Ford Explorer Buildup
by Rick Horwitz
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
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
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
Engine crossmember was cut for clearance
Cryogenically treated brake rotors
from Applied Rotor
Radius arm front attachment point
Rear radius arm attachment points.
Upper joint has been
replace with a
beefier heim. The lower is a
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.
| 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.
Featured in the February 2001
Issue of Off-Road Magazine
Many thanks to my sponsors
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