Smokey the Clutch is, Missed Shift You Did
- October 5, 2008
- Reaction score
- Humid, Damp, and Hot
- City, State
- Houston, TX
- Year, Model & Trim Level
- '98 EB, '93 Limited
1994 Ford Explorer XLT
3.73 LS 8.8 Rear
3.73 D35 TTB Front Axle
Tan Leather Interior
I know some people are wondering, why "Red Flyer" for a name? It sure isn't for speed, since these trucks are about as aerodynamic as a breadbox. Nor is it for looks, as this truck isn't going to win any car shows any time soon. The reason this truck got is name is due to a story, an event that happened nearly 5 months after I purchased it...
You see, Hitchhikingmike, a friend of mine who lives up in Dallas has another Explorer, a third gen, and I have been wanting to see him for a while. So, I pack up my gear and head out on a warm January afternoon (don't ask, it's Houston) and 6 hours later I wind up at his house in my "new" truck. So what do two friends with big SUV's do for fun? They drive 'em. And that's just what we did.
I used to live in the Dallas area, so Mike and I visited all our old hangouts. One of them was this wide open field behind a housing development I used to live in. What's a guy gonna do? So, there we are doing skid stops and circles and kicking up some dust in the late afternoon. We soon discover this little drainage ditch that ran right through the field and that livened things up. After playing around for a little bit, it started to get dark and cold. But, I wanted one last go around with the ditch before we left...you know, to do something spectacular. I pulled my truck up about 200ft away from the ditch and got squared away. My older brother in the passenger seat gave me a "are you kidding me??" look, shook his head and started the countdown. 5...4...3...2...1...GO!! I hit the accelerator with everything I had and broke loose the tires. The ditch was coming up mighty fast and for a split second I thought ..."WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING??" To late for such thoughts as the truck dove over the edge of the ditch. I saw nothing, but the ground through the window and just as I though that I had totaled the truck, the front end pops up, my pedal still on full throttle. Then there was nothing.
THUMP...THUMP...THUMP. I hear my heart beating as everything seemed to slow down. Clenching onto the steering wheel, I held on for dear life as gravity took a firm hold on my flying SUV. I dreaded what was next...
The truck had landed; the moment was over. A bunny hop later and the truck rolled to a stop, undamaged. I heard my brother gasping and groaning next me. (Turns out he had landed on, uh...a very delicate spot on the way down) The radio then crackled to life and my friend shouted over the comm "THAT-WAS-AWESOME!!"
That same truck got me home 600 miles away without a hiccup. And it is for this memory and that event she was nicknamed..."The Red Flyer."
I then got this silly idea to convert my truck to 4wd. The seed was planted by Kris Guilbeaux's "2wd to 4wd Conversion" on the explorer4x4.com pages. It was just something that lingered around in the back of my thoughts, not really something worth further consideration, but tantalizing nonetheless. Then on my first trip to the local junkyard produced a gem, a 4wd '93 Explorer with a blown tranny. From then on I swore that I would have that front suspension. Little did I know the issues and problems that would arise from this decision. I worked my butt off for two weeks to raise the $200 ( I only got 12 hours a week) for that front end. I indexed my Haynes manual and enlisted some help. Saturday, June 20 2010, was the day chosen for the operation. After several hours of sweaty work, we could not free the suspension. Tired, depressed and nearly heat stroked, I walked away to try again another day. One week later, I went back to grab another part an hour from the junkyard's closing time. I then got it into my head to try and get one of the workers to help me. A really nice guy, the worker brought out his electric impact wrench and we knocked out the front end and loaded it up. For the next 6 months it stayed in the garage gathering dust and wasps nests. In the meantime, I picked up a manual transfer case from a 91 Ranger for $170 off of ebay with two weeks of paychecks. Next up was a swap with 91blackEB for a set of lock nuts and a complete transfer case shifter. I also grabbed a set of manual locking hubs off eBay as well.
Pulled I-Beam Suspension/Stripped Front End
After this my parts hunt came to an end as school finished up and the holidays came around. My parents were pushing for me to give up on the conversion. I caved and put my parts up for sale. I sold the shifter, the lock nuts and manual hubs and the autos I got from when I pulled the TTB. I regret doing this, especially losing the shifter as it had the boot and the floor plate. After some friendly pushing, black91EB got me to start back on my project. I had to recoup the lost parts and find a tranny. Kris Guilbeaux got in touch with me and pointed me to a friend of his who was parting out another 94 Explorer. I picked up the first 4x4 A4LD from him plus the two drive shafts, driver's side drop bracket and the manual hubs. Thanks to this site I also found out where to get a new set of lock nuts. I picked them up from 4wheel Parts for $20. Then in early January, I got 5 days in a row off from work and decided to move on Phase I of my conversion, the front suspension. After struggling with the rivets on the 2wd drop bracket after removing the I-beam suspension, I nearly gave up as my money started to run out. I had drilled, cut, hammered and cursed at them for two days. That night I grabbed my dad and used the last of my money to get an air hammer from Harbor Freight. The next day I knocked those rivets out and said goodbye to 2wd on this truck forever. Spent an all-nighter installing the new TTB, locknuts, and manual hubs. I was cutting it tight as I needed the truck for work the next day, so I cut some corners and left the 2wd steering setup in. I did a quick and dirty alignment and got to work, but found I had a terrible howl coming from my new suspension. A month later, on Valentines' Day, I slammed my truck into a tree, killing my 4x4 hopes till I could put the Explorer back together.
The Accident: Before and After
After a day of work and a new fender I finally got the truck back in working order. I also figured out my howling problem was a set of bad bearings on the driver's side. Took me forever to diagnose that one. It would be another 4 months before progress began again. During this time I tore apart the A4LD and rebuilt it from the ground up.
I also replaced the 2wd steering setup with the 4wd setup when I noticed several issues starting to develop with the steering geometry.
When my friend, Hitchhikingmike, came down for a week in June, we spent 4 days pulling out the old tranny and installing the new one with the transfer case and 4wd drive shaft.
Transmission Install, Round 1/Hitchhikingmike
Unfortunately I snapped the nut off of the throttle kick down lever on the tranny which put me in limp mode for a month until I could address it. During this time the shifts were erratic and the fluid smelled burnt. I knew what was going on, but tried to ignore it as I needed the truck. It wasn't till I lost O/D that I knew I had to do something. I replaced my rebuilt valve body with the one from my 2wd tranny. Things continued to get worse. I knew what I had to do. I struggled with the tranny till I could find a replacement. I wanted a manual, but none were available, so I settled for another A4LD. So back into the garage went Red for another two weeks.
I also put in the new shifter I grabbed from a guy on the rangerstation.com forum. This was the point were I noticed there was something missing on the transfer case...the little shifter arm. What a "DOH" moment. Oh well, with my truck finally working again, I moved on to Phase III, the rear end.
I had to hunt and peck for a good price on a good 3.73 8.8. I wanted one with a limited slip, as a locked rear was not really an option for me. After looking at another junk yard, since I had a falling out with my local one, I found it in the first Explorer I looked at. For a $100 I was riding home with a new rear end. Unfortunately, the yard workers cut the e-brake lines, so I had to replace them. I figured if I had to take apart the drums to get to the lines I might as well replace the drum brake parts. It was a good thing too, as one of the drums was cracked. After this was completed, I took three days to pull out the the old 8.8 and throw in the new one. At this point I also removed the rear sway bar. Those bolts and nuts were tough, but with enough brute force, I got them off. I also had to replace the diff cover on the new 8.8 as it was fiberglass and leaking, so I stole the metal one off of the old diff.
As the truck settled into its new, deeper gearing, there were still issues to address. I had a shifter that was merely eye candy and a front drive shaft to install. The drive shaft needed a new u-joint and I didn't have any t-case-to-drive shaft bolts. The u-joint was easy and a quick trip to AZ solved that. However, the bolts were another story. Imagine walking into Home Depot hefting a large heavy metal drive shaft on your shoulder, telling the clerk you needed automotive bolts. Yeah, I know. Anyway, they couldn't help so I was off to ACE. Lugging my big iron stick in, two clerks were able to help me find the right Grade 8 bolts to do the job. The next day, my Explorer had a new drive shaft and all that was left was to test the system. (Thanks to black91EB I wound up with the little shifter lever he made for the t-case two weeks later.)
On Saturday, October 9th 2010 I filled the front diff and headed to the beach. After using a wrench to pop the tcase into 4hi, I locked the hubs and took off. With 4WD pushing her through and over all obstacles, Red had finally become the truck I had dreamed of for over a year. With my truck ready to tackle off road challenges, who knows what's possible or what's next?
My Parents: Who put up with me while I destroyed tools, got the house dirty, took over the whole garage and messed it up, clogged up the washer with greasy clothes, left parts and pieces in the backyard and wound up really causing them some frustration.
Hitchhikingmike: The best friend I have ever had. He has done so much for me that I can't repay...
Matt: My brother. He is the man that I bounce off ideas with. He is a real pain in the ass, but I sure couldn't have done most of these things without him.
Gmanpaint: Thanks for the support on the site! I really appreciate the effort you have made to help me.
Unclemike: A great and supportive fellow Texan.
Kris Guilbeaux: The guy whose "How-to" got me into, and through, this conversion.
Nice59FordF100: My able FHDRS co-host and friend.
black91EB: Encouraging me to keep at it, even when I thought it was all too much...
All the the other guys and gals on the site who have made so many awesome contributions to this Explorer community
New Cone Filter
Oil Change every 4K (Regular)
New Spark Plugs and Wires
New Front pads, new caliper and rotor
New Water pump
New Water Pump to Heater Core hose
New Idler Pulley
Fixed Passenger Front, Passenger Rear, and Driver Rear Power Windows
New Head Unit
Fixed Both Rear Door Armrests
Adjusted and tightened steering play
Replaced tie rod ends
All 4 tires replaced
New O2 Sensor
Sony Xplod CD/MP3/USB head unit that is HD/SAT ready (12/08)
Spectre Cold Air Intake Mod (3/09)
5 Cent Throttle Cable Mod (4/09)
Explorer Forums License Plate Frames (4/09)
Overhead Console (5/09)
Limited Auto Dim Mirror (5/09)
4DMaglite Flashlight and Holder (6/09)
Goodyear Wrangler Radials 235/75/15 (8/09 - 4/10)
55W Off-Road Lights (10/10)
Explorer Forum Vinyls Courtesy of Blee (9/09)
Reese Class III Tow Hitch (9/09)
Garmin Nuvi 255w (12/09)
Swapped D35 TTB w/ Manual Lockouts(2/10)
Beefed-up 2" Autozone Shackles (5/10)
4x4 A4LD Transmission (5/10)
Borg Warner 1354 Manual Transfer Case (5/10)
2.5" Skyjacker Nitro Shocks (7/10)
Midland CB (8/10)
Clear Turn Signals (3/11)