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Thread: kishy's Ranger Trailer

  1. #1
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    Default kishy's Ranger Trailer

    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    I'd watch that thread.
    Good enough for me!

    While I'm sure it is somewhat not really a "ride" at all, I have a utility trailer which consists of the rear half of a 1988-92 Ford Ranger. The conversion from truck to trailer was technically done by an owner before me, but due to the amount of reconstructing I am doing to this thing, I'm going to take a certain amount of credit for it...after it's done. I bought it for too much money in 2015, a few months after the Ranger itself. It's in reasonably solid condition but is cosmetically not so hot thanks to a piss-poor paint job by the previous owner. Between the then-2.0-equipped Ranger being unfit to tow anything and there being no hitches on my other stuff, the trailer turned into a shed for my scrap take-off parts.

    I have not been able to locate a VIN on it, but it appears to have a 7.5 rear end.

    Overall to-do list from time of purchase until the time it hits the road behind one of my vehicles is as follows (no progress on below until July 2020, and only a few of these items are done so far):

    • Rewire lighting from end to end, including a harness ground instead of going through the hitch ball.
    • LED lighting
    • Replace shoddy trailer jack made of bed frame with a proper swing-away trailer jack.
    • Replace welded-on safety chains (poor quality chain and welds)
    • Replace 1-7/8" coupler with 2"
    • Correct fitment of cap on bed
    • Add lift supports to rear hatch of cap
    • Add functioning latch mechanism to cap
    • Add tongue box and more effective spare tire storage
    • Add tailgate check straps/cables
    • Replace shocks (ideally with ones that actually work)
    • Maybe add a sway bar
    • Swap the stock Ranger steelies with P(assenger) tires out for proper trailer wheels+tires
    • Remove all dead weight and clutter such as brake lines, cables, brake parts, dead wiring, fuel tank straps and so on.
    • Change axle oil and check bearing play, replace if appropriate (in doing so, identify gear ratio and if it's limited slip in case it would be an upgrade for the truck)
    • Get it weighed and plated


    2015:





    2020:
    Pulling it out from the back of the yard where the tires have been rotting:



    Removed brake lines and wiring (wiring was done poorly and is a complete re-do)



    Made a new harness (isn't pretty as seen here but is super solid)



    Functional lighting!


    (incandescents to test, LED coming shortly)

    I've tweaked the fitment of the cap on the bed, so now the hatch closes properly. I've attached lift supports to it which work perfectly. Just need to get adequate latch hardware for it. Wanting to stay away from the bolted on hasp solution if I can.

    There is one tailgate check cable, need to get a second. The tailgate is how I know it's an 88-92 donor truck rather than earlier - it had the aluminum covering on it, which I have removed.

    I've also attached a new trailer jack to the tongue. I may add another to the rear bumper to make the trailer stable enough for loading when not attached to a vehicle.
    Last edited by kishy; 07-20-2020 at 09:17 AM.

    83 GM 2dr POTM 10/2019 | 84 TC POTM 1/2017 & 4/2019 | 85 CS | 85 Ranger +trlr | 86 GM | 91 GM POTM 12/2017 | Junkyards
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  2. #2
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    Should paint it red, even if its just brush paint of a similar color to the truck.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

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    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

  3. #3
    The Brown Blob 87gtVIC's Avatar
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    I like it. The idea of a vehicle pulling another part of itself as a trailer always seemed cool to me.
    ~David~

    My 1987 Crown Victoria Coupe: The Brown Blob
    My 2004 Mercedes Benz E320:The Benz

    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    But, that's just coming from me, this site's biggest pessimist. Best of luck

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    I've always liked the idea of these things, but they're a lot less common than they used to be, at least around here.

    Wouldn't mind doing that with my F-150 after the cab falls apart, come to think of it.
    1985 LTD Crown Victoria
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  5. #5
    GMN Regular DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    Yes! This thread is now a reality.

    Quote Originally Posted by gadget73 View Post
    Should paint it red, even if its just brush paint of a similar color to the truck.
    Quote Originally Posted by 87gtVIC View Post
    I like it. The idea of a vehicle pulling another part of itself as a trailer always seemed cool to me.
    All of this. Really cool to see two sets of taillights that are identical. I need a trailer like this for my truck, would be sweet.
    1985 LTD Crown Victoria - SOLD
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by gadget73 View Post
    Should paint it red, even if its just brush paint of a similar color to the truck.
    I definitely plan to...red for the bed, white for the cap. Ideally a matching contractor/utility cap would appear for free/nearly free, but that's maybe unlikely.

    Quote Originally Posted by 87gtVIC View Post
    I like it. The idea of a vehicle pulling another part of itself as a trailer always seemed cool to me.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stocker View Post
    I've always liked the idea of these things, but they're a lot less common than they used to be, at least around here.

    Wouldn't mind doing that with my F-150 after the cab falls apart, come to think of it.
    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    All of this. Really cool to see two sets of taillights that are identical. I need a trailer like this for my truck, would be sweet.
    There is definitely some sort of "cool value" to a vehicle pulling another part of itself as a trailer...when the trailer looks like it belongs with the tow vehicle. In my case it's likely the wagon will tow the trailer more but we'll see.

    There are significant disadvantages to making these, however:
    • They tend to be too softly sprung for trailer duty (where you want a stiff suspension), as ride quality matters on a truck but not on a trailer.
    • They have a tendency to want to be heavier behind the axle which limits your loading options.
    • Repair of things like bearings/hubs is made slightly more complicated by not using generic/sort of universal trailer parts (but on the flipside, the use of a vehicle drive axle also eliminates a lot of those concerns entirely by not having adjustable bearings and so on)
    • They are heavier, and with a higher centre of gravity than a purpose-made utility trailer.


    Last night, I removed more crap. Factory and additional exhaust hangers, remains of fuel tank strap, poorly implemented and inadequate spare tire mount, exhaust heat shields from above the previous home of the muffler. Also replaced the shocks with super old CarQuest-branded Gabriels picked up from RockAuto for the purposes of the trailer some time ago. They work much better than the junk ones I took off however are still pretty soft.

    Mocked up positioning of tongue box and spare tire (the actual spare will be the better of the two currently on the axle - the one mocked up as the spare will be one of the tires in-service). I need to try to get more weight further forward as this thing wants to tip back with only moderate weight behind the axle.

    I'm thinking something like this, to mount the tire vertically as shown against the front of the bed:
    https://www.princessauto.com/en/deta...nt/A-p8051880e

    Or, something like this, to mount the tire vertically or horizontally (likely vertically) on the frame further forward:
    https://www.princessauto.com/en/deta...nt/A-p8112575e

    I think the latter option helps more with tongue weight but might interfere with the trailer jack.














    Updated to-do list as of 2020-07-20:
    COMPLETE
    • Rewire lighting from end to end, including a harness ground instead of going through the hitch ball.
    • Replace shoddy trailer jack made of bed frame with a proper swing-away trailer jack.
    • Correct fitment of cap on bed
    • Add lift supports to rear hatch of cap
    • Replace shocks
    • Remove all dead weight and clutter such as brake lines, cables, brake parts, dead wiring, fuel tank straps and so on. (still have one backing plate installed, but otherwise done)

    TO-DO:
    • Replace welded-on safety chains (poor quality chain and welds)
    • LED lighting (should be arriving soon)
    • Replace 1-7/8" coupler with 2" (not strictly required but seems wise)
    • Add functioning latch mechanism to cap
    • Add tongue box and spare tire storage
    • Add tailgate check straps/cables
    • Maybe add a sway bar
    • Swap the stock Ranger steelies with P(assenger) tires out for proper trailer wheels+tires
    • Change axle oil and check bearing play, replace if appropriate (in doing so, identify gear ratio and if it's limited slip in case it would be an upgrade for the truck)
    • Get it weighed and plated
    Last edited by kishy; 07-21-2020 at 08:07 PM.

    83 GM 2dr POTM 10/2019 | 84 TC POTM 1/2017 & 4/2019 | 85 CS | 85 Ranger +trlr | 86 GM | 91 GM POTM 12/2017 | Junkyards
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    I bet you could add some leaves from some junkyard spring packs for a cheap spring stiffening. The longer ones should give you some stiffening without much height. Or maybe you could snag some overloads.

  8. #8
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    I was thinking the same thing. Stack in a couple extra leafs and you're good to go. Maybe Explorer or 4x4 parts if those leafs are heavier.

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

  9. #9
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    Agreed, there are cheap junkyard methods to stiffen this. I think Explorers do something goofy like run the springs under the axle though...but either way, there's a way to do this. Unfortunately with the border closed to non-essential travel (a lot of Americans seem surprised by this when I talk to them - not aware it is the case), it's difficult for me to get any yard time in. Someday I will return to the land of cheap junk.

    I'm feeling pretty optimistic that this is going to be functional and road-going fairly soon, though there is no rush. Fine-tuning of things like suspension stiffness can come later.

    Edited in a pic above which I forgot when I made the post (last pic is the new one).

    83 GM 2dr POTM 10/2019 | 84 TC POTM 1/2017 & 4/2019 | 85 CS | 85 Ranger +trlr | 86 GM | 91 GM POTM 12/2017 | Junkyards
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    GMN Regular DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    The tire on the right in that first pic looks like it dates back to the mid or early 80's. Wowsah!

    Makes sense about the loading and such. I never really thought about that. What about a box from a 3/4 or 1 ton truck though? Seems those have tons of leaves on the springs and are just about as stiff as it gets. That's probably how I'd try to roll.
    1985 LTD Crown Victoria - SOLD
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    The tire on the right in that first pic looks like it dates back to the mid or early 80's. Wowsah!

    Makes sense about the loading and such. I never really thought about that. What about a box from a 3/4 or 1 ton truck though? Seems those have tons of leaves on the springs and are just about as stiff as it gets. That's probably how I'd try to roll.
    On the right of the photo, making it on the left of the trailer? Yes, it's extremely old, but in remarkably good shape. That one was the spare with the Ranger when I bought it. It will become the trailer spare.

    I think the ideal truck to turn into a trailer would be something with minimal overhang behind the rear wheels, and a long box...the shorter the box, the more problems with weight distribution you'll have. Stiffness is valuable but putting the weight in the right places is more critical. I haven't taken this out on the road yet but I can tell you it probably has very bad road manners because it wants to tip backwards. It might be impossible to truly fix that just on account of it being heavier towards the back, but I'll see what I can do to weigh the tongue down.

    83 GM 2dr POTM 10/2019 | 84 TC POTM 1/2017 & 4/2019 | 85 CS | 85 Ranger +trlr | 86 GM | 91 GM POTM 12/2017 | Junkyards
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  12. #12
    GMN Regular DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    It would be on the left side of the trailer. After my experience with tires, I don't care how good they appear to be. It ain't good enough to be on something I depend on unless its less than ten years old. They're blowouts waiting to happen beyond that. You can't always remember to keep it below 65.. I'd probably use the other as as spare. Is the ancient one a bias ply?

    Hmm. Great points. If I was a fabricator I'd modify the wheel base. Definitely following thread.
    1985 LTD Crown Victoria - SOLD
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    It would be on the left side of the trailer. After my experience with tires, I don't care how good they appear to be. It ain't good enough to be on something I depend on unless its less than ten years old. They're blowouts waiting to happen beyond that. You can't always remember to keep it below 65.. I'd probably use the other as as spare. Is the ancient one a bias ply?

    Hmm. Great points. If I was a fabricator I'd modify the wheel base. Definitely following thread.
    The tread is separating on the other one, as is pretty typical...newer tires don't last as long. Both radials.

    83 GM 2dr POTM 10/2019 | 84 TC POTM 1/2017 & 4/2019 | 85 CS | 85 Ranger +trlr | 86 GM | 91 GM POTM 12/2017 | Junkyards
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    GMN Regular DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    They're both junk then, lol. A spare is a spare I guess, it's just there in case. I'm still bitter about the tires that have failed me.
    1985 LTD Crown Victoria - SOLD
    1988 Town Car Signature - Current Party Barge

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    The trailer continues to slowly approach road-readiness.

    LED lighting is installed. When I remade the harness for this, I used 3157 sockets. Philips Ultinon 3157 red LEDs have gone in, and are performing quite well.



    I am thinking of some sort of utility lighting for this thing, perhaps strip lights somewhere in the bed/cap along with LED 3156s in the reverse light housings. Could easily borrow power from the tail light circuit and put them on a switch concealed inside, or maybe in the forthcoming tongue box.

    83 GM 2dr POTM 10/2019 | 84 TC POTM 1/2017 & 4/2019 | 85 CS | 85 Ranger +trlr | 86 GM | 91 GM POTM 12/2017 | Junkyards
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    GMN Regular DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    Hey! They look like actual light bulbs. I very much like the type of LED's they put in traffic lights which appear like incandescent bulbs. I absolutely cannot stand the dotted or bullet look.
    1985 LTD Crown Victoria - SOLD
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    I found more photos from 2015:












    Back to 2020:



    Resumed work on it today. Replaced the coupler, added the spare tire mount, put the new trailer tires/wheels on, put the spare on the mount. Added the tongue box. This has helped with tongue weight.

    Safety chains (likely using cables but same result) are next up, as is cracking open the diff.

    Very close to being road-ready. After talking to the government people, guesstimating the weight is acceptable and common. Should be what, at most 40% of a Ranger?


















    Updated to-do list as of 2020-07-26:
    COMPLETE
    • Rewire lighting from end to end, including a harness ground instead of going through the hitch ball.
    • Replace shoddy trailer jack made of bed frame with a proper swing-away trailer jack.
    • Correct fitment of cap on bed
    • Add lift supports to rear hatch of cap
    • Replace shocks
    • Remove all dead weight and clutter such as brake lines, cables, brake parts, dead wiring, fuel tank straps and so on. (still have one backing plate installed, but otherwise done)
    • LED lighting
    • Add tongue box and spare tire storage
    • Swap the stock Ranger steelies with P(assenger) tires out for proper trailer wheels+tires
    • Replace 1-7/8" coupler with 2"

    TO-DO:
    • Replace welded-on safety chains (poor quality chain and welds)
    • Add functioning latch mechanism to cap
    • Add tailgate check straps/cables
    • Maybe add a sway bar
    • Change axle oil and check bearing play, replace if appropriate (in doing so, identify gear ratio and if it's limited slip in case it would be an upgrade for the truck)
    • Get it weighed and plated

    83 GM 2dr POTM 10/2019 | 84 TC POTM 1/2017 & 4/2019 | 85 CS | 85 Ranger +trlr | 86 GM | 91 GM POTM 12/2017 | Junkyards
    Gone: 97CV | 83 TC

  18. #18
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    40% at most, probably less. My home-built trailer had to be weighed in order to be tagged. Ran it over the truck scale at the local truck stop and got a weight cert. I didn't build it, but the prior owner never made it legal so "I built it".

    86 Lincoln Town Car (Galactica).
    5.0 HO, CompCams XE258,Scorpion 1.72 roller rockers, 3.55 K code rear, tow package, BHPerformance ported E7 heads, Tmoss Explorer intake, 65mm throttle body, Hedman 1 5/8" headers, 2.5" dual exhaust, ASP underdrive pulley

    91 Lincoln Mark VII LSC SE, triple black (Timewarp) - poly front bushings, KYB struts and shocks, Holley SystemMax1 lower intake, SilverFox AOD valve body,

    1984 Lincoln Continental TurboDiesel - rolls coal

    Quote Originally Posted by phayzer5 View Post
    I drive a Lincoln. I can't be bothered to shift like the peasants and rabble rousers

  19. #19
    Wagon Addicted Tiggie's Avatar
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    My wife and I can lift a Ranger bed with the tailgate on. We aren’t that strong either lol. I’m gonna say 800lbs for the rig you got there.

  20. #20
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    Thinking about it, it's probably somewhere in the area of 700ish. I am not considering the cap to be a part of it.

    Today, put new safety chains on. Rather than using one and doubling it back, I wanted to use two long ones for a couple reasons:
    1 - I wanted the safety chains to attach to the original Ranger frame, not the added tongue.
    1.5 - This allowed me to use pre-existing holes which saved me some drill bit wear.
    2 - Long chains are necessary for tow vehicles like the wagon, where the chain loops will be far under the bumper and a long drawbar will be used.

    By doing it the way I did I also gained additional attachment points for...I dunno, stuff.

    Changed the diff oil. Much easier to get the stuff in the bottom out when you can tilt the whole thing. The diff is a weird one...Ford 6-7/8" deal. Not sure on ratio but it doesn't matter. It's built quite differently inside than the 7.5 or 8.8, couldn't really figure out how to get it apart to pull the spider gears, so just left it alone. The axle bearings seem fine. Basically I've decided if anything goes wrong with this axle a traditional trailer axle will go under it and that'll be that.















    Rethinking the 15" trailer wheels. Might look at 13s which are another common size, but I don't want the trailer lower in the rear than the front. For loading reasons it is better for it to sit slightly higher (tongue facing down).


    Updated to-do list:
    • Add functioning latch mechanism to cap
    • Add tailgate check straps/cables
    • Maybe add a sway bar
    • Remove the one outstanding brake backing plate
    • Get it plated


    Of those, only the last is required. A brief test drive found it tows nicely, is well behaved over even significant bumps, doesn't put up a fight to roll (can still get going with just the clutch, no accelerator)...all good really.

    83 GM 2dr POTM 10/2019 | 84 TC POTM 1/2017 & 4/2019 | 85 CS | 85 Ranger +trlr | 86 GM | 91 GM POTM 12/2017 | Junkyards
    Gone: 97CV | 83 TC

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