Completed Project - Kirby's 1991 Ranger Build Up | Page 29 | 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!

trying to figure out why Duff would put bushings in there????
Their shock mounts really need a double sheer

Solid arms bind because the bushings do not allow much flex. With the extra set of bushings behind the axle, it lets them flex more without taking away strength. It also helps with softening vibrations on the highway since the rear mount is a giant heim joint.

I saw the arms duff is selling now are double sheer.

I had to go look, the shock mounts. Now I get it. I thought they had them with that tube single sheer configuration so you could mount double shocks to them, one on each side. Guess they figured hardly anyone is running dual shocks up front anymore.

I had to go look, the shock mounts. Now I get it. I thought they had them with that tube single sheer configuration so you could mount double shocks to them, one on each side. Guess they figured hardly anyone is running dual shocks up front anymore.

oh no, there is still some sort of adapter to mount them with dual shocks. I am with you though- dual shocks are so 1995. I had their ttb kit with the extended arms on my explorer and I didn't go with dual shocks. but my buddy did on his ranger a few years before. Probably 1999 or so. It was this huge tube bracket up over the coil bucket.

I got a lot of work done in the last couple days. I have been pushing to get some things ready for hunting.

Last year before hunting I did the front wheel houses. Basically building plastic wheel wells between the stock ones that were trimmed and the wider fiberglass fenders. I planned on doing the rear too, but I just never got to it. It will protect the inside of the fenders and the bed from mud and snow and also provide some structure.

I was waiting on the new ARP bolts, so I decided to tackle the wheel houses. It can get really muddy while hunting, so it would be a good time to get these done.

I used the same process that I did for the front. I saw this process on *****in Rides. Start by making a masking tape template. Tape the hole shut.



Then trim and remove the masking tape, and flatten it for a template.


Then cut it out of the plastic with a grinder.


Heat it up with a heat gun to form it and push it into place. I had to do some trimming too. They came out great and do a wonderful job of filling the holes. Should accomplish the goal well.


I also made brackets out of 3/16" 1" strap. Welded them on to the fender supports and riveted to them to hold the fender liners in place.

Then my parts came for the 8.8. Thanks @BKennedy for stressing me out about my ring gear bolts backing off! I torqued them to 85 foot lbs and cleaned the holes really well before being really generous with the locktite. Should be good to go.


I installed the diff and checked it a few times for leaks along the way. Works perfect with 0 leaks. I also used bearing glue on the bearing caps to ensure the races do not spin. A little insurance I was told to try by a professional buddy. Cant hurt. I only used them between the caps and the races.

On to the drivers radius arm. That was a bigger job than I thought.

The bushings were wore out!

They were sloppy and nearly coming apart.


The new bushings fit really tight. I had to use a bolt to press them intighening the nut with washers until the bushings slid in.

I also welded on a new lower mount for the Fox Shocks and gave them a coat of paint while the arm was out.



They turned out well and clear the tires perfect. They actually align with the upped mounts better. I also have 3/4-1" more up travel available between the two setups and more down travel as well due to it being a longer shock.



They are definitely bigger bodied than the bilstiens and look nice and vertical in the wheel well. It drives well, and is way quieter. I can't wait to do the other side. Perhaps Saturday. I also have 2 new 35" BFGs to have installed this week before hunting. My front two tires are pretty shot.

Looks great. Make sure that shock shaft doesn't contact the radius arm, those are flexy arms. Is that just ABS sheet you are using? I need to do something to keep mud and rocks out of the back of the front fenders. Not too worried about anywhere else.

I don’t think they will- but yeah I need to cycle the suspension and be sure. Also need to make sure the tire doesn’t contact. I used artec brackets and they are the longest version which are 2+ inches on center for that reason.

Yeah I think it is 1/8” abs. I would have to look back at the thread from last year be sure. The heat gun is the secret. You hear it up and it becomes pliable then cools hard.

wicked good results! Nice double sheer on the shock mount
Now I need to go back and re do my wheel arches with the ABS and heat gun
My wife would kill me if I used up that much masking tape at once, ill use some cardboard AND tape....shhhhhh your secret is good with me

Im still not so sure I like bushings in there. Everything aftermarket that uses those bushings = I am always replacing bushings...the wifes FJ cruiser her rear links (two upper, two lower and drag link) were all rough country, all used those bushings and I swear they need new bushings each we upgraded to arms with johnny joints. Same is true with our Polaris machines, all of the A arms use bushings and those things wear out every single season, so I upgraded to brass bushings.... WAAAAY BETTER
For your radius arm situation there maybe some actual bearings or brass bushings can be had?

I don’t think brass bushings would be ideal- there needs to be some flex in there or it would defeat the purpose. I think it is a decent design- I don’t know how many miles and how many years since installed these but I would guess 5 years and 70k miles roughly. So that is a pretty good life span. My truck is at 280K + miles now. I have put a full 100k on it. I do think mounting the shocks somewhere else would decrease wear as well- but I am pretty committed to this shock setup and I think it acceptable for now.

I got the other side done today. The bushings were not as bad as the drivers side. Shock looks good!

Also a new set of 2 bfg all terrains.

She performed flawlessly on the hunt. Towed my moms sxs on a dual axle dump trailer the whole 4+ hours there and home. Got it really dirty. Arb is still sealed up nice and tight.

here are some pics after the trip

the rear inner fender wells did a great job keeping the mud out of the inside of the bedsides even though mud got everywhere else.

You probably guessed by the coolers in the back that we had a good hunt. I killed a bull and a cow opening day. I feel really fortunate.


We killed 5 animals in this hunt. Everyone is happy to fill the freezers.
this was my first bull ever- so I am so excited to have a wall hanger


well heck yeah! way to go!!

The elk around here are too smart for the local guys.... every year so far I see everyone get skunked... and then the elk season ends and the huge herd of elk are all over our field.... like 80 of them, every morning.... it is pretty funny to watch!!

I really like that bathroom setup with the fireplace between bath and bed, but there really should be a transition at the carpet to tile!! Whomever installed the carpet just tucked it up to the tile, and although that works okay for a nice place like that we would use a transition there
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA Ranger looks awesome!! two elk! does not get much better........

🤣 yeah yeah yeah. Critiquing my tile job! I did use a Schulter transition there when I installed it. I’ll take a pic and see if you approve. Haha!

That is a super sharp Ranger. Classy.

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!