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Completed Project Turboexplorer's Full Width SAS Build Thread

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Hello everybody! It's time to start the SAS on my Explorer. It will be an awesome project and the first project of this type and size that I have ever undertaken. Up to this point the sliders where the hardest thing that I have made myself. I am open to any suggestions and or insights from anyone as the project gets underway. I have bought every last part for the build minus the hard brake lines (axles, and from master to the frame) and the flexible lines that go down to the axles. Those are all easy to make so I am not worried about it for now until I get the axles put together and can see what i want to do with those.

Now for a list of things I will be doing with the project:
1995 F-150 8.8 - I bought this used rear axle that I will strip, lock with a Detroit, convert to Explorer Disc brakes, and mount to the truck. Factory rear sway bar will be used. I will be doing a spring over conversion and will also be remaking the rear V8 anti axle wrap bars to help the leaf springs out with the leverage and TQ the V8 37's and 5.13's will put on them.
1976 F-150 HP Dana 44 - I bought this used axle and will be stripping it of the Ford factory wedges, trussing, and building custom glorified radius arms. Like DB_1 runs and like Rubicon Expresses makes. Front will also have a Detroit Truetrac LSD in it as well. This Dana 44 has 1/2" thick axle tubes.
Fox 14" Remote reservoir coil-overs - I will be building shock hoops for these coil-overs, bracing them, and tying them together across the top of the engine with removable double lock tube clamps.
1995 F-150 Steering box - This will be mounted inside the frame rail and used with the factory PS pump and will build a custom steering link from the box to the column. I picked this 1 to keep it ALL Ford and 2 because they are fairly cheap and easy and can be tapped for hydro assist at some point if I want or need it. In order to fit this steering gear I also have to remote mount my oil filter so that it has room. I will be getting rid of the factory oil cooler and have a Trans Dapt remote filter relocation kit.

Project Parts Section:
-37X13.50 R17 Interco M-16's
-Fox 14" Remote reservoir coil-overs with Eibach Springs.
-Detroit Locker for the 8.8
-Detroit Truetrac for the Dana 44
-Yukon 5.13 gears for both front and rear.
-Both axles will receive ALL new bearings races and seals u-joints etc.
-All wheel studs front and rear and spindle studs have been replaced for safety reasons. To cheap not to.
-Already had EBC brakes on it so those pads on rear will be reused and new EBC 7000 series pads for the front have been purchased.
-New front rotors wheel bearings and new Spicer ball joints, going to reuse the warn locking hubs as they work great and are in good order and easily changed later if i wanted.
-1978 Ford T-Bird calipers have been bought in place of the factory F-150 ones. They are 17% bigger in piston size so will give me a little more brake up front to help stop those 37's.
-Trans Dapt Oil filter relocation Kit and addition mount to hook to the block at a 90*.
-Currie Johnny Joints and Rubicon Express Clevite bushings for the all the link ends.
-GM 1 ton tre's for the steering with a high angle tre at the pitman arm.
-Front axle truss. (wasn't impressed with it at all so will be making some changes)
-Extending current Expedition rear drive shaft and will have a custom double cardon one made for the front.
-Metal used: 2"X.250 wall DOM for lower links, 1 1/2"X.250 wall DOM used for upper links, 1 1/2"X.375 wall DOM used for trac bar, and ALL tabs and brackets will be made out of 1/4" Flat plate by me.
-Double lock tube clamps for the shock hoop cross brace that uses 2 3/8" bolts on each. These are so It can be removed.
-All Grade 8 hardware will be used.
-All flexible brake lines will be braided stainless steel Teflon lined hoses.

I like to follow others projects and often find myself wanting more pictures so bare with me there will be A LOT of pictures of the build. I hope you enjoy lots of pictures as much as I do.

First some pictures of what the truck was! Then onto some parts pictures. Build will start shortly.
1998 XLT Explorer. 5.0L with the 4R70W trans. I have the 4406 T-Case. 3.73 gears with rear LSD. Goodyear 31's. Rock sliders and front skid plate. Links to those builds are in my signature.





And here is some video links! :) There are a few videos of me wheeling in CO with nssj2!


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Here are a few pics of the rough metal finish. It was gone over after this with a DA to get it all nice and clean. And all that was done before it was welded to the frame. Wish i would have taken some pictures of the penetration inside the tube but I forgot. O well, you'll just have to trust me it was awesome! All four sides of the tube on both miter cuts had prefect penetration so that made me very happy.


And here it is all done and the truck is now ready for all the IFS crap to come out. :)


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Wow! Thats different and damn smexy looking. Most just run a tube between the rails, but your approach gives it some added benefits. Any way to run some 1/4" plate up the inside of the rails to the top of the new cross member? Kind of like how some R/A mounts hug the frame rails do. :dunno:

As far as leafs inverting...The dropped rear leaf mounts change the forces on the leafs. The weight distribution is no longer split between mounts, and has shifted to the rear a bunch. This added stress, causes the leafs to lose their spring, and can bend them backwards behind the axle. The more you flex, the more they lose spring memory. Stock leafs for an explorer were not made for this type of abuse.

Going SOA will net you around 5.5" of lift with stock packs & shackles. resulting in 7-8" of total lift. This will decrease over time as your packs degrade.

F-150 mod (using the F-150 leafs, retaining the top ex leaf) will net you around 7-8" of lift with SOA, AND keep your weight evenly distributed on the axle. Benefits are, longer pack life, more clearance, and better pinion angles. Spring rate on this mod is good.

Better (and 5 times more expensive) spring rate & lift packs can be had from places like Deaver, OME. But you can get a whole bunch of bang for your buck with the F-150 mod packs, :)

Of course there is also the Chevy 63" leaf packs that can be done as well. Just have to move the mounts forward and back, to accommodate their length.

For me it is a simple thing of supply & demand. There are a ton of F-150's out there to get the leafs from, and can be had for dirt cheap.

bronco2guy did get hung up so bad at the beginning of a steep climb so bad, that we had to pull his rig off the rock. The shackles left grooves in the rock as we pulled his rig off. W/O them, he would have crawled right up.

I will run additional bracing between the top of the frame rails above the cross-member when I do the winch mount stuff. So there will be more than enough there to support the rails. It will be nice being so close to the A/C condenser will help the left frame rail where the steering box will mount. It ties both sides together where the most stress on the left rail will be. You will be able to see in the pictures shortly that I left the factory front diff hangers on. I did that so if there is room when the axle is in I can build a tubular 2nd cross-member with urethane bushings between those to which will help the rails a little where the engine mounts are.

I'll have to look into the rear leaf set ups and see what I want to do. Do you just use the factory shackles when you do the F-150 mod which is what sounds the most appealing? If it keeps the axle angle the same as factory then I can dang near match the new perches with the factory 8.8 ones seeing as how its the right angle for the DS. The perches will be one of the last things to be done so that we can see how everything sits together and can make sure its what I want.

Its time to get rid of all this IFS stuff that has everything all cluttered up on the truck. :) I took a ton of pictures so I tried to set them up close to before and after type of pictures so here it goes. BTW I agree with everyone of course just needed to state that cutting and finishing all this was a royal pain in places. Glad that it is almost all over.

The bracing for this cross-member was a big pain. It is several layers thick which when i cut out the factory cross-member made me cut out pieces at a time and it took a little time. I left the rack in and decided to just cut it all out together.

And for anyone that has done a 2nd gen knows how close Ford put the fuel lines to all this stuff. I was nervous. Of course all fuel drained from lines no pressure etc was done but still. I had two others stand by me with water and several fire extinguishers just in case. And we didn't have to use them! :)

The fume handler was great to clear the area of the toxic gases from the plasma torch. Kinda big and in the way but was nice not to have to breath it in.


Several layers of steel was put between the fuel and rear brake lines and where I was cutting. I took out all the fuel mounting bolts every 18" or so all the way back to the tank so that I could flex the lines as far out of the way as possible without any kinks or anything like that in them. It worked but was still sketchy.

I used a saws all in a few parts just so i could minimize as much of the sparks and hot metal as possible.

And here the drivers side is all plasma cut off. There is still plenty to do in the way of metal finishing it all so you can't even tell it was there but at least this part is done.


Passenger side before.

And now all cut away. This side was much easier seeing as how there isn't fuel and brake lines in the way. I did however catch the motor mount on fire lol. Only for a few seconds but still. Always keep a fire extinguisher next to me for safety and a bottle of water I used to spray on everything I wanted protected from the heat. Tune ups will sure be easier now! :)



This was probably the hardest part other than dealing with all the fuel lines. The inside parts of the factory cross-member. I had to do some from the top where I couldn't even see to some from below. It was a pain and when I did it from below I had to put scrap steel above it so that it wouldn't spray straight up into the engine bay. I didn't want all the plasma slag getting everywhere and possibly sitting on hoses. After I cut all this stuff out I then fired up the acetylene torch with a scarfing tip to trim all the things I couldn't get with the plasma. No pics after I used the acetylene torch. It to was sort of a pain since I had to protect a lot of things from the heat. I had never used a scarfing tip before and it was amazing it cleaned off what the plasma left behind great. It takes a steady hand since I more or less was fa-lying the left over brackets off the frame. If you tipped it at all or got bumped it would no doubt gouge the crap out of the frame. I did nick it in 3 spots but was just nicked so it will be filled in with a few small shots from the MIG welder and medal fished along with everything else. It saved me a ton of time. I would have had to grind it all otherwise. Still have to grind, but most places minus the tops of the rails only had maybe 1/16" left that I will have to metal finish. I will use the scarfing tip to clean the factory leaf perches and shock mounts etc off the new axles to get them ready for their new mounts when it comes time.

Here are the pics of how the inside of the frame turned out where the factory cross-member was. I will have to use a 3/16" weld buster to clean most of that off since that's all that will fit in there. Will take a little time.



Do you just use the factory shackles when you do the F-150 mod which is what sounds the most appealing?

Yes. All you need to purchase new is the center pin bolt/nut, and new U-bolts. If your bushings are shot, change them out as well.

When I built my packs, I cleaned & painted each leaf individually, before building them.

The sliders between the leafs on the ends are there for noise, and noise alone. They actually do more harm then good as the space they create deforms & weakens the springs a little. There just a creature comfort from what I was told by a spring builder. I left mine out, and do not hear any squealing from the leafs sliding on one another. Might be the semi gloss oil paint I used to ease the friction, I'm not sure. Might have just got lucky...LOL

Explorer is looking great, worst part is cutting out those old brackets. I think you are on your way to a very solid build!!

Alright and here is the medal finishing pictures. It took a few days but I got it. Man that is a lot of grinding and sanding. Here is few pictures a buddy took of me starting to finish the frame.



And here is picture of the inside of the frame rail where it was very hard to clean really well. Nothing would fit up in there. But some patience and a weld buster did most of the trick.

Here is the drivers side before and after pictures. If you look at the rail before I cleaned it up you can see all the small holes Ford had in it. For mounting the brake line, Wheel speed sensor slotted holes to hold the wire, plus lots of holes that didn't do anything. So what I did with both sides is I welded up all the small holes and slots and medal finished it all so now the rail looks really clean and not a million holes in it. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Before all the holes where cleaned then welded.

After all the holes have been welded up. I even went back to the three holes by where the body mounts near the firewall.


And here is the passenger side before and after pictures as well.

Before it was cleaned and holes welded up.


After they had been welded up. I really think it made the frame look SO much better and when you look under the rig when it is done and all flexed out on some rocks people should look at it and say man you did a great good on this truck not even knowing that the holes being gone are part of the reason it looks that way. :)


Now for a few pics of the bottoms of each rail.


And some final shots of the sides. I haven't done the top of the rails yet but that will be done tomorrow. Along with the T-Bar mounts gone and finished to make room for the lower link mounts.


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The frame looks great!

And I'm sorry but I just have to say's metal, not medal. :)