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Paul's '91 Sport

Three ashtrays, two doors, one cup holder, and zero Air Bags”

As it sits today. . . (December 2023)
Rig Large (DEC 23).jpg

As it sat last year. . . (2022)
Snow Sport.5 (DEC 21).jpg

Edit: From here on down was the write-up I did for my first Explorer before it was totaled in a commuting accident in March 2017. The write-up for the new (to me) Explorer that was acquired in May 2020 starts on page 2, post #31.

I am the second owner of this vehicle, purchasing it in April 1993. It has been a daily driver, crisscrossed the States multiple times, sat for a few years in storage, and now is dedicated to four-wheeling trips, camping excursions, and hauling the motorcycle to various “track days”. It is not a hard-core rig, but is set up well for the types of four-wheeling I enjoy, and has certainly seen its fair share of difficult trails. It has a number of modifications, with more planned for the future, but is by no means “Done”.

As it used to sit: (2016)
Front Oblique (P).jpg
Rear End.jpg

Here is the run-down of the modifications and when they were installed (or re-worked). . .
- Borla Headers and Cat-Back Exhaust (1995)
- James Duff Pre-Runner Front Bumper (1998)
- Bush Whacker Extend-A-Fender Flares (1998/2016)
- ARB Air Lockers, front and rear (1999/2008/2015)
- 4.10 Gears (1999)
- “SupeRancho” Hybrid Lift, approximately 4” of lift, with SOA (1999)
- 33”x 12.50 Tires (currently Toyo Mud Terrains)
- Con Ferr Roof Rack (1999)
- SuperLift SuperRunner Steering (2000)
- Ramsey REP 8000 winch in Duff Bumper (2002), Warn Synthetic Line (2016)
- Rock Sliders (2002)
- Atlas II Transfer Case (2005)
- ViAir On-Board Air Compressor (2009/2014)
- Modified ¾ Doors (2009)
- Early Bronco fabbed Rear Bumper, “extra modded” to fit the Explorer (2009)
- Rear License Plate Frenched (2009)
- Outback Solutions (ARB) Drawers with fabbed pull-out shelves (2012)
- Corbeau Heated Seats (2013)
- Internal Roll Cage (2013)
- Shelf/Box/Switches (2013-2015)
- Lights – Raptor/Fog/Roof Rack/Rear/Squatch/Interior Hatch/Hood (2013-2016)
- Dual Battery installation (2014)

I'll document most of the projects in subsequent posts with pictures and links to various threads. . .

'91 Sport

Edit: End of the road in April 2020. . . Read on for the wreck and renovation/restoration/gear swap to new 'Sport'. . .
Fork (APR 20).jpeg

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Return from Moab!

Taken a while to get back to this thread after returning from Moab last week. A few work, home and other projects jumped up just as I got back - - and as stated in the Moab thread, haven't even washed the rig yet!

Trails Run:

Tuesday 5/11 – Hell’s Revenge, including Hell’s Gate obstacle

Wednesday 5/12 – Moab Rim

Thursday 5/13 – Kane Creek Canyon

Friday 5/14 – (off day)

Saturday 5/15 – Top of the World

Sunday 5/16 – Hurrah Pass / Jackson Hole

After having my ’91 Sport wrecked by a commuting idiot in 2017, I wasn’t sure I was going to build-up another Explorer. After the wreck, I purchased a later model Ranger, and made some slight modifications (torsion key upgrade, Explorer leaf springs, 285 tires), so it was prepped as an “Overlanding Rig” and was okay (FX4 package with LS and 4.10 gears). But in the end, there was “too much good stuff” on the carcass of the wrecked ’91: Atlas, ARBs, ¾ doors, drawer system, almost new 33” Wrangler Mud-Terrains, etc. to sell off or give away.

Started looking for another Sport in early 2020 and lucked out and found the current rig. This thread details the build of that vehicle, so no intent to re-hash that effort, but worth noting a few upgrades from the old “B-3” to this Sport. First, it’s geared, better - - my old rig ran 33” tires with 4.10 gearing, by using Phil’s (Albino94ltd) running gear, I bumped the ratio to a more competent 4.56 gear ratio. Secondly, I used Phil’s F-250 front shock towers and extended shocks and that has made a huge improvement to front articulation. I used to “3 wheel” the old Sport a lot, this trip I think I only lifted a front tire once or twice - - a dramatic improvement in articulation. Third, I tried to trim some of the “excess” stuff from the new Sport, and by that, I mean to reduce the overall weight the rig carried to increase its agility and maneuverability, as well as reduce stress to the drivetrain or other systems. An example for this was the decision to leave off the Conn-Ferr roof rack. On the other Sport it held LED lights (front and rear), my Hi-Lift Jack, and two spare 2.5 gallon fuel cans. I stowed the Hi-Lift inside the vehicle, and mounted Phil’s old roto-pax fuel cell in the spare tire area on the new rig and did without all the extra lighting. Reduced weight and lowered the center of gravity and didn’t need all the extra lighting - - even when finishing up Kane Creek in the dark (or near dark…). Another reduction of gear was leaving out the “slider” part of the drawer system I had in the back of the old Sport - - in order to gain access into my ARB 37L fridge, you’d have to slide out the fridge to lift the lid. So the ARB stayed home and I used a 25 year old cooler, which although not nearly as cool (get it[?]) as the ARB, was perfectly adequate for day trips in Moab.
Tow Rig.2 (MAY 21).jpg

Wait, what? A free ride to Moab? You bet!

Tale of two Bearings:
I've been to Moab probably a dozen times since 1999, and I've never trailered a vehicle there. In fact, I was always a bit proud of my ability to drive the Sport to Moab, wheel the harder trails, and then drive the 1,100 miles back to Tacoma - - even if that meant driving back with the rear locker engaged the whole trip (2010). This year the opportunity presented itself to trailer the Sport and haul down spares and tools in a F-350, so jumped at that chance. Fortuitous to say the least, as I had a rear wheel bearing and seal fail while on the Moab Rim trail, and had I driven the Sport down, I’m certain it would have failed on the way. The culprit was a piece of the copper airline that failed after the initial ARB install - - it made its way through the axle housing and when it contacted the bearing, was enough to shred it, and shortly thereafter, destroy the seal. So not long after starting the return trip from the turn-around point on Moab Rim, the seal started leaking. . . Short story, we got it back to camp, where we had the tools and spares to make the replacement but had “grooved” the axle shaft by driving it off the trail with the failed bearing which required a replacement of the axle shaft - - luckily had the correct (passenger) spare on the F-350 parts truck.

Had a squeal on vehicle start-up that I really should have trouble-shot before the trip but purchased a spare idler pulley and belt tensioner/pulley before departing just to have on-hand - - then promptly left these parts at the camp when heading off to the trails. Well, the bearing in the idler pulley failed on the way to Kane Creek, and if not for assistance from Kevin, Gregg, and Brian (who had the spare idler pulley), it would have made for short and frustrating day. So obviously had to reinforce an already known point to carry the spares you might need on the trail - - on the trail ! !

Anyway, here’s some pictures from the trip, some repeats from the Moab thread if you were following along on that one.

Hells Front Hill (MAY 21).jpg

Poser shot on Hell's Revenge. . .

Rim - Uphill (MAY 21).jpg

Pic from Dwight (PNW Jeep guy) on the way up Moab Rim (Kevin in foreground, me farther up the trail).

Rim - Paul Notch (MAY 21).jpg

Only "stuck" of the week, and sole use of the winch. . .

Rim - Paul Hill (MAY 21).jpg

Cresting the top of the hill on Moab Rim. . .

More to follow. . .


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Just found this thread
Looks good

Kane Creek Line-Up, before Hamburger Hill:
Kane Creek Line-Up (MAY 21).jpg

Starting up Hamburger Hill (Kane Creek) and getting over some stuff:
Kane Creek.7 (MAY 21).jpg

Kane Creek.8 (MAY 21).jpg

Kane Creek.9 (MAY 21).jpg

(Photos courtesy of GManPaint)

On Saturday we ran the Top of the World Trail with Phil's (Albino94ltd) widow Laurel in order to release some of Phil's ashes at the lookout point.

Ledges on the trail have grown more difficult in the last few years (at least since I last ran it). . .
TotW - Paul.5 (MAY 21).jpg

Obligatory end of the trail pic:
TotW - Paul.4 (MAY 21).jpg

Laurel releasing ashes:
TotW - Laurel (MAY 21).jpg

Last day in Moab a few of us ran the Hurrah Pass / Jackson Hole trails, easy to moderate for the finale.

Jackson - Paul.3 (MAY 21).jpg

All in all, very impressed with how this Sport performed. We did a quick “shake-down” run after most of the parts were swapped in late last fall, and luckily that showed the ARB airline issue and some clearance issues with the front Atlas shifter, but Moab Rim and Kane Creek are two of the harder trails in Moab, so to get through relatively unscathed was a big deal. . . As with any Moab trip, it culminates with a list of upgrades and improvements, which hopefully I’ll be able to get to - - as soon as I wash the rig. . .

Happy Trails,


Here's how I mounted the Hi-Lift Jack without having it on the roof rack (or attempting to fab something to the rear swing-away tire carrier. . .).
Hi-Lift Mount (MAY 21).jpg

Those are Hi-Lift brackets sold for use with tube style bumpers - - but too small a diameter for mine.


Here's how I mounted the Hi-Lift Jack without having it on the roof rack (or attempting to fab something to the rear swing-away tire carrier. . .).
View attachment 331675

Those are Hi-Lift brackets sold for use with tube style bumpers - - but too small a diameter for mine.

I mean, as long as you don't to plan to put the back seat down 🤷

Coming out of aestivation, at least from a four-wheeling perspective. . . Returned from Moab, cleaned up the rig a bit and brought up and parked it at work at the end of May. Just recovered this last week to bring it back to the house for winter wheeling. Summer consumed a lot of other hobbies, but winter snow wheeling trips here in the Pacific Northwest are special. We're a few weeks from a Memorial Run for Phil Fisk (Albino94LTD), so took the opportunity to execute a quick "pre-run". Route is simple Forest Service roads, but from mid-November on, they'll be 1' - 4' feet of snow.
Lonesome Drvr Front (NOV 21)_LI.jpg

The rig performed flawlessly for having set idle for five months. Routine maintenance checks, and ready to go . . .
Overlook - Rear Pass (NOV 21).jpg

Happy Trails.

How are those MTR's in the deeper snow? I have yet to try mine in that, in all these years of having them.
Like you'd expect - - dig a bit too much, but lower the PSI to 8-10 lbs. and keep off the throttle and they go just fine. Kind of like sand, goal is to "float" over the top rather than dig down to hard pack. . . All All-Terrain tire would "dig" less, but not worth a second set of tires just for snow runs. Not enough snow depth yesterday, but give it a few more weeks and it'll be a lot more challenging.

The mtr Kevlars I have had are downright dangerous in the hard pack/ ice.

2nd Annual Phil Fisk Memorial Snow Run

We lost Phil just about two years ago - - too soon.
Phil  Lucy1.JPG

(Phil with his rig and dog, Lucy, circa 2014)

One of the places Phil enjoyed traveling to in the winter was Lonesome Lake near Mount Rainier, so this was the second year that we gathered a group of friends and enthusiasts and traveled up there in his honor. This also provided an opportunity for his widow to release the final segment of his ashes in one of the places Phil loved.

All in all, we had 8 rigs of various makes and models, from first generation Explorers, plus a Samurai, Jeep, Tacoma, Raptor, 4 Runner, and a Bronco. One of the guys drove "Abby Red", which was Phil's old vehicle that Kevin (DiffWhack) bought and melded to his red Explorer, and Kevin was in his brand new Bronco.

Snow levels at elevation were pretty sparse, when we did this run last year, it was a challenge as there were a few feet of snow - - this year, not so much. On the plus side, it was a beautiful day, as sunny days in this part of the world are scarce from November to March.

Here's the line up of (some of) rigs at the Lake:
PF Lake Line-Up.1 (NOV 21).jpg

PF Ben - Abby Red (NOV 21).jpg

Warm day, but still 3" of ice on the lake:
PF Lake 2 (NOV 21).jpg

Beautiful day at the overlook for Mount Rainier:
PF L-T (NOV 21).jpg

(Phil's widow and son in foreground)

Group photo at the overlook:
PF Group (NOV 21).jpg

Gotta admit, new Bronco is pretty awesome . . .
PF Kevin - Bronco (NOV 21)_LI.jpg

(Kevin with his new rig)


Well, . . . the box is wrapped and under the tree, but playing around with a new toy.
GPS.1 (DEC 21).jpg

Have a heavier duty bracket to keep the unit in place, but should okay with just the magnet. It's a Garmin Overlander, decent cyber-Monday discount.


After the limited amount of snow for the memorial run for Phil, we finally started receiving our winter mountain precipitation. . . Rarely snows at sea level here, but gain a 1,000' of elevation and you'll have plenty. . . Quick day trip out to Coplay Lake near Mount Rainier with Kevin and his new Bronco and Aaron with his Tacoma. . .

Following Kevin:
Bronco.1 (DEC 21).jpg

Having watched the new Bronco in action, really think Ford did a great job - - right out of the box this thing can go!

Plenty of snow:
Fords (DEC 21)_LI.jpg

Lunch spot at Coplay Lake - - only thing missing was a fire . . .
Snow Line-Up.1 (DEC 21)_LI.jpg

Got into enough snow where we all needed a tug a one point . . .
Tacoma.2 (DEC 21).jpg

Back down the hill and airing up for the trip back home:
Snow Line-Up.4 (DEC 21).jpg

Fun afternoon before the madness of Christmas. . .

Happy Trails

Looks like a great time to me! I am ready to see Kevin hack out the ifs and make it like ford should have!

Looks like a great time to me! I am ready to see Kevin hack out the ifs and make it like ford should have!
Doubtful . . . Kevin still owns a well-built first generation Explorer, and not sure you'd ever be able to program all the electronics on the new system with a straight axle. . .

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Another fun day in the snow . . . Actually snow here at sea level that has hung around for a week, odd for us, but rain is back tomorrow and it'll wash it all away.

Forest service roads out near Mount St. Helens:
Snow Trail.1 (DEC 21).jpg

Hard to see, but about a 40' waterfall, plenty of icicles. . .
Snow Waterfall.1 (DEC 21).jpg

Bit of recovery
Snow Jeep.2 (DEC 21).jpg

Parking. . . .
Snow Line-Up Front (DEC 21).jpg