Prerunner Tech

Explorer Prerunner Long Travel Front Suspension

When deciding what to do with the front suspension for our Pump My Prerunner Explorer build, Robby Woolworth of Woolworth Motorsports (he handled the entire build for our Explorer) said we should give a call to Dixon Bros Racing.

Our Ranger project uses the 4wd Dixon Bros kit so it seemed obvious to go with their 2wd long travel kit for our Explorer. The 2wd long travel kit comes with upper and lower a-arms, new shock hoops and an engine cage. Most everything is bolt-in with this kit except for the shock hoops. Be reasonable, if your welding skills are not that good, have a professional do it for you.

When taking to Aaron Dixon we asked him what shocks he recommends and he said give Radflo Shocks a call.

Radflo is a fairly new company in the coilover shock industry (if you consider 1992 when they started) and Aaron raced using these same shocks in the Best in the Desert series, so we figured they could handle anything we would throw at them. Radflo supplied the front coil-overs, bumpstops for the front and remote reservoir shocks for the rear.

After we got the Explorer on jack stands you can see how limiting the factory suspension is.

The build started with removing the factory components, brakes, spindles, shocks and front anti-sway bar.

Next using a sawzall you have to cut off the factory tabs.

After those are gone a grinder is used to grind the framerails so you have a clean surface to weld the new shock hoops to.

Here is what it looks like after the grinding is done.

We sent the Dixon Bros Racing kit out for powder coating before we got started. It was hard to watch as Robby took a grinder to the shock hoops. Again this is necessary to have a clean surface to weld to.

Here you see the shock hoop tacked in.

With both shock hoops tacked it is time to fit and install the engine cage. This is a key component of the Dixon Bros Long Travel kit as it keeps the shock hoops from caving in.

Now the shock hoops can be finished welded.

We then installed the Radflo bumpstops, and the Radflo 2.5” x 8” coilover shocks.

Here is what is looks like before the spindles were installed.

With the kit installed in combination with the Radflo shocks we will have at least 14” of useable travel. Not bad for an a-arm prerunner.

For wheels and tires we chose togo with the Mickey Thompson Classic Lock Wheel and Mickey Thompson’s new MT tires. Not only do we like the look of the Classic Lock wheels but they are tough as nails. When we sent the suspension parts out for powder coating we sent the simulated beadlock rings out too.

We tested the suspension in the dunes over rollers and some rutted out rocky fire roads. Even with the extra weight of an SUV like our Explorer, the front suspension soaked up everything and kept us heading straight. It does feels different with the 2WD kit compared to the 4WD in our Ranger. The steering feels a lot lighter, and more nimble.

We had to take it easy here as we hadn’t completed the video shooting we planned up in the dunes.

We do feel a bit more roll in hard turns now that the front and rear anti-sway bars are off, but keeping them would have cut our travel numbers in half. The 4 inch wider per side a-arms really helped to compensate for the missing sway bars. On road through a twisty mountain pass we did not feel like we were going to roll at any point. The engineering behind the Dixon Bros Racing kit is top notch.

Now that we have driven it a few miles we are going to drop the front a bit on the Radflo coilovers. This will make it handle even better than it already does.

When most people think of a mud tires, automatically they think of noisy tires when driving on-road. We were quite shocked at how quiet the Mickey Thompson tires were considering the deep lug pattern built into them. We were also shocked at how well they performed off-road. We didn’t even air the tires down when we hit the dunes, and with no locker in the rear-end we were still able to climb more than we thought we could in a 2WD prerunner. As long as we kept on the gas, it seemed we were unstoppable.

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