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Old 08-03-2012, 11:48 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Do I need a new truck?

Hey guys, I've been kinda reading this forum for a while, and trying to break into the off-road world. I picked up a 96 ranger 4x4 for my first truck. I absolutely love it, and its always covered in mud and dirt. But lately, I've been hearing people say I should get rid of my ranger and bump up to something like a f250. Should I listen to them, or stick with my ranger, and so something like a solid axle up front, and bigger tires? And maybe get something as a daily beater? Just trying to figure out where to put my money. If I should use my ranger as the daily driver, and lift a three quarter ton as my toy, or make the ranger my toy, and a three quarter my pull truck.
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Old 08-03-2012, 12:46 PM   #2 (permalink)
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An SAS Ranger will fit in a lot of places that a full size truck will not. I would build the Ranger up for off road purposes and if you still want a full size then buy it as a DD.

That 96 would be a lot of fun with 2 solid axle and a tube bed. Then you can beat the hell out of it and not have to worry about paint or body damage.

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Old 08-03-2012, 12:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Depends on what you want to do, ultimately.

If you want something that you can dd and beat on trails and rocks and mud in a non-competative fashion, then keep the ranger and spend a couple grand on it.

If you need a fullsize (not sure why anybody does ) then step it up.
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Old 08-03-2012, 01:01 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Basically I'm on a budget. And I understand the ranger will be a lot more fun for less money. I think the the quarter might be my DD while I make the ranger a 4 link. Or should I try to find a Tacoma instead?

Last edited by NC-Ranger; 08-03-2012 at 01:38 PM.
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Old 08-03-2012, 02:28 PM   #5 (permalink)
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You'll be fine with the ranger. either way you have a bunch of factory IFS bullshit to deal with.

I'd say for starters lift it a few inches throw some decent tires on it, wheel it and figure out where to go from there.

Everyone's needs/wants in a rig are different so you gotta just figure out what fits for you.
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Old 08-03-2012, 04:13 PM   #6 (permalink)
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This is how she sits. It's an old picture, but the suspension is still that level. Sitting on 30 inch tires. Someone told me a Cummins v4, lockers, and leveling kit will do wonders. Opinions?
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Old 08-03-2012, 07:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Forget the F-250... Forget the SAS.

'90-'97 were actually the best years for the smaller Ford, they have some stout underpinnings and can easily be built into formidable trail machines for very little coin (anyone who says otherwise likely isn't knowledgeable about the truck, or is basing their opinion on earlier models, which did have some issues with axles & transmissions). The TTB frontend on that truck is basically a solid axle that is built into two halves, and shares the same basic design (notable are the 5-297X axle u-joints which are the same ones found in the Dana44 under F-150s and many F-250s also).

Hop over to www.therangerstation.com. Great site with literally tons of info about building those rigs.
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Old 08-04-2012, 08:40 AM   #8 (permalink)
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i personally prefer the smaller rigs, i wheeled k5s and suburbans for years, i now have a s10 with fullsized axles and love it better then any other truck ive had
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Old 08-04-2012, 08:51 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Another vote to keep the ranger; It fits on trails way better than a full size will. Most of us wheel what we got until it breaks, then upgrade to prevent repeat breakage. You'll end up with a truck to fit your needs.

In short, get out there and wheel.
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Old 08-04-2012, 11:13 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I was wheeling what I had until my friend talked me into my last trip. It went great until I nearly rolled the ranger into a ditch. I was able to be pulled out with a super duty, but I suffered bent rear shackles, and my axle actually sits to the side. Not bent, or dog legged. It's like someone just slid the entire axle assembly the right about four inches. So is there anything I can do to "beef up" that area? It seems to be a weak point, at least from my experiments. Granted, I'm a teenager, so I'm still learning a lot about trucks.
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Old 08-04-2012, 11:32 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Here are the pictures, I don't know why they didn't work..
http://i1200.photobucket.com/albums/...s/IMAG0097.jpg

http://i1200.photobucket.com/albums/...s/IMAG0060.jpg
That's my bent shackle. How can I beef that up?
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Old 08-04-2012, 11:41 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Seems to be quite rusty, that could have been the weak point and when the weight of the truck was put on it, it gave way to the point of least resistance. Buy a new set of hangers and have them gusseted if you want them stronger. Although a new set should do the trick for you.
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Old 08-04-2012, 12:11 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philzxcab:14648534
Seems to be quite rusty, that could have been the weak point and when the weight of the truck was put on it, it gave way to the point of least resistance. Buy a new set of hangers and have them gusseted if you want them stronger. Although a new set should do the trick for you.
I mean this sounds good, but could I run a small sort of cross member to reinforce this?
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Old 08-04-2012, 04:13 PM   #14 (permalink)
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The main problem for me with big trucks is when they get stuck, they need really big winches to unstick them. A new nice 9k winch setup will probably cost 1/2 the KBB of your 96 Ranger.

I use to take my Bronco 2 down ATV trails where even a stock, sized full sized, truck would not fit, unless you cut down all the trees on the trails.

Then there is tire cost, bigger and heavier trucks require bigger and heavier tires. If you do mud where there is no bottom, you end up needing tires in the 38-40" x 14" width range where you can get by with 31s on a Ranger.

The other thing is mud tires, such as my SSRs, fare poorly as a DD/tow rig tire in the hot GA sun. I expected it though. If I only had one truck and it had to be a DD, I would keep the Ranger and just upgrade it to 9" axles front and rear and run selectable lockers andmaybe 33s. Though I would be inclined just to run LT235s or 31s at the most on a small DD and spend the money on nice bumpers front and rear and a Warn winch.

If you wheel mostly by yourself you will find a winch in the bed one of the most useful things, next to a high lift jack, though I would add a headache rack first.

>. Or should I try to find a Tacoma instead?

imho

Find a 1984-1985 Ranger, build and wheel that, while keeping your 1996 DD a DD. The 84-85 is more amendable to upgrades, especially in the bumper department, then your 1996. Plus, if you take out a fender or door, it sets you back $50 at the most and nothing to cry over because when you put the used fender or door on you will spray can paint it the correct color, flat black or hunter green.

I had a 1997 Ranger and parking lots caused more damage then I ever did off road. Newer trucks are much more expensive to repair for even minor damage.
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Old 08-05-2012, 09:47 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4x4prepper:14649084
The main problem for me with big trucks is when they get stuck, they need really big winches to unstick them. A new nice 9k winch setup will probably cost 1/2 the KBB of your 96 Ranger.

I use to take my Bronco 2 down ATV trails where even a stock, sized full sized, truck would not fit, unless you cut down all the trees on the trails.

Then there is tire cost, bigger and heavier trucks require bigger and heavier tires. If you do mud where there is no bottom, you end up needing tires in the 38-40" x 14" width range where you can get by with 31s on a Ranger.

The other thing is mud tires, such as my SSRs, fare poorly as a DD/tow rig tire in the hot GA sun. I expected it though. If I only had one truck and it had to be a DD, I would keep the Ranger and just upgrade it to 9" axles front and rear and run selectable lockers andmaybe 33s. Though I would be inclined just to run LT235s or 31s at the most on a small DD and spend the money on nice bumpers front and rear and a Warn winch.

If you wheel mostly by yourself you will find a winch in the bed one of the most useful things, next to a high lift jack, though I would add a headache rack first.

>. Or should I try to find a Tacoma instead?

imho

Find a 1984-1985 Ranger, build and wheel that, while keeping your 1996 DD a DD. The 84-85 is more amendable to upgrades, especially in the bumper department, then your 1996. Plus, if you take out a fender or door, it sets you back $50 at the most and nothing to cry over because when you put the used fender or door on you will spray can paint it the correct color, flat black or hunter green.

I had a 1997 Ranger and parking lots caused more damage then I ever did off road. Newer trucks are much more expensive to repair for even minor damage.
For now, I have chain and a come-along. I work an hourly retail job, so a winch is a little far in my future, but I do have solid anchor points in both front and back.

Now to be a noob, is the nine inch axle a Dana 40 or 66?

I ship out for basic in October, so the truck will stay how it is until my time frees up, but I think once I get into my job, a UAV mechanic, I'll have access to guys with welding and building know-how, and that will really get the ball rolling on this. I fully plan on taking a few welding classes, and this ranger to be my test puppy.

But thanks everyone for your input. It's given me a huge starting point.
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Old 08-11-2012, 08:01 AM   #16 (permalink)
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neither.. a 9 inch is a 9 inch.

your best bet is going to be research... read a LOT and ask very few questions for now. most of the feedback you are going to get will be opinions. get an idea of what you want in the end (tire size, engine/trans, suspension setup, etc.) and be honest with yourself. What kind of wheeling are you going to be doing? Dirt roads? Rocky trails? mall parking lots? too many people jump head first into this sport because all the "cool kids" have well built rigs and then once you get started realize that you have no where to use it.

Unfortunately I speak from experience, but i have not learned my lesson. If you wind up building a trail rig how are you going to transport it? you will need a truck and trailer capable of hauling it around.

Your build will probably cost you in excess of 10-15K if you spring for some nice parts, new wheels and tires, chromo axles, lockers, drive flanges, new drive shafts, links, brackets, coil-over or air shocks or ORI's. The list goes ON and ON and ON. If a winch is out of the picture for now just hold on to what you have and don't do anything. save up and pay cash. don't put it on a credit card because none of it is worth shit after you buy it. you cant sell it and recover your money once you change your mind and decide this isn't for you.

just my .02 cents, but it is worth considering.
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