Whitey turns red build thread! | Page 10 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Whitey turns red build thread!

Well, I figured this would be a good single source to document my next project. I've just finished a 10 month race truck build and finally got it out of my garage and parked on the side yard so I can start my exploder next!

So here's the info to make this whole project make a bit of sense...

I picked up this explorer, it's considered a '91.


The catch with it though is it's a mutt... It's actually 4 expos pieced together to build something that runs. List of things wrong with it, no cruise control, no heater, no a/c, turn signals don't work, power windows sorta kinda sometimes work, power locks sorta kinda sometimes work, missing a lot of the smog stuff and won't pass smog here in Nevada, doesn't run right, engine/trans/t-case all leak oil, T-case motor doesn't work, and I'm sure there's some more. I bought it mostly for the parts on it.

What it does have... Cut and turned with 4.5" per side widened beams with uniball pivots, extended radius arms on heim joint pivots, plated and braced beam hangers, real beadlock wheels, full fiberglass front and rear, national leaf springs in the rear with some nice custom shackles, rear axle is a newer 8.8 with discs and 4.56 gears.

For conversation purposes, we'll call him "whitey"... Whitey is an auto trans and pushbutton (non working) T-case with manual hubs.

Now let me introduce you to "Red". Red is also a '91, only he's not been molested and abused and raped and pillaged of parts by multiple previous owners. Red is a 5 speed manual and manual transfercase from the factory! (I prefer manual and it took me over 5 months to find this...) EVERYTHING works on Red and works really really good! I have receipts from the previous owner of a ford crate motor installed by ford dealer with less then 20K on it. I also have receipts for a rebuilt 5 speed trans from the ford dealer with less the 15K on it. Red runs great!!! Only issues are inside, he's missing a center console, the headliner looks like it got in a fight with a lion and the dash is cracking.

Nice thing though, whitey's interior is in great shape and is the same color so it's just a matter of swapping out the parts!

Meet red...



So the plan is to take all the fun suspension parts off of whitey and use them to build Red. Along the way I'm adding a few more custom touches and upgrades as well. Is this going to be some long drawn out never finished project? Heck no!!!! I have about 95% of the parts on hand for the entire build and I'm hoping for the entire build to take about 2 months total to finish EVERYTHING wanted with the only exceptions being a c-clip eliminator kit for the 8.8 and a front winch. I'm not saying those won't be done in the next 2 months but they aren't a priority and I'm kinda just waiting for a deal I can't pass up type situation before pulling the trigger on one or both.

So, here's the parts I currently have in my possession slated to get put on Red.

  • 12" king coilovers for front
  • cut and turned D35 beams, widened 4.5" per side, uniball pivots
  • Extended radius arms with heimed pivots
  • front 3rd memeber with 4.56 gears and powertrax no slip
  • custom machined axles for new wider track width, not cut and sleeved but new custom machined axles
  • 2" stroke hydro bumps for the front end to help for the occasional hard hit.
  • National spring leafs for the rear
  • custom shackles
  • 12" stroke king 3 tube bypass shocks
  • fiberwerx rear panels
  • newer ford 8.8 with discs, 4.56 gears
  • Detriot locker new in the box ready to install in the 8.8

Whitey has the 95+ conversion clip on it. While I like it, it's not what I want, so that whole clip is getting sold. Red will keep the classic front square body lines but I have a set of mcneil 6" fiberglass fenders currently on order. I should see them this week or next supposedly.

Also I'll be upgrading the steering and building a single side swing set steering for red to keep the bumpsteer hopefully somewhat minimal.

Now what am I building? Well, with the list of parts above you can tell it should be a fairly capable ride. My intent is to keep the interior 100% stock. No cage, no cutting, no craziness. Inside is going to get a mild stereo system and cleaned up. Because I'm not going to be tubbing the rear wheel wells tire size will be limited to what I can fit in them. I will be either on 33" or 35" tires mounted on champion beadlocks (different then the KMC beads that are currently on whitey).

My intent when finished is to have a clean fairly different somewhat head turning type daily driver ford explorer. I want a nice all purpose vehicle. Something I can cruise comfortably around town, hold a decent pace in the dirt, pull it into 4lo and go show my jeep friends what's up. It's not being built to haul butt or race around in. I actually own another vehicle that's MUCH more suited for that kind of stuff and actually is purpose built for that. I also am partners in an offroad race truck which this explorer will see chase duties for so why would I go out and jump this thing and beat it thru whoops when I own and have access to better tools for that job. It will be setup to handle the occasional hard hit though as you can tell.

So there's my novel!!! Following posts from here out will be mostly picture oriented to document the build and answer any questions people may have or what not so lets get started...


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trying to blend in


..Is that out near the Calico Basin, Red Rock Canyon area?

..Looking forward to the damage pictures as I'm interested on how well the stuff will "touch-up"..My X is about do for another rattlecan paint job..:popcorn:

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Actually that very first group picture is across from the shell parking lot on the north side of the highway at the Jean exit where the gold spike is. All the trails we ran were right there in that area on in the hills on the north side of the highway basically across from where the main pits for the Mint was.






My bumper and sliders were somewhat freshly painted before yesterday... Or at least all the previous scratches and scars were covered with paint when I left the house yesterday morning. This is all from yesterday's fun... I believe they've paid for themself many times over already...




Well, decided to do a pretty decent trail run into Death Valley and up into the Sierras. Ran the whole thing solo with a passenger and just me and the Expo... From Vegas we ran up to Beatty and got a room for the night. About 10am the next morning I was airing down and we dropped into Titus Canyon.






From Titus, we headed north towards Scotty's Castle but decided to save it for another trip as we had some miles to cover and unknown pace to deal with as far as how long of a day we had ahead of us so... Off to Ubehebe Crater.



From the Crater we ran the 27 miles of dirt road out to the race track which was a mix of partially rough and wash board to some rocks to some wide open stuff. This route took us past tea kettle junction.


And we eventually ended up at the race track...



From the race track we continued on taking a right onto Lippencott trail which would drop us down onto Saline Road eventually. Nothing too crazy, just a tad narrow in a few spots at worst...




We eventually hit the valley floor and headed north on Saline until it hit the intersection with Steele Pass. We took Steele back across the valley to the hot springs which is where we camped for the night.





There was too many naked hippies to snap pictures of the main tub the afternoon we pulled in but we ended up having the tubs to ourselves for quite a while later that night.

Had some friends around camp too, don't feed them, but enjoy them, they're super friendly.





Next morning the tubs were empty and I could snap a couple pictures...



Continued on up steele pass past the springs eventually dropping into the valley with Eureka Dunes.



Dunes peaking thru the valley below...


But the trail isn't quite finished yet...










At the bottom it opens up and you skirt around the dunes...


From there it's a wide open shot up to Big Pine.


Spent a day being a tourist in Mammoth, Mono Lake, Bodie, etc...

Headed home to vegas via Big Pine, east over westgate pass and then 95 south thru beatty and into Vegas. Took our time though and made the best of the drive home as well....





Makin dust heading for vegas!


...Nice pictures and props for including a Model..:biggthump

Don't all exploders come with one? LOL This one is an honest to god photobomb, she walked right in front of me while snapping the picture, didn't turn out too bad though...


Oh look, a rock!


Those ears!!!


Was her first time ever in sand dunes. Scared the crap out of her doing some of the larger wall rides but I was up at 30psi so traction wasn't huge and I couldn't get really high on them. I laughed and told her wait till the new truck is done and I find some paddles for it and hit up glamis!


Yup, they're a bit too big to weasel into position on the exploder... Guess they'll go on the other project ride!



Not much new on the explorer... Found where my A/C was leaking from... Hose related so I actually pulled the whole hose assembly out and will be dropping them off tonight at a local hose repair shop. I'm going to have them make a few changes so that I can actually route them a bit differently to work within my engine compartment a bit better. Hopefully it'll be okay... Not sure what turn around time will be on them but hopefully it's not too long as it would be really nice to have working AC again sooner then later!

Started cycling the front end of my current project though. I'm going to have to make some changes to the coilover mounting points but with a few reworks it looks like I'm going to end up roughly in the 20-22" travel range up front. YIKES!!!



Lookin' good...what brand bead roller are you using for your panels? I wanted to get one but it would be a one time use thing for me.

I actually can't take credit on the panel work... This is one I bought about 75% done and basically it's a clean up and complete the truck type deal. Sorry, not much help on that. I do have a friend with one I may be borrowing a bit later down the road to try and do a couple more additional panels on this truck though. I think he's got the mitler bros one which isn't cheap. He's been restoring a rusted out '30 model A and has had great results with it from what I've seen.

I actually can't take credit on the panel work... This is one I bought about 75% done and basically it's a clean up and complete the truck type deal. Sorry, not much help on that. I do have a friend with one I may be borrowing a bit later down the road to try and do a couple more additional panels on this truck though. I think he's got the mitler bros one which isn't cheap. He's been restoring a rusted out '30 model A and has had great results with it from what I've seen.

Yeah, did some research awhile back and the Mitler bros looked like it was built well. Harbor Freight and Eastwood make some low buck units but from the reviews I read they needed reinforcement once you got into thicker gauge metal. Throat capacity (insert dirty joke:p:) wasn't as good as the Mitler either.

Thats it... I'm moving down there. That looks like SO MUCH FUN!

Here is a glimpse of everything we have in Nebraska

LOL, my only complaint around here is the summer heat! But it's not unbareable and it seems like with the rare occasion your choices are to live somewhere with epic summers but insane winters or epic winters and insane summers. One thing about Vegas, we're a 4-5 hr weekend drive from a lot of amazing places!!! Ignore that it's Vegas... To me the biggest perk is the central'ish location to so many amazing quick get away type areas to disappear for weekends! Pack Thursday night, leave after work Friday and forget about the world till your drive home Sunday afternoon.

Khris, the truck has come together nicely. I will be a bachelor for a couple weeks starting July 23. Let me know if any runs are going on and you need a spotter/passenger/drone pilot!

Nice! There's Night runs almost weekly and I usually skip out on them cause I don't feel like rolling out solo for the whole night and most my friends would rather go bar hopping then wheeling so I usually just stay home and work in the garage honestly! LOL

Looks like final numbers on the new ride are 21" front travel and 29" rear. LOL Should do...

Couple people had some interest in this 2wd F150 prerunner I'm building... Waiting on parts is killing me. I'm on my 4th week of "next week" promises for the engine harness so I can start it up. Once that happens, assuming all works fine it'll go for exhaust and then I'm just waiting on a few front shock parts to have it in the dirt. Still will be naked with no front clip but that's the goal...

It saw sunlight for the first time in ages this weekend though and got pushed out of the garage for a major cleanup of the garage. It was getting really really really bad in there!


It's pretty wide!


Got air brakes? LOL


Actually, that's for access to a long term project of building a storage space underneath the spares.


Visualize this space all paneled in, it will make for a great little storage area on a single cab truck...


So, I got it fired up two weekends ago. Had to take it to the exhaust shop, then it needed about 2-3 evenings worth of finish up and double checking and I would've been ready for it's first testing session. It went thru one heat cycle just fine. Motor had about 10-15 minutes of run time on it... Then...





2 broken rods, 1 shattered piston and another piston still stuck up in the cylinder. Not sure wtf happened other then it went boom. Hoping to have it pulled out this weekend and on the hunt for a replacement.

...What's the back story on the motor?

..New build, came with truck or?

...that's some crazy carnage..:eek:

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Came with the truck but I've got no reason to doubt the story and everything I've seen has physically backed it up. The person I bought the project from was a dirt bike riding friend of mine, no reason to think he'd be lieing to me... The motor is about 6-7 years old but has never been fired. It was a factory direct GM LQ9 6.0L which is basically an iron block LS2. It was slapped in the truck but never plumbed or wired and therefore never fired. It didn't look new externally cause of 6-7 years of machine shop dust building up on it but everything I ever saw internally looks brand new. I filled with with redline break in oil. I then built a pressurized setup and primed the block with the same oil. I literally primed it till the engine cooler at the back of the truck was full, filter was full and pulled the valve covers and primed it till oil was coming out the top of the pushrods/heads. I cranked it over with no ignition/fuel before first fire and all seemed well. The kicker, no exhaust, I had a manifold to about 10" of pipe on each side so SUPER LOUD!!! Fired it the very first time. It built oil pressure on the gauge in less then 10 seconds. I ran it for about 30 seconds and then shut it off. Did my happy dance and went back to work buttoning up the wiring and everything. Later that afternoon I fired it again, this time let it run for about 10 minutes. Everything slowly came up to temp, monitoring gauges, checking for leaks, physically feeling the rad hoses and radiator for when the t-stat opened, everything was good. LOUD exhaust though so it could've been knocking or clanking and I just couldn't hear it over the exhaust. Next day I fire it up, drive to the end of the street and back to turn it around and load it on the trailer. Next day I tow it to the exhaust shop, fire it up to pull it off the trailer, instantly think I'm hearing something clanking, few seconds to process what I think I'm hearing, go to shut it off and it locks up. Never rotated again... What you see above is what I got now...

I'm pointing at the two broken rods here but in general... Notice how BRAND NEW everything looks in these pictures I've posted... Again, no reason to doubt that it wasn't a factory direct brand new crate motor as I was told.