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In 1991 I bought a 1983 Ford Ranger to tow a Yamaha Waverunner that I had at the time. I heard about a place in Wellsville Ohio where I could take the truck and do a little off-roading. After my first trip off-road I was hooked. I soon began making modifications to the truck and it just never stopped.
In 1998 I decided to share my experience with other Ranger owners on the internet. I had found some Ranger websites, but nothing geared towards the off-road enthusiast. I decided to call the site 'The Ranger Station'. 'Station' is defined as 'The place, building, or establishment from which a service is provided or operations are directed'. Also - 'An establishment equipped for observation and study'. And finally - 'An input or output point along a communications system'. It just seemed like a good name.
The site didn't actually come online until the beginning of 1999.
The initial purpose of The Ranger Station would be to share technical information with other off-road Ranger enthusiasts and provide a photo section to allow enthusiasts to show off their hard work. I didn't want to duplicate what other sites were doing. I just wanted to fill the void. Our slogan was 'For The Ultimate Off-Road Ranger'
Where It Started:
In 1999 the website started out on my home page at gte.net and then to xoom.com and geocities.com before finding a home at homestead.com. While at homestead I got a subdomain of www.therangerstation.cjb.net.
Want a rare treat and taste of history? Go to www.archive.org. Enter www.therangerstation.cjb.net in the box for the 'wayback machine'. I have found pages going back to October 1999 there. You can see how the site has changed over the years.
As The Ranger Station was growing I started seeing the presence of Bronco II enthusiasts since they're mostly made of Ranger parts. I created a website called the Bronco II Corral that was a tech site for Bronco II owners. It was basically the same as The Ranger Station and had a subdomain of www.bronco2corral.cjb.net. It became to much work and seemed like a waste of time duplicating my work, so I merged the two (2) sites together. The Bronco II Corral would become the Bronco II photo section at The Ranger Station.
In 2009 I would re-create the Bronco II Corral at www.broncoiicorral.com. This time around the site would focus just on Bronco II specific tech and link to the forums at The Ranger Station.
I registered the domain name www.therangerstation.com in 2000 and had it redirected to the site at homestead.com. The site was moved to a regular server later that year with a true domain instead of redirection. In the fall of 2001 The Ranger Station was moved to another server where it remained until the start of 2004. The site stayed there until it outgrew the hosting company and moved from a shared server to a new virtual server in 2007.
In 2008 we moved to our current virtual server.
Hosting Trail Rides:
The Ranger Station hosted regular trail rides from 1999-2006. Our first trail ride was held in Wellsville Ohio. Over the years TRS has hosted trail rides in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana. TRS has been fortunate enough to have a couple of our trail rides featured in 'Offroad Adventures Magazine' and some of the trail rides were sponsored, which allowed us to give stuff away.
The Ranger Station began using YaBB forums in 2001. We found that as the forums got larger they also got slower. Over the years we have used phpBB, Invision Power Board (IPB), and vBulletin forums. In 2007 we switched to a new virtual server and actually purchased our own vBulletin software. Our old hosting company wouldn't let us have our forum database, so we had to start over from scratch. Some sites look at TRS and attack the number of members we have suggesting it's a low amount, but fail to point out that the number is from the re-creation in 08/2007.
For some reason, some people think The Ranger Station was created in 2001 when the forums were added. The Ranger Station has been around since 1999.
Re-Evaluating Our Initial Purpose:
We had become a valuable resource to both the street cruisers and off-roaders. I was getting emails from enthusiasts who thought I should have a place for the street crowd. Our slogan had changed to 'Your Ultimate Ranger Resource'. We created photo sections for off-road & street trucks and began featuring tech information and forums for those who like to lower their trucks and cruise the streets. This made us an even greater resource since we now had even more enthusiasts sharing information.
Influence & Moments Of Fame!
In 2002 I began selling stickers and t-shirts to help pay for the hosting and domain name for this website. It's great to see The Ranger Station (TRS) stickers on vehicles and the advertising helps bring more enthusiasts to the site. The more enthusiasts we have, the more resources we have for enthusiasts to draw information from.
Being a large website with active forums, we get manufacturers that browse through to see what the consumer (you) has to say about your vehicle and the products you use. I actually had discussions with a Ford engineer about some future changes to the Ranger and the not then released FX4 Ranger. I didn't have any input in the design, just offered feedback to the 'what if's'. On September 7, 2001, I actually got to drive the FX4 and see it in action during a trail ride that I hosted. The engineer I was communicating with brought it to the trail ride. This was well before the FX4 ever hit the dealerships. You can see more about that event HERE. I hope that Ford will always look to this site to help find ways to give you the consumer what your looking for in a compact truck.
In July of 2000, 4x4 Power magazine did an article entitled '4x4 Blueprinting - '83-'97 Ford Ranger'. It was a tech article written by Jim Allen. The Ranger Station was listed in the article as a resource and there was a special thanks to Jim Oaks at The Ranger Station for providing information. This was definitely a proud moment and I saved the article. 4X4 Power is no longer in print. It was a sister magazine to 4Wheel & Offroad magazine and published by the same company.
Our Spring 2003 trail ride (Spring Ranger Round-Up) was featured in the pages of Off-Road Adventures Magazine in the October/November issue. The story was called 'Return To Wellsville'. Jim Allen took a photo of Brett Beach's 2000 Ranger which later appeared in magazines as Randy's Ring & Pinion/Detroit Locker ads.
The Ranger Station's TRS-1 Ranger was featured in the December 2003 issue of Off-Road Adventures Magazine. The story is called 'Practical Ranger'.
Off-Road Adventures Magazine covered our 2004 Snowball run and printed in the January 2005 issue under the title 'Mudsicle'.
In 2004 I built a 1996 Ranger for Off-Road Adventures Magazine that appeared in a 6-part series in 2005 entitled 'Transformer'. The truck was built with the help of several sponsors and the articles have been captured at http://www.trsfabandoffroad.com/TRSTrucks/trs2.htm .
On August 3rd 2009 I was mentioned in a Wall Street Journal article entitles 'For Companies, a Tweet in Time Can Avert PR Mess'. The article discussed how companies were using social media to avert public-relations problems.
What Makes This Site Successful?
If I had to answer that, I would say the users and forum Moderators/Technical Advisors. Much of the tech info featured has been submitted by other enthusiasts (you). The forums are a great resource and we're thankful to have good users/technical advisors/moderators to help out.
Wait! What About The Trucks?
For more info on TRS-1 (1983 Ranger) click HERE.
For more information on TRS-2 (1996 Ranger) click HERE.
Why The Patriotic Red, White & Blue Paint Scheme?
I was a fan of the Ford Rough Riders Off-Road Racing team. The trucks were blue over white with a red stripe separating them. After considering different paint schemes, I went with that. The colors have become very distinctive and the trucks have been spotted in public by people that have seen them on the net and in magazines. I doubt that I will ever use any other color combinations.
I'm currently using a 2010 Ford F-150 with the 5.4L V8 and an 18-foot dovetail trailer to tow the Rangers to long distant trail rides.
I hope The Ranger Station will continue to be an important resource to owners of Ranger based vehicles. I hope to expand the site and it's services to keep up with the needs of the enthusiasts. My wife Vanessa now has a 4x4 Ranger that we will start building up in 2010.
Drop me a line.....
I'm always interested in hearing from our users. Especially those who have been around to watch it change and grow. Feel free to email me.