Ford Ranger hunting rig build up.

Rowdy Fitz
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Ford Ranger hunting rig build up.

Postby Rowdy Fitz » Sun Mar 21, 2021 1:49 am

I was looking into side by sides but they were just too damn expensive. I decided to build a small pickup. It’s cheaper, I’ll have A/C and heat.

I chose a Ranger because I’m familiar with them. I picked up a 89 super cab short bed with a 4” lift, that a guy had swapped a 4.0 v6 in place of the stock 2.9 v6. The 4.0 is the newer revamped 2.9 and bolts in place of the 2.9 but the electronics are different so you have to swap the wiring harness and computer with it. This is where the guy I bought it from got burned out and quit. I picked up the truck for $500 and got the 91 explorer that he pulled the 4.0 out of, with the deal.

So I finished the wiring and got it all running. The 80’s Rangers come stock with fairly weak axles (D-28 front and 7.5 rear). The explorer comes with stronger axles (D-35 front and 8.8 rear).

I swapped the Explorer axles into the Ranger. The swap is fairly simple, the D-35 bolts in place and you use the explorer front drive shaft because the D-35 is bigger and requires a shorter shaft.

The rear axle requires the spring perches to be cut off because the leaf springs on the explorer mount to the bottom of the axle. I welded new perches to the top and used the explorer leaf springs in the ranger because they’re heavier duty than the Ranger’s. I used a rear shaft from a 92 Ranger which bolted in place. That saved money because I didn’t have to have a shop shorten and balance it.

I just ordered gears and lockers for the axles. The explorer had 3.55’s. I bought 4.56’s and ratcheting lockers. I will be installing them in the next few weeks. For tires I’ll be running Goodyear Wrangler Authority AT’s.

So far the only cutting and welding was the spring pads for the rear axle. Everything else is just unbolting it from the Explorer and installing it in place on the Ranger. I chose this route because I’ll have a street legal hunting rig that will hold up to the abuse of huntin here in the Nevada high desert.

All said and done, I’m into the truck less than $2,000 while a side by side would be over $10k used. If anyone is interested in doing something similar, you can find all the info you’ll need on therangerstation.com. A mid 90’s Ranger can be found with the same axles that I’ve put into this one, stock minus the gears and lockers. They usually go for around $3,000-$5,000 depending on the condition. Then you’ll just have to put in the gears and lockers. I chose to part this one together because I shopped around for parts and I can do all the work my self. I thought about a toyota but they usually sell for the same price as a side by side but are usually beat to hell and wore out, making them unreliable. We all know how we treat our trucks out hunting! I’ll figure out how to post pictures and post a few of the truck. I’ll be building a custom over the bed rail dog box for it this summer too. I’ll post pictures of that too.
Rowdy Fitz
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Re: Ford Ranger hunting rig build up.

Postby Rowdy Fitz » Sun Mar 21, 2021 1:57 am

Oh, I plan on reinforcing the front axle housing to keep from bending it, extending the radius arms and putting better shocks on it also. I’ll be putting larger leaf springs from a chevy pickup in it for the rear. This will improve the comfort of the ride, allow the suspension to articulate more and be all around stronger. This all will prevent break downs and make it extremely reliable.
Rowdy Fitz
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Re: Ford Ranger hunting rig build up.

Postby Rowdy Fitz » Sun Mar 21, 2021 2:08 am

Rowdy Fitz
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Re: Ford Ranger hunting rig build up.

Postby Rowdy Fitz » Sun Mar 21, 2021 2:28 am

Swapping in the front axle and afterwards, looking at how everything is working.


https://postimg.cc/gallery/1qwkxPV
Jeff Eberle
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Re: Ford Ranger hunting rig build up.

Postby Jeff Eberle » Sun Mar 21, 2021 2:52 am

One thing i have learned about hunting Nevada is to carry two spare tires
Get JESUS In Your Life & Your Dog's In The Wood's

CLAVEY RIVER CUR'S
Rowdy Fitz
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Re: Ford Ranger hunting rig build up.

Postby Rowdy Fitz » Sun Mar 21, 2021 2:55 am

Yes sir, it’s rocky country!
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Re: Ford Ranger hunting rig build up.

Postby bearsinva » Sun Mar 21, 2021 11:00 am

Rowdy,
I compliment you on being able to do this type of project yourself. It amazes me some people have this type of mechanical skills and knowledge and I know they came with a lot of time and battle wounds. I felt good when I changed and rotated my winter tires to summer tires and didn't cause any major catastrophe. LOL Great project and keep us updated!
Rowdy Fitz
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Re: Ford Ranger hunting rig build up.

Postby Rowdy Fitz » Sun Mar 21, 2021 2:08 pm

Thank you, yeah I have spent way too much time wrenching. But I can do just about anything to a vehicle now. Some people just don’t care to learn how to wrench. Some of us are too cheap to pay someone else lol
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Re: Ford Ranger hunting rig build up.

Postby Spencer » Thu Mar 25, 2021 9:14 pm

great job did you get a dog box mounted in it yet? that should be the final posted pic!
Rowdy Fitz
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Re: Ford Ranger hunting rig build up.

Postby Rowdy Fitz » Fri Mar 26, 2021 12:14 am

I haven’t finished the truck yet. All the gears, lockers and install kits are still coming in the mail.
For the box, I’ll be using parts of a box that was a buddies. It was damaged in the wreck where he passed away. It’s in rough shape but I’m gonna salvage as much of it as I can. I’ll post pictures of the before and after.
Rowdy Fitz
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Re: Ford Ranger hunting rig build up.

Postby Rowdy Fitz » Mon Apr 05, 2021 9:55 pm

So I went to start installing the gears and locker in the rear end today. The company I ordered them from, sent me the correct install kit, but sent me a second install kit for a completely different axle. I contacted them and they sent me a replacement last week. Well without checkin the new package, I tore into the rear axle. I went to open the new gears and it was another freckin install kit!!! So twice, they sent me the wrong parts. I’m a little frustrated.

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