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"Dose" the ultra cheap offroad race Explorer turned rock crawler


Shran

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So I have always wanted to build an Explorer to race, Baja style, and with that goal in mind I have been saving parts since I got into RBVs in 2008. It seems like such a good platform to build off of - throw some D44 knuckles out on the D35, redo the 8.8 for 5x5.5 bolt pattern, ditch the interior and glass, cage it, more shocks, and make it fly!

I finally found the perfect one to build, it was cheap ($220,) blue, absolute junk body, but it runs really well! Cut the cats off, scrap value $65. Misc parts - $95, into it $250 now.

M5OD was in good shape but prefer auto for this build and throwout bearing was totally melted. Removed.

Installed C5 trans from 85 Bronco II. Fluid changes, flywheel spacer, straight pipe exhaust, redo drivelines to fit, trans cooler from 94 F150, more junkyard bits and pieces here and there.

The interior gone now except the front seats and dash. Still need a shifter, cage, seat belts and window nets, and remove the AC, heater, ABS, and a lot more crap. And bumpers, recover points, etc. But it runs and drives, I drove it out of my shop under its own power tonight! Planning to race it next year at the offroad race in Sturgis SD.

The twins (It's called "Dose" because it's the second blue Explorer I have acquired, thus "dos" or "dose" as in get some :D)


Rear bumper and sheet metal removal


Interior removal


Trans installed, drove under its own power today!


More to come!
 
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Shran

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As promised, more updates.

The local offroad race appears to be out of the question at this point and the next closest ones are 6+ hours away so it is unlikely that I will attend. Thus I have decided to go another route with this build - more or less just a utility vehicle for around the house. I built basic bumper front and rear and a push bar for moving junk around my yard. I may cut the back off eventually and make some sort of super short pickup with a gin pole ... I don't know, could become my next rock crawler build too. In any case it runs and drives and is super useful so I will keep it around until I figure out what to do with it.





 

Shran

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Side note, I'm not sure why this got posted in the Ranger section but it can certainly be moved into the Explorer area
 

Shran

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Update: truck's working good as a push rig, but not running right. Feels like it has a miss. No big thing, will figure it out, just is weird and started after I borrowed the evap purge solenoid. May have damaged something when I removed it.

I am also gathering parts to convert the front axle to D44 spindles out using GM brakes. I will not be racing this Explorer anytime soon as there is another project happening right now that is much better suited to that purpose, but I may still run it in tough truck events and having better lockout hubs is my #1 priority for that purpose.
 

Shran

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Exciting new development: I drove this little guy forward and backward a couple weeks ago. It still runs.

In all seriousness, my plan was to race it the last two years but we ended up doing a team effort on a F150 instead since it already had a roll cage. That got us through three races - first of which I took 2nd place, did not finish the second race, and finished but did not place in the third. It needs a lot of work to race again and changes in the race team resulted in more of a solo effort which is a little beyond what I have available for time right now and I have decided to not race this truck either for the same reason.

That said, I have acquired a set of axles that are going under it - a pre-78 Dana 44 with weld on wedges, 5.38 gears and an Auburn limited slip, and a 9" with 5.38s and a spool.

So the new plan is to do a 4 link and coilovers in the front, a small lift and sprung over in the rear, and 36" TSL swampers... probably with a selectable locker in the front... and I'm going to round up a rear seat/seat belts. The goal now is a more family friendly rock crawler. It is a bummer that my '86 only has two seats... four or five would be better.

I will probably start working on this after I get the 4 door Explorer axle conversion done, the high rider/stepside truck done, and my '86 fixed from last year's Labor day carnage... so probably like after all the kids are gone off to college and I only need two seats. :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
 

Shran

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As I get more serious with this project, I get more done - I am planning on using it to do some mild wheeling at my club's event over Labor Day weekend this year. Pics incoming but I really worked hard on it the last few days and got the following done:

- Found a rear seat, reinstalled rear seat belts, still need to install the buckles
- Front seats swapped out with a pair from an Eddie Bauer something or other. Much better shape, not greasy and no missing foam.
- Removed sway bars
- Put a better set of wheels/tires on it
- Swapped in a manual shift 1354 t-case
- Built a new floor plate with a "tower" on it that the B&M Unimatic shifter can fit on better, shifter hooked up and more or less adjusted
- Rerouted a bunch of dangling wires, hoses and other stuff that I never dealt with before
- Made extended breather hoses for the trans and t-case that go up into the engine bay

Still need to top off fluid in the trans, was a bit low after the t-case swap. I am going to use a different pan and put a shift kit in it eventually too. Lots of other little minor things but a huge improvement overall! I can't believe my axles have been sitting in my axle pile for almost two years now, I need to get on that project soon.
 

Shran

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As promised. Better set of tires:



No more janky straight pipe exhaust. I put a used 40 series Flowmaster on it. The muffler was actually on my other Explorer for a while but one of the baffles broke off inside it and rattled around so I replaced it with a new muffler... this one was still solid so I cut it open, removed the loose baffle and put it on here.


Still need to put the boot on the trans shifter and make one for the t-case, but here's my shifter setup:

 

Shran

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Well that was fun. I put license plates and insurance on it and drove it a total of 20 miles and either the starter or flywheel is stripped out 😄 It has sounded awful for years but it may have finally caught up with me. Now I need to figure out how to fix this. I have a variety of starters at my disposal, obviously I need one for an automatic... currently I have a 4.0 starter (10 tooth I think) but I did have a 2.8 starter (9 tooth?) but they both grind. I remember having this problem back in the day with just about every 2.8 powered truck I ran across... very annoying.
 

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Think I fixed the starter or at least made it a lot better. There is some small difference between a 2.8, correct block plate and a C5 and the setup I have... the block plate had the starter way too far away from the flywheel and the lower bolt hole was way off. I don't know if I missed this when I assembled it the first time or didn't care or what but I discovered that the trans can slide backwards about an inch, allowing the block plate to be removed. I hogged out several holes which allows the starter to be aligned much better. It still sounds a hair rough but the flywheel looks rough too...so... I'm gonna let it go for now, it's a LOT better.

Also put my front driveshaft, skid plate, roof rack, spare tire and jack handle back in. Progress!
 

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Somewhat of an update - I wheeled this truck at our club event a couple years ago and it has basically just sat on my car trailer since then. The fuel pump is acting up and I just really need to do something with it so I pulled it in the shop and started swapping axles last night. I got the 8.8 out and did a rough cleanup on the 9" that I mentioned earlier in the thread. I figured I would start with the rear first, get a rough idea of what I need for springs/blocks/shackles or whatever to clear 35's and then make the front match.

I am going with spring over and am very surprised that the clapped out factory leaf springs easily clear the tires with no blocks or anything. I thought for sure I would need at least something. This is good, I haven't even removed anything from the wheel wells yet.

It looks frickin cool.

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Shran

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Also since my last update I scored a Warn 8274 winch, a Riddler D44 diff cover, bunch of other small stuff. I bought a tubing bender on Black Friday last year and will be using that for a roll cage and probably a few other things - armor around the wheel wells & stuff. Still undecided on front suspension parts, I am leaning towards air shocks/coilovers/ORI's, or something like that rather than coil springs. I used Ford radius arms on my other SAS and they were the weak link in that build, the bushings don't last very long.

That other truck has RCV shafts and Yukon locking hubs, there is like $2000 worth of parts there that I will be removing and putting in this one, stock parts can go back in the Ranger.
 

Shran

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Over the weekend I set the pinion angle and welded the perches on. Rear is sitting on its own weight. I will need to redo the brakes plus it needs shocks/tabs, driveshaft, some other little things but I'm happy with the suspension height so I can move to the front and finish up the small stuff on the rear later. Really surprised at how wide the rear axle isn't - I've only got maybe 3" of tire outside the wheel well.

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scotts90ranger

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That's good to see, I have similar plans with my '00 V8 explorer except I'm planning on going to a Jana 54 up front and a 10.25 since I have everything but the gears... I was hoping a spring over setup would wrork good, I might have to add an add a leaf or something since it has rear air ride so soft springs...
 

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