The Black Hole | Page 153 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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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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I think I might have done this one too many times. Took less than an hour to set the rig on stands and remove both packs.

Bushing bolts came out by hand easily. Thank you Permatex for your Anti-Seize! :chug:

Had one 5/8" U-bolt end give me a hard time removing the big 24mm nut. Threads are a little jacked up after that. I will replace it with a new one.

Drivers side measured 1/2" lower than the Passenger side. Was expected as it had the slight gangster lean already. I marked both packs, and will talk to them about this when I deliver them Thursday. Also will mention the added weight (ballpark of 450 #) from gear, and the 350# of trailer tongue weight. They should be able to remedy these for the additional weight. I just hope the lift isn't over 4" after weight is added. 3" total lift after gear & trailer would be perfect for this setup.

Underside was dirty on them from the last outing still. Now is the time to clean that rear area with the pressure washer I suppose. Ignore my cracked up driveway slab. lol Roofing truck cracked it when loading shingles. :banghead:

leafs off 12_19.jpg
Loose leafs 12_19.jpg

Now from experience, it will be a fight to get them back on, and I know it will take me about 4 hours alone. This job kills this old man doing it on a cold concrete surface on my side. Blah.... Hoping the weather holds up until then.

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do me a big favor! measure how wide the springs are and how long the pads are on the diff! i need to make some blocks for my truck!

do me a big favor! measure how wide the springs are and how long the pads are on the diff! i need to make some blocks for my truck!

Our springs are 2.5" wide.

The perch's are 5" Long x 2.25" wide.

DO IT I would jump at the opportunity for that price!!
then consider air bags to handle heavy loads/trailers.......they can just be airbags between leaf and frame, most of the time they sit empty but when you need to carry a load just put some air in them at the air pump
I am planning similar with my 97 F350

Ditto, that price is very inviting if they provide the extra spring and say their heat tempering will last a long time.

Question for those in the know. Should I or shouldn't I?

My leaf packs have lost 2" of lift. They are 3 years old, and only a couple of trips on them, as this rig has been down most of that time.

I have been looking around for another set of leafs from other places, and have got some pricing quotes. Looking at over $600 to get them to me from a couple companies, and even higher from others.

I called the company that made these current packs this morning. I told them they lost lift, and it is more than likely my fault, as I load an extra 1k of weight to the rig on trips, and even empty, the rig is hundreds over stock weight.

They said they can heat temper these packs back to the lift, and add another lower leaf as long as possible for the extra weight. This leaf will replace the lower shorty above the overload leaf. They can cold forge them for cheaper, but that's not as strong as a heat temper they said. They want $250 for this.

They are close to me, and I can drop off/pickup by hand. They will only take 2 days to complete the job.

I'm thinking of giving this a try, and seeing how it works out. I haven't had any luck with a re-arch in the past, as they always gave way after a season or two. But now I think about it, they was cold forged, not heat tempered. This is a roll of the dice, but if it works, the cost savings are huge. These packs still look as good as the day they was installed. Clean, rust free, perfect bushings, etc..

Since I can't get the latest project installed this week, I think I am taking advantage of the 20* above temps this week, and doing this. Yeah/No?

For that price why wouldn't you?

I have been shopping leaf packs and that's about 1/3 the lower prices I have seen.

I wish $250 was the total price. They cost over $500 new 3 years ago. No shipping charge as they was made local.

Have to edit this, and expand a little...

I agree with everybody about the cost being low, but I don't think your all understanding whats going on. I'm not buying a new set for $250. I'm spending another $250, on a set I spent over $500 on 3 years ago.

If this works, it will save me hundreds.

If it doesn't, I lost a couple hundred more into the same packs, wasted my time & effort, plus have to buy new packs elsewhere, and do this again. Well, sooner than later, as we all know this is a maintenance item.

That's the gamble I mentioned, and why I asked yes/no. I was having a hard time deciding at first. If it bites me in the ass later, so be it. I tried at least.

Im so lame, yes Explorer leafs under frame all other RBV outboard the frame must be my dyslexia, not sure what I was thinking I mean I have stood there on the trial a hundred times and watched explorers get hung up on the front spring hanger trying to crest the top of an obstacle lol

You can mount the airbags ANYWHERE you have space on top of the axle, or can build simple perches/shelves, the airbags should NOT lose you any travel when deflated
Firestone has been building THE airbags of choice for big rigs to low riders for many many years

$750 invested in leafs = next time we get deavers
I am curious to see how this turns out, my old Skyjacker 6" leafs have been beat to *H%$ and could use a re spring rebuild repack

Have to think on making a cross member that fits above the axle for bags if not used on top of leafs. Then have to figure out what size bags to use. Pretty sure that's why I gave up trying in the past. I just couldn't figure it out.

I bet I could figure out how to make an upper bracket for a leaf placement tho. The brake line fittings are in the way at the perches, for next to axle placement. Those would have to be relocated. A project for another day, but one that does have me intrigued.

I need a set of front hanger skids. I have asked a couple people who have cnc tables to make some swivel type, using the leaf bushing bolt. There is a company that makes them for Toyota's trailing arms. I installed them on the fj before we took it to moab, and they worked awesome. I also installed 2" dom arms while at it. Lol

Thanks Brian!
Have to study those cradles, and how to incorporate them with between frame and springs setup, and how long of a 6" bag to use with it next to the axle perch's. I just don't have the knowledge yet on these for application, let alone modifying them.

If I did this, it would be nice if I can use a short bag, say like 4-6" long, and it hits that cradle on compression as needed. Having a bag that extends from axle to frame on this just doesn't click with me, and how it would work for articulation. I seen the $1k bags that work for long travel, but too rich for my blood. I'm just looking for a simple helper overload bag, that doesn't break the bank.

I thought you gave up, or forgot about, the leaf skid ask. lol Can't wait to see what you come up with. Put me on the already bought, just have to make them list, now please. :D

I'm sure you could fit air bags inboard of the leaf springs. I don't see how you would not loose articulation when the bags are inflated and holding up the rear of the vehicle. Wouldn't they take away most of the compression?

I am not a fan of Deaver. I know everyone thinks they are the shizzle. They screwed over Jefe (yes, I have a long memory) when he ordered from them. He told them about all the weight he had in the back and his height requirements. They sent him a set of their plain old 2" lift leaf springs. When sitting at ride height they were inverted.

I like local people because they work with you to get things right. I am taking my Explorer over to a local spring shop within the next few weeks to see what they can do for me based upon what I want.
I have been doing research in leaf springs. These links seem to be well known for off-road applications;
1991-1994 Explorer Performance Rear Springs Atlas SuspensionAtlas Spring Company
Very expensive, but they make a expedition pack for the Explorer
Alcan Spring - Manufactures Fine Custom Leaf Springs
Make springs for everything and anything
Explorer Ford
Have Ford springs listed, but they look suspiciously like Deavers
North County Spring - North County Spring provides custom heavy duty leaf springs and suspension repair. 520 N. Andreasen Drive Escondido CA 92029 We are one of the largest distributor of leaf springs & suspension parts in San Diego County. We will meet and beat any written estimate. Don't believe it? Give us a call!
Local to me

If you go airbags check out the Daystar cradles. That is the way to go for offroad bags. Air Bag Cradle Polyurethane Black Daystar | Daystar

working on it ;)
I like these. Watching the video, they look like they might limit some compression, but not all. If a custom set of leafs don't work out like I want, I will look into this more. I already have onboard air. My RV has helper air bags on the rear axle. They each have their own Schrader valve in top edge of their respective fender wells because I didn't want to mess with all the plumbing. I check their pressure when checking all the tires before a trip. If I installed bags in the Explorer, I would probably run the lines together into the gas door and fill them manually.

What I did with my leaf spring hangers after I noticed a crack in the frame at the rear slider mount. I incorporated a gusset into the rear slider mount that ties into the spring hanger. I also put in a round hex head bolt. I could have left the bolt out all together, but like multiple attachments for stuff that gets pounded.
Bkennedy's SAS and Rebuild Thread

@Brian1, Maybe you could design an addition to the spring hanger instead of a replacement. A longer ramp with weld on gussets, and incorporate a tow point like the face of the OEM hanger? Three interlocking pieces would do it, right? Wouldn't have to mess with removing the OEM hanger, it would only be a few minutes of welding, and it would make it super strong.

Sorry to keep posting all over your thread, but it looks like air bags could be a cheap-ish modification.
Air bags for $65.00 a pair
2x Universal Air Spring Bag Heavy Duty Standard 2500 lb 1/2"npt Single Port | eBay
Mounts for $40
1/4” Thick Rear Axle Upper & Lower Air Bag Mouting Brackets Weld On Air Ride | eBay
Those Daystar mounts on the bottom, some air line and fittings. Less than $200 total

It's all good, post away!! Helps me, and others that follow this thread looking for ideas and info. :thumbsup:

That custom suspension company you linked... I like the looks of them 4" packs for that price. Shipping always kills me tho.

I talked to Alcan a couple times with emails back & forth a couple weeks ago. For a 450# over stock set of 4" lift packs is almost $600, then they charge $50/100# after that. They wanted another $175 to make them work for the trailer, then another $175 to ship them to me. That was a hard pass! :eek:

I agree with the local shops if you have them available. The shop here I'm using is mostly known across the country, as a supplier for emergency vehicles for city, county, and state use. I have been inside the shop. The machinery they use to make some of them massive springs for fire trucks and the like, is incredible. They have a portion of the shop dedicated to passenger vehicles/trucks, and custom fabrication purposes. Been around for a century or some chit. They didn't balk at all, when I told them the packs they made me needed some help. That alone spoke volumes to me. Made my choice easier to go through with this.

I never ever think of Ebay when searching parts. Mental block or something. maybe I don't trust it. Seems like 90% of items sold there are cheap Chinese type junk. I have read cheap bags are a waste of $$, as they don't hold up well or last long. Reputable known brands are the only way to go for quality I'm told. Just me, and might be completely wrong. lol

For the bag mounts.... I think mounting them over the springs and up to the frame would lose a bunch of articulation if filled with higher PSI. If they was the type of short (like 3" tall) bags that hang free (like a bump stop), with a gap space between them, and one of the mounts, that would decrease the loss of articulation a bunch. That type of setup sounds good to me. The lower leaf brackets are already available, but the upper bracket to cradle the C Frame, and hold the bag would have to be custom made. I have yet to see any upper under the frame brackets made yet. Everything I have seen is on the frame side, or to an upper cross member with an axle mount.

Edit: For traditional style bags..... I found a set of 91-01 Explorer frame brackets that places the bags under the frame, and above the leafs. Airlift makes the kit. Bad news is the bags they make/sell will not work for any off road use. They have a max travel of 3". I have well over 4" of lift being sprung under with over 10" of space between under the frame to tops of leafs. These bags are too short, and when I asked for longer bags, they informed me of them not working for off road use.

I need a double sleeve type bag that is made for long travel. Only found one company that makes them, but they only make them for 3/4 & 1 ton trucks that have outboard leafs, or coil sprung struts, with inboard mounts to a 4 sided tube frame rail. :( I also looked at a bunch of mounts made for these, and none of them will work with the leaf spring skids I have. These skids are in the way of the bracket mount bolts. Same thing for the over the top spring assist coil helpers by Road Master.

The front hanger skids, are a simple bolt on part that wrap the sides of the hanger, and ramp up to the frame. Remove hanger bolt, slip skid over, replace bolt. Done. Toyo trailing arm links at the frame are a weak spot. A few companies make 1/4" skids that protect the frame and links. These are the basis of the front hanger skid idea, for our Explorers.

Not the same as these, but close using the same concept of using the stock bolt.

Simple 1/4" thick bolt on version. I used these AllPro's on the FJ's Trailing arms.


I like this style the best, with the open spring eye, for swivel.

Front hanger skid idea.jpg

Weld on version. You can angle the ramp to your liking, and add side gussets to it.


Dropped the leaf packs off this morning. Change of plans after they looked at them. Not heat tempering and just adding 2 more leafs for the lift and load.

1 under main as close to eyelets as possible, and 1 longer lower above overload. They are removing the clamp clips, and adding 2 of the articulating clips per pack.

Said that if they tempered them back, and added another leaf, the lift would be around 6". No idea how long or if, they would settle down 2" doing that. They told me if it doesn't work, to bring them back, and they will try something else, like replace a couple of the old leafs with new, and heat temper the main, or some chit.

Will be ready by tomorrow, so @KurtECV & I can install them over the weekend. We might be able to install the other thing a ma Bob dealio too. :)

Ebay has it all not just china trinkets, some of the largest recycle rs in the world sell on ebay, so do most of the aftermarket suppliers and companies, Ebay is e commerce. As usual knowledge is power, just know what you are buying and Ebay is a wonderful connects buyers and sellers with each other from all over the world!!
I like the plans with the springs these guys sound like they know their stuff!
Airbags should not hinder your articulation if installed properly, I mean I understand everything that touches the axle effect flex a little bit but a properly installed bag will only carry a load when inflated and when deflated it just sits there like an empty bag.....

Yeah, It's just me and my screwed up thinking with Ebay I guess. lol

I picked up the Springs, and about threw my back out getting them out of the rig. I weighed them.... 95 lbs each. Wasn't expecting that when I went to lift them. I done did learnt real fast like. Bend the knees, lift with my legs ya big dummy. Yup yup.

I got the grand tour of the spring shop today. From an automated flat stock rack, that rotates to the size wanted, then fed into a massive shear, and cut to length. Carted over to the machine that curves them, off to the massive furnace for tempering, and then dipping them in oil after. Watched them make the eyes on a set of 6" wide leafs that looked 3/4" thick. Crazy cool how strong hydraulics are. When ready, they hang and spray paint each leaf on a motorized assembly line dealio. They pass by a radiant heater, and blown dry before they are removed by hand for assembly. Eyelet bushings are pressed in the mains, holes punched in the lowers, and slides installed. Final assembly and clips pressed on for the final step. I'm sure I missed a step or two. Everything looked like demanding hard labor, and most certainly a skill is needed here. These dudes earn their money.

Standing the packs upside down on the eyelets, they measure 1.25" taller then before, at the center pin. I wrestled them back onto the rig myself this afternoon. Started getting dark out, so I just set the axle back down on the perches, and closed up shop for the day. I just want to know how a dime size portion of anti-sieze is enough to make me look like the Tin Man afterwards, and how does that even happen?

Of course winter is rolling back in just in time for us to work outside this weekend. Cold rains plain suck. Rather wrench while it's snowing than that stuff!

Pictures after install.

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Thanks to KurtEcv making the cross state trip, we managed to get the axle bolted back up Yesterday morning.

I cleaned up the skids, primed & painted them again.

Leaf skids primed.jpg

Leaf skids painted.jpg

These are so much easier to install, with an extra set of hands holding them in place, while securing the loose U-bolt, as the other gets the washer/nuts started.

2.0 leaf packs back on. Gained 3.5" of lift initially. They still have to settle. Hoping to lose 1" after. With the rig loaded back up for an outing, and the trailer hitched up, hoping it only drops another 1".

Full droop, axle resting on them.

2.0 leafs 1.jpg

Back on, and fully bolted back up.

2.0 leafs 2.jpg

2.0 leafs 3.jpg

It's back to beast mode again. lol

This coming Spring, all new brake calipers, rotors, & pads will be installed. Need better than stock for the trailer, and the mass of these wheels/tires.