Mounty71's 4x4 Long Travel Build | Page 17 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Mounty71's 4x4 Long Travel Build

My pride and joy, the Mounty:





It's a 2000 Mercury Mountaineer. I acquired this fine vehicle in 2003 with just 32,410 miles on the ticker, and it was in pristine condition, having been driven by an elderly couple, and always serviced regularly at the same dealership it was delivered to from the factory.

This thing has gone through a series of different suspension setups, but currently it has:
Solo Motorsports 4" extended D35 TTB with D44 outers, and custom radius arms
2.5x12" King coilovers with 2.5x12" secondary King reservoir shocks
4WD conversion with BW4406 manual transfer case
2.5x18" rear King shocks outboard of the frame
custom ordered Deaver leaf springs with 12" 2AM Fab shackles
Full-width 8.8 rear with stock disc brakes, Blue Torch Fab diff cover/truss
4.56 gears front and rear, lunchbox front locker, limited slip rear
roll cage through dash and firewall to engine cage

(previous front suspension setup)
Long Travel front end 5" wider per side with 2.5x8" Sway Away coilovers, Dixon Bros. shock hoops
2.0x2" King bumpstops
Full heim steering
3" Procomp lift spindles
homemade lower rear A-arm crossbrace, lower A-arm mount weld-washers, upper A-arm gussets
8" limit straps
removed swaybar

MAC performance muffler with turn down tip
MAC performance intake

front bumper with removable light bar, with 4 Hella 4000 55w HID conversions
custom rear receiver and swing out spare tire carrier w/ gas can
clear corners
McNeil fiberglass fenders
removed running boards
5.0 emblems
color-matched grill surround with mesh grill
clear LED light in rear bumper

ABS defeat switch
Icom race radio
recovered center console in black
fog lamp-hi beam mod
added tie-downs in cargo area
rear hatch interior handle
4x4 Ranger front towhooks
driveshaft "loop"

3-link rear suspenion
add 2.5 or 3.0x18" King bypass shocks to the rear
switch front smooth body shocks for 2.5 or 3.0x12" King bypasses
rear fiberglass







Newly lifted on 31 BFG M/Ts:


After its first offroading:


Almost stock:



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Just completed a full-width 8.8 swap on this old girl. My stock axle began whining at higher speeds a few months ago and had progressively gotten louder and louder, and eventually got to the point that as soon as the truck started moving it was making noise. As always, I saw it as an opportunity to upgrade. I plan to do long travel in the front in the future, and I want the rear track width to match. I also want to be able to mount longer shocks outside the frame so I can use the full travel that my leafs are capable of, which is why I chose full-width. I considered the FW 8.8, 9.75 from a newer F150, and a 9". I found this axle first pretty close to me, and it didn't require any driveshaft or u-joint modifications like the others would have, and I don't have to get larger wheels like the 9.75" would have required, so I went for it. It's out of a late 80s/early 90s Bronco, and has 4.56s with some sort of limited slip. It's not a trac-lock like my stock axle came with, but it looks like it could be an Eaton LS.

I read as much as I could find about doing the swap and was expecting problems with the parking brake interfering with the back of the wheel studs like Stic-o experienced, but I ended up having plenty of clearance. I also didn't even have to disconnect the brakes at all, I simply stretched the hardline a little bit. I had the axle shafts machined for the 5x4.5" bolt pattern and the axle flanges were turned down in a couple places to fit in the rotors. I still need to go back in and adjust the parking brake and re-tighten everything, but other than that it's complete. I'm driving it to work the next few days to make sure there are no issues, and then I may be taking it out to Pismo next weekend.



Parking brake/wheel stud clearance

I used the spring-under perches from Ruffstuff Specialties

And the machined axle shafts


Hood latch breaks? Improvise.

Fix broken latch? Nope.




Finally was able to redo the shackle setup for the rear end, and what a difference that made! This thing has the perfect ride height now with a solid 10" of up travel, rides 1000x better than it did with the warrior shackles in the stock location, and if I remember correctly when I measured last night (it was late and I was exhausted), I can get 17.5" of travel from frame to fully drooped if my shocks weren't limiting me right now. I'll get new shocks and redo the shock mounting down the road, but for now I'm super with happy how it sits again.

Couldn't get a good picture in the shop, but new ride height

Shackle angle

Boxed in the rear frame section and then sleeved through it with a bushing kit from Ruffstuff


I heated up the bottom of the frame on this side and hammered it up to get rid of the gaps

And because the frame isn't symmetrical, getting the sleeves in the same place on both sides was a little challenging

And this is the point at which the leafs are flat, and then there are another 3"-4" of up travel before the axle hits the frame. Those fenders won't look pretty for long.


Went on quite a shopping spree this past weekend at the annual Leduc offroad swapmeet. Spent way too much money and came home with more than I expected to.

2.5x12" Sway Away shocks for the rear, to be mounted in this general area

A brand new pair of Mcneil fiberglass fenders

New Icom race radio fully programmed and mag mount antenna from PCI, which we installed last night in place of my CB radio. This thing is awesome! On my way home I was talking to him loud and clear from at least 5 miles away and the antenna wasn't even up.


And the beginnings of a long travel kit, designed and TIG welded by someone named Ryan Jubera on another forum I frequent. Also came with tapered pins for the uniball upper arms I need to build, and some plates for fabricated spindles that he intended to build along with this kit. I'll be selling the plates because I never intend to run such a spindle.

Also got another spare tire with wheel already mounted, a white LED oval light that will take the place of the amber in my rear bumper, a couple of heims in really good shape, and a few sockets and wrenches. I also bought a couple of sets of coil springs that I will try on my coilovers when I get the LT kit on.

After 2 months of waiting and pestering 4WP to do something, I finally received the Blue Torch Fab 8.8 truss and diff cover system. My hope is that it will prolong the life of my axle by preventing the tubes from twisting or coming out of the center section, and I've wanted a fabbed diff cover for a long time too. The fact that the cover and truss tie together was the selling point, and I get to get rid of the chrome one that came with my junkyard axle. While installing it I'm going to remove the axle shafts and paint them because I never did that after having them machined, so I'm sure they will be rusty now.


And in other news, my plans to take the truck to Cal City this past weekend were ruined when I discovered my rear main seal is badly leaking. I still went as a passenger in my friend's Tundra but was missing my truck the whole time. It seems to always be something right before a big trip. :rolleyes:

Been a while since I've updated this, and the truck is a whole new beast now. Been putting tons of hours into it lately and it's almost ready to take out again.

I first started in the back with the 12" Sway-Aways. Built some shock hoops to mount them in the fender wells, and some mounts on the axle to get the lower rod end as low as possible. Decided I didn't want to smash up my fenders and I also don't want to run rear fiberglass at this point, so my up-travel is limited now. I have new shock shims on the way to get them at a good starting point. And I will also be adding air bump stops outside the frame, so I plan to have longer shock hoses made and remount the reservoir somewhere else.


Also got the Blue Torch Fab truss and diff cover on.

Then I moved onto the front end. Tore off all the stock suspension and began fitting on the Dixon Bros shock towers I bought a while back. The driver's side fit perfectly but the passenger side was kind of a nightmare I wasn't planning on. Space is really tight on that side. One of the tubes hit the header, so after a lot of debating, decided to go back to the stock exhaust manifolds. I never really noticed any performance gain from the headers and I've had nothing but trouble with burning up spark plug wires, so I sacrificed the cool factor in the name of reliability. That tube still hit the stock manifold so we notched the backside of it to clear.

Next were the upper control arms. I bought a used BTF upper control arm from someone a while ago, so I built a jig off of it so that I could make a matching mirrored one for the opposite side of the truck. While doing that I converted the BTF arm to mount on heims instead of bushings, and plated in the frame mounts so that alignment cams are no longer needed. Also cut off the stock bump stops because the DBR shock hoops have King bump stop cans on them already. Currently looking for King bump stops to add to the front.

Next I replaced my damaged AC evaporator before mounting the shock hoops, did a ton of cycling the suspension, found a good spot to mount the shock hoops permanently, made lower shock mounts on the lower arms, rebuilt the coilovers, repacked wheel bearings, installed extended brake lines, fabbed up some longer tie rods on heims with machined clevises on the steering rack, eventually made the cross brace tying the two shock hoops together, and now the truck is sitting on its own. I also decided to add double shear plates to my lift spindles to strengthen that lower uniball setup, so I had to get rid of the ABS.

The upper pins I got with the lower arms a while back ended up not working out, so I'm waiting on some new ones from BTF. Also waiting on a few other parts, limit straps, bump stops, etc., need to clean up and finish the cross brace and paint the rest of everything, but I drove the truck around the block once and it felt pretty good, almost the same as before the LT kit actually. I'm on my 3rd set of springs and I think these 18" 600# springs will work well.

Painted and mounted my fiberglass fenders, trimmed my bumper to clear, did some painting and remounted the front clip, and it looks like a complete truck again!



Sorry for the dark pics


Here you can kind of make out the double shear plates I added


I had to shorten the oil fill tube and also turn the top end of it to give room for the cross brace, but after paint it looks stock and no one would ever know.

The new kit increased my wheelbase a couple of inches so it's now at approx. 114"

And here's a before and after of the bumper


And from the back

So now I'm trying to make it to Pismo in 3 weeks to test all these changes out. And my rear main is still leaking after replacing it twice in 5 months. Through all of this front end work I realized that my frame is bent pretty badly which is why I had so much trouble with the shock hoop on that side. The exhaust downpipe is pretty much resting on the frame. But it is what it is, I will drive it until I can't drive it anymore, and then figure out a way to fix it and make it even better. Can't wait to go on some good trips this winter! Mojave Rd. is definitely going to happen.

...Dang've been busy..:eek:

..Happy to see the progress continue..:biggthump

I drove the truck to Pismo a couple of weekends ago, played around all weekend, then drove it home. I developed a misfire while out there, probably due to a plug wire damaged when I had the TM headers on. I could see it arcing through the heat sock to the exhaust manifold. Replaced it on the drive home, and that's it. I call that a successful maiden voyage for all the new work that's been done.

Not at all happy with the rear end and the lowered bump stops. Going through whoops it bottoms out way too early and the back end starts bucking which feels a little sketchy. Working on a plan to fix that now before a New Year's trip to Johnson Valley.

The front end needs a lot of shock tuning and I need more pressure in the bump stops, but it held up to everything just fine!











New lower shock mounts for the rear, to gain some more up travel.


Bad picture, but installed a 2nd trans cooler today. We'll see how much it helps next week when I take the truck out again.


This thing is coming along great, Matt! Those new lower shock mounts are trick.

Thanks guys.

I took the truck out to Johnson Valley for a new year's trip. Aside from getting a flat tire and realizing how horribly valved my shocks are, the truck did great and was a lot of fun. I'd been running on nearly bald tires anyway and was already thinking of getting new ones, so that forced me to not put it off any longer. After a lot of research and weighing my options, I found someone selling a brand new set of 4 33x10.50 BFG M/Ts that he bought then never used. Got them put on today, first brand new set of 4 tires since this thing was first lifted back in 2004. Couldn't be happier! Just need to find a couple of spares before the next trip.



No pictures from New Year's unfortunately.

Wow just realized how many big changes this truck has seen just on this current page. Anyway, here comes another!

Got this from another member on here for a future upgrade. 4.56 gears with a Lockright locker. This will of course be accompanied by the addition of a manual BW4406 t-case and I'm looking into the AVM manual hub conversion.


Been on a couple more trips in the past few months, and this thing just seems to take everything I put it through, which makes me feel pretty good about the quality of work my friends and I do. Went to California City last month and made it home with zero problems, and just got back earlier today from my first trip out to the Nevada desert over the Memorial Day weekend. Other than another random misfire, probably a bad spark plug wire like it always is, the truck did really well and is tons of fun.

Before Moonrocks in NV I found a couple of cracks in my rear lower arm mounts, and a leaking coilover hose that I had to fix. I've also revalved the shocks a couple more times and it's starting to feel pretty good over all different types of terrain. Only took a few pictures since we're usually just enjoying driving.




I've been doing a bunch of work lately on the blue Explorer too, which was just recently finished up. It has D44 beams on coilovers and a 9" rear with 16" bypass shocks, single swing heim steering, 4.56s locked front and rear.

And yes, that is an 8-lug Tundra. This was the maiden voyage for him after doing a D44 TTB conversion with D50 ends and knuckles, and 14-bolt rear end.

Well it's been a long time coming, but I finally built the spare tire carrier I've been talking about for years. Jefe inspired.

A few more little details to finish up; the spring-pin is temporary (I have a different one to mount in its place), the jerry can tray is temporary, and the dust light needs to be moved further to the right. Also, the reverse sensors detect the tire carrier so I'll probably relocate those from the stock bumper onto the gate. The frame also flexes a ton more than I thought it would so I have an idea to try and remedy that.







Got the tire carrier finished enough to take the truck out this weekend to a poker run in Fernley, NV. Then camped in Truckee Saturday night and Sunday played around up on some fire roads before heading home. Did the 158 mile poker run course with the only issue being developing a random misfire again. After the last trip that I developed a misfire, I cleaned up the coil pack connections and the misfire went away, so I will try that again, and also check the plugs. I also noticed after the last trip that my air filter had literally ripped in half, so I replaced it with an AEM Dryflow and Pre-filter.





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Thanks Colin! I actually didn't notice much of a difference at all. I've revalved all my shocks 3-4 times now and the truck rides pretty good over everything, so well actually that I don't even know what I would change. I think I'll hold off on any further changes until I can get my friend at Dialed Shock Prep to give me suggestions.