Bkennedy's SAS and Rebuild Thread | Page 98 | 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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Drove to AutoZone, picked up their power steering pump puller/installer and drove home. Less than 10 minutes later, I had the pulley installed, the drive belt back on and am ready to purge the steering box. Enough for tonight.

The way its mounted now leaves the hoses a few inches below the mid-line of the reservoir. Should be fine this way. Its also directly in line with the lower grille opening.

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Done. It bled real easy, just a few turns before no more bubbles. I let it run for about 30 minutes and could feel the cooler getting warm so its circulating fluid and doing its job. The capacity of the entire OEM system is 36 ounces. I got about 1.5 quarts in it now, so about 48 ounces. Not as much as I thought, but more is always better.

Picture of OEM return line to 3/8" ID hose connection. Using the OEM return line allows me to bypass the cooler and hoses if there is a failure in that part of the system. I routed the hoses between the bottom side of the radiator and frame. I know enough clearance so they can't get pinched because they went in easy with lots of wiggle room. It also keeps them completely out of harm's way.

Parts list:
2- AN-10 to AN-6 male adaptors
2- AN-6 female to AN-6 barb elbows (AN-6 barb = 3/8" ID hose)
11 feet of 3/8" transmission hose
3/8" barb to 3/8" barb
4 quarts of Type F ATF
Bunch of zip ties

Total cost was under $100.

If anyone is thinking of doing this, I would pick a cooler with AN-6 fittings to save space and money by not needing the adaptors. I chose a plate cooler because they are more efficient at dissipating heat. There are many variations and types of coolers. Any transmission or oil cooler will work as long as the ports are in the right place. On one side, I mounted the cooler on the center post of the radiator support. There is a 8mm headed bolt that supports the body piece below the grille. It was in the perfect spot. On the other side, I welded a tab with two holes and used some leftover 8mm headed bolts and clip nuts I kept from the donor Explorer. There are rubber isolator washers on all bolts. Probably not necessary, but all the OEM coolers are mounted that way. I ended up using about 10' of the hose. The 3/8" ID hose is hard to source locally, but its the same ID as the return line, making it easy to plumb.

Since I was replacing the pump at the same time, I flushed the steering box prior to plumbing the hose for the cooler. I would recommend flushing the entire system before adding a cooler. I flushed a full quart through the steering box. It was running clean and clear after about 1/3 of a quart, but I kept going until I had used an entire quart to make sure I give it every chance.

I was having a issue with the rear shocks bottoming out. They also rebounded a little too harshly, causing a bounce at higher speeds. The last Truckhaven trip, I tried one shock per side, but mounted them outside lower mount, inside upper mount, to increase compression length. I did not get any bottoming out, but got way too much lean and body roll. Today, I added a set of shock tabs to the upper shock hoop, but inside the other tabs It increased the angle of the shocks, making them less efficient, and gives them a little more compression length. It looks pretty good, but I need to take it for a off-road test drive to really tell.

How I lined them up with the other tabs.


Welded and painted

Shocks and all the other junk I had to remove to get to the shock mounts reinstalled.

Looks like I got about 3/4" more compression with the new configuration. The job had to be done, but it sucked. I really don't like being underneath what I am welding. Its like it was raining little pieces of lava. Got to suck it up and keep going until you smell smoke.

Now, its ready for the next outing. I only have a few projects left. Next, I am going to make a shelf in the rear cargo area to create more storage. I am planning on keeping it simple. I purchased four under the bed type plastic containers that were all the same height. I am going to make the shelf just high enough so they fit underneath like removable drawers.

I have a bunch of stuff I need to get done around the house that I have put off while I got the Explorer back in driving condition that I need to get done first. Also want to upgrade the solar in the RV. Right now, I am working on replacing three 4"x6" patio posts that rotted out at the bases because the guy I paid to do it did it wrong.

so... you meeting me on the lakebed? :D

Yesterday, my daughter was at a horse show in Del Mar, Ca. I decided to drive the Explorer over there to help her get the horse ready and watch her compete. It drove great. After the show, I took it on the long way home, about 40 miles. It is driving very well, rides nice and the transmission shifts great. I am not sure if the transmission was ever adjusted and wired right before, because its totally different. I am seeing 1000 less RPM at 65 MPH. I am not sure if it was the OD or the auto torque converter lockout that wasn't working. I do know the torque converter lockout was wired wrong, so maybe that was the issue all along. Temps are down as well.

Thursday I replaced the front axle shaft U-joints because the passenger side was getting loose. While I was in there, I repacked the wheel bearings and some other general maintenance. Everything looks great in the front axle. Since I had recently replaced the front diff fluid, I used a trail trick for pulling the axle shafts without draining the differential. I dropped one side onto a 6x6 block of wood at the radius arm mount, and jacked the side I was going to pull the shaft on way up. Worked great.

Friday, I took it to Discount Tire to have the tires balanced. I had a vibration on the highway at 55-65 MPH. I specifically asked they not use impacts on the rear wheel adaptors/spacers since I have always taken the rear wheels on and off by hand. Watched them write it in large black ink, right on the work order. A few minutes later, I am watching the tech drag a air impact to the rear. I stopped him before he could get to the tire. Young guy seemed confused as to how he was supposed to remove a wheel without an impact. Older guy walked up and took over. Vibration is gone.

Still very happy with how well it shifts now. I have also noticed the engine temps are much less than before with the same thermostat. Additionally, the high idle issue I having is gone. Idles under 800 RPM while stopped in drive. I am fairly certain that when I swapped the PCM with the donor unit it took care of the idle and maybe the higher engine temp issues I have been having. The donor Explorer had the last, most updated version PCM.

Soon, I am going to work on fold-down tables for the rear of both swing outs on the rear bumper. They are going to be made out of some steel diamond plate. Both will be about 2' wide, but I haven't worked out the heights yet. Am going to use piano hinges, and think I have stops worked out so they will sit flat while folded down. With the swing outs straight out the back of the Explorer, I will have a nice cooking/work area there for the expedition type trips. I have a table that hooks onto the back of the tire carrier, but its bulky, heavy, and takes up a lot of space while stored in the cargo area.

Got some work done on the bumper mods today. Finished the extra gas can carrier extension thingie, except for the clean up and paint. Cut out the pieces for the fold down tables.

Usual gas can carrier I have bolted onto driver side swing out on the rear bumper.

Cut out material for add-on extra can extension, minus the 1.25" angle.

Mostly finished product


How it bolts together. I made it removable because I used to have a double gas can holder on the bumper, but never used a second can. Now, occasionally we go on expedition type long distance off-road trips, and the second can would come in handy. I only need to add the extra weight to the bumper when I am going on one of those type of excursions. I would also rather have the spare tire stick out farther than the cans, so it takes the hit, which is not possible with a double gas can holder.



I was going to flip the holders so the cans faced towards the rear instead of to the driver side, but figured out there is less than one inch difference in length. I also am aware that 11 gauge 1" square tube is overkill, and was thinking of redoing the entire carrier setup with some thinner 1/2" stuff, but I already had the one and its easier to add onto that. It also can take a pretty good hit and not bend, saving the cans.

Material for another day

The reason I decided to do this now, is my buddy Mike and I are going on a short notice Mojave Trail trip 02/26-03/02.

Edit, typed the dates wrong. Its five days.

Yeah that's a long Mojave trip.

Sorry, I typed the dates wrong. Its 02/26 to 03/02. Five days. Pack up the Ranger and head on down, Matt.

That should be a great trip. I did the Mojave Trail over a weekend with my dad when I was 12 or so.

This will be the second time we have done the trail. Last time was in 2014, right after I finished the SAS. Drove the last half of the trail with new, but blown, FOA coil overs.

I decided I need to sleeve the bolt holes to make up for the loss of material and added weight. This is my problem; I keep making simple projects complicated. I spent some time on the tables. Got one in place and realized there is not enough clearance between the body and bumper for the stops I had in mind. Came up with a newer, more complicated, but more stable rest for the tables. Should be getting to that early next week.

I have a bunch of stuff going on lately; house has termites requiring spot treatment and wood repair. I am doing the wood myself because the exterminators want stupid money. RV is having electrical issues with the whole house inverter system. Its dead. I am letting it sit for a few days with all the power to it disconnected to see if its a logic or physical issue. If its a logic issue , it should reboot and be fine. and....I need to finish what I started with the Explorer before the 26th.

No such thing as a simple project. It's just the normal project blues. You'll get it, and it will be the usual good work that you do.

No such thing as a simple project. It's just the normal project blues. You'll get it, and it will be the usual good work that you do.


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RV inverter/charger had a logic issue. The complete reboot seems to be working as it is functioning as it should. Its charging the coach batteries nicely, and power to all the outlets has been restored.