Bkennedy's SAS and Rebuild Thread | Page 99 | 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 sure the inverter has good ventilation to prevent over heating.

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Make sure the inverter has good ventilation to prevent over heating.

It vents into the main storage area under the coach. It runs down the center between the front and rear wheels, and is a pass through for about half of it. Plenty of room. Inverter never seems to get hot.

Got the gas can holders sleeved and finished, just need paint. Worked on the tables some more. I have the passenger side mounted and the driver side ready to be mounted. Should be finished up by tomorrow. I would have been done today if my neighbor's rotten wood gates hadn't blown down with the high winds we are having today. Spent an hour helping her secure them until her handyman can come over and replace.

Sleeved stuff.


Can holders


I got the gas can holders and the tables all finished today. Not sure if I am going to like the tables. They don't take up any storage space, but to make them as sturdy as I wanted, I needed to get fancy with the rests. Here is what I came up with;

The bolt is screwed into a weld nut. It takes about a minute to set up both tables. Its not the setup time I don't like, its the fact that they are steel and will flex and be noisier than the wood table I had before. I am also not sure I like they way they look back there. With both of them, I am only gaining about 15" of work space from the old table because of space limitations on the bumper. I might go back to the old wood table that is much longer, and add a second, narrow table for the other side. I can figure out a better way to secure them in the Explorer when I add the shelf/raised floor for extra storage. The fold down tables are neat, and kind of cool, but I am just not feeling as good about them as I thought I would. I need to see how it goes on this trip and decide when I get back. If I don't like them, it should take me about 30 minutes to undo what took me two days to do.

More pictures.

Folded down

For reference, my Coleman double burner camp stove fits on one with about an inch left over all the way around. Obviously, I am not using it on the side with ten gallons of gasoline a few inches away.

Folded up

I didn't get a picture, but they are very secure when folded up. I used the bump stops I have mounted to the back of the tire and gas can carriers as fasteners. You can see the location of the gas carrier bump at the top of the triangle shaped main support. I unscrew the bump, fold the table up, and screw the bump back into the carrier.

Tables folded and extra gas carrier added


I really like how the gas can carrier came out. It takes me about five minutes to add or remove the extra can, depending upon what mission type the Explorer is undertaking. I might make another one for a water jug, but the six gallon one I have fits nicely behind the passenger seat. The cage holds it in tight against the back seat, and I can tilt it out the R/R door to get water.

Added a few gussets to the bottom of the triangle support, even though I used to have two cans on that same mount for several years with no issues. I figured, what the heck, more triangulation..

They look good. Now for the shake-down run.

They look good. Now for the shake-down run.

This is more than a shake down run for the additions; its for the entire rig. I have driven it about a 100 miles around town and towed it to one Truckhaven trip where I put maybe 20 dirt miles on it since the rebuild. The first leg of this trip is a little over 300 miles of interstate. Then about 200 miles of dirt because of all the side trips we end up taking, and then 200 miles of interstate home.

I took this same trip right after completing the SAS. Seems to be a pattern with me.

That's gonna be a great trip.

Looks good Brian. Wish I could be joining you on the trip.

Wish you were too. Its going to be cold out there next week. Might skip Caruther's Canyon. Its about 2,000 feet higher in elevation than the rest of the trail, up into the New York Mountains. Last time we were out there it was 80-90 during the day and the higher elevation was a welcome relief from the heat.

You remember where I got the idea for the fold-down tables? The old guys who were at Coyote Lake and the mini-bar on the back of the Jeep? That was it.

Mojave Trail trip went great. I will post up a new thread in a few days. I am working some long hours the next two days.

:dpchug: Yours is still my favorite rig!


The tables and gas can modifications worked very well. So well, that I am thinking of overlooking the way the tables look when folded up. I am going to trim about an inch off the outside edge to move them in slightly. I think that will help them blend in with the tire / gas can carriers and get them farther away from the tail lamps. I brought along a few pieces of the grip shelf liner to put on top of the tables, and that worked very well to keep stuff in place, and reduce the metal on metal noises.
Tables in use

Yes, it was a cold night. Which brings up another issue. The transmission seems to be working fairly well; It shifts nice, overdrive is keeping engine RPM around 2000 at 65 MPH. Except for the pressures jumping around when manually down shifted into second or first (about 200 PSI), and the temps gradually going up to about 200* while going up a long off-road grade. After I crested the grade, we took a sight-seeing break and I let the transmission idle in park for about ten minutes, which brought the temp back down. On the highway, the temps rarely got up to 170*, and were usually around 120*. The temps are a little low, but the weather was colder than normal. From what I understand about the 700R4, the temps and pressures are not above its operating range. I think I am going to get it to the shop and just let Eldon go through it for me.

Love the fold down tables:thumbsup:

How did the support bolt work out? You could always do a fold out support like they do on fold down leafs on a kitchen/bistro table

Love the fold down tables:thumbsup:

How did the support bolt work out? You could always do a fold out support like they do on fold down leafs on a kitchen/bistro table

The support worked out better than I expected. Hardly any movement in the tables, and they are interchangeable so I don't have to figure out which table they go with. I thought about getting a fold down support like the one in the RV, but there is less than a inch clearance between the bumper and the rear hatch.

Edit: The fold down table supports actually seem to be for a table that folds up into place, which would not work.

Today, I fixed the only thing that actually broke on the trip; the bolt that secures my tire and gas can carriers. It broke where I had drilled a hole to put in a cotter pin to keep it in place. The new model is made from a grade 8 bolt, cut down to length with a pressed on and welded lug nut. I tacked a washer to the bolt to keep it in place so I didn't have to drill any holes.

I also have a kind of funny end to our Mojave Road trip. The XJ that was with us pulled the left front link mounts off the unibody and sheared the top link bolt. We were just a few miles to the end of the trail, so we drove through the water crossing and to Afton Camp where we spent the night. The water crossing was deep, about an inch below the top of my 35" tires. XJ on 31's got pretty wet inside, I got a little spot on both sides of the carpet at the rear doors, and Mike's floor was soaked. Limped the XJ out to the I-15 freeway and called AAA. All three of us had AAA cards, so the first 100 mile tow got us to Fontana. About three miles from the exit, I felt/heard what I thought was a front wheel bearing buzzing. I figured one of the hub grease seals allowed water in and killed a wheel bearing. After we got off the freeway, I decided to use my AAA card to have the Explorer towed home instead of trying to fix it in the rain. After I got it home, it was being unloaded from the flat bed and I noticed the front drive shaft turning. Turns out, I must have bumped the transfer case shifter and put it in 4 Hi, hence the buzzing. I pulled my lock outs off today and there is no damage that I could see, and the wheel bearing grease looks good. I would have never thought I could bump it into 4 Hi on the freeway.

XJ link mount

Crossing the Mojave River


Fontucky Target parking lot

Fontucky! :rickfro: We need a "Mullet" emoticon........

XJ's are pretty tough considering the uni-body thing. That's totally fixable, it'll buff out!

Fontucky! :rickfro: We need a "Mullet" emoticon........

If you had ever been there up to a few years ago, you would understand.

XJ's are pretty tough considering the uni-body thing. That's totally fixable, it'll buff out!

He is going to get extended arms, which bolt to a new transmission cross member. Should be easy to cut off the mounts, since the driver side is nearly off already. I never liked uni-body construction, but it wasn't the XJ's fault. The lift brackets he has on there bolt only to the lower link mount and hang way down. They transfer the load of both the upper and lower links to the lower mount with no added support, and are the lowest point underneath. Not good. The part that was the XJ's fault was the steering column bolts breaking off where it mounts under the dash.

Today, I was replacing the engine coolant temp sensor because its faulty. It would stay way down, then bounce all over when the engine got warm. I guess the electrical short fried that too. I pulled the one off the donor engine because I know it works. Tested the wiring by grounding the wire to the sensor. Gauge went all the way up like it should. I will probably be finding little things like this that I missed in the rebuild for awhile.

While I was under there, I was looking at everything that would have been under water when I crossed the Mojave River. I can't believe that beat up body is still sealed up fairly well. If it wasn't, the carpet would have been soaked. The water was up above the bottom of the doors by 3-4" inches. Oil pan, bottom of the transmission and bottom of the transfer case must have been in the water. I am glad I extended the breather hoses for the diffs and transfer case several years ago. That's as deep as I ever want to get. We met the only group we saw on the entire trail coming in when we got to the camp ground. It was some stock Jeeps, a H2, a mildly built 4-Runner and a stock 4-Runner. When I told them how deep the water was, they turned around for a 40 mile detour.

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I pulled the thermostat to take a look and it was stuck open

I replaced it with a 180* model.

Temp gauge is working fine now. After the engine was running for 30 minutes.

I have a question that I couldn't find searching. The white arrow in the pic below is pointing at the sensor I replaced. The red arrow is pointing at what appears to also be a sensor. For reference, you can see the thermostat housing in between the white and red sensors. This is on the donor engine, mine looks much prettier. What the heck does the red one do?

And, should I have replaced that while I was at it? Or, if the engine is running great leave well enough alone?