickly gave up since they were leaving. I didn't even use my cop voice. Oh well, can't go anywhere and not be bothered by morons these days.

Did a trail today that all the trail guides said was easy. It was not. I would say it was not something I should have done myself. Devil's Dip near Serendipity trail. Serendipity is rated very difficult, but short trail up a rocky canyon. Devil's Dip crosses this trail a few times.

Devil's Dip a very narrow old mountain road, starts out pretty easy. I'm guessing the people on a few youtube videos I watched haven't done it in several years, or the last few rain storms really wiped it out. It's doable if you have 35" tires, front and rear lockers, and a very flexy suspension. And then only if your rig can lean way over without flopping because the trail is off camber in numerous sections, usually while next to a sheer drop of several hundred feet. A lot of it is very steep, rocks, and severely rutted trail composed mostly of slippery decomposed granite, hence the front locker. Its so narrow that once your about a mile up, your pretty much committed as there is no place to turn around. It's also one if those trails that gives the illusion the next obstacle is the hardest one. The scenery was beautiful and very remote for starting a few hundred yards off I40 exit 58. It ends at Havasupai Mountain Rd a few miles from Kingman. You go up one side of a mountain, then down the other side. Downside is about 1/4 the length of the uphill side, but full if washed out switchbacks, huge ruts and very slippery. Took me about three hours.

Some uphill pics
Near the start, looks easy enough for a capable 4x4.

Still pretty easy, just steep and narrow.

Nice off camber washout.

Looking back down the trail after a very steep climb. You can see the trail directly below in the canyon, and a interesting switchback in the second pic. Off in the distance, you can see I40 and the Loves station.


More uphill

View from the summit Looking south

Memorial right before the most difficult spot

Downhill side looking back up near the end of the worst spot

Last difficult and very twisty spot, stopped for some poser shots. Haven't fully stuffed the front tire in a long time.




The rest of the trail was fairly easy with a few washouts. Interesting day in beautiful Arizona.

Looks like a cool trail.

Ranger is a ham. :thumbsup:

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He is a ham, total photobomber.

It was fun, just a little much solo.

Parts of this trail force you to push one side or the other of your rig into brush to get the best line, so you shouldn't mind some Arizona pinstriping. There was also some tracks of someone who knew how to wheel. They picked good lines for the most part so I could follow them. I did get out to look at several spots.