FEATURE TRUCK BY Joel Haywood
I’ve seen this Bronco II morph into what it is today. It’s been a long time coming and the result speaks for itself.
I’ve asked John, what he plans to get out of his Bronco, many many times. I keep getting, it’s going to be built as, an “Adventure Machine”. Something he could pack his family and gear into and take off to remote areas and do a few outdoor activities. Fair enough.
So to start this project was a mildly modified 84 Bronco II that was supposed to be the base for this project. Well it turned out that the harsh Manitoba winters had finally gotten the better of the body, and was more work to repair the damage. Damage that seemed to never end. One area would be fixed only to find another. The best solution was to find another solid donor and rebuild. None of the parts that were installed on the 84 would go to waste.
A solid donor was found a couple weeks later and was purchased. A clean 85 was now the new base. The first thing on the list was to convert the 2.8L to duraspark and get the old 84 torn down for the parts to be transferred over. The next transfer over was the rear bumper/tire rack and roof rack. Now the project seemed to be getting back on track. All this extra work felt like a step backward but it was all going to be worth the trouble.
Finally a nice weekend came around and it was time to swap the drive train. The axles that were geared to 4.10 were ready and prepped to install. The 2.5” suspension lift was also ready to go in. After a little bit of manual labor the project was back to where he left off.
Now here is the sad part, the 84 was stripped down and cut into pieces and sent to the local steel recycler. It had seen it’s time and had done a good tour.
Now that the project was back on track other things could be started.
A new front bumper was made and installed.
With the extra weight of all the steel that was being added the 2.8L was struggling a bit. So some shorty headers were found and installed for a marginal increase in power.
As the Bronco stayed this way for a few months, the talk of a few more inches of lift were being tossed around. Well it so happened I had a set of 4” lift brackets I had removed off my truck that I sold him. So within the coming weeks it was decided that it was time. I helped out with the 4” lift install. After a day of wrenching the results were seen and they were liked. Just too bad the 31’s now looked smallish. A friend of his had an interesting idea and chopped up a stock BroncoII emblem for the extra II’s and they were installed after the factory badges. The Project now had a new name, “Bronco III.”
Another few wheeling trips later and it was decided that the D28 was just not going to cut it. The fear of breakage was high. So a D35 was sourced from a 91 Explorer. After months of debate the 4.10 gears were ordered for the D35 axle.
A few wheeling trips were needed to find any new bugs. And some reared their ugly head. More body work. Both the driver floor and passenger floor had to be replaced as the rust had now made Swiss cheese of the floor. Another area that needed attention was the lower corner at the bottom of the hatch opening. Now the body was solid again.
After coming out to help me with some of my projects it was decided that my 33” tires were going to be on loan. After installing them minor fender trimming was involved. And it sure made a difference. There was light, and the BroncoIII was starting to become what John had envisioned.
Now with the 33” rubber, on the D28 we knew that the stock axle shafts were not going to last. Waiting for the D35 gears seemed like an eternity. The day finally came and the Diff was dropped off and a week later, it was game time.
Another weekend was set aside for the install. The newly rebuilt 4.10 diff for the D35 was done and it was time to swap. Everything went without a hitch. The front coil springs were upgraded to newer 4” Skyjackers. At this time the Drop plate bracket used on the 4” lift looked as though it was going to interferer with the D35 housing so a new 1 piece bracket was installed to eliminate the drop plate. Now the D35 had lots of clearance. The front sway bar was eliminated at this time also.
It was now getting closer and the vision was clear.
With the larger tires and the extra drag from the lift the stock 2.8L needed work. It was getting tired. The old 2.8L from the 84 was now pulled out of the corner and was torn down to be rebuilt. A reworked custom intake was made for the project, and a performance cam was ordered. With the extra ponies this engine was getting and the fact it was going to be wheeled there was something that should be done with the oiling situation. The oil pan was modified to hold a few extra quarts of oil. Before the engine was to be installed a few things needed some attention. The leaking radiator was swapped for a 4.0L version from a Ranger, and the clutch master was rebuilt and cleaned up.
The engine swap went without a hitch and the extra ponies help turn the 33” rubber over.
After the engine was installed it was pointed out that the diff seal and the T-case seal were leaking. This was due to the imbalance of the front drive shaft.
A 1354 manual t-case was found and installed along with a shortened factory front drive shaft from an Explorer.
Now that this project is nearing what the vision was. The question we have to ask is “What’s next?” I’m sure this is not the last and this project will never end. Keep up the good work John, it’s a pride of Joy. ~TRS