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  #1  
Old 11-12-2017, 09:35 AM
WutUpCuuuz WutUpCuuuz is offline
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Default '99 Stepside Frame Swap

I bought my '99 2WD 5-speed earlier this year for $2,400. Everything was on the up-n-up with the test drive, motor was and still is in good condition. The next day I gave it a thorough inspection (mind you, I had never done any real mechanic work before this, but I figured I could get my feet wet... I got the 5-speed to force myself to learn how to drive a stick so that should tell you something about my previous mechanical knowledge)...

This is when I first noticed the frame (originally a NJ truck) was ruuusty. The frame was beginning to rot away on both sides: starting about a foot behind the shock towers, it had "split" in a straight line across the underside, continued the split straight up the inner side, and halfway across the top side (almost like the rust was trying to make a clean cut behind the shock towers, the outer sides were still intact enough to drive regularly). The driver side was worse than the passenger though... That "split" continued in a squiggly fashion up and over and halfway down the outer side of the shock tower (near the end of the swap you could actually hear it rattle if you whacked it hard enough)

SO, I took a gulp and told myself I'd swap the frame, maybe, sometime within the next year. In the meantime, shocks needed replacing, got some new drums/rotors/pads/shoes/calipers/hardware to revamp the brakes. Also replaced the upper arms and ball joints (lower arms looked fairly new, or at least recently painted). A couple vacuum lines had draped too low at some point and melted, so I knew that would have to get figured out. Also got some new Cooper Discoverer AT3's, 235/75/15s.

Fast forward to early August... I drove out to Ohatchee, AL to sell my motorcycle ramp for some much needed moolah. When I hit the brakes to park it the pedal went to mush immediately... huh?... pushed it again, same thing. The brake line coming from the master cylinder, just before the 3-way junction thingy on the driver side, had rusted through and was spraying fluid with every push. So... Sold my ramp, yay me, but now I had a problem to solve.

I got lucky, reeeal lucky. Long story short, came out there with a car hauler abd a plan to haul it back home so I could replace the brake line(s). When I got there, someone had slashed 3-of-4 tires and left a cute little note on my windshield... yippee. At that point I was grounded... no money for tires, no money really at the time. So my boss (I'm a "caretaker" for a 30+ acre property) offered to let me do the frame swap in his garage and stay out there til it's done. The next day I bought a frame for $150 and we hauled it out there. Time to embrace the suck...


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Got the frame in the garage...

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Stripped it down...

Sprayed out the 20lbs if dirt that was caked up inside the rails (I think someone tried to park their truck in a ditch)...

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Then, because I'm a meticulous mofo, I sanded and coated the whole frame with RustOleum Rust Reformer (by this time I had a special hatred for rust)...
I also spray-coated the brake lines and fuel lines with the same stuff

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Kept the better parts, mostly from the donor frame. Rinsed out the gas tank, blew out the brake and fuel lines, sprayed em out with their respective cleaners, then blew em out with compressed air again. Mounted the harness. Mounted the motor, tranny and driveshaft. Cleaned 90+% of the harness connections. New spark plugs. New plug wires. New bed mount hardware. New tires (Mastercraft A/S, 225/75/15s).

Also swapped out my rotors and bearings... I didn't tighten the spindle nut anywhere near tight enough the first time, resulting in a strange metal-on-metal knocking sound, which resulted in me trying to hunt down where it was coming from for weeks.

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And 2 1/2 months later (took longer than I wanted, also been building a house) it's almost 100%. Planning on getting some bumpers from Pull-A-Part in the next couple weeks. Next will be a new clutch and an engine rebuild (sometime in the next 6 months or less I hope), might just go with gaskets but part of me really wants to do a full rebuild. Then again, it might be a better idea to do a swap... we'll see. Dumped a can of BG EPR in with the oil, and a can of BG 44K in the tank, which I think should buy me some time. Gonna dump a can of BG MOA in the oil after I change it soon.

The A/C still blows out the defrost although I pulled the lines off a '98, which I hoped would fix the issue. Not sure if it's related, but the engine kinda bogs down while idling (currently idling at 700-750rpm). So I guess I'll need to check the EGR/vacuum/etc components and see if something needs servicing/replacing. Also thinking of replacing the power steering pump/pulley, it made noise before but I have noticed its gotten quieter over the past 2 days since I topped it off, cranked the wheel all the way to each side several times while running (the truck, not me), topped off again, and repeat til it stayed level/full. So hopefully that fixed that as well... Kinda thinking of flushing it just to make sure there's no crud in there.

But it's looking good so far. Just gotta throw my fender skirts and dust covers back on and do a few small things here and there. Definitely bit off a bit more than I could chew, but it the experience was well-worth the effort (and it helps that I had a tractor for removing/replacing the cab and bed ).

Sometime in the next year I'm hoping to put some slightly larger tires on (30"-32"?), slight lift/level, upgrade the differential/axle swap, and get a fresh set of body bushings/mounts.

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  #2  
Old 11-12-2017, 12:24 PM
mhoward mhoward is offline
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Default Re: '99 Stepside Frame Swap

That was quite an undertaking, Blake! Wish my frame looked half that good. You did good work. I am assuming you did all of this by yourself without help, so 2 1/2 months isn't really that long. Glad you got it back together. You will most likely have to tweak a few things since everything was apart. Congrats on a job well done!
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  #3  
Old 11-12-2017, 01:07 PM
WutUpCuuuz WutUpCuuuz is offline
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Default Re: '99 Stepside Frame Swap

I had help here and there. The beginning was all me (sanding, cleaning, coating). Had some help from my brother-in-law in dismantling the original truck... He was the seudo resident-expert since he'd grown up doing this kinda stuff. I swapped over the motor, tranny and driveshaft, torqued everything to the max value (according to my Chilton manual) minus 1ft-lb to be sure it was all good-to-go. Had some help from a friend getting the parking brake cable set and installing the last few things after we'd put the cab and bed back on.

The next morning we cranked it up. Brother-in-law had to troubleshoot to get it running without dying (he just held the throttle up to about 2000 or more rpm I think, sounded like it). After 5-10 minutes if that it was idling normally, although it still bogs down a little, about 30-50rpms every couple seconds or so.

Applying tint now... it's sooo much fun

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  #4  
Old 11-12-2017, 01:22 PM
mhoward mhoward is offline
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Default Re: '99 Stepside Frame Swap

Tint... I have yet to do that. I removed my old tint this summer in preparation to install the new kit I had (had it almost a year). Got everything cleaned up and looking good... ready to install the new film. Opened the tube up to start and that is when I found out that my tint wasn't for a Ranger... looks to be for an F150. Too late to return it for the right stuff. My windows are already factory tinted, so I just left it alone until I have some free cash again (whenever that will be).
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  #5  
Old 11-12-2017, 09:35 PM
WutUpCuuuz WutUpCuuuz is offline
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Default Re: '99 Stepside Frame Swap

I gave up, haha

3 good tries, 3 solid fails, 3+ hours... no thanks.

I'll pay a professional to do it sometime... better than chasing bubbles for hours and using half of the tint I've got only to still be at square 1. On to my vacuum lines... these things are a pain in my ass. I've got a separate thread somewhere dealing with that, hopefully it'll bear some fruit.

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  #6  
Old 11-13-2017, 06:27 AM
mhoward mhoward is offline
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Default Re: '99 Stepside Frame Swap

Well that sucks! Did you watch any tint installation videos before you started?
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So many mods... so little time...
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  #7  
Old 11-13-2017, 07:22 AM
WutUpCuuuz WutUpCuuuz is offline
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Default Re: '99 Stepside Frame Swap

I did. Seemed pretty straightforward... I squeegeed the window with a razor to make sure there wasn't anything left... also did this in a closed garage with no air circulation... laid the film over the outside, chased the bubbles out and rough-cut it... cleaned the inside of the window the same way... peeled the backing off the tint, sprayed it really good with soap water, sprayed the window really good with soap water, put it on there, and started chasing bubbles and adjusting to get it right.

My first try I accidentally cut the film too small. Second try, everything was going great, but when I was chasing bubbles/adjusting somehow a 6-inch crease formed almost dead center in the window. Third try everything was going great, but it was a real pain in the ass to chase the bubbles out, keep them out, and at the same time line the tint up with the glass... even used a heat gun to help get rid of bubbles/channels that had formed and kept reforming. So, my third try resulted in accidentally cutting the tint wrong due to all the factors I just listed.

So I give up. If it takes that much time, effort and film to get just one window right, I'd rather pay someone roughly the same price to do it right, and I'm sure much faster than I can do it right now.

I'd love to find a place that can spray tint, but that would require removing the glass... but either way, I'm not doing it myself

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  #8  
Old 11-13-2017, 07:39 AM
mhoward mhoward is offline
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Default Re: '99 Stepside Frame Swap

Ah... you weren't using pre-cut tint. I bought a pre-cut kit on eBay... but as I mentioned, it turned out they sent a kit for (I think) an F150. Not sure if that would have eliminated your problems though. Although I have never applied tint, the process is very similar to applying vinyl graphics to painted surfaces. I have done a bunch of that in the past. Depending on how much you spent for the tint film, it may very well be cheaper to just take it to a tint shop and let the pros do it!
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5th Gen - 2003 - Ranger Edge / Extended Cab / Flareside / 3.0L FLEX / Auto / 2WD / Sonic Blue Pearl /

So many mods... so little time...
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  #9  
Old 11-13-2017, 07:51 AM
WutUpCuuuz WutUpCuuuz is offline
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Default Re: '99 Stepside Frame Swap

Yea, it was $20+ for a 20' roll... So at the rate I'm going with it, I'd end up spending about the same as taking it to a pro. I'd rather save my time and do something else... Vacuum lines...

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