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Kevin's (slow) Excursion mod/upgrade thread

Kevin B.

OLAF
Supporting Member
Location
Stinkwater
This is @DAA's fault. He didn't end up selling me his old 470, but I got the new truck bug while we were talking about it and I had to go shopping. I've been plotting on a nice 80-series for a while now, but there weren't any Land Cruisers or LXs on the market that worked for me. I've also been keeping half an eye on the Excursion market for about a year now, hoping for a sage and tan Limited with V10 and 4.30 gears in the right condition at the right price. That unicorn still hadn't shown, but this fellow was available up in Willard - relatively low miles, looking clean in the pics, and a couple thousand under NADA value. There was a buyer in front of me and I was sure I was going to miss it, but when he passed I dropped everything and drove up to Willard Saturday night to look at it. I liked it. We shook hands, and I brought it home yesterday afternoon.





It's a 2003 Limited, V10, bone stock except for the blingy grill and headlights, but those might not last long. If I've learned anything from my previous trucks, I've learned that a) you're not going to leave it stock, of course you're not, don't be stupid and pretend like you are, and b) if you're going to build it up, you need to have a clear idea of what you're building for and how you're going to do it, or shit's gonna get real expensive real quick. So plans are still rough at this point while I get to know it and may change a little as I go, but it's going to look something like this:

Phase 1 - Make It Mine

Baseline all the maintenance - change engine oil and coolant, flush the brake lines, check trans fluid and diff oils, etc.

New battery - it's old and due for a replacement, so I'll pick up an AGM of some sort.

See if the 285/75r16s I have will fit (I expect they will, the worn 295/70s on there now look to have plenty of room).

Install a Scangauge (or maybe a tuner?).

Move the Icom over from the Broverlander, install a real antenna instead of the magmount I've been using.

Add load bars and throw the RTT on the roof.

Swap out the factory fogs for a pair of Rigid Dually's.

Replace the grill (and maybe headlights) with something a little more stock looking.

Get a decent head unit in it (seriously, who can live without bluetooth in this day and age?).


Phase 2 - Armor

Winch in front - I can't slip it behind the bumper and between the frame rails the way I did on the Broverlander, the radiator hangs too low, so this will take a little more work. I might go with a full bumper/bull bar this time, we'll see. I still want it tucked up nice and tight to maximize approach angle, which lets out a lot of the Superduty bull bars on the market, so this might need to be #drivewayfab. Whatever I do needs to be stout because I'm going to put a 15-16k winch on it. Right now I'm thinking Comeup might hit the sweet spot on price vs. performance.

Swingout on back - I could just mod the rear bumper @frieed and I made for the Supercrew. But I'm thinking dual swingout instead of the Broverlander's single swing, with the spare on one side and an external cargo box/water can carrier on the other side, with room for shovel and traction ladders and such somewhere. And maybe a ladder, for easier RTT access? Or maybe just a step in the hitch reciever. I would LOVE to tie the swingouts to the barn doors so they open together, I'm still working that part over in my head. The rear bumper might also incorporate a spot for an auxiliary winch, the 10k Engo from the Broverlander would work well there.

Rack on top - There should be room in front of (or behind?) the RTT for a small roof-width rack. It'll be low profile and used mostly for carrying firewood and other dirties that I don't wanna mess up the cargo area with. I might bolt a Hi-lift or shovel to it so everybody at the mall knows I'm legit.

Sliders, and maybe skids - the factory running boards/side steps will come off (sorry wife) to be replaced with sliders. I've got to take a good look underneath and see if anywhere is vulnerable enough to need a skid plate. I'm going to pay careful attention to the gas tank behind the rear axle - it's got a factory skid, but I might give that skid some help.

Awning - I'd like to add some shade/rain protection of some sort. Probably DIY, because the fancy awnings for sale are just too expensive for what they are.

Organize the cargo area - once the spare is out of the back of the truck, I'm going to put a shelf-thing in it's place. This'll carry and organize tools/recovery stuff, basic camping/sleeping gear, and have room for the little Mr Buddy heater for winter gallivanting. I'm thinking a slot for a little two or three gallon water dispenser would be handy too.

That'll make the truck about as heavy as it's going to get, probably put it on the bumpstops because the stock suspension is soft, which means it's time for

Phase 3 - Lift and Lock

Coil swap - this may not wait for Phase 3 if I come across a good donor. The leaf springs in front have to go, because this thing's turning radius is barely acceptable for driving around town. It'll be murder on the dirt (and a more pliant ride wouldn't be unwelcome either). So I'm going to source an axle and coil suspension (and steering?) from an '06+. I'm still researching the details, but I know enough to know it's going to happen.

Lift for 35" tires - I think 3" should do it, if I trim hack the fenders a little. I'd like for this to happen at the same time as the coil swap, for obvious reasons. I'll likely use B code Superduty springs in the back, modded to match whatever height the front ends up at. Air bags? Maybe. Shocks will be whatever is in the budget at the time, which likely means something low-rent like Ranchos or Bilsteins or something.

Gears and lockers - again, this will hopefully happen all at once with the coil swap. Ideally I'd find a donor truck with 4.30 diffs and an elocker and I could just throw both axles under as they sit. If not, I'll be tapping @I Lean for a regear, and probably looking into a Detroit or something similar, because it doesn't look like Spartan makes anything for the 10.5 and I don't want to mess with an air locker. Maybe an Ox Locker? We'll see.

...

That's the current state of things in my head. This is going to be a long slow process, because I don't have the time or money to do all that at once. But when I'm done, I'm going to be damned close to my dream gallivanting rig - big and sturdy enough to get the entire family or a group of friends and mountain bikes deep into the backcountry in comfort, room enough in back to haul several days of gear for the family or room for me to throw out a pad and sleep in it on solo trips, capable enough to tackle mild/moderate technical sections, able to self recover in most situations, able tow a camp trailer or friend's disabled rig without too much drama, and with plenty of road manners and creature comforts for the long highway miles between home and trailhead.

So that's the plan. Feel free to kibbutz or offer me free truck parts.
 
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bryson

RME Resident Ninja
Supporting Member
Location
West Jordan
VERY cool Kevin! I had a 2004 V8 (yes, they made 5.4 V8 Excursions. No idea why, as it was a monster terd) that was definitely one of my favorite rigs. The 44 gallon factory fuel capacity was incredible, even with the 10-11 mpg! For much of my research I ended up on the Excursion sub forum of https://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/index.php


I did the whole B-code rear/V(?)-code front spring swap and ran 34ish tires. If you plan to load it up fairly heavy and/or tow, I think that's a great route. For me, it was a little stiffer-riding than I liked mostly because mine was fairly light for an Ex, and the V8 was miserable to tow with. The coil swap was very tempting, and would have probably happened had I kept the truck. The newer SD trucks have longer rear leaf springs also, which are another common-ish conversion in the name of plushness - I know @broncomitch did this, but IIRC, he wasn't super impressed. Height-wise, I'd think you need very little lift (like leveling kit high only) to squeeze 35s under there, so maybe you need to run a 3" lift and 37s. Yes, you need 37s, because that truck is huge, and 37s are awesome. Trim a little and keep it low on big tires. Geared properly, your drivetrain won't even blink an eye at 37s, especially if you do go with the newer, beefier front axle.

One thing that a lot of Ex owners seem to preach is that you need to run fairly large diameter wheels if you're running larger tires, otherwise things can get wiggly in the handling department due to sidewall flex paired with the vehicles (excessive?) weight. "They" seem to prefer a 20" wheel on any tire bigger than a 35. I hate big wheels, but I do see the logic in their argument. 20s are easy to find as OEM takeoffs these days, and tire choices are plentiful. Plus, when you decide that you'll be running 37s (you will :bryson:) there is still plenty of sidewall on a 37/20 combo to be viable offroad.


I have pieces to build a stout light bar for the front that bolts to the OEM tow loop mounts if you're interested. Finished product would look very much like this: https://www.randyellisdesign.com/store/p120/Ford_F250/F350_Super_Duty_Light_Bar_(1999-2007).html
I think I like your complete winch bumper idea more though.

The rear cargo doors are made of some sort of plastic (fiber reinforced maybe?), so be careful mounting any sort of latch/cantilever/anything to them. They're fantastically light and stout as designed, but I don't know that they'd take kindly to being incorporated into the bumper swing system. Although, I do think that is a great and convenient idea if you can pull it off.

I may have a cargo solution for you also... I haven't decided 100% if a set of drawers that I have will work for me yet. They're made for a big Suburban/Excursion size rig, so I'd have to modify and shorten them to work for me in my Cruisers. If you are truly interested in a simple, modular drawer setup, let's talk.

I'm super excited to watch what happens with this (with 37s!)!X-D
 

bryson

RME Resident Ninja
Supporting Member
Location
West Jordan
Oh, I'm pretty sure there is a front leveling kit (add-a-leaf style) in my barn. You must have left it there by mistake.;) You should come retrieve it ASAP. There are some other Excursion/Super Duty parts there too. You really need to stop leaving things at my house.:handlebars:
 

I Lean

Mbryson's hairdresser
Supporting Vendor
Location
Utah
I like the direction you're going, even if it is a large direction. :) I especially like the coil front end swap...that's the right way to do it. For both the extra turning radius and nicer ride, plus you automatically upgrade to a D60 up front. It is a wider axle, so if the matching rear axle is wider maybe you want to consider swapping both ends? (I don't know about the rear widths, but maybe check into that...)
 

Bart

Registered User
Supporting Member
Location
Arm Utah
Looks like a fun project and one I want to watch. The headlights aren't the bad but I fully agree on the grill replacement.
 

mbryson

.......a few dollars more
Supporting Member
Congrats! We should probably work on a bumper? I have been having thoughts about just mounting a winch into the stock unit on my F350.




Decent looking from the front but I'm not a fan from the side.

associated thread
https://www.powerstroke.org/forum/99-03-7-3l-exterior-discussion/173910-want-mount-winch-stock-bumper.html
bracket kit
https://www.warn.com/trans4mer-fitment-guide#ford-gen-1

I have 35" tires on and they almost look stock to me. I second the 37" idea above. I think I'll regear my V10 to 4.56 and just make it the tow pig that it is. I'm not sure if the aftermarket lift springs are more compliant or not but the ride quality on my 2010 is NOT that different than the ride quality on my '99 or '01 or other '99. The suspension in the Excursion I had left a LOT to be desired as it was basically on the bumpstops often. I did like the rig quite a bit.

I had the leveling kit and the 285 70 16 tires on my '99 7.3L. It really was a great truck


I do still have these tires/wheels and a bunch of Plastidip that I’ll likely not use if you’re interested.

118865118866118867
 
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rholbrook

Premium Member
Supporting Member
Location
Kaysville, Ut
A year or so ago I saw an Excursion with the new sheet metal on the front and a new hood. Damn....I was in love. It also has a several inch lift and 35's too.
 

Kevin B.

OLAF
Supporting Member
Location
Stinkwater
One thing that a lot of Ex owners seem to preach is that you need to run fairly large diameter wheels if you're running larger tires, otherwise things can get wiggly in the handling department due to sidewall flex paired with the vehicles (excessive?) weight. "They" seem to prefer a 20" wheel on any tire bigger than a 35. I hate big wheels, but I do see the logic in their argument.
That's a good point. I'm not a fan of giant blingy wheels either, but function over form and all that...

The rear cargo doors are made of some sort of plastic (fiber reinforced maybe?), so be careful mounting any sort of latch/cantilever/anything to them. They're fantastically light and stout as designed, but I don't know that they'd take kindly to being incorporated into the bumper swing system. Although, I do think that is a great and convenient idea if you can pull it off.
And the hatch has to open before the barn doors, which would be hard with a spare tire in the way.

This is never going to be a rock crawler, 37s seem drastic to me. But I'll think about it.

Oh, I'm pretty sure there is a front leveling kit (add-a-leaf style) in my barn. You must have left it there by mistake.;) You should come retrieve it ASAP. There are some other Excursion/Super Duty parts there too. You really need to stop leaving things at my house.:handlebars:
Huh, I wondered where I'd left those. I'll give you a call. Remind me again what type of tasty beverage you accidentally left a case of in my truck?

Congrats! We should probably work on a bumper? I have been having thoughts about just mounting a winch into the stock unit on my F350.




Decent looking from the front but I'm not a fan from the side.

associated thread
https://www.powerstroke.org/forum/99-03-7-3l-exterior-discussion/173910-want-mount-winch-stock-bumper.html
bracket kit
https://www.warn.com/trans4mer-fitment-guide#ford-gen-1]
I've seen those Warn brackets. I like the idea but I don't like the way it pushes the bumper out. Although I think if there's room to put a winch in there after spacing it forward, there ought to be a way to put in winch in there and just cut a hole instead? And if I did that, that light bar of @bryson's would look pretty sharp...

I think I'm good on wheels. I've got the ones on the truck, and the 285s are on a set of Superduty wheels. Thanks though!



Those are pretty cool.
Dude, I did not need to see that web site....



Dear gawd. I'll be in my bunk.
 

Hickey

Rusty Girdle
Supporting Member
On my Ram 3500 I have 285/75's on the OEM 18" rims. Actual measurement is jet a hair over 34" and they don't feel wiggly to me at all, even wen pulling the 5th wheel.
 

glockman

I hate Jeeps
Location
Pleasant Grove
Nice rig. I really liked my diesel excursion all except the part where it wouldn't haul a dirt hike in the bed.
I ran 315/70/16's and pulled my 29ft toy hauler a bit with it.
 

Kevin B.

OLAF
Supporting Member
Location
Stinkwater
I love the sound of those V10s with an open exhaust.
Oh god, not me. Five minutes on the freeway hearing that and I'd go postal. I probably won't touch the exhaust unless it rots out and I have to, and then it'll be something with a nice note but quiet.
 
Reactions: DAA

4x4_Welder

Active Member
Location
Twin Falls, ID
One of my coworkers has a V10 Excursion, and the exhaust is broken between the cat and muffler. It's not loud, it just has a pretty sweet howl to it when it's working. I've hauled a 27' camper with it, and my F250 project on an insanely heavy tri axle trailer, it was a nice sound.
Ford cats knock down a lot of sound.
 

johngottfredson

Sweep the leg.
Location
Alpine
x2 on the coil swap. The empty-dump-truck ride of my '02 f350 was one of the main reasons I had to get rid of it. I put front and rear lockers in it, but avoided dirt roads like the plague. That thing was seriously miserable to drive.

also X2 on 37's. Mine came with 37's which I promptly swapped to 35's. Within a week they looked way too small. It's amazing how tires shrink on these big rigs.
 

Kevin B.

OLAF
Supporting Member
Location
Stinkwater
x2 on the coil swap. The empty-dump-truck ride of my '02 f350 was one of the main reasons I had to get rid of it. I put front and rear lockers in it, but avoided dirt roads like the plague. That thing was seriously miserable to drive.

also X2 on 37's. Mine came with 37's which I promptly swapped to 35's. Within a week they looked way too small. It's amazing how tires shrink on these big rigs.
I ran out to that section of 7200s behind the dump, because it's the nearest dirt to my house and is incessantly potholed. I don't think I could get the truck over five miles an hour... if it wasn't wiggling around like a bowl full of jello, it was bouncing off the bumpstops and knocking my teeth loose.

A little bigger tire with lower PSI will help. But the coil swap is definitely happening.
 
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