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Post number 3327 has been selected as best answered.

Whats In A Name?

It was hot humid august night. The winds have all but vanished. I was doing my best to keep the sweat out of my eyes. The A/C was dying in my 94 Explorer, lovingly named "Pugly", and there was no relief in sight. I decided it was time to stop throwing good money into bad. I was gonna do the unthinkable,.......I was going to commit the most heinous crime of them all! I was going to trade Pugly in for a newer model! Oh the heart break! The insanity of it all! I couldn't believe the thoughts were even going through my head.

I managed to get the old girl back home, to her resting place. She seemed at ease in her familiar surroundings. I had to come up with an explanation to let her know of my evil plan. So i just gave her that old wink and grin that she likes to see from me as we made it back home from another day of adventure in the treacherous Midwestern terrain. I did my best in hiding my cynical thoughts, as I walked around to her rear flank and gave her that little pat on her bumper, as I always have when we part for the night.

The next morning I gave her a real good bath, cleaned behind her mirrors, and brushed her grill. She still looked pretty good for her age. Oh sure she had the tell tale signs, gravity has got its firm grip on her, and I am not the best cosmetics guy in the world. she didn't seem to mind too much, she still kept her nose up and drove with pride.

After looking at many vehicles I just could not find anything that had the same feel as my old girl. Then it happened! Was I seeing a mirage? Was I so desperate to find another rig that I was blinded by insanity? I found my replacement! I quickly made a sale with the owner, and brought it home.

When I pulled in the driveway, my heart sunk as I looked into the yard to see my 94 looking at me in disbelief. She was sunning herself in the grass looking all shiny and then, she just looked away from me. My heart was tearing in two. I parked the new rig, and walked up to her and gave her a soft spoken "Hello". No reply. I tried to tickle her mirrors, no response. The tension was so great, you could have cut it with a 32 count fine tooth hacksaw. I had to explain to her that she gave me great satisfaction for many years, and we made a terrific team together, but the time has come for her to just relax and enjoy her final days. She finally revved up, and understood, her days as my work horse has ended (so we thought).

I introduced her to her daily driver replacement. The shiny new(er) next generation of her kind. The 95 Explorer XLT. She warmed right up to it. Before you know it they were swapping stories. Now I had to ask her for help. I needed a name for the new ride,
so I went to find her, and what did I see? Those two were grill to grill in the driveway. rubbing chrome! I had to get the water hose out and break them up! Sheesh, she was acting like a girl at the prom dance! I let the name thing drop for awhile.

The new(er) Ex needed to get its shots, and a physical. When I got the word on it's health, I about had a coronary. "What do you mean Doc"! I yelled. "Your kidding right"? I asked. The Doc just shook his head and gathered his tools. As he walked away, He said it had a 50/50 chance of survival. My stomach knotted up, my teeth ground, my heart raced, and I could feel the energy build up as I let it all out, "Why! Why! Why did this have to happen"! I screamed.

The prognostic exam from the doc was as such. It had a blown steering rack, the shocks were gone, the brakes were non existent, front sway bar was cracked in half, the 3rd brake light was out, none of the windows or the moon roof would work, the door locks were broke, the rear end LS clutch pack was burned up, the tires were all in need of replacement, the spare was a Firestone recall and flat, the engine had a nasty tick to it, the TPS was shot, the MAF was corroded, the battery had a dead cell in it, the hood shocks were not working, the rear hatch lock was jammed up and you couldn't open it with out a key in the lock, The carpet was stained to no repair, the rear window wiper didn't want to work, and we could not tell what year its engine swap came from. it was a mess, to say the least.

I went in the house to get my gun. I was gonna just put it out of its misery right there and then. I suddenly realized I was out of ammo, from shooting at the jeep that was in my field. I went to the computer to find a place to buy some cheap ammo, and I stumbled across this website, that said it could heal any ford Explorer no matter what the problems were! I jumped for joy, I could not believe the things I was reading! I wore out the search button, asked a bunch of questions. I quickly broke out my pen and paper, feverishly writing down things as I was learning! I had found a cure for everything that was wrong with my new transport. It was a Godsend, an angel from the SUV heavens!

I sprung into action. I worked day and night, Pugly was right by my side the entire time, helping me in any way she could. I never seen this side of her, and was really amazed at how well she handled the pressure. She gently squeegeed the sweat out off my fore head with her soft wiper blades as I worked away. After an entire weekend of work, I collapsed. I needed some rest, and so did the 95. The sun crested over the hills, and awoke me to a new day. I shuffled my feet to the window facing the driveway, peeled the drapes gently back, and peered out at the 95. WOW!
It had a its color back, and was looking great! Now as the time went on, (and most of my paychecks), and the selling of almost everything I own, for funds to get the 95 to its former glory.

After some time to reflect on this name thing, I strolled up and whispered into Pugly's passenger side mirror, and she giggled with delight.

I climbed up onto the front bumper in my pajamas and robe half opened, with a cup of coffee in one hand and the daily newspaper in the other, I raised my arms with out stretched hands and proclaimed the new name of the 95.

BEHOLD...........THE BLACK HOLE!!!!!!!! (Then the neighbor yelled at me to close my robe)

The End................(or is it just the beginning?)

Actually, only some of this really happened. :D

View attachment 324381

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Warning: Boring post ahead!

Finally got around to installing the trailer brake controller this weekend. Nothing special, just a prodigy P2 Proportional controller for now.

Been holding off on it, thinking I was going to buy a REDARC tow pro Elite, but just never did. Someday soon I hope! lol

Biggest reason I didn't want to use these type of units is the mounting locations kinda suck in these rigs. Can't be within 12" of any device that puts out a signal (like a CB), and they have to be orientated inline with the vehicle position for the inertia aspects. I don't like the top of the dash for them, the pass side was out because of the CB control box is behind the glove box & Mic is over there too.

I didn't like under the steering wheel, nor did I like anywhere on the left side of the column. It would never survive my knees hitting it. I settled on the far right side of the column, and saddled the center bezel section with it, as high as I could get it. Should be safe there, within reach, and I can see the digital readout easily.

I covered every wire in flex split conduit. To the fire wall, the brake switch, engine bay to battery, and under the rig along the frame to the 7 pin on the bumper. Used a weather proof 30 amp circuit breaker near the battery, and used the side lugs for the connection on the MAGM battery.

Unit is not angled (camber), it's just the picture.

Prodigy P2 1.jpg
Prodigy P2 2.jpg

This is what I will upgrade to eventually. 2 pc unit with a base that gets hidden, and a knob/button controller. I want to remove the cigarette lighter in the bezel, and install the controller there. Knob has multi colors for each mode it's in, and super easy to use. Way more modes and better braking than the one I just installed. This unit iz the shizz!

redarc towpro elite.png

Link to etrailer with great pics, & information on it.
Redarc Tow-Pro Elite Trailer Brake Controller - 1 to 3 Axles - Proportional Redarc Brake Controller

Almost got the 7 pin trailer harness finished. Skeeters came out in full force and ran me off, before I could get the last reverse wire done.

Other than that, been a pretty uneventful week on projects around here.

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2 day Amazon turned into 5 day Amazon prime delivery. Hey Amazon....What am I paying for again every year?

These items are so I can finally get rid of that POS ACC fuse box scavenged out of an old Ford power distro box with no lid, add full power to the trailer reverse LED's and run the Aux battery charge wire for the trailer.

New waterproof pre-wired 10 slot ACC fuse box for under the hood (much needed peace of mind here)
4 AWG rubber insulated copper welding wire made in the USA! ( Power feed to trailer )
175 amp Anderson Connectors ( Aux Battery charge connection for both rig & trailer )
150 amp circuit breaker ( Under hood Aux battery charge )
Waterproof 40 amp 4 pin relay ( Trailer reverse lights )
Waterproof 12 awg inline fuse holder ( In cab Winch switch)

BH misc wiring stuff.jpg

Now to figure out exactly how that shop wired that acc fuse box by dissecting it. 6 circuits with relays share 2 of the fuses as switch triggers, so all basically have 2 fuses per dash switch. No idea where and how the power is ran to that existing fuse box yet. Got me some vinyl tape to cut open!

I love seeing new parts, and wiring is special stuff. I used various wire type in my two mail vehicle projects, some like that large 4ga red wire, high quality. My first car I used some Home Depot sourced wire, for minor circuits. I liked the made for automotive and marine stuff the best.

Did I show this picture before, of the extra PDB I added in my 95 Crown Vic? I had the spare PDB from a Mustang, and it houses all extra fuses, relays, and a flasher. I liked that OEM look and ease of the same relay and fuse types etc.


ARCModule 002.jpg

I learned to stay away from most of the stereo type wires as a lot are just tinned aluminum with more sheathing than wire. Dang import junk for the most part. That's why I made a point of saying made in the USA, cuz we kick azz with wire stuffs. lol Welding style heavier gauge wires are just all around better for current capacity with pure copper thin strands and true AWG sizes. The sheathing is soft and flexible, and rubber instead of PVC. Can't get import 4 AWG like that in the stereo isle.

I had thought about searching the junk yards for a stock box of some sort to use, then I realized, I hate going there, and I just never go. When I found this waterproof box with sealed gaskets on the cover, and sealed backside, plus came with multi position mounting brackets, at a reasonable price, it was an easy choice for me. Plus, it will fit where I want it.

I do like that 4 relay box in that picture Don. It has plenty of fuse slots in it. :chug:

I caught that you said waterproof seals etc, I knew you had somewhere in mind that needs that.

That one I added I actually built from two, I got one that was cracked around two corners for free. I cut the relay section out of that one, and the middle large fuse section from the good one. Then a flasher part from an older Ford fuse box, I pieced it together and epoxied it. Those square OEM PDB's are not flat on their bottom side, it slopes a bit, and the wiring leads to the lowest part. That fits the fender shape well in my car, in the 94-04 Mustangs it was in a bracket attached to the strut tower front side.


Great pic! classic
ooh la la gotta love it pucker factor of 14 wife does not do" shelf roads" well

That was my first time experiencing black bear. Was an epic EF meet that lasted 2 weeks in the San Juan's and Moab. I was so wiped out, that I stayed at camp and relaxed on the last run of the meet. That day in itself was awesome, being that camp was in Ouray. I fell in love with the area instantly.

Been working hard at getting back ever since. 10 years worth of sacrifice and preparing to be exact. Working on a plan to head back the end of summer next year, and taking my son there for the first time. I want him to see more of his country first hand with his own eyes, that not many have, or ever will see. When I'm gone, he will always have that memory to reminisce over, and tell his own kids about, until he takes them one day.


Black bear road Telluride
Higher then crack can take you
Very famous picture here, I have seen it in 4x4 shops for the last 30 years

Yea... I hate to call someone and on it. But as the Jeep is sitting, there is no room to move to the driver's left. And there is a big rock coming up on the driver's right. Sooo...

It's one of those things you just have to take away from. In this case, it's a statement of how crazy some people are thought to be, by driving along them shelf roads made for horses and buggies by very determined hard working people of past.

I've been on them, and at times, I was like, yeah.... this is nuts, even for me. Lol

Okay but the pic was posted on the wall of 4x4 shops BEFORE the internet and photoshop so???
Seriously that pic has been around a long time
Real or no? People do crazy things
I have been on roads in CO where its time to start backing other way to move forward. Webster pass near red cone comes to mind....not enough room for me to safely go forward in a Polaris RZR yet the next week a group of toyotas came down the same road!!!?!?!

Anyways sorry to hijack I just love black bear pass and Ouray pictures and stories

I don't know if it's real or not, but hey, It's cool as hell! :D

A lot of those shelf roads should only be one way, when they have a trail head, and an exit on the other side of the Mountain. Black bear is 2 way for most of it until you get to the top of the steps/switchbacks. I heard they let people go up the switchbacks like once a year, and it's a long line and a lot of waiting to do it.

We have had to back up long distances for people coming uphill. It can get a bit nerve racking when you end up driving up the side of the Mountain, with crazy almost tip over camber, just to let someone pass you. LOL

Ok, I'm getting feverish talking about this area now. I can't wait to get back! Yes Jon, I'm Jones-in!

I got motivated to getting around to work on the transfer case skid this weekend. Planning on taking this rig to an off road park next month, and need the items done for that first. It has been needed to be done after the 5.0 swap, and the atlas being lowered by it. This wasn't a new custom built skid by no means. I just modified the stock skid.

Many years ago, I bent the stock skid backing off something and it caught the rear edge. It caused it to twist, but could still be used. A few years back, I found another 2nd gen skid at the salvage yard. I replaced the twisted one with it, and kept the old one. I dug that back out for this build.

Plan was to simply stack them together, weld them, and add a spacer at the frames to lower it. That idea was tossed after I discovered they aren't exactly the same. Instead of going hunting for another just like the replacement, I decided to just use the old twisted one anyways.

For this to work, I had to cut off both ends at the bend where they start to go vertical. Putting the ends in a vise, and massaging them into shape with a 5 lb maul to remove the twist, and correct the bends so they sit flush. After cleaning both skids with a knotted wire wheel, I started with the fitment. Once I was happy enough with how the ends laid on top of the current skid, I clamped them in place, then laid the center flat section on. I had to remove about 3/8" off one end piece, then grind off a little, and put it back in to fill the void. Clamped the center section on, broke out the welder and glued it all together.

The differences in these two 2nd gens skids was the sizes of the drain trays. For some reason, Ford changed the shapes after my 95. I can't remember what year 2nd gen I got the replacement from. The drain holes are in different spots, and a few inches away from each other. I drilled a new hole to match the lower skid so fluids will pass thru both in the same spot.

Once welded together, it was time for the lowering spacers. I used 3/4" Super Strut for this, as they are as thick as the plates, fit the frame, and already had holes in them for the bolts. Easy breezy. Here is where it sucked. The rig's frame isn't straight where the skids bolt on, they are at an angle. Which means I had to bolt the skid on, with the spacers in place. Realized at this point, I needed longer bolts. LOL Off to the hardware gettin place. For anybody curious, the stock rectangle keeper nuts are M8x1.25. I got the new 10.9 bolts 2" longer than stock, with some SS washers.

Ok, now it's bolted up, spacers where I want them, and tack welded to the skid. That was the suck part as it was windy as hell, and I didn't want to change the machine over to flux wire for a few tack welds. Back off it came, and finished welding on the table.

Cleaned up my welds, and prepped for paint. 2 coats of self etching primer, and 2 coats industrial oil. Let cure overnight, plugged the top skids original drain hole with body filler, and installed today. All done. I now have an adequate gap between the skid, and the T-case. Hate that I had to lower it, but it is what it is.

side welded back on.jpg
Spacer angle on skid.jpg
side view with both together.jpg
hole plugged.jpg
bottom side loose.jpg
Atlas clearence to skid.jpg
skid on 1.jpg

Thought of a couple ways to add to this skid in the future. The trans mount cross member on this rig has the frame mounts welded on, and the bolt heads are exposed and almost as low as this case skid. Idea in my head is to add some gusseted 3/16" plate all the way past the trans mount, and use the mount bolts to hold it in place. Would have a 20-30* angle lip in the front to glide over anything. It would work as the IFS diff doesn't articulate, and neither does the front drive shaft. That's for another day, and after all the other stuff gets done. lol

It's done enough right now to take it back to the trails for another shake down run. Last time out was over a year ago, and when I discovered all the 4x4 issues with the CAD not being wired correctly, and no 4wd. No cruise control with the one brake circuit still not figured out for it, but I can deal with that for this trip as it is only 4 hours one way.

wait wait wait wait two coats of industrial oil? what the heck is that?

Looks awesome!!
The skid plates changed shape and got thinner over the years
Many of the 99-01 did not even have them anymore!!
I have a stack of them
I plan to use two of them in my BII to act as the base skids for a larger metal skid...someday.
At least your fuel tank still has a metal skid :)

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I have heard that some rigs didn't come with skids, and thought, well that's dumb. Lol

The fuel tank skid has plenty of trail Mark's. Couldn't imagine not having it. If it ever comes off, it will get my OCD paint job too. I'm weird like that. Can't help it.

Industrial paint is just a tougher paint that has better moisture protection. It doesn't have real good uv protection though, but since this is underneath the rig, it doesn't matter to me. It's not a top of the line automotive chassis paint, but works better than your average spray bomb stuff. Paint stores like sherwin William's sells it in spray cans or quarts/ gallons. Can brush, roll, or spray with electrostatic, hvlp, or conventional sprayers.