View Full Version : bringing a $500 Explorer back from the dead

03-15-2011, 05:56 AM
This is what I do. I have this passion for taking what basically is someone elses discarded and neglected trash and making them viable and enjoyable again. I try to do one of these a month. This latest project is no exception. I bought this a couple days ago and will document the process for your enjoyment.

Project: 1998 Ford Explorer XLT, Eddie Bauer package, 303K miles. total cost so far including transportation home and beer payoff to my co-driver $545.00


this is where I found her, as I found her. She had sat for over a year, but fired right up.

http://a3.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/188583_191365187569540_100000881806029_426663_8048 119_n.jpg

http://a2.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/189740_191365217569537_100000881806029_426664_1436 357_n.jpg


After I drove her home I took some close ups of what I had in store for me.

severely faded headlight/signal plastics:
http://a2.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/183403_191055640933828_100000881806029_425116_6986 282_n.jpg


lots of moss, mildew, and lichen growth on the paint:

http://a8.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/183403_191055644267161_100000881806029_425117_4771 514_n.jpg

http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/183403_191055647600494_100000881806029_425118_3191 131_n.jpg

http://a1.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/183403_191055650933827_100000881806029_425119_5751 516_n.jpg

http://a8.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/183403_191055654267160_100000881806029_425120_2494 366_n.jpg


Interior smells a little, but mainly its just dirty, some mold. and some bleaching has occured on the carpet. It will need to be replaced for sure.

http://a6.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/200343_191056504267075_100000881806029_425142_1909 617_n.jpg


The leather is dirty, but intact and salvagable. Check out the sweet ass mobile phone!
http://a1.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/199927_191056534267072_100000881806029_425144_3298 840_n.jpg


Under the hood. 303K miles and runs like champ. No major leaks, some corrosion on the aluminum parts but mainly just dirty.

http://a3.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/196416_191056580933734_100000881806029_425147_7169 821_n.jpg

The biggest issue with it other than needing to be detailed is that the transmission has lost reverse. Thats why it was parked in the first place. Forward gears work perfectly however and thats how I was able to drive it almost 160 miles the day I bought it. I will likely just buy a used replacement trans.

Other issues:

Ford "Mach" Stereo system works but display is dark
drivers power door lock not working at all
Passenger power door lock jams in certain conditions
passenger front door doesnt open from the outside
passenger rear door handle broken, hard to open door from the outside
most of the dash lights are out
armrest torn and latches broken
drivers power seat doesnt seem to come far enough forward
wiper blades all trashed
A/C compressor cycles on/off constantly
Lumbar pumps in seats dont work
drivers seat recliner lever broken off
headlights faded

Expectations are to have this clean and "turn key" (zero issues) ready for its next owner within a month for under $1000 total investment. Stay tuned for updates.

03-15-2011, 05:57 AM
started on the interior today. Its not pretty...in fact its pretty disgusting. Im thankful the seats are leather because they are fairly easy to clean and restore. The carpet is pretty bad but I havent given up on it yet.

The driver seat wouldnt go all the way forward. As it turns out it was just the seatbelt slider was sticky so I managed to get the seat to move forward and got a look underneath:

http://a2.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/200492_191589384213787_100000881806029_427828_3318 807_n.jpg

I shop vac a little as I go because I dont like working around moldy stuff, but once the driver seat was out this was was left to clean up:

http://a3.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/196036_191589444213781_100000881806029_427830_4410 71_n.jpg

close up:
http://a8.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/198036_191589420880450_100000881806029_427829_6874 973_n.jpg


so I started to clean up the leather. This is a comparison of just the first step in cleaning the drivers seat, compared to the still dirty passenger seat:

http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/197408_191589470880445_100000881806029_427831_1323 775_n.jpg

Close up of the difference:

http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/197148_191589504213775_100000881806029_427832_2815 229_n.jpg

Both seats completely cleaned and ready for conditioning (which I didnt get to today)

http://a1.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/188530_191589534213772_100000881806029_427833_7472 181_n.jpg


That was about all I managed to get done today.

03-15-2011, 05:57 AM
I will fill this out with more info and pictures but here are a couple teasers:

Paint has been started on and this wheel has been detailed:
http://a3.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/189406_191362590903133_100000881806029_426654_7285 096_n.jpg

Headlights polished:
http://a2.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/200120_191363930902999_100000881806029_426658_1583 305_n.jpg

my daily and my project side by side:
http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/198340_191362617569797_100000881806029_426655_5306 31_n.jpg

issues fixed today:

drivers side power door lock fixed
passenger side door lock fixed
passenger side door opening issue solved
stereo system display swapped with working one, issue fixed.

03-15-2011, 05:07 PM

03-15-2011, 05:10 PM
After all is done, whats your expected profit? Transmission price would scare me.

03-15-2011, 06:29 PM
Damm son that is so clean !

03-15-2011, 07:45 PM
I already located a recently rebuilt transmission for $300. The plan is to keep it under a grand invested and ask for $2800 but take $2500. The KBB value is 3800-4100 even with the miles. The miles will scare some people away, but the condition when Im done will sell it.

03-15-2011, 08:47 PM
Thats not bad at all. I was thinking $1200 for a tranny so I couldnt see the profit being worth it.

03-15-2011, 09:37 PM
Wow, just the cleaning and polishing almost make it look enticing to buy. I always like watching restos, always nice how some people can really turn around a hunk of chit into a clean respectable ride.


03-16-2011, 12:42 AM
Lookin good so far. cant wait to see the end result.

03-16-2011, 04:05 AM
first posts updated with some new pics of the interior.

03-16-2011, 12:59 PM
Thats some NASTY lookin mold in there! And HOW THE FUCK do you get leather that clean lol. You have to many tricks I tell ya

Hipster Lawrence
03-16-2011, 06:30 PM
300k sohc 4.0? Must have been replaced at some point right?

03-16-2011, 07:45 PM
Larry, based on how it runs (I havent bothered to do a compression test or anything else yet) I would have to say its been replaced at some point. The previous owners bought it in '07 with 219K and reported no issues with it other than replacing the typical wearables.

03-19-2011, 06:20 AM
ok update time. Interior is basically finished, I have a couple details left to do like recover the armrest and clean the sunvisors but basically the hard stuff is done. I dont feel dirty sitting in it anymore and I dont feel like it will make me sick breathing inside it.

Picture time!

Here is the cargo end of it, without the extra cargo mat:

http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/188264_192316187474440_100000881806029_431273_5421 610_n.jpg

...and with the mat. The mat took the bulk of the abuse in its life, which is a good thing, but it was harder to clean.

http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/200734_192336277472431_100000881806029_431388_7078 006_n.jpg


back seats cleaned and protected:

http://a4.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/190196_192316220807770_100000881806029_431275_5762 994_n.jpg


Interior sans carpet during its cleaning process

http://a2.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/196842_192316244141101_100000881806029_431276_6967 681_n.jpg


Carpet back in after letting it fully dry near my woodstove

http://a8.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/189068_192316270807765_100000881806029_431277_2788 645_n.jpg


Console cleaned, and reinstalled

http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/196854_192316300807762_100000881806029_431278_6919 381_n.jpg


remember this spot? will the moldy french fries and whatever else that was?

http://a1.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/195914_192316344141091_100000881806029_431279_7663 066_n.jpg


and the seats go back in...

http://a2.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/197446_192335147472544_100000881806029_431386_5334 972_n.jpg

http://a8.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/195943_192335177472541_100000881806029_431387_1026 270_n.jpg


And thats pretty much it for the interior. I have a few details to sort out, but basically Ive moved on to the full on exterior detail.

03-19-2011, 06:22 AM

03-19-2011, 03:03 PM
How... the....hell....Ive never seen carpet get that clean, and Ive tried steam cleaning. WTF... You had to dye it... thats the only fucking way.

03-19-2011, 05:09 PM
How... the....hell....Ive never seen carpet get that clean, and Ive tried steam cleaning. WTF... You had to dye it... thats the only fucking way.

There are professional chemicals available. I plan on renting a steam cleaner and using a chemical to clean the carpets / upholstery in my GTS. Then I will re dye the fabric grey. I don't share my apartment anymore, so if the tub is out of commission for a day to soak things in a chemical bath, no one will mind...

03-19-2011, 05:56 PM

03-19-2011, 07:15 PM
I did not dye the carpet and I use typical household cleaners that most everyone has around. Its all in HOW I use them. If you look closely you can still see some stains around where the seats bolt down. Im guessing coffee or soda pooled there and no amound of cleaning was getting rid of it, but the seats and mount covers take care of it anyway. What I dont show in the pictures is a spot that was bleached under the passenger side rear seat. It mostly covered by a floor mat, but there was zero else I could do about it.

Remeber if you are thinking about dying carpets that its symthetic and standard dyes wont work. You need an acid dye meant for nylon.

03-19-2011, 07:53 PM
Remeber if you are thinking about dying carpets that its symthetic and standard dyes wont work. You need an acid dye meant for nylon.

Its why I haven't tackled it yet. Lucky for me I'm dating the college educated girl who specializes in fabrics. Step one is testing the tub, to see if the dye will stain it! Because of the sun damage on the rear seats, I'm going to try a partial "drip" dye where only part of the fabric is in the dye to achieve a gradient.

03-19-2011, 08:38 PM
The problem I can see with a big piece of carpet is finding a "tub" big enough to fit it all AND have enough dye to cover it.

I bet my landlord would be pissed if I tried to use the Jacuzzi for such activitity. ;)

03-20-2011, 10:01 PM
Well I made arrangments to go pick up a transmission in Seattle tomorrow. Its a bit of a drive for it but its super low miles and an exact fit to the year. The bad news is I finally got a chance to test the 4WD yesterday and its bad as well, so it looks like I have 2 transfer cases to rebuild now (the one in my 97 is toast as well)

03-21-2011, 12:59 AM
did you check the reverse silinoid?

03-21-2011, 01:14 AM
all the diagnostics point to a broken band. Putting the trans in low I have positive forward power, but when letting off the throttle (going downhill) it freewheels.

Im just going to swap with a working trans and then attempt to rebuild the one I pull out and resell it. Im still under budget so far with enough left to possibly repair the transfer case.

03-21-2011, 01:33 AM
ah ok

03-24-2011, 05:23 PM
I've had good experience with a Bissell Spot Bot type cleaner. Integrated brush and fluid spraying, with a vac to dry/remove excess. Works really well, especially when paired with Bissell's auto upholstry cleaning solution.

03-24-2011, 07:45 PM
yeah I have a little spot cleaner as well that I use on seats and such but only for light dirt and moderate to easy stains. Even with seats, if they are really bad I will remove the covers from the frames and wash them. Carpet thats been abused or is quite old just doesnt come clean enough for me with a spot cleaner though.

03-25-2011, 05:28 AM
OK THEN...so I drove almost 600 miles round trip to seattle a to get a transmission for this thing only to get it home and find out its the wrong one. SOOOooooo I decided to go with plan B. Im fixing the one thats in it. I dropped the pan and the valve body and reverse servo piston which revealed that the reverse band is indeed broken. An $11 part is all that stands between me and being able to back up. Of course its all the way at the very back of the trans but armed with a gasket/seal set, a fresh new band and a factory step by step teardown manual, Im going for it.

Phase one: Removal - Complete!

http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/190409_193658144006911_100000881806029_438439_8183 456_n.jpg

Took me 6 hours. I was dreaming of owning a lift most of that time and I was close to borrowing an O/A torch at one point with the exhaust, but its out. It wouldnt have actually been that bad had it not been for everything being well and truely stuck fast. Lots of Blaster, some creative use of extensions to get an impact in play, perseverance, and several bottles of "mechanic fluid" (Weinhards Hefeweisen this time), got the job done. I think that was the hardest part of the whole job.

Phase 2: teardown - Begins tomorrow.

04-02-2011, 04:15 AM

04-02-2011, 04:46 AM
Well what?

I posted the trans rebuild info in the other thread, no point repeating it here. I took the rig for its first full drive drive today to town for my errands and back. It ran flawlessly! Transmission problems are gone and I can move on. Unfortunately Im now sure I have at least one bad halfshaft up front and will preplacing both of those here soon. I think that will take care of my 4WD issues.

I picked up a smell during the week that its been sitting doing the transmission and I think I might have a dead mouse inside it. I doubt I will be able to find that easily so I my going to probably just do an ozone treatment on this thing. That will kill any remaining mold/mildew that might be hiding and desicate the mouse wherever it is. I can rent an ozone generator for a week for $40 so I will probably do that next week.

This weekend Im planning on working the exterior on this thing so should have some new pics soon.

04-03-2011, 05:29 PM
Ozone generator.... and we worry about holes in the Ozone layer when we have Ozone generators.... Wow

04-03-2011, 08:38 PM
LOL, well it doesnt quite work that way. Ozone (O3) is extremely unstable at high concentrations. This is why we want it though. It throws off the extra oxygen atom which can then oxidize biological agents, in this case mold and dead mouse. Ive used Ozone before to speed up the natural oxidation process in several stinky vehicles and when used properly is quite effective.

04-04-2011, 08:03 AM
Ozone generator.... and we worry about holes in the Ozone layer when we have Ozone generators.... Wow

See also - Lightning

04-17-2011, 02:58 AM
Ok, so I havent updated this in a while.

I havent really been worried about getting this thing sorted out while I still had the other one (my 97 XL), but I sold that this week and it was time to really concentrate on getting this thing perfect.

Ive had a bad clunk in the drivetrain since the day I got it, and it only occured under heavy load (when "traction on demand" was active or with 4WD locked in. I was fairly certain that the problem was the front differential. I felt the cicumstances that lead to the clunk indicated the spider gears in the open diff. So I purchased a replacement carrier from a local yard. It was only $125 so I thought that was worth the effort.

Replacing it was almost an all day affair and I discovered some bad brakes and other things along the way, but to make a long story short when I got the old Diff out and compared it to the "low mile" diff (it truely was low mile at 68K compared to my unit at 303k) I was disappointed to find it didnt show any signs of having an issue. I replaced it with the newer one anyway but wasnt surprised that it didnt fix the issue. $125 wasted right? well not quite...

With the front driveshaft out I have no clunk, so it has to be the transfer case or the halfshafts at that point. The half shafts are only $50 each, cheap fix right? Well I just couldnt buy that they were bad enough to cause the symptoms, and despite the urging of some people on a ford truck forum I belong to, I decided the problem had to be in the transfer case.

Yesterday I took the old diff that I pulled from the truck and with the same type of yellow paint pen my yard uses I marked it as though it was the one I bought, then took it back for an exchange. I traded it for a transfer case that matched mine and today set to swapping them. The extra cost was only $75 so it was actually cheaper than halfshafts at that point. I was right on the money this time! The replacement transfer case solved the problem and now 4WD works smoothly.

Im stoked. I now have a total of less than $900 into this truck and it officially has no major mechanical issues left to solve. Im going to be driving it for at least another month and may keep it for the summer and go camping in it this year. then I will sell it for a profit and move on to the next flip rig.

our weather has sucked ass here so far this spring, so I still havent detailed the exterior, but the reports say better weather coming, so stay tuned if you like seeing cheap crap turned into something nice.

04-26-2011, 11:46 PM
I always enjoy seeing your work Facime, very productive.

05-25-2011, 03:29 AM
I kind of forgot about this thread. I finally had a chance to take some final photos of this project which will now go up for sale shortly. Ive had my fun with it, brough it back from the brink of going to a junkyard and made it a productive member of automotive society again, ;)

So here are a few pictures I took today. The only photoshoping done to them is autolevel (ctrl-shft+L) and resize.


Just a reminder of what I started with for $500:

http://a3.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/188583_191365187569540_100000881806029_426663_8048 119_n.jpg

http://a1.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/199927_191056534267072_100000881806029_425144_3298 840_n.jpg


http://a8.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/248147_207196505986408_100000881806029_527045_2193 74_n.jpg

http://a6.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/248133_207196572653068_100000881806029_527046_7960 013_n.jpg

http://a3.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/250148_207196619319730_100000881806029_527048_6928 803_n.jpg

http://a2.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/248656_207196662653059_100000881806029_527050_6464 962_n.jpg

http://a3.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/246679_207196869319705_100000881806029_527057_8010 141_n.jpg

http://a4.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/248065_207196895986369_100000881806029_527058_1411 46_n.jpg

http://a4.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/246851_207196599319732_100000881806029_527047_8273 316_n.jpg

http://a6.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/246890_207196695986389_100000881806029_527052_2964 653_n.jpg

http://a4.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/250489_207196739319718_100000881806029_527053_7401 901_n.jpg

http://a1.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/249948_207196769319715_100000881806029_527054_3502 32_n.jpg

http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/247694_207196792653046_100000881806029_527055_7695 556_n.jpg

http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/247400_207196832653042_100000881806029_527056_7019 488_n.jpg

http://a6.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/249317_207196925986366_100000881806029_527059_3776 234_n.jpg

http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/248981_207196959319696_100000881806029_527061_6217 247_n.jpg

http://a7.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/248329_207196975986361_100000881806029_527062_5674 022_n.jpg

05-25-2011, 03:39 AM
Damn that shit is clean!!!!! Very nice work.

Hope I can find something that cheap and repairable when I start looking for a towing vehicle.

05-25-2011, 06:53 PM
I bet cash for clunkers hates you!

05-25-2011, 07:06 PM
Yeah man, that looks amazing. I wish I had half your patience! My projects would turn out much prettier!

05-25-2011, 07:10 PM
So, when can you fly out and take care of my Explorer?

05-25-2011, 07:32 PM
Yeah man, that looks amazing. I wish I had half your patience! My projects would turn out much prettier!
I dont really have the patience, I just have the time.

So, when can you fly out and take care of my Explorer?

send me a ticket and supply the chemicals and Im on my way ;)