Completed Project - Kirby's 1991 Ranger Build Up | Page 24 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

  • Register Today It's free!

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.

Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!

Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!

Those graphics put it over the top!! Beautiful!!

Thank you.

Does anyone have any ceramic coating or wax recommendations?

Ive heard good things about the ceramic coatings but holy heck are they pricey.
Can you even put that on a fresh paint job like yours?

See here for wax choices, I use Meguires or Mothers waxes.....something with carnuba cannot go wrong.
Nu Finish is also the old go to standard....stuff is awesome!! Can get at Harbor freight too LMFAO!!!!!!
Best car waxes: the critical factor you are forgetting!

Saw you and your Ranger just a little bit ago near Black Forest. All I can say is WOW!! Pictures do not do this thing justice. Looks even better in person!

We oughta do some kind of meet up at some point! There’s an Explorer meetup planned in June with one of the Facebook Explorer groups. It’ll be a weekend of meetups and trails. You’re more than welcome to join!

Oh yeah, I was just there. Thanks. Yeah I can come. Idk which fb group? I don’t get on fb much


Bumpity for anyone who missed the pics on the last page, this Ranger is soooooooo well done!

Sofa . . .

. . . king . . .


Wow, well done - - great color, graphics, and attention to detail.


Thanks Paul. I appreciate that. I have always loved your sport and enjoyed seeing it up close in Moab a few years ago.

I have been leading a student church camp this last weekend. I always bring my truck because we charter 6 buses and it never fails that they do something stupid and get stuck. This year after they dropped us off, one took a wrong turn and got down a steep soft hill that he couldn’t (wouldn’t) turn around at the bottom and couldn’t get back up. I had a big tree to tie off to and tried a single line pull. Wouldn’t move. So then I tried a double line pull but the only trees available closer were lesser trees. It seemed like it was going to move, but then I ripped the tree out of the ground. He had to call the wrecker and I had to get back to work. It was a good time for me.

Haha. Yeah. You can see in the one pic how compressed my tire is.

I ordered some rebuild kits for the ballistic joints on my track bar and a spanner wrench today. They are really getting sloppy and making a racket. I know I can just tighten them, but Ill probably put new races in them too.

How many miles are on those ballistic joints?
I cringe every time I think about adding a uniball or heim to a rig.....because they just don't seem to last!!

I am def not a fan of Heims. The ones on my radius arms seem to be holding up well. I think probably 40k on them or so. I have greased them a couple times and never tightened them. I have been told I may just be able to tighten them a little and be fine, but I think I’ll just put in new races.

Heims do seem to wear out. I have replaced steering heims on the drag link because they work a lot harder than the two on the tie rod. The heim on my track bar is still good, but I have blown out the bushing at the other end once. The heims on my radius arms are not showing any signs of wear. I have the same Duff arms as Kirby, not nearly as many road miles, but more dirt miles.

One of the joints in the tracbar had a ton of slop. I replaced both bushings on both joints and reinstalled. It drives a lot better and less clunk. But the clunk isn't completely gone.

I might tighten them a little. I also figured out I could run a johnny joint on the lower mount. I thought I couldn't because of the width, but it has a 9/16" hole and it will get wide enough to fir the johnny joint at over 2". I might do that.

Not sure what the other clunk is. Ill keep an eye on it. I don't know if I would run ballistic joints again.

I took my niece and my kid snowboarding at my parents house. The ranger was the lift.


  • IMG_4790.JPG
    71.7 KB · Views: 90

Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!

sheesh where were you when I was a kid! We had to hike back up LOL

Looks awesome! CO in March :)