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2002 Ford Ranger FX4 - Project RangeRunner, Part 2

Posted in Project Vehicles on December 1, 2005 Comment (0)
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Photographers: courtesy of Explorer Express

Here at Four Wheeler, we aren't afraid to admit that we tend to lean a bit toward the power-mongering side of things, sort of like how Hillary leans a bit to the left. So what do you do when you're trying to build up an 2002 Ranger with a venerable 207hp 4.0L SOHC V-6 to be impressive when new trucks like the Tacoma and Frontier are sporting 240 and 265 hp from their 4.0L V-6s? We had the intake, the headers, and the exhaust, but we just couldn't keep up, so we turned our sights to Explorer and Sport Trac performance specialists, Explorer Express in Napa, California for their holy grail of power production: the X-Charger 4.0L SOHC supercharger kit.

Superchargers, like turbochargers, are a way of adding more power to the engine by compressing the intake charge to force more oxygen into the combustion chamber. When mixed with the proper amount of fuel and spark, a supercharged engine can see significant gains in horsepower and torque because it is volumetrically more efficient. The major difference between a supercharger and a turbo is the way the compressor is driven; a supercharger uses a belt, gears, or a chain connected to the engine's crankshaft, while a turbo's turbine is spooled up by the flow of exhaust gases. Because of the direct connection to the engine, a benefit of supercharging it that there is virtually no lag in the power delivery, and depending on the type of blower, it delivers good low-end torque, which makes supercharging ideal for truck applications.

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At the heart of the well-engineered Explorer Express kit is a self-contained Magnuson Roots-hybrid MP-62 GEN4 supercharger, which doesn't need its first service until 100,000 miles. Explorer Express also uses all OEM-style connectors and fittings, so you don't have to worry about reliability as you rack on the miles. The X-Charger has the best interests of your daily driver in mind, maxing out at about 6 psi of boost. The blower breathes on your engine enough to noticeably liven it up, but not enough to cause expensive problems down the line. It is also smog-legal in most of the country, with CARB exemption pending for California. Explorer Express hopes to have this blower 50-state legal by early 2006, and all Explorer Express blower kits come with a custom computer tune by BamaChips, which requires the user to run on the premium stuff, 91 octane or higher.

Because of such comprehensive instructions, the install is easy enough for a novice to do at home over the course of a weekend, while an experienced installer can get the job done in about 8 hours. We met with Explorer Express owner Dave Vanek, who expertly installed our X-charger kit. Follow along as we bring you the highlights of the installation, but always refer to the instructions for specific information.

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Jasper, AL 33503


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