SOFT CAB WITH DOORS
The plastic windshield that came on this Ranger was so thoroughly scratched and yellowed it was dangerous. The green plastic roof seemed too big for the vehicle. For Winter use an enclosed cab was high on my wish list. Canvas soft cab enclosures start around $250. I found one by "Quad Gear" on a clearance sale for $50. That was just too good to pass up. Reviews were mixed, but bad reviews seemed to be for things that could be dealt with during installation. Complaints that mentioned peel-and-stick velcro fasteners seemed valid. No way am I using velcro to attach an enclosure.
Removing the fold-down windshield revealed a bent roll bar. This damage was visible in some of the photos provided by the seller. That bar had to be straigntened or the cab would never fit right. Fortunately, the roll bar pieces are bolted together. The section with the bent bar was easy to remove. Coming up with a way to straighten it without collapsing the tubing was a challenge. Of course, after being straightened, the bolts to attach that cage section no longer lined-up with adjacent pieces. After loosening other bolts holding the assembly together, several rachet straps and pry bars were used to coax things back together.
The canvas and clear plastic cab parts were rolled up in a rather small box. Everything was very well packaged, with foam protective pieces between parts. It was a warm day, so everything was removed from the box and unrolled in the grass to soak in the sun and become more flexible. The main cab part was tossed over the roll bars and aligned with the windshield to the front. From there the instructions were very clear and easy to follow. It was necessary to loosen and retighten the roof tension straps several times as the cab was stretched into place. The cab enclosure fit my 2005 Ranger 4x4 very well, and appears to be very good quality. The material is heavy canvas with black waterproof PVC coating on the inside surface. Letting the material sit in the sun for a few minutes made the installation easier, except when the hot PVC backing didn't want to slide over the bars. There was no problem zipping the doors in place. The instructions clearly say to attach doors, then use the included peel-and-stick velcro. That is where the instructions were tossed and the roll of peel-and-stick velcro was put away for some other use. I used stainless steel snaps to secure the enclosure. Where additional holding power was needed, the snaps were placed closer together. The only real disappointment in this cab is with the rubber clips that go across the back of the hood. These should have been a harder material that would be less likely to soften and come unhooked on a sunny day.
If the camo was really necessary for hunting, my shiny stainless snaps might have been a bad choice. Snaps are available in various colors if that is what you want. I am perfectly ok with the way this looks.
The snap bases look a lot better to me than the velcro would have with the doors off. I believe the snaps will also last a lot longer. If any become damaged, they were installed with screws, so they are easy to replace.
The doors seem to work best if they are unzipped from the lower front corner to the top when getting in or out. I generally have been rolling the driver side door back out of the way or just removing it. That will change as the weather gets colder.
ONE CANVAS ROOF PROBLEM
The roof is flat and it was impossible to tighten the roof straps enough to prevent the roof from collecting water. Water is heavy and will sag the roof until there is a 2 or 3 gallon birdbath on top. A soft roof like this should have come with bows to hold the fabric up, so water will run off. My vehicles are normally parked under a roof, so this was only a problem when the Ranger was parked on the property somewhere. My temporary solution was to stick a broom in there to hold the roof up. A more permanent solution was provided by cutting the center out of the old green plastic roof and jamming that between the top bars to give the roof a dome shape.
If the Ranger was parked outside all the time, I believe sunlight would quickly age the material and greatly shorten the useful service life. Parked under a roof for 4 months there has been zero noticable aging. The door zippers still work great, but I tend to treat things like that more gently than most, so I have fewer problems with breakage.
This vehicle will be hauling a lot of firewood. A tossed log could go right thru the plastic back window. Thrown logs have broken the back window out of many pickup trucks. My headache rack is just some 1x4 boards that were lying around. The stakes were cut on my table saw and the rack provides a bunch of anchor points if anything needs to be tied down. The side boards are more for show than function, but do allow piling stuff a little higher. I have no idea why the photo above only has the board on one side.
My chainsaw seems to ride ok with the logs for now. Several accessory brackets are available, but they appear to mount on the side where my saw would get whacked by trees. I'm looking for something like a shelf that will hold the saw up, out of the way.
The tailgate doesn't look too bad in this photo, but there are several melted patches that look like it was parked too close to a fire. I don't think this could be caused by exhaust and riding with the gate down. The pebbled texture makes this difficult to fix. After trying several methods and sticking a new decal on there it still doesn't look much better.
POWER TILT BED
A power dump bed isn't all that convenient for firewood. Dumping just means bending over to pick up each log. However, for just about anything else, being able to dump from the driver's seat would be pretty cool. This Ranger is already equipped with mounts at the center of the frame and bed for a power option. As expected, the factory parts for this option are expensive. Motor-operated linear actuators are not expensive and the control for a reversing DC motor can be as simple as a double-pole, double-throw momentary switch. A push-button cordless remote like my winch has would be even better and require less wiring. Fortunately, there was a packaged deal available with the actuator, controller, and a wireless key fob.
Even loaded with 1000 pounds the bed is not usually too difficult to dump. The pivot point is near the center of load. As long as the bed is loaded fairly evenly, it does not take a lot of effort to tilt. If heavier stuff is loaded to the front, or the ground isn't level, it can get more difficult. The powered system shouldn't allow doing something that might tear the plastic bed apart. For this reason a linear actuator capable of lifting up to 250 pounds should provide plenty of capacity so the unit doesn't quickly wear out.
Careful measurements with the bed up and down appeared to indicate that 12" of travel would work best. This is significantly more travel than the pneumatic cylinders provide, so the 12" actuator will tilt the bed further. This will make it easier to do maintenance and cleaning without having to disconnect anything. The fully-closed 12" linear actuator is a few inches too short to just bolt into the mounts. It could be partially extended and just use part of the available travel, but that is a bad idea. If the bed is fully closed before the cylinder runs out of travel, very bad things will happen. A 250 pound actuator might be strong enough to pull the mount right off the bed. The mechanical levers, latches, and pneumatic cylinders should be removed since the linear actuator now locks the bed in any position.
PROBLEM - The factory mounting brackets on this Ranger have 1/2" diameter holes. The linear actuator has 1/4" mounting holes.
The solution for the bottom mount was incorporated into the extention made from a solid piece of aluminum round bar. My mini lathe was used to turn the bar down to fit in the mount and to bore a socket in the other end to match the mounting lug on the actuator. Holes were cross-drilled for a 1/2" bolt thru the factory mounting bracket and a 1/4" hole to secure the extention to the linear actuator. The extention was required to adjust the exact length of the actuator so the bed hits the bumpers just as the actuator is fully retracted and shuts off.
For the top mount I decided to make two 1/2" diameter flanged bushings drilled for a 1/4" bolt. The bushings were turned from a bar of brass that happened to be the right size. My mini lathe hasn't paid for itself yet, but it's a lot of fun being able to make odds and ends like this.
This Linear actuator came with a DC wireless controller, so wiring couldn't be easier. There was already a switched circuit in the harness on the frame rail. Connect power and ground to the controller. Connect two motor wires from the controller to the linear actuator. All connections were covered with marine grade heat shrink tubing. Slide one large piece over both wires being connected. Slide a smaller piece over each individual wire. Strip and solder the wires. Slide small heat shrink over the bare wires. Shrink with a heat gun. Slide large piece over the connection and shrink that. Replace plastic wire loom over the harness. Secure harness to frame in the factory clips and extra tie wraps if necessary.
The full 12" extention takes 40 seconds, but it only takes about 20 seconds to raise about as far as the original pneumatic cylinders allowed. The bed really only needs to raise all the way to clean and maintain stuff under there. This works much better and is safer than the original latches and cylinders since the position of the bed is always locked and there is never any need to disconnect the linear actuator. One big plus is when doing any maintenance under there, the old gas struts often had to be disconnected to get enough room to work. With the lift cylinder, the bed can be raised as far as needed, and the wind can't blow it down while I'm under there.
The key fob turned out to be a cheap piece of junk that only worked about half the time. Rather than continue to be frustrated with it, the wireless receiver/controller was removed and wires extended to a manual DPDT switch mounted in the original recess where the bed release handle used to be. This switch was wired from my new fuse box so it works even when the key is turned off.
NEXT = Lighting Upgrade and Wiring
|POLARIS RANGER - TABLE OF CONTENTS|
|1||Research and Purchase|
|2||Soft Cab and Bed Rails|
|3||Lighting Upgrade and Wiring|
|4||Cranking Problem Fixed|
|5||AWD Switch Upgrade Problem|
|6||Seat Cover and Winch|
|8||Exhaust Tip and Trail Rides|
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