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1993 Ford Explorer Buildup
& Transformation

by Rick Horwitz

Back to:
Stage  1 Mods

What it was...

What it's become
Photo by: Gerald Jarrett

After 7 years and 140,000 miles I decided it was time to make some major changes to my already capable Explorer. During this round of mods FST scrapped the stock Ford TTB (Twin Traction Beam) suspension in favor of a solid Dana 44 front axle and accompanying custom 4 link suspension. The Dana 44 carries an ARB Airlocker with 4:88 gears as does the Ford 8.8" rear axle. 36x14.50 Swamper IROKs  were added to 15x10 Trail Ready beadlock rims and the appearance of the truck was freshened up with the addition of a 1999 fiberglass front clip from Perry's Fab & Fiber and a bright orange paint job from Extreme Paint and Body of Scottsdale, AZ.

The Dana 44 used in this application is a high pinion design which works well to keep the driveshaft out of harms way and to keep the working angles to a minimum. The axle housing was purchased from Tri-County Gear. They pressed in the tubes and cut them to size, the track width is now 2" wider than stock, 1" wider on each side. 

The brake calipers, spindles, hubs and rotors are from a 1980 Blazer. The parts are readily available and relatively inexpensive. The anti-lock brakes no longer function, but in my opinion that is a very good thing for an off-road vehicle. Stopping power is very impressive with this setup.

Axle shafts are by Moser and front axle u-joints are by CTM, hubs are by Superwinch. This Dana 44 has now been under the truck for 5 years. In that time it has seen a ton of abuse thrown at it by trails like the Rubicon, Golden Spike, Hells Revenge, Terminator, Judgment Day and many more. The only breakage has been a blown hub. The ball joints were just replaced after 5 years all 4 were badly worn.

Spring is allowed to droop freely.

Front end from Perry's Fab n Fiber

Custom Hi Steer Conversion

This trackbar bracket was eventually
 replaced with a stronger unit after
 "field testing"

Engine crossmember was cut for clearance
 and reinforced

Nearly done!

Cryogenically treated brake rotors
 from Applied Rotor Technology

Radius arm front attachment point

Rear radius arm attachment points.
Upper joint has been replace with a
beefier heim. The lower is a
"Johnny Joint"

Johnny Joint

Another view

Out of the shop and on the ramp

The coil springs are Explorer 4" lift springs from a Superlift. The suspension was designed so that the coil springs can fall away from the coil tower approximately 3.5" allowing more drop travel. Even with this setup the truck can still take jumps and moguls in stride!

The custom hi-steer crossover steering system uses thick wall DOM Chromemoly tubing threaded for either large tie-rod ends or 3/4" heim joints depending on location in the system. Each radius arm uses a heim joint for the rear of the top bar and a Johnny Joint for the rear of the lower bar. The front pivots use urethane bushings to keep vibration to a minimum. The track bar uses a urethane bushing on the end mounted to the frame and a 3/4" heim at the axle end.

Rear leaf springs are from Dunbar Spring. This pair was copied from a set of National springs originally built for an Explorer with a 5 -1/2" spring under axle lift so they had plenty of arch and 13 springs to the pack. Since I use the springs above the axle, I had to remove three leafs to make the truck sit level. These Dunbar springs with their thin leaves flex like crazy. The truck now scores 1000+ on a 20 degree ramp..

Is this good for the springs???


Photo by: Peter Weber

The team at FST took several months to craft and hone the finished product. The end results have been superb with awesome handling and performance both offroad and on.

Golden Crack


In order to gain better visibility and to help decrease the weight of the truck, FST built a set of half doors from tubular steel. The doors were covered with aluminum sheet which is attached with Dzus quick release fasteners.
To decrease steering effort with the front ARB Airlocker engaged. FST installed a Howe Hydraulic Ram to assist the power steering. This setup works fantastic. I can now turn the wheel lock to lock with the Airlocker engaged. No more struggling to make a turn with the front end locked! Additionally FST added a Howe power steering pump and cooler which complete the system.

Overview of the rock  slider

Front Mount

Center Mount

Rear Mount

Custom Rollcage by FST

Video Camera
Mounted to cage

Extrication gear securely mounted

Tools and CO2

Bilstein Coil Over
The Superlift springs
were replaced with Bilstein Coilovers

Extended shock

Suspension links
Aluminum upper and chrome moly lower

Lower link mount
Lower link mount

Twisted up

Twisted up

Desktop Wallpaper





Featured in:
February 2001 Off-Road Magazine Ford Explorer Cover Feature
Featured in the February 2001
Issue of Off-Road Magazine


Many thanks to my sponsors

Advance Adapters
4320 Aerotech Center Way
Paso Robles, California 93446
805-238-7000 (800-350-2223)

Applied Rotor Technology
(805) 583-4624

ARB/Old Man Emu
20 South Spokane Street
Seattle, Washington 98134

(206) 264 1669|

Atlas II 4.3:1 Transfer Case

Cryogenic Brake Rotors

Dana 44 and Ford 8.8"

1304 80th ST SW
Everett, WA 98203
(425) 353-6776

Beadlock Rims

Perry's Fab-n-Fiber
(619) 463-1361

Fiberglass Front Clip





1840 E. 3rd. Street
Tempe, Arizona 85281
(602) 967-5550


Off-Road Lighting

Custom Exhaust


E-Mail Rick