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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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I added two sections of dom to the rear bumper and capped them with these dome billet steel caps from ballistic fab. I had to grind down the lip to fit them into dom because they were made for .120 wall hrew- and the dom is .250- but I think they worked out well. I didn’t like the tube at first, but it grew on me. It’s really strong being dom but I plan to still add some supports. I’ll also do similar tube on the front and probably sliders out of this stuff. It was tough to bend- but hopefully it will hold up to abuse.


Here are some pics before paint:


In this new flex spot I could really see how well the shock setup worked and I was pleased. In the pic you can see the shock is bottomed out- but the tire is clearing the shock- No rub. I hope it will with new tires too. It’s close.

The rear tires tuck really nice into the fenders on compression too. I am pleased.

Then we got out and did a little camping/ hunting scouting. The spot we picked was epic on the views. The ranger drove 5 hours there and 5 hours back solo no prob.



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More of the camp site



That little pickup gets better every time you post something. Bumper looks great!
Way to keep it clean and tasteful.

I finally got to the rear brakes on the ranger. I have been running around with no ebrake and a broken top hat on the passenger rotor for months now. So I replaced both rotors and put new ebrake shoes, hardware and disk brake pads. I also wanted to address an issue I have with the ebrake. It seems the stock pedal doesn't work with the explorer ebrakes. I think there is just too much tension from the explorer setup and the stock pedal isn't built for it. Comparing the explorer pedal with the stock pedal, there seems to be much more travel on the explorer setup and it really winds up the cable. They also mount with 3 holes. So I thought maybe I could just swap the explorer pedal into my ranger. I picked one up at the pick and pull and here is a side by side.


Though they do both mount with 3 screws, the 3 screws are in different locations and it wouldn't one a bolt in swap. I considered taking apart the explorer guts and mounting them into the ranger plate, but they also dont line up.

So I started exploring why the ranger pedal doesn't last. It will work for a small amount of time, then it gets stuck in the down position and I have to release it by pushing down with my hand, and pulling up the pedal while pulling the release. The last time my wife drove my truck she pulled the handle hard and it seemed to release worse. I found the culprit. The little tab that is attached tot he handle and contacts the release lever gets tweaked a little and no longer releases. Said tab pictured below:


This is after I did a little straitening job. So with some thought, I decided if this tab was beefed up a little, that would probably fix it. So I cut some parts off the expolorer pedal and added them to the ranger pedal setup.


IDK if it will work long term, but it is working perfect for now. If it bends again I will really beef it up! This is actually the second pedal I have had in there. last time it quit working I just put in another ranger pedal and it worked for a little bit- but of course bent the same way. I didn't take time to understand why it quit working last time- I just swapped and moved on. So I am optimistic!

I also had some time to swap radiators. Luckily, the new one I installed with the paint or engine was a lifetime warranty unit from O'Riley. They warrantied it and let me upgrade to an auto radiator. The truck is running a good notch cooler now. It wasn't over heating, but it was climbing a little when I had the A/C on and it was hot outside and I was running up hill. So the auto radiator should fix that. I did have to swap shrouds- the auto is the thinner one because the radiator is twice as thick- 2 core verses 1 core.


The ranger has been acting up a little- so I thought I would ask before moving forward with the diagnosis and see if there is anything obvious I am missing.

A couple weeks ago I noticed it would stutter/ hesitate when on the highway near 75 or 80 mph at a constant obout 3k to 4k rpm. It was like the engine was turning off. Rpms would all the sudden drop off it would slow down hard and then they would be back. It seemed like it was a fuel pump, and it seemed to correspond to when it was low on fuel. So I figured that's what it was. I decided the pump was getting hot and starting to die when the fuel was low. If you guys remember I ran a delphi pump for a standard cab after discovering that a extended cab pump would not utilize my full tank of fuel due to it being too short of neck.

I had a trip hunting planned so I did the fuel pump late one night two weeks ago. I also ordered a replacement fuel neck filler assembly because the old one was cracked. SO- replaced the fuel pump. This time with a carter standard cab pump.

I also replaced the filler neck with one for a 1997 Ranger because it was longer than the 1991 OR the 1993 that I had been running. When I got it assembled, everything seemed perfectly fine. When I went to refill the tank, something was wrong. It would only fill at very small slow amounts from the gas station. It took me 10 minutes to get 7 gallons in. So off with the bed again. This time, I took off the filler neck and realized the inner, smaller tube was getting kinked right on the end due to contact with the pump. This fixed my filler issues- and now (not since I did the bedsides) I can fill my tank with the pump at full throttle no problem. Awesome.

So I go hunting and no issues at all. It is about a 4 drive lots of passes and highway driving. lots of cruise control use. It seemed like the new pump is getting all the fuel out of the tank- I filled on e and it took about 20 gallons. I was getting almost 16mpg (15.7 or something) without compensating for the speedo inaccuracy which usually adds a mpg or so. All was well. It was also really cold both ways.

However- on the ride home when I get 30 minutes from home at about 1/8 tank, she starts the sputter again. it was significantly warmer at home then in the mountains. I think maybe the pump isn't getting all the fuel or is getting low or getting hot- so I refill. Still the sputter.

Today I am running around town- its a little warmer outside after a cold spell- and she starts the sputter again. So I whip into a gas station and refill- but no difference.

So I stopped and got a fuel pressure gauge and I am currently getting ready to go test fuel pressure.

I suspect- either the filler neck on the pump got it hot and smoked it or just a bad pump- but I think it is still a fuel pump issue.

Any ideas? I'll also do the propane test on the intake and see if by some chance there is a ghost intake leak I can't find.

Other thoughts, although you are on the correct path.
Sediment in tank clogging sock
Fuel filter

Lastly. Heat causing crankshaft sensor to act flaky. Hot grease-oil on it causes weird3 issues.

Thank you @Turdle. I forgot to mention that I did put in a new motor craft fuel filter when I swapped the pump.

You know what? I don’t think I did a new crank sensor when I did the motor. I am going to have to do some research and figure that out. I do know I did a new dampener pulley. Rock auto has a new motor craft one. I might just replace it. I don’t think it is dirty, but it has a lot of miles if it’s the original.

You sure it’s not a miss? Like in the ignition?
No check engine light when it occurs?

No kinks in your fuel lines? Have had that one before, I kinked the return line nylon right where the fitting to the engine was, caused an intermittent fueling issue

Any fuel in the vacuum line to the fuel rail regulator?

Let us know what fuel pressure is, however it would be best to test it when the issue occurs

I have had hit or miss luck with Carter pumps, as you know it is best to use Bosch, but not always available

This is an odd one, seems you know the drill. I would start with a flashlight and give the engine bay a serious once over . Followed by all fuel lines
Make sure your vapor line is clear and breathing. Next time it happens try loosening the gas cap, any whooshing of air?
My exhaust was too close to my gas tank for a while and it used to heat up and cause massive pressure in the tank, the center cap and Evap system could not keep up

Other suspect could be vapor purge solenoid ( canister purge) again if this sucker sticks closed it will buildup pressure in the tank or worse, if it sticks open vacuum in the tank

My old 4.0 would sputter and try to die when I was working it at low speed (rock crawling or snow wheeling) I figured it was getting hot and going into limp mode.
I swapped a 5.0 into it to fix it. Now more sputtering.

I ordered the last motor craft crankshaft sensor from rock auto. I haven’t had time to test fuel pressure- it was cooler today but no issues. I kind of want to wait to diagnose until it is low on fuel so I can get the sediment out of the tank. Nothing major but a little sediment in the tank. No check engine light when it cuts out but it will do a light when the engine dies- it turns off when the engine comes back to life.

Crankshaft sensor. You got it @Turdle! The crankshaft sensor was original and the bolts were loose and about to fall out. I replaced it with the motorcraft sensor. It seems to run better (smoother). I am going to keep an eye on it. The old sensor looked like it made a little contact with the damper pulley and rubbed off the end of the sensor a little. New sensor in!
Crankshaft sensor.jpg

I also checked the fuel pressure. It was at 40 if I cycled the key and 32 with the engine on.

So I still got some stutter on the highway wide open when its warm outside. I was able to find a motorcraft fuel pump on eBay part number PFS-38. RockAuto didn't show that part number but it seems to fit from what I can tell. It was expensive but I am hoping we can be done with this issue now. Not sure it will fix the stutter but I won't have to wonder anymore. I am going to make sure the tank is empty and make sure to get any debris in there out.

With my 93 I fought for months the truck cutting out anytime I headed up the mountains to go wheeling. I could drive around town and never have a problem. I could wheel all day on the trail with never a problem. As soon as I hit the major climb up the mountain of 3000 foot elevation gain in about 8 miles the truck would quit running at the top. Ended up being the fuel pump. Soon as I swapped it the problem went away.

Some updates on the saga. Ha!

I found 2 motorcraft fuel pumps. The PFS-37 is for an extended cab, the PFS-38 is for a regular cab. The 38 has a deeper sump. I ordered both. When I realized the 37 has the shallow sump, I sent it back. Then I went to swap in the 38 and figured out that it is so deep that it actually bottoms on the tank. Perhaps this is why my fuel pumps haven't been maintaining pressure or lasting long. Unfortunately by the time I figured that out I already shipped back the PFS-37. So I had to reorder it and paid some extra shipping.

So I installed the carter pump for an extended cab. The one that had less range originally. Now it starts really hard. The bleed back valve that keeps fuel in the line must be jacked. So I am excited to get the other pump in. But I think I might have to deal with the limited range.

Today my starter started sticking the armature. I was sure it was the battery. But it wasn't. It has been really rough on the started because I have to crank it so much to start it. So I am not surprised. Looks like I replaced the starter in 2018 according to post #328 with a motorcraft starter. Lame. I bet the warranty is passed. I will be running around with a hammer until I get a starter.

So- my starter officially died, but the PFS-37 fuel pump arrived. So my daughter dragged the ranger to the shop with her bronco via a tow strap.

Weirdest thing. In 2019, I replaced the starter with a starter for a late model ranger. I think 2007-2011. G2MZ-110002-B. Found that in post number 374. I called ford to see if it was still under warranty. Negative. 2 year warranty. So I had them look it up and this starter (new not rebuilt) from ford now costs $65 retail now. When I bought it in 2019, it was $150 whole sale. So I needed one of those. I also replaced the solenoid on the fender for $40. The guy at the parts counter said it was the cheapest starter he has seen in a long time. I agree.


I also bought a fuel pump connector from RockAuto because with all this swapping I have broke the locking tabs off of the connector. Here is the old one mid swap complete with some of my DNA on it. If you look close you can see the broken tabs. Tried hard to gut the plastic connector so that I wouldn't have to replace the terminals. I succeeded on all but the one- the black wire. So I had to put a new terminal there. I just clamped and shrink tubed it. I woke this morning thinking I should have soldiered it. I hope it never give me problems. @410Fortune Do you clamp or soldier?

So now it is starting and running great. I dont know what the range will be, but I hope I won't have any more issues with fuel pressure. Ill have to wait until I am full throttle up hill in the hot summer to find out I think.

Crimp Or solder sometimes Both! As long as the wire is connected solid and protected from the elements you are good to go! I had to replace the same pigtail on my 88 last time I had the pump out

That is a good price for an oem 07 ranger starter!!!

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I hope it’s never an issue. I don’t really want to pull it apart again to soldier it.