Travis' 94 - The Culmination! | Page 3 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Travis' 94 - The Culmination!

Thanks for checking out my thread!

I've owned about a dozen 1st & 2nd gen Explorers over the last 8 years. I've done Dana 44's on a 1st gen, coilovers on a 2nd gen, uniball uppers, leveling kits, lift kits, fabricated a handful of front ends, shock hoops, bedcages, the list goes on and on. For my latest truck, I began my search towards the end of last summer & actually started out looking for a 2nd gen, (I really like the ones with the AC in the center console). Thankfully this truck was not needed as a daily driver, so I was able to take my time. I happen to stumble across this extremely clean 1st gen that reminded me so much of my favorite Explorer, which was also a white 94 with black wheels. I could not pass this truck up. Here in Southern California, these trucks are getting very, very tough to come by, and this was one of the cleanest 1st gens I have ever seen. Here are the specs:

1994 XLT
218,000 miles without a rear main leak, signs of a power steering leak, mostly clean oil pan & block, clean rear end & under carriage
4x4 - A4LD - Pushbutton 4x4 - Stock auto hubs
3.73 Limited Slip
Full power seats with lumbar & bolsters
A small additional lower exterior trim piece that seems to not be too common
31x10.50R15 Toyo AT knock offs on Pro Comp Series 51 steelies
Kenwood Deck with a pyle (o' ****) sub in the stock location

I'm 9 months behind on making this thread, and I have done A TON with this truck, so stay tuned for a lot of catching up!!!

Current pic

Here are the photos from day 1 (October 13, 2019)

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July 16, 2020

My son was due for an upgrade. He is such a trooper and can do 12 hours offroad with minimal complaining. He deserved it! Also threw in some military style terminals.


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July 23, 2020

Got the windows tinited. My truck has a brownish factory tint that is not east to match. The tint guy hooked me up with a 35%, slightly reflective, heat shield film for my front windows. Rear doors are stock, and the rear windows and hatch have 25% over the factory tint. I love it! It's the perfect amopunt of privacy while still being able to see out.



July 24, 2020

The window tinit was still drying & I couldn't roll down my (front) windows, but it didn't stop us from making another lake run.



and now this thread is officially current!!!!!!!!!!

Progress has been at a stand still over the last few months while I built my buddies truck, which is the 3rd first gen I've put on coilovers. Check it out...

This being my about my 5th first Gen, I really spent some time looking for the right one. This truck was almost perfect, but I knew it needed a few things. Summer has officially arrived and the AC has not worked since day one. That along with a horrible smell of coolant had me jumping back on my truck the instant I had some clear garage space.

Fist off, the coolant smell. At first it was pretty minimal, had no effect on my running temps, and I could not find the source. On a 100+ degree day (with no AC) I finally noticed a leak coming from the passenger side behind the front tire. It was a little tough to see where the leak was coming from with the fender liner in the way, but I was able to spot the leak coming from a small tube under the heater box. Turns out, this tube is the extension of a drip pan that houses your heater core. Quick & easy $30 fix and the smell was gone. One note I would say is that the new heater core did not come with any insulation which helps it stay in place. Definitely run down to home depot for some stick on door installation for this install, and dont jam a couple rags in there like I did, lol. I also flushed my cooling system because as you can see, the heater core did not give up without spitting its rusty guts out first!


Ahhh..... The AC, the argued pinnacle of 1st Gen ownership!

If you've ever ventured down this road, you'll completely understand. Ports, fittings, o rings, hoses, shraders, compressor, evaporator, accumulator, switches, sensors, the list seems to never end. I love this forum, but NO ONE online can diagnose your system until you put some dye in it!

I am very fortunate to have a great, honest AC shop near me. I explained my mechanical knowledge and asked them to point me in the right direction (to save some $$$). I kicked on my AC, they did a quick charge to my empty system, and within 30 seconds I was asked if I off road my truck a lot. My response... yes, I beat the living hell out of it!!! He grabbed the portion of the evaporator tube that connects to the accumulator and shook it back and forth. The play indicated a busted evaporator, which apparently is a more common occurance on trucks that get shook to death regularly.

At this point I had done the simple things, new service ports & o rings, but the evaporator diagnosis was dreadful, I knew the entire heater box needed to come out. I finally bit the bullet, and the AC shop was spot on with their diagnosis. I got r done, and back to the AC shop I went. They vac'd the system, found & fixed a shrader & bad line, the new oriface tube I put in was instantly destroyed as the system saw pressure for the first time in who knows how long. The tube was replaced, the system was oiled/charged and folks, I'm proud to announce, I have a fully functional AC on a 26 year old first gen Explorer! It's surreal, I've spent thousands of hours in these trucks and never experienced a freezing cold rush of air. It blows so hard, & combined with my heat reflective window tint, I have to take it down a notch or two when it cools off!

I'm in love, my off road season is now year round!

Rough costs:
Evaporator - $100
Misc ports/O rings and 3 cans of refrigerant to realize the problem is bigger than I can handle - $50
AC Shop - $250

I'm ecstatic if you can't tell! Well worth the money, and could have easily been twice as much. I cringe thinking what the AC shop would have charged to do the evaporator.


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If you guys can't already tell, my experience with these trucks is what has lead me to every mod, upgrade & maintenance procedure I've done. About 3 years ago, I had a first gen's transmission boil over. The preventative maintenace I am doing now, is exactly what I've already done on another truck. This time around the cure came before the issue!


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With the AC working, & frustration building from our first week of at home 1st grade dstance learning, my son and I decided to skip town for the weekend. The August sun was pounding on So Cal and a quick run up to Big Bear was in order. Nice little get away, but not much off roading.

Super clean first gen! Love the lower trim blackout - I need to try that... looking forward to seeing more progress and adventure shots!

wicked cool dude father son time! Keep up the cool posts

These guys with the Gen I dana 35's really need to get some 95-97 Ranger outers and ditch the single piston calipers with slide pins!!!!

wicked cool dude father son time! Keep up the cool posts

These guys with the Gen I dana 35's really need to get some 95-97 Ranger outers and ditch the single piston calipers with slide pins!!!!
Seriously! The brakes are horrible, & especially with how hard I drive

Couple new updates. I’ve been sitting on a pair of 2.0x6.5 Fox reservoir shocks. The intention was to put them in factory location, but they ended up being too long. I switched them over to the front by trimming and using the factory sway bar locations with weld washers added for strength. The upper mount is simply a tab with a shock boss welded to it, that is the welded to the top outer corner of the frame. The only hang up was that the passenger side frame rail is slightly narrower, so I needed to add a .75” spacer to the back of the upper tab to push it out a bit. Super simple, & quick, and the additional dampening is definitely noticeable.

And the update I’m really excited about is these 33x10.50R15’s. My truck is only lifted a couple inches, so fender liner trimming was 100% necessary. Zero rub going forward, bad rub in reverse. I’m sure when I get my toe set by an alignment shop it will be better. Stoked on the new look, and these thing ride WAY better than my clapped out China AT’s, & they aren’t even balanced yet!

Had a chance to tackle the rear shock install. These are oem rear shocks from a 1st generation Raptor. They are internal bypass shocks (position sensitive valving). Because of this, my goal was to have the shocks sitting at a similar ride height as a Raptor. Measurements are 2.5x11.5 with 7/8 shafts, and are closer in size to a typical 2.5x10 shock. I had a friend add shrader valves so that I could cycle the shocks for install. I was able to notch out the factory shock crossmember, add my own crossmember, and do some creative tie ins and gussets. I’m really happy with how the truck is handling so far. The shocks are nice & soft on the street, and the valving really ramps up in the bump zone keeping the truck much more predictable in big bumps (& jumps).

Very nice. I had, four if I remember right, rear shock mounts fail. The OEM cracked all the way across, then when I was paying someone to do the work, they welded a 2x2 piece of 3/16" wall square tube across where the OEM cross member was and welded shock tabs onto that. That bowed. I made a shock mount out of 1.25 OD DOM, which cracked. I gusseted the heck out of it and it cracked again. This last time I built a new one out of 1/4" wall DOM with gussets that boxed in the frame at the ends. I think the issue was that the other cross members allowed the frame to twist and it would wiggle a crack into it. This one doesn't let the frame twist so it should hold up better. Redid the axle mounts as well. The last time the shock mount failed was right after I had the custom leaf springs built. I ended up with 11" long Rancho 9000's for the adjustability for different loads so I could tighten them up when remote camping. I accidently jumped it when I was going too fast down a road I was not familiar with and it handled it well.


I have built and broke a few myself! This time I decided to not completely remove the crossmember & just notch it out & reinforce it. You can kind of see that the frame kickers off the frame are also welded to the crossmember. What you can’t see in this pic is a 4x4 plate & a piece of 2” chromoly tube tieing into my crossmember above the spare carrier. Hopefully it holds up!

Night run this Friday to Plaster City?


Spare tire mount and cross members went away on mine many years ago. That looks strong. I like how you managed to retain the rear sway bar. I was messing with the idea of putting mine back but the space for the sway bar is taken up by my axle shock mounts. Since you retained the spring under and OEM lower shock mounts the sway bar fits. I might do more rocks than you so I moved everything up above or even with the axle.

I will have to see if my rear axle is back together by Friday. Its not looking good since the ring gear bolts are lost in the mail and I ordered a new set. If they come in by Wednesday, I could get it back together in time for a Friday night shake down run. I always allow the full 24 hours for thread locker and RTF to cure before I fill the diff with fluid.

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Thanks, so far I am really happy with it, & keeping the sway bar was something I really wanted to make happen. I’m not a huge fan of the stock lower shock mount myself, but it actually helped with how long these shocks are. We are almost ready for a San Diego Explorer run, I definitely have some buddies that can join.