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Old 06-02-2013, 12:10 PM   #1
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4" or 6" Ujoint lift

Hello,

I've decided to go with a U-Joint 4x4 conversion for my 03 Ford E350 7.3 D. I'd be interested to hear what people think about whether to go with a 4" or 6" lift.

The rig will be used about 85% of the time on the highway. Right now the van drives amazing on the highway with 245/75/16's. I'm getting 17 - 20 mpg depending on the roads and how heavy my foot is on the gas.

I'm mainly going to use 4x4 for snowy conditions in Colorado and sandy conditions in Baja. (The van's maiden voyage to Baja this spring was an eye opener in terms of the poor performance of a 1 ton 2x4 van in sand!) I want off road versatility to access the backcountry but I won't be rock crawling or doing much pure 4 wheeling. I'm looking at running 265 or 285/75/16's and can't imagine going any bigger. Chris at U-Joint and others on this forum have made it clear that wheel travel is hugely beneficial both on the highway and off. I'm concerned with the loss of gas mileage and less performance/comfort on the highway. At the same time it seems that the initial conversion to 4x4 is the biggest sacrifice on highway? Anyone out there have experience/thoughts regarding the 6" or 4" lift? Differences in highway performance between 4" w/ 33" tires vs. 6" 35"?

thanks for your time,

caleb
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Old 06-02-2013, 12:24 PM   #2
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Re: 4" or 6" Ujoint lift

Excellent questions.

I'll be watching this thread to see what the reasoning behind the responses are.
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Old 06-02-2013, 05:52 PM   #3
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Re: 4" or 6" Ujoint lift

Why don't you ask Chris? He should know. Myself if it was an EB I'd be thinking 6" but it all comes down to what looks stupid on the van plus what will work correctly. After I had Deaver springs installed, the spring pack lifted the van another two inches. So I added Rockslide electric steps so I could climb in better. My almost new 285's looked like hell on the rig and I had to buy 315's so it didn't look like a big dog with short legs. After I added the 315's, I pulled the sway bar disconnect and in a 4x4 situation ripped off one of my Bushwackers flares. So SMB had to trim the fenders back further.
It all depends on your van. I THINK most folks with 2WD can get by with a 4" lift. To me a lower van looks better with big tires compared to a taller van with too small of a set of tires on it but you also don't want other problems to come up like I had. A taller lift can make cornering slightly worse but I never had any trouble with the 285's and my speedometer was closer.

Dave

[edit] BTW the type of tire seemed to me to make the big difference on highway handling. Yet 285 toyo MT's were all over the road and the 315's MT's mellowed out the drive a lot. I did loose a bit of cornering going to the 315's but the highway drive is much better now. Before Toyo, I was using 285 BFG AT and they handled the best out of the two manufactures. Others will have to chime in on different tires and makes vs the lift you choose.
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Old 06-02-2013, 06:15 PM   #4
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Re: 4" or 6" Ujoint lift

Thanks for the insight Dave. I have been talking with Chris a bunch - (he's super helpful) I just wanted to hear some different opinions, like yours. From what I understand, in passing e-mails with Chris, is that the lift should go with the size tires you want. It's good for me to hear that you went with bigger tires after adding new leaf springs. I've been worried about the "roller skate effect" look- big rig with too small of tires. I'm leaning towards the 4" right now. Seems to me I need to decide on 6" and 35"tires or 4" and 33". I was considering going with the 6" but still running 285's.......
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Old 06-02-2013, 06:32 PM   #5
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Re: 4" or 6" Ujoint lift

Well 285's were the normal size SMB used in the day. On the new rigs they still use 285's but on 17's I think. I'm also think the lift was a 6" but I have been told it was a 6" lift along with a 2" body lift. Sorry I can't confirm that. So most SMB's use no shorter than 6" I believe in 2006. You could always contact SMB. I do think Bushwackers make the tires look a little smaller. There are several pictures on my web site A/R (about sportsmobiles) link shown below and in my album here.
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Old 06-05-2013, 06:56 AM   #6
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Re: 4" or 6" Ujoint lift

If you know that you'll never go bigger than 33", then 4" is the way to go. The downside of the 4" is less wheel travel as you know, and turning radius. We can't use a longer pitman arm with the 4" because it can hit the d side spring pack at full lock under compression. The 4" lift still has good travel (~6") but the 6" lift gives you just a bit more! Plus, on the 6" we can use a longer pitman as well as a trac bar kit. Almost 90% of my conversions are now 6", we all want bigger tires eventually

AND.... Since my kit is modular you can always increase/upgrade the lift later.
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Old 06-05-2013, 10:04 AM   #7
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Re: 4" or 6" Ujoint lift

I use my vehicle like you plan to. Next season will be my 17th year as a ski instructor on the weekends, so I want sure footedness on ice and snow.

I have a 4" lift. If I could do it over again, I would go 6". It has nothing to do with looks or the size of the tires. (I want small diameter tires because I want the least possible rolling mass.)

It has to do with:

1) Bottoming out which happens even on bouncy pavement (with a 4" lift there are about two to three inches of clearance between the engine mount cross-member and the Dana 60 4x4 front axle). You don't get 4" of travel on a 4" lift at least on a Salem-Kroger 4x4 coil spring conversion.

2) Although I solved my death wobble with the dual opposing gas pressurized shocks suggested in this forum by TurboStew, death wobble seems to be more common on 4" lifts. See "4in or 6in lift ??" including my post at:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=9473&hilit=death+wobble&start= 15

BTW here is TurboStew's post on his death wobble cure "Quadvan Death Wobble":

viewtopic.php?f=24&t=4399&start=15

And here is mine on the subject "Best tire choice??":

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=8399&hilit=turbostew&start=30

With Chris' 6" lift you also get a track bar which is a good thing for reducing death wobble even on a leaf sprung front axle (mine is coil sprung which is much more prone to DW).

Lifting any vehicle you will get more air passing under the vehicle which encounters the resistance of the chassis which will reduce mpg. More lift means more resistance and less mpg. What is the diff. between 4" and 6" lift? Who knows? PM these guys "Underside Aerodynamics":

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=10530&hilit=retractable

Don't get me wrong, I have clocked quite a lot of miles with my 4" lift. It functions just fine, but if I did it all over again I would go 6".

BTW, I will probably install electric retractable steps either the Electric Steps:

http://www.electricstep.com/AMP-Researc ... a97k53n9xA

or like Zeta's "RSE Retractable Step Sliders":

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=8494&p=87134&hilit=retractabl e#p87134

And even with a 4" lift, you will probably want them too. So don't think that somehow you are avoiding that expense by going only 4".

As far as leaf sprung vs coil sprung. My first 1978 4x4 Ford E250 had leaf springs. I liked how it drove just fine. My current van is a 2002 E350 extended 7.3L 4x4. In 2007, I chose Salem Kroger to convert it to 4x4 and they were just offering the coil spring conversion. If I had to do it all over again, I would go leaf spring. Simpler. Stronger. Less prone to DW. Remember when the SuperDuty F250 and F350 first came out? Even as late as 2002, Ford only offered the SuperDuty in a leaf sprung 4x4 solid front axle. That was for a reason. Ever since they re-introduced the coil sprung 4x4 solid front axle they have had complaints about DW.

BTW, so far I have been impressed with the whole Chris Steuber deal. I probably would have gone with him if I had known about him in 2007 when I had my conversion done.

Finally, I was a dirt bag for three years, viewing and using this forum as a free rider. I just recently paid my $10 contribution for my Bronze coin, so I am full of righteous indignation. Man up buddy and contribute $10 to help keep this forum going!
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Old 06-07-2013, 02:27 PM   #8
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Re: 4" or 6" Ujoint lift

E350 - Thanks for all the links and details. Dirtbags never die...The $10 bucks has been well worth my time already. I noticed that on your van specs you put (bad) after listing your differential gearing change from 3.55 to 3.73. Why?

I currently have the 3.55 also. Right now I'm still leaning towards a 4" lift w/ 285's and a gear change to 4.10., but it's like I'm on a see saw going up and down. Still teetering on the hint from you guys that I may as well go with a 6", throw on some 315's and perhaps go to the 4.56 gearing.......
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Old 06-07-2013, 04:57 PM   #9
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Re: 4" or 6" Ujoint lift

It sounds to me like the 4" lift with 33" tires (or somewhere in the neighborhood) would work great for your needs. If you're focused on practicality and you know you're going to be doing a lot of highway driving, I think 4" makes sense. I don't think I've heard anyone complain of bottoming out and death wobble with any of UJOR's setups, so you should be fine in that regard. 4" lift will also keep your center of gravity down a little. Looking forward to seeing photos regardless of which direction you choose.
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Old 06-07-2013, 08:39 PM   #10
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Re: 4" or 6" Ujoint lift

I would keep the 3.55 for mpg.

Prior to modifications, three weeks after I got my new van with 7.3L, 3.55 diff., stock tire size, factory calibrated speedo, no 4x4, no fiberglass top, etc. I got 21.96 mpg* driving 45-55 mph on the flats on I-5 from Sacto to L.A.

David Whitmer is the MPG Moderator at PowerstrokeNation.com In his (and my) experience, fewer rpms means more mpg with the 7.3.

See the following three separate threads:

http://powerstrokenation.com/forums/sho ... p?t=119746
http://powerstrokenation.com/forums/sho ... p?t=119745
http://powerstrokenation.com/forums/sho ... p?t=119458

So, speed is not the problem (other than the big box wind resistance), but rpms.

For the same highway speed, a 4.10 differential spins the engine more rpms than a 3.73, and a 3.73 spins more rpms than a 3.55, and a 3.55 spins more rpms than a 3.27, and a 3.27 spins more rpms than a 3.08.

So, everyone who talks about gearing is correct. Mileage can be improved with lower gearing because it reduces engine rpm and engine rpm is what drinks fuel. I have experienced this myself but I try to keep the vehicle as light as possible and tow infrequently and light. If you want to tow heavy or rock crawl, your needs are completely different than mine. A 4.10 will pull a heavy load better with less wear on your engine, transmission and drivetrain, but with resulting lower mpg. That is why F350 duallies ship with 4.10 diffs.

Dave drives a 7.3 2WD with a manual transmission with a 3.08 ratio differential and gets great mpg. So, since my 15-passenger van is intended to haul asses rather than hauling ass, I am going to find the gearing with the fewest rpms with the least torque I can live with.

Which may be back to the 3.55 or 3.27 or even the 3.08 which Whitmer installed in his 7.3."

In a PM Dave said to me:

"3.55s should be A-OK even with that Amish barn you are driving. The 7.3 has plenty of torque at low RPM. I commonly drive in the 1000-1300 RPM range. Watch your tranny. Maybe a tranny temp gauge might be a good idea. Towing and load carrying experience will suffer with lower gearing but mileage will increase."

With respect to Gear Vendors and the toll that lower gearing will take on your engine, transmission and driveline Dave said:

"3.55s might help but you're gonna have to slow down or face frequent automatic transmission failures. A GV would give you the same problem. Slowing down engine speed reduces ATF flow through the cooler and that cooks the tranny. GVs don't work in 4x4 and I've never heard of anybody driving any kind of overdrive in true 4x4 conditions."

4x4 converters want to change the 3.55 differential to the 3.73 or to the 4.10. They do that because the 7.3 has enough torque to rip out your 4R100 transmission (which is the weakest link in our drivetrain) and your 3.55 differential -- if you are stupid and get on it or stupid enough to drive without a tranny temp gauge and an EGT gauge. They also say that a 3.73 or a 4.10 with larger tires gets you basically back to what your stock set up drove like after adding in the extra tire diameter and extra resistance caused by added 4x4 front axle, driveline, hubs, etc.

I call BS on that. Big time.

I functionally "lost" my overdrive when I went from 3.55 to 3.73. Now I can drive up a pretty good grade with my overdrive on. That is crap. Now I get 13 mpg on the flats even driving slowly. That is big time crap.

All because my rpms are up because the 3.73 spins the engine faster than the 3.55 did. And each rpm equals a drink of fuel from each of the 8 injectors.

Here's the deal: Have you ripped up your 4R100 auto trans or your 3.55 diff with your 7.3? If not, you won't with your 4x4 and 3.55 assuming you install a tranny temp gauge.

Here's the deal: You can rock climb if you want with your 3.55 diff. Just put it in 4x4 Low, for crying out loud.

Additionally, I would have your semi-floating axle removed and a full floating F350 axle installed. The FF is wider so you won't need to use spacers on the back wheels which is safer and you can get more weight bearing capacity with the FF and the FF has a NV271 transfer case sensor which your semi-floating does not.

Additionally, and very importantly, I suggest that you immediately drop your steel fuel tank, see if you have delaminating paint in the tank about ready to fowl and ruin your injectors, do the Hutch and Harpoon Mods, replace the tank with a Spectra Premium or a UJoint tank, add a Racor PS 120 3/8" frame rail pre-pump screen filter, and change your oem filter.

http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/11...fuel-tank.html

* Note this was hand calculated. 7.3 vans did not come with lie-o-meters.

YRMV.

What I have posted above is my personal opinion based on my personal experience.

One of the best slogans I have come across on these threads is Steuber's "Do it nice or do it twice!" I am in the process of doing mine twice and am a little grumpy about it after laying out $18K for the original 4x4 conversion.

So, do this thread and all of us some justice by posting what you hear in response to each of the points herein.

Better yet, get Stueber to post in response. He has experience with a lot more 4x4 vans than I do. I have only owned two.

We all need to remember that modifications are a compromise. And it is up to the person paying the money to be very clear about what goal they want to accomplish, then the modifier should explain what mods are needed to accomplish the goal and their risks and benefits.

E.g., when your 4R100 goes out (which yours, mine and every other modded and non-modded 7.3 owner's will) and you need a $5,000 BTS or John Woods rebuild, don't blame Chris Steuber.

Hope this helps and Good Luck!

And compliments from one former "dirt bag" to another!

Tim Hodgson
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