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1983-2011 Off-Road & 4x4 Ford Ranger's Show of your trucks, or post your build threads. This is NOT a help forum. Post your questions in the Help Forums further down

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Old 05-21-2012, 09:24 AM   #1
Creig
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Default My, scratch that... Now my DAUGHTER'S 1987 Supercab 4x4 build

Well, you guys get a quickie with this one. I am nearing the finish line of an 8 year project. Yes, it has taken me EIGHT YEARS to finish this thing off. To be honest, it was a hobby for me rather than a "must finish it so I can drive it" project. I'm not a mechanic, nor am I a body man. Yet I've picked up the skills along the way and surprised myself in the end.



THE STORY

Eight years ago, I was driving with my daughter when a lady pulled out into the path of our truck. I was unable to stop in time and we collided. Luckily it was in town so our speeds were low and nobody was injured. But the collision caused about $1,200 damage to the front end of my truck (grill, bumper, fender and brush guard). Being (at the time) a fledgling backyard mechanic, I felt I could save some money by repairing the damage myself instead of bringing it to an auto body shop. I could then use the leftover money to touch up a few other spots on the truck.

I had a junker Ranger that I had picked up as a parts truck that actually turned out to be a good runner, so one weekend I put the junker on the road and I started removing the damaged panels from my "good" Ranger. Once the grill and fender were removed I happened to notice that the radiator support was rusted out and ready to fall out! Good thing I was doing this project, I told myself. So I pulled out the radiator support. It was then that I noticed that the body mounts were rusted through and the body was ready to drop onto the frame. Holy crap! I better fix those, too!

Well, to make a long story short, by the time I got done pulling off everything that needed to be fixed, I was left looking at a bare frame and was wondering what the hell I'd gotten myself into! I'd heard of stories like this where a build got way out of control, but couldn't for the life of me figure out why the idiot in question didn't just stop. Well, now I know. But since I was in no rush to get it right back on the road, I told myself I would turn it into a hobby and work on it as I felt like it and as money allowed.

Fast forward eight years. I am now in the final stages of putting the truck together and thought I would share the results with everyone here. I've used this forum for years, reading through the tech articles and forum posts to help me with ideas and to figure out how to get rid of the gremlins that inevitably snuck in. This truck was originally going to be mine, but it has taken so long that I decided instead to gift it to my daughter who turned 16 a few months ago. It will be her first vehicle. I know we all remember our first vehicles, so I wanted hers to be something special. And I think most of you will agree that this one will be special to her.

THE TRUCK - THEN
It is a 1987 Ranger XLT Supercab 4x4. It was pretty stock when I bought it with only a fiberglass topper, a brush guard and 30" tires on stock wheels. I have pictures, but need to create an account tonight with my ISP so I can host them to display here. For now, I'll just use the attach function but will replace them with embedded pictures later to make them easier to view.


THE LAUNDRY LIST
Refinished American Racing AR-08 15x8 wheels
Sport King 32x11.50x15 M&S tires
4.10 gear ratio front/rear
Auburn Gears limited slip in the rear
Rear anti-sway bar from a BII
Polyurethane body mounts, sway bar bushings, swing arm bushings, spring bushings
Rear gas tank setup from donor truck
Replace chrome front bumper with painted
Replace rear chrome bumper with new powder coated
Replace bench seat with buckets and console from a BII
Bushwacker fender cutout flares
Lund Visor
Lund Fastback
New right front fender
New tailgate
New radiator support
Two non-rust doors from ebay
Replaced chrome door handles/locks with black
Replaced chrome swingaway mirrors with black sport mirros
Dechromed front grill
White face gauge kit in dash
Replaced stock headlights with Wagner Xenon Brightlights
Replaced stock backup bulbs with halogens
Dash mounted tach with matching white face kit
Black Magic electric fan and mounts
Air cleaner from 1989 Ranger
K&N air filter
Front tow hooks
New emergency brake cables
New wiper motor
New heater resistor
New kevlar clutch disc
New pressure plate
Resurfaced flywheel
New clutch slave cylinder
New throwout bearing
New 2 1/2 inch exhaust from cat to tailpipe
New 2 1/2 inch in/out F150 muffler
New radiator
New heater core
New thermostat
New front disc calipers
New front pads
New front brake lines and hoses
New spark plug wires
New cap/rotor
Tilt steering column with cruise controls
In-dash AM/FM/CD/DVD player with bluetooth and handsfree phone
Infinity Reference speakers front/rear
Frame mounted receiver hitch
Black antenna
Front inner fenderwells from an Explorer to fit re-radiused fenders
McGard Tough Nuts lug nuts
Did all bodywork myself
Painted entire truck myself
Installed pair of stainless 100w halogen off-road lights in brush guard

YET TO DO

Last edited by Creig; 02-14-2017 at 10:58 PM.
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Old 05-21-2012, 09:26 AM   #2
Creig
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THE REBUILD

After stripping the truck down to the frame, I slowly began the rebuilding process. I removed all the rust from the frame with a needle descaler as my siphon feed sandblaster didn't want to do much to the heavy scale rust that had built up everywhere due to the truck living its entire life in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and its salt road winters. THAT took quite awhile. Once the frame was relatively clean, I coated it with Corroless Rust Stabilizer to neutralize and encapsulate any remaining rust. I coated THAT with Eastwood Co Chassis Black and coated THAT with a spray on rubberized undercoating. I also coated the entire bottom of the box, the cab and the inside of the fenders in the same manner.

I had my brother (he owns his own repair shop) remove the stock 3.45 gears and open differential and replace them with 4.10s and an Auburn Gears rear limited slip. This was the only work to the truck that was not done by me. I knew that installing ring/pinion and getting a good mesh pattern can be tricky, so I let him handle this. With the 32x11.50 tires I planned to run, I calculated that running 4.10s would put me right back into the stock RPM band. Plus adding the limited slip would definitely help in winter up here. Since I didn't plan on doing any real off-roading other than going to camp once in a while, I installed the rear anti-sway bar from a BII to help reduce body sway on the highway. I realize that the hard core members among you just cringed after reading that, but it's what the truck is built for. Mostly highway/town usage with occasional off-road adventures.

With that out of the way, I decided to replace a lot of the rubber bushing with polyurethane. So out with the old and in with the new spring bushes, swing arm pivots, sway bar bushings and body mounts. I also rebuilt and beefed up the body mounts so I wouldn't have to worry about them rusting out ever again. I debated going with a 4" suspension lift, but decided that a very moderate body lift along with Bushwacker fender cutouts would give me the look I wanted without raising the trucks center of gravity. So I cut down a 3" body lift kit into 1 1/2" and used that.

I didn't like the directions that came with the fender flares. They wanted me to cut around the fender radius and rivet it back in place further up the panel. Well, all that does is give rust another metal sandwich to sit in. So instead, I cut existing fender lip off, cut some kerf lines in the sheet metal, bent myself a new radius and welded the kerfs back together into a solid fender lip once again.



Last edited by Creig; 05-21-2012 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 05-21-2012, 09:26 AM   #3
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At this point, the truck didn't look like much. I had picked up a used set of 15x8 American Racing AR-08 wheels and bought two new Sport King 32x11.50x15 tires go on it. The other two had pretty good tread left on them. I've heard good things about the traction and longevity (and the price) of the Sport Kings so decided to give them a shot.

Rust was EVERYWHERE. The salt up here really does some damage and gets everywhere. I just noticed the can of PB Blaster sitting on the underside of my upside down box in the first picture. Had I known at the time, I would have just picked up a case of it and saved myself multiple trips to the auto parts store. Everything needed to be soaked or heated in order to be removed.

I decided that the fender, the tailgate and both doors were beyond my ability to fix. So I purchased two doors on ebay and the fender & tailgate from LMC truck. I also liked the fact that the tailgate had no Ford logo on the back as I planned to shave the emblems and go for a clean look.




Last edited by Creig; 10-31-2013 at 07:00 AM.
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Old 05-21-2012, 09:30 AM   #4
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The engine and transmission were both good, so I decided to keep them rather than swapping them out for a 302/C4 combo like I'd originally planned. I rather like the 2.9L anyhow. It's a nice match for these trucks and is very reliable.

Since the truck was originally an XLT model, it had chrome EVERYWHERE. Well, I didn't want chrome so that created a whole shopping list of problems right there. In order to two-tone the truck like I wanted, I had to source out a new rear bumper, new front bumper, new door handles, new door locks and windshield trim. I also replaced the large swing away chrome mirrors with the smaller black sport mirrors. By this time, I was on a first name basis with the owners of all my local salvage yards. I had also made a list of every junk Ranger in a field or behind a barn that I spotted in the area.

The junk Ranger I had originally picked up just for parts (and was now driving as my main vehicle) had dual tanks. I had never seen another Ranger with dual tanks before and liked the fact that I could go more than one week without refilling since the stock tank was only 14.5 gallons. So I pulled the dual tank setup from the parts truck and installed it on my project truck. I swapped in the fuel door and now I had 29 gallons of fuel capacity! Much better.

After a few years of driving the "parts" Ranger, I decided that it was time for me to get something a little nicer. So I picked up a 1999 F-150 XLT 4x4 Supercab. I really liked the color, so I decided that would be the paint code I would use on the Ranger as well. You can see where I sprayed in the fuel door pockets after installing the 2nd door in the bed.



The truck originally had a bench seat, but I sourced a set of buckets and center console from a BII that matched the color of the interior and swapped them in. I also installed a shift light tach on the dash and had a guy make a set of white faced gauge overlays for the dash and the tach that matched each other.

I also pulled the tilt steering column with cruise controls and installed it in my Ranger along with the electronics and servo. Only time will tell if I got everything right.

The fan clutch was bad, so I decided to ditch it altogether and installed a Black Magic electric fan and shroud.

Last edited by Creig; 06-16-2012 at 10:35 PM.
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Old 05-21-2012, 09:47 AM   #5
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After a LOONNNGGG period of priming, sanding and mudding, I got the body massaged into reasonable shape and was ready to start spraying a little color here and there. And the truck was starting to look like a truck again.














The reason it took years to get to this point is that I treated it like a hobby. I worked on it when I felt like it, let it sit when I got disgusted with it and walked away. In addition, I had to picked up quite a few $$$ of tools/equipment along the way. Air compressor, wire feed welder, cutting torches, torque wrench, wrenches, spray guns, etc... It all adds up pretty fast. In addition, I was buying parts and upgrades for the truck. All of which didn't come cheap either.

In addition to the Bushwacker fender cutouts, I bought a Lund visor and Fastback knowing that they would likely be extremely scarce once I was at the point of needing them.

Last edited by Creig; 06-16-2012 at 10:34 PM.
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Old 05-21-2012, 09:48 AM   #6
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After getting everything ready, a local guy was kind enough to let me use his garage to spray the truck. He has a rudimentary spray booth setup which we both felt would work MUCH better than me trying to spray it in my driveway. So I sprayed the truck myself and was surprised at how well it turned out. I used a Nason single stage rather than trying to do a base/clear. It came out with very minimal orange peel. In fact, I've seen more orange peel on factory paint jobs. So not a bad first paint job attempt at all.














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Old 05-21-2012, 09:54 AM   #7
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So now I could finally start putting things back together instead of just ripping them further apart. I ditched the stock chromed bumpers and found a good front bumper off a junker. I couldn't find a good non-chromed rear bumper so bought a new aftermarket one. I sanded down the grill and painted it to get rid of THAT chrome as well. I went with Dupont bumper black and it was the exact eggshell satin black finish I was hoping for. So now the grill and bumpers went on.


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Old 05-21-2012, 10:01 AM   #8
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Since we ended up with some dust in the paint on the hood and roof, I decided to wet sand and buff them. BIG MISTAKE! Not because I screwed anything up, but because they turned out GORGEOUS! I could NOT BELIEVE how nice it looked!



For now, the only things wet sanded/buffed are the hood, roof, visor and fastback. Although I suspect that at some point the remainer of the truck will get the same treatment.

Last edited by Creig; 05-21-2012 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 05-21-2012, 10:14 AM   #9
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Speaking of the fastback...






and the visor...






Last edited by Creig; 05-21-2012 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 05-21-2012, 10:18 AM   #10
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Which brings us up to the present and the fender flares. I got one installed yesterday as it took much longer than expected. I'll try to shoot for one each day after work assuming time/weather cooperate.




And now you're up to speed on the last eight years. I figured it was close enough now that I could post it here and keep interest. An eight year build would probably have bored most of you, so now you can watch as I struggle to finish this up and get it back on the road.



Today's update: Installed the left rear fender flare. It went a lot smoother than the front did. Probably because I didn't have to deal with the inner fender well and because I'd worked out the easiest way to install it. So now the left side is done. I won't get to work on it tomorrow as I'll be busy all day at work. Hopefully by the end of the week I'll have both right side flares on as well. It looks a bit funny right now with the stock tires. Hopefully the 32x11.50s on the 8 inch wheels will fill the wheel wells a bit better.

And here are a couple of pics of the interior showing the white faced gauge kit, the tach with matching white face kit and the buckets/console.




Last edited by Creig; 05-21-2012 at 08:10 PM.
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