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zjrog and the Ranger project

Well, this project has phases. How many? I don't know...

First, we bought the little truck for my son and this is how it came.

1990 Regular cab regular bed 2.3 5speed 4x4. 4.10 gears, D35 and rear 7.5. Only thing fancy about this truck was the pushbutton shift for the tcase. Already had a Skyjacker 6" lift, 31s on 15x10 wheels (?) and the fiberglass flares.

The boy drove it all over for a year and half and then we moved from California to Utah. When I bought it I knew it had some rust in the cab, but it wasn't until later in Utah we discovered how bad it was. We deemed the truck unsafe and took it off the streets. Literally, the A pillars were rusted through, firewall seams were rusted through and the door jambs where the hinges finally rusted through. We expected the doors to fall off. End phase one.

Phase 2 began with finding a 88 cab (We didn't realize what a mistake that was at the time, it was CHEAP!), and a Tuff Country 6" kit (minus springs) with extended radius arms. I swapped a dead 2.3 for the lift parts. We added a showbar/lightbar for the bed and we have a baja type lightbar for the bumper. Short story, this phase ended with this.

Doesn't look significantly different save for the paint, but believe me, nothing was left untouched.

We were pleased with all we did that the truck started practically the first try. This was the primary reason we didn't trash the thing in the first place it ran too good to junk it.


We still didn't have good flex though, as the Skyjacker coils are too stiff, and the current rear shocks limit travel (or I could have moved the stock shock mounts higher on the axle). However, some things we hadn't taken into account during the project kept the truck from passing safety, and again, the little truck awaits more parts. Lets call this the end of Phase 2.

So Phase 3 officially begins with me collecting parts again. It wouldn't pass safety due to bad balljoints and wheel bearings. We had replaced the axle seals and bearings in the diff though. Rather than throw more money at the TTB, we decided to do a SAS. And, due to availability of parts, and the same bolt pattern as the Ranger, we settled on the D30 from an XJ. Because of a different project (my daughter's XJ) I got an entire Cherokee parts car for, um, free. It needed to be moved, and I moved it. Sadly, it has 3.07s. On the upside, the brake pads and rotors were all but new when the XJ quit running, and the unit bearings were replaced a couple years ago. It will get 4.10s or 4.56 gears depending on a couple other factors. But essentially it doesn't need any major work to go under the Ranger. I just need to finish stripping the parts car for the axle and everything associated with it.

I also collected long arms from a Wrangler TJ that are 33.5" eye to eye. I need some adjustable upper links (short arms) to fab the y-link radius arms, and I will modify a stock XJ trans crossmember since the original crossmember is in the way.

I also have a Chrysler 8.25" 29 spline rear axle also with 4.10s from a later model cherokee that should prove stronger than the factory 7.5" under the truck. Odd combination I know, but solid stuff.

Today, I received some more odd parts. Toyota Tundra rear leaf springs. Right off a 2007 truck. They are 64" long, and have the pin irght in the center. I will remove a leaf since the Ranger is lighter than the Tundra... I will either reposition the stock hangers, or fab some new ones from plate. And of course, some longer shackles. I have a friend that recently made some killer spring hangers and shackles for his really big Suburban he is building. If I can make these springs work I will, if not, well, I'll do something else. I need to get the liftblock out of there.

And last for this evening, I am getting a 91 Mercury Cougar for free, so I can get the 3.8 V6 and automatic (and wiring and computer) for the Ranger. It has a leaking PS pump that is why it is off the road and hasn't been touched in a year, so it needs to be moved. I can move it...

I have managed to collect a bunch of tires. Some are good, some are spares only, and a few are just junk. But, I can make a couple of complete sets in a few sizes. If I stay with 31" tires, I will stay with 4.10 gears. If I decide to use 33" tires, its a tossup whether to stay with 4.10s or go 4.56s. However, if we decide to move to 35s (which I have two sets of), then 4.56s are a must (I'd prefer 5.13s but the Chrysler axle only gets to 4.56s...). Though the 3.8 should I swap it in, should be able to manage the 35s on 4.56s, just don't expect a speed demon.

I hope to move forward with this project very soon. It NEEDS to hit some trails...

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nice looking ranger.. i tried to buy an 89 2.3L short bed reg cab 5spd from a guy that frequents my work but he sold it b4 i could gather up the whopping grand he took for it. it was a stout truck. hmm, i was $1000 away from being a ranger guy instead of a soccer mom. go figure.

Excellent start, nice paint job too:thumbsup:

Skyjacker coils too stiff?:dunno:


I know you are thinking he has a v-8 but they are only abought 100# heavier than a 2.3.

94 Crawler, with the 2.3 the old Skyjacker coils are really stiff. It rides rough (corners great for a lifted truck though!!!). And I really doubt the front swaybar stops ALL flex. My ZJ flexes OK even with the swaybar connected (though MUCH better with it disconnected).

Patman, quick story. All about interchangability. I think the only things that stayed the same besides basic dimensions are windshields, rear windows and doors. Since I didn't want to have electrical issues, I needed the 90 harness and dash. 88 and under is different from 89 up. I'm only saying this about 1st and 2nd generation Rangers. Oh wait, the 90 dash won't bolt in. Only ONE screw lined up. Everything under the hood was different. And then, the radiator bulkhead is different. I wound up cutting the headlight buckets from the rusty 90 cab and welding them into the 88 cab. Oh, lets not forget the steering columns are different, and their brackets and the foot pedals are all different. And the holes through the firewall for the steering column and the main wiring harness are different too, both required modifications. I didn't get the 88 doors, I used the 90 doors and they were just fine. We really had our work cut out for us and we just didn't have a CLUE when we started this, other than I knew I was going to have to figure out a workaround for the headlight issue.

Overall, for the whole of this project, my son and I learned a LOT about what we can and can't do. We CAN do almost everything. We haven't yet run into what we CAN'T do, yet. we are lucky to have good friends to help or just offer advice when we need it, or to kick me in the butt now and again!

And since things evolve, I made a decision today. While I might still get that Cougar, I won't be swapping the 3.8 into the Ranger. Not to say it won't happen later, but one thing I learned this past year was to limit the number of projects at a time. You see, during the rehab of the Ranger, I also bought and rehabbed a 1990 Cherokee too, that projects goal was simply to make the Jeep reliable. So I had a busy and full plate. And I still do, I'm rehabbing a tent trailer (mid 70s Starcraft) and an old 1960s Totegote minibike this winter, both need to be ready for spring time camping... Anyway, my present goal is to get the SAS complete and to pass safety inspection. And at least build leaf spring hangers for the Tundra springs, and rear upper and lower shock mounts. Whether or not I get them installed will depend on a lot of things.

So, as soon as I can, things get going again. Now this year I need to keep my Adult ADD at bay... And not keep adding things as each project progresses!

...Nice truck and I hear you on the adult ADD...:biggthump

alright so the issue was that 88 was an entirely different generation than 90 got it...but sounds like you had some fun times making everything work

Hahahaaa, you're a funny guy... It was a case of getting one thing figured out and finding two more to fix. There are still a couple things I'd do different but the thing is solid so I'll leave it alone. Though of I pull the dash out for a rollcage, I will fix 2 of my "fixes".

Oh well, I wish I had the D30 swap done so my son could have had as much fun as I did New years day...

And this was the first real obstacle of the trip, but just getting to this point was tricky, half of us got stuck in a ravine coming up to this climb.

We picked up a 94 EX XLT that has a dead trans (in a different thread), that I hope to have fixed in two weeks. But most certainly by the end of the month. Then turn the EX over to my son for whatever he wants to do. It might get the 6" lift off the Ranger for all I know. This truck was the one I thought was 93 that I was looking at a few months ago. Planets aligned and we towed it home yesterday. Once the trans is fixed, not my project anymore.

Just as an aside, the Ranger is going backburner. Lots of issues in life have kept me out of the garage for anything. We discovered the slave cylinder in the Ranger is leaking. We thought about changing it when the motor was out. Oh well, live and learn. I have all parts on hand except for the brackets I need to make. I was hoping to get some 1/4" plate, but might have to use the 3/16ths I have. I'm going to use stock Jeep JK Wrangler upper control arms and modify them to be adjustable... But as I mentioned, its backburner for a bit.

Finishing getting the last of the parts off the cut-up parts XJ and a friend will haul it to the scrapper next week. Waiting to see how my other friend rigs the back half as a trailer...

I MIGHT be getting a 68 Scout 800 for half what I got the EX for. But that is a 2 year project, after everything else I already have to do.

Waiting on parts for the trailer and the minibike... Just thought I'd update...

ZJROG...I wish i had a dad as awesome as you...my dad get's pissed when i take off a wheel to inspect something...let alone when i start talking about modifying it at all....ugh

While I've footed the bill for a lot the build, my son has shelled out some bucks as well. I'm only too happy to let him turn wrenches. But trust me, I'm not always awesome...

Reviving this thread from the dead...

Truck never made it to full daily driver status. Last summer my son threw a few bucks at it and we replaced the throwout bearing (was leaking), but he never had time to finish and by summers end I had a bicycle wreck that crushed my back. 2 rods and 10 screws later, and lots of recovery, I'm doing very good, no pain killers. But not 100% yet either. I digress.

More on the original upgrade/build is HERE!

At the beginning of the New Year, my son had a suggestion. How about swapping the 4.0 from the Explorer into the Ranger. Sure, why not. ARE YOU DAFT??? He laid out his reasoning and I agreed. Once school was out and he was back up here for the summer, he had a couple weeks before his summer intern job started. So, he stripped both trucks, and started moving stuff to the Ranger. Plan was, wiring, powertrain, interior, then suspension and axle swaps.


Ranger stripped, back of cab forward.


Explorer stripped, steering and axles left to move it around.


Mixed the Ranger and Explorer frame harness' so we could use the Explorer fuel pump. Left the RABS stuff in the harness, but nothing is connected.


From the day we started stripping the Ranger, to the day the truck was started, was 2 weeks. My son wanted the whole thing DONE in two weeks. I knew it wasn't going to happen. But, who listens to Dad...


Explorer fuel pump on the left. Ranger on the right. Explorer pump dropped right into the Ranger tank. Mostly why I mixed the two frame harness'.


Fun for me, cutting the interior harness to get rid of unneeded rear door locks and windows. Kept the speaker/amp harness. If my son decides to swap in power doors he will need to modify Ranger doors to match the Explorer door harness. I also had to take the rear taillights and run them out with a harness of their own.


THis is what I cut out of the interior harness...

While we got the truck started and running in two weeks, took the rest of the summer to get it drivable. We needed to rehab both drive shafts, and the rear Explorer needed to be shortened anyway. We swapped the Explorer 3.73 geared D35 over. The Ranger's spindles were in bad shape, the balljoints were too. The Explorers were in fine shape. And 3.73s seemed a better choice than 4.10s for highway use with 30" or smaller... We also swapped over the 8.8 with LSD. And, the Explorer rear springs. THe original Ranger springs were pretty hammered.


In the end, my son decided he needed a tool box (freebie) rather than the showbar for lights. And added a high lift mount and such. And the bedliner was returned as well.


My son decided to take the truck into the city when I wanted to drive it for the week. It worked out just fine. Truck drives nice and is a blast to drive.


Loaded down headed back to school. Hood is open to let things cool, not hot but he had an issue with vapor lock the week before in the same gas station...


And unloading at school. Yes, the 235s look small. My son will have to live with them until he can afford bigger...


Anyone need a good shell?

..Happy for the update but really sad to hear of your accident..Hopefully you will continue getting better..:D

Just me, riding my roadbike, downhill about 40MPH. Flat front tire... I have no memory of that. 3 cracked vertebra in my neck, Occipital Condyle Avulsion (muscles pulled bone from my skull), Concussion but my helmet saved my life.

My friend riding with me held me down. I also managed to break 4 ribs, crushed my T9 vertebra and damaged the T7, 8 and 10. If he hadn't held me down, I wouldn't be walking now.


Rods and screws, T7-12, except the T9, where that bridge is... A week in surgical ICU, 2 weeks in hospital physical rehab.

Month and a half wearing a TLSO brace, followed by two more months wearing a hard cervical collar.


And a permanent reminder.

Accident was a year ago, Aug 21st. I stopped 3 a day Oxycontin before Thanksgiving, and stopped all pain meds just before Christmas. I use muscle relaxers in frequently. Been in the gym since mid January and finished physical therapy in March.

I had my left knee replaced 9 months prior. By any measure, that has gone well...

That jump was 7 months after knee replacement, and 2 months before my crash. I'm not jumping off things. Yet... I can get things sore and tired pretty easily... I was swinging a sledgehammer the other day, but was worthless the next day. I replaced the fuel pump in my Grand Cherokee yesterday, and am sore today. But its GOOD to be active.

Two things I believe. Its better to feel, than not. And any day walking on the dirt, is better than any day sleeping in it.

Also, I'm retired Navy, who the hell am I to complain about my situation, when my brothers and sisters come home home in worse shape than me?

Really didn't intend to gross anyone out... Really, I'm doing very well.

The Ranger has more than 2500 miles on it now and seems to be just fie, save for the couple minor issues of no working fuel gauge and no electric shift in the transfer case. MPGs aren't as good as expected, but the truck has been running around loaded or with a trailer, but getting a smidge over 15 even so far. Thats better than when everything was in the Explorer, unloaded.

That's some crazy damage, glad you're up and moving!

Brother, once I knew I could feel my feet and move everything, there was no slowing me down. They expected me to be in physical rehab for 4 weeks, I was out in 2. I have an EXCELLENT Physical Therapist I saw for my knee replacement. He put me through the wringer. I have a family friend that does home health physical therapy that stopped and saw me a lot, and busted my chops. I'll be 50 in a few months, and have been cleared by my surgeon and Occupational Med folks for full duties. Nothing like an early birthday gift!

Anyway, my son did the majority of the work on this truck. I rebuilt the A4LD in it 3 years ago and, for a first rebuild, its going strong with about 35-40,000 miles on it... We do have our eyes out for a 5 speed though. Stuff left over from the Ranger ought to make the job easy...:D

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