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CDW6212R

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The pinion angle is supposed to be matched to the output shaft of the trans or transfer case. So an angle gauge is used to measure the angle of the output shaft versus horizontal, and then the pinion shaft is measured to the same reference/horizontal. The pinon angle is easier to adjust than the output shaft of the trans or TC.
 



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97Sandbox

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That makes sense. So technically speaking, one should be angling both the output shaft and the pinion when lowering the vehicle?
 






CDW6212R

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They must not be pointed at each other, but they just need to be at the same angle, parallel. The u-joint components travel at different speeds depending on whether they are angled towards or away from the shafts plane. The opposing u-joint parts at each end need to be matched to each other, so they run the same speed as paired parts. That results in smooth rotating, but if they don't match well with the angles of the shafts, it creates vibrations that you can feel.
 






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Haven't been keeping this thread updated but I have been doing work!

Got the 3.73 trac-lok axle setup with anti-windup bars swapped onto my Sport. Just need to modify some poly bushings and I'll have the bars reinstalled.
20210906_114919.jpg
20210906_114911.jpg


I also carried over the axle dampener from my four-door -- it bolted in easily.
20210906_114857.jpg

Someday these may make good mounting points for a panhard bar -- we'll see!

Lastly, I finally received my Addco 737 front sway bar!
20210904_104223.jpg

I'll be excited to get it installed and hope the rear arrives soon.

More recently, I've just been trying to get the truck prepped for its upcoming emissions inspection, but once that's out of the way there will be a ton of cool suspension work to dive into!
 






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Finally making some moves again!

Had a buddy weld in the support tabs today -- now its time to start the actual coilover swap.
20211120_143126.jpg
 






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I tracked down a set of 2003 Sport spindles -- brake upgrade here I come!

The problem is I only have factory 15" rims, which I hear won't clear the calipers on these spindles. I suppose it's time to bite the bullet an order some rims.

I've been reading old threads and it seems the popular choice for 2nd gen street trucks is 18x9's up front and 18x10's in the rear. I really like these rims but I'd like to get some input on tires and wheel spacers.

With 18x10 +24 offset rims in the rear, I believe I should be okay, maybe just needing to pull in the parking brake cables. The 18x9 rims, however, only come as a +30 offset, so I expect I'll need to run spacers (which should also help me clear the dust caps on the 2WD hubs). It looks like a set of 20mm spacers will bring the front wheel center lines almost exactly where they would be in stock form, which should help me not over-stress the front wheel bearings. It'll also mean my front and rear rims will all protrude about the same -- just over an inch from stock (this should fill out the fender trim nicely). Am I missing anything or will this be a decent wheel setup for a lowered 2nd gen?
 






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Turning to tires, I'd like to achieve maximum grip without dramatically changing tire diameter. Keeping close to the stock outer diameter, I'd probably run a 255/55 up front and a 285/50 rear. A 295/45 would be just barely under the stock diameter -- does anyone know if that width would rub in the rear? If I go with a little bigger diameter, I'd go for either 255/60 or 265/60 in front and 285/55 in back. Would any of these combinations be preferred for a street truck?
 






CDW6212R

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You will be close on your measurements, each vehicle is a little different of course. I have 255/55/18's now on my 98 Mercury, on 18x8.5" wheels(which are 35mm offset with 6.35mm spacers). So my truck those fit well with three different tires, the taller tires I had before rubbed some on the inner fenders(top or the tire against the plastic(bottoming out in bumps)).

The rear must have the parking brake cable rerouted inboard of the suspension arm if it has those(the 302's), or zip tied as best you can. That cable rubs with any wider tire without moving the cable.

I think about a 30" tire fits the wheel wells the best, that is for lowered not lifted. I went hunting wheels myself a couple years back, I only really liked a couple of wheels. I didn't find an 18" wheel that was close, but I got a set of 17x9's, that have 16mm offsets. That will put them out a little, the XP8 with 18x9's supposedly have about 10mm offsets. That I'm not sure about, but it gives me hope that mine won;t be out too far. Note that the trucks with fender flares can have the tires out much more.
 






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I was looking more at tire options this morning before ordering rims. I've seen Toyo Proxes recommended by many, and I like their price compared to other street truck tires. However, the only 285 width they offer is a 60% sidewall which would bring the outer diameter to almost 31.5 inches -- I think that's bigger than I want.

I saw there is a 295/45 option, so I pulled a rear wheel off today and measured from the wheel mounting surface to the furthest protruding part of the wheel well. I measured ~7 7/8 inches. If the tire would stick back into the wheel well by half tire width+rim offset+one inch estimate for sidewall bulge, that's (295mm)/2+24mm+1" which adds up to just over 7 3/4 inches. That's only 1/8" of clearance, but I feel like my estimate of 1" for sidewall bulge might be conservative -- anyone have thoughts to add here?

If I do go with a 295/45R18 in back, that's about a 28 1/2" outer diameter so I'd probably go for the smallest OD 255 tire I mentioned before. A 255/55R18 is right about 29" and Toyo Proxes do come in that size. Will that 1/2" difference in diameter have a noticeable impact on handling? I feel like it might barely be a visible difference, but my truck is RWD, so I'm not worried about drivetrain issues.

One thing I'm realizing is with different front/rear tire sizes and directional tires, I won't be able to rotate tires at all. That's a bit of a bummer for wear-evening purposes, but I guess that's just a sacrifice I have to make in order to maximize grip!
 






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...

If I do go with a 295/45R18 in back, that's about a 28 1/2" outer diameter so I'd probably go for the smallest OD 255 tire I mentioned before. A 255/55R18 is right about 29" ...

Those two tires are the same diameter, right at 19". I have the 255/55/18's on my Mountaineer now, they fit well but obviously aren't really a big wide tire. The 295mm tire for the rear will be a tight fit, in hard corners it will likely rub some amount. The offset will be critical for that tight fit, and the fifth shock better be good and strong too. The back end moves a lot in corners, the leaf springs don't control lateral movement very well. I've wished for a panhard bar or a different IRS suspension for a long time. Nobody has pushed the envelope too far with a handling 2nd gen yet, to make it a big problem.

I like the Toyo Proxes III myself, they still have that in a 275/55/17" tire.
 






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The 295mm tire for the rear will be a tight fit, in hard corners it will likely rub some amount. The offset will be critical for that tight fit, and the fifth shock better be good and strong too. The back end moves a lot in corners, the leaf springs don't control lateral movement very well. I've wished for a panhard bar or a different IRS suspension for a long time. Nobody has pushed the envelope too far with a handling 2nd gen yet, to make it a big problem.
I'm figuring I may be able to "gently reshape" some of the interfering sheet metal if it rubs a little, or just throw on some thin wheel spacers if it's rubbing quite a bit. I did carry over the heavier leaf packs and fifth shock/axle damper when I swapped in the rear end from my '97 and eventually I expect to move to a panhard bar.

The Cobra IRS Ranger build they did on Trucks! was awesome, but I do not have the fab capabilities for that at this point. Somewhere down the road I'd like to look more deeply into a four link setup too because I do like the idea of improving the handling but staying with the solid rear axle.
 






CDW6212R

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The rear inner fenders seem to be possible to push inward some, that would be minor. The outer rim I think will need to be fully crimped, bend the lip all the way up against the outer fender. My aftermarket wheels and suspension I think will need the fenders flared as much as possible. I have a retired old friend who used to do that kind of body work, I hope I can still contact him and talk him into a little work.
 






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Been a solid 6+ months of working on less interesting projects on the Sport and waiting for my buddy to turn down some shock bearings, bushings, and spacers for me. Got tired of waiting and went ahead and started making parts myself.

The issue (for me) was that the Strange S5802 shocks I got for the rear had bearings sized for their intended application (Mopar muscle car) and the weren't right for the Explorer spring plates or my bar pin eliminators from @Brian1 -- no surprise. I ended up ordering some 4140 chromoly tubing from McMaster-Carr (p/n 89955K839) and rough cut the bearings using a heavy duty pipe cutter. Then I sanded them to the correct lengths.

After a few squeezes on the press, I now have dual adjustable shocks for my Explorer! The extended length is 1.5-2" shorter than stock, so I may add limit straps in the rear once I install straps up front with the coilovers, but I'm not too worried about topping out on the street.
PXL_20220731_022028720.jpg


Here's my overall rear suspension upgrade so far:
PXL_20220730_215450327.jpg

Lowering blocks and shorter sway bar links will be added in to drop the rear to match front ride height after front coilovers are in and adjusted. Pictured above are my Strange dual adjustable shocks with the bar pin eliminators attached, Addco 633 1" swaybar and brackets/bushings, as well as a pair of lateral locks (Energy Suspension I think).

For the time being, I'm keeping the stock length swaybar links which I installed poly bushings in a couple years ago.
PXL_20220731_041101018.jpg


I don't plan to start dialing in the compression/rebound settings until I have my front coilovers in and can adjust everything at once. That said, even on the softest settings and with 100% stock (and worn out) front suspension, this setup feels a ton better.

Can't wait to get the front, Addco 737 swaybar installed!
 






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I've been bad about keeping this updated...

Addco 737 front swaybar has been on a few weeks. I used Energy Suspension bushings and brackets because the ones in the kit are garbage like others on here have mentioned.

In the last week or so I replaced the rubber body mounts with the Daystar poly ones. A tougher job than I expected, but doable with the help of folks on here!

Earlier this week, my custom wheel spacers showed up. As I was worried about, the spacers did not seat completely against the front rotors, so they're going back for some additional machining.
PXL_20220920_223404371.jpg


Before someone jumps on me about slip on spacers being dangerous, let me state that these are machined to the proper center bore and bolt pattern. I'm also going to be running longer studs as there would be nowhere near enough thread engagement on stock studs. Are spacers ideal? No. Will these be safe? Yes.

While I wait to start on the front, I'm working on the rear. Pounded out the studs and fished them through the parking brakes like others have recommended here. It's tricky, but doable with stock studs. Unfortunately, with longer studs you can't fish them back through the axle, so I bit the bullet and cracked open the dif to pull the c clips and and axles. A waste of $40 in gear oil, but it was necessary. I'm using my new stud installer tool and it's working great so far!
PXL_20220923_025441124.jpg


I hope to keep making progress and maybe get the rear all sorted this weekend. I'll keep y'all posted!
 






CDW6212R

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Great progress, love it. Is that Addco bar the 1.5" bar like I got from them? I had frame brackets made if you ever saw them, and nobody I found in 2007 had 1.5" bushings. I like it a lot, but the stiffness combined with stiff torsion bars(mine is the "B" bar), makes it a little stiffer than I'd like. I plan to readjust when I have coil over springs to judge first.

I should have nudged you before if I knew how far you were going. Better brakes are needed for more serious speeds etc, and the front only have the one minor 12" rotor upgrade. The rears are possible if you have a welder to attach a parking brake cable bracket to the rear housing on each side. I believe the 2003-11 Crown Vic rear brakes will go on, with the weld task, and reworking the parking brake cables.

I like those spacers, they have the added center bore material, those should be the best you can get.
 






97Sandbox

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Is that Addco bar the 1.5" bar like I got from them? I had frame brackets made if you ever saw them, and nobody I found in 2007 had 1.5" bushings. I like it a lot, but the stiffness combined with stiff torsion bars(mine is the "B" bar), makes it a little stiffer than I'd like. I plan to readjust when I have coil over springs to judge first.
Yes, the front bar is 1.5" and I misspoke, the bushings/brackes are Prothane 191505 -- they fit well, but not perfect. The current setup isn't too stiff for my taste, but the ride certainly isn't smooth (worn out front shocks don't help either). Coilover conversion is coming up on my to-do list, so I'll really be judging how it feels then. I went with 600lb springs and I'm a little concerned now that those might be stiffer than I want. Then again, they might be just right for when a V8 goes in someday.

Better brakes are needed for more serious speeds etc, and the front only have the one minor 12" rotor upgrade. The rears are possible if you have a welder to attach a parking brake cable bracket to the rear housing on each side. I believe the 2003-11 Crown Vic rear brakes will go on, with the weld task, and reworking the parking brake cables.
I'm just going with '01 Sport spindles an drilled/slotted PowerStop 12" rotors for now (also the drilled/slotted PowerStop rotors in back). Someday I'd like to find an aftermarket drop spindle for another application (anyone look into S10 before?) that can be made to work and also accept larger rotors/bigger calipers -- that'll take some serious research and trial/error.

For the rear, I plan to leave as-is while I've got the leaf sprung 8.8 setup. Once I have a bigger shop (than my two-car garage haha) and a welding setup, I'm pretty set on a four-link rear and a built 9" like @ahodges got from Moser. That'll open up the rear brake options.

Deleting the cable parking brakes and going with a hydro ebrake is another idea in the back of my mind. It'd look sweet using the first gen Ex/Ranger "twin stick" shifter/tcase lever bezel/boot but instead of a tcase shifter have a lever for the hydro...but now I'm just getting sidetracked
shifters.jpg


I like those spacers, they have the added center bore material, those should be the best you can get.
Thanks! It took a lot of searching and emailing tech support from various online resellers until I got in-touch with a US-based spacer/adapter manufacturer directly (Motorsport Tech in Reno, NV if anyone else needs spacers, they're great to work with). Called them and placed a custom order -- too bad the spacers still didn't work in front! I'm pretty sure they'd be fine for 4x4/AWD trucks, but the issue is that the RWD hub part of the rotor sticks out almost an inch, so any spacer with a lip around the center bore won't work because it'll have a step in the ID that interferes with the hub (issue pictured in my last post). However, since the hub sticks out so far, you can get away with running a flat spacer, as long as it isn't too long (mine are only 11mm). I believe that's what I'll get after they rework my spacer, and that'll leave about 1/2" of hub exposed for the wheel to center on which is way more than the rear has in factory form, so I feel good about it. Who knew it'd be so much harder to run spacers on a RWD Ex?
 






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Got everything back together tonight! Unfortunately it was 11 pm and rain started coming down so I didn't bother take it for a spin. 275s sure look nice though:
PXL_20220925_032055140.jpg

The only thing the tires come close to is the driver's side tire and the passenger side parking brake cable. After some readjusting, there's about an inch of clearance so I'm not too concerned.

PXL_20220925_032126177.jpg


Barely any poke:
PXL_20220925_040648014.jpg

I'll still probably put the flares back on eventually though.
 






CDW6212R

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I like that. You do have the Sport 2dr model, so it has the advantage of a full rear wheel well, you could flare the metal if needed. The 4dr's have the front 3rd intersect the rear doors, those would be really hard to flare the wheel wells there.
 






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I like that. You do have the Sport 2dr model, so it has the advantage of a full rear wheel well, you could flare the metal if needed. The 4dr's have the front 3rd intersect the rear doors, those would be really hard to flare the wheel wells there.
That's a good point that actually hadn't ever occurred to me about rolling the lip on a 4dr. I think you'd still be able to roll the part that matters (top section) on either truck though. We'll see how low I end up, not sure yet if rolling the fenders/wheel wells will be needed.

Speaking of lower, I expect to start the coilover conversion soon!
 



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CDW6212R

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I hope the front goes smoothly, having the brackets fit well and welding them on etc. The rear will be harder, I've pondered optimizing the stock system, as well as an IRS adapted. The rear width is a potential issue in any swapped choices, so nothing seems straight forward.
 






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