If you picked up last month's issue you already know that this is the second part of our '99 Ford Ranger 4x4 project build, and if you didn't pick up last month's issue then shame on you! We left off last time on day 20, having just started mocking-up the first tubes for the new bedcage. We pick back up now with day 21 and the second half of the suspension install.
Be sure to check out next month's issue of Off-Road magazine as we take Project 4x4link to the next level and start working on the most important part of any off-road vehicle: a full rollcage!
After plating the frame where the bedcage tubes were going to be attached with 1/4-inch steel, we began to bend tubes and started tacking things in place.
With the first tubes in place, we were able to measure and bend the 1-3/4-inch DOM tubes that would extend to the rear of the truck and complete the main structure of the bedcage.
The next step in building the bedcage was adding all the bracing and shock-mount "wings." The shock-mount wings are 1-3/4-inch, 0.120 DOM, while most of the crossbracing is 1-1/2-inch, 0.120 DOM tubing.
One of the most important pieces to this build is this one right here: a new tone ring. In '98-'00 Ford Rangers, the computer uses the vehicle speed sensor (VSS) in the rear axle to calibrate speed for the speedometer, activate the ABS, and calculate the shift points in the automatic-transmission. Since this truck is an automatic, without this ring the truck wouldn't shift, and since we were now running a Ford 9-inch axle with no provision for a tone ring like the stock 8.8-inch axle had, we had this ring cut and relocated the VSS to the pinion flange on the transfer case.
The truck's tail section will now be supported by coilovers, so we needed to build a pair of stout upper shock mounts. We began by cycling the suspension, and then we created cardboard templates.
With the cardboard templates complete, it was time to cut out the steel plates for the upper shock mounts. For this we used the trusty plasma cutter and a sheet of 3/16-inch steel plate.
You didn't think the shock mounts were going to be only those two plates, now did you? Since these mounts will be supporting the weight of the rear of the truck, they needed to be stout so we attached them to the cage in four places and wrapped around the tube for added weld surface area and holding power. We don't anticipate ever having a problem with these mounts.
In an effort to help keep everything below the bedsides, we went with a shallow 22-gallon fuel cell. The cell is mounted in an angle-iron tray that is attached to the bedcage via three tubes that span the width of the frame.
With a small cell and long commute, frequent trips to the gas station were bound to happen so a shiny billet fuel-filler cap was in order to help brighten the awful experience of fueling up.
Before the fuel-cell bladder was installed for good in the can, we added a fuel-level sending unit so that we can keep tabs on how much fuel is left in the cell at all times.
While we worked on getting the fuel cell in, brake lines plumbed, and other assorted loose ends tied up, our good friend Brian Beaumont worked on fabricating the hydraulic bumpstop cans and mounts. The unique design of the bedcage made designing a mount more difficult than most, but Brian's skills prevailed and the mounts turned out beautifully.
Here we have another view of the bumpstop mount, this time with a bumpstop inserted. You can see here where the stop bumps on the axletube and how the brake lines route around that area.
The money shot. With the limit straps in place, we felt it would be best to limit the rear suspension travel to 28 inches, which is what you see here. At ride height we have 14 inches of uptravel and 14 inches of downtravel. This matches well with the amount of power we are making and the amount of front wheel travel.
Here's something worth bragging about. With the limit straps removed, the suspension will cycle a whopping 37 inches with minimum pinion-angle change - impressive.
With the truck back on the ground and holding its own weight for the first time in 30 days, we felt this was a good time to fill up the rear axle with AmsOil Severe Gear gear lube. Nick Van Dragt took on the task of filling the axle with AmsOil's newest creation, Severe Gear 75W-110, which is perfect for the daily driver/weekend warrior this truck will be.