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Old 05-07-2007, 08:27 AM   #1
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Do I really need 4x4?

Howdy, I'm starting the whole shopping around stage for probably a relatively low mileage used RB-50.

I'm on the fence right now w/ the whole 4x4 or 4x2 thing. We're located here in northern UT and will be using the van for primarily work related trips(my wife and I work as sales reps and are sick of spending $$ on hotels) and for heading down to the desert for a bit of riding/camping. I'm not into going out 4wheeling, would much rather explore those areas on my mtn bike. Mostly will be heading out on forest service roads to trailheads etc...here in the UT/ID/WY/CO area.

My ? is, will I be OK if I end up w/ a 2wd van and get something like a Camburg lift kit and at least a limited slip rear(would like eventually to have a rear locker installed). Basically i would liek to have a bit of extra ground clearance and room for bigger, more aggressive tires. It will be quite a bit cheaper than a 4wd set-up and it seems like there are pretty good deals on 2wd vans to be had. As far as driving in the snow etc... I was a long time ski coach and have driven all over the place out west in EB 2wd team vans w/ just good snows and never had any issues. I would have the backup set of chains etc... for safety.

Am I crazy to consider this option?

Yes, in a perfect world I would love to have a 4wd SMB but right now we have a little one on the way and cost is definitely a factor.

It is important for us to make sure that the vehicle is relatively new w/ low miles/abuse to keep maint cost minimal and we really want to be able to get out and camp/ride w/ the comforts of a camper instead of tenting it, especially w/ jr on the way and we need to manuverability of a van instead of getting a pop-up to pull behind our V8 4runner.

thanks for the input/advice

D
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Old 05-07-2007, 10:31 AM   #2
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no 4x4

It sounds to me like you don't need 4x4 for what you want to do.

Also, the 4x4 conversion (at least the Sportsmobile one) will make your van ride significantly worse. Adding more unsprung weight (that solid front axle) hurts the cushy ride.

-- Geoff
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Old 05-07-2007, 11:40 AM   #3
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For me 4x4 represents no worries... I don't have to wonder whether I can go here or there, I can just point the van (or Jeep) where I want to go.

The important thing is to know your limits. It sounds like 2wd is an option for you. Consider spending the money on a winch instead of a locker. A locker will help some, but in my opinion not as much as 4x4, and hardly worth the price in a 2wd. On the other hand, a winch will get you out of more situations and putting the money into that will give you that piece of mind to see what your lifted 2wd can do, knowing if you go a little past your limits you can winch out.
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Old 05-07-2007, 11:46 AM   #4
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thanks for the tip on the winch. didn't consider that at all, besides it would be a good excuse to get the Aluminess bumper...

Now another ?, w/o 4x4, would a V8 be an adequate powertrain? I know the 4x4 conversion adds a good chunk of weight w/ axle/transfer case etc.... just considering the extra mpg/price of the V8 vs the V10/diesel
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Old 05-17-2007, 02:22 PM   #5
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Our first SMB was 4X4 and we put on 75k miles. We maybe used the 4X4 four or five times outside of the rallies. So, we ordered our 2006 without 4X4. 11k miles later on the new rig, we are having S&K install a Ford 4X4 system. I didn't realize how reassuring it was to just know you have 4X4 available should you get into a tight spot, which has already happend once.
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Old 05-17-2007, 03:56 PM   #6
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In my opinion, a lifted van with a locker in the rear would be a very good compromize.

About 90% of the difficult places we have ended up probably would only take RWD to get in and out, though I often switch to 4 so as not to spin/hop the tires and tear up the road.

With the locker in the rear you could probably raise that to 95% or so.

One of the big benefits of the 4x4 is the low-range in the T-case. You could probably get a hi-low splitter for the rear of the transmission to get this benefit, or even a full on T-case just without a front drive-shaft. There are quite a few times we have ended up in a hole where the stock gearing just would not get us rolling due to the slope, but the low (even in RWD) poped us right out. (Think soft field where you are parked for a week, the tires sink a bit, making nice 6-8" depressions, and now you have to roll all 4 wheels out at the same time).

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Old 05-17-2007, 06:43 PM   #7
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Driving rear wheel drive with a locker isn't nearly as helpful as it sounds. I'd take 4wd with open diffs any day over the locker... then a winch... and then a full time rear locker (we're talking $$$ savings all around, so going non-selectable is less of an investment).

The only exception would probably be if you're regearing the axle anyway, might as well put a locker in because at that time you save on the labor charges.

So- I unloaded my Jeep Cherokee from the trailer once in a dried up lake bed. I went to pull out of the parking lot in high 2wd and the rear Mud TAs dug themselves straight down til the axle was resting on the surface. Since it's locked both tires went right in. Took about 3 seconds... I think there was a small crust over pure goo as I was at one of the lowest points.

So I put it in 4wd low and the front wheels (also locked) just copy the back and dig straight in. Now I've got the four wheels in perfect 32" holes. So now I'm buried up to the axles in the parking lot where we'd unloaded.

I tried rocking it, low, high, everything I could think of, but there wasn't even 2" of forward back motion because the holes were perfectly wheel shaped. It wound up taking 2 Jeeps in a line to pull me out. Never heard the end of it!
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Old 05-17-2007, 07:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jage
Driving rear wheel drive with a locker isn't nearly as helpful as it sounds. I'd take 4wd with open diffs any day over the locker... then a winch... and then a full time rear locker (we're talking $$$ savings all around, so going non-selectable is less of an investment).

The only exception would probably be if you're regearing the axle anyway, might as well put a locker in because at that time you save on the labor charges.

So- I unloaded my Jeep Cherokee from the trailer once in a dried up lake bed. I went to pull out of the parking lot in high 2wd and the rear Mud TAs dug themselves straight down til the axle was resting on the surface. Since it's locked both tires went right in. Took about 3 seconds... I think there was a small crust over pure goo as I was at one of the lowest points.

So I put it in 4wd low and the front wheels (also locked) just copy the back and dig straight in. Now I've got the four wheels in perfect 32" holes. So now I'm buried up to the axles in the parking lot where we'd unloaded.

I tried rocking it, low, high, everything I could think of, but there wasn't even 2" of forward back motion because the holes were perfectly wheel shaped. It wound up taking 2 Jeeps in a line to pull me out. Never heard the end of it!

I had basically the same experience in Feb with my SMB 4x4. Looking forward to a nice soak in a natural hot spring, but first had to cross a bit of mud. OK, a lot of mud, but assumed it would be no problem. Wrong. Lost momentum and sank up to the axles front and rear. We tried everything to no avail. 100% stuck in very slimy clay mud. Had to get winched out. Of course, I didn't get that option on my SMB! That was a good lesson that mud is not to be taken lightly.
R
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