The Black Hole | Page 159 | 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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Fridge slide:

Left side of the main box is for the slide out table. This will house a small 37 qt 12v/110 Fridge eventually. Just big enough for road travel, and a couple days out on the trails.

Another set of HD 250 lb locking (in & out) slides, attached to thick wall 2" Aluminum angles with all Stainless hardware.

The table is 3/4" Ply sealed all around, and inset Tee nuts for the 1/4"x 3/4"L Flat head screws. Notches was made with the router halfway down into the edges, for the slide nuts. Made them just wide enough to get a wrench in there. Only half of the nut/bolt depth drop into these. Just the way it worked out.

1 slide table.jpg

2 slide table wrench space.jpg

The angle got the countersink bit treatment for the screw heads to sit flush.

4 slide table angle mount hole countersink.jpg

Once together it was test fitted, and adjusted accordingly. Locking slides are finicky to get adjusted just right so they work correctly. Took a couple tries.

5 slide table on slides.jpg

Took it all apart, cleaned all the roughed up holes by hand sanding it, then power sanding the entire thing, poly seal coats, painted the holes and front/rear edges black, and laminated the table top. Been using Weldwood contact glue. I'm pretty sure this is the stuff kids in the 70's / 80's got hooked on.

Cutting the sheet. Making a smaller rectangle from a larger one. Marked using tape, straight edge clamped tight, then cut with a sharp razor. Takes about 7-8 hard press passes to cut it. I rather do it like that, then 3-4 score passes, then snap it in half. That method doesn't always end well with Formica. Cuts into my table surface pretty good tho. Going to have to make a new one after these bigger builds are done

6 cut laminate to size.jpg

7 laminate glued and rolled out.jpg

All trimmed out, and added the fridge strap mounting rings with more Tee nuts. Laminate router makes one heck of a mess. Everything gets covered up for it. I have the air chuck handy, but the leaf blower does a much better job after each sheet is trimmed. lol

8 slide finished.jpg

9 slide finished.jpg

These slides are 3/4" thick, and the openings need to be 1.5" wider than the drawers/table are wide. That 3/4" loss per side will not be a total loss, as I have plans to utilize that 3/4" gap they left. More on that in the upcoming posts.

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I either bored people to death by this long drawn out build, or interest in stuff like this just isn't a good fit here. lol Oh well, I need to finish what I started.

The old Drawer set up carried tools, spare parts, recovery gear, bottle jacks, air down tools, and more. This build has been done with more organization in mind. Each area, section, has it's own purpose. The exterior of this box is included in this thinking.

Saddle Box:

The space between the exterior side walls, and the cargo panel wall space is about 7" side to side. The front of this box comes about 1" away from the hatch door when closed. The portion of the door jamb that juts inward at the hatch goes inward a couple of inches, making the side space shorter in length at the hatch. I thought of a couple ways to use those gaps on the sides, and decided to only use up the drivers side with this box. The pass side will stay open for stuffing small long items, and keep the subwoofer clear. Then there is the hump for the wheel well on the flooring. Had to stay above that, and it sticks up about 6" or so.

This box was made around a set of New CV axles still in the boxes. That's all I will use this for. Gets them out of the upper storage drawer, and frees up a ton of room in there. Top & Bottom is 3/4" and the sides ares 1/2". Pocket holes just like everything else, sealed, and laminated using what I had left over. Used all the satin black stuff up :( .

Trimmed out the lid with Aluminum C channel, and 2 spring loaded clasps on both front & back ends, for a tight closed lid. Mounted to the box with 6 1/4" stainless bolts / fender washers, and Tee nuts on the wall. Boxes will have sections of 1" lashing straps to lift them up & out easily. I hope I never have to open this box while on a trail......... Ever!

S Box raw 1.jpg
S Box raw 2.jpg
S Box lid open 3.jpg
S Box lid closed 4.jpg
S Box 5.jpg

See the top? Next post explains it!

POP A TOP! or...

Top Storage build:

The lid of this box was used for more storage. I researched many different types of boxes and mounting systems for this. All was expensive, and some was just crazy over the top price wise. I thought about using some airplane tie down strips, and using cheap Plano storage boxes, or drilling holes into the Ridgid boxes I already owned, then bolting them down. In the end, I chose the Milwaukee Packout storage system.

The Packout system consists of over 20 different stack-able / locking units From large tool boxes, bags, and even a cooler. This system was intended to use on the centering item, a large wheeled tool box, with a telescoping handle, like those on a suitcase. What made me decide on these, is instead of using that big wheeled box, they had a mounting base you bolt down, and can stack off of it. These bases and all packout units have 12 locking slides that hold them in place. Vertically, they can hold over 100 lbs attached to them. Flat mounted, even more, way more.

These can use up to 12 bolts to mount with, but I only used 8 of them. 1/4" x 1.25" bolts and Tee nuts, was the artillery of choice.


1 Packout base mounted.jpg

Tee nuts underneath

2 base mount tee nuts.jpg

I chose the 7" Tool box for this base. This sits on the passenger side, and won't block the entire view out the rear glass. These boxes are weatherproof, UV resistant, and have a gasket sealed lid. The latches are amazing.

2 PO on.jpg

3 packout on.jpg

Like Tony says..... But wait!, there's more!

Why have 1 when you can have 2?

5 both PO bases on.jpg

For the Drivers side, I chose the larger 16" x22" tool box. This one can store 1 qt bottles, and propane bottles stored upright. Because of the large depth to these, they hold a significant amount of gear/tools. large tools will also be stored here as well.

6 Both PO frontal.jpg

7 both PO overhead view.jpg

8 big PO overhead view.jpg

And all 26 of the tee nuts for these and the saddle box.. I need to paint them holes up before install in the rig.

9 PO bases Tee nuts.jpg

Next post will explain the other items you see on the top.

Some reason I quit getting notifications for this thread. Anyway when I bought my used 8.8 with an ARB already installed he gave me about a 10 foot long piece of braided stainless line that went from the solenoid to the axle. So far that section has been problem free. When they install the the ARB ask them what they are torquing the ring gear bolts to Yukon says 60 or 65 and Ford racing says 95-105. I have had the ring gear bolts back out on me twice on two different axles. The last time was a month ago. Neither axle I setup. I did new bolts and torqued to 90lbs. I will be keeping and eye on them.

Yeah, I only get about 10% of my notifications. Might be google not liking the forums certification. Best I can think of, as my settings here are right.

I seen your posts about them backing out on you, and it is definitely a good question to ask the installer. Thanks for the reminder.

The 2nd shop here that does these installs, will not answer, or call back. Covid shutdiwn might have got em?

So now my only choice is the guy with a home shop side bizz that's a month out. Everyone else I know of, is about 230 miles away. Sigh...

Chainsaw storage:

The space left behind the Milwaukee storage cases, was utilized to securely hold the Dewalt 60v 16" chainsaw.

1 Saw open space.jpg

Using Single black E track mounts (4 ea), they was positioned around the saw itself to fit snugly and keep it from moving any direction. A thin-ish rubber mat was placed under the saw, to keep debris/bar oil off the box.

2 saw rear mounts.jpg

3 saw front mounts.jpg

4 saw behind big tool box.jpg

Using stiff adjustable stretch E straps to hold it in place. The entire box moves with the saw when shaking the saw by the handle. It isn't going anywhere, no matter how rough the ride is.

5 saw straped side view.jpg

6 saw strapped rear mounts.jpg

The two big saw batteries and the charger, will stow in one of the Packout's. I still need to buy a spare chain, and bar for it, and store them too.

Hopefully tomorrow, I can bribe a neighbor to lend me a hand for a couple mins to help lift and place this big awkward box into the rig. Still have a couple small things left to do on it, after it's installed. Be glad to have my work space back, clean the gawd awful mess & disarray this has made, and onto the next Mod(s) in waiting.

Time is ticking away, and about 6 weeks left to get everything done on it before my Son arrives, for our long awaited adventure in this rig. Been hammering away since last November preparing for it. If he only knew what it takes, to pull a trip like this one off! lol

Nice work, all of that took a lot of thought and work to do. I'm sure everything you've done will be handy on your trips. Get as much of it together soon and make time to drive the rig around a good bit before the trip. Just put an hour of driving or so into to test things out, even just simple road time will be helpful.

We have one of those saws at work. I am impressed with it. You aren't going to clear a forest but for around camp I can see it being handy. I am thinking about getting a Makita one cause that is what my cordless stuff is.

Shake down runs after major mods are done most of the time, before heading out for a long trip. The current mods have been tested so far, but the adventure trailer still needs a good run done. Haven't been able to get the home made title inspection done on it yet since the state shutdown. Waiting on the Gov to ease up on the restrictions, and allow the sheriff to resume the home visits again. Need to title & tag it still. Crossing fingers this state doesn't go backwards on the restriction levels.

The saw does well for what it is. I used it around the home, cutting fairly large limbs with ease. Perfect for camping use. We can log big limbs for campfire on the trails, and stow in the roof rack, or log dead fall as we need, in primitive sites after hours, without the loud screams of a gas saw. The batteries last way longer than I anticipated. Only used 1/3 of one after a solid hour of cutting. I will also have a hand saw, long split maul axe, and hatchet to compliment the cutting gear. Straps and trucker chain to pull trees from the rear, and the winch/snatch blocks for the front.

Installed the box last weekend. Found out I had to remove the back seat folding flap, to make room for the spare drive shafts that fit between the box and seats.

Removed the box yesterday to remove the flap, and decided to change up the Grill box cutting table mounting design. The newer design will be way better, easier to use, and overall coolness factor increased. lol

Of course, changing up that design, means more work, and more time needed before it gets installed again. Hopefully this weekend. Been slammed with work this week, upper 90's with 80% + humidity, skeeters the size of birds, Thunder storms every afternoon/Evening, has killed my incentive to work on it.

The new Fox 2" extension Eyelets are sitting here, wondering if they will get used or not. I'm torn with this install. Without the trailer, they will work great and give me back my full down travel, but with the trailer, I will lose up travel. I don't want to bottom out these expensive shocks, and bigger bump stops will kinda defeat the purpose.

Trailer will compress the suspension about 1", putting the exposed shaft at 5.5", leaving 4.5" of down travel. Which will work fine for trailer use.

Without the trailer, and unloaded with gear, it has 6.5" of exposed shaft, leaving only 3.5" of down travel.

I measured before & after the box install, and suspension only dropped less than 1/16". I figure after all gear is loaded, it will drop maybe 1/4" total. Add the trailer, and a drop of 1.25", leaving the shocks pretty close to 50/50 shock travel.

So if the trailer is in use 100% of the time on the trails, leaving it as is, will work fine. But.... If I use the trailer as a base camp, and hit the trails without it, I have lost a couple inches of down travel. IFS needs all the rear down travel it can get!

So what to do, what to do? Install the extensions, and use Longer bump stops? Will they hurt or help? Really at a loss here on deciding!

Decisions, decisions... I wish I could help, but IMO there is no right answer other than to set it up for how it will be used the most.:dunno:

Agreed. This trip coming up, the trailer will be used for base camp only. All the trails are tight shelf roads.

Since the trailer will only see highway miles, I might as well install them for this trip.

Changing them back for a future trip of towing on the trails, with camp as we go, won't be that big a deal I guess.

No happy middle ground on some of this stuff, sometimes.

You have been remote camping long enough to know what you need, and what you like, where you need it and where you like it. Making routine camping chores efficient is the key. I think you got this covered.

Other than the few years I owned a 34' Ford Coachman camper, I have only ever tent camped my whole life. This above ground tent camping will be an entirely new experience for me. Not minimal camping by no means, but as close to RV glamping as I want too. This is still going to be work.

The rig is getting minimal camping requirements, with the trailer being used for the main camping gear. This big box build is for camping on it's own, but is also doing multiple duties. Carrying tools, parts, recovery gear, etc...

The roof rack was made to make room inside, to carry bulky items, like a pop up canopy, farm jack, shovel/axe, shower stall, small tables, and a luggage bag for clothing.

I think I have most things covered as said. Idea is to bug out and survive off grid for a little bit if wanted. LOL

So good news this morning. I spent 30 mins on the phone with the gear installer. They welcome the job, and after working out all the details, the rig will be delivered to them in 2 weeks for the ARB install. They was super happy that the pump is already in, and they don't have to mess with that. They said that takes longer to install then the locker does, and dislike doing it. lol

I will have to do a break in on it and change the fluids, even tho they aren't replacing the gears. New bearings need this just like the gears, and I never thought about that. Glad I installed the 8.8 Lube Locker re-usable gasket now. $100 in synthetic fluids for this locker, after the break in change kind of stings, but it isn't something I should cheap out on, so not complaining, just saying!

The brake system will be replaced with the Power stop tow package before the upcoming CO trip, and I'm having the gear shop replace the axle hard line while they are at it.

I completed the cargo box last night. It's ready for final install, but have to wait on help for that. Hopefully this weekend.

It never ends.

With the cargo area shelf and plastic container drawers I put in my Explorer, I can go out remote camping for a week by myself with the dog taking up the back seat, without anything up on the roof that wouldn't normally be up there for a excursion. All I put up there are the HiLift (which lives up there) a pair of recovery tracks, and firewood. The firewood mostly goes up there because I don't want it inside. The recovery tracks usually reside in the cargo area in their carry bag, but get zip-tie'd to the roof rack if I need the space. I have never needed them, but its stupid to go out by yourself and not be prepared for the worst.

I hear you. I have more than needed for sure, but it's all part of feeling safe & comfortable at my age. Rather have, then not have, and wish I had.

Firewood on the roof is a must. No way that nasty stuff goes inside! lol I have a cargo basket for the trailer roof that is intended to store and transport fire wood as well. Just use a bungee net to hold it all in place.

The long set of recovery tracks are also stored on the inside wall of the roof rack. I have a set of re-usable twisty dealio's for them. Wire wrapped with silicone jackets, and an eyelet on one end. They wrap around anything tightly, and twist them tight like a bread tie, to secure. Easy peasy.

I do want to fabricate a swing down table on the backside of tire carrier like @BKennedy has, someday. If I ever decide to relocate the tag to the back of the bumper, I could weld up a Jerry can mount too. That is one thing this rig doesn't have, is a good place for spare fuel. I won't put it on the roof, as I don't feel safe with it up there.

Projects do keep us out of trouble, but I still get nagged.

Those tables were fairly easy. I just used a piano hinge from the local Home Depot, cut the table tops to fit and spot welded them on. The hardest part was figuring out what to rest the tables on when folded down. I didn't want to use cables because they get in the way so I made up these screw in rests.

Takes about a minute to set up both tables. I am interested to see what you would come up for a table rest.

I'm a lone wolf pretty much. My projects keep me busy, and safe at home. My social life is way way different now, than in my early days. I hear you guys on that big time. Lol

Thanks for the picture and description on the table.

Off the top of my head, I am thinking long, low psi air props for table supports. They would hold tight in both up, and down placements, and a simple clamp latch to secure it. Just an idea for now.

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Wasn't happy with the grill box cutting board design at all. Too much work and was kind of awkward to set up. So as mentioned before, I changed it up.

So instead of flipping it over on a set of hinges in the front, and needing big brace supports, I made it simply slide in & out.

I had some 24" 100# full extension slides handy, which worked out perfectly. I had just enough left over 2" Aluminum angle for this as well.

It was not an easy change up to do. The middle wall in the box had to be removed and relocated outward a 1/4" to get the slides to fit. Well, actually the nuts on the mounting bolts. This in turn created a domino effect, and the fridge slide had to adjusted for the loss of that 1/4". I was able to slot the bolt holes on the aluminum angles with a small burr bit. Of course, it needed more paint after the move too. The drawer face had to be cut into to allow the new slides to pass through. That made the edges thinner than I liked for longevity. I trimmed the drawer edges out with more aluminum angles to fortify, and keep it safe. Ok, I think that is all I did? Pfftt... I'm sure I'm forgetting something. The heat here has zapped my Chooch pretty much.

And then..... I took pictures, including all my greezy sweaty hand prints all over, it after working on it.

Latched on the front edge to the drawer face when closed.

Box done front.jpg

Cutting board 1.jpg

Cutting board 2.jpg

Cutting board 3.jpg

Cutting board 4.jpg

Cutting board 5.jpg

Got the upper drawer liner in.

Top drawer liner.jpg

Fridge slide installed

Fridge slide out.jpg

Fridge slide out side view.jpg

Some final touches on the exterior, was next on the to Chooch list.