Click for Coverage
  • JP Magazine
  • Dirt Sports + Off-Road
  • 4-Wheel & Off-Road
  • Four Wheeler
Subscribe to the Free
Newsletter

2001 Ford Excursion: Travis Raville’s Excursion Means Adventure for the Whole Family

Posted in Features on August 10, 2017
Share this

Off-road adventures are often a family affair, though many of the vehicles on the market just aren’t big enough for the whole family, plus their friends and all the mandatory gear. To solve that issue, Travis Raville of Thousand Oaks, California, decided to break away from his GM love and seek out a Ford.

The Ford Excursion was exactly what Travis wanted. A straight axle up front, third-row seating with plenty of room for gear, and it could be optioned with a reliable turbodiesel powerplant. Previously, he had a seriously built Pontiac GTO. The 1,000hp car was fun, “but it was a one-way car,” Travis explains. “We’d get somewhere and it would break; it would go home on a tow truck.” He needed something bulletproof.

With Excursions becoming rarer as time goes on, Travis had to search around. He found an ’01 Excursion with a 14-inch lift, 38-inch tires, and a blown transmission. The rest of the rig was acceptable so he bought it, immediately having it towed to John Wood Automotive where they specialize in Ford transmissions. The shop set up the truck with a Towmaster H/D transmission, complete with billet torque converter, cryogenically treated shafts, and a B&M cooler.

After about two weeks, “Daddy’s Minivan” was taken to Ultimate Truck Performance in Oxnard, California, for engine work. “I let the shop know that I wanted to do everything we can to the 7.3L,” Travis says. “It needed to be drivable and wheelable, but I didn’t want to get into the internals of the engine.” Ultimate Truck Performance threw the book at it. A regulated return fuel system, Farmboys Diesel Performance fuel injectors, Terminator high-pressure oil pump, aFe Magnum FORCE cold-air intake, Garrett GT38R ball bearing Turbo, and an MBRP 4-inch Turbo Back exhaust system—the works.

Next, Travis turned his attention to the suspension. He was not happy with the height of the truck. Mercenary Offroad happened to be located next door to Ultimate Truck Performance, so he went to see how they could help. Todd Farrand, the owner of Mercenary, and Travis worked together to reimagine the Excursion’s suspension. Travis wanted the truck to be as low as possible with large tires. He wanted to build a rig that would allow him to explore with his wife, their three kids, and any friends they were to bring along.

Originally, the goal was to put the truck back to stock height and run 40-inch tires, but with Excursions sitting lower than their Super Duty siblings, a minor lift was needed. They decided to run a set of Atlas Spring 3-inch lift leaf springs in the front, bringing the truck just a bit above where a stock Super Duty would sit height-wise. Out back they installed a set of 5-inch Atlas springs to keep the truck level and load ready. King 2.5 10-inch-travel shocks were added to the front, and King 2.5 12-inch-travel shocks were added to the rear.

For being such a large vehicle, the Excursion is surprisingly nimble off-road. The leaf springs and straight axle allow the truck to have the brute strength it needs, while the long wheelbase helps keep the beast firmly planted to the ground.

The axles were left mostly stock, with the exception of adding 4.88:1 ratio gears from Nitro Gear & Axle. Mercenary Offroad added Dynatrac manual locking hubs, a custom-built track bar and a high-steer system boosted by an AGR Rock Ram hydro-assist steering system. To beef up the rest of the truck, Mercenary installed their “Big Boy” high-clearance front bumper, loaded with Baja Designs S2 LED lights, and a Warn Zeon 12 Platinum winch.

Out back is a Mercenary high-clearance wraparound rear bumper with tire carrier that carries a fifth 40x13.50R17LT Toyo Open Country M/T tire wrapped around a TrailReady 17-inch beadlock wheel. The bumper even has a hidden hitch behind the license plate.

Lighting up the trails is easy with a pair of dual curved LED lightbars above the windshield. The bars are mounted via Mercenary Offroad mounting brackets and protected by Rock Socks, also by Mercenary Offroad.

Travis is like most of us; our projects are never done. He is already working on the next stage of the Excursion build and is starting to look for another Excursion that he and his son can build for when he turns sixteen. In the mean time, however, Daddy’s Minivan packs more than enough punch for both on- and off-road excitement and adventures for the whole family. There might even be enough room for your family, too.

The high-clearance rear bumper from Mercenary Offroad is incredibly strong. The unit can handle occasional tail-dragger duties due to the rear overhang of the truck as well as support the weight of a fullsize spare tire.
The front bumper from Mercenary Offroad gives the Excursion a much better approach angle than the stock bumper. The heavy-duty steel bumper protects the important bits while hiding a Warn Zeon 12 Platinum winch and freeing up a ton of space for clearance.
Mercenary Offroad custom-built the track bar and high-steer system. To boost the steering even more, an AGR Rock Ram hydro-assist system was installed to help tame the massive tires. The front diff is loaded with 4.88:1 Nitro Gear & Axle gears.
The front suspension is intentionally nothing super fancy. Travis wanted strength and reliability, so he went with 3-inch Atlas Spring leaf springs and King 2.5 smooth-body shocks.
The rear is as “boring” as the front. Strength and reliability were paramount, so more Atlas Leaf Springs were installed with King 2.5 smooth-body shocks.
Other than the pyrometer and transmission temp gauge, the interior of the Excursion is stock (so far). Travis plans to add a full rear drawer system and various other additions.
A truck this big deserves to have lighting to match. A set of 50-inch curved lightbars can light up the campsite, as well as a few neighboring campsites.
Under the hood appears to be mostly stock. A couple of Duracell batteries, aFe Power Magnum FORCE cold-air intake—basic stuff. But there are also more bolt-ons like an MBRP Turbo Back exhaust, Garrett turbocharger, and an upgraded high-pressure oil pump.
Travis’ Excursion is the start of many off-road adventures for him and his family. Built for all-around exploring, camping, and fun, Daddy’s Minivan can take anything he wants to throw at it.

At a Glance

General
Vehicle: ’01 Ford Excursion
Owner: Travis Raville
Stomping grounds: Anywhere

Drivetrain
Engine: Ford 7.3L Power Stroke turbodiesel
Transmission: Towmaster H/D from John Wood Automotive
Transfer case: NV273F
Low range ratio: 2.72:1
Crawl ratio: 35.97:1
Front axle/differential: Dana 50, Nitro Gear & Axle 4.88:1 gears/open
Rear axle/differential: Sterling 10.5-in, 4.88:1 Nitro Gear & Axle gears/stock limited slip

Suspension
Front: 3-in Atlas Springs with King 2.5 10-in-travel shocks
Rear: 5-in Atlas Springs with King 2.5 10-in-travel shocks
Steering: Custom high-steer, AGR Rock Ram hydraulic-assist

Tires/Wheels
Tires: 40/13.50R17LT Toyo Open Country M/T
Wheels: 17x9 TrailReady beadlock

Miscellaneous
Lighting: Curved LED lightbars, Baja Designs LED bumper lights
Armor: Mercenary Offroad front and rear bumpers, Warn Zeon 12 Platinum winch, AMP Research PowerSteps
Cool stuff: Auxiliary transmission temperature gauge and pyrometer

PhotosView Slideshow

Connect With Us

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to the Magazine

Browse Articles By Vehicle

See Results