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How to: Rebuild of a flipped 98 sport

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Well-Known Member
March 30, 2020
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Year, Model & Trim Level
98 2-DR Sport 4x4 4.10
Hey guys, last weekend I ended up flipping my 98 sport. The truck still runs and drives (actually had to drive it 10 miles out of the mountain) and the car itself has sentimental value to more than just me. TLDR I would like to recover it. I'm not looking to make it Street legal again, but I want something fun to go off roading in, and it would be a plus to have something that could roll again without taking too much damage (not that I want to roll again).


Getting to the damage... Most of the damage is on the top of the vehicle in front of the B pillar. I had a tire on my roof so there is some crush damage between the B and C pillars, but it's not that bad. I had a custom bumper/bull bar on the front that protected the front of the car and most of the hood. Below the windows there is minimal damage. A crushed mirror, scraped fenders, and a few dents all on the driver's side. I would likely be replacing the driver's door though.


At this point I'm hoping I could get some advice from people that have made roll cages, especially in explorers. What should I do here? I could cut everything from the bottom of the windows up and make a full roll cage, but I'm wondering if I could just cut the roof in front of the B pillar, then cut off the A pillar and replace just that section with a roll cage (reinforcing the B pillar, then working forward).

I would also likely rebuild the engine while I'm at it. I am actually just finishing another 4.0 SOHC engine so doing a second one wouldn't be all that hard.

I'm really not sure quite what do I, but I would really like to get this car up and running through the mountains again. I had a great time up until I flipped it.


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I've been gutting the truck getting ready for whatever happens. Today I pulled the headliner and found the front roof support is definitely squished and the second one is ever so slightly bent. The rest look fine.

I managed to clean out just about everything. The rear passenger glass is left for now, the hatch and dash are still in, and I reinstalled the driver seat to drive it but the rest is ready for whatever happens next.

As a 2nd-gen Sport owner myself, I would always say two things:

1. If it drives, keep driving it!

2. If you kill it, bring it back to life (even if only so you can kill it again)!

Best wishes for your rebuild, I'd love to see how this comes out.

Glad you are safe and well!!!


WOW! :oops:

Glad to hear you are safe, and smiling that you were able to flip her right side up and drive out 10 miles!

2 doors are beasts!

I’d find another donor vehicle and patch in the bad section of the roof and supports. That way you could get it sealed up again. Then I’d do an Exo cage on it. That should keep you very safe even if you put it back on the road.

Ouch, that hurts just to look at.
The first step is to get a Porta-Power or use a hydraulic jack
and 2x4s, and get the top braces and top pushed back into
place. Work on it like eating an elephant, one bite at a time...

Who needs sheet metal?


I rolled my current Ranger 21 years ago, just like that. Insurance totaled it. I took the ins money, bought the wrecked truck back, and had a shop repair it, since I knew there was only body damage. The shop grafted on half of a new used cab, from the A pillars to where the back wall meets the floor pan. I paid about half of what insurance paid me. Truck was fine, watertight and fully freeway drivable, and continued as my daily driver.
One year later, I rolled it again! Same damage as the first time. No insurance because it was a salvage title after the first time. I paid out of pocket to have it repaired again, and it was fine again and was my daily driver for two more decades.
But I did put an external cage on it after the second roll.

Sorry guys, it's been a few days. Anyway, I cut the front of the roof off and I am looking at grabbing another explorer to cut the roof off and graft onto mine. Im hoping I can find one in black as i'm not looking to do a full paint job right now. I also need to replace the driver and now passenger door. I probably could have reused the passenger door, but I was working towards a full cut off at first and trimmed it a bit. Anyway, this is what it looks like now. I want to add an internal roll cage before I glue (weld) a new roof on. I could probably also throw a new hood on from the donor car as there is some damage even though it is mostly fine. The paint on the hood was messed up anyway. I think the engine is still burning a bit of oil. I can smell something in the exhaust so I will probably need to rebuild it, but that shouldn't be too bad.

Current Progress:

'98 SHOC im rebuilding right now. Hoping to finish over the weekend.


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...The first step is to get a Porta-Power or use a hydraulic jack
and 2x4s, and get the top braces and top pushed back into
I did have somebody suggest that, but the front of the roof above the windshield was just crumpled. If you have ever seen a circular piece of paper squashed flat that what it looked like. I just don't think I could recover that. It's probably not impossible, but still not the route I took in the end.

I have a black 2000 sport I'm trying to get rid of. It's 2WD and a 5 sp manual. I live in the DC area. Let me know if your interested.

I have a black 2000 sport I'm trying to get rid of. It's 2WD and a 5 sp manual. I live in the DC area. Let me know if your interested.

thanks for the offer, but that's the exact opposite side of the country from me :)

Wow, has it really been 2 months since I updated on this. it's been kind of a crazy 2 months so I haven't had a ton of time to work on it, but I did end up getting a red four-door to pull the roof and front doors off of. I'll have to end up painting the whole thing but whatever.

I had some smoke coming from the engine that I had to deal with. This weekend I found that it's just the rear timing chain tensioner bolt was leaking oil onto the exhaust. I'll have to pull that off throw some gasket maker on it and crank it back down.

Next problem was finding tubing because the normal metal yard I buy stuff from wanted $10 a foot for 1-3/4 DOM tubing.I did however find there's another metal yard in town that only wants $2 a foot. that still seems like it's more expensive than what other people are buying, but when compared to $10 a foot I'll take that any day.

unfortunately there aren't any other metal yards within driving distance that would be worth the fuel to go to.

So now I'm trying to figure out how much tubing I need. Based off of looking around the internet I think I might need somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 ft. Does that sound overly hot or low to anyone?

I do hope to get the materials and start welding up the roll cage shortly here sometime. Buying a new car to replace this one ate up a fair bit of my spare money that I'm still trying to build back up again.

Well it's been another few weeks and I have a bit of an update. So looking at the cost of repairing the cab I would need to weld on a new roof, get a new windshield, and get a new rear-driver window. I would also need some doors. TLDR, several hundred dollars, even used.

On the other hand I could get a new cab and just drop it on the existing frame and engine. And guess what? I found a 2000 2 door explorer in black with the same gray trim and even some nice steps/rock sliders. And it's in good shape. It would cost about $500 (~$150 of that spent getting it home) to buy it, but it came with a good set of 80% tires. I tried to talk them down because it was non functional, but they wouldn't budge.


(I don't know why the good tire is mounted on the spare rim, but the original is in the spare spot)

So I drove out and found that the dash was torn apart, the ignition was destroyed, the radio wiring harness was cut, the cats were missing, it didn't run, the gas line was slashed, and the inside wasn't all that clean BUT the frame was in good shape, all the glass was intact, there was no rust, and there wasn't even any clear coat peeling. It even came with a sunroof and auto-lights. So I bought it. It was a bit of a pain to load up as it did not run, and I had to park the trailer across the small road (blocked the whole thing) then pull it up with a come along.


I had a bit of fun on the way back. Just 15 miles down the highway the trailer started feeling a bit off, but before I could pull of the highway the tire exploded and lost all the tread. Best part was I was in the left lane. Fortunately the trailer staid pretty steady and I got to the right side of the road.


It took 2 hours to get a replacement though. I think i'm going to buy a spare before I grab another trailer.

IMG_20200824_150943 (1).jpg

Anyway, the current plan is to drop this new cab onto the frame and engine of the original explorer, then install the interior of the original explorer, including the dash. I would still like to install a roll cage. I don't plan to flip it again, but I never planned to flip it the first time, better to be safe than sorry.

Im still trying to figure out exactly how to lift and switch the cabs, but I know I can figure it out. Kinda thinking that starting with the original car I will use my shop crane to lift up on the front, then slide a 2x6 under and drop it on sawhorses, then do the same in the back and slide the frame out from underneath. Then I can drop the frame onto a flatbed trailer to swap out and start again on the other car.

Anyway, more posts to come! This car will make it one way or another!

So I made a lot of progress. Turns out these things are not that hard to tear down. 3 afternoons of work and it's only held together by gravity now. It only actually took a handful of tools and a torch to loosen a few bolts. Just need to do the same thing on my first car (already got a head start so I should be able to finish it this week) and I will be ready to swap the body's, possibly as soon as next weekend.

So it was a busy 3 day weekend, but the bodies are swapped. On the car I rolled I found that the person that installed the lift also welded in some of the body bolts so they were a pain to get out. The main 8 bolts took about 8 hours and a lot of grinding. After that was finished it was mostly smooth sailing from there.

All I used was a chain, a shop crane, some 10' 2*4s and 4 saw horses. I slipped an i bolt in the jack hole at the bottom of the rear hatch and wrapped a chain around the hood latch and lifted from there.


Then I slid the 2*4s that I attached together under the body and that held it up. Worked my way back and forth a bit with some chunks of 2*4s as spacers and got the one body off and the other body on.

I was then able to just roll the old frame out from under the old car.

Then I found the oil leak that I was trying to track down. No wonder I couldn't fix it by sealing up the timing chain tensioner.

I replaced the valve cover with a spare and when I was in there I found what looks like a replaced timing chain guide. So hopefully that will last a wile.

Anyway dropped the first body onto rollers popped off the other body and swapped them over. Everything connected together with the only exceptions being the drivers electric seat (just a plug swap, just +12v and GND) and the airbag module. There is no airbags though so I didn't bother with that.





The sun roof and auto headlights from the new body totally just worked right off the bat witch was nice. When I tried to start it up I had absolutely no fuel pressure at the engine, but I also had a check gauge light so I think I may have not plugged in the fuel pump and sender unit, but I didn't have time to check it out yet.

While I had everything torn apart I also replaced the upper intake, 1/8" vacuum lines, and that valve cover with parts from another car. My vacuum lines were kinda messed up and the upper intake had a fair bit of oil in it from being upside down. I also replaced the heater core as I had the dash out anyway.

Hopefully I can just pop a connector back together for the fuel pump and be good to go, but only time will tell.


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I love doing projects like this with my son

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I love doing projects like this with my son
My dad and a few of my brothers have been a lot of help and it's been a pretty fun project.

I went back and took a look and I totally just forgot to plug in the fuel pump and sender unit. I left the connector near the transfer case undone. Once I got that fixed everything worked great The engine started right up and drove down the road. The oil leak is gone, but some oil still needs to burn off the exhaust. I still need to do a few things like attach the rear bumper and redo the inside but mechanically it's about done.

From here I think I'm going to start off by getting new brake discs and pads so hopefully I don't have breaking issues anymore. I'm also planning on replacing basically the entire steering system as that's been loose this entire time as well. I also need to find a new door at some point since my brother backed into it in the middle of this.

I gotta say I love the look of my lifted 2 door way more than my stock 4 door that I have been running around in for the last few months. Looks so much more ready to go.