Whitey turns red build thread! | Page 5 | 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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Well, kinda forgot about pictures along the way last night. was more focused on making progress! Got the swinger mocked up and in the approximate location I'm going to run it. Got the passenger side tie rod mocked up and cycling clean without hitting anything. Need to run and find some parts to make some changes on the fly tonight to a setup I was working with last night. If I can find those parts, I'm hoping I can get the swinger finalized tonight and also the drivers side tie rod and drag link rod all mocked up and cycling correctly. If I can pull that off tonight I'll be in great shape! That leaves tomorrow morning pull it all back off, do a final weld up of everything, finish boxing in whatever's needed, build the real tie rods and slap it altogether! Then put the coils on the shocks, fill up the diffs, hang the exhaust and possibly try for a quick spin around the block! YIKES!!!! Will have pictures of everything soon on the steering!

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So it ran awesome when i pulled it in to tear it down. Now I can't keep it running for more then about 15-20 minutes. I'm not finished but right now, getting it running is priority at this point. The rest of the "to do" list can take place while it's being used as a daily driver. It's all single night/single day type projects. Anyways, a couple pictures...

My home brew swing set steering. The tie rods are 1.25 x .281 wall DOM tubing. It's monster stuff!!!


And the finished stance...



It will get painted eventually down the road. I planned to do it right away but with summer here, I may wait till it cools down and do it in the fall. Not too awfully concerned with it for now. Still need to finish stereo install, finish rear fender mounts, fab up a hitch and tie the rear bumper into it, build rock sliders, fix the front diff leak and swap headliners.

Guess who just bought a fuel pump and filter and gets to do an install tomorrow night? Now to find the thread I've heard of that has the location to cut thru the floor to gain access to the top of the tank, that's WAY more my style!!! LOL

Well, I don't have a warm and fuzzy yet but I think the problem is fixed. Just coincident that the fuel pump started going out just as I got it back on the road. Sitting for 6-7 weeks may have been enough to do something goofy on it too for all I know...


Drove it around a bit last night problem free and made it to work this morning problem free in it. My uncle who's a 30+ year experienced tech says he's sure it was the problem. I tried to get the fuel filter replaced too but the line clamps just wouldn't let loose and rather then damage them, I just left it there. May give it a shot at popping them loose again sooner then later just to replace it for $9 piece of mind...

Tonight I'll align it, install the sub/amp combo, see if i can figure out where my diff is leaking from and get it fixed and tinker around a little. I'm also going to call here in a bit and see if by chance I can get it in this afternoon on my lunch break for window tint!

..You know...:scratch:

..Since this thing is drivable, you should head up to Moab this weekend as a bunch of members are already there or will be by this weekend..;)

..This will be a huge meet-up of all kinds of Explorers..Even bigger than the AZ. runs..;)

As much as I'd love to, I'm still holding out with patience...

I'm telling myself I'm not wheeling it till it's 100% ready and I figure another week and a half till it's ready for that! And even then, my first run won't be long distance, I'll do my testing somewhere here relatively local so a tow home won't kill me if needed for some stupid reason. I gotta gain my confidence/faith in it still honestly and learn to wheel it since it's 100% new to me.

Tonight's plan, order drivers side front diff seal (mine's leaking) and install if in stock, replace heater hoses to get a goofy valve out of the system that's not needed and replace some bad clamps at the same time. I also want to make templates for the hitch I'm going to build. I also want to mount my brake lines for real rather then the zip ties currently holding them and also finish a couple welds I still need to button up tonight.

Basically by the end of this weekend I'm hoping to have my front shocks rebuilt with fresh seals and new valving, rear hitch fabbed and installed, brakelines mounted, diff leak fixed and heater hoses fixed. I might even get going on the rock sliders if things go well this weekend.

Then next week I'd like to work on getting whitey stripped down so I can call and get it out of the driveway hopefully the following week for good. I'll wave bye bye to it for sure!!! I'm excited for that! It's an eyesore in the hood...

Well, progress hasn't stopped...

Couple shots of what I did for tucking a hitch into the rear bumper really quick. I may add a couple small support tubes between the bottom tube and the hitch. They won't actually weld to the hitch, they'll just be welded to the bumper and just kinda sit against the hitch as supports for landing on that lower tube.




And here's what I've got so far on the slider. My goal was to knock out a duplicate on the drivers side today also and then add a tube outside of the square to plate along the whole topside to work as an entry step also. I got the drivers side one cut to length, got the bend put it in and started to weld up the pie cut when the welder died. It took out my pedestal grinder at the same time. Something is internally angry with the welder for sure cause it has it's quirks these days and it's getting worse. I should be back ready to rock tomorrow night though. Only problem is I'm slammed with plans during the evenings this week. May not get it buttoned up till next weekend honestly.

So anyways, the sliders... Like I said, not done, still gonna do the outter tubing and a top plate as a step.

sorry for the kinda blurry ones but you get the idea and I don't care enough to retake them. LOL





There's no splicing going on in these pictures, just pie cut, bend, weld. I ground the main tube that you see smooth, once painted you won't know it ever was cut and welded. I plated the center 2 stringer tubes at the frame. I would've plated all 4 but space wasn't on my side so I figured two is better then none. If it ever gets too trashed, cut it off, grind smooth, make it again. This stuff is monster thick though, it will likely outlive the expo. I'm going to triangle gusset to the frame rails with plate also though before it's done to help spread the load across the height of the frame rails.

Great fab skills! Do you have any closer pictures of how you mounted the hitch and rear bumper to the frame?

I'll try and take some today. The hitch is permanent. It's actually built out of 3/16" plate that I created a box out of basically and is just fully welded to the frame rails slid into the "C" portion of the rear frame. The bumper is mounted by tabs on the outside of the frame rails and I'm using an existing holes and then drilled two new holes on each side with nuts welded to the inside of the frame rails to secure it. I'll take pictures though...

Well, it's going for tint today after work. Hoping next week to be able to finish up the rock sliders and also get the headliner swapped out. At that point about all that will be left is body/paint.

Screwing around in a parking lot across from my work!




Oh, and the current condition of the white explorer. I'm hoping tomorrow night to get the driveshaft off it, ammo cans pulled out and headliner pulled out. If I get all that done, I'm hoping to have it disposed of to never been seen again after Thursday.


Congrats! Looking forward to seeing it in person.

Rick Horwitz - Mobile Admin

Thanks Rick!

Pulled the tail lights off whitey along with the ammo cans last night. Also got the windows tinted in the red one as well.

Tonight I'll pull the driveshaft and the headliner out of the white one. I've got a truck and trailer lined up to haul the white one away on Thursday morning.

If anyone is interested in a complete conversion clip by chance for your 91... $600 OBO for everything shown here.


Not a whole lot to update. Whitey went away! My house looks much less junkyard now at least.


I had an issue with some measurements and need to order a new front drivers side axle shaft. At that point I'll slide it in and should really be ready to rock at that point. I've been DD'ing it problem free other then a couple odd clunks. I need to crawl under and check tightness on everything soon though anyways. I still have some small things on the "to do" list most of which I could knock out in a single day or weekend easily and will probably do when ever I tackle the axle shaft install. Lately though, my focused has changed to selling my toyota prerunner truck cause if I can get it sold it opens up the chance to replace it with something I've always thought was way outta my league of ownership. Another toy you can say...

I did screw around on photoshop!!! Yes it's HORRIBLE but this is what I'm leaning towards paint wise once I get around to it. White top with the factory color on the bottom. Thinking for summer desert heat wise every bit helps!


I really like your build! The rear setup ill be doing to my ST is the same one you did. I wasn't sure if I wanted to run 10" or 12" triples. I have a few questions if you don't mind: what's your shackle length? How much bump travel do you have from ride height? What's the travel #'s in the rear? I like the simplicity and the fact you kept everything out of the cab. I'm on the same boat as you, I want everything under my bed and no cage in my truck. I just want something that's fun , simple and able to fit my family comfortably.

Ummmm, not sure the answer on any of those off the top of my head. I'll try to grab some measurements for you this evening though.

I did do some wheel swapping this weekend. I'm not a big fan of the black wheels. I know it's trendy and all but it just isn't the look I like. I also wasn't a big fan of the KMC beadlocks. I've got another truck that I'm selling though so I swapped wheels over the weekend. I'm now running these American racing wheels that have had champion beadlocks added to them. I'm much happier with the look...


And just cause... The KMC's that I pulled off the expo went on my other truck that I'm selling. While I had it apart I painted the beadlock rings red. The truck itself is getting painted the matching red next weekend.



Thanks a lot! I'm hoping to do this and do some testing/dialing before huckfest in August.

When is she hitting dirt?

I've had it down some mild high speed stuff already once. It's like my quick local testing spot. Without doing any shock valving work or turning any bypass tubes it's doing good. The rear end is definitely the limiting factor right now and likely always will be. Without getting crazy on the rear, it's hard to pull a enough up travel out of the rear to keep up with the front ends. I'm hoping to get a new front axle shaft ordered up this week though, once I get that in I'll actually get it out for real testing. I'll do most of my shock work at my quicky local spot and finally lock the hubs and go see how it does in the rocks with my jeep friends...

Jealous of the huckfest, I'd like to go but it's just too far of a haul for me with other things I have planned this summer too. That should be a fun time though for sure! My truck that I'm selling would probably do pretty good out there. I actually originally bought it in SLO on the way back to Az from Pismo Beach like 8 years ago! It's changed quite a bit since i bought it and now it's time to let it go and move to something bigger and better even.

I wish I had a close testing ground I stead of having to drive 2+ hrs.

I have a question about your rear end. Aside from the travel numbers and just considering performance do you thing a 10" stroke shock would work better then the 12" because it wouldn't be angles back as much?

Sorry, I'm totally slacking on getting you those measurements!!! I'll still grab them for you for sure!

On the shock... Ehhh, not sure... Probably a decent give and take. 10" stroke sitting up vertical is going to cost you some potential travel numbers vs. leaning it back, valving it super agressive and hoping for the best. When it comes down to it, everything about leaving the shock under the cab is kind of a give and take situation. For the best performance you really should be notching the frame to gain some up travel and standing the shocks up thru the floor but how far are you willing to go? I leaned towards leaning it back, trying to milk as much travel as I could out of it and hoping the bypass shocks would help compensate for crappy shock angles if that makes sense?

And with that said, oh boy... Of to a company wide HR meeting on sexual harassment! YAWN!!!

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There's no rush on the measurements bud.

I understand what you're saying about your rear setup. I'm only pulling 14" up front so I don't need big numbers in the rear. The only way I can pull 18" of travel off the stock mounts and with no fab work and no down time would be to buy some 6pak shocks, which I have been doing research on. Off the top of my head they measure; collapsed:15" and extended:31". They cost less then 3x's and canti setup. The "down fall" (in my limited knowledge) is that its only nitro filled. I'm in no rush to do this so I still have plenty of time to figure it out.

Thanks for helping me out and answering all my questions.