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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

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cant hurt!

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Called the local off road shop, to set up the ARB Locker install the other day, and they informed me that the recent Covid resurgence, has made them strictly enforce the no customer supplied parts. They told me a last time I spoke with them, that they would as it was still new in box. Media scare tactics worked.

So I went to my backup plan. Called a guy I had used in the past for this job. He is currently slammed, and a month out. He will call when he can get me in.

So.... an alternate backup plan, for the backup plan will be in the works... just in case. Our big 3k+ mile Trip is less than 2 months out. Going to be cutting this close!!

So much to do, so little time. Been hammering away little by little everyday to make this happen tho. :)

You want somebody who has installed ARB many time to do your ARB and a shop that will provide a warranty on their work!
ARB's usually only fail due to poor install

You want somebody who has installed ARB many time to do your ARB and a shop that will provide a warranty on their work!
ARB's usually only fail due to poor install
Exactly why I wanted the 1st choice to do the job. They set up the gears that are in it currently. I'm not buying another locker for them to install.

There is one more shop I just found that does them, but haven't called yet. Will see what they say.

Not allowing customer supplied parts can only be to generate more profit on the work. There is no way a virus can hang out on a ARB box. If they were worried, they could just let it sit in the sun for a few hours.

Here is a video of us discovering the locker wasn't working, but had no clue as to why yet. This was on the 2013 Explorer Forum meet, and 3 other EF members on this trail day.

Throwback Moab thread! Waterfall on Poison Spider Mesa.

I say blame the ground guide. . .

Throwback Moab thread! Waterfall on Poison Spider Mesa.

I say blame the ground guide. . .

Can't blame the ground guy, he is one of the best spotter's I ever had!

We did the big three, and honestly, probably the best day I ever had in Moab. Family, Good friends, and a loved one, sharing that experience is at the top of my all time favorite days. Wouldn't have been as fun without you spotting us Paul!

Cargo storage box 3.0 build:

I built the first single drawer storage box for this rig around 6 years ago. It was small, and held the spare tire on top. Used a single set of 100 # slides on it, and it worked for a while. After a trip to Moab with it, I soon found that the gear in it was pretty heavy, and it was stuffed to the max. Finding items in it was a pain because of being crammed up. A couple years later, and I built another bigger box (2.0). Made it so the smaller box could sit on top, and hold more gear. No room for the spare anymore this way, and it completely blocked the rear view. I removed the smaller box, and placed it in the back of the work rig, where it has worked great for that purpose, and still does.

Last winter I started to change how this rig stores, and carry items needed/wanted for big trips. A big custom roof rack was installed, to help carry bulky items, and make more space inside. So the next step is the cargo storage area. I decided to make a different style box, that can do a few things in the small space it uses. I learned a few things building another setup for the adventure trailer, and incorporated some of that into this build. This rig has a big trip planned in less than 2 months time, and another next spring. I'm sure more will happen as time/funds allow in the future too. Space is a premium for gear, tools, and spare parts. This box will hopefully help with these trips.

This build has taken so long to do on my spare time, that it will be broken down to a few posts, showing the progress in stages. The next few posts sharing this build, shows the progression of 2 full months of work, and counting. I am not fully completed with the build yet, but close! In the spirit of helping others, and showing the work done as it goes, this will be a long series for what it is. Nothing out of the ordinary for this thread tho. :D

1 ) Building The main box.

Decided to go with a bottomless box, as a floor on it isn't needed for this style build. 3/4" sanded ply was used, so one less large piece helps with weight.

Now I do not own a table saw, and making straight cuts is important. I have other means and methods for this. I mention this for those like me, who want to build stuff, but don't because of lack of certain tools. I would actually buy a table saw, if I had room for it, but I do not. These methods work for me, so it is how I currently cut.

For straight or rip cuts using a skill saw, I have 3 different methods for nice smooth even straight cuts. Krieg skillsaw guide is good for up to a two foot, from a factory edge. It clamps on the saw, and you adjust the width on the built in ruler. Simply slide it along a factory edge cut, and you will have a nice clean cut. I also have a clamping straight edge saw guide for larger cuts, that works well. For smaller cuts, I have a different setup, that uses nothing special, and everyday shop tools. More on that later.

1 krieg skillsaw guide.jpg

2 clamp saw guide.jpg

Once the cuts was done, it was time to put the pocket hole tools to work. These make for a super strong joint, and the special pocket screws come in many lengths, with course or fine pitch, for soft or hard woods. I used multiple sizes and both thread types in this build.

The shop vac attachment keeps this job clean as you drill out the angled pocket holes in the jig.

3 pocket hole jig in use.jpg

The box was put together after all was drilled out. This box has two sides to it. Each side will do it's own thing for different purposes. I changed the widths of each sides a couple times as I went, until I was happy.

Since this box is bottomless, it needs some type of frontal side to side support. I cut/welded some 3/4" angle for this. I also added a section of it to the underside of the top, to use for a latch catch. I have a few left over stainless T handle door latches from the trailer build, so decided to use them.

6 raw box with raw braces.jpg

So a test fit was in order. I found it to be a little too tall for my liking. I removed it, and cut all the walls down a couple inches.

7 raw box test fit.jpg

Next up was getting hardware fitted and installed. Making all the holes prior to any paint or finish work helps for a cleaner finish.

This needed all hardware to be inset on any finished surface. Which turns out to be almost all of it. lol

I learned that having a screw or bolt going thru wood, needs a sleeve to stop the wood from wollering out, and making your job a sloppy one eventually. There are a few ways to accomplish this, with different hardware to use. I choose to use Tee Nuts. I found these to work best in my projects. They have spikes that dig into the wood as they are compressed, and stay put once seated. The threaded shanks on them come in multiple sizes, and you choose the length according to the thickness of the wood your using. For 1/2" wood, I use 7/16" shank, for 3/4" wood, I use 9/16" shanks.

Finding center with an appropriate sized hole punch, then drilling a small 1/8" pilot hole all the way thru, keeps everything where it needs to be. After that, using a spade bit a little larger than the tee nut flat end is, a shallow hole is drilled to allow the tee nut to be recessed flush.
Switch over to a drill bit a fraction larger than the OD of the tee nut shank, and drill all the way thru the 1/8" pilot hole. This allows the tee nut to set inside tight, and centered. I used both #10-24 & 1/4"-20 tee nuts on this build. #10's use a 1/4" drill bit, and 1/4" use a 5/16" drill bit. For the spade bits, a #10 nut takes a 3/4", and a 1/4" nut takes a 7/8"

8 drill recess for slides tee nut.jpg

Those shavings are from one single cut/hole. I did dozens of them on this build. What a mess!

Next on the to do was install the slides, and get them matched up nicely. Tape was used to keep the ball bearings clean of debris. Here you can see the pocket holes, and the tee nuts for 2 slides. Stainless bolts are used on everything.

9 slide tee nut install.jpg

That's it for now, more to come shortly.


Two drawers will be stacked on the right side of the main box.

I had enough leftover 1/2" Baltic Birch from the trailer build for these. One drawer will be used for storage, and the other for a camp grill, plus a little storage section.

After thinking of how heavy some items being stored are, I opted to use 3/4" for the bottom of the storage drawer. Using pocket holes, and the special screws for thickness size, made it a little challenge to find the sweet setting on the jig, drill bit depth, and screw length to use, for 3/4" to 1/2". Scrap cut offs was used for testing, and once I got it figured, the build commenced.

With the drawer boxes made, the slides was attached, and then installed into the main box for drawer box face measures. I used 3/4" Pine boards for these. That choice turned out to be very helpful with all that is going on with them.

These faces have sq holes on the lower sides for the thumb locks on the 250# slides to pass through. There are four Tee nuts inset on the backside for front mounted removable brackets, (More on that later). Getting all that lined up symmetrically, took some doing. Once I was happy with that, everything got a couple coats of Poly Urethane sealer. The backsides & edges of the drawers got a couple coats of exterior latex satin black paint.

Inked8 drawer pocket holes_LI.jpg
9 wood sealer.jpg
10 wood sealer.jpg
11 wood sealer.jpg
12 wood sealer.jpg
13 drawer face paint.jpg

Main Box finish:

The interior of the main box, and all the exposed edge's was painted with the same Satin black. Once the paint cured out after a couple of days, I could move onto the next step.

Satin Black Laminate counter top material was used to skin the exterior of the main box, drawer faces, and a couple other items.

I had to special order this stuff, and took over a week to get it. I needed just about every sq inch of the 48" x 96" sheet. I had to really think on this one to get the cuts right. lol

Planned it all out in advance, marked the sheet for each piece, then cut to size with a straight edge and razor knife.

1 laminate cutting.jpg

Using the highly potent fumigating glue for this stuff I made sure the doors was open, and a fan was running. Once applied (roller nap) to both the wood, and backside of the laminate, it needs to sit for 20 mins, and dry/tacky to the touch. I only did a Piece at a time, and took all day.

Each edge was cut with a little overhang all around. Once positioned, it was laid on and worked it's way from one side to the other with a laminate roller.

2 side laminate install.jpg

3 side laminate trimming.jpg

4 rear laminate glue setup.jpg

The laminate overhang was trimmed with a laminate router and a 1/16" Radius bearing trim bit. It gives a tiny curve to the top edge as it cuts.

Inside and all exposed edges was painted black to finish sealing up the wood, and just looks better than raw sealed wood.

5 box inside painted.jpg

Next step was to flip the box over, and install 3/4" Aluminum U channel on the wall edges. These will act as feet, and keep the lumber off the floor, plus give it a nice smooth solid even base. The box will be secured to the rigs floor with HD straps, as I wanted it to be removable. So 4 strap anchors was installed with 1/4" Tee nuts. Two on the front sides, and two in the rear. The rig has E track on the floor for the rears, and a couple new anchors was installed onto the floor for the fronts.

6 alum channel installed.jpg

Flipped back over now, the upper edges was trimmed out with 3/4" aluminum angle, and the rear corners with metal corner guards.

8 Chuck box corner and trim loose.jpg

7 chuck box trimmed.jpg

10 rear strap rings.jpg
9 Chuck box corner on.jpg

Drawer Faces:

Ok, this picture was posted a few days ago, but this will explain it better. :)

11 Can opener drawer pull.jpg

Why have one bottle opener when you can have four?

12 Drawers finished frontal.jpg

I wanted some door pulls, but wanted something different. I re-purposed these bottle openers for just that! I mean, they say "Open Here"! Makes perfect sense to me.

Odd placement, but they are below the slide locks, so you can use them as you lift the thumb lock, to assist in opening the drawer. Matter of convenience, not really needed, but gives it a personal touch.

(Decided against using the T-handle latches, after choosing the Locking drawer slides )

That's some great work - - I spent a lot of money on my "Outback Solutions / ARB" drawer set, and then modified them to work better. . . You've got the benefit of trying some other things first, then taking the skills learned from your other projects to incorporate into this. Well done.

That's some great work - - I spent a lot of money on my "Outback Solutions / ARB" drawer set, and then modified them to work better. . . You've got the benefit of trying some other things first, then taking the skills learned from your other projects to incorporate into this. Well done.
Thanks Paul! I know you did, I have seen their prices, yikes!

I shopped around for a set of modular drawers and the goodies that came with them. While I liked some of the products very much, I didn't like the price tag so much. I wasn't willing to pay $750+ per drawer, then add the goodies to them, and drive it higher still. Throw expenive shipping on top of that, and before you know it, I could have bought another mint low mile Explorer instead. lol I figured I could make what I wanted for 1/3 the cost using decent materials.

My stuff might not be factory looking, work the best, or be the best, but I can get the self gratification knowing I made it from scratch with my own hands. Bringing an idea floating around your head to a workable hands on reality, is just better than a Frozen Snickers bar, on hot hangry day. I appreciate that aspect of the builds more & more with every one I do.

dude holy wow nicely done!

Grill Drawer:

To make this box a bit more than just open storage for this and that, I decided to make it more functional. This drawer is where the build takes a turn, then veers off into the weird, and wonky.

Inside has two storage sections. A small section with a lid to contain cooking items, and the other to store a grill, plus some.

I was undecided on this build for a long time, and went back and forth with different ideas. Time was getting the best of me here, and I needed to get this done like yesterday. There are other mods/work needing to be done to the rig for the upcoming trip, and this build was eating all my time up. So, for now, this is what I chose to do, but might change it up over next winter.

A divider wall was added to the Baltic Birch drawer, based on the width of a propane Coleman grill. The lid was added using hinges on the back, and a spring lift arm. A slide bolt was inset into to the top as well. As shown in the previous pictures, this lid got sealed, edges painted black, then the top laminated.

1 both storage lids open.jpg

Found a local guy who made real nice cutting boards from scratch, at his home based bizz. I gave him the dimensions I wanted, and he built it right away. I had it within a weeks time. This board he made is from Hickory and Walnut. He made a nice smooth finger handle on one long edge, and treated it with Salad Bowl finish. I will need to re-coat it once a year with use. Not a big deal to me. It's 3/4" thick, and thinner then he normally makes, but I needed it that thin to work with this build.

This is the thing that makes this build stand out from all the rest. At least I think so! lol

It is a lid for the grill storage, and a working cutting board when closed. Also a side table when opened.

2 grill box storage lid open.jpg

Lids held down with stainless spring latch closures.

4 closures.jpg

Lids closed, drawer open.

5 grill drawer pulled open.jpg

Ok, so those round black knobs on the drawer faces......

These are actually thumb wheels with stainless 1/4"-20 studs. These go into the Tee nuts installed into the backsides. These are for holding support brackets on the lower drawer, and other items on the top drawer.

This setup is just the mock up, and not the actual bracket or drawer face I will be using. The support bracket is still being fabricated. I used these to figure this out, and can be used for picture purposes to show this in the set up mode.

Using some 1/4" thick brackets, I was able to measure and mark where to install the cutting board supports, when used as a table. Idea is to simply unscrew the knobs, slip in the table bracket, and turn them tight, holding the bracket in place. I had an old thumb wheel I used for this mock up, but bought new ones (with extras) for it later.

6 table support brackets.jpg

7 support bracket knobs loose.jpg

8 grill drawer open with table supports front view.jpg

9 table open.jpg

Can open it and push the drawer closed too.

10 table open drawer closed.jpg

Grill Box:

The drawer was made deeper than the grill was tall to be able to fit this item inside. I wanted to raise the grill when in use, and not use the cutting board lid for it. This was made to snugly fit the grill itself, and hold it tight in transport. No bouncing around this way.

Used 1/2" Baltic Birch for the sides, and 3/4" for the top. Two Dato cuts was made on the sides a hair bigger than the grill's outer most edges. The grill slides into this nicely, and it holds it firmly. A couple finger holes was made into the back to grasp it, for lifting purposes. It was sealed, and the top was laminated. The extra space on top, will house a 1/4" thick table top to use on the cutting board, when used for other purposes to keep it clean. It can sit on the bottom or top, depending on use.

1 Grill table dato cut.jpg
2 Grill table dato cut.jpg
3 Grill under box table.jpg

The open space behind this box is for storing the table brackets, and what not.

4 Grill table box.jpg
5 Grill set up.jpg

Sorry for the blurry pics. Happens when my blood sugar gets low, and I shake. I get so into the build, I forget to eat. lol

I love that, all of it. Well thought out, I hope it saves you a bunch of space and houses more stuff.

You mentioned Snickers, did you know they make many varieties? If not or you haven't tried many of them, get the one with almonds. You should love that, it's slightly different in ingredients besides the almonds, and it tastes sweeter than a normal Snickers. I take a couple of those, in fun size, to work each day for a morning snack.

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