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

CallMeSyd

Member
Joined
March 31, 2021
Messages
11
Reaction score
1
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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City, State
Virginia Beach, Va
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00 4x4 Mounty
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
Joined
March 31, 2021
Messages
11
Reaction score
1
City, State
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Year, Model & Trim Level
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

Elite Ranger
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00 4x4 Mounty
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

Member
Joined
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Messages
11
Reaction score
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City, State
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Year, Model & Trim Level
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
Staff member
Moderator
Elite Explorer
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City, State
Omao, Kauai
Year, Model & Trim Level
'93 Ranger XLT 4X4
Have you considered dual transfer cases instead of building portal axles?
 




Stic-o

Elite Movie Star
Elite Explorer
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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

Member
Joined
March 31, 2021
Messages
11
Reaction score
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City, State
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Year, Model & Trim Level
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

Member
Joined
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Messages
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Reaction score
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City, State
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Year, Model & Trim Level
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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EF Vendor
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Messages
11,605
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1998 Mountaineer AWD
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

Member
Joined
March 31, 2021
Messages
11
Reaction score
1
City, State
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Year, Model & Trim Level
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.
Elite Explorer
EF Vendor
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Messages
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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
Joined
February 10, 2020
Messages
12
Reaction score
3
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
 




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