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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Since it looks like we're getting ready for another round of "Site Upgrades" here, I figured it would be prudent to put a direct link to my website. So if you're going through this thread and are tired of the format and/or the links and photos quit working, then jump over to the main site where I host all of this stuff personally.

http://midwestnomads.com/garage-projects/1999-mercury-mountaineer/

Thanks!



How it looks right now (1/25/20):



Update: This has been sold to a nice gentleman in WI. I hope it treats it as well as it treated us!


While not really a hard core build, there are some interesting parts in this one that I hope will help some others if they want to try to do similar things with the 2nd gen Mountaineer/Explorer platform. I have lurked, and (very) occasionally posted around here for a while. During that time I have gleaned quite a bit of good information so I wanted to try to give something back with this build by documenting some of the things I found scattered throughout the web and sticking them in a condensed version.

This will be a bit of a trial and error documentation as I plan on dual posting information for the build on my site and keeping this build thread updated as I go along. I’ll keep this top post updated with links, but the links will go back to my site where it will hopefully be easier to maintain photo integrity in the future. It might backfire, but what the hey…

Project Goals
I’m shooting for a down and dirty ‘quick-ish’ build by taking the leftovers from my truck (The Lone Ranger) and jamming them under The Merc. My family and I have been without a wheeler since 7/4/15, and we’re itching to get back out into the woods again.

At the end of the day, this thing will need to haul myself, my wife, and two kids in comfort down the road, wheel all day, and run down the road back home. I lack the space for a trailer, so like every rig I have had in the past, this needs to be road worthy. This will also serve as our vacation vehicle for the westward trips we like to take.

Build version 1.0

Driveline:
- Stock 302 with 180k miles and counting
- M5OD conversion using a ’97 F150 4.2 V6 Donor transmission
- NWF 241/205 doubler (twin sticked) with a relocated VSS

Rear:
- 14 Bolt SRW from an ’87 suburban left over from the truck (Link)
- Yukon Locker, 4.88’s Ruff Stuff dis brake stuff using 77k20 parts
- Modified GM 63 leaf pack from a 2000 Chevy 1500

Front:
- HP D60 from a ’78 F-350 also left over from the truck (Link)
- Spartan Locker, 4.88’s, Reid Knuckles, High Steer
- Grand Wagoneer leaf pack to get me up and running cheaper (Since I already have the leaves).

Rubber:
- 37x13.5xr17 Cooper STT Pro on 17x8 Soft 8’s with 4.5 BS

So that’s it, overall, nothing too crazy going on. I had originally hoped to hammer this thing out quickly to have it drivable by Memorial day 2016, but that turned out be a touch optimistic with two young kids running around. So that is to say, it’ll take a while to get it done, but I am hoping to have it on the road in 2016 and wheeling by 2017.

Post Index

Driveline Stuff:
- Shaving the NP205
- Building the NWF Doubler
- Shifting the Mess Part 1
- Plugging the NP205
- NP205 Mount
- HP60 and 14 Bolt Refresh
- M50D Maintenance
- 5 Gear Swap and Doubler Placement
- Trans/Doubler Cross Member Fun!
- Shifting the Mess Part 2
- Oil Filter Relocation
- Low Oil Pressure Warning Light
- Fueling The Beast


Rear Setup:
- Rear Leaf Mounts
- Shocks and bump stops


Front Setup:
- Making a Steering Box Fit
- Front Leaf Mounting
- Steering Shaft Hacking
- Power Steering Fun!
- Front shocks and bump stops


Armor:
- Front Winch Bumper


Misc:
- Intro-Boring Background
- Moving the VSS and Tone Ring Math
- Leaf Spring Refresh
- No IFS, ands, or Buts! Removing the IFS
- Rear Cargo Platform
- Crossing the 1,000 mile mark
- My how we’ve grown up!
- Rear Quater Window Replacment
- Front Locker Woes
- Tablet Mount
- DVD player Mount
- Overdue Refresh


Trips:
- 1st ORT Flat Nasty NYE 2016
- 2nd ORT Flat Nasty 5/20/17
- 3rd ORT Flat Nasty 8/12/17
- Colorado 2017
- 4th ORT SMORR 10/14/17
- 6th ORT Flat Nasty 2/10/18
- 7th ORT Flat Nasty 7/28/18
- 2nd Colorado trip
- 8th ORT Flat Nasty 12/1/18
- 9th ORT The Badlands 4/6/19
- Colorado/Utah 2019
- 10th ORT at Flat Nasty 1/25/20
- 11th ORT at Mooonlight Racing 2/8/20
- On to it's new home
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Background

While I will never claim to be an expert in fabrication or driving, this isn’t my first foray into the off-road world. The first real dive was in an ’87 XJ that got hacked to heck, with a stroker motor. And yes, it was very hacked, but fun educational experience!:


After having my fill of the unibody world, I wanted the next build to start with a frame. Enter The Lone Ranger a ’94 super cab:


After kid #1 showed up, the Ranger no longer worked for us a family wheeler. So I parted out the ranger and found a Cookie Cutter TJ. While it worked well for us at the time, with Kid #2 cooking, we quickly out grew it. While I get why these things are popular, they’re a bit too constraining for where we are in life at this point. If I had a tow rig/trailer setup, I might have kept it longer:


After the TJ went down the road, I started eyeing the wife’s old DD. This thing spent most of its life in Texas (until 2013) prior to coming into our possession. When we picked it up as a Craigslist Special, it was in pretty good shape. Currently everything is stock (ish) with a 5.0/4R70W/AWD combo running 31” tires. Since it’s a Mercury, all the options are present and working! At the time of this writing, the RBV (Ranger Based Vehicles) are laughably cheap. While the price has gone up with the cheaper fuel we currently have, you can still find good deals on them.

When it came home, bonus, I’m the 2nd owner:


As craigslist specials go, this thing needed some work (but not too much):


It rode on some 31” Falkens during its stent as the wife’s DD:


Served as a family adventure mobile:


And occasional tow pig:


So pretty plain vanilla at this point. With the sale of the Cookie Cutter TJ behind us I started gathering the odds and end I needed to make this a wheeler. While I wanted to build a lightweight wheeler for the next toy, things are falling into place too nicely with this Merc to ignore. So it’ll be another big dumb build for me, but at least wheelers with leather are better :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
NWF Doubler with a NP205 and VSS relocation

After having a D&D Doubler in The Lone Ranger, I knew that I wanted another crawl box in this build. Especially since I intend to run a manual in this rig.

After nearly getting burned on Behemoth Drive Train on another project (thankfully I got my money back out of that deal) I started looking for another supplier. Enter North West Fab (NWF) with their Eco Box:


This setup uses a donor 231/241 planetary set, ring gear, and shifting mechanism that you dump into their billet housing. In my particular setup, I’m using a 241 planetary set (6 pinion), with a NP271 31 spline input shaft that was turned down (NWF did the machine work) mated to the NP205 that I shaved. You can read about how I shaved the NP205 here (Click Me). I also twin sticked the thing while it was apart. You can read about how the NWF doubler went together here (Click Me!).

Everything assembled and painted up:


And stuck on the back of the M5OD I plan on using:


While everything was on the bench, I went ahead and got the shifters put together fully realizing that some tweaks would need to be made once I got it into the Merc. I grabbed some parts from McMaaster to make quick disconnecting of the linkage easy, and spent a little time with the plasma cutter at work to get the brackets made up. The details and part numbers can be found here (Click Me!).

Everything mocked up on the bench:


Since the axle mounted VSS was going to go away here soon, I needed to come up with a relocated setup if I wanted a working speedometer (and I do!). I haven’t tried this out yet, but I am not the first to do something like this so I would expect it to work. The details can be found here (Click Me!) for how I came up with the teeth count, etc.

In a nutshell, I made a tone ring to fit on a 1350 CV Flange:


Made a bracket to hold the VSS:


And mounted the whole mess to the NP205

We’ll see how well that works once I get the thing moving under its own power again.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Front End Fun

With the bench part of the project done, it was time to pull the Merc into the garage and get serious about things. So up on jack stands it went, a little unbolting and hacking got me this:


A little more sawzall action got me this:


With that all out of the way, I got serious about trying to make the steering box fit. I chose to use the standard Ford box that can be found in damn near everything Ford build from the 80’s to late 90’s. These boxes have proven to be very powerful and robust. However, they’re not exactly tiny, and there really isn’t that much room to make them fit. The details about how I went about making it fit can be found here (Click Me). But the overly simplified version is cut a big ole hole in the frame:


Make some sleeves and plate to fill giant hole:


And then install:




I seem to be missing the finished product photos, but you get the point, or at least I hope you do as this is kind of a critical thing that you don’t want to screw up. Do note that you’ll need to run a remote oil filter setup if you go this route. More info on that can be found here (Click Me)

Once the steering box was in place the rest of the front end just kind of fell in place around it. There was some trial and error to find where everything needed to be. In the end, I wound up going with a shackle up front setup using a set of replacement Grand Wagoneer leaf springs. All of the trial and error can be found here (Click Me).

Here’s where the mounts wound up at:


And here’s how things look at ride height. The rear mounts is 4” ahead of the body mount (Yellow Line) and 2-1/4” down from the frame rail (Blue Line). The distance between the mounts is right at 44” (Red Line) and the front mount is 1-5/8” below the frame rail (Blue Line again). With the 5” shackles (Pink Line), that gives me a shackle angle of about 47° at ride height (leafs are nearly flat):


This is nearly the same setup that I used on my Ranger and that worked extremely well for what it was. I would have liked to have a bit more up travel, but the D60 pumpkin is threatening to attack the oil pan. And I refuse to go up in height if I can help it since it fits in the garage right now.

With the front sitting on its own weight, the axle centerline is pushed forward about 5” from stock, which nets me a pretty good approach angle with the front mounted shackles. Overall, I’m pretty happy with that:
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Stabbing the M5OD and Doubler in

Folks that know me know that I’m not really a fan of automatic transmissions. While the 4r70w in the Mercury was one of the few that didn’t routinely irritate me, I wanted it gone. Plus I had to pull it to fix a leaking rear main seal, so I didn’t see a reason for it to go back in!

So let’s start off with a parts list up front on this post to make it easier for those that want to go down this road. Here is my working combo:

– M5OD manual transmission. I used one from a ’97 4.2 V6 as it has the top shifter plate located further back than regular M5OD, but it still has the small block bell housing
– LUK Clutch (OEM Ford) 7128 (or M-6375-B302)
– 164 Tooth Flywheel form LUK LFW161 <--- This flywheel wound up being junk out of the box due to a balance issue. Now running the O'Reilly Power Torque #NFW1128
– Pedal Assembly from a manual Explorer 6L5Z2455BB
– Slave/Master/Line assembly from Dorman CC649031
– Block off Plate for a 302 with 164 tooth flywheel Ford Part number D0AZ-7007 (Doesn’t quite fit perfectly, but close enough)
– 164 tooth starter TYC Part number 103223 <-- This starter sounded like garbage, so it got swapped out.
– Pressure Plate Bolts Mr. Gasket 910


Essentially, you’re using the clutch, flywheel, and starter out of a ’96 F150, and Hydraulics/Pedals (Master/Slave/Line) from a manual transmission 1995-2001 Explorer to make this happen.

This is all pretty straightforward, but if you want more details, you can find them here (Click Me)

One thing I found hard to find when doing research on this was a picture of the 4R70W next to a M5OD… so here’s a photo of that:


Stabbed into the Merc:


With the doubler hanging on the back, it became apparent that some trimming needed to occur:


So out came the death wheel, and a hole appeared. At this point I was happy that I shaved the NP205 or it would have been an even bigger issue to make it fit:


From the bottom:


I hate welding sheet metal, but this turned out pretty decent:



Once that was taken care of, I needed a way to mount everything in a more permanent fashion. I made up a mount off the back of the NP205 and made a plate that grabbed that mount and the original trans mount to tie everything together. I also put a little offset torque mount off to the side


This setup uses the stock ford transmission mounts since they’re dirt cheap and decently robust:


Then it was just a matter of tying everything together. I used one of the original frame mounted cross member mounts up front, and made some new mounts in the back from plate welded to the frame:


More details on that can be found here (Click Me)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
And that's where we're at for now. I'm currently 6 months into this 3 month project, but I am hoping to have it on the road by the end of this month. Or at least have it put together enough to drive it out of the garage for a change.

There's been some discussion on this generation Merc/Explorers, so I thought throwing a build thread up might get some more traffic in here.
 

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:like:

Keep us updated. I wanna know how that manual works out with the EEC-V computer and your home made VSS.
 

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:like:

Keep us updated. I wanna know how that manual works out with the EEC-V computer and your home made VSS.
If it's anything like I think it will be, he probably has, or will need to jumper the wires for the shift selector so that it thinks it is in neutral. Then it'll run happy and the VSS will just be for speedometer/odometer functions.

What did you use for the tone ring? Same ring that was in the rear-end of the explorer?
 

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Nice! I'm about 6 months into my build.( took the summer off from it). Just got it onto its own weight,and rolling. I did a few things different. I basically adapted an early bronco drivetrain into it. Using a high pinion full width d44 and 9" rear. Kept the 4r70w and adapted an early bronco Dana 20. 37"tires and also trying to keep it low. Right now rear has sagged stock leafs with warrior shackles swapped over the axle.think I may ditch the shackles in favor of AAL. Front is early bronco coil buckets with 3.5 deaver EB coils. Think I may drop down to a 2.5 coil. Fenders will be clearanced as necessary.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
:like:

Keep us updated. I wanna know how that manual works out with the EEC-V computer and your home made VSS.
I do too :homer:

Awesome build. Nice documentation. Keep us posted.
Will do!

If it's anything like I think it will be, he probably has, or will need to jumper the wires for the shift selector so that it thinks it is in neutral. Then it'll run happy and the VSS will just be for speedometer/odometer functions.

What did you use for the tone ring? Same ring that was in the rear-end of the explorer?
Yup, I lightly modified the harness so that it thinks it is in Neutral. It will crank over right now, so it will likely run. Worst case I pay for a tuner to get it happy.

You're right VSS is just there for speedometer/ODO, and Cruise functions. It seems like there is always at least a 2 hour drive one way to go wheel, so I REALLY want cruise control in a rig again. I am losing ABS, but I can live without that.

For the tone ring itself, I cut it out from some 1/4" plate, turned it true (after welding it) and did a little file clean up. You can find all the details here on the math for the number of teeth and exactly what I did Click Me
 

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Discussion Starter #12
... Right now rear has sagged stock leafs with warrior shackles swapped over the axle.think I may ditch the shackles in favor of AAL. ....
Yeah the Explorer rear leafs bring the suck. I had replaced the stock pack on the back of this one with a new one, and still had to add an AAL after it started sagging a couple of months later at the stock height. That's a big part of the reason for going GM 63's. That and they flex awesome.

Which brings me to the next post....
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Rear Leaf Setup

Not a whole lot going on in the rear. Just a typical GM 63” Leaf pack from a 2000 2wd 1500, which is a tad bit different than the 80’s version I used on the truck. Bastardized 80’s pack on the top with an AAL, and the stock 00’s pack on the bottom (sans overload):


I moved the stock leaf mount forward 6.75”, and welded the two frame halves together (2 pc frame? Really?):


In the back, I’m running a set of 6” Shackles in the stock location:


After a few false starts which involved the damn 14 bolt falling off the jacks and stands:


Everything eventually looked like this:


All the details can be found here (Click Me)
 

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Dig it! Keep us posted. Excited to see the front suspension come together, doesn't look like there's a ton of room to work with up there. I probably missed it, but you linking or leafs?
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Dig it! Keep us posted. Excited to see the front suspension come together, doesn't look like there's a ton of room to work with up there. I probably missed it, but you linking or leafs?
I kind of skimmed over what I did in the front in Post 4 above ;). A little more detail can be found here (Click Me!). And no, there is not a whole lot of room up there and you quickly run into oil pan/diff clearance issues when trying to keep things low.

I had planned on doing a 3 link in the front, but time and cash pushed me towards running leafs for now. It was a bit of a no brainier since I had a fresh-ish set of stock Wagoneer leafs leftover from the truck. To be honest, the leafs will work fine for what this rig will wind up doing, but I can see myself linking the front in the future as I can never really stop screwing with things.

Right now I just want the damn thing out of the garage! I will be posting in nearly real time going forward, so progress will slow down .

Plumbing brakes is next on the list, followed by getting the fuel tank in place, and I need to start doing some reading on shocks to figure out what I want to run (likely 5125's).

There's only a small list of things to do at this point....
 

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Tagged - to see how this turns out! :smokin: :beer:
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Liking the leaf swap idea! May have to copy that once she's done.
It's painfully simple to go this route. I still need to sneak in a panhard/track bar in there since I'm running shackles up front, but I suspect it should ride and flex well enough when all said and done. In the ranger, this setup worked very well and surprised more than a few people as to how well it rode for being leaf sprung at all corners.

what are you using for the power steering pump?
From what I've read, the stock pump that came with the motor should put out enough flow/psi to run this box. If it doesn't, then I'm out the cost of a custom power steering line to find out. And well if the stock pump doesn't work, I'll post up what I wind up using in the end.

It doesn't look like it would be too hard to make some other pump work in there as there is a decent amount of room around where the pump mounts, and it is already setup as a remote reservoir from the get go.

Absolute worst case is I make a stock 4.0 pump fit. Not a perfect solution, but it got the job done in the Ranger.

Tagged - to see how this turns out! :smokin: :beer:
Thanks! I hope I don't let you down!

Builds looking great so far, and surprisingly clean body, too!
Yeah I felt kind of bad going down the wheeler road with this one as it is REALLY clean. No rust to speak of, no real door dings, Interior in awesome shape. Hell, with a little wax on it it looked really dang good for having 180k miles on it:


But at the end of the day, these things are dirt cheap in excellent condition. If I were to sell it, I might have been able to get $1500 out of it, and it needed nothing before I started hacking on it.

In stock form they are pretty awesome light duty wheelers in (Fire roads, 2 track, etc), though they do ride a bit stiff.
 
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