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Brian1's Twin Trail Build (Lift, Gears, TTB Mods, Bumpers, Sliders, Cage & More!)

Brian1's Twin Trail Build

1991 Ford Explorer 4-Door XL 5-Speed Manual 4x4

Project Background and Goals:

I bought this Explorer at a Police auction in August of 2015. I really didn't know what I was going to do with it when I bought it but I couldn't pass up the great deal I got. I stored it away for a bit while deciding to part it out, build it up or just flip it. In the end I decided to build it into a cheap trail truck and use it to R&D some new ideas I had on how to build an Explorer and develop some new parts.

The goal of the build was to do it cheaply while keeping it low, lightweight, and simple. Another goal was to completely transform the Explorer into a trail machine and debut it at the 20th anniversary forum run in Moab (May 2016) while keeping the entire build a secret.

The build has already been completed and made its successful debut in Moab. I will be adding to this thread as time permits of what I did.

Table of Contents - Modifications

to be filled in as the thread progresses for quick access

1" Body Lift
Rear 8.8 Swap and Build
Rear F150 Hybrid Leaf Springs
Front Daystar 2" Coil Spacer & F250 Shock Tower Conversion
Corbeau Seats Pt1
Corbeau Seats Pt2
Rear Shock Bar Pin Eliminators
Dana 35 TTB Beam Boxing
Hybrid Dana 35 Beams with Dana 44 Outer Conversion
Extended Radius Arms
Dana 35 Diff Build with LockRight Locker
Power Steering Cooler
Cutting the Rocker Panels Off
Rear Bumper Build
Front Fender Cutting
Rock Sliders Pt1
Rock sliders Pt2
Front Winch Bumper Build
Extended Breathers and Fuel Pump Access Panel
Rear Fender Cutting
Cage Building
Fabricated Door Panels/Skins


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Kris Guilbeaux

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This is a fantastic build!!!
 


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Brian1

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Rock Sliders Pt2

Now that the cage was in, it was time to finish my rock sliders. I cut the legs to the frame and some 3/16" plates that would weld to the frame to spread the load a little better. The B-pillar would tie directly into one of the center legs and the A-pillar would be 2"-3" offset from the front leg so I made an extension off the front leg to weld the A-pillar tube to.

Normally I prefer to bolt sliders on but since the cage would be welded to them there really was no point and direct welding to the frame would be the best and easiest. I also went with 4 mounting legs instead of 3 because that is just the way they lined up with the frame and cage legs while being spaced close to equal along the length of the sliders. It also makes it stronger because the sliders are the base of the cage and the more frame tie-ins, the better it should hold up.

The cage was officially finished now after being tied into the frame...2 days before leaving to Moab!

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Brian1

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Door Panels

Now with the major fab work over it was a final push to be ready for Moab, with under 2 days to go. There was some wiring to get done including the LED lights, CB & HAM radios, hooking up the winch and putting new terminals on the battery cables. I used an auxiliary fuse block mounted to the driver side fender for the LEDs and CB while I ran the HAM radio straight to the battery along with the winch power leads.

Another project to get done was make new door panels for the front doors since the stock ones would no longer fit with the cage bar. I could have notched them out but the handles were falling off so I just made some out of some very thin sheet metal. I used the stock panels to trace the shape and then added enough material to bend for the lip to hook into the top of the door like the stock ones. I bead rolled them to add stiffness then used self tapping screws to hold them on. They were installed the morning I left for Moab along with making and installing a radio bracket for my HAM radio.

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RockRanger

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Where is pictures of the ham radio mount. That was the best part of the whole truck ;). I never noticed the door panels.
 




Brian1

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Where is pictures of the ham radio mount. That was the best part of the whole truck ;).

Took all of 10 minutes maybe just before loading up. I kind of liked it and I think it will stay. All it needs is paint now and I need to figure out a mic mount. Pictured without my Yaesu ft2800

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RockRanger

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It is a good location forsure. Did you see my mic holder? Holds the two mics on each side of the radio. Still easy to adjust the radio and the hvac controls. Both are easy to reach as well. Only sown side your hand can hit the right mic when shifting into 5th gear.
 




Brian1

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Matt, I should have taken a better look at your truck in Moab to see all the cool little things you have done like that and the center console, etc. That might be an option. I hang my CB mic from the rearview and in my other Explorer I have a clip on the ashtray which I may just do to this new one. Im not sure just yet.

Here are a few details of how I had my interior in Moab. 2 fire extinguishers on quick release mounts I made (a long time ago), a hilift on some mounts I made a day before leaving, a small shovel, ammo cans with spare parts ratchet strapped down to some of my bolt on tie down points using the stock rear seat bolts, a 20lb CO2 bottle in a mount bolted down using the stock seatbelt bolts and my spare tire layed flat with a recovery strap inside along with a tarp, hi lift base, and lug wrench. I use a few molle bags attached to the cage for the first aid kit, another one to hold misc. stuff like the winch controller, guide books, sunglasses, etc. The 3rd, smaller one which cant be seen in the photos holds a handheld HAM radio which serves as my APRS tracker.

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BKennedy

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Great build. Gives me ideas.

I removed the stock trans cooler and replaced it with a much larger unit from Summit when I installed the 700R4. Kept the old trans cooler and now I found a use for it.
 




Brian1

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Here are a few things I mentioned but skipped over the photos. Here is a view of my LED pods and bracket in the cowl area, I used a factory hole so I didn't have to drill or modify anything else. Since I have an XL, the panel was empty under the headlight switch and made a good location for my switches. The fuse block is on the driver side fender and has more room for accessories later.

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Kirby N.

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Here are a few things I mentioned but skipped over the photos. Here is a view of my LED pods and bracket in the cowl area, I used a factory hole so I didn't have to drill or modify anything else. Since I have an XL, the panel was empty under the headlight switch and
Front Bumper Build

With less than a month to Moab I still didn't have a front bumper, cage or even the seats mounted yet. :eek:

Design goals for my front bumper were to be as light as possible, fairly simple (not a lot of pieces, angles, etc.) and high clearance. I picked up a Warn M8000 on craigslist and got to work making the winch mount first. After lots of fitting and measuring I had some sketches to transfer to CAD and then to my CNC. I made my frame plates very similar to the rear bumper with tube pass-throughs and laminated shackle recovery points. All 1/4" steel.

The bottom of the winch plate is even with the bottom of the frame. I also cut dual fairlead mounts in case I ever wanted to use it for a suck-down winch in the future - and it lightens up the plate a bit.

I again used 1.75" x .120" tube with 4 bends to keep it fairly tight to the body. The tube passes through but I had to cut it and slug it this time since the frame plates were now unable to move to "thread" the tube through with the bends.

I put in some tube gussets and a 1.25" x .120" hoop to protect the 12" LED bar. I tossed the stock LED bar mounts in favor of some tabs I welded on.

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where would you even hook a suck down winch on a ttb rig?
 




Kirby N.

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Front Bumper Build

With less than a month to Moab I still didn't have a front bumper, cage or even the seats mounted yet. :eek:

Design goals for my front bumper were to be as light as possible, fairly simple (not a lot of pieces, angles, etc.) and high clearance. I picked up a Warn M8000 on craigslist and got to work making the winch mount first. After lots of fitting and measuring I had some sketches to transfer to CAD and then to my CNC. I made my frame plates very similar to the rear bumper with tube pass-throughs and laminated shackle recovery points. All 1/4" steel.

The bottom of the winch plate is even with the bottom of the frame. I also cut dual fairlead mounts in case I ever wanted to use it for a suck-down winch in the future - and it lightens up the plate a bit.

I again used 1.75" x .120" tube with 4 bends to keep it fairly tight to the body. The tube passes through but I had to cut it and slug it this time since the frame plates were now unable to move to "thread" the tube through with the bends.

I put in some tube gussets and a 1.25" x .120" hoop to protect the 12" LED bar. I tossed the stock LED bar mounts in favor of some tabs I welded on.

View attachment 90728 View attachment 90729 View attachment 90730 View attachment 90731 View attachment 90732 View attachment 90733 View attachment 90734 View attachment 90735 View attachment 90736
where would you even hook a suck down winch on a ttb rig?
 








Kirby N.

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That will be the best mod you make. Great build amigo.
 




Brian1

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Another item on the maintenance list to check was the transmission plugs and to fill it with new fluid. It still has the rubber plugs in the shift rails that are prone to cracking and falling out however that had been addressed with a large amount of silicone by someone before me. I couldn't begin to pull a plug out so I think it is good enough and no reason to put in the metal freeze plugs. The oil drained out dark and there was some stuff on the magnet so it was a good thing to change the fluid. I also did the t-case too. What should have been a simple job turned into a long one when the transmission fill plug was completely frozen in place. Breaker bars and then large pipe wrenches didn't faze it after stripping the hex head. I know you can fill from the top but I didn't want to leave it like that and let it win so out came the welder where I welded on a nut to the plug. After 3 tries doing this in tight quarters I eventually got it to stick enough that with various tools I was able to get it free, I think the heat helped. New M18-1.5 plug from the parts store went in with a coating of anti-seize

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Brian1

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In Moab it had a problem overheating. When I got home I took the clutch off and found no signs that it was bad. Next I pulled the thermostat and it looked brand new, it didn't even look stained yet. That went back in and then I drained and pulled the radiator and I also removed the a/c condenser. The a/c condenser had many fins knocked in blocking airflow and the radiator had a big blob of junk in the fins blocking a large amount of it. I power washed the junk out of the fins and then put it back in with an expanded metal screen to keep larger debris out since I did not put the a/c condenser back in. So far, no heating issues driving it around town in hotter temps.

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jmdirk

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In Moab it had a problem overheating. When I got home I took the clutch off and found no signs that it was bad. Next I pulled the thermostat and it looked brand new, it didn't even look stained yet. That went back in and then I drained and pulled the radiator and I also removed the a/c condenser. The a/c condenser had many fins knocked in blocking airflow and the radiator had a big blob of junk in the fins blocking a large amount of it. I power washed the junk out of the fins and then put it back in with an expanded metal screen to keep larger debris out since I did not put the a/c condenser back in. So far, no heating issues driving it around town in hotter temps.

Without the A/C condenser or the trans cooler mine runs really cool.

I personally don't use anything other than a normal hose with a sprayer on it for cleaning the rad. Those fins are just too delicate
 


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NICE59FORDF100

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In Moab it had a problem overheating. When I got home I took the clutch off and found no signs that it was bad.

Im glad to hear i was wrong about the fan clutch HAHA. Ive gone through so many of those darn things it's just kinda reflex to say they need replaced ha
 




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