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1990 Ford Rangers & 1986 Ford Bronco II 4x4 - Mail Box

Posted in Features on November 1, 2000
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Editor's Note: If you have any questions, comments, rants, or raves, please feel free to contact us at Off-Road Magazine, Mailbox, 774 S. Placentia Ave., Placentia, CA 92870. You can e-mail us at joem@mcmullenargus.com.

When I got the September issue of Off-Road, I saw the story on Plank Motorsports' four-link suspension kit, and immediately my mind started wandering off to prerunner land. It's been a dream of mine to build a prerunner, and since I can't drive until I'm 18 years old (because of a motorcycle crash), so I've got 2 years to get started building my own prerunner. Anyway, when I saw the Plank rear suspension, I was ecstatic because I thought I would have to have a similar system fabricated for my truck, and I had received quotes in excess of $4,500. Is there any way you can tell me how much the Plank suspension will set me back? Also, will the Plank kit fit late '80s or early '90s Rangers? Thanks for any help you can give me.Jacob Barneyvia e-mail

In your last issue, you did an article on the bolt-on four-link suspension from Plank Motorsports. I was wondering if you could tell me how much the Level 1 and Level 2 systems cost, including Sway-A-Way RaceRunner coilover shocks, but without the bypass shocks. Thanks for everything, and keep on featuring those prerunners.Mike Natisinvia e-mail

Wow! The response on the Plank Motorsports' Ranger four-link has been overwhelming. Jacob Barney's and Mike Natisin's letters represent only a fraction of the correspondence we've received on Plank's trick Ranger rear suspension system, but both readers are seeking much of the same information as many of the letters and e-mails sent to us by interested enthusiasts who own Rangers and seek to equip their rides with a race-replica rear suspension.

The Plank Motorsports Level 1 rear suspension, which includes two upper and two lower control bars (A) and a basic bed cage will set you back $3,500; the four-link is available separately for $2,500, and the bed cage can be purchased alone for $1,000. Note that these prices don't include the price of Sway-A-Way RaceRunner shocks (B), which list at approximately $500 each. The Plank Level 2 Ranger rear suspension uses the same four-link arms as the Level 1 kit, but with a different bed cage (C), which allows as much as 27 inches of wheel travel, compared to the Level 1's 20 inches of travel. The Level 2 bed cage is priced at $1,200.

As to which Rangers the Plank rear suspension will fit, any Ranger from the early '80s to the late '90s is an ideal candidate; the Plank suspension isn't designed to fit Rangers equipped with an upper and a lower A-arm front suspension since the entire frame is slightly different than the chassis on Rangers with an I-beam front suspension. Additionally, the Plank suspension was designed to fit shortbed SuperCab (extended cab) Rangers, but can be fit to standard-cab Rangers after a few cage mounting holes are drilled into the frame in a slightly different location than the mounting holes for the extended-cab installation. For more information, contact: Plank Motorsports, Dept. OR, 2101 E. Lambert Rd., Ste. 104, La Habra, CA 90631, (562) 694-1985.

TBI and Spacer Plate: A Powerful Combo?I was reading the July issue of OFF-ROAD magazine and was very interested in the article "Go at Throttle Up" about upgrading Jeep throttle bodies. A sidebar article in the same story used a PowerAid spacer plate under a TBI unit for more power. Could I install both the Turbo City throttle body and the PowerAid spacer?Mark GorrellMidwest City, Oklahoma

Mark, as noted in the story, the Turbo City TBI unit will function nicely with the PowerAid spacer, since the throttle body is basically an electronic carburetor that introduces fuel into the intake manifold in the same location as a carburetor does. Therefore, the theories regarding airflow remain the same. For more information, contact: Turbo City, Dept. OR, 1137 W. Katella Ave., Orange, CA 92867, (714) 639-4933, www.rock-it.com; PowerAid, Dept. OR, 14840 N. 74th St., Scottsdale, AZ 85260, (888) 320-8151, www.airaid.com.

Double TroubleIn the August 2000 issue, the Quick Tech column suggested adding a GM trouble light to a vehicle. I think the underhood trouble light that is stock on my '90 Cherokee would be a better choice. It's the same basic type of light as the Chevy truck light, except it turns on when the Jeep's hood is raised, has a magnet to stick it anywhere it's needed, and has about 10 feet of cord, which is wrapped around a self-retracting wheel. I have used it often and it's probably cheaper and more available than the GM truck light. 4x4s and off-roading - is this a great country or what?Tony MidmoreWashoe County Search and RescueReno, Nevada

Thanks for the tip, Tony.

Bronco II LiftI have an '86 Bronco II 4x4 with 31-inch-tall tires and 1-inch spacers on the coil springs so the tires won't rub. Now that I'm using my Bronco for serious off-roading, I want to beef it up. The tires are worn from commuting to school and work, so I'm getting stuck a lot when I go on trail rides. Do you have any suggestions as far as a suspension lift and bigger tires with a total price range of $1,500?Carl YarberWoodstock, Georgia

There are several strong-performing suspension kits for your Bronco II, but given your budget, you'll have to be satisfied with a 2-inch lift. Skyjacker Suspension Products manufactures an excellent suspension system for '83-to-'90 4x4 Bronco IIs. Skyjacker's Stage 1 (PN 132K) kit includes a pair of taller coil springs (no spacers), axle pivot brackets, radius arm drop brackets, and Grade 8 fasteners. You'll also need a pair of add-a-leaves (PN R3135) for 2 inches of rear lift, along with a quartet of Softride shocks (PN N8052, front; PN N8058, rear). You'll note that the 2-inch Skyjacker suspension doesn't require a steering arm, but to keep the frontend alignment within specs, install Skyjacker's urethane caster or camber shims (PN 1035H), which provide 0 to 3-1/8 degrees of adjustment for the Bronco II's front suspension. With a 2-inch lift, you'll be able to fit a new set of tires, such as Pro Comp All Terrains, sized 31/10.50R15, which are long-lasting and excellent-performing all-terrain tires that are reasonably priced. Purchasing the aforementioned suspension and tire package and getting it installed will most likely use all of your $1,500 budget, but you'll be rewarded with excellent overall suspension and tire performance. For more information, contact: Skyjacker Suspension Products, Dept. OR, P.O. Box 1678, W. Monroe, LA 71294-1678, (318) 388-0816, www.skyjacker.com; Explorer Pro Comp, Dept. OR, 2758 Via Orange Way, Spring Valley, CA 91978, (619) 670-5222, www.explorerprocomp.com.

I'm Mad as Hell...Please forgive me if this letter seems a bit hostile. The last couple of issues of Off-Road magazine have, well, sucked. Features have been of rusted, dull, but big pickups with basically stock engines; these are the type of truck features I can find in other off-roading magazines, which I will not mention by name, but we all know the ones I'm talking about. Why not dare to be different and feature a diversity of 4x4s such as Jeeps and older Broncos instead of pickups, pickups, pickups! And don't be afraid to show trucks that are shiny and have modified engines. Why not feature trucks on which the owners have spent a lot of time and money on; ones that stand out in the crowd? Trucks with chrome, paint graphics, and wild suspension systems should be shown, not these beaters that people build for $2,000, never wash, and couldn't care less about. Why not be the only magazine to publish these nice vehicles instead of doing what the other magazines do? Publish more of the shiny stuff!Fast4byvia e-mail

Thanks for your positive and unbiased comments regarding the editorial content of Off-Road magazine, Fast4by. In response to your e-mail, the trucks we feature on the pages of this magazine cover every aspect of the off-road lifestyle. For example, not everyone wants to look at prerunners, but these trucks are a happening trend in off-roading, so we make sure to include them in our editorial plans. Likewise, some enthusiasts prefer a roughed-up ride that can be driven aggressively through - and over - the tough stuff with nary a worry about paint scratches, a dinged-up undercarriage, or mud getting splashed into the interior, and we gladly run photos of these trucks because some enthusiasts like 'em, believe it or not. At the opposite end of Off-Road's feature truck spectrum are the chromed-up, brightly painted 4x4s that see extensive on-dirt action, but are kept in show-worthy condition by their owners. These trucks are also a part of this magazine's content. As to your comment that we don't feature shiny trucks or trucks with built engines, we have indeed showcased shiny 4x4s in the last few issues, such as the story on Tracey Robison's American Racing Crew Cab Chevy Silverado (American Metal, May 2000), which is a stunning looker and features a billetized and supercharged V-8 to boot. If you're looking for Broncos, flip forward a couple of pages; we have some of the best late '60s and early '70s Broncos you'll find in any magazine. We also have plenty of Jeep tech and features planned for upcoming issues, along with straight axle tech and IFS how-tos. We truly feel that future issues of Off-Road will feature the type of stories you're interested in, Fast4by.

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