Mounty71's 4x4 Long Travel Build | Page 25 | 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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Drove this all last week to work, and then down to Pismo and back yesterday. Got the alignment probably as good as I'm going to be able to, swapped the polyurethane bushings for delrin bushings in the steering swinger, and street driving still sucks, but it's awesome in the sand! Also at some point last week my transfer case started leaking. Ran in 2wd the whole time in Pismo except for when I pulled a broken down Toyota back to camp. Once again waiting on some pics and videos from friends.






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Nice. Long travel looks so awesome

Here's a screenshot from a video a friend took in Pismo. For some reason he recorded everything in slow motion thinking he could speed it back up, which is a shame because he got some really good stuff but the sped up videos look like crap, so I've given up on trying to recover them.

Anyway, with the front end doing so awesome it's really brought to light how bad the back end is. With my shock setup I only have 3" of down travel, and the 9" of up travel I should have is hindered by my tires hitting my fenders, and that's with only 33s. I want to move up to 35s, which means doing a ton of sheet metal trimming, including the rear doors. To avoid trimming the doors some people move the axle back, which I could do but would rather not with my leaf springs because I've already relocated the shackle pivots once before, and it's just a lot of work to still have leaf springs. I really want to keep the shocks outside the frame rails and I'd also rather not stick some long shocks up into the cab and deal with having to seal everything back up around them. Keeping the back seat and a flat trunk floor is ideal, keeping the stock gas tank is imperative, and minimal modification to the frame rails is preferred.

Which leads me to the cantilever option. If i'm willing to go through all the work of building a cantilever setup with leaf springs, I may as well build it around coilovers and links, so that's what I'm seriously considering right now. I've studied every linked Explorer I can find and after looking at every viable way of doing it and all of the benefits and detriments and limitations, etc., this is what I've come up with so far. 3-link with a panhard, axle moved back 3", and a 12" cantilevered coilover. Last weekend I took a bunch of measurements of my frame, fender wells, trunk floor, and axle, and then I modeled it all in Solidworks. You can see that when flexed the wheel wells will be in the way. Also when flexed the shocks will be bottomed out before the axle hits the bump stops, so my next thing to add is a second bumpstop (rubber not hydraulic) hitting somewhere on the actual cantilever arm. This will also require a wider axle than the Bronco one I currently have, so I'll be on the lookout for an Econoline 9", which I still might need to add wheel spacers to to clear the shocks at full flex. I still need to finalize link lengths, but in Solidworks this can pull 19.5" travel with minimal trimming of the stock frame crossmembers, and has less than 1.5" lateral axle movement with the panhard bar.

The Leduc offroad swapmeet is coming up in a few weeks so I'm trying to figure out what I need before then.






Why the cantilever on the outside of the frame rails? Do you not have the space behind the axle inside the frame rails?

Not with the panhard bar there. But even if the panhard weren't there, clearing the floor and stock crossmembers would mean lowering the cantilever and shocks way down and losing ground clearance. I also like the idea of having the shocks outside the frame rails and closer to the wheels. And finally, I like doing things differently, and although I don't know if it will work out well, I like knowing that I tried it. I did a combination of a lot of research and a lot of crossing my fingers before and during the TTB swap, and I didn't know if it would pan out in the beginning but I lucked out with it, so I guess that's made me a little more brave with taking things on.

Then again, I might get cold feet in a month and just stay with leaf springs.

Running a full width axle and shocks on the outside of the frame myself I can tell you there is room, as long as the axle only goes straight up and down. Which we all know ain't gonna happen. I do rub on my shocks ever so little at full articulation just to keep the aluminum shiny.;) If I were to do it again I probably would angle them back to the rear to give some more space fron the crown of the sidewall.

Yup I already am running a full width axle and the shocks outside the frame, and with my 10.50 wide tires it just barely works. But add a coil spring around that shock and taller 12.50 tires, and there will be interference.

May I get a pack and go of your model? I think you may have some issues with the lever rates on the bellcrank. Besides, I'd like to play with it for my rig ;)

Ya sure, PM with your email address. Just keep in mind it's a crude mock up, and link locations are not at all in the right place, so don't judge too badly haha.

Wow, I guess I never tried to PM someone on this version of the forum. I can't figure it out! Send it to I won't be too critical ;) What Version SolidWorks?

2015. I just realized that I'm having the "dll: sldshellutils" issue so I can't do a Pack and Go, but I'll send you the individual files.

I've gone on a couple more trips since the last update. Went to Pismo and then to Johnson Valley, both of which @R.J. was able to attend. Great to do some trips with him after many years. Also very thankful that he was able to get my air conditioning working in 90+ degree desert heat. Thanks Robbie!

The truck has been doing pretty well overall and I've been driving it a lot to work lately to keep the miles off of my other car. But on the last trip my friend said to me that my truck is basically falling apart at this point from all the abuse, and the way he said it just kind of struck me and made me realize that if I want this car to last, it needs a roll cage badly to strengthen the frame and tie into the body. I've known this for a while but that was always something to be done in the future. Well it made me realize that I actually should have done it years ago and I'm kind of mad at myself for waiting so long because the body is in rough shape. So yesterday I dropped it off at my friend's shop in Simi Valley for a cage. Hoping to have it done within 3-4 months.

The cage will go behind the dashboard and through the firewall, likely in 4 places, and connect to the front shock hoops. The B and C pillars will not have any Xs for now because I want minimal intrusion into the interior. I'm keeping the stock seats and seat belts too, and want to still be able to fold the rear seats down to sleep. Hopefully most of the stock interior plastics can be kept. I'm also having my friend trim some rear sheet metal that my tires rub on, and be able to clear 35s.

I've been working on designing the rear 3-link but it's still not finalized yet, so I'm going to stick with leaf springs for a while still. But I was fed up with my rear shocks constantly leaking, so I got some new King 18" coilovers when they were on sale that I can just use as shocks. So I'm also trying to get my hands on an Econoline width 9" rear axle as well.

This is what I've been working on so far and how the shocks will probably be positioned with the links.






Very nice, I'm looking at going this route in the Navajo, but probably forward a bit more.

Well crap, I work in Simi Valley. Defiantly need to stop by and look at this sometime. I do want a cage, but have not liked the idea of how much I would have to hack the interior to get one. I have seen a couple, but none that I said "I want that" to myself. Hopefully yours will come out well enough to motivate me.

Well after a little delay getting started, the guys at The Fab Lab are doing an amazing job on my cage. I've only seen pictures but I'm really happy with it so far and how they're communicating with me about how to work through any issues that arise. Still plenty more to do, and our annual Rubicon trip is only a month away!





And I also picked this up from Paul B.'s explorer part-out for a deal I couldn't pass up. Came with the axle shafts too. It's exactly what I needed for not much more than a junkyard axle would have been.



Progress. Was hoping to get the truck back this weekend but looks like it will probably be next weekend.











It's looking good

Kinda bummed, this won't be finished in time to take on the Rubicon next week, but I think it will be worth it not being rushed to get finished.











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