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Kirby's 1991 Ranger Build Up

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) :
Before.jpg


2001 with 33x10.50s and James duff 4.5" lift with extended radius arms, manual hubs and new auto tranny:
33sand4inch.jpg

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

864825-R1-044-20A.jpg


Winching out of Mikeys hot tub circa 2002 or so

Tub.jpg


Stuck on a tree just after 37s
DCFC0209.jpg


37s, winch bumper rebuild etc
IMG_0388.jpg


Final State Explorerforum moab trip 2010

IMG_2875.jpg


IMG_2930.jpg


MoabMay2010217.jpg


Last Poser Shots
IMG_3625.jpg


IMG_3617.jpg


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)
IMG_1339.jpg


Traded 1993 Ranger 4.0l and an abused auto tranny

IMG_1594.jpg


1991 Manual Tcase and Tranny Explorer Sport

IMG_4973.jpg



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
IMG_3981.jpg

IMG_3980.jpg


2005 unlimited Rubicon 35s and 4" lift
IMG_1196.jpg


Our Current 2005 Unlimited Rubicon 4" Lift 315 Kevlars
IMG_1369.jpg


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.

IMG_2624.jpg


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.
IMG_2956.jpg



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)
IMG_2957.jpg



A optima yellow top
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A Black grill and headlight bezels along with new headlights:
IMG_2961.jpg


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
IMG_2962.jpg


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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Kirby N.

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Yeah, like 93,500 pennies!!

The reason I went with the JD arms are numerous, but the main one was I was not very confident in my fabrication skills when I started the SAS. As I progressed and realized that I was decent at it, I figured I could have made my own arms. Then, I thought about the RA's being so critical to a good build and that JD's are so well thought out and strong. I also was thinking there was no way I could fabricate arms with the forged steel mounts like these. They weigh several pounds each and are just plain beefy. Also having the arms bolted to the axle mounts with separate bushings keeps them from binding. When they showed up, I was very impressed with the quality, fit and finish.

You should be confident now. Your truck turned out amazing!

As far as street drivability, I don't have any reference. The old TTB setup seemed to lean and sway much more than the SAS. I think the longer arms act as sway bars. When I had the light valving in the shocks, there was a lot of body roll during slow speed turns. Now, with the medium valving, its mostly gone. At any speed over 15 MPH, there is hardly any body roll on tight curves. I wish someone made wedgie bushings that were set about 4.5*. The 6* was too much and the 3.5* is too little. Highway steering is a little sensitive with the 3.5's but the drive line angle is much better.

Longer Radius Arms do act as sway bars, just less than the shorter ones. The longer the arm, the less they bind with each other when they are traveling the opposite way.

You could always fine tune your caster with ride height...
 


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Kirby N.

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1991 Ranger
I got my new a/c line in and recharged the system. Boom! I had A/C for about two weeks and it was wonderful. Then it got less and less cold. Must have a leak. I will be chasing that down soon.

I am working on removing all the ugly stickers on the side of the truck.

Also got to catch up with 410fortune the other day!
 








Kirby N.

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Same old stuff! He still has his BII and it is all one color!
 




Kirby N.

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So I am a little annoyed tonight. I need to make some decisions and get my butt in gear. I had another flat tonight. All my tires are beyond wore out and they are cheap junky tires. So do I:

1. Buy some more junky cheap tires that suck

2. Get the 8.8 under my truck and mount some big meats on some 5 on 5.5.

?????????????

The obvious answer is the latter, however, that requires a significant investment of time and cash. And my spare isn't the best and the other tires are worse, so this needs to happen NOW if it is going to happen.
1. Atleast 2 new wheels
2. Figuring out the disk brakes, drilling rotors, machining the axle shafts
3. Setting the ride height so I can weld the spring perches in the right place- installing 63" cheby springs, moving the front perches, buying new shackles.
4. New tires

Optional things that really should be done now, but I may skip to skimp (I know I wanted to build it right the first time, but I don't have $2k right now)

5.13s, master install kit, ARB and compressor.

I have to figure out if I have time and cash to do this now, or if I want to waste cash on cheapo tires
 




Kirby N.

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I started ordering parts today. Most ranger guys use the Belltech 6400 shackle for lowering the rear end of a chevy to raise the rear on a ranger. My buddy has a set on his bronco and one good hit they bent like this / /. So I found DIY4X and their USDR shackle. I am not sure what USDR means, but they are built out of 3/8" and should hold together well. His belltechs are 6" from eye to eye. We ordered the 7" usdr shackles.

http://diy4x.com/cart/index.php?route=product/product&path=24&product_id=113

UDSR%20shackles-400x400.jpg


one of the many drags that caused failure of the belltechs

IMG_3065-1.jpg
 




BKennedy

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I started ordering parts today.

Good to get the sticker shock out of the way. I bought the most expensive parts first (radius arms, shocks and wheels) and all on the same day. Then, I figured I was committed.;)

Your friend should lower his rear bumper slightly so it takes the hit instead of the shackles.

I was under my Explorer the other day making some cardboard templates for slider mount gussets and was thinking about your build. Its relaxing for me under there and my mind wanders sometimes when I am performing a simple task. If you don't want to pony up all that cash for the Duff RA's, see if they would just sell you the forged rear caps (they call them head units) and the bushings. It would save you a lot of money, and you could build off of those. They are super beefy and the bushing, bolt on mounts help with the RA binding issues.

5350.jpg
 




Kirby N.

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I tend to take it bite, by bite! Little by little I will gather parts- as I have some cash. Our rubicon is up for sale, so if it sells it will free up some cash to get some more parts. Right now I am under the gun with the tires and ghetto rear brakes.

I like your idea about the bumper. We may rebuild it. The wall of tubing is lighter that we should have built it out of- it moves around a bunch. sure fits nice and tight though. Hopefully the usdr shackles fix the problem anyway.

I was also thinking about those radius arms. They must have more flex due to the bushings inside of where the cast part bolts to the rest of the arm. I think cage used to sell pieces. They must work good. A buddy of mine, Matt, owns Rockware here in colorado springs and builds chassis and buggies (he is an old ranger and landrover guy though). His tube chassis used to be built around cage arms front and rear. I was wheeling with him one time and he busted the 4 bolts that bolt the cap to the arms. We ended up wrapping it up with his winch rope and driving out. Here is some pics of his buggy. He won the 4700 class at the hammers this year in his grand cherokee. Here is some pics of that trip when he broke. You can see the arms in the second one.

100_2403-1.jpg

100_2401-1.jpg
 




Kirby N.

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So here is some updates. Got my gears. 5.13s and setup kit. Also got a notched cross pin. Have to stay with an open diff for now. I am excited not to have to grind the gears.
IMG_38531.jpg


I got the USDR shackles from DIY4x. They are so rad. 3/8" thick is seriously beef. Really happy with them. $110 to my door. 7" eye to eye. Shouldn't bend like the belltechs. Not designed for lowering street vehicles.
IMG_38521.jpg


I had some other hold ups. Reading Turboexplorers build thread, I didn't realize I needed either aftermarket chromo shafts, or to turn down the inside raised circle on the flange of the shaft. I found some alloyusa chromo shafts for about $90 a piece and some Yukons for $140. I am not sure if I should get either one, or if they are junk. I figured out alloy usa got bought out by omix ada and seems like the quality is lower. I may just machine the stockers. I am going to definitely price it.

Anybody have any recent experience with newer yukons or alloy usa shafts?
 




Scott B.

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Kirby N.

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At $370 for a set they are almost $100 more. I would like American made though.
 




Kirby N.

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So it looks like the upper spring can be removed on the ebrakes and I think that will relieve most of the binding. There is two on the top. No idea why.

I got the axle apart today. Used ratchet straps to help get out the c clips. Took out the ring and pinion. I need to go get a bearing separator to get the pinion shims off and the old bearings off the carrier.
 




BKennedy

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I tend to take it bite, by bite! Little by little I will gather parts- as I have some cash. Our rubicon is up for sale, so if it sells it will free up some cash to get some more parts. Right now I am under the gun with the tires and ghetto rear brakes.

I like your idea about the bumper. We may rebuild it. The wall of tubing is lighter that we should have built it out of- it moves around a bunch. sure fits nice and tight though. Hopefully the usdr shackles fix the problem anyway.

I was also thinking about those radius arms. They must have more flex due to the bushings inside of where the cast part bolts to the rest of the arm. I think cage used to sell pieces. They must work good. A buddy of mine, Matt, owns Rockware here in colorado springs and builds chassis and buggies (he is an old ranger and landrover guy though). His tube chassis used to be built around cage arms front and rear. I was wheeling with him one time and he busted the 4 bolts that bolt the cap to the arms. We ended up wrapping it up with his winch rope and driving out. Here is some pics of his buggy. He won the 4700 class at the hammers this year in his grand cherokee. Here is some pics of that trip when he broke. You can see the arms in the second one.

100_2403-1.jpg

100_2401-1.jpg

The guy who designed the Duff arms used to work for them, then went his own way and started up Cage. They are out of business, last I heard. Cage used a weld-on, super heavy mount, on the axle tubes that the head units bolt on to instead of the Ford wedgies.

You are right about more flex due to the bushings. Lessons any binding, but still allows the arms to act like sway bars on the highway. That, and they are 43" long.
 




BKennedy

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I was looking back on your thread and I don't see the plan for coils/shocks, or coil over shocks. What are you thinking on that?

5:13 gears is a great choice. I have them and they are a good compromise for a off-road truck that is driven on the street. My Explorer is comfortable on the freeway at 60-65, but it is turning around 2800RPM. When I had the stock transfer case and transmission, it was a little less RPM's.

Forgot to mention; I noticed the air intake box looks the same on the Ranger as the 91-94 Explorer. If needed, you can move it by finding a square box out of a 99 Explorer at a junk yard. You have to relocate the battery, but it opens up all that space above the axle.
 




Kirby N.

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I used bc broncos 7" coils and full height f150 buckets on my exploder build. I think with the full width axle I won't have to go that high. I spent a fair amount of time bending and dabbing shock hoops that went into the engine bay. I used the stock air box but unbolted
It so I could get in the engine bay. I probably will just use the super duty towers or maybe some rough stuff coil over towers to get it done this time.

I like the cost and simplicity of plain old coils and the bc coils are perfect spring rate in my opinion.
 




Kirby N.

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After some research alloy USA and yuk ons shafts both have the larger center "hub flange" at 3.44. I talked to my machinist today and he said it would make more sense to mod the rotors for cost/time. I like that idea because I can carry a stock trail spare. He will redrill the bolt pattern and open up the center for $25 a piece. Seems pretty reasonable, but I should probably get new rotors if I am going to do that. They are 30 a piece from the parts store or around 17 a piece with shipping from rockauto. So that puts me at $42 a piece. Wondering if currie makes more sense. Does anyone have curries?
 




DB_1

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I got a set of those DIY4x4 shackles as well and they are great. I had them do a custom set for me and they did it no problem, good people to work with. Look forward to your build progress.
 




Kirby N.

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Awesome. What was custom about them? You got me worried mine won't fit!

I got some work done today and some parts located and purchased.

Installed wheel bearings, new seals and new parking brakes. Left the outer upper springs off (there is an inner one also). I also ground some parts down that were hanging out on the lever mechanism for the parking brake. I hope this fixes my interference issues.

image-5.jpg
[/URL]

Here it is all done
image-3.jpg
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I have been looking for a specific style of stock wheels. They have been a pain to find. I was at the pic and pull today and look what I found! A set of bronco wheels. They cleaned up nice and I have all 4 caps. Looks like they are 15x8. Should tuck up nice with some 35x12.50s on them and they were only $20 a piece.

image-4.jpg
[/URL]

Also got a set of Chevy 64s in good shape. Hope the ride and flex improves. I plan to "leaf" in the overload leaf because I do haul heavy junk sometimes. I am not really sure how much lift I will get,
So I can always pull the overload or the stock block later if it's too much.

image-2.jpg
[/URL]
 




DB_1

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Awesome. What was custom about them? You got me worried mine won't fit!

Don't worry, yours are fine lol. I got the 7" ones as well but i'm running Tacoma leafs. They are 2 5/8" mounting width so I had them made to fit that and still have the 3" bushing width to fit the spring hanger.
 


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Kirby N.

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So I was considering 33x10.50 BFG mudders or a/ts, but since the rims are 15x8, I think I decided on 35x12.50. I am only buying Goodyear or BFG, and since the Goodyear Mtrs are $30 cheaper than the BFG mudders I decided on getting 2 of those to start with. We have them on our tj and they are fine. Then I found these. 2 BFG km2s 95% tread (I measured) for 180 for the pair. So I am going to run 35" BFG km2s. That's too good of a deal to pass up. Hope to get them mounted tomorrow.

image-6.jpg
 




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