Tom's '97 XLT registry | Page 21 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Tom's '97 XLT registry

Here's my registry. It's not going to really serve as much of a build log or anything, just to help keep track of the (minor) things I do to it along the way.
(Edit: yeah, that all turned out to not be true...... Keep reading to see what I mean)


This is my 1997 XLT. I bought it on 10/13/2010 with 117,500 miles for $2000. It has the SOHC V6, 3.55 rear end and the "Controltrac 4 wheel drive".

This is basically as it was when I brought it home:


Interior shots:PG[/IMG]
(lost photos)

Features:
side-step boards
6,000 lb receiver
Ford mudflaps (removed)
hood wind/bug deflector

This Explorer wasn't abused- just a little neglected. The interior is in good shape. The paint isn't in horrible shape- some dings and scratches here and there. All-in-all, good shape for a 13 year old vehicle.

Issues:
cracked and pitted windshield (fixed via post 61)
inoperable 3rd brake light (fixed via post 68)
inoperable fog lights (DS housing is smashed on backside and button on dash does not illuminate) (removed)
poor heater output (fixed via post 3)
coolant temp gauge not moving much (fixed via post 3)
pulsing front brakes (fixed via post 2)
slightly sagging rear end (fixed via post 7)
weak hood lift struts (fixed via post 5)
weak glass lift struts
weak tailgate lift struts
broken driver's seat recline handle (fixed via post 8)
leaking rear transfer case output seal (fixed via post 23)
worn shocks (fixed via post 7)
alignment out-of-whack (fixed via post 12)
lack of engine power (fixed via post 3)

So basically from here on out, this registry will be dedicated to how I have breathed some life back into this thing and some adventures along the way. I've already addressed some of the issues mentioned above. I'll try to post as many pictures as I can, but I know I've already failed on some.
 



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With my bump steer under control and with better shocks, my on road driving was pretty decent. But still wasn’t great. Ever since I got 35s (spring 2019), I have been running without sway bars. Works pretty good offroad (although a little tippy here and there), the on road performance was less than confidence inspiring. Now when I hit a bump (or a yump for you rally fans) at speed, the steering wheel didn’t move, but the body rocked back and forth excessively.

I’ve been looking at sway bar options. A Currie Anti-Rock would be great, but from my research, their shortest bar is still too wide for the Explorer’s frame rails. Not by much, but enough that some fabrication would need to take place in order to mount the bar’s end supports. While this issue isn’t dead, I decided to focus on a rear sway bar instead.

Problem is, my rear axle doesn’t have much room for a factory sway bar anymore.
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But, a factory sway bar has a width that works great between the frame if you attach the end links to the axle instead of the bar. So I got a sway bar from a ‘98 Explorer. There are some minor differences over the years, but I don’t think it matters much for what I’m doing.

I designed a plate that goes between the frame rails that has 2 drop legs to mount the sway bar bushing attach brackets to. And of course I welded on some attach points on the axle.

The result is great. So much less body roll on the street. It’s easier (and safer) to drive now. It’s less fatiguing. And the offroad performance hasn’t been hurt- it may actually help with traction. A front sway bar might be in my future as well. Need a thing or 2 before that can happen.

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Some of you may have heard there was an eclipse recently. Being from Colorado, it was going to be a bit of drive to go see it (roughly 1000 miles each way). Being that it was a Monday during the school year I didn’t have high hopes of making the trip, but about Wednesday before, we started putting pen to paper to make plans.

One of the first decisions was which vehicle to take: my Explorer or my 2014 Expedition. The Expedition would have been supremely more comfortable and got better gas mileage. But the Explorer is sort of set up for this. I really hate the word “overlanding” but this was going to be an “overlanding” trip. Plus the pictures along the way would be cooler with the Explorer!!

We set off and fought fierce cross winds in eastern CO and western KS. The wind was blowing the dust so bad that I-70 was closed and we were forced onto side roads for about 100 miles. The route finding that we were doing was a lot of fun. Most of these side roads were dirt. The Expedition does well on dirt, but the Explorer shines. These dirt roads in western KS were awesome! 60-65 mph no sweat.

We finally rejoined the interstate and made our way to Wilson, KS. We stopped by the world’s largest Czech egg before heading out to Wilson Lake State Park. I’m not a huge fan of camping in state parks, but this park offers primitive camping, so it wasn’t all paved roads and designated tent areas. We actually camped RIGHT on the beach of the lake. I’ve wanted to camp next to a lake for a long time. Had to drive to KS to do it.

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The next day we drove down to Coronado Heights near Lindsburg, KS. There is a neat old “castle” from 1541 atop a lone hill in the middle of flat KS. History in this part of the country doesn’t really date back very far because most structures were wooden and there just weren’t a whole lot of people in this area back then.
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The next stop was near Pittsburgh, KS at Big Brutus. This thing was awesome! 11 million pounds when in operation. The museum also offers primitive camping for $8- which includes flushing toilets and a shower. Worth it.
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The next day was Eclipse Day. Our selected viewing area was Russellville, AR. We arrived in town in the early stages of the eclipse. I fueled up beforehand because I knew afterwards was going to be a mess. I had been using my jerry cans to supplement the main tank during the trip because gas mileage was pretty crappy: 9-12 mpg. At this fillup, I discovered that my original jerry can had a split in the metal near the bottom. Great. And the main tank was full so I had to wait about 75 miles….

We found a church lawn to park for the eclipse. I set up the awning as we waited for totality. Not sure why. Maybe just so hauling it 1/3 across the country wasn’t for nothing.

Totality was cool (it’s my 2nd time). Packed up and left. We avoided I-40 and took a different highway. It might have been faster, but we ran into plenty of traffic there too.

Drove thru Paris….. Arkansas. They have an Eifel Tower. Didn’t stop though.

Ate dinner out of the back of the Explorer at a truck stop outside of Tulsa. But then drove all the way back to Wilson Lake State Park. Pulled around 12:30am. Hard landing if I’ve ever had one. Didn’t go back to our lake side spot we had 2 nights earlier.

The next day was just back home. We did stop at Monument Rocks near Oakley, KS. Pretty cool.

What I learned from this trip:
Cooper STT Pros are loud on the highway
75 mph equals 9 mpg
70 mph equals 12 mpg
The rear sway bar is a lifesaver
I’d like a front sway bar
The battery protection on the fridge set to high is too much- medium is probably what I need
I need all terrain tires, the Coopers are just too loud
The gas gauge drops really quick under 1/4 tank
I’m not convinced that my front shocks aren’t blown out.

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Looks like it was a fantastic trip!! Got some nice pictures too!! Camping on lake sides is freaking awesome, never been on one like that though, that looks great!! Glad ya got the chance to go see it, I tried but a co-worker quit a few weeks ago, so I couldn't get the time off, still had that day though so I just went up to a local park with my girlfriend and we watched and took pictures. Good info on those Coopers by the way, almost bought those for the Rado, and now I'm glad I didnt!!
 






Your rig would be perfect for the toyo r/t trail it is an aggressive at available in 8 and 10 ply

The rear sway bar is forcing the front end to work harder / flex

Thanks for sharing! Nice rig and trip!
 






Good info on those Coopers by the way, almost bought those for the Rado, and now I'm glad I didnt!!

The tires are great offroad and not terrible on short pavement drives. But hours on end at interstate speeds…… little much.
 






The tires are great offroad and not terrible on short pavement drives. But hours on end at interstate speeds…… little much.
So maybe not such a bad deal, long as it ain't a daily! Which mine currently is, so still kinda glad. Long as they do as asked though, I don't see a problem! Wish mine didn't grab as many rocks as they do, they're fantastic at grabbing and throwing rocks! lol
Ya definitely could use a second set of A/Ts, so whenever ya have a long drive planned, swap those in
 






Your rig would be perfect for the toyo r/t trail it is an aggressive at available in 8 and 10 ply

The rear sway bar is forcing the front end to work harder / flex
I checked out the Toyo’s. Unfortunately they don’t come in 15s. Not saying I’m going to be rocking 15s forever, but for now that’s what I’ve got.

And as far as the shocks/sway bar, the shocks feel bad even on evenly loaded bumps. I haven’t confirmed they are bad yet, but it’s possible.
 






ive been in rigs with the fallen wild peak RT or wild peak at4 or whatever its called are supposed to be good options too.
 






I checked out the Toyo’s. Unfortunately they don’t come in 15s. Not saying I’m going to be rocking 15s forever, but for now that’s what I’ve got.

And as far as the shocks/sway bar, the shocks feel bad even on evenly loaded bumps. I haven’t confirmed they are bad yet, but it’s possible.
I looked at a lot of tires trying to do that same thing, I wanted to keep my 15s, but only way to do that on the rado was either smaller tires or 14.5 wides, which was not happening...! the 13.5 wides already are a tight fit lol
But yeah, I wanted to as well, but ended up being stuck on 17s, but overall not too unhappy with the look! Long as there's more tire than wheel in the ratio, I'd say you're doing good! Besides, if it's going to be long travel tires, ya won't use 'em quite as much and therefore, hopefully wont mind a slightly larger wheel for a temporary time. Toyos definitely ain't a bad brand, if I did go with the 37x14.5r15s, that was the brand.

Sounds like time to test I guess, don't hurt to try replacing 'em anyway
 






ive been in rigs with the fallen wild peak RT or wild peak at4 or whatever its called are supposed to be good options too.
Those are some good ones too! Liking my Radar Renegade R/Ts so far too, no complaints at all besides the fact they grab rocks like no ones business
 






17 is the new 15
 






17 is the new 15
Sadly enough, honestly now having them I really don't mine the 17s, I still got way more rubber than wheel, so I don't mind. But I do like my teeny tiny 15s lol
 






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