Obie's 2003 Trac | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Obie's 2003 Trac

Ok, time to consolidate and register this new gal.

So I bought this one on May 17, 2013. Had 86k miles and came from Florida, so pretty much rust free. So wonderful to work on a truck that doesn't have rust falling all in your eyes, and bolts that aren't seized and fused into everything.

The Timeline:

Super Stock! For About Two Days :D - P255/70/R16

The First Mod - RCI Metalworks Skid Plate

Wheels and Tires Installed, Zero Lift Yet

1.5"TT and War 153 Shackles

Westin Grille Guard

Finally, Bodylift Installed and No More Rub!


The stats:

XLT Premium Edition with Every Package
September 2002 build date
4.0L SOHC Engine
5R55E Auto 5 Speed Trans
BW1354 Electric Shift Transfer Case - 2.48:1 Low Gear
4.10 Gears with Limited Slip Rear
Came With Jason Pace Bed Cap

The Mods:

Performance Accessories 70023 3" Body Lift
Daystar Polyurethane Body Mount Bushings
1.5" Torsion Twist/Warrior Products 153 Shackles
Rancho RS5374 Front Shocks
Rancho RS999185 Rear Shocks - Setting 3
RCI Metalworks Skid Plate
33x12.5R15 Goodyear Duratrac Wranglers
Black Rock Defender Series 905 15x8 3.75" Backspacing Wheels
Step Bars Removed - Might Reinstall
Westin Sportsman Grille Guard
Moog Problem Solver UCAs, LCAs, and OTREs
Raybestos Advanced Technology Rotors and Professional Grade Semi-Metallic Front Brakes
U-Bolt/Shock Skidplates from Brian1
Solid Offroad 8.8 Diff Cover

The Future:

4" Superlift
Coilover Conversion with Fox 2.0 Resi Shocks and Eibach Springs
EGR Rugged Series Front Fender Flares
Hella 550 Offroad 55w Fog Lights on Grille Guard
Daystar Polyurethane Shackle Bushings
Cobra 29LX CB Radio Install
Fuel Tank Skidplate
Curt Hitch Receiver Flipped for Bodylift
Auburn Gear Ected Max Locker for Rear Axle
Superior Axle & Gear C-Clip Eliminator/HD Axle Shaft Kit for Ford 8.8
Custom Bolt On Rock Sliders
Ford 8.8 Differential Pinion Slider
Hidden Winch Install

The Fix'ers:

Sunroof Drain Leaking
A/C Recharge? - Clutch Seems To Click A Lot
Driver's Side Map Light Button
...This list is wonderfully small :D

The Fixed:

Moog Problem Solver Front and Rear Sway Bar Links
Front Pinion Seal - National

The Rambling:

I always wanted a Sport Trac and I finally couldn't take anymore of guys like Lono and Offtrac and STrunner and Luke posting such awesome pictures anymore. So I got one for myself :D One of the best financial decisions I think I ever made, despite what anyone else says about now owning three Explorers. This is a tip top of the line Trac. XLT Premium, every package, every comfort and convenience option and some I never even knew existed! Gotta love the auto-dimming rearview mirror and the "vent" button for the rear window :D

I want to build this up to be able to comfortably and reliably DD 100 miles a day. So the IFS stays, but gets beefed up. I also want to be able to take it on the tougher trails and not have to worry about grenading the axles or busting up the body. So it's gonna get armor, sliders, and beefed up axles. And probably a few spare CVs just in case. I also want to keep it rust free, so she'll be washed once a week, waxed every three of four months, and undercoated twice a year, and probably get a repaint within the next five years. I sorta wanna copy Offtrac and get the Ford green ;)

I would loooooooove to swap over to a 5.0/4R70W/4406 drivetrain, but that is a super long term project that I won't even consider unless either the engine or trans goes, and after 200K.

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Here are a few random shots to keep the first post from being too cluttered:

Stock and tiny next to my brothers 5.7 Ram

Clever girl...

Cool teenage makeout spot I found while scouting for trails today

Next to my just-sold-today 97 F150 :(

Some pictures from the winter of 13-14



Looking good.

Are you going to do anything about the grey plastic trim? When I had trim, I really liked it when it was painted black.

Glad to have found your ST registry Obie. I second Tom on painting the trim. I like what you've done to the truck so far keep it up :thumbsup:

Call me crazy, but I actually really like the grey cladding. The black paint looks good on a lot of other colored Tracs, but I think the red and grey go very well together. Plus, with black wheels, black tires, and a black grille guard, that'd just be too much black.

So over Independance Day weekend, I think I'm gonna get some major work done, weather permitting.

Plans are to install the Daystar poly bushings in the stock leaf pack from the other Ex onto the ST. The ST springs have an issue with the rear leaf eye being twisted from the actual leaf. I think? it's what's causing rear end shimmy after going over bumps. I don't know if this is from the Warrior shackles or not, or if they simply made an existing problem more apparent. This will have to do until I can afford $750 for the Deaver spring packs.

I'm also going to repaint the axle and begin repainting the entire frame with my leftover KBS rust proofing paint. Bodylift makes access to 90% of the frame and suspension easy as pie.

I'll be receiving the u-bolt/shock skidplates from Brian1 during the week, so those will get installed as well.

Then on Monday it goes in for a full alignment and finishing the grille guard brackets.

The weekend after I'm also going to (hopefully) attempt the coilover conversion. I'm gonna try something different though. I'm going to use the 6.5" travel shocks I already have with 700lb 10" springs. The springs will be preloaded to a 1.5" ride height increase, just like a torsion twist. I'm thinking this will be a good combination. From what I've measured, I should be able to fully extend and compress the suspension without bottoming out the shock either way. If I do though, I'll simply temporarily reinstall the Ranchos and order the 5" Fox 2.0 remote resis.

I've read from some knowledgeable members that running extended length shocks with a TT/preload actually does make the ride better without damaging anything. My position always used to be that since travel and geometry doesn't actually change throughout the full suspension cycling, you don't need different shocks. But if this actually does work, then I'll eat my words.

Then I just gotta save up for the 2.0 remote resi rear shocks. I wanna get the valving control thing from Fox too, so I can easily adjust the valving for both highway and offroad. I may wind up ordering remote resi shocks for the front with that setup too, if I find that I really like them.

Actually, I just had a thought. I'll just somewhat mount the c/o brackets with just a couple of the bolts so I don't have to drill anything, then mount the shock, cycle the suspension, and check for any problems. If the shock itself isn't being used as a bumpstop anywhere, then I don't forsee any problems with using it with the correct length spring for a non superlifted truck.

Or maybe I'm an idiot and this length shock won't work at all. Oh well, it's fun to experiment!

Well, now I don't know how much is going to get done. The experts over at Ranger-Forums told me a 6.5" travel with a 10" spring will be riding super close to bottoming out at stock height, and I won't be able to preload barely any ride height with a 10" spring on that size shock. So looks like I gotta buckle down and save up another $1000 or so for the front shocks and springs. Extended eyes, resi shocks, and those valving control things really add up the total cost. I think that in the meantime, I'm gonna order the Rancho shocks designed for the 1-2.5" lift and see if those help the front ride. If they do, that means I can put coilovers on the backburner for a few more months, as the biggest reason I wanted to knock them out sooner was to get better ride with an increased twist/preload.

I also pressed out all the leaf spring bushings today at work and discovered that every metal sleeve is ruined, meaning I can't just press in the new bushings. And not really worth mucking about with 15 year old, 150k mile leaf springs. So, I called up Carrier Spring Services in Canada and talked with them about the custom lift leaf springs they make. For around 400, I can get ones with either 1.5" or 2" lift built in, with a military wrap on the front eye and diamond cut ends, teflon pads, and new rubber bushings. Also made from North American steel, which is nice. Shipping's another $160, but they're still cheaper than the Deaver packs. And their rep was super polite, haha. So the new springs will come first, then the coilovers. And I'll wait to install the new ubolt skids until I have the new springs, as well as new 5/8" ubolts. Might as well knock everything out at one time. And I can go back to the stock shackles which will keep them running smooth and solid for a while. And then get the spring hangers and axle all painted up in one shot.

Maybe I can at least get some painting of the frame done next weekend. Don't wanna just waste four days off.

Replaced the front Rancho RS5229 shocks today with the RS5374 ones designed for torsion lifted Explorers. Sooooooooo much nicer to drive now :D


I wrote a more in depth review here:

U-bolt shocks from Brian should be here tomorrow, but not sure if I want to install them now or wait until I get new springs... Probably gonna just throw them on now, so at least I'm more prepared for SMORR if I don't get the springs for a while.

I still need new leaf springs but for now I'm done spending money on it. I gotta rebuild the savings and pay some stuff off, then I can do the locker and heavy duty axle shafts and Fox shocks all around :D

This is gonna be an exciting next two weeks! Solid 8.8 diff cover on order, ubolt skids getting powdercoated, entire Moog front end rebuild ordered, new Rancho RS9000 rear shocks ordered, and new front rotors and pads ordered! Gonna take it to the shop for a trans flush and alignment and my grille guard brackets finished, then I'm gonna do transfer case oil, front pinion seal and oil and rear axle oil, coolant flush, install my Hella front lights, then bring it over to Ziebart to get fully undercoated and body rust proofing done. Oh, and new windshield wipers, haha.

Then I can start saving up again for rock sliders and a locker and coilovers :D

I've got a couple of these things on my list for the next couple weeks. The diff cover arrived today!

I'll be watching.

Oh hey, guess who can't really afford it but just found and ordered an 8.8 skid plate? This guy! :thumbsup::thumbsup:

Now I just need to find some way to fit working on and playing in this thing with all the overtime I'm working...

Depending on how it fits with the Solid cover, I may wind up either modifying the skid plate, or using the cover on the Trac and the skid plate on the Ex. I guess I'll find out soon enough.


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Yuck. Five and a half hours and all the suspension parts I got changed were the drivers side upper control arm and outer tie rod end. Torsion bar adjuster bolt rounded off, then the twist socket wouldn't work. The grinder got that mounting plate about halfway cut before I ran out of room. Then I tried going at it with a sawzall and that was slower than rubbing two sticks together. Tomorrow I'm gonna borrow my buddies ten inch cutting wheel and go to town. I got the passengers side lower control arm off but ran out of light to put it back together. Luckily, I have torsion bar parts spare from the other Ex.

Also got my trans flushed, coolant flushed, and fuel filter changed. Tomorrow I hope I can get everything done, then head over to get an alignment and then get to work. Should be a fun Sunday in the gravel driveway :(

Good luck and hang in there!

We've all had days like that...:D

Seth K. Pyle

Done with everything except the brakes! :thumbsup: All four control arms, camber/caster adjusters, both outer tie rod ends. Gonna limp it to the shop tomorrow for the brakes and the alignment and grille guard brackets. I also wound up going to Advance and getting the Moog one piece control arm for the passengers side. After getting the Moog two piece one, I realized that it was just the one arm, not both. So the bushings would still be shot. I bought a bushing set from Advance yesterday, but when I tried to press them out today the press kit I rented wasn't big enough. So, I'll see if Rock Auto will let me send the two piece on back.

I also sprayed undercoating wax wherever I had stuff apart at. I haven't done the whole truck yet, but I still have time to get that done before fall.





Sixteen hours of crawling around on a gravel driveway and getting sunburnt made me say screw the brakes, someone else can do that.

I wound up getting that torsion bar out by getting a short two by four I had and putting it on my floor jack and putting tension on the torsion bar between the two control arm mounting legs. Then I carefully undid the mounting bolts and then pried the torsion bar out, then just cut and chiseled and hammered and pried the adjuster bolt and nut plate out. Seemed to be the safest way, but that stupid thing probably took about six total hours to get out. It's also a ***** to get the insulators and plate perfectly lined up to get the torsion bar installed. Quite a bit of prying and hammering and adjusting the two piece puller and adjuster bolt back and forth. I hate torsion bars. :mad:

I also think the torsion bars will need to be adjusted again. Despite measuring the bolt head to nut plate with calipers and setting them back to exactly the same distance, my front ride height seems way higher. It could just be that the suspension needs to be cycled a bit before they'll settle in.

Can't wait until I'm ready for coilovers, gonna be soooooooo much better.


Done son! Grille guard installed, and those brackets are beefy as hell. The whole truck shakes when you give it a tug, zero slop. Great job by the bodyshop guys, way better than I could do. They did the brakes and the front pinion seal as well, I didn't want to wait until next weekend before I could tackle them myself. Also put my new Wix air filter in and new Motorcraft wiper blades, just the finishing touches on the maintenance. More driveway pictures, haha.






The skid plate had to be notched a bit to clear the tow hooks.

Also installed my Hella 500s. They're bro lights for now though. I won't have time to wire them up until the weekend, but I wanted to see how they fit on the grille guard.


And, just for giggles, the current status of my garage, aka, why I had to bust my hump in a gravel driveway for an entire weekend: (You can just barely see my frame in there, haha)

Heck yeah man! Your Trac is looking mean!

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Nice Obie!!! Was in awe on your camo frame off. Now you have another awesome Ford. I just replaced upper control arms with Moog also. Used the 1 piece and cam kits too. Also replaced the tie rods and front sway bar bushings. Alignment was pretty good, had it professionally aligned yesterday. As you stated, the front of my Ex is higher also after replacing UCA's. Would love to have a Sport Trac, maybe one of these days.