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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) :

2001 with 33x10.50s and James duff 4.5" lift with extended radius arms, manual hubs and new auto tranny:

Here it is just after the SAS with 34s and a swapped in manual tcase and tranny:


Winching out of Mikeys hot tub circa 2002 or so


Stuck on a tree just after 37s

37s, winch bumper rebuild etc

Final State Explorerforum moab trip 2010




Last Poser Shots


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)

Traded 1993 Ranger 4.0l and an abused auto tranny


1991 Manual Tcase and Tranny Explorer Sport


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


2005 unlimited Rubicon 35s and 4" lift

Our Current 2005 Unlimited Rubicon 4" Lift 315 Kevlars

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.


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.

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)

A optima yellow top

A Black grill and headlight bezels along with new headlights:

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

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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The ARB pumps are known for holding up very well even when exposed to the elements, like for 15-20 years kind of hold up
I have mine mounted on the rad support, drivers side next to the radiator, but mine is a single tank unit

The ebrake should not be too terrible, just relocate the bracket where the two cables meet the intermediate cable 2-3" rearwards and use a longer intermediate cable?

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I had a ARB pump mounted inside the frame rail behind the driver side tire with no weather protection and it held up for 10+ years.

As far as the bedsides, have you contacted the manufacture to see if they have any solutions besides redoing your rear axle placement?

I talked to Mcniel racing about the bedsides and they are sending me a new one. So that is great news. Thanks Brian.

I also ordered the parts for the new rear axle build today. That will be fun. Artect truss and Ruff Stuff 2+ perches. luckily my buddy has an extra housing laying around.

Last, my stupid ford reman starter bit the dust today. Installed it in november. I think Ill return it and demand a new non reman.

Also after the advice, I am currently leaning toward mounting the pumps under the drivers bedside.

I talked to Mcniel racing about the bedsides and they are sending me a new one. So that is great news. Thanks Brian..

That's awesome. The McNeils are good people, glad to hear they are standing by their products. You shouldn't have to redo your entire rear suspension to get those bedsides to fit properly. exactly does a bedside get screwed up and sold? I mean they come from a Mexico
So did they tell you why yours are jacked up? Wrong application?
I have been considering buying their BII bedsides, the last thing I need is to ship them to North Idaho only to find out they suck

I think the mold must have been off one one side. He is going to adjust the smaller wheel well to match the larger and send themodified bedside. They are not making an adjustment to both sides for the wheel house being too far back. That is why I ordered the ruff stuff mounts and I am going to build another housing that I can locate further back.

okay.....very interesting
I figured these molds were like 20+ years old..........unless you are the first to ever use their bedsides for this length bed and notice?
So glad they are making it correct!

something fishy down there
They used to be the best....

When I inquired about getting some bedsides for my BII their response was 14 days later. They simply told me to put them in the cart on the website and order them. Well no sh*t sherlock I wanted to know when they would be available and how much to ship. No answers to those questions. I figured they must have been busy during the Baja 500...guess they are just going downhill?
I mean you are getting a bedside for a 91 Ranger...they have been making these bedsides since what the early 90's?? I figured your bedside model has come off that mold 150 times by now....guess not.
Fiberglass parts are hit or miss I get that.........but what in the heck is going on down there at Mcneil? Perry is Legend!!

Its hard to gauge because everyone says you get what you get with fiberglass and this is my first experience with it. I read somewhere that Hannemann fit best and Froader had good things to say about them- so I originally ordered from them. However, they changed hands and became Advanced Fiberglass and my order never did get filled. They called months later to ask if I wanted to go ahead with it and I said no.

I am pleased that McNeil is making a new bedside and sending it. He said it was in the mold now and would ship in a couple weeks. We will see how it goes and I will keep you posted. I probably won't paint it until early summer- so the painter will be the real indicator.

Nice! If they stand behind their work that is all that really matters. We all have "off" days

I have autofab front fenders, excellent service quality and fit over there. I bought them years ago
BUT Autofab = No BII bedsides
They do make a Gen I drop hood that I love just because its so different

No bedside yet. I emailed McNeil yesterday and I haven't heard back yet. I hope its on the way

Tried to make a coyote dead last week at my parents place. I didn't succeed, but I did get the ranger stuck a couple times and had to put the winch to work. It was a good time.




Its supposed to snow tonight so I will probably get to get out in it tomorrow.

Also, The ranger had a starter issue in November after hunting.

I replaced the starter with a ford reman because they didn't have any new ones. FOTZ-11002-ARM.

The remanufactured starter lasted until the end of January and took a dump. The old/ original one I could beat on and get to work. This one just stopped working.

So I returned it to ford and told them I have to have a new one. They didn't like that, and didn't have a new one.

So I had a part # for a new one from Rockauto. G2MZ-110002-B. Ford said the didn't have it in the interchange, but ordered one and gave it to me on a warranty- even though there was a few small issues like a different electrical fitting. It fit great and even had a little adapter for the electrical fitting.

I also found some NOS motorcraft battery cables and swapped them out while I was in there. Back to daily duty again!

We had a heck of a snow storm this week in Colorado. I almost spent the night in my ranger with my wife, kid and brother in law.

Here is a pic of the semis chaining up by my house.


Here is Wednesday afternoon when I went out to get my brother out- chained the fronts.


I eventually broke a front hub, chained the rear axle and buried my ranger up to the top of the 35s. Lots of winch work in crazy wind and snow. Ended up parking my ranger because it was 2x4 and coming back in the morning with my jeep get it.




I also got the new fender in. Unfortunately it was dropped and jacked a corner. McNiel has been cool and is going to refund me the cost of repairs.


McNeil refunded me $200 to repair the fender. They have been really cool.

I currently have the bed off to install the new fender


While it was off, I fixed my fuel pump ordeal. Remember I replaced the pump and it got like 100 miles less per tank? and it ran out when the gauge said I still had 1/8th of a tank?

Well, I figured it out. The extended cab pump is 11" deep. The regular cab pump is 12" deep. My tank has 12" of depth. So I put in a regular cab pump and it sucks off the bottom. I ordered a delphi pump off rock auto because I read they were good ones. I thought carter pumps were good, but I read a bunch about good brands of pumps and found that delphi was the best option- so I ordered one for RA. I am so sick of parts houses re boxing all the brands so you dont know what the brand is for anything. Ticks me off.

While the bed is off, I fixed some rust in the back corner of the cab.





I have never repaired panels before. I am glad it is in an inconspicuous place.

I also made a highlight mount.

It is a piece of 1.5" strap welded to the back of the cab with 3 bolts through the cab.

I also used a piece of 1.25" dom on each stud. I cut a hole the size of the DOM OD in the second inner wall of the cab, then welded that to the inner wall.


Its really stout so I hope it won't ever need anything else. Lastly, I used wing nuts and autofab fender grommet Polyurathane mounts so I can tighten it down and not rattle. It fits tight and utilizes otherwise wasted space. The jump seats can still be used no problem, the jack is a little in the way of the shoulders with them- but they aren't really built for comfort anyway. I can ride back there with it.


I also added some metal to the rear bumper. The plate behind the license plate was a spot to catch water and mud, so I added some little fillers to fix that.


I also added a filler on tip of the top tube. Mostly for looks but it is 1/2" so it can't hurt strength.


I also warrantied my warn hub and when I installed it, I noticed the passenger was full of dirt and water. getting stuck in my dads creek was hard on stuff. When I had it apart I decided to go ahead and do new wheel bearings on the front and seals and such. I also installed my Yukon Zip in the front. That was a pretty big job, but it is done. I also added a ruffstuff 3/8" cover.



I still have the ARB twin compressor. Doesn't look like it will fit nicely under the fender. I hate to put it any lower than that because I don't want it to intake water and I just dont want it in the dirt.

I cycled the suspension to see how it clears the fenders and if it has enough space to do 37s.









You can see the driver fender clearance in the pics. Unfortunately, 37s won't clear. I researched through this thread, and I only used 6" BC Broncos springs. I could use 7" springs and get some more clearance and I could drop the leaf mounts and get another inch in the rear. I am still trying to decide if that would be worth it.

SOS- I am looking for some Dana 44 spindle shims for 1.5 degree correction. My driver is perfect. My passenger has a 1.25 degree shim and needs a 1.5. I can see it in the tire wear. Before I put on 2 new tires I would love to have it perfect. They are no longer being manufactured so it has been a pain in the butt. Let me know if you have one or a source on one.

Lastly, @410Fortune has me thinking about a M5OD-R1HD. I have been doing a bunch of research, and from what I can tell- all m5od-r1s (hd or not) have the same gear ratio behind a 4.0ohv or 4.0SOHC.

3.40 : 1
2.05 : 1
1.31 : 1
1.00 : 1
0.79 : 1

But, the 3.0 and 2.9 and 4 cylinder M5s have a lower 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

3.72 : 1
2.20 : 1
1.50 : 1
1.00 : 1
0.79 : 1

But the HD have some upgrades to synchro and stuff. My M5 is in good shape but it leaks like a sieve. So I am thinking about seeing if my local manual tranny guy would put a little motor m5 together with an hd and make me a slick tranny. Might just make my first low enough that I could get by without another tcase or an atlas. 3.72 to 3.40 is a big jump.

Any thoughts? Can you confirm this info Jaime? Or tell me where I am off?


As far as the trans gears go, they recently did a write up on the subject in Four Wheeler (if memory serves correctly...was either that or Peterson's)...

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there are a couple of 2.8/2.9L 5 speeds here on my local craigslist, under $200 each....they have the gears you want in them.

I really like the rear bumper, I hope your exhaust does not melt the paint!