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7s Explorer Revival

Travisfab

Well-Known Member
This was an unexpected project. A co worker actually found it & knew about my weird obsession with Explorers. The truck was 2 hours away, and I decided to roll the dice and see if it was decent. The Craigslist ad hinted at the owners knowledge; key points were "Won prerunner class in Baja", "Totally caged", & "Very fast". I figured the lack of knowledge would either work greatly in my favor, or greatly against it. As we drove through the port of Long Beach to pick up the truck in San Pedro, the rain intensified to a solid down pour, awesome! I hate to pre judge, but pulling up to an apartment complex, and having an eccentric 65+ year old man come out to greet me did not exactly give me the most confident feeling.

The truck was tucked in the back of an underground parking structure, and had accumulated a fair amount of cob webs and dust. Initial inspection was pleasantly surprising. Decently tucked 2" cage, decent welds, and brand new BFG 33x10.50's. Chassis inspection revealed a leaky diff, blown shocks, but there was not a drop of oil on the ground below it. About this time the owner's 30ish year old son came by to give me the run down. All fluids were excellent, and the truck fired off with ease, idled smooth, and had zero abnormal noise coming from the engine. A quick test drive sealed the deal for me.

The next stage of this journey was getting this beast back to San Diego 100 miles down the 405/5 (yes I should have brought a trailer!). Keep in mind, the atmospheric river was at full pour at this point. Episodes of Roadkill played in my head as I squinted through a terribly blurry window, being smeared by decade old wiper blades. The driver rear window was not working and left me with a nice 8" gap of constant air flow. 4 blown shocks made the ride nice and springy, and the typical Ford power steering allowed 3" of steering wheel play in either direction. All minor inconveniences for a hardened off roader, and the beast was running like a champ down the freeway at 70+.


The rain has been relentless, and I am still revealing details about this truck, but here is what I have found.

- 4.0, runs excellent, mileage unkown, broken speedo/odometer, I can see that the intake manifold has been replaced, havent dug any further
- 5 speed with about 12" of play in the shifter, shifts good otherwise, good clutch
- Cab cage is 2" laced in with 1.5. An X crossmember was put through the rear passenger area. I am thinking this was a parking lot fix to pass tech at some point. This will be one of the first things I cut out and re do.
- Engine cage is all 1.5" tube, kind of funky/fugly, but lands on the frame enough times to be decently strong. This will be an area that I will revisit when suspension upgrades start to happen
- Front suspension is built to the classic 7s specs. Bent beams, lift coils and the stock radius arms, all controlled by 2.5x12 Sway Aways
- Rear suspension looks like a bastard pack, it could be from the National Spring days. It's a nice thick pack with about 10 leafs. It surprisingly uses the stock shackles. Rear shocks are also 2.5x12 Sway Aways

Misc Details
- Howe Power steering pump and reservoir
- Brand new 33x10.50R15 BFG tires on Outlaw 2 style wheels
- Stock location fuel cell (I think they may have just covered the stock gas tank with sheet metal, lol!)
- Functional heat, AC, gauges, power door/locks (luxury prerunner)
- A faint remnant of a BITD tech tag
- An even more faint name on the passenger door. Anyone know Joe Haight? The previous owner also mentioned Dennis Confrontino. Any of these names ring a bell?


My plan is to make this truck functional, clean, comfortable, and modernized. The immediate goals other than the standard clean up/zip tie treatment are to rebuild the shocks, cut the rear X out, add a bench, and add longer radius arms (I happen to have a pair). There is also a cracked tube going from the engine cage through the firewall, I'll unfortunately have to pull the dash for that. I also need to address the rear axle, and cross my finger that it's only the diff cover leaking.

Here are the photos from the ad














I'm holding off on any bigger goals/plans with the truck until I get it out in the dirt, hopefully it works good!
 

Travisfab

Well-Known Member
Sweet find. Looks like fun. That carpet yeee
I know right!

The not so awesome 90's bumpers fell victim to the saw zaw the day after I got it. I'm ditching the stock bumpers & building new tube bumpers for the front and rear.



 

Travisfab

Well-Known Member
Next up was addressing the shocks. They have suffered for many years in ignorant hands! Zero nitrogen in all 4, multiple shaft caps loose, oil caked on thick, good times! Brought them over to my buddy john at Keen Shock Works. I'm assuming at one point some time was spent getting these valved to proper specs, so just a clean up/rebuild this time around, I am also going to hit the bodies with Steel-It when I get them back.

 

Travisfab

Well-Known Member
The seats and harnesses were dated, so out with the old, in with the new. I also cut the rear X out to accommodate a bench seat.







 

Travisfab

Well-Known Member
The wiring in this truck is pretty much all stock other than a few things that were done at one point to make it race legal. The ignition, fuel pump, & stereo are on switches, as well as the push to start. The trailer wiring harness was a highlight, along with way too many exposed live leads!! This mess will all disappear and end up in the dash, & the battery will be relocated to the rear cargo area & replaced with an AGM unit.


*note the "support" tube under the rear seat bar, lol!

There was also a tube from the engine cage to the dash bar that was completely cracked through and rattling around. Dash had to go, to get to this, and everything is all cleaned up and ready for repair.



Happy to say that it has sat on concrete for over a week now and is only leaking from the rear diff.
 

Travisfab

Well-Known Member
Got it all back up & running and took it in for a real alignment.



Interior is cleaned up pretty good. The blacks seats sat too high and will require cutting out/replacing tubes. I’m going to get some dirt miles in before I dive into that project.



Last big thing on the list is to replace the bent rear axle housing.
 

Travisfab

Well-Known Member
The truck is just about as ready. Of course the first time in the dirt I'm heading down to Mexico. The maintenance/repairs list has been overwhelming. I cant wait to do upgrades and cosmetics. After about a month of owning it I have done the following:

Rebuilt all 4 shocks
New radius arm bushings
New radius arm cross member
New bump stops
New alignment cams/alignment
New limit straps
New battery/wiring locating it to the rear cargo area
Re-wired all of the switches into the dash
Cut out passenger area X and added rear seats
Swapped out the rear end (old one had the plug weld let loose form the center section)
New shackle pivot bushings
New U Bolts
New spring plates
Fixed a wiring issue that the previous owner completely overlooked (battery was not charging!)
Fixed a couple cracks in the engine cage, new gussets, and a new tube to tie the engine cage to the cab cage
Fixed an extremely loose shifter

I think that's it. I leave for Mexico Friday morning, I am pumped!


 

Travisfab

Well-Known Member
Baja never disappoints. We left early Friday morning & crossed through Tecate to head down a familiar path called the Compadre Trail. Overall the trail is pretty smooth, but it does have some great rollers. The Explorer was able to handle whatever I threw at it, and even got all 4 tires off the ground a few times. After the trail we hit got tacos in Valle De Trinidad and continued on to Pete's camp in San Felipe. On race day I rode in a Raptor, and wanted to be back in the Explorer! Zero issues, and the hood never came up. Our drive home was over 6 hours including long waits at a Military check point and at the border. No issues with over heating or charging. I am extremely happy with the truck and I am really looking forward to the cosmetic and comfort upgrades that will be happening over summer!











 

Travisfab

Well-Known Member
Weekend mountain run. Every trip helps me refine this thing better. Rear end is blowing through the travel too fast and causing some ass kicking. Idler pulley is about to let loose, but overall solid & good times.



 
I'd ask what color but will wait and be surprised.
 
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