So I posted this in a couple other threads I might as well post up here because a couple people have been asking about it.
Hello, for those that have seen my other projects this is what I would call a medium undertaking. For those that haven’t, I hope this thread entertains you and maybe inspires you to undertake any project you have been putting off because you just can’t pull the trigger on it for fear of failure. Some of you may think this project is one of the best things you have ever seen. Others may think I am an idiot and I am wasting my time and money. In the end I hope you all enjoy.
So about a year ago I bought a 97 Explorer from the Wife of my boss. It paid 500.00 for it and it runs and shifts like a top. 113K miles V6 RWD. I bought it to use in the winter months so I could garage my other car. Bought some new wheels, and tires for it and did a torsion twist on it to get the front end up a bit. I have never worked on an off road type vehicle before. All my past projects have been street cars with lots of HP so I was excited to dive into a new world. I started by making some steal bumpers, pre-runner style light bar, and a luggage rack with snowboard attachments. I have always wanted to build a pre-runner style truck.
Anyways… a year has past and one bad bearing and blown shocks have taken there toll on the suspension so I have decided to upgrade.
I wanted to make a truck that had a lot of suspension travel and ground clearance. I didn’t want to lift it needlessly unless it was going to increase travel. However I also don’t need any heavy duty long travel pre-runner style kits because I am never going to jump dunes, or run at 70+ in the dessert, but I do want to go play in the dirt and if I am going to keep up with the 4wd guys then I am going to need momentum… So I have come up with what I think will be the best setup for me. It’s going to be a front long travel kit that utilizes the OE style torsion/ shock setup. This entire setup costs less then any long travel coilover kit w/o the coilovers. Total budget for this is about 2500.00 w/ tires.
Here is the parts list:
3” lift spindles
Adjustable Upper Control Arms
OE Lower Control Rods
OE Inner/ Outer Tie Rods
Front OE Spec Universal Fox Racing Shocks
Rear 2” Spacers
Type “1” Stiff Torsion Bars
305/70/16 Goodyear Duratrac Tires
I got these from Air Bag It. They are an all new heavy duty cast piece that they look great. Major plus points is the spindle itself un-bolts from the knuckle (OE is all one piece). The spindle itself also uses a stronger outer bearing from the F150, retains Stock Brakes, and ABS sensor. Also being a lift spindle it drops the spindle for instantly 3” of added ground clearance.
Upper Control Arms:
Also came from Air Bag It. These pieces are nice. They have a grease able ball joint and polly bushings on the inside. They are adjustable for easy camber/ caster adjustment and the best part is that they are made from bent steal tubing. (more on why later)
Fox 2.0 Performance universal shocks. After a bunch of research I opted for these over any Explorer specific parts because they are more heavy duty and the mounting points allow for a much wider range of shocks if I want to upgrade even further in the future. Almost identical to the OE shocks for extended and compressed length and custom valved for the type of driving I want to do.
All Aftermarket with upgraded joints and bushings based on what I could find on the internet for quality parts. I could have just reused the original Lower control arms but getting new ones made it so I could do the fabrication and continue to drive the truck for less down time.
$60.00 of ebay with lifetime warranty. These are for the rear to space the rear wheels out to help with stability.
Okay so on with project description:
Using these parts I am going to cut and extend the Inner Tie rod, Lower, and Upper Control arms 8” to make a wide track, long travel suspension kit. By extending the arms I should have OE ride quality and an additional 8” of ground clearance (9.5” overall with the new tires) with an additional 4-5” of travel. I’ll get 16” of added wheel track for better stability (18” overall with new tires).
The Lower Control arms will be cut and then extended with thick gauge sheet metal. Then reinforced I beam ribbing on the inside it should make for a much stronger then OE piece. Also a new shock mount will be added to fit the new shock.
The Upper Shock mounts will be cut off and a new custom piece will be made and welded to the frame rail
The Upper Control arms and Inner Tie Rods will be cut and extended by welded a solid rod to the cut pieces and then sleeved using a piece of tubing that is cut in half. The first half will be seam welded to the original and new rod and then the other half will be welded to other half. This should make for a strong durable extension.
I have started with the lower control arms which are going to require the most work.
First I cut them in half:
Then I welded two 4” wide pieces of steal together to get the desired 8” of extension and then welded them to the cut OE pieces.
Then a 3” wide piece in the rear and a 2” wide piece on the front for the side walls.
Tomorrow I hope to have pics of the finished control arms so more to come. Once the pieces are finished the truck will come in and they will be installed. From there I can check the ride height so I can figure out how much I need to lift the rear. Also new fenders will need to be made to work with the wider stance and larger tires so ones the suspension is finished I’ll be fabing those out of sheet metal as well. And finally to finish things off the truck will be getting a couple updates to the bumpers, some additional plating to the doors for bashing, custom running boards, and some custom mesh covered window frames in case 2012 brings about a zombie apocalypse… LOL But seriously if it does happen a zombie proof vehicle will be in high demand…
I hope you have enjoyed what I had to offer so far.
Johann @ Girodisc