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majorlag (wants to be ld50)

Well, I'm finally getting around to posting my registry entry. I'm not quite finished with the truck yet, but the bulk of the work is done.

I picked up my parent's 1994 XLT 4x4 after disposing of my '89 Camry. I've always liked trucks, and really wanted a full-size Bronco (because they are big and butt-kicking), but this Explorer was cheaper. It was a full-time grocery-getter. I thought I'd play with the 4wd on some forest trails around here, and managed to blow my rear main engine seal and break the torque converter for being a first-rate dumb@ss. :rolleyes: That was really how I found this site--seeking help and advice. And what great advice it's been!

Thanks to, I've become hopelessly addicted to monkeying with my truck and playing in mud puddles. This is before:


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and after

and an "after" pic. It shows my application of the "ld50 mod"--hacksawing and relocating the front licenseplate.


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First mod

My first mod, once I decided to try off-roading, was to get an inclinometer!

Here is the one I got made by Steel Horse (for J**pers), mounted on a pine baseboard and wired up to the dash lights with a green LED. Also in this shot is my CD player, a recent and very welcome addition!


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After that. . .

Not long after the inclinometer, I had my "accident" on the trail. Then I became very concerned about keeping the transmission fluid cool, so I had my mechanic install a second tranny cooler and a remote filter (thanks to Hank's useful thread). However, my mech picked a crappy location for the filter and my P235/75 R15s rubbed at about 3/4 lock. Not good! So I spent a few $$, a lot of time, and rigged up a bracket to relocated the filter and used a chopped Rubbermaid container as an anti-rock cover. Low weight, easy to work, easy to replace, and rust-free. I like to think it would at least soften a rock's impact enought to not puncture the filter!

Here's the filter guard:


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Tow Hooks

Next was front tow hooks. These were a pain to install. I decided to get some extra-long 1/2" grade 8 bolts and drill through the whole frame. I ended up using short bolts in the factory hole (rear) and was able to fish the nuts in pretty well. The front holes were a b!tch to drill all the way through, as the frame rails were doubled over and welded near the front. I primed and painted the holes and RTV'ed the heck out of them and the bolt threads. No apparent rust yet.

The good news is, they work! Shortly thereafter, I got stuck (embarassingly) in the woods and was pulled out by couple of kids on a fourwheeler! I was really glad for the hooks then.


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Engine mods

After a throttle cable mod (which helped out with some funky shifting behavior following my transmission work), I sought more power. The Ex's stock 3.27s were anemic at best, so any "cheap" bolt-on sounded like a good idea to attempt to increase power. I purchased a KKM and Flowmaster, and picked up a mass air flow sensor and enlarged throttle body from SteveVB and plopped them on, over the course of several months. The KKM made some difference, the Flowmaster had negligible effect except a cool sound. The throttle body and MAS made a huge difference in performance. I also dressed up the throttle cable and kickdown cable splash plate with some high-temp paint.


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Lift, Gears, and Traction

Not long after getting stuck, I decided that if I wanted to venture forth off road, I needed better traction. This meant traction device(s), like limited slip or locker. My ride is my daily driver, so I wanted nice road manners above ultimate traction. So I was thinking limited slip for the rear. And we get snow here (sometimes), so a full-time front locker was out of the question. And selectable ones cost too much. So, I found a great deal on a Zexel-Torsen T-2 for the 8.8 (thanks hvacman!) and got a Trac-Lok L/S for the Dana 35.

While the diffs were going to be ripped into, I thought that the best time to regear from my yucky stock 3.27s. And, my mechanic thought the project would take him a while, so since he had it anyway, also a great time to have a professional install a lift, too. I knew I couldn't do the differential work (no garage, no level spot, too few tools and not enough knowhow), so I bit the bullet and paid for the whole shebang.

After getting some great input from other forum members, I went with the James Duff 2.5" stage 1 lift and 4.10 gears. Very satisfied with the results!


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Along the way, I extended my transmission, transfer case, and differential breather lines, mounted a filter high in the engine compartment and connected all the hoses there. Also put on Superwinch manual hubs, which have worked great. Installed the Warrior shock mount skid plates and ground off the Duff U-Bolts as close to flush as I could get.

I've had some trouble from the Warrior plates. The shock mounts themselves are finding all the rocks on the trail and the rear swaybar links have dented my Duff shocks. :( I seem to be in the "lucky" crowd, in that department. Some folks have good luck with them, and others don't. The dents aren't deep enough to interfere with the cylinders themselves, but they look bad. The plates look pretty good, I think.


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Lights and Hitch

I'd never been pleased with the low beam output on the Explorer, and after the lift the zone of darkness in front of the truck increased. Fog lights were in order. I mounted these above the bumper to avoid trail damage, and close to the bumper brackets for grounding. Some major "rigging" later, I had a hodge-podge wiring harness of many colors tapped into the parking lights, the fog switch, and a relay. The fog lights are controlled by their switch, but can only be on if the parking lights are on. They stay on with high beams.

I got a redesigned Hidden Hitch trailer hitch to use as my rear recovery point. I had hoped to use something else like clevis shackles or some more hooks, but never could find a satisfactory location that I thought wouldn't destroy the bumper if used. Installation was a breeze when I finally got the right hitch delivered.

Not only are the stock low beams sad, but I've always thought the reverse lights nearly useless. I mounted up a set of back-up lights to the step bumper, using existing holes. The lights are wired directly into the reverse light harness behind the driver's side tail light. No relays or extra fuses used here, and no problems yet other than the fact that my 95 amp alternator doesn't seem to like them running! The light is great.


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Transmission temp

Latest mod was installation of a transmission temperature gauge. I used the port on the remote filter, which in installed beyond both external coolers and the radiator. At the same time, I set up a second power distribution/fuse box in the engine compartment near the jack handle, to power and fuse any future electrical mods. The entire project took me probably 12 hours, including all wiring, grounding, drilling, mounting, troubleshooting, and searching for tools. I used an AutoMeter electrical gauge and their single gauge pod for a 95+ Explorer. It fit my a-pillar just fine. Tapping the wires under the dash was the biggest problem, due to limited space and short lengths of factory wires.

After all is said and done, the gauge lights up like its supposed to and reads about 125 or so (75 degree ambient) in city driving, and 140ish with higher RPMs. I figure this is 20-30 lower than the fluid temp coming out of the transmision (plain old guessing--would be nice to know, but not worth the effort to me). Anyhow, this is how the gauge looks:


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Storage Boxes

Next, I finally decided to do something about my cargo area. Got tired of it always being full of random tool boxes, oil and trans fluid bottles, and recovery tools. The stuff was too potentially useful and too difficult to load an unload contantly, and limited "floor space" too much to be convenient. So, hence developed a plan to build a couple of storage boxes and a "false floor" type setup.

I used two pieces of plywood, one 3/8" for the base and the boxes, and one 3/4" for the shelf piece that sits over the wheelwells. Picked up some hinges, latches, bolts and screws and set to work. There's a cutout for my fire extinguisher and a provision for access to the net pocket on the passenger side. My boxes are 10"x6"x23" and 10"x8"x28" or so (height, width, length). If I'd been smart, I'd've used an 8.5" width or more for the larger box, but oh well. I lined the insides of the boxes, the top shelf, and the bottom shelf with "Truck Bed Liner" by Duplicolor, a cheap(er) knock-off of Herculiner. Seems to be holding up relatively well so far. I offset the smaller box by about 2.5" inches and notched the top shelf to permit access to the jack compartment.

The boxes are attached to the shelf with bolts and wingnuts to allow for quick removal in case I need to haul something larger, and the whole assembly can be removed in about 5 minutes (if empty). I can carry everything except my hi-lift all the time without losing much of my floor space at all!


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Next up: Warrior "Quick" Disconnects!

Against my better judgment, I ordered a set of Warrior "quick" disconnects. Although I was pleased with my Ex's performance on my last outing, I wasn't thrilled with my flex, so I thought ditching the rear swaybar and getting some disconnects for the front would be a cheaper way to get more flex than buying extended radius arms. I had read some complaints about the Warrior disconnects, including funny noises and disappointing design. But I was uncomfortable using the clevis pin technique since I wasn't sure if the pins' strength was as highly rated as the existing swaybar bolts. When messing with suspension elements, I'd rather "do it right" than discover a clevis pin has a low shear strength at 75mph on the Interstate!

So first, I unhooked my rear swaybar and put it away. I thought there was a noticeable difference in cornering after removing the rear bar. Very slight, but still noticeable. I can feel the rear end wallow more as the body rolls. Then, I took the front swaybar "dog bones" off in preparation for installing my new and newly painted Warrior disconnects.

I'd painted them with blue rattlecan paint because some folks had commented the pins didn't fit well and paint may have helped. Painting them before installation was a bad idea. The end links and the bar are such a tight fit that I had to scrape the paint back off to get them to fit together.

Then the real fun began! The lower end links were about 1/8" wider than my stock ones with Energy Suspension bushings, which were a perfect fit in the axle arm brackets. To make the Warriors fit, I had to pry the brackets apart and pound on the endlink with a block of wood and hammer to get them in place. Also, the bushings on the Warriors are tapered instead of flat, so there seems to be less contact area as well. Anyhow, after finally getting the endlinks in place, I discovered what a b!tch these things are to install! The title "quick disconnect" may be a misnomer here. To detach them, I will have to jack up the front end enough for the bars to clear the endlinks and slide them out. To reattach, the process is pretty much the same except you have to very carefully align the top endlinks so they will slip over the bars. A clevis pin setup would certainly be quicker, if not as safe. And what's worse, just unbolting the lower ends of the "dog bones" and bungeeing the whole bar would probably be faster and less hassle!

I still haven't tested these things out on the trail, so I don't know if they'll work OK in the field. In my driveway, they kinda suck for $100. Also, the bushings, although poly, do not perform as well as my Energy Suspension ones. I get more front end body roll in tight cornering. Still way better than the sad stock rubber ones, but not quite what I expected. Anyhow, here's a couple of pics (note the chipped paint from beating the h@!! out of them to make them fit and figure out how to connect the endlinks to the bars).


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Cool stuff man! I`ve thought about a larger throttle body for a bit more power, you think that was a good mod huh? I sure noticed a difference after the cone filter, but those TBs are expensive...
I like the liscence plate mod, hehe...

The truck looks good.What size tires are those? U need to come down to tennessee and do some wheeling!

My Extended RA's would look nice under there :thumbsup:

Clean truck