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Gen 3 Explorer 7.3 Powerstroke, F/R SAS Dana 60 Portals

CallMeSyd

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Messages
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City, State
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Year, Model & Trim Level
2003 Explorer NBX 4.0 4x4
The absolute craziest 3rd generation explorer proposed so far. I want to build an off-road recovery rig and I could use some help. I know that the 7.3 has been done before in a gen 3 explorer. I have attempted to contact the owner of that rig since i saw he was trying to sell it. I was interested in buying it, but seeing as he is nowhere to be found, I guess i need to build my own. I have never attempted to swap a diesel into a gas vehicle so i am going to need a lot of help and pointers. As of right now, I have a running 2003 explorer with a 4.0. As it is my daily driver, I will be looking for another, preferably a nice, solid shell, no motor, no trans, with interior and exterior in great condition. An EB would be nice, 2005. I live in southern Mississippi, so this will be a purpose built MUD recovery rig with some sand and water crossing. This is not a rock rig, so the needs are a little different than some folks are used to. Torque and axle clearance are key with the ability to pull very heavy, built 4x4 trucks out of deep mud. I want to cut out the little axle port hole areas from the frame in the rear, box them, and run a Dana 60 solid rear with coilovers. I also want to run a solid Ford HP Dana 60 kingpin front with coilovers. Custom steel front bumper with a 12k winch. 17 inch Vision Warrior wheels with 38 inch Mickey Thompson Baja Pro XS tires, fender cutting i know. I will be stretching the wheelbase to accommodate the tires as well. I want lockers in front and rear. I know I need a 3 inch body lift to fit the engine and trans. I am worried about the oil pan clearing the SAS. I want an automatic trans so I'm wanting to go with the 4R100. I want to do portal axle conversions on the D60's, that have a gear reduction built in. I really want a very low gear for extreme pulling/crawling torque so that I'm not just spinning my tires when i need them to hook and pull, while not sacrificing the ability to do the speed limit on the highway. With the body lift, suspension clearance for the SAS, and the portals, will the height end up being too much in the end to be practical? Say if the outer tire shoulders are about 4 inches outside the top fender lip? I'm looking for you guys to please give me all your advice and input. This will be a long, expensive process and i would really like to hear from the community before I fully commit to this build.
 


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boominXplorer

Elite Ranger
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What is your budget? That will tell if it's feasible or not. Can you weld yourself/have stuff to fab with? (Welder, grinder, Plasma ect)
 




CallMeSyd

Member
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Messages
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City, State
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
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2003 Explorer NBX 4.0 4x4
What is your budget? That will tell if it's feasible or not. Can you weld yourself/have stuff to fab with? (Welder, grinder, Plasma ect)
I make $1500 weekly average of which I can devote about $1k weekly to this build. I am a welder/ fabricator, (mig, tig , fcaw, smaw/ mills, lathes, o/a torch, plasma, hydraulic shears and presses, all of which i have, can buy, or have limited access to), auto diesel mechanic, no stranger to working on vehicles including transmissions but limited experience with differential building, but only have select weekends and brief breaks from work to work on it. I'm not concerned with being able to do the work, just need help figuring out how to make it work mostly. I want this to be a professional recovery rig when it's finished. I know the costs will be considerably lower if i do the build myself.
 




boominXplorer

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This is a big overtaking you talking about doing. It's possible yes but you'll have to do the build all as one as you'll be moving engine crossmembers, adding steering gear box and trac bar mount and it all needs to be built with each other in mind. Coil buckets or leaf springs are easy once you figure out the other stuff.
 




CallMeSyd

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2003 Explorer NBX 4.0 4x4
I'm most concerned with the engine swap honestly. I really wish i could get a hold of that guy that did it. Second biggest concern is custom axle lengths and having custom length shafts for the portals. Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and order the wheels and body lift. I am getting a new welding machine in a couple weeks. Where can i get an 03 to 05 shell with no rust for cheap?
 




RangerX

Elite Ranger
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'93 Ranger XLT 4X4
Have you considered dual transfer cases instead of building portal axles?
 




Stic-o

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Lake View Terrace, CA
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'91 Navajo '99 XL '16 XLT
I would just find a old truck, and swap the body on to it. Would be way easier. Even if you had to shorten frame.
 




CallMeSyd

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2003 Explorer NBX 4.0 4x4
I'm most concerned with the engine swap honestly. I really wish i could get a hold of that guy that did it. Second biggest concern is custom axle lengths and having custom length shafts for the portals. Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and order the wheels and body lift. I am getting a new welding machine in a couple weeks. If anyone knows of a super clean 03 to 05 explorer with no engine or trans phase me know.
Have you considered dual transfer cases instead of building portal axles?
I really need all the axle clearance i can get.
 




CallMeSyd

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2003 Explorer NBX 4.0 4x4
I would just find a old truck, and swap the body on to it. Would be way easier. Even if you had to shorten frame.
I just really wanna do a full sas gen 3. If i swap frames it kinda kills it for me. Also, I feel like so many people have wanted to see this done.
 




Mbrooks420

High Voltage.
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I’m guessing this will easily be a 15k build if it’s done right. The Gen 3 isn’t really setup for any major towing, and the frame is going to need ridiculous reinforcement, especially if the frame is getting notched.

The frames on these tend to be very flexible, but the cabs are very rigid. not a good combo for pulling heavy static loads.
 




CallMeSyd

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City, State
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
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2003 Explorer NBX 4.0 4x4
I’m guessing this will easily be a 15k build if it’s done right. The Gen 3 isn’t really setup for any major towing, and the frame is going to need ridiculous reinforcement, especially if the frame is getting notched.

The frames on these tend to be very flexible, but the cabs are very rigid. not a good combo for pulling heavy static loads.
There are a few others who are talking about either doing this (kinda) or have done this (kinda). As far as i can tell the flex can be fixed easily with a little reinforcement and custom crossmembers. The little port notch in rear can be cut out and reboxed. Frame is actually pretty solid with this in mind. No plans for heavy towing so much as just yanking trucks with kinetic rope and some winching. Given the sprung weight of the explorer, this isn't really such a stretch. That being said, the motor and trans doesn't end up adding as much as some folks think. So, all this being said, the loads i will be pulling will not be putting any weight on the vehicle at all. At no time will there ever be any weight on the frame or suspension other than the explorer itself. Except for when I'm pulling my utility trailer (riding mower or 4 wheeler) or my boat, both of which i already do with a stock gen 3.
 




Mbrooks420

High Voltage.
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I was talking about the loads of pulling much heavier, very stuck vehicles out of the mud. Weight is a good thing in this scenario. A professional tow recovery vehicle is also going to haul hundreds of pounds of gear.
 




Ryan Rives

Member
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Messages
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City, State
Madison, Mississippi
Year, Model & Trim Level
2002 Ford Explorer XLT
The absolute craziest 3rd generation explorer proposed so far. I want to build an off-road recovery rig and I could use some help. I know that the 7.3 has been done before in a gen 3 explorer. I have attempted to contact the owner of that rig since i saw he was trying to sell it. I was interested in buying it, but seeing as he is nowhere to be found, I guess i need to build my own. I have never attempted to swap a diesel into a gas vehicle so i am going to need a lot of help and pointers. As of right now, I have a running 2003 explorer with a 4.0. As it is my daily driver, I will be looking for another, preferably a nice, solid shell, no motor, no trans, with interior and exterior in great condition. An EB would be nice, 2005. I live in southern Mississippi, so this will be a purpose built MUD recovery rig with some sand and water crossing. This is not a rock rig, so the needs are a little different than some folks are used to. Torque and axle clearance are key with the ability to pull very heavy, built 4x4 trucks out of deep mud. I want to cut out the little axle port hole areas from the frame in the rear, box them, and run a Dana 60 solid rear with coilovers. I also want to run a solid Ford HP Dana 60 kingpin front with coilovers. Custom steel front bumper with a 12k winch. 17 inch Vision Warrior wheels with 38 inch Mickey Thompson Baja Pro XS tires, fender cutting i know. I will be stretching the wheelbase to accommodate the tires as well. I want lockers in front and rear. I know I need a 3 inch body lift to fit the engine and trans. I am worried about the oil pan clearing the SAS. I want an automatic trans so I'm wanting to go with the 4R100. I want to do portal axle conversions on the D60's, that have a gear reduction built in. I really want a very low gear for extreme pulling/crawling torque so that I'm not just spinning my tires when i need them to hook and pull, while not sacrificing the ability to do the speed limit on the highway. With the body lift, suspension clearance for the SAS, and the portals, will the height end up being too much in the end to be practical? Say if the outer tire shoulders are about 4 inches outside the top fender lip? I'm looking for you guys to please give me all your advice and input. This will be a long, expensive process and i would really like to hear from the community before I fully commit to this build.
I’m from Madison! I cantj
The absolute craziest 3rd generation explorer proposed so far. I want to build an off-road recovery rig and I could use some help. I know that the 7.3 has been done before in a gen 3 explorer. I have attempted to contact the owner of that rig since i saw he was trying to sell it. I was interested in buying it, but seeing as he is nowhere to be found, I guess i need to build my own. I have never attempted to swap a diesel into a gas vehicle so i am going to need a lot of help and pointers. As of right now, I have a running 2003 explorer with a 4.0. As it is my daily driver, I will be looking for another, preferably a nice, solid shell, no motor, no trans, with interior and exterior in great condition. An EB would be nice, 2005. I live in southern Mississippi, so this will be a purpose built MUD recovery rig with some sand and water crossing. This is not a rock rig, so the needs are a little different than some folks are used to. Torque and axle clearance are key with the ability to pull very heavy, built 4x4 trucks out of deep mud. I want to cut out the little axle port hole areas from the frame in the rear, box them, and run a Dana 60 solid rear with coilovers. I also want to run a solid Ford HP Dana 60 kingpin front with coilovers. Custom steel front bumper with a 12k winch. 17 inch Vision Warrior wheels with 38 inch Mickey Thompson Baja Pro XS tires, fender cutting i know. I will be stretching the wheelbase to accommodate the tires as well. I want lockers in front and rear. I know I need a 3 inch body lift to fit the engine and trans. I am worried about the oil pan clearing the SAS. I want an automatic trans so I'm wanting to go with the 4R100. I want to do portal axle conversions on the D60's, that have a gear reduction built in. I really want a very low gear for extreme pulling/crawling torque so that I'm not just spinning my tires when i need them to hook and pull, while not sacrificing the ability to do the speed limit on the highway. With the body lift, suspension clearance for the SAS, and the portals, will the height end up being too much in the end to be practical? Say if the outer tire shoulders are about 4 inches outside the top fender lip? I'm looking for you guys to please give me all your advice and input. This will be a long, expensive process and i would really like to hear from the community before I fully commit to this build.
Im from Madison! I can’t wait to see this build put together! Here is my Explorer! Crazy that you aren’t too far from me. I have 6” of lift and 35s.

0E58376E-66BD-4342-B973-1929529A9E0C.jpeg
 




CallMeSyd

Member
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Messages
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City, State
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Year, Model & Trim Level
2003 Explorer NBX 4.0 4x4
I’m from Madison! I cantj

Im from Madison! I can’t wait to see this build put together! Here is my Explorer! Crazy that you aren’t too far from me. I have 6” of lift and 35s.

View attachment 340713

Sick man I just picked up my new explorer for this build today. I'll post pics when I can. It's a 2004 NBX. Thing is, it runs and has a V8. Just some issues I need to work out. If I can get it going right I might run it with the v8 in it while I start working on the rest of it. Hell if it runs good enough I might have to buy a third one lol. I bought it cause they said it doesn't run right and I was like perfect, so I can just drop a powerstroke in it, but I think I can actually get it going right, in which case it would be a waste to do the swap in this one. Lol I'm kinda concerned that I may have accidentally bought a perfectly decent vehicle for super cheap. What to do?!?
 




410Fortune

Truck Season!!
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B2 "Slightly" Modified
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7.3 in a gen III = no more creature comforts for you, hope you dont need AC!
I have a better plan
Put 7.3 in a full size bronco, it fits like factory
FSB better for wheeling anyways, great wheelbase, and its already built on a 3/4 ton truck frame, the body style is same as 7.3 trucks so its like a natural fit
 




DieselGuy001

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2004 Explorer XLT
Even better idea, instead of a 7.3, find a 12 valve cummins 5.9, p-pump it and bigger turbo, bigger injectors and electric pump, bolt an Allison behind it with a pto to drive a hydraulic winch, and a bigger transfer case. Still less weight on the frame and suspension with the smaller block, but with added low end torque and power, high end power. Parts availability is much better as well. Don't get wrong, the 7.3 was a good motor, I had one and got close to or better than 20 mpg Ave, but parts are becoming scarce.
 




Josh P

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The easiest swap would be a duramax 6.6. About the same size as a 4V 4.6L and the swap wiring harness is only 3 wires. Hot, ground and ignition. You could retain cruise, high idle, ac if you want to wire it. Tuned the motor could put about 500 hp and 900 lb/ft torque to the wheels with stock injectors, turbo.
 




Brian1

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I’m guessing this will easily be a 15k build if it’s done right

That would only cover the Dana 60 portal axle builds. Portal axles are not cheap unless you find surplus Unimog ones. Adapting portal boxes onto Dana 60s is a very expensive proposition.

This sounds like an incredibly ambitious project, hope it works out as I want to see the beast when its done!
 




CallMeSyd

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2003 Explorer NBX 4.0 4x4
For inquiring minds... I found a listing on ebay of a front and rear, one ford kingpin hp dana 60 and one gm 14 bolt rear for $1500 for both. Also, found bolt on portal set for those exact axles, all 4 wheels for $9403 from emerald west, crawl king. I have been sick and then I went back to work for a bit and suddenly my wife calls and says my son will be born earlier than expected, 2 weeks short of full term. So I'm home now, and hoping to dive into the truck soon, but this weekend I have to finish buttoning up a 3.0L v6 mazda that I pulled the heads on due to blown head gaskets. The in laws keep me busy x.x I made a post on here about the issue with the engine in the new build truck, some sort of loud squealing sound from drivers side valve cover area. Doesn't seem to be anything serpentine driven but again I have not had a chance to look. Possibly cam damage at the worst, hopefully and just a new head. I want to get it running. Plans will be to start with the body lift and axles, or at least the rear until I can get the motor in, wheels and tires, then the front bumper and winch, which will be off when the time comes for the motor. I assume the motor swap will take quite a while as I have never done one quite like this. Unfortunately, the portals will be the very last thing. I have quite a few minor modifications on my list as well. I was hoping to be at work longer and have a little bigger cash pile before the baby comes so I could get this going but things change. I'm going to talk to the wife after this post about the $1500 axle set. If you guys look for it on ebay, yes I did see that the gear ratios are mismatched. Don't really care since it's getting front and rear lockers anyway I have to get into them either way. I'll be back when I have more for you guys. And pray for us please my son will be born sometime in the next couple weeks!
 


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