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1997 ranger 4x4 trail truck build! UPDATED finally offroad with video


USCGC130

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2WD / 4WD
4WD
Total Lift
5.5"
Always wanted to get the vinyl floor out of a sport trac and put it in my truck, looks good! Any significant trimming to get it to fit?
thanks guys, i’m really happy with it all, the vinyl floor worked pretty good but the sport trac one is about 1/2” short around each door so i’ll have to make some aluminum fillers for there, i found a newer ranger edge vinyl floor but didn’t grab it thinking this would be a little nicer but since i got it i. i’m just going to roll with it. if i was to do it again i would have tried the ranger floor and hope it fits better, either way it’s way way nicer than the carpet!
 


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Jim Oaks

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Total Lift
6-inches
Tire Size
33x12.50x15
I have a Skyjacker 6-inch lift and 33's on my 1996 Ranger. I've never had any steering issues.

Nice job on the console.
 

USCGC130

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Total Lift
5.5"
Jim, i love your truck and paint schemes, i have read, and re-read your original build for the 1996 you have and am following it as a rough guide for this truck, but as i keep saying i cant do the fun stuff until i get reverse working lol.

After much contemplation, i think i will go with the 6", originally i planned to do the 4" but after getting my truck and finally getting under it, it already has a 2" spacer kit up front and i already have my mind picturing 4" lift from where it is NOW, so it looks like the 6" should get me as close to that as i want. im glad to hear your steering hasn't been an issue, because i hear so many people talking about it, that i was getting a bit nervous.

Plus my buddy is building his own version of a GFC camper and we plan to build one for this truck after he finishes his, so that will add some additional weight to sag the lift a little.
 

Danbama

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Hey guys!

i just bought a 1997 extra cab ranger 4.0 liter 4x4, which probably needs a new transmission, it has no reverse and no engine breaking in manual 1st. So when i get it ill investigate more to see if its the servo or seals or band, but i cant check until i get it down here from seattle, and yes i plan to drive it down!!. I had my dad good look at it and and its pretty close to what i want to build up

It is a:
*1997 ranger 4.0L 4x4
*Automatic /wish it was a manual but oh well
*TTB front end obviously
*only 121K miles
*got it for 2000 $

My plan is to throw on a Skyjacker 4" lift class 2 (top of the line one for them) with a steering stabilizer, on the skyjacker kit go with either their top of the line M95 shocks or buy it with out the shocks and go with bilsteins 5100, really i would like some foxes, but money wont allow. then replace the 31's with 33's (Probably need to re-gear since im only at 3.73) then replace all the body mounts and if i think it needs it ill add a 1.5 inch body lift while in doing the mounts.

The reason i am not going with a 6" suspension lift if because of the notorious steering issues with going that high, i want reliability and am willing to make up the extra room with a body lift since i am planning on replacing the body mounts any how.

possibly ass a snorkel for dust mitigation and water crossing of course

Then get a bumper or build one and winch 8k-10k, and since i have a welder i am planning on building a bed rack to put my rooftop tent on for camping, and then beat the hell out of it!

other things i plan to do are
  • Full size spare
  • Possibly a swing out rear bumper
  • Manual locking hubs for reliability
  • Swap the 2 piece drive shaft for a single
  • Build a platform box in the back of the cab for my dogs to hang out on and with storage underneath
  • I might move my dual battery set up with 800 watt inverter over from my avalanche since this will be my main wheeling/camping rig
Im welcome to hear any input or anything else people would recommend doing to make this a killer off-road rig (besides SAS, im keeping TTB), im hoping to keep it under 8K... but lets all be honest we know how that goes.
I was on the same path as you are with my 95 4.0 but got a monkey wrench thrown at me by letting the truck sit for a while do to completing other projects first. Rats ate and or chewed almost every wired under the hood now im just trying to see if I can rip everything out and run just the absolute nessacary wiring for motor and transmission. I planned on doing a sheet metal dash anyways so I can just hard wire anything else in such as lights and temp gauges.
 

USCGC130

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Total Lift
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Hey all, well I know I have been terrible with up dating this, but I have made a ton of progress since my last up date on Febuary 19th.
So far i have completed the vinyl floor install from a 2003 sport track, along with the 1 piece drive shaft from it, I also installed new heavy duty U joints in both front and rear drive shafts. I added a 10" subwoofer in a hand built box, and it sounds great! im really glad i went with 3/4" MDF, I almost cheaped out on 1/2" for weight and cost. I also pulled the new transmission again in my garage since when i originally put the new transmission in i tried to replace the rear main seal with out the correct tool and botched it!! so I went and got another 50$ seal and the 120$ tool and did it right this time, i even had my wife out in the garage until 4 am helping me get the transmission installed, shes a trooper and my only helper through most of this. I welded up a rear rack for my roof top tent that should work out nicely but I haven't got the tent installed on it yet. I blasted my wheels and gave them a sort of retro, 80's gold paint, I did a bit of research on paint before I settled on the duplicolor engine enamel paint but love the color and it went on really smooth, time will tell how it holds up, but i still have a can left for future touch ups. AND OF COURSE after much contemplation I said screw it and put on a 6" skyjacker lift with radius arms, M95 shocks and the FR36S rear leafs along with a shackle flip, Camburg MIG shackles and the Kartek drop rear hanger. On the front i went with 6" lift coils and .9" of a washer spacer on each side that i will probably cut down in the future to help keep a little rake when loaded down and ill have to mismatch the height to help even out the lean my truck still seems to have after the lift. I am currently waiting for skyjacker to get back to me about the extreme drop pitman arm that only seats 60% of the way on the steering shaft, so i hope they can at least send me a new one to try.

All in all its been a super busy time since i updated this last but here are a few pictures of some of the progress, i hope the resolution is good enough, im trying to find a good balance between size so im not loading massive pictures onto the forum. You all have been a tremendous help through all this and i greatly apreciate it!

On another note the skyjacker kit seems well made but it didnt exactly line up as i hoped i had to do a lot of gringing and hole widening on the drivers side to get everything to work and line up. I really wish the directions were better and that they tell you to leave everything loose until EVERYTHING is in place, i really did struggle with a few aspects of it and it was a much bigger undertaking than i anticipated, i thought it would take one weekend but it ended up taking me about 3 weeks of working on it when I could. But I eventually got it all sorted out and with winter here i excited to get some 33's on it and get to wheeling!

For the cross member under the drive shaft I know many say to keep it but i did not, i still wanted to keep the little skid plate for the gas tank so i just hacked it off on the far side of the drive shaft and may used a thick bracket to tie it into the bigger gas tank skid plate to help keep it a little more rigid, but at least i have some protection for the forward section of the tank. you can see this in the last picture

One more note that I figure might help some peoepl is that when doing the extended brake lines ( mine are probably way too long lol) but the front drivers side t-block took me a little while to find but NAPA ended up having it after telling me they have nothing like that. If you need it use the part number WH7900 ( WH stands for weatherhead) but that little bit of information would have saved me a bunch of searching.

F2A0E764-98F8-413F-81A6-495E5C225841.JPG
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IMG_5229.JPG
IMG_5227.JPG
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IMG_0133.jpg
 

alwaysFlOoReD

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The gold goes pretty good with the red.
 

USCGC130

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Total Lift
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Thanks I think so too, although most people gave me a goofy look when I said I was painting them gold, I am also painting the silver trim, front and rear bumpers either black but probably a dark charcoal grey like you see most trim, I think gold and silver looks a little off but I’ll fix it over Christmas break
 

USCGC130

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1997
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ford
Engine Type
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Transmission
Automatic
2WD / 4WD
4WD
Total Lift
5.5"
Did a little snow wheeling and camping the other night, but i got the ranger stuck and learned that now for some reason, my 4WD wont engage, im hoping it just a bad hub and it gives me an excuse to throw in manual warns. The front drive shaft would spin with RPMs but i know for sure the passenger front axle is not spinning at all, i haven't checked the driver side yet which may be the one thats getting power but not letting the hub engage. None the less i got a buddy to pull me out and we continued on. I Threw on some 33x10.5x15 BFG K02s need to get them balanced, they aren't too bad but there is a noticeable vibration above 45 MPH. Ive also determined that once i need another alignment i will pull out about .4-.5 inches on my front spacers because with my tent and gear my back end sits about .5" lower than the front.
DFFC9252-D79C-4CB0-B938-91FBAF472415.JPG

IMG_0482.JPG

IMG_0449.jpg



i also added the front town hooks (early christmas present from the wife, along with 2 bridal/tree saver straps) behind the bumper as seen in the tech articles, my hammer drill was a life saver for drilling those 1/2" holes which i needed for the grade 10.8 bolts. I also got longer and fatter u bolts since mine were maxed out with the new leafs, went for a measly less than 1/2" to some monster 5/8" and it is quite a noticeable difference, of course i had to drill out my spring plate but that was no biggy. With the decent weather we had i also painted the trim, flares and grill, i still want to do the bumpers but that is on the back burner for now since i have other things to sort out!.

IMG_0333.jpg

IMG_0319.jpg
 

JOLENE_THE_RANGER

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this thing is super cool man! i love the rack you built for the tent. next time, check out a set of rotabroaches from amazon or something. they make drilling big holes waaaaay easier. what do you do to keep the tent warm in weather like that?
 

USCGC130

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this thing is super cool man! i love the rack you built for the tent. next time, check out a set of rotabroaches from amazon or something. they make drilling big holes waaaaay easier. what do you do to keep the tent warm in weather like that?
Thank you! its really starting to become the truck i was visualizing, although next will be the hidden aspects of axles, gearing, a locker, and over to manual hubs. Im trying to get it worthy of a Baja penninsula trip, i did it a couple years ag on my dual sport bike and now i want to be able to take my wife and have some adventures before kids.

But as for staying warm we have a 0 degree queen sized sleeping bag and when its really cold i have a mr buddy propane heater ill run up there but ive only used that a time or 2 when it got down in the teens. But when its down to about 30, we do fine with the big bag and some clothes, plus the shared body heat helps alot in the big bag.

i just looked up those rotabroaches and may invest in a kit, becasue a new 1/2 bit for my hammer drill is like 20$ so i feel those would be a wise investment. Thanks for the tip.
 

Jim Oaks

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Truck is looking great! :D(y)
 

JOLENE_THE_RANGER

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Thank you! its really starting to become the truck i was visualizing, although next will be the hidden aspects of axles, gearing, a locker, and over to manual hubs. Im trying to get it worthy of a Baja penninsula trip, i did it a couple years ag on my dual sport bike and now i want to be able to take my wife and have some adventures before kids.

But as for staying warm we have a 0 degree queen sized sleeping bag and when its really cold i have a mr buddy propane heater ill run up there but ive only used that a time or 2 when it got down in the teens. But when its down to about 30, we do fine with the big bag and some clothes, plus the shared body heat helps alot in the big bag.

i just looked up those rotabroaches and may invest in a kit, becasue a new 1/2 bit for my hammer drill is like 20$ so i feel those would be a wise investment. Thanks for the tip.
NICE! ive also got a mr buddy heater but it lasts like 4 -5 hours or so, so around 2am we wake up freezin sometimes. ive been looking at a 2 person bag and that was the confirmation i needed! haha
as for the rotabroaches, i got a more affordable 60 ish dollar kit from amazon and have had it for 3 years now. many MANY holes have been made with no sign of dulling. just make sure youre coming at it straight or theyll catch and shatter. thats the only down side to em. ive broken two 1/2" ones but replacements are fairly cheap.
 

USCGC130

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NICE! ive also got a mr buddy heater but it lasts like 4 -5 hours or so, so around 2am we wake up freezin sometimes. ive been looking at a 2 person bag and that was the confirmation i needed! haha
as for the rotabroaches, i got a more affordable 60 ish dollar kit from amazon and have had it for 3 years now. many MANY holes have been made with no sign of dulling. just make sure youre coming at it straight or theyll catch and shatter. thats the only down side to em. ive broken two 1/2" ones but replacements are fairly cheap.
I have the Teton sport 20 degree bag (amazon), and we are really happy with it, but part of me wishes i would have gotten the 0 degree bag because once you get down into the teens that bag does get a little chilly, but at the time i didnt think we would be doing too much snow camping, and here in sacramento it gets brutally hot in the summer so i didnt want to sweat in it too bad on the hot days but we make it work! Any ways we love it and the wife loves sharing a bag and being able to share body heat. Just know that that thing does not pack up small!! its freaking huge! Sometimes i leave it in the tent but thats about the only thing i can keep in there when its closed up. I am still figuring out the best way to get my heater secured esspecially when the little dogs are in there moving around.

I will probably go the amazon route as well for those, and if needed ill upgrade down the road. Thanks for the advice on using them and making sure youre straight because i can see myself breaking 1 or 2 before i figure that out lol.

i checked out your truck and that thing looks awesome! and looks tough!! maybe someday if really go crazy with this truck ill get a mini bed cage and some LONG by pass shocks but for now im on the hunt for a Torsen FX4 rear end.
 

JOLENE_THE_RANGER

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I have the Teton sport 20 degree bag (amazon), and we are really happy with it, but part of me wishes i would have gotten the 0 degree bag because once you get down into the teens that bag does get a little chilly, but at the time i didnt think we would be doing too much snow camping, and here in sacramento it gets brutally hot in the summer so i didnt want to sweat in it too bad on the hot days but we make it work! Any ways we love it and the wife loves sharing a bag and being able to share body heat. Just know that that thing does not pack up small!! its freaking huge! Sometimes i leave it in the tent but thats about the only thing i can keep in there when its closed up. I am still figuring out the best way to get my heater secured esspecially when the little dogs are in there moving around.

I will probably go the amazon route as well for those, and if needed ill upgrade down the road. Thanks for the advice on using them and making sure youre straight because i can see myself breaking 1 or 2 before i figure that out lol.

i checked out your truck and that thing looks awesome! and looks tough!! maybe someday if really go crazy with this truck ill get a mini bed cage and some LONG by pass shocks but for now im on the hunt for a Torsen FX4 rear end.
thanks man! its a fun truck but lately ive really been appreciating a well equipped mild 4x4 style truck for adventuring and stuff. i couldnt take my truck to the snow and quite honestly with the noise brought from a cage and solid motormounts, the truck is less than ideal to pull long trips in especially for the gf haha. your truck is really awesome in my opinion and would be so fun for a baja run to follow something like a norra race
 

Josh B

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Very cool build C130. I saw part of this once but didn't go all the way through it, I was halfway through it here and still hadn't realized this started over a year ago. Very nice stuff there man :)

If you're gonna lose those auto hubs I would like a spare, if I could figure out something we could swap. If you have any ideas I'll keep a look at the PickNpay, but they don't usually have a lot of upper eschelon stuff there that I've seen :/
 


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