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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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Here we go:

I got the doors all finished up. They came out good. I like the tan and the black on the blue.

View media item 54469
The day I picked the cab up from paint:View media item 54470
First, I originally trimmed my stock inners a little too much. There is a really nice 1997 at the pick and pull and the inners seemed a little more generous- not sure if thats true or not, but I grabbed them so I could give it another shot.

On the drivers side I had a wire a little exposed. This is where my shock hoop on my explorer rubbed through a critical wire and caused major issues, so I decided I had better fix it. I think it was from a grinder or something. didn't cut, just tore off the sheath.

View media item 54472
Started with shrink wrap then lots of anti friction tape and regular tape. Should be good for another 300k.

I also went a little nuts with my new harbor freight rivet gun. Handles 1/4" rivets with a 1/2" head. They are handy for this stuff.

View media item 54476View media item 54475View media item 54474View media item 54473
So I started working on fitting up the panels roughly before working on inner fender extensions.

View media item 54482View media item 54481View media item 54480View media item 54479View media item 54478View media item 54477

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Next it was time to fit the inner fenders. Thanks to Jaime, I got the 1/8" ABS.

I made masking tape templates by taping the hole shut, then cutting out the tape. I went on top of the fender lip and traced the edge, then cut the tape after I got it off. Here are the templates.

View media item 54467
then I laid them on my ABS and cut out with the vibrator tool.


Next I clamped them in and started heating (of course after I realized this was the trick)

View media item 54484View media item 54483View media item 54485
They came out really good and they are rigid enough to not need any structure.

I am going to wait until the doors are on, then I will rivet them in place to the old inners and glue to the fenders with some black caulk in a couple spots.

Next I took the ol ranger down to Rhino linings for a new floor without carpet!

It sure looks good in the sun! View media item 54479View media item 54488View media item 54487View media item 54486View media item 54468

I also replaced the entire a/c system and the radiator. The radiator had a crack I couldn't see until I pulled it and the a/c has had some problems that I just wanted to be done!

Here is how it looks at quitting time tonight:

I got some NOS wiper arms, repainted the windshield trim before the windshield went in. while I was there I added new wiper motor. The old one was making a racket. I also redid the paint on the bumper. My winch needed some parts too- cross pieces and one part of the housing so I took it apart and added the parts and greased it. The cable was junk- so I need another.

I am starting the interior trim. I had the headliner re done. WAY easier to get out with everything out. The best way- through an empty back window.


Starting on the dash soon- I guess I need 2 more of these anchors. I can't find them, so I wonder if I broke them when I removed them.

I used to have this awful annoying squeak in the dash. I suspect it was the mounts- so I bought this 3m tape for all the contacts. Hope it fixes it.


Finally, that is a flip pac topper under the mess. I picked it up really cheap. I always wanted one. Not sure if Ill put it on the ranger or sell the dumb thing.


I almost forgot.

The cab wires on the drivers side went down across the floor between the seat and the door for the seatbelt light then up the b pillar to the cargo light and cab light. And the rear speaker. The passenger was the same.

Forget that with rhino floors.

I redid the harnesses and ran the wires up the a pillar on both sides. didn't get a good finished pic, but here is working on wires.


I also added kicker 6x8s while I was there. The doors already have matching ones.

keep the flip pak! those are so handy.
I am in a similar boat with the BII right now, so funny to know you are not alone in this world. I am also using cardboard and masking tape to make inner fender liner templates.....I have chassis saver and fiberglass everywhere I even got chassis saver in my hair.....
heat gun worked wonders on that stuff, I never even tried! I built roofs for our Polaris Ace, Rzr 2 seater and rzr 4 seater from that stuff, sure would have been nice to contour the roll cages! Now I know.........

I love the color man keep up the good work !!! Long live the 80's trucks (Yes I know yours is a 91 but still)
I like how the bedliner was brought out into the rocker steps
All your pics are still loading for me, but from I see so far this AM looks killer!! Jealous!! Sweet truck man!

I am SOOOOOO jealous of your door panels holy crap. I have the SAME door panels in my 88 BII....found grandma's 90 BII at the junk yard and bought the entire interior, same mocha color perfect condition just like yours
Except a few years later I converted from power locks and windows to manual locks and windows and now I have this huge hole where my window crank is.
I NEED door panels like yours. Dang!! I am not sure I can ever find them, in fact I did not even know they existed until I saw your pics. At least now I know where to look 89-92 Rangers
Jealous city here in Idaho

There are some grey nos door panels on ebay- no mocha ones. I like the look of the black and tan contrasting, but to add grey wouldn't work.

Thanks for the complements.

I definitely want to keep the flip pack, but it is a beast to store and I don’t think I can run it on the ranger all the time. That and it will sell for 3k in spring. We will see how a feel when camping season hits. Right now, I want the space back.

Chipping away at it tonight.

Here are some more pictures of the ant squeak tape on the dashboard clips.

in that picture you can also see the modified wiring harness running up the a pillar on the passenger side.

Here are some better pics of the drivers side:


It runs down and catches the door switch and plugs into the dash harness before going across behind the dash to hook to the passenger side.

Drivers side:



passenger side close ups:


I also didn't mention it, but I connected the seat belt wires and buried them so that the dash seatbelt light doesn't come on anymore. Ever. I can't stand modern vehicles that are pushy about the seatbelt.

I am also thinking about cutting out the inertia switch for the fuel pump. it is kind of in the way and I don't think it will ever be necessary. Its just another thing to check when it stops running. Any thoughts??

Thanks Brian! Yeah, at the rate it is going the shell would be a small fortune to paint! I could maybe use the duplicolor paint match stuff.

I got it fired up last night. A crank and fired right up. It sounded a little rough for a few minutes but then it calmed down and runs great. Maybe I should have primed it or something?

I needed 2 new tires and I have been watching to see if someone would have bfgs on sale for a few months. Unfortunately the only sales I have seen are for 4 tires. So I was considering a set of maxxis tires because they were 30% off and the bfgs were going to b $560 for two and for 4 maxxis would be $700. Fortunately, 4 wheel parts had a 10% off for Halloween on $500 and I got discount to beat it and got a good deal.

I got the ranger up and going- but I have this issue with the drivers turn signal. Every time I hit the signal, it pops the fuse.

I have been chasing it most of the night and I really need to be working on other stuff because I need the ranger to haul my butt to the mountains to go hunting Monday- but I dread the idea of no turn signals or brake lights. I am really terrible with electrical stuff-I just don't really know how it works and it is frustrating.

Any ideas fellas?

If you're poping a fuse every time, there's a short somewhere in the wiring. Chase the wire down and look for a bad wire, or exposed wire. Does it pop when hitting the brake light too? If so that tells you it's at the back of the truck somewhere, or that wire at least.

I would not drive it until you solve that or you risk the entire truck catching fire.:nono:

I wish I had a choice not to drive it...

It does affect brake lights too, but the drivers turn signal when i hit it, it flashes once and pops the fuse. I thought it might be trailer wiring because it seemed to stop when I unplugged the tail light harness. Then the next round it popped with it unplugged- so it’s not that.

I ran out of fuses last night, but I was laying in bed thinking and I remember a loosish green wire in the steering column, so I am going to tear into that tonight. I hate electrical stuff.

Been a couple weeks...

I drove the ranger for a few days with no bed. Its fun like that.


I got the bed back and the fuel door. The fuel door was about a week behind the bed.

A week after the bed was done I had it Rhino lined. I spoke to Rhino about doing the bottom 2" of the cab and fenders to match the under doors and they said $400. Lol. thats not happening.


I sorted out the short. I had to remove the bed (after I got it lined) and pull the gas tank. My dad and I wiggled the wire harness between the tank and frame and it seemed to cause the fuss to pop. After some poking around, we realized I had drilled through the frame and into the wires a little when I did the 63" chevy spring swap. 1 was the power wire for the left turn signal, 1 was the ground for the fuel pump! An I also installed an ARB High Output air compressor. I couldn't find room for the ARB twin compressor- so I think Ill put that in the jeep. I got a good deal on a single and an air up kit that was brand new. Also installed the switches with a bezel off amazon.

I thought the front locker wasn't working- then I realized that ARB changed the wiring to be like the rubicon... for safety. The one in my explorer wasn't like that- but you must have the rear locker locked before the front will work. Kinda stupid. IDK if I will go through the effort of bypassing it or not.

Then I took it hunting. It didn't stay clean long. I really should have gotten done with the rear inner fenders first. It really got muddy between the fenders and the bed. But it did really good. I used the locker a couple times- not because I had to, but because I could. It was pretty nasty going up an icy hill on a 4x4 trail. It was nice to lock it in for a little extra traction.




All pictures of my old man glassing.
I got an elk too!

When I put on the doors I installed new bushings in the upper hinges. They lasted a couple weeks on the drivers side. I guess Ill redo them. Aftermarket junk in your local "help" section.

The ranger drove great 4 hours to hunt, wheeled all week hunting and drove home. I love the thing. I need some carpet floor mats and I need to install the rear ARB.

and you got a nice elk in only 4 hours
wicked cool

My ARB lockers are the same way, rear first then you can use the front
I never did bypass it, would be very easy to switch them around so the front is activated first then the rear

How does it ride with the chevy 63's?
Are you going to do the 2" strip yourself in something other then rhino?
pesky drill bits getting into the wiring!!

On my old RV I was installing a solar panel rack and drilled into the light/fan wiring for the bathroom. After I replaced the fuses they all worked. The wiring runs through channels cut into the hard foam roofing insulation in bundles so nearly impossible to access. I squirted a bunch of silicone sealant into the drill hole and called it good.

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and you got a nice elk in only 4 hours
wicked cool

My ARB lockers are the same way, rear first then you can use the front
I never did bypass it, would be very easy to switch them around so the front is activated first then the rear

How does it ride with the chevy 63's?
Are you going to do the 2" strip yourself in something other then rhino?
pesky drill bits getting into the wiring!!

No- I drove 4 hours to my hunting area and pulled a trailer the whole way. Then hunted for 5 days. Killed it on day 5 and drove back. Never had a 5 hour elk hunt. They are alway tough than that!

On my old ARB, you could activate whichever whenever. Like an adult. I think that would be ideal. When I get the rear installed I might jump the wires.

It rides great with the 63s and travels well too. Did that swap probably 5 years ago. Drilled through the wires then too- but it hasn't been a problem until recently.

No, I am done with DIY liner. I had a bad experience. Not a hootus type of experience, but I got tired of doing the Herculiner touch up every 6 months on the Explorer.

Today, we have about 18" of snow. I am going to go play in it now and see how the ranger does.

I forgot to mention, I did end up going with 2 new BFG All Terrains. 4WP had a spend $500, get 10% off. So I took that to discount and they matched it. I also stacked camber shims in the front passenger side. I think my camber is at a solid 0* now. It drives with a finger at 80.