Starkman's Explorer build thread | Page 2 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Starkman's Explorer build thread

Wow, I did let this thread go.

Front bumper

Bought a Smitty Built bumper for a TJ Wrangler. Walked into 4Wheel Parts and they were selling a floor display for $100.

The mount dimensions are basically 2"x4" so I cut the frame rails and welded a 2x4 piece of tubing on simple as that.


You may notice a plastic trim cover attached to the bottom of the body to cover up the now exposed inner fender. I used the lower spoiler from the stock bumper cover. Ended up pretty good..

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Welded a receiver on top of the cross plate to mount a winch. Fabbed up a license plate mount and welded in some plates to mount a set of factory Ford Expedition driving lights I had laying around.

Added a RCI skid plate I got from 2TimingTom.

Sliders installed


Rear bumper

Wanted to build the smallest and tightest bumper possible. Not entirely happy with it. I think I will be building a new bumper with a tire carrier.



I'd love to see a swing out tire carrier setup. Nice work on the sliders too. Good usage of what you had to work with.

Fender trimming.

I had already trimmed the rear of the front flares and fender to stop interference while turning but there is still rub on the inner body seam. So I got tired of tearing the flares off every time I went wheeling. At full compression there is contact and the plastic push pins would pop out and the next bush or tree would take it off completely.

First I made a line an inch and a half down from the mark left by the flare. It's interesting that the flare is thicker at the rear and it looks off to me but after trimming the flare it now is even all the way around the flare. Next I cut the fender with a 4" grinder with a thin cutting wheel after removing the inner plastic fender.

Here is the cut, ignore the holes I drilled them to mount the inner fender but it didn't go that way. Pics shows clearance at full compression.

You can sort of see the inner seam work. I used a adjustable wrench to fold the seam over and then a hammer to flatten the seam. The antenna cable needed to be moved some also. I used the factory clip to attach it at a different place to move the cable up and out of danger. The e-brake cable is also close but I think it won't be in the way. I trimmed the inner fender extensively. Added a new panel to stop dirt from getting into the door hinges and that panel holds the factory sound foam in place.

Cut the flare with a utility knife to match the new fender opening. I had already painted the flares with spray on truck bed coating. I'm happy with how durable the paint is. Now that the only thing holding the flare to the fender is those plastic push pins I added some 3M double sided tape to the surface around the pins to help keep the flare attached.



I think it's good to see how far a project has come by looking back at where it started.



Thanks, yes 2".

Ok, thanks. In post #3 , you said one of your future mods was a front sway bar disconnect. Have you done that? That ones pretty high on my list. I unbolted em once and dont care to do it again. I got a bit of an idea how to do it, but always interested in seeing other ideas implemented, and pros and cons of each.

I've been running without a front bar for 2 years now. I still have the rear installed and it works really good when I ice race it.

I have the parts to make my own disconnectable links but just haven't finished. I bought a set of shock adaptors that Jeep guys use to convert a stud style shock end to eye end. My plan is to bolt the adaptor to the control arm and make a link that uses the stock stud in the swaybar and a heim joint at the control arm with a pin like a hitch pin that can be pulled out easily. If you do a search for TJ Wrangler disconnect it will look very similar.

Yes I know that it's not safe to run without a front bar but it rides so much better and it keeps me from driving too fast. If I had more front travel it would be very hairy but with the shocks set on full hard it doesn't snap back from a fast turn even though there is a lot of body roll but I've pushed it really hard on dirt roads and find it fun as it will oversteer and you can carry slides and flick it quickly. In the snow it really comes alive and I feel like a rally driver on tight slick roads. On the ice at Georgetown it will actually turn and then you can power out of turns with the throttle. But I will eventually finish the links and then I can have a bar on the highway.

Last year up on the lake...

just checked your thread out interesting thought to use a TJ bumper

I actually designed a plate front bumper and made all the templates but walking into the TJ bumper for a good price reminded me of a thread where someone else on this forum did the same thing and I went that direction. What I see is that the rounded body lines of the Gen 2 Ex seems to look better with tube bumpers. Some of the plate bumpers made for other vehicles look good but they are very expensive and not made for our vehicles so I don't have the tools or skill to copy them so I went with the TJ bumper. A friend and I made a bumper for my Ranger and after we were done we both agreed that it was way too much work and time to get it right and finding one already fabbed was attractive.

Here is the template I made.

Here's the Ranger bumper.

i agree i really enjoy tube front bumpers and i will throw a big stinger on the plate bumper. but im going to do an exo cage so i am going to need a sturdy bumper to tie that into.

F150 Spring mod

Visited the local Pull and Save and there was a rust free F150 just waiting for me to use its springs on my Ex.


The rear spring bushings were shot, took advice from Tom and got new stock type bushings from a local shop called Denver Spring and Suspension. They are real car people. Also picked up a set of spring clamps. The old ones were in bad shape and bending the tab to remove them resulted in it breaking off. These are important to keep the leafs from rotating and must me installed.

Mod done


As it sits with the stock shackles and fully loaded with full size spare, HiLift jack, box full of offroad gear it is about an inch higher then before unloaded. Perfect! Interesting thing is that the RS9000 adjusters are seized. I sprayed with PB Blaster, hopefully they will release as now they are set at full soft and need more damping with stiffer springs.

Trick to removing spring bushing. Use a two arm pulley puller to push out the inner sleeve. If the rubber is still attached (the rubber in mine was completely gone) heat up the spring with a plumbers torch until the rubber releases from the metal. With pressure from the pulley puller applied it will let go and come out. Then use a sawsall to cut the outer sleeve and chisel out. Then hammer a screw driver into the seem where the spring is wrapped around to open the gap. I did that and the bushing went in much easier. Not easy but easier.

Awesome!! I've been keeping an eye out for the right set anytime I'm at the junk yard. It looks like you just unbolted the u-bolts and center pin? One of the yards I go to up north sets all their cars on the axles. Been meaning to ask em how I'm supposed to get springs, but haven't worried about it since I hadn't come across a set I wanted yet. Looks good, nice job.

Yes, unbolted the u bolts and center pin and they fall out. Yes I had to ask a worker to lift it and move the wheels they use for jack stands to the back bumper. Lucky that it was on a aisle that could be accessed. You could also use their a-frame with a winch for lifting engines I suppose. $44 with tax...

Here is a link to Camburg's prerunner springs with that style clamps.

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Did you use the entire f150 leaf pack or use the smaller 150 leafs with the explorer main ?