JTX's Return! 1997 Mountaineer Build Thread SAS/4wd Conversion | Page 3 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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JTX's Return! 1997 Mountaineer Build Thread SAS/4wd Conversion

I've been gone for several years after losing the transmission in my 94 Ford Explorer(almost 10 years ago!:eek:). Life has changed a lot since then, I got Married, had a Child, and am having another one any day. Some of my greatest memories growing up came from my 1994 Ford Explorer. Memories with my Father, Friends, and several life lessons through High School.

Once my Son Luke was born I realized I would love to carry on these same memories with him and my Dad. I originally planned on redoing my 1994 Ford Explorer, but after looking at it and realizing some of the hack jobs I did to it in High School I decided to start fresh.

My second vehicle was a 97 Mercury Mountaineer. I decided to use this vehicle for several reasons. I liked the V8 and figured the interior would be better for four wheeling with my family. After I had the Mountaineer it was passed on to my Sister and drove until 2010. After that it sat for about 2 years until I started this project. Here is a list of the problems it had when I started.

  • Blown Head Gasket
  • 200k Miles
  • Front Suspension was Shot
  • Was no longer running

The first thing I did was pick up a new Motor and Transmission from the local U Pull. The engine and AWD transmission came from a 98 Explorer with 90k miles.

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Taking the old Motor out. Son and Grandfather.

When I picked up the engine I also pulled a 4406 Transfer Case. The Mountaineer started as 2wd, so this will be a 4wd Conversion as well.

At this point the Mountaineer sat for about 6 months. Once I finally got the new Motor and Transmission in I decided to start the SAS. I probably should have got it running first but I needed a little motivation to get things rolling.

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Ford 9inch from 94 Explorer. 4.88 Gears and Full Spool.

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The SAS was done by Brian1 of the Forum. I wanted to make sure everything was done right this time around so I talked to Brian and we worked out a plan for the front end.

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Prepping the Frame

Once the Frame was prepped i was ready to take it to Brian.
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Brian needed to be able to move the Mountaineer around so we decided to leave it on the trailer during the swap.
 



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Excellent thread!!!

Brian, I noticed the notcher you're using. I had the same one but found a smoking deal on a JMR one. If you ever find a deal on one and have some spare money laying around, make the switch!!!! You will not regret it!!! So much nicer of a unit and way simple/fast for swiveling it around to do angled notchs. Can't really put into words why it's so much better but it really is having used/owned both. Plus I mount mine in my vice and just simply toss it in a cabinet when not in use. So far over two complete bumper to bumper cage builds I haven't once had a situation where the vice was tied up with the notcher when I needed the vice...

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Excellent work!!! Jealous of your fab setup overall!
 



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Thanks Khris! That is a nice notcher, I haven't used one like it before but have heard great things about them. I actually have 2 notchers, both being Pro-tools. 1 is an older unit I picked up at an auction for around $40 and the other is a newer version that I actually bought brand new, first, after wearing out my Harbor Freight one in less than 1 cage.

My newer Pro-tools notcher is built onto a steel backing plate I made that can rotate on a 2" receiver hitch. My big welding table has receiver hitches at the corners for the notcher, vice, pipe vice, small arbor press and whatever else I may need.

Hoping I can come across a good deal on one like you posted and I will certainly snag it!
 






LOL, you're one step behind me on the notcher but smoking me on the rest of your equipment! LOL I did the harbor freight one. Moved to the protools, jumped back and forth with it between mounting on my drill press which was REALLY nice but had it's limitations and mounting horizontal with a hand drill. Then the JMR popped up at a swap meet for $50 and I knew I could sell either for more then that used so I jumped on it to give it a try. The thing I like about it. I clamp the bar underneath the tubing clamp in my vice. The end with the spindle/drill motor is free to pivot. I clamp my tube in and just simply pivot the drill around to my angle and go for it. 80% of the time it's simple as that. No tools needed, nothing, just swivel it around and go for it. Occasionally for really extreme angles I'll have to pull out the allen and make some setup adjustments but that's pretty rare. It's a nice step up without going to a belt sander or mill cutting tool type of price range. It's the same thing as what you have, I just find it more user friendly.
 












Pretty much stole it... LOL I knew no matter which one I kept I was making money! Curt LeDuc offroad swap meet, it's racer oriented but getting more and more crawler stuff every year cause of the KOH Ultra 4 guys coming in the scene... Always great deals on tools, equipment, tires, and always parts depending what you need!
 






With everything back under the Mounty it was getting close to rolling again! Joey came over and helped me finish up some final details like tightening all the jam nuts, bolts, installing the tires, airing them up to street pressure for easier rolling and setting the toe. The toe was out by a lot when we first started but we got it to 3/16" toe in which should be good for now.

I also filled the bumps and coilovers with nitrogen. I use a pieced together kit with a filler including a no-loss chuck from Polyperformance, a 8' hydraulic hose I bought online, a nitrogen regulator I bought new from Amazon and a medium sized nitrogen bottle I found on craigslist. The bumps got 80psi and the Coilovers got around 150-200 PSI, I don't remember the specific pressure we used.

When we rolled it off the trailer it turns out it was front high by about 2", the coilover rates were a little off since the coilovers & springs were spec'd for a different project when he first got them. We had a 250/300 spring rate which JTX will fix later.

I hooked my winch to it and using a small metal table we flexed it out a little. A proper RTI would have helped but that was all I could put together. Once it gets running and can move under its own power it should flex much more than we were able to do with it before loading it back on the trailer.
 

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Few more shots of the Mounty overall before we loaded it back on the trailer and Joey took it back to his place to continue the project.

It was at my place for about 5 weeks, but some of that time I was away or working on other things. Actual build time for the SAS was probably around ~3.5 weeks
 

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Pretty much stole it... LOL I knew no matter which one I kept I was making money! Curt LeDuc offroad swap meet, it's racer oriented but getting more and more crawler stuff every year cause of the KOH Ultra 4 guys coming in the scene... Always great deals on tools, equipment, tires, and always parts depending what you need!

Damn you Khris, I shoulda went so I could've bought it LOL. I'm only 45 minutes from Morongo but i was broke so I thought i better stay away lol.

I have the older pro-tools notcher as well and it does the job but that JMR looks real nice.

You sure move faster on projects than I do Brian, of course the right tools help.
 






LOL, I didn't make that score at the one a week or two ago. I nailed it probably about 3 years ago now. But there's always smoking deals there. It's a very dangerous place to walk around with cash! People take it left and right and leave you with random things to haul home. LOL I almost went to this past one as a seller actually but didn't make it. May go to the spring one...
 






Awesome build Brian. Looks just like what I did even down to the steering box mount and the 2" wheelbase change. And yes the trac bar is VERY tight and I had to cut the lower sections of the engine mount frame bracket to fit the upper links when flexed as well.. I've loved mine so I imagine JTX will be very pleased with this rig.. Hope JTX has better luck than BKennedy did with his FOA shocks. :thumbsup:

Really like the bent metal between the trac bar frame mounting plates and the steering bolt holes how you notched the frame and laid a full round through mount there. I ended up shaving the round through mount so it sat flat and low to the frame. Barely fits.

Awesome work and cant wait to see it moving. :D
 












By The Numbers

I figured I would put this post up that may help others doing a SAS. Here is some by the numbers of this project:

2"x14" Coilovers
200/300 spring rates
2"x4" Bumps
Wheelbase set to 113.5"
Lower links 34" eye-eye
Lower Link Tab at axle angled 5 degrees towards center
Upper Links 17.25" eye-eye
Track Bar 32" eye-eye
Drag Link 32" center-center
Upper links 18" apart center-center
Lower links 36.5" apart center-center
8" Vertical separation between links, center-center
154 degree bend in the shock hoops

And some other reference numbers that may be useful:

Approx. Stock TJ links at front axle:
Lower 34" apart center-center
upper 18" apart center-center
8" vertical separation

Coilover specs for 2" x 14" C/O's w/reservoir, eye to eye
Collapsed/Extended
FOA 20.3/34.3
ADS 23.785/37.785
King 21.585/35.585
Fox 21.13/35.10
 






Awesome build Brian. Looks just like what I did even down to the steering box mount and the 2" wheelbase change. And yes the trac bar is VERY tight and I had to cut the lower sections of the engine mount frame bracket to fit the upper links when flexed as well.. I've loved mine so I imagine JTX will be very pleased with this rig.. Hope JTX has better luck than BKennedy did with his FOA shocks. :thumbsup:

Really like the bent metal between the trac bar frame mounting plates and the steering bolt holes how you notched the frame and laid a full round through mount there. I ended up shaving the round through mount so it sat flat and low to the frame. Barely fits.

Awesome work and cant wait to see it moving. :D

Thanks, your build gave me a lot of inspiration and ideas for this project. I love the look of your Explorer and what you have done with it.

The FOA shocks aren't looking good at this point. It's just sitting right now and I noticed a small amount of oil running out of both of them. I wont be messing with them for a while so we will see what happens.

We are having our second child any day now so there wont be much progress on this for a few weeks.
 






Looks awesome, front might come down a little depending how heavy a bumper and winch if you go that route.
 






Thanks, your build gave me a lot of inspiration and ideas for this project. I love the look of your Explorer and what you have done with it.

The FOA shocks aren't looking good at this point. It's just sitting right now and I noticed a small amount of oil running out of both of them. I wont be messing with them for a while so we will see what happens.

We are having our second child any day now so there wont be much progress on this for a few weeks.

Thanks, good to hear others like how it turned out as well. Hope some of it helped make a few decisions or plans easier!

Bummer to hear on the shocks already. :thumbdwn: Think with patience BKennedy got his worked out for now. :thumbsup:

I just had my 2nd child and yup progress and plans have slowed to a crawl. Good luck to you though and hope everything goes well!


Also on Brian's post # 52 , I should make one of those type of lists as well to help others if anyone needs ideas or help.
 






Awesome build! Glad to see you back dude! :thumbsup:
 


















Great looking build and great write up Brian/JTX! Brian, you have a PM incoming.

Aside from a front bumper, is there a plan to add a frame crossmember toward the front? From what I can see the furthest one forward currently is the trans crossmember? And do you not see a need for a cross bar over the engine connecting the shock hoops? The frame rails will definitely start rolling inward, as mine noticeably did on my truck and I still have the lower control arm crossmember.
 



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On second thought, maybe being SAS vs. A-arm, the coilovers are putting more of a vertical force on the frame rails as opposed to an inward twisting force?
 






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