The First Steps
It looks as though I have stumbled upon a great source of information and I am looking for aid in my journey to improve my girl. As every car owner has a story, so do I, and how I came upon my Ford Ranger.
About a year ago, my father bought a 1999, white, 2WD Auto Ranger off of a friend for $1,500 with 200k miles. He brought it home and I learned how to drive in it. It has manual locks, windows no interior flamboyancy or air conditioning. It rides very rough, or as my dad would say, "Like a Brick-$h!t House." Needless to say, I like it. Now after getting my license I drove with a friend and was excited to test it off-road abilities.
As my confidence grew, I started to take it into deep mud areas clear of debris. As long as I kept it in "1" or "2", the power was there to go through anything, including puddles up to 1 meter deep.
With everything stock, something was bound to stop working. I had earlier had problems with the transmission stalling at high RPMs and failing to shift. It was never a problem until today when I crawled out of the mud pit and the transmission hung at first gear, and reverse wouldn't engage. After cooling down, reverse gear decided it would try to work again with of course lots of jerk. The faster I went forward though, the closer I got to red-line. After fiddling with the throttle, I found that if I red-lined the engine, let off and coasted about 20 feet, then re-applied the gas, she shifted, hesitantly.
Now comes the issue of finding a new transmission, as well as the opportunity to add something new.
I greatly enjoy the off-road mud arena and would like to have the ability to climb hills which is currently impossible. I would also however, like to have a sleeper car, if possible.
So after reading, I find that there is a great replacement for the 4-cylinder engine that is currently in there. I hear much about the 302 and a 357 C and W. (I think it is 357?) and I am not sure what would be the best solution for what I am looking for. Anyhow, I would also like to convert to 4WD and a 5-speed Manual transmission. Now the 4WD variants have a selector to revert back to 2WD correct? Most of the scrapyards have lots of rangers, just not sure if all of this is possible.
To add to all this, I was thinking that raising a few inches would be crucial for off-roading.
Let me know what you guys think, it is much appreciated. I will continue my reading, as always, and I look forward to your response.