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OK, let's get started

On deck

All right. I did another week's worth of extra research here, scanned some websites and even watched some YouTube videos, and here's my marching orders for the next several months on this restore/upgrade project. I'm taking the advice of gmanpaint and a few others and putting the mechanical stuff up front, and then I'll worry about the feel-good and the pretty stuff.

As always, advice and opinions are very welome.

Here's the plan, as of now, in order, starting this weekend ...

-- Underbody rust; scrape, conversion primer and then undercoating paint. I've got a salt-exposed car that spent two winters outdoors sitting idle, so this will be a challenge.

-- Front wheal bearings. I put this car on the road in December, and since then I've been hearing this mild but steady speed-sensitive hum that I assumed was tire noise from the Grabber ATs. Now it's warmer, the windows are down and the heater fan is off, and that's no tire noise. When it went silent when I turned left and coasted down a hill, I knew where I was. I'll be putting new Timken hub assemblies on both sides, just to be safe.

-- Alignment (one of the rare shop jobs on this). The TT is done, and once the bearings are set it's time to get these wheel in line. Better now than after those 33s get mounted, I'm guessing.

-- Add-a-leaf. I did the Warrior shackle upgrade, and got 1.5 inches in the back. I'll add the leaf to get the other half-inch, and stiffen the ride a bit. I know it's possible that I may take enough to the serious off-roading over time that I'll want a F-150 leaf pack back there, but until then, it's easily worth the $35. Also, it will give me a reason to replace the front and rear bushings on the springs with the ones that came in the Energy Suspension kit I ordered when I installed the shackles.

-- Aussie locker in the rear. I figure this is a good first crack at the rear differential for a rear-end newbie. Just in the wet snow and some mud I've driven in so far, I've been surprised at how easily the loose wheel breaks loose and spins. Before I head out into any trails, I think a locker is a must. I'll keep it geared at 3.73 for now, but, like the leaf upgrades, I'm keeping the 4.56 upgrade out there on the "for when I get really serious" list.

-- While I'm working on that rear end, I'll change at least the driver's side axle seal, which I can see leaking onto the inside of the tire. If the other seal or the bearings look needy, I'll swap those for new ones as well.

-- Synthetic oil. I'll do the engine and the rear differential first, and then gradually convert it all as routine maintenance periods come up.

-- Just because it seems to make sense, I'll follow some of the advice I've seen here and make my own gap guards in the front and rear wheel wells. It's relatively cheap, and less salty snow and mud on the engine or on top of the gas tank is probably a good idea.

-- Upgrade the shocks. After the lift and before those heavy 33s get on, I'll up to Rancho 5000 series shocks front and rear. It looks like Summit is running a deal on them; about $50 each, and a $50 rebate if you buy 4. I figure this upgrade is definitely worth $150.

-- Wire and plugs. Just going to go with good stock replacement stuff. I've only owned the car since last summer, and put on less than 2,000 miles so far, but I have no idea when before that they were changed. With the lift and a little more room through the wheel wells, I figure it's a good time to add a little power and fuel efficiency.

-- And finally ... tires and rims! Saving this for last on this phase of the project. This way, I'll want to earn my way to the big day by doing all the less-sexy stuff that makes for a stronger rig. After some reading and research, I'm going with the Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs, 33x12.5x15, on a set of Crager Soft 8 rims. I'll invest in 5, so I have a full spare ready and a little extra rotation relief to control wear and tear.

That's about it between here and summer. If all that goes well, I'll round up some basic camping and must-have off-road accessories, and then enjoy the summer and fall in the woods. Next winter, I'll think about brush guards, taillight guards, roof rack, added lights, rock sliders, and some beefier upgrades like gearing and leafs. Hopefully, by then, I'll be smart enough to know the good stuff from the garbage, and to get it done right.

I hope everyone is heading into spring full speed.


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Sounds like you really have a plan. Good deal on those shocks BTW.
This post will probably be moved to a build thread where more people can see what your doing and come up with some other ideas.
Good luck, I'll check back and see how your doing.

For what it's worth

OK, I was delayed a bit by some of those annoying things in life -- job, illness, taxes, other such stuff -- but I'm finally back on track and getting things done. Before I cover that ground, though, I thought I'd share a small goof-off project I did to kill some time while I was waiting for the boxes to come from Summit, Rock Auto, Silver State Ford, Aussie and a few other places.

This is a byproduct of my dreaming about getting a good brush guard up front to protect that silly tupperware nose on my 01 Sport. I checked a few of the major manufacturers website for instruction, and it seems simple enough for all of us rubber-nosed riders -- just hang the main mounts from the perches that hold the front tow hooks right now. Simple enough, unless you've done the PA 883 and those tow hooks had to go to make room for the lower part of the bumper and the rubber that covers it. I checked with folks at WAAG and a few other places, and they said they don't make brackets for Explorers with lifts. So I stared at that front end and tried to come up with one that would not only be as strong as a straight L-bracket bolted to the two bolts from the tow hook on a stock truck (which is what most of the manufacturers do), but maybe a little stronger.

What I came up with was an L-bracket that's flipped so the vertical side is above, rather than hanging below, the horizontal side that bolts to the tow hook mount. Since the 3-inch lift also leaves the heads of the frame rails exposed through the lower opening on the nose, that makes it possible to design the vertical side to go inside the frame rail, where it can be connected to the frame with a third bolt on a different plane than the first two. That should make it a bit stronger than the standard non-lift mounts that I saw. What you do with the end sticking forward from the frame will vary based on the design of the guard -- and since I don't own mine yet, I didn't worry about that -- but this mounting design will work fine with 1/4-inch steel and, with three bolts on two planes, should be plenty stiff and strong.

I'm a carpenter, not a metal-working guy, but this may be the first bracket I try to make for my rig when the time comes.

Here's the nickel tour (it's a sheet metal mockup, just to show the idea):


Here's the bracket, sticking out from the frame head, that is exposed after a 3-inch lift to the rubber-nosed Explorers like mine. Worth noting -- the horizontal plane is notched to clear the stock bumper mount flange on the front of the frame rail as it descends below the plane of the tow hook mount; the metal from that notch is folder up and over to make a reinforcement detail to strengthen the fold in the bracket (this might be unnecessary, but it seemed like a nice touch); and vertical plane is carefully measure to fit under the stock bumper as it crosses three inches higher over the stock mount and then inside the frame rail. I just have the "L" extending forward. You can do with this end whatever the guard you buy requires.


Here it is from the inside. You can see it bolts to the tow hook perch (and still leaves room for any from trailer hitch bar you might want to install on top of those perches, where the hitch receiver would also come right through the gap in the raised stock bumper cover). It also bolts nicely to a stock hole in the frame on the vertical plane (head of the bolt facing the camera), with plenty of room for a 1/2-inch bolt and a meaty washer. You can weld the nut to the inside of the bracket (the hole in the stock bracket on the front of the frame rail will allow up to 5/8-inch in width to get in) or take the cheap-and-easy way out and just put a nut snug in your box wrench with a sliver of paper, and hold it in place to start the bolt. I did that with no problems for the mockup.


Just so you can see what this thing looks like, here's the mockup sitting on the hood of my truck. The slot in the stock bumper mount bracket, and the clearance between the bottom of the tow hook and the top edge of the lower portion of the bumper/bumper cover, will easily allow for a 1/4-thick piece of metal. Should be plenty to make a seriously strong mount.


For those who might try this, here's a shot of my basic design drawing. I assumed a 90-degree fold with a 1/8-inch radius. You'll have to adjust the fold in the reinforcing tab in the middle to compensate for whatever thickness of metal you choose.

Overall, the thing should be darned strong, and require no modifications to the frame, the bumper, the plastic nose or whatever brush guard you choose. As long as it would have worked with the non-lifted rubber-nosed Explorer, it should work with this bracket on a 3-inch lifted version.

Or, I could be out of my mind. Like I said, I'm not a metal guy. Just a guy who waited too long for my next round of toys to come in the mail.

Be well,

Subscribing, definitely gonna keep an eye on your progress. Doing alot of the same stuff to mine as time and money allows, and im sure your posts about doin the body lift and modding the bumper brackets will help
Good luck with everything


There are few things that warm my heart as much as finding a small stack of boxes inside the front door when I get home. Time to have some fun.


Not pictured are the set of four Rancho shocks from Summit. They came after this shot was taken, just adding a little joy to the moment. Summit even tossed in a free hat. That was cool.

So next up on the 01 Sport restore/upgrade ...

-- Pro Comp Add-a-Leaf. While I'm at it, I'll tear down both leaf packs and get them cleaned up and painted.
-- Energy Suspension bushings for both ends of the leaf packs
-- Two new rear "axle saver" bearing/seals from Timken. Left rear seal leaks now. Figure I'll change them both while I'm in there. I found a Harbor Freight tools near a wedding I went to a few weeks back, and bought the bearing remover kit. Rented 5-pound slide hammer is on the work bench.
-- Aussie Locker for the rear (keeping the 3.73 for now). Going to Mobil 1 75w-140 synthetic in the rear. Got a fresh pinion bolt as well (yes folks, I am paying attention to the advice here).
-- Rancho shocks, front and rear (I also bought the stock bolts and nuts for the rear shock lower mounts from Silver State Ford. Looking at what I've got and the rust monsters I dealt with already, I just figured I'd be ready).
-- New Timken bearing/hub for the front right side, to replace what I'm guessing is my bad one (car growls as it rolls, but stops when I make a hard left. I figure that because the weight shifts to the front right and presses the bearing together harder. If I guess wrong, then I'll just change them both).
-- Once more on the advice of the folks here, I had Silver State Ford send me a new axle nut. Rented torque wrench capable of hitting 200 foot pounds is ready to roll.
-- I also should create a hell of a pile of rust dust and drain about 10-12 cans of Rustoleum rust conversion primer and black paint just taking care of the rear underbody and the front wheels forward. Going to add a layer of Rustoleum spray-on truck undercoating to the wheel wells as well, just to see how I like it. Any reason I shouldn't coat the gas tank, too?
-- If the AAL gives me any more lift than a 1/2 inch or so, I'll do a second torsion twist to keep things even. I only twisted about three-quarters of an inch into it when the Warrior shackles went on. Most of the 1 1/2 inches they gave the rear just went into correcting that sad-tail sag the truck had.

If I get through all of this without the truck falling on me, or being handed divorce papers (well, even if I do get those papers), then I'm on to synthetic oil for the engine, plugs and wires, then some new tires and rims. Finally getting to the eye candy stuff. I have to admit. This has been a hell of a lot of fun.

Now all I need to do is find some good places to ride this thing on some trails in the Northeast.


Another wave under way

OK, another weekend and another round of fixes/upgrades to my as-yet nameless 01 Sport.

This one involves a bunch of overhauls at once, and a few of them overlap -- rear shocks, add-a-leaf and some rust battling made sense at the same time. Locker, rear axle seals, and some more rust-scraping and underbody painting will be in the next wave, once the truck is up on the stands under the axle.

As you can see, rust and leaking axle oil were in no short supply for this rig - which survived a few too many Buffalo winters, the last two of which were spent mostly idle buried up to the door handles in ice and snow.


For the add-a-leaf install, like a lot of folks around here, I followed the great template laid out by V8BoatBuilder in his "How-To" post, http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=97676. There are only a few things I would add ...

-- You definitely don't need to unbolt the spring from the rear shackle, and any time you can avoid that hellish bolt you should take advantage of the opportunity. I did the add-a-leaf with the springs bolted on. No problem. Just make sure you have two good C-clamps to keep the springs under control when you unbolt that center pin, AND to pull the flattened and tired old springs down into the curve of the new added leaf. There really was a big difference on mine.


In the end, when I finally set it back down on the tires, I ended up with a shocking 2 1/8 inches of added lift on each side. I was really only looking for about half an inch. I guess I'll be twisting those torsion bars a little more than I thought. Good thing I have another inch to go before I hit the 2-inch max. I'll be using it.

-- For the record, if you're searching and looking for a direct answer (like I did), the Pro-Comp 13120 add a leaf kit works perfectly in the 01 Sport, and my guess is in any of them that have the leaf pack rather than the monoleaf. Pro-Comp must have reacted to the feedback about trouble with the new center leaf bolt as well. They now give you two sets, and the thicker one is more than long enough to fit through the pack. I got mine good and tight, with some added Loctite, and then cut off the 1 1/2 inches or so that hung down below the nut.

-- And, while you have the shock mounts, U-bolts, leafs and sway bar off of the rig, break out the wire wheel and some paint. Never be a better time to get it all cleaned up and control that demon rust.


Since I had to remove the lower shock mount for the add-a-leaf, I figured now was the perfect time to swap the shocks. Again, I followed the well-traveled advice of a veteran on this forum, X6StringerX at http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=223149. It's a pretty straightforward job, but having those clear instructions is a welcome relief when you're going after it the first time on this rig. Always good to know there are no hidden tricks. Here's a few thoughts I would add to that great "How-To," if you're planning on upgrading shocks on your rig.

-- First off, if you live anywhere where snow and salt ever hits the road, expect the bolts on this one to all be goners. The top bolts snapped off so easily it made me wonder what was holding the shocks on up there. Fortunately, the Ranchos I put in come with a clean set of upper bolts and nuts.

-- The bad news is, Rancho doesn't send you a fresh lower bolt and nut. This is heavy-duty hardware, and not a clean match for the American-sized grade-8 hardware I could pick up at the local tractor supply place. Best bet, if you live in the land of rust, just assume you'll be cutting these bolts just inside the lower mount bracket. You'll never get the bolt out of the old shock, and trying to beat it out actually caused me to bend one of the mounts. You can pick the exact-size bolts and nuts from a Ford dealer, but if there like my local shop they'll tell you they don't have it and you can only order it as a kit with stock replacement shocks. That is, of course, nonsense, so just search up Silver State Ford and order them online. Part numbers are N804641S439 for the bolts ($1.18 each, but you have to buy the bag of 4) and N800937S441 for the nut (which you can order individually, a good thing since for some reason they cost $3.53 each, about 3 times as much as the bolt they twist on to).

-- Lastly, if you're on the fence about a body lift, here's another reason to jump in: It makes the upper shock bolts a piece of cake to work on. Without those extra 3 inches, I think I'd have gone nuts.

In the end, with everything back together, all clean and painted, the rear end looks a lot better and the ride has been completely transformed. No more yawing like an old row boat, no hops after potholes and no scolded-dog sagging rear. The add-a-leaf added a stunning 2-plus inches to the rear ride height, as well as a firmness that really changes the complete feel of the truck, and those Ranchos make it all feel comfortable and under control. Given that I got these Ranchos for about $40 a piece (combining a great price from Summit with a rebate from Rancho), paid about $30 for the bushing kit (including an upper shackle set I already used when I installed the Warriors) and a miserly $34 for the add-a-leafs, this upgrade has definitely earned the title of most bang for the buck.


That is, I hope at least, until that Aussie Locker goes in. I'm looking forward to that next.

Be well,

These are the kinds of posts that I come back for every day. Nice work! :thumbsup:

Still rolling

For the second act of this weekend's repair/upgrade effort, it was time to crack open that rear axle and see what kind of a mess I could make. Two rear seals were the hoped-for easy part, and then it was time to install the long coveted Aussie Locker. I have to admit, as a differential newbie, that last one had me as nervous as I'd been since I cracked loose my first body bolt and realized lifting this thing was actually my job.

Still, as is often the case, I just kept my madness confined to my own head and grabbed some solid advice from this forum. This time, a search on rear axle bearings turned up the incredibly detailed and methodical "How-To" put together by gavin (http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=214805). I'm a bit of a nut about order and planning, so these instructions were a dream for me. Another huge key, in this and most "How-To" threads, is to read all the way through. People have added years worth of extra tips. This one has some great advice on where to get the tools you might need and, in particular for me, a special kind of rear axle bearing for us lost-in-the-land-of-rust types.

So, time to dive in.

The left rear axle seal was an obvious worry. If you look at any of my previous images from under my rig, you'll see a nice pattern of centrifugally distributed gear oil on the inside of my tire. The old rear seal was an obvious leaker, and I imagined my left rear brakes were more of a concept than anything else. I really had no idea.


I'm no pro, but that was one seriously ugly bearing/seal combo. On the upside, the caliper came off real easy, since it was soaked in gear oil. I was running an open 3.73 rear differential, so once the calipers and rotors were off it was very easy to follow gavin's steps and have those axle shafts out and dripping on my garage floor. Just push them in, remove the C-clips and thrust washers, then pull them back out. Since I'm putting in a locker as well, I didn't have to worry about keeping the spider or axle gears in place. Out came the pinion bolt (I followed the advice on that thread and had a new one ready to go in for the re-assembly -- "Dorman HELP! 81048 Differential Shaft Lock Bolt" purchased through Amazon for $6.01, and free shipping when I added the Pro-Comp add-a-leaf and the Timken axle bearings), then the shaft, then it all pretty much fell apart.

The shocker for me, as you can see in the pic, was the nasty orange and foul-smelling liquid that drained from the axle. I did some reading here and found out that brew is a signature of water getting into the axle, and I'm hoping that bad left seal was responsible for that. Glad that goo is out.

What I never did figure out is the source of the scores of tiny rubber chunks I found in the right side of the axle housing.


That one remains a mystery to me.

I grabbed a budget axle seal puller from Harbor Freight (http://www.harborfreight.com/rear-axle-bearing-puller-set-66380.html, normally $29.99 and on sale at a store in Buffalo for $10 less) and a rented a 5-pound slide hammer from the local Autozone and got the seals and bearings out clean in just two or three stokes per side. They were wicked ugly, but the seal on the right seemed all there. No missing pieces. All I can think of is that some previous mechanic trying to pull out the seal without the right tools may have made a royal mess of it, and just left the remnants in the housing to spin around and make their own mess. I made an impromptu squeegee out of a short broomstick and some rags, and got all of that out of the housing.

Because I'd been under that car, and I knew it had spent a good bit of time collecting snow and ice as a hobby, and because I could see the left side was already a bleeder, I made a leap and went straight for the Timken "axle saving" bearings (TRP1559TV "Axle Shaft Bearing Assembly" is the part, and a pair of them was $46.18 from Amazon -- but keep in mind they come with the seals built on).


They came packed with grease already, and with seals on both the inside and outside of the pack. The trick on these, I've read here, is that the unified pack lets the bearing sit a small bit to the outside of where the stock bearing rode on the axle. If your axle has taken a beating or shows some wear, this gives the new bearing a fresh place to ride.

As Timken advised, I took some wet emery paper to the axle to clean off any surface rust. The rest of the Timken directions are not particularly thorough, and sadly short on illustrations, but I gathered from what I could read here and there, and a little common sense looking at the shape of the bearing and the axle housing it goes in, that the side with the O-ring goes toward the inside. Hope I got that right. It didn't say it directly, but a small illustration added to the already pretty small instruction sheet seemed to indicate that the bearing should be left to sit proud of the axle housing by about one-quarter inch. Seemed nuts to me, so I triple-checked the depth of the wider portion of the bearing, and the wider portion of the axle housing, and, heck, if the bearing wasn't about a quarter-inch too wide. So I tapped the new bearing in using the old one to keep the force on the outer collar, and stopped when the fit looked and felt right.


They seemed solid, and set in there right, and the location did move the bearing about one race-width outboard on both sides. Now, if the darned things don't leak, I'll be a very happy camper.

Re-assembly awaits, but first it's time to step up to the plate and grab the locker. With the spider and axle gears now keeping a few paper towels from blowing around on my work bench, there's no going back.

Onward ...

Lock step

Time for the locker.

After doing lots of reading on this forum, and consulting my accountant, I decided to go with the Aussie locker. It just seems like that combination of great price, great performance and more than enough muscle for the average dual-duty fool like me. Plus, the company's US base is in Rochester, NY, and I'm a big fan of that town. I know there are likely heavier-duty lockers out there, and the idea of manually unlocking it as needed is attractive, but the price on the Aussie is great ($322 with shipping, direct from Aussie online) and I could hardly find a bad word about them here. So I decided to go for it.

The Aussie website only lists Explorer models up until 2000, but I checked with their customer service guy, Bill, and he confirmed my 01 Sport with the 8.8 31-spline Ford rear uses the same XD48831 that most Ex's take. Shipping was pretty fast, although Bill warned me that they didn't have many more of these models left to sell. Not sure what's up with that, but if it was a move to press the sale, it was wasted effort. I was buying anyway.

As is almost always the case, there's a rock-solid thread already on here that lays out the installation of an Aussie Locker in the 8.8 rear extraordinarily well. If you're thinking about this, just check out LONO100's post at http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=325006. Great stuff. I wish I could go back in time and buy him a better camera, and some lights for his video rig, but the guy went through a heck of a lot of trouble to get all that together -- and I forgot to get too many pictures when I did mine -- so who am I to complain. The man deserves a tip of the cap.

As does Aussie. There instructions are likewise pretty well written and easy to follow. You have to jump a few sections since the instructions try to cover lots of models, but between the Aussie booklet and LONO100, it's hard to get this wrong. Trust me, folks, don't be shy on this one. If you can read (or have a friend who can) and can keep your patience enough to follow instructions carefully, you can do this. If you are going to get into this, though, here's a few tips to add to LONO100's well-guided path.

First, if it looks like this when you open it up, get ready to do some cleaning.


I'm not sure if water was getting in through a leaky left axle seal, or maybe an incomplete seal on the diff cover, but what came out of my differential looked more like bad coffee than oil. The Aussie came at a great price, but it's still an investment, as is the time you're going to take to do this (as would be the time it takes to hike the trail back to civilization) so better to do it right than fast.

My second suggestion is to second one of LONO100's pieces of advice and recommend you dry fit the whole thing to check spacing before you do the final install. It sound worse than it is, but if you're rig is up on good stands and has any kind of lift, you can likely sit upright under the truck. That makes it pretty easy for the garage mechanic to take the extra time to install, measure, break down, grease like mad and install again. Actually wasn't that bad, and I did mine a few extra times because of another reason for patience ...

Aussie added a single sheet to my instruction booklet (otherwise 14, 8 1/2-by-11 pages long). It's a notice to Ford owners putting an XD48831 into an 8.8 rear. They say the case on some Broncos and Explorers is slightly smaller than the 8.8 model they used in the design, and it may make getting the spacing between the new spacers over the ends of the axles and the differential cross shaft pretty difficult. In my case, it was impossible when following the general directions. Once the thrust washers, axles gear and spacers went in, I couldn't get the cross shaft in at all. I imagine I could have pounded it in, but the design calls for at least 0.006, so jamming it in didn't seem like a good idea. That notice goes on to say that in some of these 8.8s, the ones as tight as this, Aussie will allow installation of the axle gears without the thrust washers.

That's where the extra attempts by me came in. I just didn't want to believe that those washers could be left out. I tried it twice with the thrust washers and twice without. With, there was no getting the cross shaft in without heavy and ill-advised persuasion. Without, the gap between the spacers climbed to the upper end of the acceptable range (0.015 within a range max of 0.020). I'd rather start out tight, but impossible is too tight. So out the thrust washers went.

Here's that notice:


The thing on the notice is probably my only useful addition to this conversation.

The trick in this install -- the only moment where I could imagine stuff flying around the garage -- is the re-installing the final C-clip. Up to then, the sequence is pretty simple: Once the rotors and calipers are off, you can pretty easily push the axles in a bit from the ends; that shoves the C-clip on the inside up just a bit off the small shoulder on the stock axle gear it sits in, and makes it easy to slide the C-clip off. From there, just push the axles back out, and everything comes out. Spacing issues aside, putting the Aussie in is almost as simple. Slide the left axle gear on the inside of the axle shaft, and then slide the C-clip back in place. With the new axle gear there is no recessed shoulder. Instead a "spacer" with a recess on one side covers the axle end, trapping the C-clip in place.

Easy enough, but it's easy because there's plenty of room to slide the C-clip and the spacer/axle-end cover in, because nothing else is installed yet. What do you do on the other side, when somehow the spacer and the C-clip need to go into place after the big middle "cam gears" that actually do the locking and unlocking are taking up all the room?

Aussie's first trick is they leave a shallow rabbet (did I mention I'm a carpenter?) in the cam gear facing the axle gear, just deep and wide enough for a C-clip to slide through and into the groove in the axle end it's supposed to sit in. Clever.

The second trick is to tell you to install the left cam gear right over the left spacer (which is covering the left C-clip), then slide the right cam gear into place with its spacer sitting loose inside it the way it will fit in the end. The machine tolerances are pretty tight, so I didn't have any problem with mine slipping out, even without grease. Once you have it in there and lined up (which you can do with one hand pretty easily) you somehow have to figure out a way to use the other hand to slide the right side spacer over to the left; yes, to the left. Since you haven't put the cross shaft in yet, it will be able slide so far over that it will partially sit inside the left, yes left, cam gear. With the right spacer sitting halfway between the left and right cam gears (and with production tolerance so tight), the right side cam gear will just hang from that spacer, staying in place and pushed away from the right side axle gear just enough for you to use that space they left and slide the C-clip on to the axle end.

(I should have taken pictures)

That magic second-hand spacer slide is the trick. Aussie and LONO101 just suggest using a U-shape piece of stiff coat-hanger wire bent so it's about the same size at the inside of the spacer. Aussie says to slide the wire into the gap between the right cam and axle gears and push the spacer over to the left. I tried that a few times, but I could never work out how to angle the wire the correct way to shove the spacer far enough over to the left to hold everything together. As soon as I'd let it go, the right cam gear would fall off. Then, after I got about halfway through the alphabet on a string of creative profanity, I realized if I bent the end of the wire that was in my hand 90 degrees, on a plane that is perpendicular to the U on the other end, then all I would need to do is insert the U end of the wire in behind the spacer, turn it like a key and get a good shove on the spacer. First time was a charm. Slid all the way over and did the trick.

With the right cam gear hanging from the left cam gear, courtesy of that magic spacer and wire key, you have the room and the free hands to slip that right C-clip into place. Once it's on, and it went right on, no problem, you rotate the right axle shaft just enough to have the C-clip pointing downward, so gravity will hold it there. It's then pretty darned easy to stick your finger in the hole where the cross shaft will soon go, slide the right spacer back over to the right where it belongs, and lock that right C-clip in. Once you install the cross shaft (lining up the two cam gears first so they match, and remembering to use a new retaining pin and some Loctite and torque it all), the spacers can't back off and the C-clips are secured.

(I know, I should have taken some pictures)

From here, it's a pretty easy install of four springs between the halves of the cam gears, check that final "innercam" spacing (meaning down the middle, in between the cam gears) and you're set. From there you re-mount the brakes and the wheels, and then dry test it to make sure it works. I've seen a lot of videos on this, and read LONO100's post, but I actually thinks the Aussie book lays it out best. Just find someone to lend you a hand for a few minutes. No heavy lifting, someone just need to holds one wheel while you spin the other. My teenage daughter volunteered and pulled it off. When all was set and done, the Aussie hit 0.161 on the innercam spacing (again, toward the top of the 0.170 range max, but I expected that without the thrust washers), and passed the spin test like a champ.

Installed and greased to all heck, this is what it looked like before i started closing things up.


LONO100 explains all the rest better than I certainly can, so I won't add too much more. I cleaned things up, double-checked everything, put in some ultra-black sealant and got that diff cover back on. A nice slow and steady 2.75 quarts of Mobil 1 synthetic 75w-140 gear oil later (and an overnight for the sealant to cure, during which I went to war with more rust under this thing), and it was ready for the road.

Now, I'm a rookie at this. I did some trail driving back in college when I took my girlfriend camping in my Bronco II (84, boxy with a tiny 2.8 liter V6, but I loved that thing; the girl and the truck), but my real off-road experience is pretty meager and I haven't driven a locked-rear car on asphalt since my high school buddy foolishly lent me his 1970 396 SS Chevelle. I want to be careful not to exaggerate the change, but I have to say this conversion exceeded all expectations. I chirped my inner tire getting out of my driveway, so I knew the locker was working, but had no problems at all coasting through turns all over town on country roads or in the city. As long as I wasn't pushing the gas, the rear behaved like the open rear I was used to. Give it some gas, though, and it stayed locked and had no problems hopping my modest 29-inch General Grabber ATs through a dry, paved corner. I want to take it easy during the recommended 600-mile break in, so I haven't pushed things off-road. I did check it out in a packed-dirt parking lot, and between the locker and the upgraded rear suspension, this mild-mannered 4-liter truck shocked me with a forward hop from a standstill that smacked my head off the seat and then my chest off the steering wheel. Both wheels dug in and it jumped, like a crazy, green rabbit. Man, I liked that. I really can't wait to do that somewhere where I don't have stop to avoid hitting a row of parked school busses.

As for noise, this thing is almost impossible to detect. It might be the synthetic oil, or my middle age, but the only way I can get a good ear on the rear unlocking is to roll down the windows and to do a slow, tight circle alongside a brick building to catch the echo. It kind of sounds like a horse walking on pavement, not much more than that. I was expecting worse, so that was a pleasant surprise.

After a few days of finding excuses to drive this, I'm up to about 300 miles and have not had an issue yet. I haven't pushed it, but I'm looking forward to testing it, especially once I get my 33s on there and find some trails to explore.

Oh, and one last thing to add ...

There was some debate, either on the Aussie install thread or on the rear axle bearing "How-To" that gavin posted (http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=214805) about whether there's supposed to be a rubber O-ring inside the groove on the inner end of the axle shaft where the C-clip rides. Without any dog in this fight, I thought, since I had to take my axle shafts all the way out to change the seals, I'd take a close look. For the record, here's what I found:


OK folks. Another weekend, another new frontier for an old Explorer and an even older garage mechanic. I'm having a blast with this, and it's fun largely because there's a heck of a lot of people on here sharing valuable knowledge for free, and making this all a bit of a party. Like I often say, I look forward to meeting you all out at the end of the trail someday, so I can buy you a beer.


These are the kinds of posts that I come back for every day. Nice work! :thumbsup:

Thanks, OffTrac. I started this project last year worried I'd be flying blind. Since I found this forum, it's been anything but that. Great knowledge and advice here, and a great feel. I feel like I joined a community. Just trying to give back.

Subscribing, definitely gonna keep an eye on your progress. Doing alot of the same stuff to mine as time and money allows, and im sure your posts about doin the body lift and modding the bumper brackets will help
Good luck with everything

Hey XLT, I saw this in your sig: "Rebuilding in honor of my lil bro, who always wanted to fix it." Mine's for the big bro (hence the log in name), so I get the sentiment. Good luck with that rebuild. Next time I'm laying under there at 2 a.m., scraping rust and talking to Mike, I'll tell him he's got good company.

Sounds like you really have a plan. Good deal on those shocks BTW.
This post will probably be moved to a build thread where more people can see what your doing and come up with some other ideas.
Good luck, I'll check back and see how your doing.

Have to admit, as a rookie here your screen name makes me a little nervous, but thanks. I dug up this photo of me, my old college girlfriend (now my wife), and the truck we had in the driveway from 1988 until last year. If you could keep that 2.8 L V6 running, this thing could climb walls. Thought you might get a kick out of the pic.

BII and us.jpg

Last step in this wave

Almost forgot to pay my respects to a few folks.

First, to ncc, for his excellent "How-To" post on changing the front hub/bearings (http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=165429). And, once again, to X6StringerX for his "How-To" (http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=223149) on swapping shocks -- both of which were a complete piece of cake thanks to these gents and all the folks who added tips in both threads.

In my case, the old shocks were tired and the 1.5 inches of torsion twist wasn't helping. As I mentioned when going over the rear shock swap, if you live north of that Mason-Dixon line, just assume all the hardware on the old shocks is toast. It all snapped off after just a few twists, even though it was hit with PB Blaster multiple times over the course of a week. Just as well, they came out even easier that way.

I put Ranchos in mine, part of a great 4-shock deal Summit is offering on the 5000 series. The good news is up here, unlike the back, Rancho gives you the hardware to mount both the top and the bottom of the shock -- they even toss in a new set of bushings for the top mount with each one. Watch your torque specs, add some Loctite and don't overcompress those bushings, and this is absolutely no problem. Anyone who can change a tire can do this themselves.

Although it might seem a little more intimidating, swapping out the front hub/bearing assembly wasn't that much harder. Just more steps, and a few things to watch out for. ncc's How-to has this all covered, but here's a few things I'd underline:


-- Shop around for a good bearing. It's an easy fix, but why set yourself up to have to do it again in a year? If it's too cheap to be true, it's likely too cheap to be any darn good. I went with the Timken hub/bearing (SP450200 for a second gen with 4-wheel) and, following a few suggestions on this site, got a great deal from RockAuto. The whole thing, shipped and to my door in just 3 days, was $110.88, including the 5 percent discount they offer Serious Explorations folks (http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=350140). Customer service was great, too.

-- Be very serious about the torque specs for all this, and get a good 1/2-inch torque wrench that can hit 200-foot-pounds or so. And don't get lazy. I needed an extension to the wrench would clear the tire, and didn't want to slap on my 24-inch 1/2-inch extender. So I grabbed a few adapters, used a 6-inch 3/8-extender in the middle, and thought I was clever. Before I could hit 200 ft lbs, the 3/8 extension snapped clean and allowed me to throw all that force on my knuckles into my concrete garage floor. Can't be too mad. I had that coming.

-- Also, under the don't-mess-around category ... every thread I saw here, and every Ford mechanic I talked to while trying to find the part, agreed that you really should replace the front axle nut when you do this. They're made to crush under the high torque as a way to keep them from backing off. A used nut won't cut it. Also, to save some time (unless you've got a killer local dealer, which I do not), just jump on to Silver State Ford's website and order the nut (part no. N808985S100, cost $10.01 each). I went everywhere looking for this. The local dealer said it had to be ordered, would take a week to 10 days and cost $24. None of the chain or mom-and-pop auto parts stores had it, and they all said they don't expect to ever have it. Silver State Ford had it to my house in 2 days.

-- And while you're at it, before you order any Ford parts for this, take a close look at those dust shields that bolt to the steering knuckle. You might as well have a new set on hand if you live in the rust zone. Won't be much left of them, and what is left will twist up once you break the small bolts that hold them on the knuckle. Next time I order anything from Silver State Ford, I'll add these to the list.

-- Lastly, anytime you have anything up and apart, break out the wire brushes and paint and fight that rust demon.


I'm always amazed at how bad everything looks when I get in there, and how much better it looks when it all gets cleaned up and coated. A few more cups of coffee and a little sweat, and it's a world of difference. What the heck. You're already dirty.

In the end, this upgrade and repair was another very easy, pretty cheap and very welcome change to the character of my 01 Sport. I twisted the last inch or so into the torsion bars to keep up a little with all the lift my add-a-leafs gave the rig, and that with the new shocks made the front end feel much firmer and more under control. The new hub/bearing also took away that awful grinding sound, which had grown on me but always made passengers wonder if they were going to get to their stop. For a while, I just stopped taking passengers. But I think replacing the hub is a much better long-term solution. At least for a married man.

The rides starting to look pretty descent.


Next up, I'll get this on a rack and get the alignment done, now that all the lifting and twisting is set. Past that, in a few hundred miles or so, is my conversion to synthetic engine oil (when the service period is up on the current oil), and I'll probably throw wires and plugs in while that's going on. At this point, I have no idea when the last time they were changed was. I'll also, no doubt, find some more rust to battle while I'm down there.

Also, now that most of the major mechanical fixes and upgrades are behind me (until I decide to try more of them, of course), it's time to let myself think about the candy -- tires and rims, rack and lights, CB, tow hitch mounts front and rear, and maybe that brush guard. Advice on these topics is always welcome (and already plentiful around here, no doubt)

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

Be well,

To date ...

OK, due to some complications, this project may have to hold for a while. Maintenance and a few low-cost high-impact upgrades might be possible (and I'm more than open to anyone's suggestion on that front), but it looks like I'll be playing this hand this season.

So here's where I stand ...

begin 12-03-11.jpg

Project Day 1 -- Dec. 1, 2011
At this point this '01 Explorer Sport had sat largely idle since May, and before that had racked up only 3K miles in the previous two years. Truck was pretty much bone stock, except for a still healthy set of General AT Grabbers, 245/75 R 16. Maintenance was minimal, and it spent all of the previous two winters parked outside under some heavy Buffalo snow.

First things attacked:
Stock running board removed
Brake system overall (calipers, pads, rotors, e-brake cable, e-brake pads)
Engine oil and filter (stayed with petroleum for now)
Tranny oil and filter (likewise, stayed with petroleum for now)
New tranny pan
New fuel filter
New air filter
Replaced the 4x4 control module
Repaired power door locks (including reading code under dash and resetting the door pad)
Replaced broken gas cover spring
Repairs frozen lock tumblers in doors and rear hatch

For the record, top of wheel-well height was
FL: 34 FR: 34 1/2
RL: 33 1/8 RR: 33 1/4

That brought me to this ...

post shackle:TT 02-10-12.jpg

Project -- Feb. 10, 2012

Warrior shackles in rear
New Energy Suspension bushings at shackle to frame
Torsion twist to match rear height

For the record, top of wheel-well height was
FL: 34 1/2 FR: 34 7/8
RL: 34 1/2 RR: 34 3/4

Next up ...

post PA883 03-18-12.jpg

Project -- March 18, 2012

Installed PA 883 3-inch body lift, including raising the bumpers
Removed stock front tow hooks
Modified stock lower radiator cover for lift
Repaired broken tranny coolant hose (oops)
Replaced broken tranny shifter cable (oops)
Installed Ford transfer case skid plate
Installed Ford fuel talk skid plate
Wore out several wire brushed and drained 6 cans of rust converter and paint.
Also, as a birthday gift from the wife, replaced the missing Ford soft bag that goes in the center console.

For the record, top of wheel-well height was
FL: 37 1/8 FR: 37 5/8
RL: 37 1/8 RR: 37 1/2

I rode this for a little while, waiting for a good time to move ahead to this ...

post AAL:TT 06-03-12.jpg

Project -- June 14, 2012

Rancho 5000 series shocks all around, with all new hardware and bushings
Pro Comp add-a-leaf
Installed Timken "axle saver" rear bearings
Installed Timken hub/bearing on front right wheel (including new axle nut)
Installed Aussie Locker (including a fresh pinion bolt)
Upgraded to 75w-140 Mobil 1 synthetic gear oil in rear
Wore out a few more wire brushes and drained 12 more cans of rust converter and paint
Painted rear sway bar red -- I have no idea why
Did one more TT to bring the front up a bit more to keep up with AAL (so far, only about 1 inch total twist)

For the record, top of wheel-well height after two weeks of settling in now is:
FL: 38 FR: 38
RL: 39 1/2 RR: 39 1/4

And there it seems I'll stand for this season.

Still planning on making up some gap guards, as well as converting the engine to synthetic oil and getting an alignment on that twisted front end. Beyond that, we'll see where this thing will take me this year and hope the winds of fortune change down the line and those 33s I've been dreaming about can become a reality.


Not dead yet

The taxman may not be happy when he hears this, but my wife chipped in to buy me an overhead console (got it, complete harness and temp sensor with it, from Blueka here. Great guy to deal with), so I found the cash to upgrade the engine oil, and toss in new plugs and wires. Just can't stop once you get rolling. If you're here, you know that better than me.


I have no idea why I wanted to add that overhead console. Just seemed like a thing to do.

The upshot is, with the oil, plugs and wires, this thing is really purring now. It's an 01, but only has just under 95K on it -- it spent a few years moving less than 3K total. When I started this project, this rig was stiff and didn't really seem to want to move. After all the brakes, bearings, suspension upgrades and rust battling, it's starting to glide down the road. With the Mobil 1 in there and the new plugs (Motorcraft platinum, and I think I replaced the original factory plugs that were different on each side) and Autolite Professional wires, it's a new ride entirely. It's become a pleasure to drive.

(The difference doesn't surprise me too much -- one plug that came out of the No. 6 cylinder had a .085 gap. Can't imagine that was working too well)

Now, what I really need to do is find some trails to ride. Doesn't seem that Upstate New York offers much that doesn't come with a conservation officer or a gas drilling rig chasing you around. I'm a little too old for that.

Suggestions are welcome. Not looking for anything too heavy, just eager to give that half of this dual-duty rig a try, and maybe bump into a few smarter Ex pilots out there.

Be well.

Road trip

This rig just took its first highway venture since I pulled it out of a snow bank in my brother's driveway last year. Brought along hoses, belts, odd extra lines and lots of tools.

Never needed to touch them.

Even with the undersized tires (245s after the 2-inch suspension and 3-inch body lift do look a bit small -- my daughters call them "the Cheerios"), and the stiffened suspension, the Ex still did 70 mph on the interstate and 55 mph along some bumpy mountain roads, all smooth as silk. I've got to think those Ranchos and all those new suspension bushings had something to do with that. All in all, no mechanical hassle, and comfortable, even surprisingly quiet and well-mannered. A joy to tour in, especially for a daily driver being worked up to do some trails. I can see why you all love these trucks so much.

And, although I can't say which upgrade -- from bearings and plugs and wires to synthetic oil and upgraded air filter -- accounts for the difference, a rig that got 13 mpg when I drove it 120 miles to my house last year hit 20 mpg on this 400-mile trip.

Maybe, if I can get those Cheerios off there, I might make Moab someday after all.


(Shamefully, I have to admit I went that far to see an off-road Jeep show. Those folks are definitely a little odd, and most of them are playing with way more spare change than I can imagine. Man, I need to find some Explorers group somewhere around Upstate New york)

Great updates! Enjoy reading the posts... :thumbsup:

just stumbled on to this, great write up! I really enjoyed following your progress... I'm pretty fond of my little sport too :)

Green light again

After about seven months of seeing more mail from the IRS and insurance companies than time behind the wheel of this rig, which as been largely parked in my driveway or getting covered with snow, the restoration/upgrade project on my 2001 Sport is finally back on track. Here's what's coming in the next 4-8 weeks, now that the truck is back in my garage (where it needs to be, since it's still snowing about every day in Central New York):

Whole lot of rust battling. Even though this rig barely put on 100 miles since fall, the snow and salt of winter seem to have taken a bite out of it yet again. Old rust is worse, and the stuff I scrapped-wire brushed and repainted last year seems determined to make a repeat appearance. I'm getting a little more serious this time around, stripped off all the body plastic, trimming the rust, replacing metal where needed and painting everything else. I'm going to be looking around this forum for the best rust conversion/paint combination. Suggestions welcome. I definitely don't want to do this every year:


While all that plastic is off, I'm going to convert that gray plastic to black (along with the metal rear bumper). I've seen a few good threads here on how to do that, and black will make a hell of a lot more sense down the line.

One thing I did find odd when pulling all that plastic ... the plastic panels on the lower doors are just attached with two-sided tape. Who saw that one coming? All the rest of the pieces had screws and clips, but the door panels had tape and two pins for lining things up.


On both sides, when I pulled the door plastic and flipped it over, rusty water ran down the inside of the panel. That can't be good for the metal on the door, although oddly, the doors themselves look fine (check out those rockers though). I'm thinking about leaving the door plastic off and just filling the holes, for a look like the Sport Tracs have. Anyone have a vote on that idea?

While things are stripped apart a bit I'll also be doing some rear spring and front end improvements, with new leaf bushings in the back and a Raybestos pro-grade overhaul of upper and lower ball joints, upper control arms, and tie rod inners and outers based on the work gmanpaint outlines in his IFS upgrade thread. That should set me up for the tires and rims that I should be able to add on at the end of this phase (Goodyear Duratrac 315/75R16 on Mickey Thompson MT-28 steel rims). I'm guessing there will be a little trimming, but OffTrac has me on board.

Add in swaybar disconnects on both ends (any opinion on whether I should set up a limiting strap on the front in that case? It seems the Ranchos allow for a bit more drop) and some repairs to the rear door latch (damned button won't push in, even when unlocked) and a few dash lights that need to be replaced. Hoping to put a CB in as well.

Westin guard.jpg

Last up, I'm going to bolt on some basic trail armor stuff -- a new Westin brush guard with some custom reinforcement, TG rock sliders (after I move the e-brake cable out of the way), one of those great RCI front skidplates (ordered and getting powdercoated as I type, according to Josh), re-install the front tow points and add a Reese Class IV rear hitch for a rear recovery point (which I can raise to match the 3-inch body lift, courtesy of BonesDT), toss on some wide and long view lights and maybe a Surco rack. After that, it will be all about getting it all dirty, scratching up that armor and spending as much of the summer as I can camping and fishing off the side of some trail most folks never get to.

That is, of course, until the bug hits me and I regear the diffs and dream up a way to mount a Warn winch up front.

Who said my daughters needed that sophomore year at college anyway?

As always, advice is always welcome. I do my share of searching, but it's always good to have someone with a hell of a lot more time on here than me mention that I'm not out of my head.

Overall, just good to be back in the game. I'll keep everyone posted on everything I break while I try all this, and hopefully run into some of you out there someday.


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Oh, and just for fun, here's a few pics from a trip to Rausch Creek last summer. Nothing even close to major league, but I did get up that little climb in a group of trucks that included a new Jeep and Xterra that couldn't make it (the Jeep ended up half over on its side).

Rausch Creek 101 8-25-91.jpg

Rausch Creek 101 8-25-144.jpg

There were a few Jeepers who seem shocked I pulled it off (thanks Aussie locker), so I called that a win.

Hey, I'm just getting started. A have to enjoy the little victories.