The "Squirrel" goes under the knife... | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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The "Squirrel" goes under the knife...


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Elite In Memoriam
March 4, 2007
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City, State
anaheim hills,california
Year, Model & Trim Level
95 ranger 4x4/ 91 X 4x4
...This is a progressive thread of suspension work progress getting done to my Ranger in order to get ready for the Truckhaven 2010 run in October which is in a little over 2 months...:D

..95 Ranger 4x4 2.3L, the rest can be found in the link found in my signature..;)

...My Ranger has been my daily driver and it really hasn't been modified in 3 years...Needless to say, the task as a DD work truck and taking it offroad and beating on it some has taken it's toll on most all of the stock and last upgraded parts so it's time to do some upgrades...

...For this build, my thoughts are to still keep it pretty much stock looking, but trying to stay stealth as in not getting bigger tires or anymore height, and keeping my deerhooves on as long as they still fit...I plan to get more flex (both up and down, front and rear), and most importantly, getting the truck back up to the height it was 3 years ago while doing basically upgrades on what needs maintenance...

...Everything that can sag has sagged, ra's have wore out the bushings and the stock ra cross member, pass side has increased it's pos camber because drivers side coil is now about 1/2" shorter while rear springs and AAL have headed south, all leaving me with tires now heading in their own directions and now self clearancing body metal at all 4 corners...:(

...On one of the last Truckhaven runs I did a couple upgrades which lead to the development of these projects...Thanks to DB_1 I added his old front bumper for more ground clearance and better approach angles...Next, I traded him out for his old version #2 or #3, tranny cross member with integrated 2.63" joint pockets with 3/4" bolt holes...Thank you Dave, I'm putting them to good use...:salute:...Oh, I then added my Ballistic Battery box and Optima battery...

...If the economy ever straightens out, these new mods will be replaced with a different set up and a future mod within two years...;)

...Some of the new parts going on the Ranger...

BTF custom extended RA's
Schedule .120 DOM I believe..(Maybe Brandon can jump in with the specs...:scratch: )

Ballistic Fab parts
2 = Forged Chromoly 2.63" Ballistic Joint
Bearing thru hole: 5/8''
Stud diameter / Thread Pitch: 1.0'' - 14 tpi
Thread direction: Right hand thread
Nylatron Race: Billet (solid) -
with zerks and a spandrel tool...yea baby...:biggthump

2 = 1.0" -14 tpi Tube Adapter = Tube Inner & Outer Diameters: Size 1: 1.25 in ID - 1.5 in OD
2 = JAM-715 - 1.0" -14 tpi Jam Nut
4 = Reducer Spacer Size: 3/4" to 5/8"

...1" stud Ballistic joint I'm using on left and old style 3/4" stud ballistic joint shown on right...

...F250 Shock Towers..
P/N E5TZ-18183A for Heavy duty F-250's

...Superlift Coil Springs...
...Thanks Hanzo Steel for these..:salute:..These are the ones for a 4.0L - 2" weight = 15-3/4"....compressed = 13-1/4"

...Chevy 1.2 ton 63 inch springs..aka 63's...
..Easily available and replacable as they are from years 82-current I believe...:scratch:

...Onto the operation...:hammer:

...I did these in this order as I forgot the stock coil seats in the back of my Explorer and rushing to get mod time in between my jobs..:rolleyes:...I am still using the stock pitman arm and axle pivot brackets the truck came with...;)


...First a comparison shot of the stock and custom RA's...After installing these I learned about the teeter effect and C.O.G. from front to rear on my Ranger while trying to place jackstands to mount them...:eek:



...Pulling the RA out...Stock coil is shown with with F150 coil seat mounted under it...The limiting factor has always been the front drive shaft on the RA cross member but on the drivers side, it is now only the Brake line...Stock front brake lines on this are about 24"..

...I chose to drill my rivets out but this is not how I did it...I do not drill straight thru as shown here, but will update this info when I mount my 63's..;)

...Pic of the RA mounted while still running the stock coil and F150 coil seats...

...Picks of the new RA's installed...:D


...Parts heading to the parts pile at the end of day one...Shocks to be re-installed day two when coils go on as I need to measure and get bolts and washers from the hardware store...

...My current front shocks..

...These are procomp and they measure about 14" collapsed and 21" expanded..


...Some measurement pics before I take the stock coils and F150 coil seats off..Drivers side measured 13 1/4"..

..Passenger side measured 13 3/4"...

..Stock coil buckets...

...Measurement for future reference about 7 1/4"..

Drivers side marking is different and common on the Rangers as it only says 4x4...

Passenger side...

...Pics of the new Superlift coils and no more F150 coil seats...Both sides measured 13 1/4" after driving around...


...Day 2 parts heading to the parts pile..


...Quick summary...


..After day 1 I drove about ten miles to get a listen and feel...Initially they were noisy like stake bed truck gates but I did some extra umph tightening and closed the beam pockets up, tightened the jam nuts after repositioning the RA's, joints, and mis-aligns, and the noise was gone..I think the added snugness of the 3/4"-5/8" reducers took out any slop that a normal shoulder bolt would have normally..

...Ballistic Joints...

...So far They are perfect and I've aimed at all the rough spots and pot holes I can find so far and no noise transfer as of yet...I am surprisingly happy with these as they seem to be as quiet (so far) as the stock RA's with rubber bushings..

...Superlift Coils...
...As mentioned, these are for a 4.0L and you would think they would squat less with the 2.3L motor..I was really hoping they would measure compressed the same or a hair taller then the stock coil springs with the F150 coil seats..They measured a hair short which is ok for now..

...The specs mentioned above in the parts list and coil spring part numbers were verified over the phone with Superlift..I have a feeling these will start squatting real quick after a few trail runs so I will be keeping an eye on them..

..As for comparison to the stock coils with the coil seats...These coils seem unbelievably soft and pretty flexy for what they are known to be..:dunno:


...I really like the softer ride and I know the front end has more up and down travel...The only real concerns I have is how the coil springs will hold up over time...I'm going to be bummed if the start squatting within 6 months to a year..

...Still need to get list to complete the front end...

..Brake lines..I priced these out locally from race and pro shops (Cars not dirt trucks)...I am searching for 30"-32" brake lines and have been quoted $85-$100 bucks..Will start looking for F series options...

..Shocks after I mount the shock towers...Length to be determined then..

...Camber bushing for the pass side...Right now I'm running 2.75* and I'm thinking I'll need a 3.25* for pass side...

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...Drilling for the leaf spring hanger relocation is serious business and extra care should be taken as you are drilling around and possibly into, live fuel lines and electrical...


..Before starting this part or adding any other so called bolt on parts, these come in real handy and will save you a bunch of time and the money several broken drill bits will cost you..

..I bought both, a cheap set, and a somewhat expensive step drill bit...

...This 3 pc. from Harbor Freight with pouch was about $10 bucks on sale..

..This one bit was $35 from Lowes and they had a 3 pc. set for about $70..


...Rear springs...

...Here is a pic of the passenger side spring hanger with the old rivets left in for location identification...:D

...You move the hanger forward by referencing the bottom left hole on the passenger side...(Red "O" represents old location and green "O" represents new location)..The bottom left hole now moves over to where the bottom right hole (bolt/rivet) location was, and then you need to drill the other 3 new bolt locations in the frame...

..I used 7/16 x 1-1/4" bolts

..This is how it works on a standard cab only

..This is how it is done for extra cab Rangers while still trying to keep the integrity of the rear body mount..
...I took these pics while 90Ranajo was doing his chevy springs..He modified the body mount with the grinder..:biggthump

..Note: He wound up using 1/2" bolts (rivet hole size) and 1 bolt on each side is longer. This is needed as there is a cross member inside the rails of the extra cab that needs to share the same hole...Also, you need to turn the hangers on the extra cab (due to the radius arc on the frame) in order to mount the bolts to the frame..

..Passenger side..

..Drivers side..


..A couple pics for comparison of both a Chevy 63" with stock Chevy Shackle (which works as a Ranger replacement shackle), and my old stock Ranger springs with AAL and 8" o.c. shackle..


..These springs have about a 10-1/2" arc..

..Which moved me back up from bout 36 1/2" to about 38 1/2"...


1)...I was hoping I could use the stock shackle and was thinking since I heard these 63's give you 3" of lift I could but, I had to re-use my 8" o.c. shackles to get the same amount of lift plus an inch over what I had at sag height..:(

1b)...I also did not use the longer Chevy overload (no overload at all now) as I heard they made the on road ride rough and limited the offroad flex...They are really long and need to be cut down to begin with..I also could have got another 1/2"-3/4" of height if I did use them...

2)...The Ranger spring is a one direction spring meaning it can only fit on the truck one way...It is 57" from eye to eye but from the front eye to center bolt it is 25" and from center bolt to rear eye it is 32"

2b)...The Chevy spring can fit either way and it measures 32" from center bolt to either eye...;)

Parking Brake temp fix...

...I needed a parking brake and since I haven't installed sliders yet, I needed to make something up quick so I would at least have use of it for Daily Driver duty...

..I ran to the local steel yard and bought a piece of scrap 1/4" x 2" already cut to 8"...This worked out perfect as I needed to drill holes 6" on center and a 5/8" bolt and washers...Some quick fab work and...:hammer:

...I used the complete parking brake bracket and it had an "L" lip on it which after bolting on keeps the bracket from rotating on the 1/4" scrap...I slid the 1/4" scrap all the way into the "L" lip and it fit perfect..I circled the hole location of the parking brake bracket onto the scrap then drilled it out...Next I centered a bolt for the front spring hanger 6" away...


...I rotated the square cut end of the scrap to align with the angle on the spring hanger...In this pic you can see a couple of the 4-5 tack welds used to keep this end of bracket from rotating and also gives clearance to the rear parking brake bracket bolt which is now located above the rear spring..

...This view is looking forward from over the u bolts...There is still clearance (due to the angle) for the bolt end to miss the springs during up travel on top of the spring...

...In Hindsight:

..All this work I just did on the front coil springs and rear leaf springs netted me exactly, the same amount of lift I had 3 years ago with the F150 coil seats, AAL's, and shackles..:rolleyes:...But it is a softer ride while still handling the same load while being a bit more flexy..:biggthump

...Shock towers and shocks...


...I did manage to install my Freebie, "Go Fast Pedals"...The camera didn't get it right but they are all bright yellow pads...With the metal and rubber traction pads on them, I am hoping these will reduce the foot slippage when wheeling in the mud and snow..;)

...Brake lines...

...I went and bought some custom made 3/8" braided brake lines Friday and installed them today...This is the first set I had replaced in a long time and IIRC, Ford use to use a "U" shaped spring clip to retain the brake line...This newer style gave me some troubles until I figured it out...BTW, the Haynes manual isn't worth a darn when it comes to this clip...:thumbdwn:


...This is how it fits on the stock brake line behind the coil bucket...You first remove the line behind the coil bucket and unhook the spring clip from over the fitting and then pull it out...


...My stock 4x4 brake lines measured 24" eye to eye and the new brake lines measure 30"..Note..Ford is notorious for using different fittings even on the same model/yr vehicle so verify yours before swapping brake lines..Mine happen to even be the same parts on both sides...

...Here are some pics of the difference in parts just for reference...


...This little tool comes in handy to keep your reservoir and lines full while swapping brake lines out..;)

...I wish they had these in black...:(

...Camber bushing...

...and finally, the alignment....


...^^^Them theres are kin of mine..:D

..First pics will be coming up shortly...:biggthump

I think the reason he has not posted pics or a follow up is due to the time to make his posts looks so professonal :D
I'm subscribing so I can learn to post like he does :D

And his build, ya... subscribing to that also :thumbsup:

One question I do have, on a scale from 1 to 10, this is a 1 question.

Where you have Naylatron race. Should that just be race and then Billet?

Because Naylatron is a molybdenum disulfide lubricant powder in embedded in plastic. I know, I gogged it ha ha

......If the economy ever straightens out, these new mods will be replaced with a different set up and a future mod within two years...;)

Then these will be moved to your new daily driver, right? ;)

...Sorry guys, been busy with work stuff and it keeps interfering with my projects...:thumbdwn:

...As for the "Nylatron Race: Billet (solid) ", I just copy/pasted it from my online order form...:dunno:

...I did however update what I've got done so far and I hope I can meet your expectations with this thread...To most on here this is a pretty simple build but I'm hoping this may inspire others to take the next step on modifying their trucks...:hammer:

...I'm not doing anything that hasn't been done on here before, I'm just trying to do it all at one time and to record it here in one place...:biggthump

...Looks like it may be a week or two before the next update but I am anxious to get this done asap...:burnout:

I may have missed it, but are you re-using the stock coil buckets? If so, what is the benefit of using the F250 shock towers? Why no custom hoops?

...Section, first reason is this is somewhat of a poorman's project build...You ask a little early on this as I haven't installed them yet but will try and answer your questions...

...I am for now still keeping the stock buckets and I have distant plans of what will be for this truck rolling around in my head..:confused:..The new buckets, hoops and etc. will come in a future mod...For now, the shock towers will give me a better centering on my shock movement and won't be the limiting factor in either the up or down travel as it has been in the past...

...My up travel has increased some but for this build the droop that the Rangers don't have stock will be more of the goal...The towers will also be bolted and probably have some angles welded on them to limit their movement...This set of towers will probably be tossed when I move on to the next build...At about $35 bucks a pair from Ford, they are cheap enough to cut and manipulate for this project..

...If time and money permits before Truckhaven. the stock coil buckets will get a mod of their own but, you will need to be at Truckhaven to see it...:p:

..Brian...Are you looking more for how the joint and it's zerk fit in the pocket???..If so, I will get picks of them tomorrow...

..The new Ballistic joint is almost shoe horned in and thought I need to either do some grinding to it or it would have to do some of it's own clearancing...It actually fit's perfect and there's not a clearancing mark on them yet...They couldn't have made them a 1/16" bigger or they wouldn't have fit and the zerk won't have trouble in hitting the pocket...Protection on the trail is another thing...

...I do know that you have pics of the pockets and tranny crossmember from the Mojave trip...;)

...Brian...Are you looking more for how the joint and it's zerk fit in the pocket???..If so, I will get picks of them tomorrow...

No, I just want to see the relation of where the radius arm is vs. the bracket and the frame and what your clearance looks like now with the arms on. And yes, I have plenty of pics of your bracket, don't really need any more of it.

Brake Lines

Russell (now owned by Edelbrock) makes a lot of brake line components - ends, lines of different lengths, etc.

You might have better luck "building" brake lines over trying to find one the length you need with the ends you need.

I'm planning on using their stuff when I plumb the rear discs on the '06 (and I'm thinking about replacing the 14+ year old S/S braided extended lines on the '93.)

Next, I traded him out for his old version #2 or #3, tranny cross member with integrated 2.63" joint pockets with 3/4" bolt holes...Thank you Dave, I'm putting them to good use...:salute:...

4 = Reducer Spacer Size: 3/4" to 5/8"

Glad you are putting this to good use Ted:thumbsup:

Just curious, how did you deal with the 3/4" holes in the radius arm brackets?
Keep up the good work:cool:

...No typo...These are exactly what I used and this pic is from Ballistic...

Features a 1/4" thick boss and 3/16" shoulder.
...These are on the outside of the pockets going into the 3/4" hole, where they meet up with the mis-aligns..Before/after everything got bolted up, the snug fit was sweet...:biggthump

...I will be posting pics for Brian this eve and you can see them in the pics...I haven't painted up everything yet so they are easily seen...

...No typo...

Sorry, I fixed my post before you posted yours:p:

Looks like a solid fix though, I was going to tell you about some similar weld washers that Kartek has but they are $25 for a pack of 4:eek:
I guess if you're Camburg and make them out of cro-mo you can charge what you want.

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I would like to see some pictures of the new RA crossmember.

Also, would like to a picture of the cut coil bucket.

(You're slacking off here. Oh, and I did find the restaurant. I only passed by a half mile!)