Bkennedy's SAS and Rebuild Thread | Page 160 | 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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Man it seems to me like the parts we can get have decreased dramatically in quality.
The garbage quality used to be available but you could poney up a little more cash or look a little harder and find quality stuff in the past. It seems now it is all cheap junk. And it is rare To be able to find motor craft anything that fits our trucks. I am actually sad that I replaced my factory fuel pump. It would have 320k on it now, but it was better quality than the junk I can buy now.

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Hoping it’s just a hose leak! Heater core usually leak inside? The stock unit in my 88 was copper and the one I replaced it with was copper and then years later now I’m changing it again this one is all aluminum… I hope it holds up! At least we don’t have to drop out dash to change them! I love my first gen

I replaced the heater core last year with a TYC from RA because it was leaking. There is a drain through the firewall for the heater box and it wasn't coming from there.

If it's the vacuum bypass heater valve, I've replaced that twice before. They only actually bypass the heater core when the AC is running, which is maybe once a year for my Explorer. They are plastic and break down eventually. Even the unit on Sarah's 2010 Ranger is the same, and it failed a few years ago. If that's the issue, I'll bypass it permanently this time. I have two short pieces of copper pipe in my center console for a trail repair kit.

my 88 did not have a bypass valve, I added one to keep the hot water out of the dash in summer. I use the simple one that installs on one hose and use a zip tie to hold it open all summer, release it in winter

I think I got lucky for a change. It was/is leaking out of one of the hose fittings in the valve. I got a full turn out of the hose clamp so maybe that's a wrap. I'll keep an on it because the last time the valve failed it looked like a leaking fitting, but when I tightened the hose clamp the plastic fitting broke apart.

I thinking about getting a manual valve. I've seen a few made from brass with a simple ball valve. If it failed, it would be internal so wouldn't be that big of a deal when 50 miles from a paved road.
yeesport 4-way Automobile Heating Water Valve, Brass Automotive Integrated Manual Control Valve, Heater Core Bypass 5/8in Amazon product ASIN B0BX4LNPF3
Edit: I ordered that valve. I'll replace the spare valve I have stored in the back I pulled out of the donor Explorer. Be a easy trail repair.

I'm shopping new tires. They have to be MTR's in 35x12.5xR15. Loved the Razr's but they wore out in record time, and they are expensive.

I'm looking at three:
*General Grabber x3. True 35" tire, quiet, good tread pattern, good sidewalls, good race pedigree.
*Goodyear Boulder MTR. Almost identical tread pattern as the x3, little smaller at 34.6", good sidewalls.
*Pro Comp Extreme MT2. Priced about $50 lower than the other two, but also the smallest at 34.4". Heard they work well in the dirt, but are noisy.

First two are priced within $10 of each other and available. Pro-Comps appear to be on back order everywhere.

What say you good people?


Look at Mickey's. We have them on a few trucks at work and everyone loves them. We put some on my dad's gladiator. They are pretty smooth and balanced good.


No BFGoodrich? That’s all I run. I hear they are coming out with a new all terrain- Ko3. But you said it has to be a mudder. I still love their mudder.

no toyos? HAHAHAHA everyone coming to the table with their favorites
I run mickey T, Cooper and Toyo but...........these were not on his choice list

BFG 35's are small. I've run them before and that's my only complaint besides getting real noisy as they wear.

I looked at Mickey T's but they are $40 more a tire than my other choices.

I can say that the MTR's was a pain to get a set that balanced properly, but GoodYear stood behind their product, and kept sending me new ones until I was happy. They have proven to be the best tires I have ever owned for the hobby rig. Great in every terrain I have put them thru in all seasons, in many parts of the country. Super quiet, smooth, and fits the bill, for both on/off road use.

I had a set of ProComp Muds, they cupped bad, and was useless at half life. While the basic tread design worked well in mud, The sidewalls was horrid, and easily gouged by vegetation roots. Horrible on the road.

Never owned any Generals, so can't speak for those.

I had a set of BF KM3's, and they was amazing for the first half of their life on every terrain imaginable. Aired down they are beasts. After half tread, they cupped fast, and was so loud, that they had to be replaced. Literally couldn't roll the windows down, it was so bad. That was over 10 years ago, and they might have changed the compound since tho.

The next best tires I have owned was the BFG AT's. Aired down they are great in everything but deep mud. Probably the best Snow tire I have had too. Last a long time, and balance super well. The quietest tire, of all off road tires.

I am running the Goodyear Wranglers on the 94 EX (daily), and so far they have been a great tire, but I have not aired down and climbed anything with them.

Giving a personal choice on tires is a mixed bag, and everyone always has a favorite to offer. I would just go by Budget, type of terrain mostly used (on or off road), life expectancy desired, and availability. One of the biggest things that matter to me, is getting a lifetime (or 50K) road hazard warranty on any of them. I also purchase them from a nationwide chain so I can get a replacement on the spot (or fast as possible) no matter where I am.

Best of luck sir!

I have Goodyear AT's on my 2wd Silverado. Ride nice, quiet, good in the rain, but they are street tires with a little more grip.

I've heard the ProComps wear out fast and cup, so scratch them off the list.

I'm seriously leaning towards the Grabber X3, mostly because of the price, availability and the tread pattern is almost identical to the Boulder. They have been around for a while and the Boulder is a new tire. Grabbers are $300 each at Tire Rack, and my neighbor can get them for lower than that as he has his own shop. He does mostly tuner cars, but he's a off roader guy in his personal life.

Main question I have now is, do I get four or five tires? I have five of the Razr's with the spare having a sidewall repair
I would have to use one of the worn out tires as a spare, and the Razr's are a solid inch wider tread. I'm thinking five and I can rotate the spare to the ground like I did with the Razr's before the sidewall cut.

With all the traveling I'm doing from San Diego to Kingman and back, I am going to go through tires quicker, so price and longevity is a issue. Besides the fact that I'm bleeding money with the house build out there and need to watch my finances.

Toyos Made in usa will give you the best ride and longest tread life
I like the toyo because can get them in 8 or 10 ply

Mickey t wear rather quickly but then so does any mud terrain on the street.

Goodyear duratrac mtr have been the best all around off road tire I have ever had on my bronco they handle the mud and snow like no other. However the exact same tire on my wife’s FJ wore out in 3 seasons (heavier truck) she went through two sets of those my bronco still has them after 9 years and they are half worn. She is running the Mickey t now. We also have the mickeys on the excursion… doing what you would expect, they handle the terrain awesome but are wearing quickly on a 7.3 one ton suv. The old mtr Kevlar were a joke they were impossible to balance.

Cooper tires have been a local fav around here, they hold up very well.

I have also heard great things about the grabbers.

I’ve run Toyos on my big truck (97 4 door f350 7.3) for years now and I just keep buying two new ones for the back and rotate them to the front. 5th spare still brand new. The toyo comes from a few diff factories, I find the ones made in USA and dollar for dollar they are getting all my new money when we need tires. The new trail rt we picked up for the 07 ranger are true 35 and 8 ply perfect for a ranger. If I got 315 metric they would be 10’ply, Kinda neat you can choose

Main question I have now is, do I get four or five tires? I have five of the Razr's with the spare having a sidewall repair
I would have to use one of the worn out tires as a spare, and the Razr's are a solid inch wider tread. I'm thinking five and I can rotate the spare to the ground like I did with the Razr's before the sidewall cut.

I wouldn't bother with a new spare unless the diameter of the new tires is way off. I'm sure you carry a plug kit and air for any minor tire issues that can be fixed without going to a spare. In all the years I've been wheeling I have used my spare tire twice. Once on the trail when I bent the rim, and once on the road.

This is a older review, but 8,000 miles of the type of road, dirt, gravel, mud, snow, and rocks I will be driving. Sounds like they liked them. The Razr's are 2/3 worn in about that many miles. I'm getting pricing and availability.

I'm going to get five new tires because my current spare has a repaired inch long sidewall slice. Then I can sell the old set for the price of the fifth tire. If I keep the best tire for a spare, the rest are throwaways because nobody would be shopping for three over half way worn 35" Razrs.

Tire Rack had the best deal I could find. My neighbor friend has a shop and he will mount/balance them for free. I need five tires. I tried to order them all together, but they only had four in stock nationwide. The fifth tire is a new old stock from 2020, $28 less than the rest, which are $300.99 each. TR chat guy says they are all the same tread pattern and composition, sidewalls, etc., with maybe some difference in the sidewall markings. The production year doesn't matter to me. He also said I can return or keep the single tire with a partial refund if it's not correct, since it's the last old stock tire they have and they don't want it back. The set of four should be here tomorrow, with the single tire coming on 03/04.

I have used a bunch of tires on the Explorer over the years.

4" Superrunner lift
BFG AT's 32's - decent tire, not great in the rocks, got noisy and started cupping with wear.
Yokohama Geolander MT's 32's - good in the dirt, wore out crazy fast and very noisy.
Mud King 32's - good tire in mud, rocks, snow, etc., noisy. Nothing bad to say about them as they were cheap and worked. A copy of the old style BFG MTR. I traded them for some welding work when I went to 35's.
5.5" lift
Goodyear MTR 35's - great tire in mud, rocks, snow, lasted ten years, got noisy over time. Discontinued or I would have gotten them this time.
5.5" lift and SAS
BFG MTR KM2's 35's - good tire in mud, rocks, snow, small sizing, got real noisy over time. Would have gotten KM3's in a 37" this time, but they are stupid expensive and I would need new wheels.
Post SAS
Maxxis Razr 35" - best tire in mud, rocks, snow, started out noisy and went up from there, almost a 36" tire with a very wide tread compared to the others, wore out stupid fast, expensive. Would only purchase again if I trailered the Explorer everywhere and the price dropped.
Now General Grabber X3 35" - TBD

We discussed this before. I would like to have gone up to 37's but it's just not worth the extra money. The tires are about $150 more each, plus I would need new 17" wheels because no one makes a 37x15 wheel. That would at least double this purchase price and would add 50% more to every future tire purchase. The 35's take me anywhere I have wanted to go. The 37's would only add an inch of ground clearance, with no other real gain, and possibly a slight loss in power. They would look way cooler though, which as I get older becomes less and less of a factor, so 35's it is.

Got four of the Grabbers a few minutes ago. The fifth tire should show up on Monday. I think I made the right choice. They have deep lugs and are about the same diameter as the Razr with about 3/4" less tread width. The center lugs are smaller than the Razr, which might allow more flex with a stiffer compound tire and the outer lugs are very similar. The sidewall lugs are longer and thicker on the Razr The sidewalls are noticeably thicker than the Razr, which seemed to puncture way too easy. The Razr is a little too wide and the KM2's were not wide enough. By too wide I mean more rolling friction on pavement which equates to more wear on drivetrain components, and sometimes in soft stuff I had to muscle the steering even with the Jeep PS pump and not airing down. The Razr is a great tire, but maybe better suited to a trailer queen that doesn't see pavement. It also is easily chunked up in rocks. Every time I would go crawling, I noticed new chunks missing from the tread. They don't age well. From what I have read, the Grabber is more resistant to chunking. I hope these last longer. This year I will be staying longer in Arizona, with less trips back and forth. When the house is mostly finished, the Explorer will be staying out there with the RV. As soon as the garage is finished, the boat will be out there in it's new home.

The pictures really make the Razr look worn out when it still has a little less than half tread left. My comparison is of course with one tire mounted and vehicle weight on it, and one loose which is why the Grabber looks so much bigger.

As you can see from my previous post, I like trying different tires. I don't think I've ever replaced tires with the same model, or even the same brand. I am very happy with the Toyo's on the RV, but there might be something better and cheaper available when I change them out again in 10-12 years.

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The General tread pattern looks like the outer half of an MTR pattern. Nice & Beefy! Hope these work well for you. Let us know how well they balance please!
It does. The Goodyear Boulder tread looks almost identical to the Grabber.

The 5th tire arrived today. It's identical to the others, just older production year. I'll get them mounted next week.