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Old 11-29-2011, 03:11 PM   #1
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SMB vs. Quadvan

I'll be buying a new SMB and am having a hard time deciding on SMB vs. Quadvan conversion. My main 4 x 4 uses will be snow, back dirt roads, mud but no extreme off-roading planned. My take on reading past posts is that SMB is better for tougher off-road use but has a stiffer, less comfortable highway ride and is harder to service than Quadvan. I am trying to get a sense for how significant the differences are real world; small, moderate or huge? Again, 3 main questions relate to
1) Off road performance
2) On road ride comfort and
3) Serviceability
Any comments welcome, thanks.
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Old 11-29-2011, 04:00 PM   #2
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SMB vs. Quadvan

I have SMB 4x4.

1) Dynatrac and Atlas are the gold standard. I have no doubt that the Quadvan is very, very good.

2) I thought my van drove VASTLY better on the highway than when it was stock. Quadvan is probably slightly better based on what I've read here. That being said, washboards are pretty brutal.

3) If you want it serviced at a Ford dealership, Quadvan. If DIY or you have good 4x4 shops local, SMB.
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Old 11-29-2011, 05:16 PM   #3
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Re: SMB vs. Quadvan

I have a Quadvan 4x4

1) Think of the Quadvan's capability as that of an F-350 pickup truck with a load of cement in the bed. I have taken mine up steep rocky hills, on easy to moderate Jeep trails and over some nasty washboard roads with no problems, at least none related to the Quadvan components.

2) I haven't driven any other 4x4 van conversion so I don't have anything to compare to. My Quadvan is very comfortable on the highway and driving around in the city. My only complaint is that the rear end bounces too much over small bumps, but Deaver leaf springs are being installed soon and should help.

3) One reason I went Quadvan was the thought that I could have the van serviced easily at any Ford dealership. Though I haven't had to have anything major serviced, the experience I have had with Ford dealers makes me wonder if my logic was sound. For one, Ford dealerships will gladly service a stock Ford 4WD truck or a stock Ford 2WD van, but a van that uses components that were not intended to be used on a van is another story. Parts and labor are covered under Quadvan's warranty as long as the opinion of the service tech is that the repair would have been covered under an F-350's warranty also. Again, this assumes that the Ford service department will even attempt the repair. You may still find yourself seeking out an independent 4x4 shop for repairs. I also thought that since the components were unmodified Ford parts, they would be easily available should I be broken down far from home. Though this may be true, it doesn't mean that every Ford dealership will have an F-350 axle, hub or transfer case in stock when I need it. You may still find yourself waiting for a part to be shipped to your location.

I love my Quadvan, but this is my first off-road vehicle and I didn't think I would enjoy off-roading as much as I do now. That said, my wife is not a fan of bouncing around and risking damage to our $100k+ vehicle, so our trips together are of the dirt road variety and well within the Quadvan's abilities. A more robust off-road vehicle may be in my future, but it will most likely not be on a cargo van platform.

Cost was also a big factor in my decision. The Quadvan conversion was less expensive and the fact that there was no state sales tax in Oregon also made a big difference. John and Blaine are great to work with and stand behind their product. If you choose to go with Quadvan, you won't be disappointed.

Steve in L.A.
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Old 11-29-2011, 05:25 PM   #4
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Re: SMB vs. Quadvan

I have to agree with just about everything Steve said. I have a Quigley setup. It's great. If I bought a new van today, I'd go Quadvan. I like the idea of unmodified parts, and they are 2000 miles closer to me than Quigley. Not that the distance ever made any difference for parts etc..

I have more faith in Quigley to get me a part in the middle of Mexico than Ford.

All the conversions start with the Dana 60 axle. You can't go wrong.
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Old 11-29-2011, 05:30 PM   #5
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Re: SMB vs. Quadvan

I did the same search as you before I bought and now have a Quadvan, here is my experience.

As you say, SMB was designed for big wheel travel with specialised parts.

Quadvan takes all Ford F350 standard parts and mounts them with their designed part without modifying the frame, they designed parts for bolt on the frame.
Just to mention it, SMB welds plates over the frame crumple zone for the front suspention, for me that was a no go...

1) offroad: just did 1 month in S Utah just great on the dirt roads, the front axel great, my rear axel, that is standart, needs to be slightlly improved: double shocks and custom leafs springs will come in 2012.
Real offroad driving was limited by my open differentials so no real test yet but liked what I did already.

2) Confort, for me the coils are the best way to go, no friction between the leafs that add up with time. Compared to the Landcruiser I had before, the van drives better I think in the same offroad approche.
Would love having the van with coils on the rear axel...

3) Service:
Quadvan you can drop it at Ford, they take care of everything and should have most parts in stock.

My 2 ct
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Old 11-29-2011, 05:45 PM   #6
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Re: SMB vs. Quadvan

There is also the option of Quigley. You can order a Quigley 4wd through any Ford dealer (or through SMB) and the 4wd conversion has the same warranty as the van. My van was ordered with a Quigley conversion and I had warranty work done on the front axle, no questions.

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Old 11-29-2011, 06:46 PM   #7
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Re: SMB vs. Quadvan

You don't say where you are located but another option
may be White Feather conversions. It was started by a
guy that used to be one of the main designers at Salem
Kroger. White Feather also uses the stock Ford front
axle components from the F series pickups. They are in
Northern California. There are at least a couple people
on here that have vans that were done at Salem Kroger,
I'm sure White Feather will do you a nice job. That's
my 2 cents worth.
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Old 11-29-2011, 10:43 PM   #8
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Re: SMB vs. Quadvan

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveInLA
Cost was also a big factor in my decision. The Quadvan conversion was less expensive and the fact that there was no state sales tax in Oregon also made a big difference. John and Blaine are great to work with and stand behind their product. If you choose to go with Quadvan, you won't be disappointed.

Steve in L.A.
A couple of points on cost comparison:

1) The basic Quadvan conversion is less expensive than SMB. However, it doesn't have some of the extras that the SMB conversion does. Those extras are available at Quadvan though. When I added the extras (which I desired) and did an apples to apples comparison, both quotes were within $100 of each other.

2) SMB sales tax can be reduced to a $500 out-of-state delivery fee if you are not a California resident (unfortunately not an option for Steve). For me, it would have cost at least $500 to make the trip up to Oregon. So, depending where you are from, that could be a wash as well.

So, at the end of the day I suspect I would have been happy with either. But, I couldn't stop lusting after the ProRock 60 and the Atlas II.
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Old 11-30-2011, 10:54 AM   #9
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Re: SMB vs. Quadvan

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveInLA

3) One reason I went Quadvan was the thought that I could have the van serviced easily at any Ford dealership. Though I haven't had to have anything major serviced, the experience I have had with Ford dealers makes me wonder if my logic was sound. For one, Ford dealerships will gladly service a stock Ford 4WD truck or a stock Ford 2WD van, but a van that uses components that were not intended to be used on a van is another story. Parts and labor are covered under Quadvan's warranty as long as the opinion of the service tech is that the repair would have been covered under an F-350's warranty also. Again, this assumes that the Ford service department will even attempt the repair. You may still find yourself seeking out an independent 4x4 shop for repairs. I also thought that since the components were unmodified Ford parts, they would be easily available should I be broken down far from home.

Steve in L.A.
It must be the dealership since I have had our Quigley serviced at our Ford dealer since we got without problems. The dealer needs a shop with a lift which ca handle the height but that hasn't been a problem.
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Old 11-30-2011, 11:11 AM   #10
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Re: SMB vs. Quadvan

How is the Quadvan interior?

If you started from scratch to design the "ultimate" off-road capable van/RV, what would you do any better than SMB West does in their conversion?
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