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Completed Project Kirby's 1991 Ranger Build Up

Use this prefix for completed projects that are not "How to" articles or threads asking for help.
I haven't posted much here since I sold my 1993 Mazda Navajo around 2010 or 2011. It was 10 years in the making and finally to a solid, reliable state. I had some other priorities and decided to sell it and get something more versatile. I will include some pictures below of its developing states and final state when I sold it below. In the end, it had 37" MTRs, Arb front, detroit rear, 4.56 gears, D and D doubler and I built all the armor and the Dana 44 front Solid Axle Swap.

James duff 3.5" VR coil lift, 235" defender tires and a home made heavy ugly bumper (around 2000 when I bought it) :
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2001 with 33x10.50s and James duff 4.5" lift with extended radius arms, manual hubs and new auto tranny:
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Here it is just after the SAS with 34s and a swapped in manual tcase and tranny:

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Winching out of Mikeys hot tub circa 2002 or so

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Stuck on a tree just after 37s
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37s, winch bumper rebuild etc
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Final State Explorerforum moab trip 2010

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Last Poser Shots
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I hear it still gets around Colorado and Utah and I have had buddies call me with airings from time to time.

I have had a few rangers and one explorer since I sold my explorer.
Here are some pics of those:

Beat up 1994 Ranger 2.4l ($250)
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Traded 1993 Ranger 4.0l and an abused auto tranny

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1991 Manual Tcase and Tranny Explorer Sport

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We have also had a ton of cool Jeeps. Here are a couple of pics, along with our current Jeep which we are hanging on to:

2005 unlimited Rubicon Sahara 5.7 L Hemi
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2005 unlimited Rubicon 35s and 4" lift
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Our Current 2005 Unlimited Rubicon 4" Lift 315 Kevlars
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It does great grocery getter, family truckster, and occasional wekend wheeler, but I need a truck and I miss my exploder, so I decided to build a Ranger. However, I want to build it a little different this time.

I have always wanted to build a 1989-1992 ranger, so I spent a considerable amount of time looking for a low mile one with the right engine, tranny and tcase in good shape. 4.0l, m5od and 1354M stock. My explorer ended up with this combo, but started out as an auto tranny and tcase. This made for a ton of modifications and headaches with my explorer. Rangers can be had in many other undesirable configurations because they were available with 3 different v6s in 1989-92 and a 4cylinder. It proved to be a difficult task. Finally in the fall of 2012 I picked this one up. A 1991 4.0l manual tranny and transfer case 4x4 extended cab "mountain States Edition. It had 130k on it and ran great. The paint was toast, it had a rusty bed and (my biggest complaint) it had no factory air.

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I drove it for a year until I was ready to have it painted. I fixed a bunch on it- thermostat, muffler, wheel bearings, brakes, had a new headliner installed, etc. When I got a quote for the paint (one solid color and fix the dings) it was 2k. So then I started thinking I better look for a different ranger to build! I settled on this one. It too is a 1991, it has air (huge plus after not having it in my other truck all summer), manual case and tranny and everything else and a 4.0. The body is really straight no rust and the interior is super nice. The odo read 83k and I believed it.
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Since then I tracked down the original and only owner to find it has 183 k on it and they were all hwy miles. The only complaints I have is I wish it had the other mirrors and pop out extended cab windows. I can deal with those, though. This truck has been taken care of.

First order of business was a tune up, brakes and leaky valve cover gaskets.

The build plan is pretty simple: build it similar to how my explorer ended up, with out all the half builds in between. It took me a lot of work and money to get my explorer to preform well off-road and on the street and be reliable. On this one I want to skip all the poor performing, cheapskate half steps I took with the explorer.

My goal is to end up with a reliable, daily drive able, off-road capable ranger that will make a great driver, great work truck and great expo vehicle. I like the idea of a truck over a explorer sport because I need to haul dirt bikes and Sheetrock and plywood and all kinds of stuff all the time so I always needed a pickup when I had the explorer even though I wanted to drive the explorer all the time. Hopefully this will do both functions well.

So far, I have installed:

A blue tooth pioneer stereo (replacing the stock tape deck)
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A optima yellow top
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A Black grill and headlight bezels along with new headlights:
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The only body work it needs is the topper it had on it was put on with a loose and poorly placed clamp that rubbed a hole in the bed cap. I will weld it up and hopefully add a LineX bedliner over the top
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I purchased a Dana 44 out of a 76 f150 with no guts or outers for a $50 bill. I still have my spare warn premium hubs off my ex, and I plan to build this one stout before I put it in and leave it full width but move the c bushings in about 2" per side. I will likely then run stock style f150 wheels with stock backspacing and 35s or 37s as skinny as I can find. It will get a full rebuild and at least 4.88s, maybe 5.13s. I am not decided on radius arms yet. I suppose extended ones are on the bill instead of the stock wristed ones I had before, but I haven't sorted that out yet. The wrist traveled fine but it clunked and made a racket and it was also a pain to get out and pull the pin when it was time to wheel. Extended arms won't perform quite as well on the street as the stock length ones did with the pin in, but longer arms should stream line things.

For the rear I will rebuild a full width late model 31 spline 8.8 put of a bronco or f150 and install explorer disk brakes. I will likely need to have the axle flanges turned down and drill the rotors for the new bolt pattern.

I will extend the wheel base around 3" by moving the front axle forward and leave the rear axle centered in the wheel well. I plan to leave the bed size stock as I need the truck to haul stuff all the time. I will build bumpers and sliders before I beat it up this time.

Stay Tuned, I am picking up the front axle tomorrow.
 



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Thanks Matt! I am happy with the way it came together. Countersinking the bolts was a bit of a pain in the butt.

I got a lot done today. Both trac bar Mounts ended up tilted 15 degrees for clearance. I got the lower one burned in.

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Welded to the c for extra brace. It was as far over as possible. For the longest track bar possible.
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The trac bar and drag link will be with in an inch of length and a couple degrees.

I got the upper burned in too.

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I got the coil bucket burned in too.
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I am working on hacking the crossmember now. Will continue tomorrow but my rubicon has a screw in one tire, so I have to fix that first.
 






I got my crossmember hacked out. I used a cutoff wheel on it. When cutting overhead It broke a wheel and caught and ripped out of my hands. It landed in my lap and cut my pants and underwear from my butt to my belly button. Barely got into my inner thigh. I an feeling lucky. It could have removed my manhood. Made me nude in a heartbeat.
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Crossmember brace. It is 3/8" thick. Should be enough. I put some holes in it for speed. I may open up the existing holes behind it to the same size. That might make it work in the rocks better?

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I just picked up my track bar, but I have to be done for the day. It is really close now. I have to measure for shocks and drill a bunch of 1/2" holes.
 






Good thing you were wearing pants. I have what I know us a horrible habit of wearing shorts and beach sandals when I am working on vehicles.
 












I think that's just true man attire....I wear shorts as well and a cut off shirt when welding in Ohio....not just a CA thing! :)
 






Whatever attire, be careful or be neutered!
 






The worst part is I jumped up and ran out in front of my house to make sure everything was still there. After a quick inspection and a giant sigh of relief I realized I was not dressed appropriately for the front yard!
 






The worst part is I jumped up and ran out in front of my house to make sure everything was still there. After a quick inspection and a giant sigh of relief I realized I was not dressed appropriately for the front yard!

I'm sure that was quite the sight for the neighbors lol!
 






The worst part is I jumped up and ran out in front of my house to make sure everything was still there. After a quick inspection and a giant sigh of relief I realized I was not dressed appropriately for the front yard!

Not only do your neighbors have to deal with the sounds of fabrication, now they have a whole new visual as well..:eek::eek:
 






I wheeled my explorer sport with 4.56s and 37s with no doubler for years so I know where you are coming from. I also built a doubler and installed it on that rig so I know the difference it makes. However, This is a multi purpose rig that won't live in the rocks everyday. It will haul my butt to work everyday and hual all sorts of stuff in the bed. It will also drag a trailer around and do the occasional trail. I think it will be fine. If not, I will start saving for an aftermarket tcase, not a doubler.

Yeah you're right, for the intended use it will be good.

I never had a cut off wheel completely let loose on me, but I worry about it everytime I am using one. I was happy to read that you didn't loose anything when I saw the pictures!
 






I got a few things done. Everything is painted. The trac bar and coils are in. Unfortunately, the trac bar upper mount rubs the coils significantly. It cleared the spring cup, so I thought I was good. Nope. Idk what to do about this. It will be loud and annoying.

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I got the brakes all plumbed. I ended up using a 94 f150 rear hose for the center. It was a wonderful length, however, I did have to cut off the long side end, replace with a 7/16" (slightly larger) end and reflate. Other than that everything bolted in. The upper is connected to the engine crossmember. I mounted the hose on each side to the radius arm with some rubber lines mounts I got at lowes.

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I know this might be a lot of work, but can you move the track bar mount forward 1/2"? It might be the best solution.
 






I know this might be a lot of work, but can you move the track bar mount forward 1/2"? It might be the best solution.

That would be a ton of work. The reason I have it so far back is that it makes contact with the tierod on full compression when the wheels are turned. Obviously, that would be more rare than how often it contacts the coil and it would have been smarter to leave more room and deal with the tierod clearance issues. None the less, it is too late for both! Hacking it off and moving it would be an enormous task. Even moving it up to the next hole and trimming the bottom would be a task because of the inner support for the bracket. I am torn. I may redrill a 1/2" hole higher in the bracket between the two larger holes, possibly even further in or i may notch the current hole and slide over my adapters and weld them in place. I haven't decided.

However, it did leave the garage today!

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The clanking from the coil and the lack of shocks make it a chore to drive, but I hope to get it dialed in this week. I ordered a set of bilstiens. Same part # as the rear.
 






That looks great. I noticed the radius arms are angled slightly down which will give you a little more compression clearance. Mine sit nearly level.
 






That would be a ton of work. The reason I have it so far back is that it makes contact with the tierod on full compression when the wheels are turned. Obviously, that would be more rare than how often it contacts the coil and it would have been smarter to leave more room and deal with the tierod clearance issues. None the less, it is too late for both! Hacking it off and moving it would be an enormous task. Even moving it up to the next hole and trimming the bottom would be a task because of the inner support for the bracket. I am torn. I may redrill a 1/2" hole higher in the bracket between the two larger holes, possibly even further in or i may notch the current hole and slide over my adapters and weld them in place. I haven't decided.
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Can you space the lower coil mounts outward enough so it clears?

Is that your house in the background of this picture? You must have a spectacular view.
 












Can you space the lower coil mounts outward enough so it clears?

Is that your house in the background of this picture? You must have a spectacular view.

The view is nice. I have redone a bunch of the interior, but it has a ton left to go. If my truck was done I would be working on it!

Spacing the coils out would be pretty disappointing since I worked so hard to get the lowers in the correct spot so there wouldn't be any bowing. I think I have an idea. I am going to drill a new hole in the track bar mount, a little higher and inside just a touch. I will have to cut up the inside gusset some how. Maybe a hole saw?? Then I can trim the outer part of the mount and run it.

I pulled the track bar in as short as it would go today and now the coil clears. Seems to ride ok- but its a little squirrelly. Unfortunately, there is some death wobble.

I tightened everything down and really tried to figure out what the deal is. I think I narrowed it down to the upper drag link Tie Rod end. Brand new, but unfortunately it seems to have some play. I think I will see if I can locate a spicer one and get it on hand before I tear into it. Its pretty absurd.
 






I spent $50 on a spicer tre from napa and installed it. Unfortunately it didn't fix it. I think it is the sector shaft on the remaned gear box from ford. I shelled out the extra cash for the ford one so I wouldn't have this problem. Atleast it has a warranty I guess.
 



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Only view I have at my house is the neighbors house across the street.

Death wobble usually is from the steering, so you are on the right track. Check some obvious stuff, like wheel bearings, loose bolts, etc. I know I might forget those thinking I just put it together and its all tight.

I like the idea you have with the track bar mount. If it works, you could plug the old holes for strength, and then it might look like you planned it that way.
 






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