Tom's '97 XLT registry | Page 8 | 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)

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.

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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EXCELLENT looking rig good sir. :thumbsup:

You, Paraphoe and I may have the long lost Triplet Explorers... lol

One question, Who made that bumper? I HAVE to have one.

^Thats funny because your 2 Explorers were what I kept referring to as I got started.

The bumper was made by a local guy. I found him on Craigslist. He runs a welding business out of his house. He builds a lot of bumpers, sliders and other truck related stuff. He also does non-automotive welding. You might be able to find a similar business in your area.

Do you think maybe you could PM me some contact info? I'd like to get in touch to see if I can maybe work somethin out with him. That thing just looks siick!


Storage box

I've been looking for an Action Packer for awhile, but they are hard to find. I found this box from Plano at a local farm and ranch store.

I went from this:

Notice all the loose items that can bounce around on the trail (can, but haven't..... Yet)

To this:


The box is held down with 2 ratchet straps. The lid is hinged and has some clamp latches.

I like it.


"Snow" Wheeling!

Well, if it's not going to snow here this winter, might as well get out and hit some trails.

theluke19, me, my usual 4 wheeling buddy and a brand new Rubicon (owned for about 2 weeks and less than 700 miles on the odometer) headed out for some trails near the area of the fires in Colorado Springs that made the news last year. We started out on Illinois Gulch. This trail was pretty easy but it was fairly smooth instead of some of the insanely rocky trails that are around here. This trail is known for one particular obstacle- Mini Moab or Moab Hill. It's an area on red sandstone similar to what is found in Moab. I nosed into the hard way up the obstacle just to see if I could make it:


Close. If I stacked some rocks, I could have probably made it. But if I got up this, there were a couple more steps to deal with. Everyone in the group decided not to attempt it. But there are other lines up this optional obstacle to the right and to the left. I went up he right side.






Thanks to theluke19 for the awesome pics.

We later hit Balanced Rock Road and found some snow. We didn't make it to the end of the trail but we got close. We were running out of daylight and the trail was headed down the mountain and what little snow that was on the trail was slippery and we were sliding going down the trails. But going back up was fine- actually pretty fun. I was climbing sideways a few times but the tires kept clawing away and I climbed up and out. No pics.

Great day on the trails. The weather was perfect- 50s and sunny with no wind.

Looking really good Tom- nice pics! :thumbsup:


I sat in this update for over a month.

I decided to add a CB radio to my truck. Why, with FRS radios being cheaper and easier to use? I don't really know. A couple other rigs in my usual group also have them (theluke19) being one of them. Maybe because I never have to worry about having batteries in good condition to use the CB radio, or having to remember to pack them before a trip. Plus I dropped an FRS in a lake on the last trip of 2012. So I went with a Midland 1001 LWX- with weather scan. I also went with a 4 foot Firestick antenna.

I tried to find a spot to put it in the interior but couldn't really decide on a good spot. I'd seen the stealthy install using the Kleenex box location and really liked it- so I went with it. A little trimming here and there, some test fitting and a little more trimming and I got it to fit great:

I also got a 90 degree mic connector from a local CB shop so it would clear the center console. I can then route the mic cord out the front of the console and close the lid. The speaker is plenty loud.

Not shown is the 90 degree connector I also picked up for the antenna where it plugs into the back of the radio. With the straight connector, the radio wouldn't sit low enough. The whole thing is held in place with nothing but some friction.

For the antenna mount I went with the fender style hood mount. I'm not 100% happy with this location, but it will do for now. The 4 foot antenna might have been a little long- it hits basically every branch overhanging the trail. Because of this and rocking back and forth on the trail, the antenna really sways from side to side. I may change the location to either he front or rear bumper at some point.


Tie Down Points

I've been wanting to add additional tie down points in the back for awhile now- one of the reasons why I got rid of that cargo organizer. I went to the local pick'n'pull and picked up some factory tie downs. I know I could do better by getting some kind of aftermarket tie down, but these are easy. Plus I figure with a BIG fender washer on the backside, there's no chance these will pull through.

The factory tie downs have a little tab on them that I cut off:

Now they will sit flush on the cargo floor.

Started with the 4 factory tie downs:

Pulled up the carpet and drilled the floor for the 4 new tie downs I picked up. I sealed the holes with some black RTV and used some grade 8.8 metric fasteners (M6 thread) with some lock washers and big fender washers. Installing it all by myself was interesting. I had to figure out a way to keep the bolt from spinning as I tightened the nut from underneath.

2 are installed right in the middle and the other 2 are off to the side at the front. I couldn't go much more outboard because the frame comes right right around there.

But the end result is going from having my cargo box strapped down like this:

Which while this gave me great access to the box, it divided the cargo area and made getting to anything in front of it difficult- had to go over the seats to get to it.

Now it sits like this:

I think this will work much better.

I think I may still need one more on centerline right in the middle.

So after a day of wheeling in some sloppy snow/mud, this is what my Explorer looks like afterward:

I think I need to look into those "city bus flares". The passenger side is worse- to the point that I can't really see out of the windows. If I was in high school, this would be like a badge of honor, but I've been out of high school almost longer than I had been alive when I graduated.

The truck was clean at the start of the day. The other rigs in the group that have their tires covered barely look like the went wheeling.

Here's some more pics of the filth that covered the truck:


And there's more on the roof. I'm really not into spending an hour washing my truck after each time I go wheeling and I'm not into leaving a dirty truck.


City Bus Flare (aka Flexy Flares) installed!.

Finally got them installed. It's not an easy process to do by yourself, but it is possible. Mine turned out OK- the parts I'm not happy with you couldn't see from 5 feet away, so I guess it's not too bad.

Before I could start, I had to fix my wheel well liner from when I cut the fender to allow for the 33s to fit.


As you can see, the tire has a clear shot to cover the door hinges in sand and mud. The passenger door is worse and now it opens with a gritty sound.

I used some Rally Armor universal mudflaps I had laying around and some drywall anchor screws and "anchored" the new liner to the existing liner. After this picture, I added an additional screw to keep it from pivoting about this single screw.


The flares went on fairly easy. I stuck the straw of some silicone spray and shot it in the hole for the metal wire on the flare- this allowed the wire to feed into the flare nice and easy. To install the flare, I held it in place with one hand and drilled a pilot hole with the other. I started at the middle and worked my way to the ends. I made some small triangular cuts in the backside of the flare to help it follow the contour. The thick rubber actually cuts easily with even a dull razor blade. Once installed, the excess is cut off- I had to use a Dremel to cut the metal wire- dykes or linesman pliers don't have what it takes, bolt cutters would probably work.




These are the best pics I have so far. As you can see from the following, it was dark and snowing outside when I finished. I'll have better pics later when I go on the next trail run in a couple weeks.

And as a teaser, I mounted my KChilites to my bumper bars. I haven't hooked up the electrical yet. I had to get some 1.5" bar clamp mount (I went the PIAA mounts since KC wanted like $22 each for theirs- I got the PIAAs for $22 total) and then I had to enlarge the hole slightly and grind part of the round disc that is part of the light mount. But other than that- it's like they were made for each other!


I'll be curious to see how these work and if they keep the muck off my truck.

And I need to clean my garage......

Man, I really love what you've done with the explorer.

The flares have grown on me. From a distance, they look a lot like the Eddie Bauer flares. These will at least offer a little forgiveness if I get too close to a rock or tree- although not much! I still need to possibily do something about the end transitions on the front- like what I did on the front side of the rear flares. Right now the fronts are at 90 degree cuts. And on the back side of the front flares, they stop pretty high because of the fender trimming I had to do- that piece of metal that folds under is gone and that's what the flares mount to. I have some more of those Rally Armor mud flaps and could make an extension off the wheel well liner. I'll probably wait and see what happens after the next trail run. With all the snow we've been getting lately, it's very possible that it will be muddy.


Lefthand Canyon

The planned April 4wheeling trip took us to Lefthand Canyon. It's an OHV area (it's not really a "park"- just a bunch of forest roads all in one area with some map kiosks here and there). It's right outside of Boulder so we figured we better do it before it gets really crowded during the nicer months. It's open all year round too so have to keep it in mind for next winter. Most of the usual group bailed and it was just me and the Lexi-cruiser seen in all my other wheeling trips.

To test out my new wheel flares, I drove through a couple puddles fast. They work....... OK. If I don't go fast, they should be better. This is after a couple.... it gets worse during the day.



It was a little hazy but KS is off in the distance:





This is the only pic I have that shows how well the flares "work":

But to be fair, I did hit the water pretty fast. Next time I'll go slower..... Maybe.....

The overall area was fun. My lack of rear locker made driving up certain sections fairly challenging (but fun!). Some careful line selection, some wheel spin and momentum will get you up and over most things on the trail. It's probably the most challenging trails I've done.

I'll update when I get the pics from his camera of my rig in action.


Bumper Dumper!

While 4wheeling in February, my daughter had to go #2. Now while that's a skill everyone should master, I want to be able to do my business and not have to balance.


Made in the USA- except for the toilet seat that comes with it.

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I actually just started reading this morning, I'm going to get a SUV next year and I really like the explorer. I really like the mods you've done and I'm going to keep reading as you post new stuff.