"Blue Bandit" (1992 Eddie Bauer) | Page 2 | 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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hmmm don't think you can paint Blue now.....it would lose it's charm.

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Well, in the same weekend, i also did some major body changes inside blue. First was finding a new location to mount the EEC-IV PCM, since with the 5r swap, the extra wire make it nearly impossible to mount it in the stock location in the kick panel. So i located a good spot which happened to be right under the passenger seat. Problem is there is pesky metal in the way...SO i started cutting
(lost photos)
and more cutting

so my plan is to box in the hole i cut out, and recess the pcm down into the floor. SO i started making the templates

then I made the pan portion of the box (out of original metal nonetheless, lol)

And finished welding in all the sides

and it fits!

It will have sealer put on all the seams and lined with that grippy felt stuff to help isolate it from the body. then the carpet will slip over it and hid it completely! SO thats one task out of the way. Next up, adjustable seat belts!

Lookin good!

Thanks Dan! And to he who asked, I will not be painting Blue at this point, all Im doing it trying to get the truck roadworthy again, and the interior is only stage one. Stage two of the overhaul is suspension work lol

Guess who has adjustable seat belts!? This guy :) pics later hehe

Good to hear bud. I have to go to Oklahoma City on the 30th. If your around I'll swing by and say hello.

Ok, so in the midst of updating interior stuff in Blue, i decided i wanted to add these:

So in order to do that, i had to pull metal from the mountaineer i chopped up to figure out how to intergrate adjustable seatbelts into a first gen. I know Ghosttrain had drilled out the skin and weld it back in with second gen skin, so that was the plan

So after drilling out the spot welds, i also pulled out the inner support that has the anchor points behind the skin

you'll notice the there is a hole in the center that the factory first gen seat belt attaches to, and they line up perfectly. This aided in aligning the anchor points in the B pillar. So my plan changed to just using the anchor points above instead of welding in the whole skin (more on this later). So I THOUGHT i could get away with this. I was half right.

So after several test fits and trials, i wouldnt be able to use the entire piece and graft it in. SO i cut off the upper and lower anchor points and proceeded to weld them directly to the original pillar skin. Some hammering and 1" drilling was required to sit the anchor points flush in the skin in order for the final trim piece to sit flush and not bind.

after getting them welded in, i bolted everything back up and success! it fits and doesnt bind!

Fully up..

Fully down..

and sitting pretty in a first gen :)

so the passenger side is done and now i know what needs to be done and what doesnt. The driver side will go faster, and ill take more pics then.

NOTE: I know messing with seat belt anchors is a big deal, and the more correct way would be to graft in the skin of the donor vehicle, HOWEVER, my welds are strong and secure, and the slide mechanism will fail first before my welds do. I trust my welding, as i am obviously putting my life on it if the unfortunate ever does happen.

so we last left off with the install of the adjustable seatbelt on the passenger side. The next project on the list was the PRND21 gauge indicator modification to fit my 5R55E swap for the gauge cluster. First gen indicators have the P R N OD D 2 1 setup and it is no longer needed because of the O/D cancel switch in the gear lever. SO I started modifying. Kris Guilbeaux was kind enough to give me a white face PRND21 indicator from a 2001 sport. So I started comparing the two

The mechanisms are considerable different as you can see, so it would not just bolt in. SO i compared the paper themselves...

Ah, not so different, just some trimming needed. So i placed the PRND21 paper in the first gen housing and volia! Damn near perfect

So after a bit of trimming and positioning, I had it nice and installed and sitting pretty. Keen eyes will noticed I even modified the second gen needle to fit the first gen mechanism for a bit more updated look.

And here it is installed in the cluster with the old gauges and bezel. Looks good if i do say so myself

Also redid the needles since they faded

Now some of you may ask what about adjustment and needle placement once in each gear? With the new indicator, i did have to adjust the gear wheel to get the needle lined up, but once adjusted, it moves perfectly with the gear lever. Speaking of which...

The top is the second gen gear lever, the bottom is a first gen. As you can see, quite a bit of different and not a simple swap over. So time to bust out the welder. First I had to get the angle just right, and this took a few tries to do so
Here I welded the first gen nipple to the approx placement on the second gen stalk to get it located just right

After i got it in the right place, i welded it on up, grinded smooth, and ready for paint and install

Here is the combo installed and aligned correctly. Looks stock, just like it should.

About this time, a huge box came in the mail and to my delight and surprise, a special someone bought a little christmas present for Blue...NEW FREAKING LIMITED DOOR PANELS!!!

These panels were manufactored replacements, meaning they have never been installed on a vehicle, ever. Perfect NOS examples...Thank you again for the awesome gift!!!!

(Side note) Since I had installed the one touch down relay for the passenger door, there was no place to mount to the door panel like the driver side...or so i thought. One simple bend later, and i was able to screw it in with the arm rest just like the driver side

So i finished up the doors as far as wiring and fixing the door lights, and installed the passenger side...OMG, it looks so amazing in person

The driver side even came with a brand new memory switch...this will come in handy later...

My next project was yet another gift from Kris G. (youre too kind to me sir) which was a 94 navajo cluster with 6 digit odometer. Problem was, it was sitting at 147K miles, where as blue is at 271K miles. So after an hour trying to get it apart to reset, i just gave up and decided to travel the difference in miles...with a drill...

So 2 hours later, travelling 100 miles every 20 second or so, i got to my right mileage and installed

Also with the navajo cluster was the faux carbon fiber bezel which i will be using with the New white face gauges i ordered.

I also took this time to run the wiring for the OBD-II DLC (Data Link Connector) for the 5R55E trans, as well as for the OD cancel switch

While I was under here, i also added a RAB Test circuit Contact Switch to the glove box.

What this does, just like my OBD-I test switch to the left, is when pressed, it temp grounds out the RAB test circuit, thus pulling the codes for the ABS without having to get under the dash with a ground wire. Blue has been having interemittent ABS lights coming on, so next time it does, I want to be ready for it :)

Again, while i was under the dash, i decided to wire in the memory seats. The seat is from a 2000 Limited, so it is tied into the OBD-II ISO multiplex communication network, so i ran the wire to the DLC for that, and, thanks to Blueka, wired up the limited seat connector that goes through the carpet. Thanks again Simon!!

Once that was done, time to test the seat out...turns out it works quite well :D

About this time, my new white face gauges arrive (finally!) and so i installed them real quick, seeing as i prewired it behind the cluster

Im still on the fence on how i like them, but i suppose they will do for now. At least they work, something the old ones had a problem with accomplishing :rolleyes:

Then that brings us to now. New years weekend. Since yesterday was so pretty (almost 70's) I decided it was time to install the power sunroof. Having kept the roof metal from the 97 mounty i chopped up earlier this year, I had everything I needed to install a second gen sunroof into a first gen

The first thing I did was seperate the rear roof crossmember and install it in place of the one in Blue. The difference is the screw holes that anchor the rear of the sunroof to the roof. However, both units are stamped the same, and after drilling out a couple of spot welds, it slid right back in. Once the sunroof is installed and flush, ill weld it in to get proper adjustment. I also extended the first gen dome light dome light bracket and installed it.

Then it was time to prep the roof metal. Since the rear crossmember fit right in place, i didnt have to cut as much out as I thought. Since I havent seen anyone else attempt this, i was kind of just guessing as i went along, LOL

Side note: Hoodies are extremely flammable while grinding...

I made all my measurements several times, then decided on a cut that i was comfortable welding it and got it prepped

I then made a cardboard templete to get the cut lines on Blue's roof ready...

This was the point of no return. Either I did this right, or got it incredibly wrong. This has to be centered perfectly side to side and front to back. SO after triple checking everything, i got the grinder out...

SO after some minor grinding ( i cut the hole smaller on purpose, i fitted the new sunroof metal and bam! Perfect fit!

So thats where im at now. As soon as i post this, im going to weld the rest of it in, grind it smooth and primer it. Then install the sunroof, get everything aligned, and weld in the inner support beams. SO comment, concern, question, GO!

Thanks mike! Hes coming along. Hopefully youll see him in person soon ;-)

Looks good. I guess you got it all together now and my rain dance failed.

Looks good Russell! :thumbsup:

TexasArmadillo said:
Looks good. I guess you got it all together now and my rain dance failed.

Why would you want it to rain inside Blue?? :-(

So the next day I finished up the rest of the welding (which took most of the day) and started on the install of the sunroof.
(lost photos)
And volia! It fitted perfectly the first time with no adjustments, yay!

It was at this time i decided to do yet another one of my signature moves and make a small change only I would notice. Since second gen sunroof consoles had a rocker switched that matched the rest of the interior, i decided i wanted to try and match all the first gen switches...so i did :p:

So I ran the wires real quick and ill let the pics speak for themselves...

Fully closed


And fully open

I still got some finishing welding to do on the support brackets, but for all intensive purposes, the sun roof is done (finally). What i have learned is i will never do another one of these things again, lol

While i was at it, i buttoned up all the dash back together and threw on some limited steering wheel covers that are tan in color (not pictured)

So there you have it. I think i got a bit done during my three day weekend. I figure in two weeks, i should have the interior back together and I can start on the suspension bits. Im ready for some good sleep now lol.

Wow, you have been a busy man! It looks great! You are a braver man than I for chopping into a roof, but it came out great. I love having a sun roof. My friend has a camaro he had considered making into a t-top car, but none of us are crazy enough to chop into the roof of a car with 50k miles.

Well shoot. It seems you have every thing else covered. I want to see if you can deal with flood damage restoration.

Yea, the whole cutting into the roof thing took me a few minutes to actually start, but once you start cutting, its not too bad. Just gotta have faith in yourself that you measured right, lol. I got lucky and had all the parts available and that helped a great deal. Just plan ahead and know what you want :)

TexasArmadillo said:
Well shoot. It seems you have every thing else covered. I want to see if you can deal with flood damage restoration.

That dont sound like fun at all!! Boo to that!! Lol. Naw, I try and keep blue away the water, Thats What the navajo will be for lol

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Since I have been working double shifts this whole week, haven’t gotten much done, but last night the new seat belts arrived and I threw them in real quick. These are the 98-01 style with a bit more updated look plus they are cleaner and match the buckles of the limited seats. Im really excited about how all this is coming back together!!

Also, if you scroll back up to the very top post in this thread, I updated with a complete list of modifications and the year vehicles they came out of. Hopefully it’s a complete list, but im sure I forgot something, lol. Either way, enjoy!