Last question first: Explorer++ works for me most of the times; you just have to give it some time when you click on Network, even if it gives a "no reply type of message" in the top menu. Once you access that other drive, you can "bookmark" that place under the bookmark menu option, just in case for further use. You don't even have to install it, just unpack the Zipfile into a directory, and run it from there.
It is very easy to create a shortcut; beforehand you need the information of the PC you want to have access to: Name and the "permission name" of the drive/partition you want to access (of course I assume that for that drive you gave permission to the drive to be accessed, and set the further permissions as well as security options for "everyone" etc as required).
On the desktop of the PC you want to create the shortcut, just rightclick into an empty space, choose shortcut (or link?), then you will be prompted for the location. You can try "search", but most likely your target won't be shown (of course the other PC has to be on at that time and not sleeping). So type in the information you found out before like this
where GYPSY is the name of the PC to be accessed, Gypsy D the "permission name" (not the DOS path!), and \Download a folder on that drive you want to go to directly (if wanted, otherwise omit that part).
You do not need to define an *.exe, because the location is, what you are looking for, that's enough for Win.
Once the shortcut is created on your desktop, you can further enhance it with rightclick and properties to be executed as admin, change icon, shortcuts etc.
All that smear sounds like a lot of work, but I also added the prerequisites to make sure you don't run into extra problems.
Glad to give further assistance, and luck with that workaround.