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LONO100's SPORT TRAC BUILD

well, it'll be a year this week that ive had my explorer and ive completed most of the mods ive planned so i thought it would be a good time to finally do my registry. this one is going to be extensive!

my name is ken, if anyone ever wants to reach me my email is underground707@gmail.com or you can just message me here on the forum, im always on here wasting time. here's some info on my rig:

2003 Ford Explorer Sport Trac XLT
2WD
bought it for 12k and it was in pristine condition with only 60k miles on it.

my current specs and mods can be found on my vehicle specs tab

here's my build:

this is how she looked when we brought her home.
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pretty much stock with a camper shell, class III hitch and brake controller

this was our first ride in the mud about the same time last year
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the first thing i modded was getting a grill overlay to put over the honeycomb grill just to give it a little character.
before:
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after:
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this is a pic of my engine with the KN intake installed.
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my next project was getting some fresh bright bulbs in the dash. i changed them all, stayed with the same color just some fresher brighter burning bulbs
(#194). if you plan to do this, change out all the bulbs including the HVAC controls so you wont have to take it all apart if one goes out.
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i then painted my radio bezel to match the exterior paint to give it a little custom look inside, without going too custom
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my next project was painting the awful grey cladding.
before:
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after:
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my next and much needed project was finding a set of black wheels and some good mud tires. this was my most fruitful project because i actually made money on this project. by being extremely vigilant on craigslist, i was able to find a set of black 15" wheels with fresh pro comp mud tires on them for 400 bucks. with my infamous negotiation skills i talked the guy down to 200 bucks and got a set of black wheels and fresh mud tires that looked awesome!
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here's what they looked like when they went on;
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i rode on these treads for two months before i was able to sell just the tires to a jeep owner for a whopping 400 bucks! i made 200 bucks on these treads AND i got to keep the black wheels! biggest score of my summer in 2011. i took that profit and sold my stock wheels for 600 and used that to go toward my locker and 33" tire project which you will see later.

next on my project list was to get some much needed shocks. my stock shocks were completely blown, and my buddies would say my trac rode like a boat. i went with a set of rancho RS5000 all the way around. i was able to find a set on 4wheelonline for 159.00 shipped WITH a 50.00 rancho mail in rebate. 110 bucks for shocks, score!
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with the black wheels, my custom grill no longer matched, so i broke out the paint and redid my grill;
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here are a few pics of how she was looking at this point;
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you'll notice in these pics i just swapped out that long stock antenna for a little stubby black autozone antenna for 8 bucks.

my next project was to install a CB radio and roof rack. im a nut for cleanliness, so i planned and waited to get my roof rack before i slapped the cb radio on, that way i could conceal the antenna cable for a neat look.

this is how i fed the antenna into the cab:

15' of wire on a magnet mount antenna and i mounted the antenna right above the brake light and worked my way into the cab
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fed the wire through the door seals
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pulled the trim and fed it along the door jambs
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and the coaxial landed perfectly under the ash tray!
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tapped a fuse
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grounded it
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and mounted the radio
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super clean look, no drilling, no loose wires
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fully functional and i get great SWR readings, pretty close to 1.0 on ch20

i zip tied the wires under my roof rack
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here's how it looked with the roof basket on
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here's a few pics of how she looked so far, and how she put in work on our camping trips in summer of 2011
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next, i got into the real meat and potatos of my build and installed my rear aussie lockers. it took me a little research on what i wanted, what would fit my needs best and i decided that a lunchbox type locker would be the best fit for me. i went with the aussies, and it's the best mod ive made by far! here are a few pics of the project
materials for the install
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pics of the pumkin opened up before the lockers went in
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axle shafts pulled
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spider gears out!
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lockers in!!!
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my first problem i had with my trac was when i got a CEL code. it read back as P0171/P0174. the guys who read my codes for free told me they wanted to take apart the engine down to the lower intake manifolds, and a whole bunch of other crap to solve the problem and it would start at 600 bucks. i told them to go F themselves and went to the forum for help. luckily, ncranchero aka sport trac yoda pointed me to this infamous rubber elbow problem
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i was able to resolve the issue for a dollar. thanks ranchero!

after a little planning and a lot of procrastinating i finally got my lift and 33"s on. i went with 33" goodyear duratracs on midnightrebel's recommendation and i got to say, these are hands down the best tires ive ever bought. if rebel ever makes his way out to the west coast i owe him a few beers. i did a simple shackle/TT lift. went with the tried and true warrior #153 shackles and twisted those torsion bolts. got 3" lift all the way around (2WD!). here are some pics of the project.

shackles came in the mail:
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used my jack to give me a little help in lining up the shackles
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after the lift but sitting on my stock wheels as my black AR-767's were at the shop getting the 33"s on.
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and bam!
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slapped the spare on the roof
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next i slapped my alpine in and got rid of that god awful stock deck.
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well, the winter came and so i slapped the camper shell on
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the dogs were greatful
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and that's what she pretty much looks like today, now that the warm weather is coming around and the days are longer, more projects are in the hopper. i already sourced a new radio bezel (thanks to midnight rebel for the tip) for my roof rack light install, and thats going to be next. i was planning on learning how to weld this past winter, but a pretty bad car accident sidelined me. im back on my feet and ready to go, so i will also be planning on rock sliders and a hitch mounted spare tire carrier. i have a magnaflow exhaust, but i might switch it out to a gibson or flowmaster catback system, and im thinking that since im 2WD, i should look into getting myself a winch. i might go the hitch mounted route so i can switch it to the front and rear if need be.

thanks to the forum and all the great members, i wouldnt have been able to mod my trac to the way i wanted it without the EF. ive done write ups to all of these projects so the know-how is out there, just use the search bar! if anyone would like to try any of the projects i did, or if you want to ask me questions about anything, just message me, im always on the forum and ready to help you with whatever knowledge i have, and if i cant help you, ill try and point you in the right direction to who CAN help you. thanks again to everyone, ill leave with some pictures of a few places where my trac has taken me and my friends since ive owned her. cant wait for summer 2012 to roll around, much more pics and adventures to come!

tahoe desolation wilderness
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cascade falls
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genoa peak
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lake tahoe
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on the road
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pinnacles monument and hollister hills
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richardson grove (redwood forest)
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my duffel, been with me on a ton of trips already, and on many plane rides too!
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hope you guys enjoyed the build and pics as much as ive enjoyed all of yours. this forum really gets me through the work day!

more projects to come this summer.
 




01STrunner

Staff member
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Elite Explorer
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City, State
Greer, SC
Year, Model & Trim Level
2001 SAS'd Sport Trac
I don't remember any change in steering feel afterwards.
 




LONO100

Explorer Addict
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03 sport trac XLT
Hi @victoronline2, there is a definite noticeable difference in city driving, some of it frustrating, but some of it is surprisingly rewarding. If you are going for the same lift I have I am assuming you are going to throw some larger than stock tires, and this will definitely male it feel like you lose some turning radius from stock you will get tire rub on the inside of your fender walls, and the ride will get a much stiffer and less forgiving. Your speedometer will also be thrown off by 1-3 mpg based on what tire size you go with and your gear ratio.

With that said, I do enjoy the ability to see much higher than at stock height, and if you get the right tire with your lift, a world of difference in traction, especially in wet weather.

And like runner said, you will feel zero need for a steering stabilizer. I try to stick to the rule that for every inch you lift from stock, increase your tire size by one inch. I see tons of guys with other trucks or suv's and they have 6-8" lifts and their tire size went up just a few inches from stock. Not only does it look ridiculous and unbalanced, I feel it is unbalanced and then instead of guys fitting the right size tires for their big bad lifts, they get stabilizers. The whole point of a lift is so you can increase tire size, which is what truly gives you lift. So match your lift to your tire size. With a TT/shackle lift, you will get in between 2-3" of lift, a very subtle but effective height to increase your off road capability, not to mention it completely transforms the look of the truck. At this height, 32, to 33" tires will be a perfect size, just remember to trim the inside of your wheel wells to reduce tire rub.

Hope this helps! Keep us updated on your build!
 




LONO100

Explorer Addict
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Year, Model & Trim Level
03 sport trac XLT
Oh and i forgot, once you are feeling up for it, install a set of lockers after you lift that puppy and I promise you, that trac will turn into a super capable and fun vehicle off road. We also have a jeep wrangler JK, and during the spring and summer, our trac is the go to rig for hitting the mountains, and trails.
 




victoronline2

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City, State
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Year, Model & Trim Level
2003 Sport Trac XLT
Ok. Finally got my shackles in and will be doing this in conjunction with new Rancho RS9000XL's and upper control arm replacements (not an upgrade just a repair). Will be doing this weekend. Had a question though regarding the shackles, LONO100, you mentioned that you would go the aal route due to bend in leaf. Is that in addition to shackles or would you be removing the shackles and just lifting with adding a leaf? I don't know if I can return my shackles but was just wanting to know before I installed them. Any advice from anyone is appreciated. Also, how do you feel about going with the stock bolts for the shackles instead of the ones that came with the new shackles? I was surprised the nuts didn't have nylon lock. I'm looking into the lunchbox lockers. Just have to look more into how it will affect city driving. Have you noticed any drawbacks especially in rainy conditions?
 




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