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My 4 door 1 ton Bronco aka Centurion


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#1
Cody Ford

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    96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

Just realized I never started anything up in here for my centurion.  Anyway, a little history on the rig.  Starting in 2010 I started looking for one of these beast made by a conversion company called Centurion (they started by building all of the vans converted to rv haulers in the 80's).  They started in 87' and went till 97'.  The made roughly 4-4500 of these things over that time span.  There was another company called magnum iirc as well.  In the early fall of 2011 I first found the one I would end up buying.  It was a relatively low miles (12xxxx miles) 1990 460 C350.  It was a rust free cali truck relocated to Seattle.  The guy wanted 7500 for it, and it was just to much for a 1990 gasser, offered him 6500 and got turned down.  Fast forward to june 2012, found the truck reposted for sale at my 6500 offering price.  Called the guy told him I'd take it and sent him a 500 deposit via paypal (easiest way to get money back if he flaked) and we made the arrangements for me to fly down the following Friday to seattle where he would pick me up.  Only resverations I had about the whole trip was caring 6g in cash with me (it was a PITA to get that much American cash in Fort Mac, cleaned out ATB in the mac of all there American, the good thing is the exchange rate was dead even).

 

So flew there on a last minute Alaska Airlines flight from Edmonton (caught a ride down to my sisters in gibbons via a roommate and then got a ride to the airport the next morning from there), cheap too, like 175 total.  Anyway, the rest is pretty well history.  Bought the truck after a quick check to make sure it was road worthy for the trip to the farm and I was on my way.  Made a stop in Spokane for an engine/tranny fluid change and otherwise had no issues.  Border wise, since the truck was more than 15 years old, I just had to submit the bill of sale & title (I think this can be bypassed) so many hours prior to crossing, pay a AC & tire tax & GST and I was done (I already had temp tags, as I worked it out with the seller to get a "copy" of the title/bill of sale to be able to do this).  On my way back to the fort I stopped in Calgary at Folk automotive for an out of province inspection, found a few issues (cracked marker lens and needed fender flares were the biggies) and continued on.  I fixed the issues and got the inspection done and the registration complete.


90' C350 AKA 4 door 1 ton Bronco
96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

#2
Cody Ford

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    96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

The truck when I bought had 35x18 toyo mt's on some procomp aluminum wheels, it had a leveling kit in the front (1.5" add a leaf), and some shitty shocks, and a K&N intake kit on it.  Other than that it was stock everything.  First thing I ended up doing was I had to rebuild the front axle, as it had never been touched.  That consisted of new king pins, all wheel bearings & seals, and all new brakes.  It also needed some new tie rod ends, so I bought the parts to convert it over to cross over steering (ruff stuff kit and an ORD  crossover arm).  The other thing I did was I put in a Spartan locker in the front diff (same thing as a lock right) and I had to put new tires on it because the front end was bad enough that it chewed up the tires pretty good, so I put on a set of Hankook dynapro MT's (325 65's).  The only other parts I've had to do were the fender flares & headlight/taillight/marker light lens's for the out of province inspection, ended up replacing the tcase (thought it was going bad, but ended up being a bad front CV, but it was leaking so bad I decided to do it anyway) & rebuilt to front CV on the front driveshaft.  Added a better stereo and ordered a bunch of sound deadening for the interior, installed Corbeau buckets in the front & a corbeau bench/single seat combo in the second row (it has three row seating). I also managed to find an older Sklyer soft top that went on this summer (the hard top is back on it now).  That brings us up to date.

 

Now the current issues with the truck, it's rough, as in you catch air going over slow speed mall parking lot speed bump rough, and the cali sun has wrecked the paint and interior.  So the plans are to address these over the next month. For the suspension, convert the front to radius arms & coilovers.  I have a pair of 12" 2.5dia king's, busted knuckle radius arms, and a bunch of ruff stuff parts to tie it together (track bar kit, shock towers & shock tabs).  For the rear, it will get a shackle flip & superduty leafs minus the overloads and a pair of fox resi shocks.  While I'm underneath everything will get cleaned & painted for rust prevention.  The goal is to keep it simple & looking stock.  I want minimal lift, only enough to clear 37's.  I have started with the shackle flip bracket and rear leaf's.  Should have this stuff installed by the weekend/mid next week.  will get a few pictures up tonight of what I have done.

 

For the interior, well I'm  not sure what I want it to look like, but I'm leaning toward a checker plate finish, but whether its aluminum, steel, or plastic I'm not sure.  Color will be black.  I will likely keep the carpet, but it will get stripped, the floor cleaned & lined with a DIY bead liner and sound deadener on top then the carpet. The plastic panels will likely get re coloured, and the dash, I'm unsure, repainted or rebuilt from sheet metal, we will see.  Exterior, well the shitty factory clear coat is toast, so I think until I can swing a full paint job, it will get plasti dipped a matte black.


90' C350 AKA 4 door 1 ton Bronco
96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

#3
Cody Ford

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    96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

A few pictures of when I bought it, and one without the top at havoc this year.  One other thing, is I want to replace the bumpers with some simple tube bumpers as well, and some rock sliders with re-tractable steps for the vertically challenged wife, have the parts and electric actuators, just need to put it together. 

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90' C350 AKA 4 door 1 ton Bronco
96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

#4
GiS

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Wow .. what a cool unit! I had no idea these existed, and for a company to crank out 4000-4500 of them, well there had to have been some demand.

 

Keep us posted, sure is unique!


Once along time ago, in a subduction zone not to far away, great thrust faults and up-lift occurred, that my friend blows me away..... In this great land, we all treasure the same, I see no reason to only have mud trails, thats just lame. Thus today I made a vow I promise to uphold, I will find a rock trail in Alberta by hunting through the heat, rain and even the cold. So to all those Igneous and sedimentary rocks around, look out, the day is coming when you will be found.

Rock Poss'e 06

#5
Twister

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Have you started the front end swap yet?



#6
Cody Ford

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    96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF
Not yet, working on the rear first hope to have it all in by the end of the weekend.
90' C350 AKA 4 door 1 ton Bronco
96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

#7
blazin_yota123

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your building this as well as the meritors ???



#8
Cody Ford

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    96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

Meritors are on hold till the centurion is riding like a normal vehicle again, hopefully by the end of the month.  I've had the majority of the parts for a couple years now.

 

EDIT

 

Forgot to say that I have to do something about the ride, truck is shaking itself apart from how rough it rides. Oh and a starting point for my shackle bracket.  Its the front hanger bracket trimmed down and flipped. Not the easiest way to do this, but I wanted the mount up high to minimize the total lift.  Lots of work to do to it to make it strong enough, but it will have a stockish look (which I'm trying to maintain).  It will also be welded to the frame vs. bolted.  I thought about flipping the factory rear hanger bracket, but I'm not a fan of the stock shackles in compression.

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90' C350 AKA 4 door 1 ton Bronco
96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

#9
Cody Ford

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    96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

New rear shackle mounts just about done, just need to double check the spring to frame measurement and set the bushing in the right spot. Plan is to do that tomorrow.

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90' C350 AKA 4 door 1 ton Bronco
96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

#10
Twister

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The longer shackle will give a way nicer ride the the stock length. Always been a fan of that mod.



#11
Cody Ford

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    96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

Yeah, for how simple it is, it sure makes a huge difference.  Anyway everything in the rear is torn apart.  Found the cause of the mystery sounds (pops/bangs/creaks) from the rear suspension that I would hear going slow speed over curbs/bumps/etc.  All the suspension bolts are factory on the truck, and needless to say they all had around 1/8" of material loss on the ones I took out (front hanger, rear shackle & bottom shock bolts).  Managed to break the factory passenger upper shock bolt clean off too (I was hoping to be able to re-use them, but not a big deal will use a piece of tube and make a simple cross member with shock tabs).

 

Sucks working on this crap without a good air compressor and impact, takes forever to do anything it seems (and why I only got half of what I wanted done).  Anyway next on the shit list is to finish removing the old shock mounts, remove the receiver hitch, buff the frame to clean metal, then loosely install the new leaf springs, set & weld the shackle mounts & shock mounts & finish installing the new leaf springs.

 

I do have two questions, on the leaf spring center pins, what type of bolt are these?  Can I replace then with say a grade 8 bolt (like a header bolt with a small head)? Or are they some special grade, I ask because it's something I've always wondered (I was going to play with the springs pack but decided to leave it as is and play with it if it isn't what I want).  The other question, what's everyone's opinion on welding the factory crossmembers solid, good or bad idea?  Remember the frame on this truck is already a shortened frame (splice is in the center of the front leaf spring hanger in the rear).


90' C350 AKA 4 door 1 ton Bronco
96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

#12
Twister

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questions, on the leaf spring center pins, what type of bolt are these?  Can I replace then with say a grade 8 bolt (like a header bolt with a small head)? Or are they some special grade,

 

I'm not 100 percent sure. But have turned down the head of a grade 8 bolt in the past and used that. As long as the bolt is tightend to yeild it should be fine. The U-bolts properly torqued will allow no movement at the pin. Again that's a torque to yeild thing. As long as the yeid is above 60 000 psi and the tensile over 100 which grade 8 is, it will be fine.

 

 

welding the factory crossmembers solid

 

 Tough call does your body act like a unibody stiffening the frame? The only concern would be frame cracking. But done right it should be fine.



#13
Cody Ford

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    96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

They (centurion) actually added stiffeners to the body to minimize the effects of frame flex on the body, so stiffening things up I think would be a plus.  That said, looking at the access, I don't have access to the top, so I won't worry about doing this mod.

 

Making slow progress, only getting a couple hours every other night type of deal.  But anyway, found some booty fab awesomeness from centurion on a few things, I'll toss up some pictures when I get a minute.   The new leafs are in place (need new hardware before everything gets installed), I have a rough location for the shackles marked out as well as the new location for the shocks.  Tonight my goal is to get the shackle mounts tacked in place (weld out the bushings as well) as well as rough in the new upper shock mounts.  Then tomorrow after I get the hardware I need, I will flex it out the best I can to check clearances, shackle angle, and ride height, only want ~2" max lift).  Then its re-torque everything, finish welding and its basically done in the rear.  I do have to re-run the tail pipe though, it didn't even clear the springs pack previously.


90' C350 AKA 4 door 1 ton Bronco
96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

#14
Twister

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So this was a factory done truck or a mod at an aftermarket company?

 I may have missed that part.



#15
bonedust

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centurion was a conversion van company. they sold thru the dealership networks. so, kinda both.


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#16
Cody Ford

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Yeah they were an aftermarket conversion company, they did work on all of the major brands.

 

Anyway, rear shackle mounts are in place (partially welded, enough to take the weight of the truck), new shock mounts are in as well.  Shackle angle isn't really ideal, but I positioned them based on full droop, and whatever angle I got, I got (I'm aiming for as stock height and components as possible, when I checked everything if I aimed for a 35-40* shackle angle I'd need an extra 2-3" of shock and brake line length, and this is not in the plans, the angle right now is 25-30* at ride height, which will work good enough for me, and will be miles better than before).

 

I ended up swapping out the factory blocks for a 2" tall block instead of the factory 4" block, overall ride height increase is only 1/2".  I may need to add a degree shim between the leafs & springs to correct a potentially bad pinion angle, I'll post pictures when I'm not so busy with work to get some opinions. 

 

I picked up all the hardware that I needed (bolt supply house is closed on weekends, which is shitty, but lowes actually had a good supply of all the grade 8 fasteners that I needed), and to finish the rear its a matter of deciding on the pinion angle, finish welding the shackle & shock mounts in, final torque all the hardware, and paint everything.  Then test drive :).  Then the front . . . then the ranger . . . and then and then and then lol.  Projects never seem to end.


90' C350 AKA 4 door 1 ton Bronco
96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

#17
Cody Ford

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    96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

A few more pictures to update.

 

First picture is the typical wear I found on all of the factory hardware, explains the mystery pops and bangs I was hearing.  Second is the old receiver hitch that folded over on me.  This, is well the little bottle jacks that ford uses for changing flats tires on these trucks.  The  work awesome for work like this, espically when you weld a bolt to the part you turn to raise/lower the jack and use a cordless impact driver to turn the jacks :)  I'm going to raid a few junk yards and build a few jacks for use on the trails.

 

Third is the packed garage, pretty tight in there with the bronco and the ranger (its only a 22' wide garage).  Next is the nice and clean frame to work with.  For the tough to reach spots, I found a wire brush on a hex shaft that works with my Makita impact driver, works awesome for getting into the tight spaces, and cleans up the rust really good.  Then next are my shock mounts at full droop and then the new rear shackle in place at ride height, like I said not the ideal angle, but I had to limit the droop.  Ended up with a 1/2" over factory lift with my setup.

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90' C350 AKA 4 door 1 ton Bronco
96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

#18
Cody Ford

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    96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

I thought I had a picture of the pinion angle at ride height, but no such luck.  Anyway here are a few of the conversion fab work centurion did:

 

From the frame splice, they basically cut the frame in the center of the front spring hanger without removing the spring hanger (one side is bolted the other is riveted).  You can also see the spacer to fill the gap in the frame due to the splice as well.  The welding is sub par to my tastes, but the weld is sound with no other fatique related defects, so I'll leave it be.  You can also see the extra crossmembers and the heavy angle iron that runs parallel to the frame.  In a number of spot where they added body stiffeners to the floor you can see where they burned through and didn't bother to seal it (didn't get a good picture of this). Then on where the put the spare tire (they added a huge gas tank as you will in some of the pictures) the body work was again sub par to my tastes and done very quickly and not well sealed and leads to rust issues in these spots (I've done some temp fiber glass repairs on the inside).

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90' C350 AKA 4 door 1 ton Bronco
96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF

#19
Twister

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Kinda like a limo sort of kinda maybe but not.  Did they use that angle?



#20
Cody Ford

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yeah kinda, dunno about other vehicles, but the angle on this is to minimize body flex compared to the frame flex (ie to keep the body from twisting and cracking).


90' C350 AKA 4 door 1 ton Bronco
96' Ranger: kings, EMF parts, 800hp SBF




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