I modified my 1999 Eddie Bauer Explorer with the goal of maintaining its
daily-driver functionality while also being capable of fourwheeling on all but
the most extreme of trails. The Explorer is a perfect starting platform, capable
and strong enough in its own right to tackle surprisingly tough trails in stock
condition. Even before most modifications were done and I was still basically
stock, I found that I consistently surprised and outperformed other fourwheelers
driving other brands of 4wds who were unaware of the capabilities of the
late-model IFS Explorer.
It is a joy to be able to take a luxury vehicle - complete with genuine
woodgrain dash, leather, total luxury option package, etc - on a 4wd run and
still be able to hang with the "BigDawgs" enjoying the challenge of all but the
toughest of trails. "Herc" is a good-looking daily driver, can be driven to the
trail instead of trailered, has all the comforts and A/C, doesn't break any
parts during the run, and dependably gets me home afterwards. As of December
2001, I have wheeled Herc hard for 75,000 miles and have yet to experience a
breakage that stranded me on the trail.
Truck Haven, CA
Hells Gate, UT
Many of my modifications - such as armored running boards, Herculiner'd
rocker panels, grill and light guards, etc - are to help maintain the body parts
and sheetmetal and keep Herc in presentable form. After all, it is still a
fairly new luxury edition SUV, as at home fulfilling its duty as a daily driver
as it is capable on the trail. Boiled down to the basics, the only mods on Herc
that directly contribute to its trailworthiness are a rear locker and big tires
(along with enough lift and fenderwell trimming to clear the oversize tires).
That's it, really. It is still 99% original stock Ford Explorer in its current
||4.0L SOHC V-6
||5 Speed Automatic
||295/75r16 B.F.Goodrich A/T KO's
Torsion bar twist for lift using heavy duty "B" rated torsion bars.
||Add-a-leafs in addition to extended Warrior shackles and Old Man
|Differentials / Gearing
||4.10 gears. Powertrax NoSlip locker in the rear.
||Cobra WX ST 75 CB-in-mike w/weather channels, GPS - Garmin III+,
Hands-free cellphone center.
- 3" Performance Accessories body and bumper lifts, modified to fit my '99
- K&N filter w/drilled airbox
- Gibson catback exhaust
- WAAG grillguard/taillight guards
- Armored running boards
- Rocker panels and WAAGs protected by Herculiner
- SURCO safari rack
- PIAA 520 black fogs
- Antisway bars removed
How effective is this nearly-stock setup? Effective enough to conquer trails
with a difficulty rating of 4+ on the Moab scale and 8 on the Colorado scale.
The following is a partial list of some of the more difficult trails that I have
Gilmer, TX - The Airstrip. Clayton, OK - Purple Headed Monster. Colorado -
Black Bear Pass, Holy Cross, Wheeler Lake. Moab, UT - Golden Spike, Metal
Masher, Lion's Back, Hell's Revenge, Poison Spider Mesa, Moab Rim, Tellico -
Not too bad for a grocery-getter, huh? I feel confident that I will continue
to enjoy my late-model Explorer for many more adventures on the trails.
Here is a quick and easy rear tow point.
No excuse not to have a tow point now!
Channel steel is used to
protect the rear bumper
Flat plate steel is used to
reinforce and protect the steps.
For further information check out Gerald's
Explorer Registry Page