"Blue Bandit" (1992 Eddie Bauer) | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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"Blue Bandit" (1992 Eddie Bauer)

Registry Version 2.0 (Warning: Lots and LOTS of pictures...)

The story of Blue Bandit is a long and fun-filled adventure...well, ok not really. This Explorer has been though Hell and high water, all over the US, and has put up with my abuse for almost 10 years now. This is my constant and ongoing project vehicle, and the epitome of the Bandit name. I would like to say that I have a direction with the design and revised engineering of this vehicle, but it's always changing. I'm making this truck my own, designed in my own image. Not to mention the sentimental value of it, as it was my first car when and I have had it since I was 15. But first, a little background..

The vehicle is a 1992 Eddie Bauer manufactured in April '92. It was then shipped by train to Joe Cooper Ford of Yukon, Oklahoma where it was sold to Owner #1 in May of that year. During the first year of ownership, the entire driver side of the truck was repainted for reasons unknown to me. In May of '93, Blue was traded in at Diffee Ford of El Reno, Oklahoma where it was purchased for a neighbor of my sister using funds from a Texas state lottery. She drove it until '97, when my sister purchased the vehicle at around 50,000 miles. It was here that I saw the Explorer for the first time around '97. I even was allowed to drive it a couple miles to a family friend's house when i was still in my early teens. Blue was the first car I ever drove on the roads :D. My sister owned and drove the vehicle until 128,000 miles when in 2001, the motor overheated and blew a head gasket.

Here's where I entered the picture. I was about to turn 16 in 2002 and needed a vehicle to drive. My sister offered to give me the Explorer and to take over the bank note on it (which was $1,958.00) and I could keep it. Keep in mind it needed engine repair and the A/C system was non-functioning. But I was happy and sent the truck off immediately to a mechanic and have the heads checked and new gaskets.

Three months and $951.00 later, it was August 2002 and I had a drivable car. I was still 15, but had a learner's permit so I got to drive the Explorer to school in the mornings with my father. Once October rolled around, I passed my driver's test, and on 10-21-02 I was free...Well, i would have been except Blue's starter went out the day I got my license. Oh, foreshadowing, you are an evil ***** :roll:

Two weeks later, I was on the road again, and kept the truck pretty much stock for the first few months. It was here I discovered ExplorerForum.com when my 4WD quit working playing out on a river July 4th weekend, 2003. Trouble has ensued since :p:

List of Modifications:

Limited Grille (1994)
Limited Headlight doors (1994)
Explorer Express Fiberglass Airdam W/ Foglamps
Side Mirrors w/ puddle lamps (1999)
Eddie Bauer running boards w/ flairs w/ lights (2000)
Lund Windjammer air deflector
Second Gen Power Sunroof (1997)
Roof Rack Removed
Aluminum Billet Fuel Door (5.0 Resto)
Mountianeer Rear Bumper w/ reflectors (1997)
Navajo Tail Lights (1992)

Limited Seats w/ memory function (2000)
-ISO Data Capable
NOS limited door panels
Second Gen carpet (1997)
Second Gen Trim Panels (1997)
Second Gen Center Console (1995, 1998, 2000)
Second Gen Headliner
Second Gen Overhead Console w/ sunroof (1997)
-W/ First Gen Window Rocker Switch
Second Gen sun visors w/ homelink (2000)
Second Gen Seat Belts w/ Buckles (2000)
Tan Glove Box w/ matching color handle (1993)
Tan door handle cover plates (1999)
First Gen limited Dash Bezel (1994)
Navajo Gauge Cluster w/ 6-digit odometer (1994)
Reverse Glo White Face Gauges
Faux Carbon Fiber Gauge Overlay
P R N D 2 1 Indicator (2001)
O/D Cancel gear shift lever (1997)
Electronic Mirror (1994)

Hybrid EEC-IV/EEC-V harness
-W/ Data Link Connector
EEC-IV Diagnostic Monitor Switch
RABS Diagnostic Monitor Switch
Second Gen Message Center (1995)
One Touch Down Relay for Passenger Window
Automatic Headlights
-Remote Access Feature w/ FOB
Sidewinder 6500 ESP Alarm w/ remote Start
DEI 795T Pager System
DEI 516L Voice Module w/ P.A.
First Gen Anti-theft light tied with Alarm (1994)
Second Gen cargo Door Lock Switch
-W/ First gen Lock Rocker Switch
First Gen JBL duel Amp with subwoofer (1991)
Jensen VM9512 Head unit
Jensen Nav101 Navigation Module

Hand-Rebuilt 4.0 OHV (1992)
-Clevite Bearings (Cam, crank, etc)
-Manual Transmission Cam Profile
-Bored .030 Over
-Shaved Heads
-Higher Compression
-New valves and seats
-Painted Block (Medium Ford Blue)
-Custom Painted Valve Covers
5R55E Automatic 5-Speed Transmission (1997)
-Plug-n-Play Custom Wiring Harness
-EEC-V Controlled
-Live PID Data Capable

Here is how the truck looked when I got it back from head gasket repair and started cleaning it out:












After getting it cleaned and vacuuming out all the horse feed and hay, i went to the Ford dealer and purchased a replacement arm rest bracket to fix the one that was broken. $69.00 dollars. Oh, I wish I had known about salvage yards.

Then my first aftermarket parts. When I found EF, I also found ExplorerExpress.com as well. So I got a billet grille and installed that.

Shortly after, clear front signals.


After this (I don't remember exactly when) I changed to an aftermarket radio and got a set of white face gauges from carparts.net and installed them.

I was in my first vehicle collision on 07-25-2003 at 9:03 AM in west OKC. An Isuzu Rodeo failed to yield to oncoming traffic (me) and I t-boned him smack in the A-pillar doing about 30 MPH. He and his grandson was uninjured as was I. I was upset of course, but no citations were given and thus began the process of insurance. In the end, a month later, i was given a check for $1,600.00 dollars since the truck barely missed being totaled.

And what was sad and funny at the same time was a day after my wreck, I received my open air intake from Ifab.net. So being the impatient teen, I installed it anyway with the truck still wrecked :rolleyes:

Well, seeing as how I wanted to learn how to work on cars, i repaired all the damage myself...albeit poorly looking back :rolleyes:

Did I mention that I started and finished all the body repair in one night...as school night? Because I did have to have it the next day :D

So the next day, i finished up with some of the little things and was done...Or so I thought.

With the aftermarket Ford panels (purchased from FordPartsNetwork.com before they went away) I was noticing some fitment issues. This could have been because of my poor repair abilities, or because of the panels themselves. SO that plagued Blue for a LONG time..

(Blue's first limited-spec addition, a plum colored hood, LOL.)

It was at this point the true nature of what would become a Bandit took place. With the money I saved in labor costs, I started upgrading parts. First I started with the ExplorerExpress fiberglass airdam:

And then the limited seats. It was here I tried my first wiring attempt to make the limited power seat tracks work...I failed. So I just swapped over the original Eddie Bauer seat track and bolted the limited seat to it.

After the limited seats were installed, I discovered that they started making the diamond eye clear headlamps for first gens. So of course I bought a set :rolleyes:

By now I think it was 2004 and I decided to try my hand at wiring in a remote start with keyless entry. The system is a discontinued Directed Electronics Sidewinder 6500ESP. I bought it used from a member here on EF. It came out of a Bronco II I believe. Anyway, did this all in one night and swore never to do another wiring job again, LOL. The irony. :D

I decided to hide the main module beneath the cup holders so I modified the Center console to hold it. This would bite me in the bum year later when I went to install my second gen center console :rolleyes:

Next I wanted to change up the tails on Blue because at this age, If i saw something that was offered for Explorers, I bought it no matter what. Oh well, it was something different :cool:

While I was working on the rear end, i thought 'Hey, why stop there?' See, there comes a pivotal point in every Explorer Owner's life where he crosses the threshold of taking a sander to the paint. It was here that I decided I wanted to play body repair man and bought primer and body filler. So for those of you that have always wondered why my truck has primer on it longer than good paint, the following is why.

First I removed the emblems. I wanted a nice smooth look in the rear.

Next I removed the upper and lower window trim pieces. These, IMO, interupt the flow, lol

Well, we can't just leave those holes sitting like that...

Ground the welds down smooth

And lastly, primer...Just not done very well.

Did I stop there? Naw, I still had a can of primer left :D So the dents on the passenger side were filled and smoothed out

About this time, it was December of 2004 and I needed to replace the front rotors. Why replace them with stockers when I can get a set of powerslots for christmas? So I did :D

So I began swapping them over

Also during this time, I had this wild hair to lower my explorer. Well, after searching, I found a set of discontinued Ebach 2" lowering springs for the explorer off eBay for 50 bucks. So yea, i got them. Also picked up blacks for the rear, and went to town.

Stock Height:

And beginning by ripping out old springs and shocks

And then I Started on the back...

And here it was 2" lowered all around. This lasted for about a year before I couldnt stand the harsh ride anymore and went back to stock springs and height. But it was a fun experience for sure, lol.

About this time I decided to also paint the interior trim some accenting colors to contrast with the still non-existent paint scheme :rolleyes: Hey, i was young, lol.

There was a group buy on EF from 50resto.com for Mustang billet fuel caps, so I jumped on that and decided to install it somehow.

Had to modify the body just a bit...

Shortly after moving out, my friend Andrew and I had a rollover party for our vehicles...200k for Blue, and 100k for his thunderbird..so we had fun with that

The Isuzu Rodeo Pinata

Me on the far right looking hot as ever :p:

This brings us to the summer of 2005, if I havent left anything out. By this point, I was graduating high school and was getting ready for my move to Edmond for school. You may have noticed that the barn pictured throughout this registry...I would be leaving that too, so there was a couple years from 2005-2007 I kind of disappeared from the forum. Not because of lack of interest, but because of school, my mothers death, and lack of a place to modify stuff, I just really couldn't do anything. So here are some random pictures from that 'dark era'.

While in school, I made friends with a guy named Craig, who has a 96 XLT, and he hasnt left me since (lol, kidding craig, youre a great kid)

In December of 2006, I took Blue to the colorado mountains for some skiing fun and adventure...some of you may remember that this was also the same time frame as one of the worst blizzards in denvers history...so much it shout down Denver International Airport..But I digress. Begin randomness...

On the way home from Loveland Pass, Co, the roads had opened back up and since we were so close to Estes PArk, Co, I wanted to visit the Stenley Hotel...You may recognize this as being the hotel that Stephen King wrote 'The Shining' and was the same location used for the miniseries of the same name in 1997. Anyway, here's Blue at the Stanley...

In June 2007, I wanted to go tour the Lousiville Assembly Plant where Blue was manufactured all those years ago. You can read about my experiance here.

So I drove the 14 hours there, in Blue, and took him 'home' for the first time.

That brings us to the end of 2007. 2008 was pretty much uneventful as far as mods to Blue. I did move into a rental house though in April '08 which had a garage, so that's when I started getting back into the forum much more and began a new shift in diving into Blue and changing things :D

Until the end of 2008. 12-17-08 to be exact. It was a sunday afternoon and Blue's head gasket went AGAIN :mad:. So What to do? Well, refer to to the forum of course! After much reading, and borrowing my mom's old Lincoln Town Car, I decided of all things to rebuild Blue's Motor. I have never rebuilt a motor before, and to that point in my life, that would have been the most advanced mechanictry I have ever done. So will AllData in one hand, and the Forum in the other, I went to town and bought a 1992 Ford Ranger 4.0 with a manual transmission and transfer case for 400 dollars. Motor ran, tranny was bad but all i needed was the motor. I ended up scrapping what I didnt use anyway. The Ranger was named, aptly, Blue's Little B***h. :cool:

So the Ranger was towed home and I lept in with both feet.

...And started getting the motor ready from removal. Mind you, I had never done this before, lol

And finally it was out! Yay! But now I had to start tearing it apart, uh oh.

Just thought I would remove the dash for no other reason to then to see how difficult it was...

Gotta have my models :D My Best Friend Alicia was so gracious enough to help me out with this whole project..Thank You Alicia!

After the motor was pulled from the ranger, it went to ranger heaven, and Blue was pulled in...

And then Blue's motor was out...

Meanwhile, while All this was goin on, I had the heads resurfaced, vatted, and magafluxed along with new valve, springs, and guides.

And then low and behold, the motor came back with a balanced crank, bored cylinder .030 over, new plugs, polished cam, and the entire rebuildkit

Me praying to the OHV gods...

And would you believe it took me 3 HOURS to polish and clean this thing???

Hmm, what could I be doing here?

Oh, thats what I did :D


We can save him, we have the technology...

And after 10 months, 2500 dollars, a lot of blood, sweat, tears, swearing, and damn near dying, my Blue bandit is ready to breath life once more...

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Post some of the newer pics...

OK, added some new photos for you guys. Hope you guys and girls enjoy!

nice x u got

Thank you! Blue's been a good truck, just recently he has gone completly pyscho and forced me to drive one of the other two trucks... But he sure does look good :)

And after 10 months, 2500 dollars, a lot of blood, sweat, tears, swearing, and damn near dying, my Blue bandit is ready to breath life once more...

Oh yea, I forgot to mention that after three months of driving the new motor, Blue's tranny blew out...:mad:

So what's the Dealio with the Lincoln LS steering wheel? was it a straight swap on the Explorer Column or is there more to it than i am seeing in the Pics?

the steering wheel came out of a 89 cougar, and surprisingly, wasnt too difficult to install. I wanted something different, but not radical, and really liked the look of the cougar wheel. So after i purchased it, i got to looking at it to see what i could do to make it work.

First i had to cut the clockspring out of the explorer steering wheel and install it into the cougar wheel. This needed to be done because the explorer clockspring is about .5 inches bigger then the cougar clockspring.

Once i got the explorer clockspring in place, the internal wiring of the cougar wheel (horn and cruise control buttons) plugged right into the explorer clockpring.

Next I had to mount it. The bolt pattern was the same for the steering shaft, but offset about 30 degrees, as you see in the picture. So i took my gringer and ground the steering shaft flat in two opposing sides to get the steering wheel to sit center.

After that, i bolted it right in, and everything worked the first time out

nothing really new to report aise from the 5R55E swap, but I did throw on some Navajo taillights to spruce things up a bit, :cool:

Just ignore the above post for a while, im redoing this registry so i wanted to save it somewhere just in case. Ill clean all this up later :D

oops, I read it after you said to ignore it, damn Texans.

Just a small update...Blue's 4WD hasnt worked since probably 2009 when I did the motor rebuild and on this 4th of July, My buddy Andrew wanted to go to the river and test out his AWD on his 07 Edge...so it looked like I needed to get the system running in case there was any 'saving' I needed to do, LOL. So I threw in the front driveshaft (Used the spare from Nasty Hoe), hooked up the shift computer and....


Crap. Well, it was 2003 since I last rebuilt the shift motor, so it was probably time again. I was slightly concerned since I did the 5R swap if I had missed something in the neutral switch from the A4LD that tells the shift computer when the truck is in Park and Nuetral. But I dropped the shift motor anyway and rebuilt it real quick. When I tried to remove the ring gear with the circuit board, I had to damn near punch it out of the bearing..So I guess it was the motor after all. After a quick greasing of the shaft and bearing and worm gear, I reassembled and put it back an and...

Worked flawlessly. So let's see how it holds up when I go to the river later today. Will have pics too :D

Here's a couple of river pics from a few years ago when I had to rescue above mentioned friend's FWD escape

So like i said, went to the lake yesterday for some fun trail rides and beer and what not. So myself and andrew loaded up and headed out there in both vehicles. Found a good spot for a Kodek Moment :D
(lost photos)

So we continued driving around the lake a bit trying to find a good trail that his Edge could tackle. We stumbled on one and proceeded halfway where we came upon a busted couch and a plethora of empty bottle cans :rolleyes: His edge could not make the trail any further so we parked and all loaded up and Blue and headed towards the southern tip of the lake.

So not a lot of pictures taken, but andrew did get some video of the trail we were on. Overall it was a fun day to be had by the lake, and Blue performed flawlessly...until Blue got stuck in lake bed for three hours :mad:
So One blown hub later and a bubba to help rescue us, we were back on the road to enjoy fireworks :D

so, Blue got put by the way side for a bit until the little voice in my head nagged me enough to start working on him again. but over the years, Blue has developed some interesting problems that all needed to be fixed...So i did the only sane thing and started completly stripping Blue apart. But I guess first I have to unload him!

My plans are somewhat as follows:

Replace all interior peices with those from a 97 Eddie Bauer (trim, quarter panels, carpet, etc)
Replace front and rear seats with those from a 2000 Limited with heated seats
Finally rewire all my alarm stuff into a neat, organized wiring harness and relocate modules
repair all the rust holes
mount both pcms perm.
fix some minor electrical circuits that have failed over the years (parking lamps, remote start)
Oh, and add a second gen power sunroof
And anything else that catches my attention that I need to do. So on to the pictures!

First, since i had the good quarter glass from the Mounty, i installed it to replace the one with the dry rotted rubber weather stripping

Then i got to the interior shell and finally decided to do something with all that dirt and gunk...Yea i know, I'm a bad explorer owner. So before:

to After:

And in the midst of cleaning and scrubbing, this fell away :(
SO needless to say i have more rust repair in my future

Since I was in a cleaning mood, i also started scrubbing down the dash and anything else my rag could go

And continued gutting it

Yea, this is all the wiring I need to redo...While it is all still functional and cant be seen, i know it is there like that, and it bugs me, so Im redoing it all

Then i removed the headliner for the first time since it was first installed from the factory. Yep, it's getting replaced too

This is a rough idea of how I am going to rewire everything alarm related under the rear seats.

So even though I removing a bunch of stuff, that's not to say I am not adding things either :D While at a junkyard, I found this:

It is a Digital Sound Processor that Ford Dealers could install in early 90's vehicles with the JBL sound system. It added the DSP function to the stereo by adding the 'Hall, stadium, church, jazz, news, etc' sound effects. Ive never seen one before, and didnt know they existed. So I nabbed it for 10 bucks :D

It even has a little remote that goes up the driver!

So back to the alarm. One of the modules, a DEI 516L, is a voice module (it adds voice to the system that talks when you arm,disarm, remote start, etc) and it has a built in PA (public address) function in it as well. Long story short, i don't like how you have to hold the button for the PA to work, so I built a latching on/off relay set that activates by a momentary pulse. Hit a button once, the relays click open and stay open. hit the button again, and the relays close. So i will add this to the alarm system, and I built it out of factory ford parts!

While i was in a wiring mood, i went ahead and decided to wire in a One-touch down relay i had lying around into the passenger door. Works flawlessly from both driver and passenger door!

Thats all for tonights update, tomorrow ill follow up with where I relocated the EEC-IV pcm to its new mounting location!

Very cool man. :thumbsup: Wish I could be up there helping you.

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That was an awesome story. I don't hold on to any vehicle for long, so I am always amazed when I read about someone that still has the same vehicle they started driving in many years later! Kudos! By any chance will this be when Blue sees new paint?