FULL SIZE OF THE YEAR 2018 VOTE HERE!!!!! - Page 3 - Ford Bronco Forum
View Poll Results: Choose your favorite Fullsize Bronco of 2018!!!
cstrike 26 46.43%
deathmobile2 6 10.71%
Ghosteh 18 32.14%
95 Bronco Wyatt 6 10.71%
Voters: 56. You may not vote on this poll

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post #41 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-15-2018, 06:25 AM
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The fun part of this contest for me is that I am finding pictures of things I forgot completely about. In my last update I mentioned that I added 4” Deaver coils to improve the ride. Looking back, it wasn’t because the coils the pervious owner had installed were simply too stiff, it was because he had modified the lower spring mount to reuse his TTB springs. I totally forgot about this little adventure.


To run the 78-79 style Deavers, I needed to mod the spring cups. This also gave me a chance to address some bowing that I was getting because I still had the TTB coil towers up top.

My method was to torch out his TTB add-ons and then cut some ½” block to re-weld in the center of the cup.







Now I’ll admit this is redneck engineering but I would argue that the ½” block fully welded top and bottom was perfectly safe. More importantly, by having that ½” to play with I easily had enough adjustability to find the right placement that positioned my springs straight.

While it was out I spent some quality time with the wire wheel and replaced some shot bearings.






I had purchased a Spartan lunchbox locker to install in the front but was surprised to see I had a limited slip. Sounds like a good find but the Spartan doesn’t fit that carrier. I debated rebuilding the trac-lok but decided to start saving for a different locker.



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post #42 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-15-2018, 07:57 AM
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Bronco Info: '96 XLT 5.0L manual hubs, 4" Rancho lift, rock sliders, relocated shock mounts, original USBP vehicl
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Ok, let's get this interior project done!

First, there were replacements for the faded & filthy old door panels:




Perfect time to replace all the little stuff:







Then that horrible carpet had to go! New replacement looks & smells much better! My wife even rode in it after this!











That driver's seat was a mess. Ripped, stained & missing a lot of foam. Not surprisingly, the passenger side was great, since Border Patrol agents always work alone & never have anyone riding up front with them. So I needed to find the correct fabric to reupholster one seat ($$$) or find a really nice 22+ year old replacement. Yeah, I know... some of you are saying "Why didn't you just use a XXX seat? They're cheaper, easy to find & much better because they're leather, power, etc." Well, once again, I wanted to keep this truck just as they were when used in service.

It took nearly 3 years, but I finally found one out of a wrecked Bronco in Ohio. Unbelievably, the driver's seat was the ONLY good one out of the donor! I can't quite figure that one out.

Old:



Old & new replacement:






And here it is! It doesn't look brand new, but what an improvement! It even feels better to sit in now that all the foam is in there. Probably doesn't look it, but this was a HUGE improvement in comfort!



Then I looked at the passenger side seat, which had a broken arm rest. Fortunately, it was still in the truck, so all I had to do was fabricate a new bracket. Since these are no longer available, I made one out of steel.






Perfect! Now it's reattached and works! (Plus, I was able to wash the cover when it was off)






I won't bore you with all the other little things, but they certainly added up. New door threshold trim, door weather stripping, a good replacement center console (and then I had to find the individual cup holder inserts... wow, those things are NOT cheap!), good used instrument surround trim (the large black piece) with the defroster cut-out (which makes it harder to find), new steering column cover, turn signal switch & hazard light button, headlight switch, rear window switch, new bulbs behind the dash so it all lights up brightly, XLT trim that goes across the dash, and 2 new dash vents (old ones were broken). Plus a new windshield - I don't know if that's considered interior or exterior, but I certainly hated looking though it!





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post #43 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-16-2018, 08:01 AM
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After I upgraded to the 35” tires I wanted a little more height in the rear. After lots of reading here on FSB I decided to go with Hefty Fab’s shackle flip. I initially thought I only wanted the brackets and could reuse my stock shackles. The brackets are beautiful and it’s too bad Hefty moved on to Toyotas!



It seemed like I should at least add some reinforcement to the stock shackle while I had them out so I welded in some flat stock.



I played around with the spring hangers a bit. It was tough to center the wheel and get a shackle angle I liked.




Droop:



Compression:



Turns out I wanted a little more height and I knew a little longer shackle could help with the angle. I should have just started with these. Again, the quality of Hefty’s work was great!




Eventually I got everything dialed in. I know the RTI ramp isn’t the end all measure of a 4x4 but I have this crappy 20* ramp I built from scrap and it is fun to make a tweak and be able to ramp before and after.





Serious rocks out here either require sliders or require you not to care about your rockers. Because I’ve been so excited to have a solid rust free body I knew I wanted to protect it. FSB has plenty of examples of rock sliders to inspire me and I set off to work.

The main body of the sliders is made of 2x3” tube and the legs are 2”. I wanted a bolt on design ‘just in case’ and am glad I did. I welded the legs onto the tube and then found various ways to position the body while I tacked on the mounting plates.





Here’s what it looked like mounted but before finished welding.



And final weld:



The driver’s side was designed to work around the parking brake brackets and cables:






Then lots of wire wheel and paint. In these next pics I finally have color matching doors. The reason for the delay was that I was waiting to find doors with manual windows and locks. I didn’t want to put time or effort into power doors knowing that I’d be taking them on and off all the time.




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post #44 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-16-2018, 05:32 PM
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I wanted to add a little more to my Bronco's story than just repairs, modifications, and pretty posing photos, because the past is why I have such a strong attachment to it. During the monthly competition, I added a few "war stories" and they seemed well received, so I thought I'd sprinkle a few in during the FOTY event also. If you read this one previously, don't worry because I'll add a few new ones later. However, this one was just funny to leave out.

So gather around. It's story time.


Sometime in October or November of 1999, I was working an evening shift in the area near the Otay Mesa Port-of-Entry, which is used more by commercial traffic entering the U.S. than tourists and everyday border crossers. Most of the activity there is vehicle crossing, with almost no pedestrians crossings. It's an interesting area to work, as the area was a mix of undeveloped fields, commercial warehouses, and businesses that cater to truckers hauling their goods in & out of Mexico, and it's about 5 miles east of (at that time) open farm fields and undeveloped land from the more popular San Ysidro port.




I was sitting to the west of the port, watching the vehicle traffic when something caught my eye. It was an extremely attractive young woman, nicely dressed in a professional manner, walking north alongside of the south-bound traffic heading into Mexico. Her demeanor and dress were not at all what we'd normally see with a person trying to sneak into the U.S., and if she hadn't been where she was and walking in that particular direction, I wouldn't have given her anything more than an admiring glance.

But it was not normal to be walking north in that area, and the only two possible explanations were that she stepped out of a southbound vehicle just yards before it crossed into Mexico, or she casually sauntered across the border illegally (right under the eye of Mexican Customs... or more likely, with their approval).

I threw the Bronco in gear and roared across an asphalt parking lot, stopping just short of the lanes of traffic, and jumped out, running a few steps to catch up with her. For a moment, she pretended not to hear me calling her, but then she turned and walked over. Yep, she was a stunner!

In my best broken Spanish, I asked where she came from and her citizenship. She admitted that she had just walked north over the border illegally, and that she was a Mexican citizen with no immigration documents. The reason she crossed in that way, she told me in Spanish, was that she was late for her job at a San Diego area hospital... as if that perfectly explained an illegal entry.

"Umm... you can't do that," I said. "You have to go thru the pedestrian lanes, into the building, and talk to inspectors to enter the U.S. And you have to have legal entry documents." I asked her how she had entered before, and she just shrugged. Ok, simple case, I thought. Just another entry without inspection charge.

I walked her back to the rear of the Bronco and opened the tailgate and cage door, and asked her to climb on the tailgate & get in the backwards facing rear seat while I filled out some paperwork. I did feel bad for her as she crawled up onto the tailgate and into the caged rear. She was wearing nice clean clothes, and the back of my Bronco was filthy, covered in mud & dust. (Come to think of it, I probably was covered in mud too) But, there was no choice; there was no where else to have her wait while I began the paperwork.

Once I had her basic biographical info, I called for a transport vehicle to take her to the station. While we were waiting, I did a quick search of her purse while she watched. Typical girl things... makeup, wallet, tissues... and then I came across a rolled up & taped sandwich baggie containing something green. Ah ha! There's more to the story here! Maybe she's involved with the narcos! My first thought was that she had some pot, so I asked her (again, in my poor Spanish) what was in the bag.


I didn't recognize the word she was using and asked again. I probably asked several times, turning over the baggie in my hand as I looked closely at it. I bent the roll back & forth, hearing a crunching noise that I'd expect from dried leaves. Ah ha! I'm sure it's a handful of weed at that point. So I pulled out my knife, flicked it open, and cut through the tape to unroll the baggie. The girl sighed and watched with a pained look on her face as I unrolled the contraband and looked inside to see... a dead hummingbird. WTF?


"Why do you have this?" I asked, pointing down at the now crumpled handful of bright green feathers. I can only imagine the look on my face as she replied "...for luck, officer." Well, it didn't work for you tonight, did it? I sheepishly handed her back the plastic bag and her purse, and closed the cage door as we waited for the transport van. Honestly, I felt awful for crunching up her dead bird. Who the hell carries a dead bird around for luck, anyway?

Out of literally thousands of people that I've caught crossing the border, and smuggling drugs, money, counterfeit goods and weapons into the U.S., I'll always remember that pretty Mexican girl who strutted across the line with the dead hummingbird in her purse, and how I snapped it into a handful of dried feathers and bones while she sat in the back of the Bronco and watched me.


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post #45 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-17-2018, 07:38 AM
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This update is the last before I went 1 ton. I have a few miscellaneous pics and some cage construction shots.

I’ll start here when I first brought the 96 home. At the time my daily driver was an 2004 FX4 pick-up. I was having so much fun working on and driving my ’86 Bronco I got the idea to sell the truck and get a second Bronco to daily drive. Like so many guys I went through this whole explanation about how dumping the truck payment was going to save money but we all know that having a project vehicle costs way more in the end. My girlfriend believed it though and I was off and running trying to build two Broncos at once.




I was ready to try my hand at making a cage and after doing a lot of reading here at FSB had a plan. One thing I highly recommend is to read the tube bending primer over at pirate 4x4. It was the easiest and most simple explanation of the basics of tube bending I’ve found. That said, I still wasted plenty of material on bad bends!

No, this isn’t black magic, I’m not preparing for demon summoning…. Pirate 4x4 has me laying out my design in chalk.








I’ll eventually beef this cage up more but it and the rear bumper will eventually be hand me downs to the 96 Bronco. The eventual dovetailing of my truck will require me to build a new cage and new bumper.

Lastly, here is the foreshadowing of my one ton swap. As per contest rules, I am not posting this truck as a separate project. It was bought for parts in support of my Bronco. When another member on the site here listed his rock crawler for sale, I felt the summation of parts was worth the asking price. So we dragged this home, ran it a few times and tore it apart.




My last home was out in the country but still had an HOA. The rules weren’t too restrictive and I swore I’d never live in an HOA neighborhood but it was the right home at the right time and I had a 3-5 year plan to get outta there. Still though, I was ‘that guy’ in the neighborhood and would get warning letters. Tearing the rockcrawler apart in my driveway must have pissed off my neighbors and I needed to work quickly. I couldn’t get my lazy roommates to help so when it came time to pull the axles, I jacked the truck up on the trailer and built ‘stilts’ out of any old junk I could find. Working under this truck on stilts is maybe the dumbest thing I have ever done. I was terrified the entire time but it helped me to work fast! It is my belief that some of my neighbors assumed this was the last stupid project they’d have to endure and were hoping to see me smooshed!


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post #46 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-18-2018, 09:56 AM
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I needed to replace the rotten exhaust, which was probably the original one. So I opened up the wallet again (this was getting old) and had the local exhaust store fix me up. Once again, it's stock, which means quiet, boring and adds no power.





Then I took the truck in and had my fenders repainted where the old paint was peeling off. The shop did a decent job, and it really made the truck look better. Eventually we'll do the whole thing, but for now, this will have to do! Oh, I also replaced the missing side rub strips, Bronco XLT emblems, and reapplied the gold pinstripes. Honestly, it looks pretty much like I remember them in the late 1990s.


(the side trim isn't all installed in that photo)


Then I had a major distraction. Because I was committed to keeping a low profile with the Bronco until it had antique plates, I had been thinking of another older vehicle to take to shows with my boy. After all, every summer counts when they're young!

And then a friend called me with the news that what looked like an older Border Patrol car was at a local shop. Out of curiosity, I went to look at it, and discovered that it was indeed a former BP vehicle (1991 Caprice), and it was in outstanding shape! Honestly, it looked new compared to the Bronco, and very little would be needed to put it back to original shape. So I bought it and finished it within a few months, and my son & I participated in 2 years of shows with it while the Bronco slept in storage, with occasional trips out to explore the farm and country backroads.



Without going off-story too much (and I could, because we drove that car to events all over the country & I have a lot of cool photos), I'll say that we enjoyed having the sedan and it only reinforced the idea that we would be participating in vintage police car events with the Bronco as soon as it would be eligible.

In fact, driving the Caprice made me look forward to the Bronco, which is an XLT with cruise, power windows and much more comfortable than the sedan, which has rubber floors, no cruise, and hand crank windows. That's another thing that really surprised me about the BP Broncos; the ones from the early 1990s were base models, while the later ones were loaded XLTs. Who makes these purchasing decisions?

Whoever it was, thanks! I love that this truck has so many comforts! We loved them in the field (mostly because we didn't have to lean over and roll down the passenger window when talking to another agent in his vehicle) & I appreciate it even more now!

I sold the sedan to a collector in Germany earlier this year, and now we're concentrating on the Bronco once again!

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post #47 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-18-2018, 04:48 PM
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I have no idea why I even felt the need to swap these 1 ton axles in. The truth is that the Bronco was fine the way it was, the half ton axles were 4.56 with a rear locker and performed beautifully. My wife has accused me of enjoying working on the Bronco and spending money on it far more than I enjoy driving it. Apparently I just always need to have an active project.

Here we go, out with the D44. Another huge regret was selling the half tons… never again.



To get the D60 to work with my radius arm set up I welded on C wedges and built a lower track bar mount out of a Ballistic Fab bracket I had left over.






Everything mocked up with ratchet straps. Working alone all the time you get creative with straps and jacks!



I ran into a problem at this point. The front driveshaft was contacting the transmission cross member at droop.




I wasn’t exactly sure what to do so I kept cutting until it cleared. Some thick pipe was used to put the cross member back together.







With that done, all I needed to do to the rear was to grind off the old shock mounts for clearance. Thick quarter wall shock mounts were added halfway up the tube to keep me off the rocks.




And back on its feet:



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post #48 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-18-2018, 04:52 PM
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This next project is a journey of love and hate. I am very proud of how my fender trimming came out but it was a miserable experience and I’m not sure I’d have the energy to do this again.

Knowing this truck is meant for the rocks and needing more room for the tires, my goal was to open up the wheel wells and maintain a low center of gravity. I’ve see many trucks with cut fenders that are clearly sawzall jobs done in 10 mins. I was hoping for a solution that looked and felt more finished.

The early 80’s trucks have crisp body lines along the wheel well and thus offer options to cut and maintain a factory look. I bought this junkyard fender to try my method.

The first cut was along the lowest factory line. I simply removed everything below that line.



My next step was to cut vertical tabs every so often along the radius of the opening. I had no idea how wide to make them but here is where I ended up.



Since the fender is made of an inner and outer skin, I had to relieve the inside.




Then began the folding. This was a learn as you go event and I used pliers at time and there was a lot of massaging with a ballpien.





Finally, welding each and every tab back onto the fender. I would weld then hammer then weld again trying to maintain a smooth radius.




The new fender came out great in my opinion. With a skim coat of Bondo and some paint the finished product accomplished all the goals of the project. If you reach underneath these fenders you’ll find them to be relatively free of rough edges but very, very strong. The cutting and welding yielded more structural strength than the factory ever had.

But, that was the easy part. Working on a bench was a much different experience than crouched in the rear wheel well. I bought a full face shield for the cutting and grinding and eventually pulled the fuel tank when it was time to weld. I know lots of shops have no fear of welding around a fuel tank but I had a family friend killed building a trailer from a truck frame. That sad and disturbing story has stuck with me since childhood.









Here is how it ended up:





And testing it out:


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post #49 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-19-2018, 06:42 AM
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Today is just a smattering of pictures from just before and just after the fender trimming.

Just struck me as a nice photo op with the San Francisco Peaks looking beautiful in the back ground.



Still at the old place and just got new Swampers installed. I found an ad on Craigslist of a guy who wanted to trade brand new 38.5x14.5x15 Swampers for something smaller. He had a lifted CJ5 but they were too much for the Jeep. This was right after my 1 ton swap so I traded off nearly new 35” MTRs straight across. I just thought the chunky butt was worth a pic.



Out rescuing a stuck Xterra in the Cinder Hills OHV Park just next to my neighborhood. My buddy was having too much fun and got buried in loose, deep cinders. My front driveshaft happened to be out at the time so I pulled just off the main road, put my stinger against a tree and tried out the Warn M12000 for the first time. Easy….





In the garage, admiring my handiwork.



More shots in the back yard and on the ramp. This was after my fresh coat of Herculiner and the truck seemed especially photogenic.




@jfourdyce wanted to take his Bronco to Sedona and I hadn’t run the 86 in a while so we took Shenebly Hill road from just south of Flagstaff to Sedona to get beer and wings. This beautiful but mild dirt road twists and turns from the Pines at 7000’ down to the middle desert at 4000’ and has some unique views of the Sedona red rocks you can’t get from any other road.








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post #50 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-19-2018, 10:57 AM
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For nearly 3 years, I never was able to get my rear window down. Admittedly, it wasn't a high priority repair, but because I eventually wanted to turn my rear seat backwards and build the front & rear screen for the cage, I had to get it down. Last autumn I brought the Bronco into the garage & spent nearly all winter on the tailgate rebuild. Obviously, speed is not a concern for me.

I wrestled and fought with the window, which would only move up & down a few inches. Eventually, I got enough play to get my hands in there and really push down hard, and the glass lowered enough to open the tailgate. Some may ask why I didn't simply unhook the glass while it was up, and slide it down inside enough to open the tailgate; I can only answer that by saying I'm not flexible enough to crawl over the seat and work at it from the inside. But, happy ending because it did come down. I honestly think it was probably the first time it had been down in at least 10 years.



Looking inside, the diagnosis wasn't very good. My motor was extremely weak, the "scissor arms" were bent (from me forcing them down), the rollers were absolutely shot, the wires were crunchy, as well as the window sweeps, weather strips, and bump stops. Plus, the rear glass was severely scratched from years of scraping against the brittle sweeps. I made the decision that I was going to do a total tailgate rebuild.



After unbolting everything, I went to work, glassbeading all the rusted metal, replacing the nylon rollers & tracks, as well as the wiring and internal safety switch. One of the rubber bump stops inside the tailgate (at the bottom) was missing, and the other was hard as a rock.



My biggest issue was this: the torsion bar bracket had rusted enough that it really wasn't doing much to hold the bar up & out of the way when the tailgate was up. That was putting pressure on either the glass or the metal scissor arms, and I'm sure a major reason it wasn't going up & down.



The solution was to weld a small piece of channel iron in place, and I also attached a loose nylon strap around the bar & the bracket as sort of a "safety" in case the bar somehow worked its way out of the bracket again. Anyone who's been inside their tailgate will see the enormous pressure that bar is under when the tailgate is lowered, and if it gets loose, it's going to shatter your rear glass!

I wish I had taken more photos of the rebuild, but for some reason it just didn't occur to me. But I do have a few

In the end, everything went back together, the button was pressed, the new motor hummed perfectly, and the fresh glass glided up and down like a warm knife through butter. All the weather stripping around the window and tailgate is new and seals up great! No leaks inside or out! It's a great feeling to fix all those nagging issues, and one step further to the next project! Oh, and although I started counting up the cost of the tailgate rebuild, I stopped just short of adding it all up. I didn't want to know.

But it was worthwhile to rebuild the tailgate, and I started to see payback almost immediately after I got inside. I located the source of part of the smell; a dead mouse, laying happily in his nest at the bottom of the tailgate. After I pulled him out, and cleaned out all his droppings, that nagging smell finally went away.

And there were more surprises hidden in the tailgate. Here's just part of the fortune I found in there:



I found several Mexican coins, and I have no idea how they would have gotten inside the tailgate! Anyone riding in the rear would have a metal screen between them and the inside of the tailgate, so I don't know how they would have reached it to drop them in. But they did. A total of 3.25 pesos is a start on recovering the hundreds of dollars the rebuild cost.

When I started the project, I should have said "I'm going to rebuild this tailgate, and Mexico is going to pay for it!"

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post #51 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-20-2018, 08:10 AM
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You may have noticed a few earlier photos of the front of my Bronco, with string tied around the top of the grill. (And there's one below, if you missed them.) Sad to say, yes... the grill was being held on with string. Who knows how long that had been going on? The front "header panel" had been broken before I got it, and a large part of it in the center was either gone, or held in as separate pieces. Obviously, it had to be replaced.


This was another winter project, after the rear tailgate rebuild. I pulled the front off and ordered a new panel. It wasn't too difficult to swap all the hardware over, and it was SO much nicer to have the headlights bolted to a new supporting panel. It also gave me the perfect opportunity to replace a few blown indicator lights.




Meanwhile, my search for the original emergency equipment was having some success. A good friend was able to identify the small lights used in the front grill and I found a red & blue one, still new. Who doesn't love finding brand new, 20 year old stuff?

Best part was that the holes in their housing matched perfectly with the existing holes in the grill, so I knew they were the correct models.






There's no way I was going to use that faded & scratched old grill with the brand new lights, so I got on ebay and found a NOS Ford grill. Even though it was a few bucks more, I'm glad that I went with original Ford parts instead of the cheap Chinese replicas. It looks perfect, fits, and there were absolutely no issues.

I mounted the emergency lights exactly where they had been in the old grill. They're not wired in yet, but they're ready to be as soon as I find the correct light controller for my console.




There is one more light that I need for the grill, which is different from those other two. I have no idea why they ran 3 lights (two red & a blue), but that's what it had. The same friend was able to identify that 3rd light, and he just found one for me after searching online all summer. Getting all the lights wired up & working, as well as the 2-way radio, is going to be a project for this winter.

(old photo)



But damn... doesn't that look good?




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post #52 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-20-2018, 07:08 PM
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Everyone loves being subjected to wedding photos, right? No? Alright then, I’ll keep this update brief. My Wife any I were Married in March of 2016 and we did it at the house with only immediate family. Because we did the photos on our property, we have a bunch with our animals and vehicles. Here are the best of the photos featuring the Bronco.

I was given my orders that I would participate (and even smile) in as many photos as requested. I was not to complain or question…. Most of these I think are cool even if a little cheesy. My only frustration was that the photographer wanted to stage a photo of my wife handing me a wrench and insisted on using one of a giant set she noticed in my garage. I tried to protest it was too big and didn’t fit anything but was told to do as instructed.









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post #53 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-21-2018, 08:18 AM
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I’m going to jump out of chronological order to share some wheeling pics from this last weekend. Our Arizona Bronco club tries to meet monthly and this time of year is beautiful in central and southern AZ. So, I trailered up and headed south.

I wanted to get some pics and experience with something other than my Swamper TSL SXs. I’ve never run anything else on this truck since the 1 ton swap and I was curious if some of the shaking would go away! It’s nice having two 8 lug trucks to be able to swap. Here is little brother wearing big brother’s shoes:



And my first look at the 86 on 37 inch BFGs:




Since dovetailing the rear of the bed storage space has been more challenging. I wanted something to strap to in the middle of the bed so I welded some chain links to the rear seat bar:




Gathering before the run:




The trail that day was more scenic than challenging so there wasn’t much to test the truck out. But, I was so happy with how it went down the road on the BFGs. I think when the Swampers are done I’ll look for a more street friendly 40” tire.






I love this classic Bronco! Matt’s truck is set up perfectly and is inspirational for where I want to go with my truck.





Here is something terribly embarrassing…. I ran out of gas towing back the next morning! I haven’t run out of gas since I was in high school. I really have no excuse on being so dumb but I was 1.5 miles from a gas station (the first one in 40+ miles) when the F-150 finally dies. Good thing I have a Bronco on the trailer! Too bad it is 20* and I have no doors or top! Stupid tax I guess.



$30 for a gas can!! Highway robbery, literally!


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post #54 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-21-2018, 09:01 AM
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Remember when I mentioned that the U.S. Army mechanics provided the labor for the Border Patrol's Bronco restoration project? Here's their contribution:



Engines & transmissions were replaced with new "crate" ones, and dropped in the chassis as one piece. In order to get enough room, the radiator core support panel was cut in two places across the top and bent backwards a few inches. Then after the new engine/trans unit was slipped in, the core was bent back into place and welded together again. I'm pretty sure this wasn't the Ford-approved procedure, but the U.S. Army has their own ways.

The repairs must have held fine for a few years, because I can't recall the front end falling out of any Broncos in service. But over time, the welds cracked a little, then a lot, and finally a WHOLE lot! When I got H6230, a friend did a temporary spot weld on the cracks, but they eventually broke and finally I had to address the issue. The final straw what when my hood didn't close right, and the panel was holding on by about a half-inch of material.

So last week, I finally got that fixed. I was going to completely replace the panel, but a friend convinced me that it could be repaired & would never be an issue again. Since he owed me a favor, I enlisted his help and we jumped into the project.



We "sandwiched" the cuts with L-shaped patches and welded the heck out of them. The lower part of the panel where the center brace attached was also reinforced. The whole thing is probably stronger than new now. It sure has more metal in it!

It's not the prettiest repair (and neither is my engine compartment; I need to clean things up in there!). I was tempted to just replace the panel with a new or good used one, but my friend convinced me to "keep the scars" because it's part of the story of the truck. Admittedly, I'll probably never try to smooth out the firewall reinforcements (mostly because it would be a huge job to get in there), but I kinda agree with him. It gives the truck a little more character. The government spent about $14,000 rebuilding this truck and sold it 18 months later for $500... which is a heck of a great story to tell! And the scars tell the story of both the hard life it had in the field, and the master craftsmanship of the U.S. Army.




Another issue found was something I noticed this past summer; no A/C. I finally noticed why it wasn't getting cold anymore.



When things flap and shake when their not supposed to, things like that happen. So I went to a local yard & pulled a good condenser from a F-150, along with a new sensor that we had to toss as part of the core support repairs. I don't have this on yet, but winter is a perfect time to be working on the A/C, right?


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post #55 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-21-2018, 12:50 PM
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I want to give you an idea of what it was like to work along the border at that time in a Bronco, which might give you an idea why I am so fond of H6230. I was there during a “transition period”, where relative control was being brought to an area that had for generations been the wildest, out-of-control and most popular location to illegally enter the U.S. The controversial project to reinforce the border and bring it under control was called Operation Gatekeeper. Although highly effective, no one really liked it because it “dried up” all the fun work within a few years.

Here's what it looked like in the beginning. Imagine bouncing down the canyons at night in your Bronco:






One of the resources that Gatekeeper brought (besides lots of new Broncos) was portable lighting along the border fence. That required some agents to sit in highly visible positions, both to discourage people from crossing and to keep them from vandalizing the lights. Everyone spent “time on an X”, where you were basically supposed to be seen.



It didn’t take me long to realize that one of the most eerie feelings in the world is people watching you from somewhere out there in the dark. When you weren’t on an X, and assigned to a backup position, we tried to minimize being seen by operating with lights out as much as possible (which isn’t always possible). Night vision goggles were available, and while I used them a few times, I’d usually not bother. They sucked unless you were up high and had a clear view, plus they ruined your night vision, and I found it nearly impossible to drive with them on, as you lost your depth perception. I vividly recall driving my Bronco across a mesa while wearing NVGs, only to later toss them in the passenger seat in disgust.

Ideally, you’d park your vehicle easily accessible on the high ground, lock it, and hike to a good spot to quietly wait for the groups that would be following the trails north. People are like water; most take the path of least resistance. At night, they travel mostly in single-file lines along the established trails rather than taking off on their own and blazing a new path up or down the walls of a canyon.

Undergound sensors were planted along the trails, and when tripped would send a signal to a dispatcher, who would call out the sensor number to agents in the field. It was important to know the location of several hundred sensors by memory, as well as the sequences that would allow you to determine the direction of travel. After some time working “traffic”, it wasn’t that difficult to know where to go and how much time you had to intercept a group. It was very satisfying to be able to slip into the darkness yourself and pop up at the last moment to intercept a large group that was exhausted from their climb up out of a long canyon. That’s also when they were least likely to run and most docile.




The first thing you did when you encountered a group was to get them all on the ground. Every agent carried handcuffs, but when you encountered 5-20 people at a time by yourself, that wouldn’t help much. Nylon zip-ties were handed out by the bag before going into the field, and agents would stuff them into their belts for easy access. More than once, I’d have the back of a Bronco filled with people (rumor is that up to 7 people can fit in the back of a Bronco, even though 3 was the official maximum) a few zip-tied to the exterior window bars, and a handful of women & children sitting on the ground nearby as we waited for a transport van to take them back to the station.

The California rainy season (prior to the secondary border fence, gravel roads, and infrastructure) was the craziest time I’ve ever seen in my life. Literally thousands of people would rush en masse once darkness came. Three or four agents would be rounding up groups of more than hundred at a time, with many more running past you in the dark. It wasn’t uncommon for you to walk a group out from the brush to the vehicles and end up with more than you started; people would jump in as you moved north, thinking it was a group being guided by smugglers.

The sheer number of people you’d encounter on a routine basis is why high-capacity vehicles were later phased into the busier areas (such as eastern California, Arizona and Texas), while the more “under control” sections of the border were patrolled by cheaper, smaller vehicles; Jeeps. Happily, I avoided being assigned to a Jeep, and didn’t spend many years more in San Diego once the border there was brought into control.



So how much did the job in that area change in a period of about 5-6 years?
Here's the same area depicted in the first black & white photo above today:



Yeah... not as much fun, even though it's incredibly more secure. I transferred to the northern border soon after it became like this, and a few years later switched into a different federal agency. But as I said earlier, nothing in my career has matched the excitement of those first few years in a Bronco.

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post #56 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-22-2018, 09:01 AM
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Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I have a ton to be thankful for and this quirky little forum is one of them, I hope you all have a great day today!


I didn’t get a ton of pics as I upgraded my steering but today’s update is what I have. The axles I installed are welded front and rear. Not ideal but fine for a truck mostly dedicated to the rocks. When I do drive around town, I get a kick out of the Swampers squealing every time I turn. But, the welded front sucks and was keeping me off the trails. After seeing @itwasFREE!!!! Bronco I decided to go with the Redneck Ram kit. They ported my steering box and sent it back to me.

Here is the DOM heim steering



And the ram kit….. don’t tell my wife it was on the kitchen counter!



Welded tabs to the tie rod and to the Ballistic Fab diff cover.






Concurrent with the ram kit I swapped to a Saginaw pump. While I was at it I modified the bracket to give me a base to mount a York compressor. Although the compressor works great, the On Board Air system still needs to be plumbed.




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post #57 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-22-2018, 09:07 AM
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Here are some pics of me dovetailing the back of the Bronco. I’m not sure why I wanted to do this so badly but somehow the idea of the dovetail just screams hardcore to me. Knowing the truck was going to be a dedicated trail rig and mostly live in the garage I decided to get a cuttin.

After standing around and eye balling the truck for a while with a beer in hand, I decided I could get about 12” out of each side. The first thing I did was to cut a line parallel to the bed rail just inside the tailgate. I wanted to retain my wheel wells so I traced around the base of those.



I snapped a string 12” from the the first cut in the rear and under the wheel well to where I wanted the bend to begin. I the made the second cut to create a pie shape along this line.



Again, ratchet straps are my friend and I pulled in the bedside.




But, I was off by an inch. The pulled in bedside hit the rear shackle hanger and I had to settle for 11” per side. At first I was a little bummed but I then realized this offered an opportunity to plate over the 1” gap with 1.5” bar stock to make a stronger joint.




Here is how it ended up and I was out on the trail within a day or two.


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post #58 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-22-2018, 04:32 PM
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I know everyone loves trail ride photos, but maybe some will appreciate something a bit different now & then.
A few posts ago, I mentioned that my son & I took my old squad car to several shows, and we really enjoyed them. They're fun events & we've become friends with quite a few really good guys.

This past Spring, we took the Bronco to its first show, parking it among the other vintage police vehicles. Although it was at least 10 years newer than the other cars (most were 70s or 80s), it was well received. Besides being the only non-sedan police vehicle there, it was one of the few 4x4s at the show, and the only Bronco.
We were representing!

Most of the day was spent chatting with people who stopped to look it over, and there were a lot of questions. My boy really enjoyed telling people all about it, while I sat back and watched. It amazes me how he actually listened to me talking about the Bronco in the past, and how he now jumps at the chance to talk to people about it.








We didn't win any awards, but that's ok. Most of the cars in the group are either frame-off restorations or very clean repainted originals, while the Bronco has more of a hard "in-service" look. But that's ok; we're not into it for plastic trophies but for the comradery and fun, and there's quite a few fun people there & always lots of entertaining stories told.

It was a great day & another fun memory to share!

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post #59 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-23-2018, 06:45 AM
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I’ve spent all my time building, and up until recently, very little time wheeling the 86. Remember, the 96 was supposed to be the daily driver and this, the off-roader. But in the meantime, the 96 has been all over the state plus multiple trips to Moab. Well it’s time to change all that.

My first real group trip with the 86 was a AZ Bronco club run on the Smiley Rock trail just outside Jerome, AZ. I literally finished the dovetail the night before and hit the highway the morning of the run. And yes, this truck still pulls 75 MPH on the freeway even though it isn’t an enjoyable experience.

Meet and greet before the run:




Dirt road to the trail:







And on the rocks:














Trail’s end:


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post #60 of 118 (permalink) Old 11-23-2018, 06:53 AM
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Here is the video that goes with it:



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