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Exploration into Restoration and Modification


Active Member
March 21, 2012
Reaction score
City, State
Western New York
Year, Model & Trim Level
1999 Ford Explorer
Here’s to a series of 3 hour tours…
"The weather started getting rough, the tiny SUV was tossed. If not for the courage of the fearless crew, the Explorer would be lost. The Explorer would be lost."

I am going to start off with a picture that can explain most of what’s to come

I want to say that this suv has been one of my favorite vehicles to own. So much so that I bought another one and decided to swap out the good parts between the two. The front bumper cover was in bad shape after the previous owner attempted to paint it himself after hitting something. It showed he didn’t take his time... The one door is also damaged by being hit by something... well needless to say I started to dig into the thing, granted it is in a lot better shape than my current one it still has its issues. Digging into this I found that half the frontend clip is shot.... I have already done a lot of work and bought a new radiator support and some other things....


I want say this right now I am doing this in my time in-between EMT classes and working as an IT tech at HSBC being a volunteer firefighter and having second part time work on the weekends. I do not imply that this project is going to be anything other than painfully slow, since I am doing all the work myself, learning as I go and having to spend significant time sourcing inexpensive parts. I have given myself over a year to get all this done and a good cash fund.... But we will see

Is It Christmas Again?

OEM ohh OEM…. Explorer of love???

Well I have ventured into new things with this project and this is turning into a total front end rebuild. I am sure that anyone would be surprise to my attention to detail (and maybe just plan boredom and looking for more work than necessary) in this project.

I do plan on going far beyond my previous repairs on vehicles lately, I am trying to rebuild at least another car in my life (or at least to my satisfaction... hoping to get it to another 100k) the last one being about 10 years ago and need way less work to get it to great (thing had only 40k miles on it when it got totaled ). Plans for this new one are.
Finish front clip rebuild.
Rear Bumper Swap
De-scale undercarriage
Rust treat undercarriage
Bed-line undercarriage
Replace passenger side door
Rear LiftGate
Replace minor moldings inside
Install sound system
Powder Coat Rims
Replace Suspension system i.e. shocks, ball joints... etc (much latter and future plans SAS?)
Replace Breaks
Repair Transmission... dun dun dun... (I'm already committed to this one)

I have already found some cool new stuff that I am trying for the first time, new tools, new parts, new suppliers, and new products. The journey has already began. I have found that it may be worthwhile… undecided yet. Chemically cleaning hardware. For years I have taken all hardware that could clean and painted to reuse (people always said that painting the parts was excessive, but I figured it like this… it was all apart, cleaning and painting didn’t take that long and if I ever had come back through, it would make taking it apart that much easier.). I would spend so much time on this old failing wire wheel bench grinder (the kind that squeals and the motor shaft bounces in and out because the bushings and bearings are shot), ah good times almost losing fingers and eyes with that thing. But I have found that acid etching the steel is a better choice, although new dangers are present. Etch the steel preps it for paint or sealant, but the process its self converts iron oxide into a black phosphoric coating that when left acts a mild rust deterrent. I would always suggest at this point sealing with paint or oil, might as well right? So this stuff is an acid so there are fumes… and if you get it on your skin its not the greatest thing ever, but help you if you have cuts on your hands… you’ll be saying fml a lot. Oh if it gets in your eyes… slight chance of being blinded?... well in any case be careful with this stuff if you’re going to use it. Doing like this takes a bit of time, but it time parts are just sitting while you’re still working on other things. So first remove as much excess rust as you can (I usually just toss the stuff on the ground to knock of rust scale). Second step is removing paint with a paint striper (if you’re not worried abt old paint sure why not skip to the next step). Third is tossing it in the etching solution and waiting. Fourth is cleaning, use acetone. Done
Before and after pictures of the hardware.

See the pile of batteries I went through to find two good ones to take this picture lol

Different sets but the both where in the same condition though. I have both sets soaking right now, some parts from the first set needed the extra time in... oh that was at only half the suggested time that I had the first set in for
Before (longer soaking)

You can see the body clips that didn’t make it, too far gone with rust. After


I have already made tools in the past, such as the main engine cap slide hammer puller I made for an engine teardown.


This time it’s a sand blaster… ok I was making this for another project… I got a vintage Yamaha restoration in process to… well either case it’s going to be a great tool to add to my garage. So here is that…
The Idea

The start

One of my friends grandfather donated this to my restoration project(s). Guess what it was and what it will be...







Trying to learn how to weld. This past year was the first time I have ever really welded… go figure



The bottom plate that’s has to cover a hole


The hole

Oh did mention lots of pictures?

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Actually Giant Spud Gun, lol. Going to need the sand blaster finished tho... thing has the ford cancer pretty bad... It’s sad to say, but living in Buffalo, this vehicle is in pretty good shape... My father keeps telling to go west to pick one up to restore. I figure when I have the time and money I will, but probably something way better... belair, roadrunner, mustang or etc

Best of luck to you on this! I've got a lot of respect for anyone that does this themselves. I found out early on that I suck at bodywork, so I took it to a shop that specializes in restorations.

I've heard so many people ask why I'm putting so much time, money, and work into an "Exploder" that I've lost count. Some people just don't understand why we love our Ex's so much :D

Yea metal work is something else entirely. I have screwed up enough to definitely know what not to do and I have been getting better at mig'ing sheet metal. Not great work but not bad. And I have glassed cars before, again not great, but not bad. I am sure with a little more patience and a little more money I am sure I am going to do alright job... Hoping better then the last guy did at the very least, lol


Don’t look like much, but it’s a win in my book. Bumper brackets with bolt and nut is $56.63 each from fordparts.com... the replacement nuts where $3 each from varsityfordparts. I did find them cheaper, but not by much and I actually talked to someone from varsityfordparts who helped me find what I really needed. Other sites, not even a phone number listed to call for service support. Great job on varsity's part for having such good customer service. I don’t usually support companies or advertise for them, but it’s nice to share with people when you find companies who are actually still about their customers and not bottom dollar. On another note I have hit my radiator support with the same stuff I used on the bolts… Tar like stuff, hoping it acts like really strong adhesive oil. I promise that this whole thing is going to be like this, I am going to skip over a lot of small stuff and only try to post note worthy stuff.

So when I woke up this morning I went out and it was pouring outside... the radiator support was soaked... I wasn't too worried, water appeared to be pooling and not sticking to the finish, but when rubbed some of the water off it instantly soaked in :eek: maybe this stuff isn’t the best water proofing undercoat I could use... Should I have used POR? But this is new and POR most likely would peel, right? Should I just use enamel with hardener in it over the top of this stuff now? Or should I try removing it with some break cleaner (lucky I didn’t do the whole thing)... decisions...

If you scuff up the factory applied finish and then do a proper grease and sediment removal prep the POR-15 should adhere to it without peeling. POR-15 is actually pretty flexible stuff, but like all paint it needs something to bite onto.

So I actually got stuff done today :)

I started filling in the holes from where I cut out the spot welds


The other side does not look so nice


I should just be able to hit those with the grinder and they should be good

And if you wondering why one side looks so nice, its cause I had it backed by a piece of non ferrous metal. You can see I was able to weld in both side here without actually weld the two pieces together


Also I worked on the sand blaster


Sorry for the blurry pictures





Oh and I decided against better judgment and continue to use the coating i was using before since one side (the damage) was already done.



Why did you fill the spot-weld holes? when i replaced the radiator support on my old ranger i welded it in place using the factory spot weld holes. How do you plan on attatching the new one now?

Foresight, for what ever reason should I ever have to come back through again? Plus this one here is for practice to something along the lines of a muscle car. Filling them verses welding with them as is, is something I considered. If I welded the support on using the holes it would be much faster and a lot less work, yes. But I like the idea of something close to orginal (in this case the size of the weld, that damn little tool is just to easy to use. If there was a bigger weld, it wouldn't be able to cut the weld and I would have to drill yet a even bigger hole). I looked around today and was going to buy a spot welder... Then I got to thinking... Thats such an expensive one task tool when it really doesn't need to be. Would take up more room in an already packed garage etc... So I am going to drill pilot hole where I want the welds to be and use my mig to spot weld it. It does spot welding (I have tried it on some practice pieces) on high enough of a setting, even without a pilot hole

So I just realized how out of practice I am with welding, ugh. That bottom plate I welded up the other day is riddled with pin hole spots I messed not to mention it just looks incredibly sloppy... Got to get back at it and step my game back up. Other then that I have decided to try painting the thing myself as well... Probably not a great idea... But I will be using PlastiDip as my fail safe?

You tell me what you think...
I have also been looking at interior stuff for this project... I wonder how much it would cost to dynamat the whole thing...

So I just realized how out of practice I am with welding, ugh. That bottom plate I welded up the other day is riddled with pin hole spots I messed not to mention it just looks incredibly sloppy... Got to get back at it and step my game back up. Other then that I have decided to try painting the thing myself as well... Probably not a great idea... But I will be using PlastiDip as my fail safe?

You tell me what you think...

http:// http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=rNY9Dx617N8&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DrNY9Dx617N8

I have also been looking at interior stuff for this project... I wonder how much it would cost to dynamat the whole thing...

When you want to put youtube videos in your post, use the youtube tag with the code for your video in between. The code folows v= in your link and ends before the ampersand.

[ youtube ] rNY9Dx617N8 [ / youtube ]

just without those spaces

Also, there are quite a few other sound deadeners out there that work as good or better than dynamat xtreme for a lower cost... and if you are considering the original dynamat, then you might as well just buy peel and seal roofing stuff from lowes.

With sound deadeners, you don't have to go for 100% coverage. If you knew exactly where to put it to work best at cancelling resonances, you could go for about a 20-25% coverage like most luxury cars, but around 50% even just doing it randomly and aiming for the major spots on any big panels should get you by. You should follow it up by a layer of foam insulation for actual soundproofing. You should be able to do it for around $300 using pretty good quality stuff... Expect that price to be a bit more than double that if you go for complete coverage with the dynamat type stuff.

Look on audio forums for better information than I can give you. Try DIYmobileaudio.com

Thanks Find, good stuff to know about the YouTube tags, also sort of hard to post thing from a cell phone on the fly. Learn as you go right?

Only thing I know about sound deadeners is you go for the large flat minimal structured panels. Trunk lids, Floor pans and doors etc. I have been looking at cheaper non name brand sound deadeners. What kind of foam insulation would you recommend? And goes over or under the deadener?

And this is the major reason why I joined this site and why I am posting so much of what I am trying to do with this build. I have no problem admitting that I am relatively inexperienced at this, and getting advice from guys that have been there before is hopefully going to save me a lot of time and money and keep me from making so many frustrating mistakes. Learn from your predecessors and then learn as I go.

keep up good work

I hear a lot of good things about the stuff from

Though, don't take this as an endorsement. I've never used their stuff, I just see people saying it is good on forums. The only times I used these types of materials, I bought it off a guy who did truck conversions and RVs. I've also tried peel n seal in my old escort, to quite a high degree of success.

wo... that sound deadener showdown stuff is pricey.

I was looking at under coating, Wurth SKS Stone Guard and SEM Pro-Tex Chip Guard and this stuff called Lizard Skin came up for a sound deadener. I wonder if its any good.

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Great thread and a very ambitious project:chug:

Way to keep the Explorer alive!!