Whitey turns red build thread! | Page 11 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

  • Register Today It's free!

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...


Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!

Small update on the expo. Last winter, once warmed up it would occasionally puff some white smoke for a few seconds when restarting after pumping gas or like running into a mini market. If it sat for a while it would never do it. Temps rise and summer comes along and no issues. Then sure enough, this winter it starts doing it again on occasion. So I figure head gasket or cracked head. I'll live with it till it gets bad. Well then about 6 weeks ago, I start noticing blue smoke for a few seconds on inital starts. Nothing major but enough to notice it and after 5-10 seconds it would clear up.

Well jump to about 4 weeks ago and it all gets worse, substantially... The blue smoke on startup turns into a massive thick cloud you can barely see thru for about 20-30 seconds! Talk about embarassing coming out after lunch to smoke out the whole parking lot. Once the massive cloud passed it would still puff a little just general driving. Well shoot, I've gotta pass smog in Jan to register this thing and we still do the tail pipe test here in Vegas. So...

Not knowing exactly how far I was gonna have to tear into it, I started by pulling the head on the side my gut said it was on. I forgot to mention, I'd fouled the same cylinder about once every 3-4 months so I assumed that was my smoking gun to tear into first.




Interesting enough, the cylinder I fouled actually didn't look too shaby. Just a TINY evidence of head gasket leakage. But the one front cylinder was definitely getting oil past the rings looking at the oil cylinder and the nice clean piston...

Well, rings... Crap, can't pull the oil pan in the vehicle so...



After some reading and discussion here on the forum, decided for the $350 it was better safe then sorry and I put new heads on it. Honed the cylinders, new rings, new heads, ground and lapped the valves, new head gaskets, all new seals on everything I touched and slapped it back together.


Random picture of it almost back together...


After realizing I couldn't count to 6 properly on the plug wires, I finally got the two that I had backwards flipped around when a 2nd set of eyes found my mistake that I'd tripple checked wrong!!! LOL And it fired up on Xmas eve.

Sitting at about 150 miles on it and it's running 100% perfect and should hopefully be good to go for a long time to come now! Gonna run it to about 500 miles, then change oil and sit on a regular oil schedule from there forward.

Anyways, that's my update... Freshened up the motor in the expo.

Funny part is along at the same time I also had my 6.0L chevy motor completely torn down for a very similar rebuild. Left side of my garage was chevy parts, right side was ford parts! LOL Got the Chevy motor back together and installed over the weekend also. If things go right and I get a couple last parts that my stupid dog chewed up, plug wires, I should be able to fire it up for the first time tonight as well I hope!

Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!

When we did my brothers 4.0L we ended up needing a head as it had a hairline crack in it that the machine shop found. Not much money to not have to do it again. :thumbsup:

So annoyed right now!!! Failed Las Vegas smog test on Sat. Sunday morning, I pulled all 6 plugs and wires, put fresh in. All the old plugs looked absolutely text book perfect!!! The engine is running GREAT yet it still failed. I hate smog tests!!!

After that though, I took my other hooptie I've shown some pictures of previously in this thread out for it's maiden test run yesterday. Still needs a lot of shock tuning and has a few other gremlins to work out with but I'm pretty happy with it for being right out of the box. It'll get MUCH smoother still and should gain some decent speed over what this quick 40 second clip shows...


Took a lot longer to hit the dirt then I expected that's for sure with the unforeseen motor setbacks!

Still have more work to do but it's getting put on the backburner and all my attention is moving to the race truck to get it ready for the mint.





that looks like tons of fun!

..Just a heads up. .tell everyone I'll be there taking pictures again..;)

I'll be in the drivers seat this side at the crack of dawn so I'll look for you! Had so much going on last year that I didn't even realize that was you standing in front of us! LOL This year is much different! Last year, I was working on the truck right up till we left for the start line. Last night I tinkered with it for about half an hour and I'm 2 weeks out basically still and I'm pretty much ready...


..Ten days and they drop the green..:)

..If you are getting bored with nothing to do, I can always swing by in my Ranger and we could do pit repairs on my truck as I will be coming in hot off the desert from chasing a couple races in Az this weekend and will more than likely be needing repairs, lol. ..:burnout:..:(...:hammer:

You know the really scary part!!! The last couple nights in a row I've felt myself with a sense of confusion standing in the garage looking over 3 separate lists thinking I must be missing something... This can't be it... There must be more!!! Has to be!!! I can't really be this low on to do items...

There's some redundancies below but better overkill then under with this stuff!

This is my current ongoing list, plan to have it 100% done by end of day Sat. This is my getting close to finished end of the process daily changing list...


This is my MAIN prep list. There's more to it then this but the items on it at least trigger a mental memory "to do"... Highlights are things I'll do a day or two before the race next week.


This is my Thursday/Friday/race morning list. Left column is everything we carry on board with us. Middle row is list of pit supplies to load up and haul out. Right column is my race morning list and also my "don't forget to take or do this stuff before tech idiot" list.


Put another 200 miles of dirt on the log book yesterday.

Juicing up to go...


being chased


Packing up to start the fun after a early rise and shine.








Lunch break..


More fun ahead...







My dog found this pool full of fish very refreshing in the summer heat!



End of the road, we fit... But the 4 foot drop out the other side was a no go...


Ehhh, no biggie, we'll find another way around to catch back up with the trail. Hey, every other one we crossed was dry and aren't we in a drought?


It looked dry but those are the tracks I left after BARELY getting out of it, thank god for 4x4, low tire pressure and lockers front and rear. Because of where I initially got stuck and the natural layout of the land, even having the other truck and tow straps, it was going to be a bad scene if I didn't get thru it. Took a bit of effort and some back and forth rev to 2nd low RPM mins but pushed thru and got out. I hate mud by the way...



Post trip celebration at the Tonopah brewery about 7ish last night.. Got back home to vegas about midnight...


Some more pics a friend took in no particular order.

Some animal life....




My dog working out some puking issues before we even got started basically.


Yeah it was nasty...



Dead end, at least for us...



Lunch time wheel bearing check....







Sat morning








Great pics and it looks like you had a fantastic time out there.

Where were you guys at and what's the name of the dry lake?

BTW, Kris, did I tell you we have a female black lab now:eek:

LOL, great, more temptation for my terror! He had a rough start to the day out there. Think he ate something he shouldn't have or whatever cause right as we took off he turned into a pacman eating everything imaginable trying to shove it in his stomach. about an hour later and 4 healthy sized pukes later he was himself again other then some hacking here and there over the day. I think the puking knocked him out of balance and got him a bit dehydrated. He sucked down almost 3 gallons of water during the run in a single day. By the end of the day though he was acting normal and seemed fine.

Basically what we did was run the first portion of the 2013 Vegas to Reno race course. Seemed like fun and well, turned out it was fun.


My GPS file was broke into 3 sections, here it is laid over google maps basically to get an idea.

This is mile 0-92 of what's shown above.


This is about mile 92 to mile 184 of what's shown above.


And the rest into tonopah.


Our only issue trail wise was just south of goldfield at about mile 172 the course went under the highway thru a concrete tunnel. The exit of the tunnel was washed out and we had to find another way around. It was about a 4' straight drop and we weren't capable of it.


So we backtracked to find access up onto the highway and we ran north a bit and hopped back on the course at mile 190. In the process of finding the course again is where I stumbled into the mud on accident!

This BIG lake bed though was basically at about the mile 140 point on the course map I attached above and seen on the top left portion of the course in the 2nd google maps image. Hopefully it's large enough to read the numbers on...



Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!