"Blue Bandit" (1992 Eddie Bauer) | Page 5 | 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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Well I got home yesterday, and all was well. Blue had new coils, ball joints, inner and outer tie rods, a new steering box, new sway bar links, and new steering pressure hoses. Today, Kris will finish hooking up the power steering box, swap out to a second gen master cylinder, and swap out the axle to disc brakes. Still waiting on the rag joint to come in the mail :(

Some finished photos (Even though Kris only took 8 lol)


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Looks good. Mine will be getting the same lot of new parts in a few weeks. Send Kris up my way!

Kris does amazing work for sure. What's sad though is soon this will all be taken back out again by me to A) attack Blue with a wire wheel, and B) perform the ranger brake upgrade to the front. The more and more i stare at all that rust, the more and more i want to take vacation time and disassemble everything from the a-pillar forward and correct...

I think I'm pulling everything to clean up and paint as well. I'm angry I didn't learn about the brake upgrade until after I replaced the front calipers. Some day I suppose.

Keep up the good work!

Yea, this ranger brake upgrade looks like a real winner. You couple that with rear disc brakes, second Gen master cylinder, and wire in a second gen abs setup, you will have the same braking power of a second Gen

Uh oh...Look what i found on German Ebay.... :D


Just a hint of how it looks installed...



Stay Tuned :D

Oh yes! I hope there is international shipping. That thing is cool! Pick up some of the euro spec lights too, they look sweet.

Wow that looks good Russell. Hope you get it, it would look really good on blue...

...would kinda distract from the rust. :p:

For those who are asking, I am in the midst of fixing the dead link pics above. Ive gotten some of them fixed, and i am working very hard to get the rest, sp please be patient ;)

Being Patient ! haha Can't Wait !

The Official Blue Bandit Frame-Off Restoration Begins Now!

Well the time has come for the action I have been planning for years now...a complete restoration from the frame up of the vehicle. Over the years, the body has fell into disrepair (see rust) and my electrical add-ons have gotten too messy for my liking, and with the sunroof install a couple years ago, water damage to the interior. Plus with the transmission pump going out last year (not because of the 5R swap, but purely mechanical) that was the last nail in the coffin of Blue Bandit. But, that doesn't mean he's going to scrap. It means i can finally build him the way he needs to be built and (gasp) get the truck painted after all these years. So here are the changes that I am making during the restoration:

Repair fiberglass Explorer Express airdam
TurboCoupe hood scoops grafted into the hood
roof rack delete.
99-01 style running boards/fender flairs with built in exterior lamps
93-94 style limited side trim (except it will say Blue Bandit)
2nd gen wiper cowl (but with first gen clip)
Navajo rear bumper w/ mountaineer reflectors and factory reverse sensors
monochromatic Sonic Blue paint
some sort of different wheels, 17's, painted a gunmetal grey color

Lincoln LS front seats (heated and cooled function)
99-01 limited rear seats (with Town Car L heated function)
two tone Navajo Brown (93-94)/Mocha Tan interior color scheme
custom leather with "Blue Bandit" insignia on seats
new carpet, headliner, sunroof shade
thunderbird digital gauge cluster

5.0 with new heads, goal 350HP (no body or suspension lift)
Rebuild 4R70W
OBD-2 conversion
Factory 99-01 rear air ride suspension

Side impact air bags
1997 Thunderbird sourced traction control
93-97 front ranger TTB brake upgrade
95-01 master cylinder
upgraded rear brakes from 06+ crown vic (vented)
actual 4 wheel ABS (4 independent brakes lines, tied into traction control)

I'm sure there is more, i just can't think of it at this moment. So on with the carniage!

We pulled Blue into the garage, which will be his home for the next 12+ months. And then started first disassembly. Ever since the first wreck with the Rodeo, I've never been happy with how I repaired the front clip using aftermarket body parts. so off they came...

Next the windshield came out...

And then the real hard part (for me anyway)...starting to cut off the original fender shotguns and start tearing out the engine bay...




I also picked up some new wire wheels and tested them out on the rusty frame that is in need of serious attention...

And that's where I am at now. Granted, we have several Bandit Customs jobs going right now, but I am trying to fit Blue in when I can. But you will see in the last pic of the driver side, i drilled out all the spot welds holding the shotgun support in place and wire wheeled all the rust off and that will allow me to reweld on a 'new-to-Blue' factory Ford front clip from another first gen. Something that is true and straight and will fit just like it should. And so join me, subscribe, and see where there is light at the end of this long tunnel...

Nice to see some action ! Keep up the great work !

So how do you plan on wiring up the lincoln seats for the heated/cooled functionality? What type of switch? I've had the idea of using the EATC from an ls with the heat/cool switches built in. But you still have to wire it up. Plan on using the OBD2 wiring?

If you don't want to share your ideas I completely get it!

Subscribing anyway, I love to see features from other vehicles make it into older models. Especially when they look factory, which you do a very nice job of.

Benjam :D

So how do you plan on wiring up the lincoln seats for the heated/cooled functionality? What type of switch? I've had the idea of using the EATC from an ls with the heat/cool switches built in. But you still have to wire it up. Plan on using the OBD2 wiring?

If you don't want to share your ideas I completely get it!

Subscribing anyway, I love to see features from other vehicles make it into older models. Especially when they look factory, which you do a very nice job of.

Benjam :D

Excellent question! first off, you are right, the Lincoln LS seats are controlled via a switch in the EATC faceplate. the switch sends a signal over the MS-CAN bus network to the driver seat module that then commands the associated funtion to activate. the climate controlled seats are actually comprised of 4 items:

1) switch
2) module
3) thermal element
4) fan

The way this swap will work is the fact the thermal elements do not care what module is controlling them. So instead of trying to use the LS EATC faceplate, i am swapping out the LS module for that of a navigator climate control module. It controls the thermal elements the exact same way, uses the same wiring, but the switches have a direct circuit to the module instead of using the MS-CAN bus network. That's how I plan on making the ls seats work. As far as the memory module, same thing - it uses the MS-CAN bus netowrk. SO i am replacing it with a driver seat module from a 2002 town car for the same reasons - it will work with the explorer memory switch and power buttons, with the added benefit of the power recline (feature available on lincoln ls and lincon town car seats) feature being part of the memory setup. On explorers with memory seats, power recline was not an option, so now i will had the added benefit of power memory recline. I plan on doing this for the passenger seat as well. Thanks for the question!

Some progress has been made, but of course we do have other projects going and customer vehicles as well. So here are pictures, everyone loves pictures!














Also hard to believe this build thread is over 10 years old now lol

W00t progress! Seems like Blue will finally stop being a pile of rust and turn into something that won't be on the Texas condemned vehicle list. ;-)

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Beacon of positivity isn't he? ;-). Gotta say I am envious, I hope I can do to my x half the plans you have for Blue!