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My 93' Explorer Restoration Project

Suicide77

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Hey Guys,

I'm going to attempt to fix up my Explorer. The 'Bug' has bitten me and now all I want to do is work on it and drive off road! The major obstacles however are the fact that I've never worked on my truck before and its off road capabilities are limited to its stock abilities.

So far I have found that pick n pull or any junk yard is a great way to learn without messing up your own truck first. Secondly, I stumbled onto this awesome forum and am slowly building up enough know how to making an attempt at lifting my Explorer either 2",4", or 6" inches (I'm still at the beginning stages on that line of knowledge).

So... without further ado... I will introduce my Explorer

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I've gone through thick and thin, high and low, and most memorably, Mud... while in my Explorer.

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I've had it for 4 years and it has 216,000 Miles on it. The head has never been taken off of the engine, so I would like to slowly work my way in that direction to avoid a break down. I love taking it all over Utah and would like to get it road worthy enough to tackle Elephant Hill and Shafer Trail in Canyon Lands. (Shafer Trail Pictured)

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I got the 'Bug' at the beginning of April when I finally gave into wanting a shiny truck to cruise the dirt roads in. My father is a pro at acting like he knows what he is doing without knowing what he is really doing. Case in point, 'teaching' me how to polish and shortly after taking all the paint off my old '84 Civic. I decided to educate myself (to Youtube!) and figure out a good and effective way to polish without acting like I knew what I was doing. I finally stumbled onto a training video issued by Meguiar's to some auto detailing company. After an hour of wax on... wax off... I hit the point of having an 'idea' of what to do. I ended up getting a Shurhold DA Orbital Polisher and off to work I went. Here is the tape and set up I did to prep and protect the trim.

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Taping, ironically, takes almost as long as the first once over with the Fine Cut #5 compound provided by Meguiar's. As you progress up to the Show Car Glaze #1 you find that each lighter duty compound ends up taking less and less time to apply. Here is a shot of the hood and front quarter panel after going through the process that was drilled in my head. wax on.. wax off...

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At this point I was feeling pretty happy with myself! I was ready to cruise down a dirt road in my shiny Explorer! Unfortunately though, I have had a blown speaker for about 3 years. I decided if I was going to fly down a dirt road with House of the Rising Sun blaring out of the radio I had better get a new sub so that the old crackling one didn't ruin the moment. So off to pick n pull!

After tinkering, breaking a zillion push clips, and finding out how useless it was to replace just the speaker, I set out and got a new amp, wiring kit, and Kenwood speaker. After a little drilling, searching for a wiring route through the fire wall, and carefully removing the push clips I ended up with this plausible setup!

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I figured maybe I could get lucky and conceal this new rig behind the interior panel to first, allow a nice clean look: second, to give me plenty of room for camping supplies, a cooler, and tannerite: third, so the urge of a passer by to bust a window and steal what is in plain sight might be diverted. After some himming and hawing and Dremel tooling I ended up getting the interior panel back on with a reasonable outcome.

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I am one to experiment, however, on other peoples stuff and not mine. So off to pick n pull and one speaker cover later I have started pondering some possible ways to finish the installation. What I have now is simply a "That'll do..." but in the future I am envisioning a nice black wire mesh covering and maybe even painting the speaker panel with the gloss or flat black rustoleum. Because this isn't the original and just a practice one I plan on tweaking and testing until it suddenly looks "Ahh! Just right!". Till then though, "That'll do..."

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Now, since I had the dash board off, I had noticed something very interesting. Could it be that the Check Engine Light has been off for an abnormally long time because it was Broken! Yes, it was entirely the case.

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So, P-N-P once again. After my learning experience, I realized that I would have to mess with the speedometer cable rod thingy that came out of the engine. This proved to be quite the challenge for me especially because I need to know how fast I am going on the freeway so I don't exceed 65 mph (another long story for some other time) and screwing up the speedometer would just plain old suck to do. Once again after himming and hawing and dropping the new bulb (@#$%!!) I managed to get everything in and put back in place.

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Whew, now as long as it doesn't turn on and stay on when I start the Explorer!

Here is the burned out thing that was once a light bulb.

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With all the interior starting to look once again like it should and the out of place thump thump of a decent speaker, I decided to do something about the grill. I notice the front of my Explorer, now matter how much I scrub and clean, looks like it has peeling faded something staring back at you. So to fix this I used some blue painters tape, a can of Rustoleum rubberized undercoating, and a top layer of classic Rustoleum black. The end product finally tied the front end together to make a little more uniform look. (I know, a noobie move, but I like it).

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Since the front looked a little better, naturally it would seem the back end could use some work. I have had a very rusted old hitch and instead of just spray and pray I thought I would take the whole hitch assembly off and do it the right way (nose to the grind stone... er.. uh.. grinder to the metal I mean).

Shouldn't be bad right? Just 6 bolts, 3 on each side! Cake walk! Well after day 1 I found my new super power was sheering bolts. So I gave it another shot on day 2. Another sheered bolt in the same position!!! Well it can't get much worse right? Day 3. Stripped nut. I think it would have been easier to just skip the breaker bar and have gone straight for the grinder.

Here is a picture of the grinded out carriage bolt with the striped nut (left) and one of the two sheered bolts (right) lurking under the frame.

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Day 4 (today). I manned up. Got under that truck. Ground out the stripped nut. PB blastered, hammered, breaker barred, and worked out the remaining 3 bolts without sheering them off. And finally, with a little incentive from the grinder, PB Blaster, and a few good sledge hammer whacks, I was able to free the rusty hunk of junk.

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As you can see a fair amount of rust has piled up on both sides near where the bolts connected.

Here is a pic of the remains of the grinded off carriage bolt.

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This is a shot of the other bolt that ended up getting sheered off. The metal plate is absolutely rusted to the frame and bolt.

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I'll just leave that up to future me to deal with because now my focus will soon be on restoring this rusted out hunk of metal that I pulled off of my back bumper.

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The question then remains... do I fix it and put it back on or just leave it off? Which do you think?


Well, thank you for taking the time to read and gawk at what this new noobie is doing to his truck. Hopefully one day I will have a respectable truck with some good off road capabilities! Till then, back into the rust bucket and into the forum so that I may one day know what I'm talking about instead of just acting like it. Any comments are welcome, I'll keep updating this as I get my truck farther along with the repairs.

Thanks!
 



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Fastest Caskets

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I have to comment on how CLEAN that truck looks! It looks straight as an arrow and without any visible body rust. I hate what new england has don to my poor poor ex...


Trailer hitch? Good winch point. Thats all I ever used mine for, that and digging into the ground when climbing hills too steep to drive over
 






BLOODBANE

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Agreed. My hitch on mine digs in sometimes and kinda hangs me up
IMG_7735.jpg

On this climb it was enough for me to have to back up and get on it a little, No big deal, because of what was dragging, but its there all the same
 






tweakedlogic

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Excellent work, and good looking Ex.

I say keep the hitch, it will protect your bumper, it's a great tow point, and you never know when you need to borrow a trailer.
 






Varsity

Don't need no stinkin 4WD...yet
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I totally agree and really enjoyed reading this. Probably one of the best/cleanest 1st gens out there and incredibly inspiring too. Yep, this forum is incredible and nothing beats finishing and doing something by yourself after you just learned how to do it, it makes everything so much better. Subscribing so I can see what else you end up doing :thumbsup:
 






Naasau

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Varsity said:
I totally agree and really enjoyed reading this. Probably one of the best/cleanest 1st gens out there and incredibly inspiring too. Yep, this forum is incredible and nothing beats finishing and doing something by yourself after you just learned how to do it, it makes everything so much better. Subscribing so I can see what else you end up doing :thumbsup:

I agree as well! Your X looks great! I'm quite jealous of the shiny undented bumpers... I had a set that got trashed after a few short months by lots of impatient yuppies that can't park like reasonable people here in Denver. I would say keep the hith as well; our stock bumpers could use the protection and I've seen a few bent by attempting to pull a load greater than they could hold.
 






Suicide77

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First off, THANKS!!! for all the great feedback and comments! Best people on the best forum, you guys rock!

Secondly, I agree with the points Fastest Caskets and BLOODBANE make about the hitch dragging. I did notice the sudden clearance I gained by not having the hitch in the way and spare tire off! A 3" to 4" difference I will keep in consideration. I also concede to what tweakedlogic points out as well. Having a hitch makes little rear ending 'incidents' turn into a loss for the challenger and usually a win for me. I have had not one, but two people just stop a little too late and push me a foot or two forward. Both times the hitch was fine and they had a hole punched in their bumper! I think I will keep the hitch once it is all cleaned up and use brand new bolts so that I can remove it in a matter of minutes instead of a couple of days when I attempt going off road.

As for the body rust thing, I hate it too and after a good inspection of the undercarriage (due to a deer my truck ingested when the semi threw it in my lane!) I can see the winters of salt piling on to the frame. I'm glad I am catching it now because with a little elbow grease and plain old hard work it should clean up. Just need some jack stands....
 






Suicide77

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Agreed. My hitch on mine digs in sometimes and kinda hangs me up
IMG_7735.jpg

On this climb it was enough for me to have to back up and get on it a little, No big deal, because of what was dragging, but its there all the same

Also, I have to comment on yours and Naasau's rigs. AWESOME! One day...
 






92exp4x4

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Welcome to the forum! Your Explorer is one of the cleanest I have seen in a long time. You seem very diligent in your work. With your attitude, you may just have the best looking first gen on the forum.

I totally understand being bitten by the bug. Once you get started its tough to stop!
 






Naasau

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Also, I have to comment on yours and Naasau's rigs. AWESOME! One day...

Hah! I like how we're all drooling over yours and your drooling over ours! Fear not, once the bug has you, you too will join us in ridiculous debt and a fearsome ride. :salute:

... ... and YAY! Someone thinks that my beast is AWESOME! :bounce:
 






Suicide77

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Well I took the weekend off to visit my uncle in Nevada. Now I'm back and ready to start working again! I went to Home Depot and picked up a knotted wire brush attachment for my angle grinder and got to work. 4 hours later I think I have hit the half way point on the hitch!

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Other than the fact I look like a coal miner from being covered in rust I think it is going quite nicely! There are a few tight corners that will require a good wire brushing to bring the whole thing up to par, but once that is all done I plan on priming it with some rust restorer just to be safe and then hit it with the rubberized undercoating to finish it off.
 






Naasau

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Looking good! I swear by those knotted wire brush wheels, they make quick work of just about anything. I did finally get annoyed by always swapping stuff out on my angle grinder, and luckiny I stumbled across two for cheap, so now on the wall of the garage are 3 of the critters, one with the wire bruch, one for the grinder wheel, and one for the cut-off wheel. I'd say that it cuts my project time in half to have them just sitting there waiting for me. :D

What rubberized paint are you thinking of using?
 






Fastest Caskets

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They sell this stuff called POR 15, I've only used it once or twice, but when sprayed on metal, it turns rust into primer. Obviously not heavy scaley rust, but a good coat on that fresh bare metal should seal it up nicely and prevent any future rust
 






Suicide77

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Well I finally got the rest of it looking nice and clean!

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There are still a few rough spots that I couldn't knock out with a wire brush. I'm thinking tomorrow I will give it a one two punch with the drill brush attachment and finally have it ready for paint!

The first coat, which I've been using on a side project, will be Rust-Oleum Rust Reformer. It is designed to convert rust into a protected paintable surface. I admit I would never rely just on it without first doing what I've been doing, but I think it is a good step to sure up those little specks of rust that slip through the knotted brush.

The second coat will be Rust-Oleum Undercoating. It is a rubberized paintable surface that deadens sound and is corrosion resistant. It is specifically designed for vehicle underbodies, wheel wells, trunks, and boat trailers.

I'm thinking of following that up with a coat of classic black just for kicks (more layers for the salt to dig through?).

I think you are right on Fastest Caskets, although, I've never tried POR 15. How did you like it and where did you get it? I'm all game for trying new products!

I wish I were lucky enough to have 3 grinders! lol, but alas, I have one. It is a Makita and seems to do the job honorably. I've been keeping my eyes open at garage sales and the pawn shop though...
 






NHarris

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Subscribing! :thumbsup:
 






Fastest Caskets

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I never used it on my own stuff, so I really dont know how well it holds up, just on other ppls stuff. Kind of on the expensive side, but any reputable body shop supply store should carry it. I dont think your gonna find it at Ace hardware, but I could be mistaken
 






Bruces expo

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Also To Jump In Here , look on Craigslist In Tools , You Can Find The Northern Tool Brand And Also Harbor Freight Brands Pretty Cheap Used , As there Not Expensive New Anyways , Great Job So Far , Def Checking Back In Again For The Rust Oleum Under Coating
 






Suicide77

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Well, here is the first coat of Rust Oleum Rust Restorer. As suggested by Fastest Caskets, it is a means to sure up any little bits of rust that may have slipped through the brush wheel. Hopefully I will be able to get a second coat by this evening!

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I noticed the spare tire is also a little rusty, I think I will attack that next!
 






Suicide77

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Thanks NHarris for subscribing! It's really cool you guys are finding this interesting!

Also, Bruce'sexpo, good call on the tools! I haven't thought about Craigslist, I'll have to investigate that. I have however wondered into a pawn shop and gotten a few tool and a Creeper!
 



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Bruces expo

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Craigslist comes in handy , Can also find some good Trade deals As well , so far the first coat looks good !
 






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