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RegularGuy's 'Ranger Retention Project'


RegularGuy

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After a little more than 2 years of searching I finally tracked down my 'holy grail', a Charcoal Gray 2007 FX4 lvl2. Now, I am tasked with keeping her on the road, avoiding both rust and remedying issues which may throw me head first into the guard rail or equally bad, impounded, here she is as I found her:

IMG_20200301_173530.jpg

First to be found was the issue of speedo, still in km/h, I find myself squinting at the dashboard, especially in the afternoons... Its an easy fix, although expensive.... For $600 the local Ford stealership will marry and install a new cluster in the truck with the appropriate number of miles on the odometer. I've yet to do this purely out of denial....

Right off the bat having bought the truck I had found some red flags... First to be rectified, the battery kept dying! I knew there was an aftermarket stereo and as such was first to receive some massaging, I re-ran the wiring from the engine bay as road noise and water were spraying in through the set aside boot meant to seal the firewall. Beyond some 'interesting' decisions the previous owner made wiring the truck, there appeared to be nothing worthy of a dead battery.
But then I saw it, the unthinkable, a device so evil it could not remain on my truck a moment longer.... An electronic rust inhibitor! I ripped that rusty hunk of junk off my truck and Henry Ford himself bestowed onto me his blessing. And my battery hasn't died since.

Moving on to problem number two, the truck felt like I had water balloons for tires. I ended up pinning the issue on the 15" Alcoa's the truck came with stock (C rated 31" tires) and so I traded them! In came a shiny new to me set of 265/70r16 wheels and tires, for the low price of flat trade. As per the deal I received a set of 2 good wheels, 2 acceptable wheels, and 4 ten year old tires (more on that later). Switching wheel size, even with the tires being the same width and outside diameter, has made a considerable difference. The truck feels much more planted going over potholes and the such.

IMG_20200515_173128.jpg

Having now paid $40 to have the wheels swapped between the trucks I come to find the center caps didn't fit on two of the wheels, in fact they fell right off despite being new. Well I drove my truck home, took a front and rear wheel off so I could compare and contrast, only to discover some knucklehead had filed the center of two wheels, presumably to fit over a 2wd hub, maybe they didn't but I performed the black sacrament and cursed their toolbox anyway. Being that the center caps need to be removed in order to balance the tires, I can't exactly just glue them on.... I'm now thinking about simply adapting the caps to fit the larger holes. As for the tires, already I'm having my doubts about them, they were mounted whitewall in so the manufacturer dates were concealed to my prying eyes, earlier today I noticed they were all looking a little low, my rear tire coming in around 20psi... I may need replacement tires regardless of the age as I may just have a leak.

My current project regarding this truck arises from it's origin with our salted Northern Breatheren (Canada), she has a rusty undercarriage, the front knuckles and leafspring bracket being the worst offenders, body wise everything is good with the exception of a little paint bubbling behind the gas cap. My current plan is to now pull the bed, pressure wash everything I can, run my steel brush across all the rust and make an additional pressure washing pass... This should leave things clean enough for a few coats of Chassis Saver, going at the underside of the cab and bed if I can get at them.

Future project part two; a few weeks ago admist poor brake feel and excessive stopping distances I pulled the front brake assembly appart to discover another knucklehead (presumably) failed to have the disks replaced or turned while switching pads, the previous pads being much narrower left a large buildup of rust upon which the pads now attempt to use as friction material. As a temporary fix I lightly smacked the rust until it ceased to be with a ball-peen hammer (cracking, I know)

IMG_20200505_124541.jpgIMG_20200505_124615.jpg

So I ordered up some EBC Yellowstuff as part of my upgrade list and carried on with my day.

A few weeks later I checked my drums while I had a rear wheel off yet again, as I tend to do with the opportunity, only to be left distraught.... The rear shoes, drums, and hardware are all brand new! I had plans to swap out my front pads and rotors for the EBC yellows and slotted rotors I picked up a few weeks prior. For the sake of balancing, I had selected a similarly aggressive shoe to go on the rear along with a nice pair of finned drums... Not willing to throw away a set of new shoes and drums though, I'm now torn as my front pads and disks really should be replaced but doing so would throw off the brake bias.

Just as I began putting things back together however, I noticed something I've never seen before in all my years of wrenching.... Although it's perhaps likely in the off-roading world, I was surprised to find my leafsprings are bent! Either by acceleration, or braking.. I'd assume the latter. Both sides too! If they end up causing trouble I may just switch to a 4 link

IMG_20200521_151115.jpg

Having caught everyone up, last but not least for this post, a list of things I've either done or am planning on doing (living document):

Wheel change 15" to 16" FINISHED
Led flasher (stop hyperflash) FINISHED
Rust inhibitor on undercarriage
Rust repair on body
Ceramic coat the exhaust
Install running boards
Install oil cooler
Fix a/c FINISHED MAYBE?
Install 4 link rear CANCELLED
Replace rear leafs FINISHED
Install traction bar
EBC Pads, StopTech Directional Slotted Rotors, Centric HD shoes (112.07050), Aerostar Drums
 
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ericbphoto

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My credo
In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are different.
Wow. What a story. Looks like you have a good truck to work on.
 

bobbywalter

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sawzall?
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My credo
it is easier to fix and understand than "her"
He he he he....the leafs

They get wasted pretty easily wheeling....mostly from over loading and neg arching.
 

Bracket racer

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Yeah, new leafs are that expensive, don't go 4 link. Put coils and a four link and it will only be able to carry minimal weight...like a dodge! Lol!

Seriously though, throw a set of leaves under it and it'll drive like a new truck comparatively.
Nice truck, have fun!
 

PNW Paul

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3" New Torsion Keys, Added Rear Leaf Springs (Suspension Only)
Tire Size
285 75R 16
Also consider a set of Explorer leaf springs from your local pick-n-pull. The Explorers are spring-under, so you get a few more leaves per side (always good to have on hand if you increase ride height).

Congrats on the Level II find - - there's a guy a few blocks away from me with two sitting in front of his house. . . they are rare.

Good luck, Paul
 

85_Ranger4x4

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Also consider a set of Explorer leaf springs from your local pick-n-pull. The Explorers are spring-under, so you get a few more leaves per side (always good to have on hand if you increase ride height).
I don't remember if it was '07 or '08 the Ranger got bigger bolts in the forward spring eyes... which complicates an Explorer spring swap.

Cool project though!
 

PNW Paul

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3" New Torsion Keys, Added Rear Leaf Springs (Suspension Only)
Tire Size
285 75R 16
I don't remember if it was '07 or '08 the Ranger got bigger bolts in the forward spring eyes... which complicates an Explorer spring swap.
Good catch, I had to re-use the Ranger bolts when I added the Explorer spring pack - - which seems weird to me as the Explorer had more leaves, weighed more over the rear axle, and generally (with the exception of the Level II 31 spline axle shaft) had stouter rear ends.
 

RegularGuy

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One item off the list! Friday I headed down to Mt. Vernon to my favorite auto wrecker (Ferrell's Auto Wrecking) and found myself a nice set of leafs at $45 a piece. They had two brown 2004 short bed single cab trucks and I bought the nicer of the two. The nice fellow in the yard brought the the truck up front, and in under 20 minutes and the leafs removed and sitting at the register. I loaded those bad boys in the back of my truck and for less than the cost of shipping ($100 for a new set to be shipped) I was on my way.

IMG_20200603_140525.jpg

IMG_20200603_155808.jpg


So I get home about 3:00pm, plenty of time... Took the guy at the wrecker 20 minutes to take it out, let's guess it will take me an hour to get these replacements in....

One hour in..... I just barely got the truck situated so the axle could drop low enough, the combination of two jacks, two jack stands, and two spacers finally did the trick

IMG_20200603_184643.jpg


Three hours in, as it came to my attention.... My air ratchet is a little longer than the fellow's at Ferrell's and the bed needed to be removed. Problem being there's a tonneau as well as a bed liner which have been on it since it was originally purchased. I didn't grab a photo of the shear amount of material which came out of the truck but it was roughly 25lbs of what looked like bark mulch.

IMG_20200603_184703.jpg


5 hours in, it's now 8pm the bed is finally off and I can get to work

IMG_20200603_210257.jpg


It was at this point, I realized the front bolt is of a larger diameter than I have a socket for. The auto parts store is closed due to pandemic, Walmart is closed due to riots, all my faith now rests upon my adjustable crescent wrench, and my 5ft cheater bar. Passenger's side comes off and goes back together without an issue..... Driver's side has a bracket for the parking brake preventing me from using my 5ft behemoth. Instead, I am left with a claw hammer, penetrating oil, and a 1 foot nothing adjustable crescent wrench. At 12:06 in the morning after saying some mean things, that bolt came loose.

Next morning, I go out and measure now sitting at 35.5 inches in the rear.... I've gained half and inch ride height.

IMG_20200603_155340.jpg

IMG_20200604_173005.jpg


Truck drives nice now though... Those other leafs were shot
 

09fx4guy

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That truck is really looking good. Then again, I could be biased....

Keep up the good work.

Have you given any thought to the new tires yet?
 

RegularGuy

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The rims I traded for actually came with some really nice Michelin LTX tires, despite being pretty old, they seem to still have good traction in the rain so I'll be hanging onto them for the near future. I have otherwise decided upon the Nokian Rotiiva HT in a 245/75r16, it rated even better than the Michelin (which surprised me) in every category except snow/ice. The difference there is minimal.... And at $100 per tires, with a 70k warranty, it's hard to beat....

As far as highway tires go, I haven't found anything thats on paper, a better option
 

RegularGuy

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A new update, although no new photos... You'll have to use your imagination. The weekend before last, while 40 minutes up a mountain trail, I received a cylinder #3 misfire code. This was an intermittent issue while making my way down the mountain, seemingly becoming less of an issue once back onto payment. My first, and later to be found correct idea was that of faulty spark plugs/wires.

So I ordered some

Last weekend they arrived and I got to work. I made my way from the front right, back, then front left, back, saving that horrendous #3 cylinder for last.... Why Ford didn't just install the AC a little higher is beyond me (cost saving likely). I got my shiny new Motorcraft hardware installed, the #3 sparkplug wire disintegrated in my hand, several others had the insulation worn away, most had the ends rip off, and I discovered my truck's missing the rubber fender liner section..... Good times!

Truck ran correctly after that and the dash light (which had gone out prior to this endeavor) has yet to return. Immediately afterwards though we got ourself a mini heat wave, just warm enough to warrant using the AC, at which point I because throughly disappointed in it's performance.

Prior, I had added a 12oz can as things were a little warm. On Thursday I added a can of stopleak and an additional 12oz can. As of current however, it still takes roughly 5 minutes with the air on before the vents go cold, and once they do, it feels more like 60° than the shivering winter chill I'd like it to be. This issue remains a mystery to me, my first thought being that it's underfilled (the system takes a little more than 2lbs in total) although I wish to avoid overfilling it
 
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09fx4guy

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Avoid the stop leak, it does not work that well in my experience. If you have added 24 oz of refrigerant and it is still warmer, its got a decent leak. You can look for a uv leak detection kit, also, get a set of gauges from harbor freight or something similar (roughly $50).

It is not too difficult to repair the ac system if need be. I had a small hole in the condenser that needed replacement. I actually ended up getting a new compressor, conderser, hoses, receiver dryer, and just flushed the evaporator. All of that, in addition to a vacuum pump and gauge set, cost me about $600. That was abut 4 years ago, and the temp at the ac vent is still 38 degrees on max ac. Let me know if you have any questions.
 

RegularGuy

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4WD
So I go to get an alignment today and am told I need to replace all the ball joints on the truck.... Having taken a not so hard look at the front end a few weeks prior, I found myself a second shop with an opinion of their own (this time the upper driver's only).

Being the frugal man my father raised me to be, I drove it home to find absolutely no movement in the ball joints, and minimal play in the driver's upper control arm bushings.

Long story short, bushings are on the list now too. Although, while crawling around down there, I happened to notice some slop in the swaybar end links. My fiancee has already filed several complaints regarding how much the truck leans through corners.... And in the past I've had luck retightening the nut on other rangers, gaining an addition year of usefulness.

This truck however, no way.

That bolt snapped faster than a crazy ex-girlfriend.

Grieving over the loss of cash, I drove the truck down to the autoparts store slower than I care to admit, anything above 15 was scary on the smallest of turns, a pothole at 25, a possible death sentence. That sway bar is there for a reason!

After all that, driving home the sway bar smacked the tie rod end a little too hard and now the truck pulls to the left instead of the right (I only had the drivers side disconnected). Put back together for now, more parts are coming in from RockAuto, it was less than 1/3 the price online.... I'll have put off my need for wrenching until they arrive
 


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