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Old 09-02-2008, 04:02 AM   #1
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WHAT 4X4 OPTIONS SHOULD I GET WITH SALEM KROGER CONVERSION ?

My SMB should be made as strong as needed for the long haul. I rather plan for the worst now, than be in a "coulda, woulda, shoulda" situation and be suck or broken down. ''I do not want to be limited in where I can go, but, I do not want heavy options that will never be needed.
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I will go back to Alaska with the SMB (instead of the EB250 2wd camper van I drove before) and if towing a boat, I do not want to get stuck in Eagle, AK. again trying to launch it in the Yukon River.'' I have driven to Cabo, Agua Verde and on a lot of back roads in Baja over the years and want to do that again in the SMB instead of the 4X4 Rodeo.

On the to do list is being able to go to every hot spring and go on roads only a 4X4's can go, and camp in the most remote places where only 4X4's can get to. Having backpacked a lot, the SMB is my tool to get out in nature, away from cement, with out carrying that 40# pack.''

I want to be able to keep up with other SMB's on a road trip and not hold anyone back because of not having the right equipment. Since I will usually be by my self or with a girl friend or with my grand kids, having a strong SMB, self contained and prepared is a must. (I can not count on finding a boy friend)

I realize I will be limited because of the cruiser top and such a heavy van, so, choosing to go over big boulders, Elephant Hill in UT, and soft sand beaches would not be wise. I will save that for my 4wd Rodeo.

I want to be able to tow a vehicle, trailer, or boat (in case I meet another person who has one). I will do a lot of highway driving: Yellowstone, Canada, etc. I am planning on driving to Mexico and on down to Costa Rica next year.

Tires: 33in, 17in wheels, R rated, the best ones to decrease the sway of the tall van. I was going to see what Salem Kroger and you all recommend. Lots to learn here-something about off set and wheel width and tire size, that can affect the stability.

So, please, give me your opinion. Also,what has been your experiences with the equipment you chose? Why and how did you make your choices?

Angel
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Old 09-02-2008, 10:52 AM   #2
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Angel - I have an '07 with the SMB 4x4 setup. I didn't go with the full floating rear axle because I couldn't justify the cost. Just the stock Ford with the limited slip and no lockers either front or rear. I have BFG 315 (35") tires and I have gone most of the places you mentioned you are interested in. I've never had to use my winch to pull myself out - just others. I have taken my rig places where others won't and off-roaders can't believe where they see me camped. Just didn't think it possible to get a rig that big up "that hill" or "over those rocks" etc.
That said, I'm not saying I won't break something some day, but there's always a weak link in any system. If I was ordering my rig all over again, I wouldn't change a thing. If I had unlimited funds, I would have gone with the full floating rear end (just cause it's stronger), but still not the lockers. I just haven't found a use for them from Canada, the High Sierras, deserts and all over Baja. This is just my opinion, and as they say, it's only worth what you payed me for it.
You'll do fine, and if you find you're unhappy with something later, you can always modify.
Good luck....
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Old 09-02-2008, 01:17 PM   #3
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I did go with the free floating axle and the lockers just because i know that ill push my van farther than I should. I dont think you need a free floating axle but haveing lockers is nice and I have used them alot since its easier to just lock the sliping axle and climb up,as opposed to reversing and finding a different line. If i didnt have lockers I would definately get a winch (I have both) better to have it and not use it than wait for someone to come along and help you out. The main reason I have everything is because when im in my SMB I tend to be traveling by my self and need to be able to self recover! If your with other vehicles or on popular trails its not as important. Get the strongest and best equipment you can afford . Breaking axles, getting stuck, and vehicle damage is fun when you are with your freinds but sucks when you are by yourself!
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Old 09-02-2008, 09:49 PM   #4
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back to picking your options..I am sure there are some threds on this site discussing gear ratios..unless you are doing heavy towing or running large/tall tires I would go with 3.73's ............you will get better fuel mileage and tow just fine....should have no problems whelin with the auto traney




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Old 09-03-2008, 04:18 PM   #5
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I've had to use my lockers to get out of a jam a few times but not many. With the winch and pull pal I could have done it w/o the front lockers but it sure made things easier by having to push a button. But what if the lockers fail? So having a couple of options is good. With a heavy van they are more important on the front and I never felt the need for rear lockers. Some kind of a farelead that would make it possible to winch your way out from the rear would be nice. I carry multiple snatch blocks and extra line along with a receiver shackle just in case. I have only had to winch myself out a couple of times. One of the times was because I disengaged the rear axle by mistake I do have a full floating rear axle because of the 12K+ weight and pulling a trailer. As much as I hate them it sounds like you're a candidate for a generator. Great backup. Also a sat phone has been a life saver for me. My biggest fear is being somewhere that would make it impossible to be towed. Your only option might be a sat phone, mechanic, and a lot of money. It makes my palms sweat when I'm at a spot like that...in other words a large majority of the time.
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Old 09-03-2008, 05:31 PM   #6
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I've got to disagree with fishbreath 4.10s with 33s are good. Flat towing a Jeep Wrangler with 32s is no problem, but with 35s (more weight more drag) on the Jeep going up the Colorado mountains even the diesel was at it's limit. I'd say unless you're talking about a small boat the 4.10s will serve you better, and you'll save more gas by not being a throttle jockey anyway. Plus the lower you go (eg 4.10s) for offroad the better... crawling slower will save your butt.

I really like the Atlas II that comes with the SMB 4x4, but I have a stock rear and I think if you can do one or more selectable lockers with a full floater rear for the same price you're probably better off. If I had seen Buji's van from S&K before buying I would have seriously considered them instead. I'd say a selectable locker is more important than the full floater, and then a really good onboard air system so you have no qualms about airing down whenever, and then probably a front locker too, then maybe the full floating rear.

The reason being you're probably going to get way, way stuck before you ever risk breaking an axle. With dual lockers and aired down you start to be capable enough to worry about snaping an axle. Before that it's probably overkill- unless you have a REALLY big boat.

I think also, if no one has said it, a winch is a must have. A 15,000 lb winch MOUNTED CORRECTLY is probably the single most valuable self recovery option. 12K will get you out of most things. 15K will definilty get you out and your boat too. A winch would come second after 4x4 in my opinion (although I still don't have one!)

So let me break it down in order of importance:
1. 4x4
2. Winch
3. 4.10s
4. Rear Locker
5. On Board Air (something better than SMB offers, a seperate discussion...)
6. Front Locker
7. A bigger boat
8. Full Float Rear

That's all off the top of my head, for what it's worth.
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Old 09-04-2008, 12:40 AM   #7
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Hey guys, I know I haven't been around for a bit, been busy travelling and trying to enjoy my van

Just wanted to throw in a quick note here about the kevlar inner beadlocks from staun that I had S&K install. *or rather, their tire provider*

I was on my way to yellowstone back on 6/13 or so, and ended up getting one of my valve stems snapped off at a gas station when my friend was trying to help me clean the windshield. I was in Elko, NV, and the gas station garage attendant refused to even let me use his bay to swap my tire out. I had to drive about a mile down the road to a goodyear tire place, with no air pressure riding on the kevlar innertube. Worked VERY VERY WELL. granted, I was going 5 mph, but it worked as advertised and allowed me to get to the tire place to get the valve stem replaced. Also worth noting was that the flat tire only dropped about an inch (and I've got some giant meats) so I'm a LOT more confident that the stauns will help if I ever have a dreaded highway blowout.

Craig at S&K can tell you about the product. Don't know if anyone else has got them yet, but I need to talk with Craig about my experience with them, now that I've had a field trial. They do add some unsprung weight to each wheel, and staun warned me that at the air pressures I'm running my tires, I might have balancing issues with the internal beadlocks, but I haven't seen anything like that in 15k miles.
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Old 09-04-2008, 09:00 AM   #8
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We had SK do our conversion. We purchased a used 2004 Ford Sportsmobile through Sportsmobile, and because of the changes in the 2008 and the age of our van, Sportsmobile was not willing to do it for us. We have been very happy with the set up that we got from SK. It was not outrageously spec's, but a step above their basic set up. I have been very happy with the outcome. We have had it over boulders, in mud, in snow, and very rough boney roads. I am sure you know what their standard conversion includes so I won't re list it here. Here is what we did as "customer selected options" and here is what I like and don't like:

46 gal TrasferFlow center mount fuel tank. Good thing but expensive
Tire upgrade to Toyo A/T LT 285/75R17 E rated. 34". Very happy with
them. Quite, decent traction. Not great in mud but got me through.
Good compromise between 33" and 35".
Pro Comp Polished Aluminum Series 1069 wheels. They look great.
Bushwacker fender flares. a must.
Upgrade front coil springs one weight capacity.
Regear rear axle with 4.56 to bring back to 4.10 with the larger tire
diameter. I felt worth it to keep all the stuff working as it was intended
New Dana Trac-Loc ltd slip differential. Craig felt worth it.
4" lift. Haven't hit yet.
Rancho RSX 99900 adjustable shocks. They work very well. On dirt
roads with severe washboard they are a bear, even on the lowest
setting. I think it is just a function of the 1 ton chasis and the weight
of the van.
7,000 pound brakes. They work very well in all situations that we have
needed them.

If I had to do it again, I would probably do the same thing over. oclv
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Old 09-04-2008, 10:23 AM   #9
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Thank you for all the info. Keep it coming.

RE: Tires: I better decide on my tire size before I go to SK because the gear ratio will have to be changed to match any tire bigger than 31.5. I like the tire size calculator the forum listed. My SMB has the 4.10 with limited slip and 245/75/16 tires (30.5) but they must be for a 3.75 axle because SK est is to use 245/75/17 tires (31.5) on the 4.10 axle.

I have a tall SMB which I think needs the 2ed # to be maybe 70 instead of 75. I should get mim of 33's and stick to 17".

Am I on the right track about tires or am I over thinking this?

Angel
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2008 SMB E350 EB V10 White with Cruiser Top; EB-17 modified floor plan; Salem Kroger 4X4;
285/75/17E tires; Named: "The Lighthouse"
2000 Isuzu Rodeo V6 4WD
2006 Chalet LTW 15ft. Folding Travel Trailer with flipped axle & 14 in. tires
2001 Kia Rio
1971 Super Beetle VW Bug "Restored by Papa and Me"

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Old 09-04-2008, 03:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jage
So let me break it down in order of importance:

4. Rear Locker
6. Front Locker
I talked to several people about front vs rear and although a rear locker seems to be prefered by light weight vehicles (such as Jeeps) I have found that it's more important to be able to pull this vehicle up rather than trying to push such a heavy vehicle up. Several times trying to ascend loose trails I would find the van tracks off to the point I have to back down. Starting over with the front only locked up allows me to slowly climb up with no problems at all. I do understand the steering problem but w/o the front locker these climbs would have failed do to the front loosing "even" grip. I guess the same could be said for the rear but with such a heavy van it has not been a problem yet. I can't say if the full floater would help in keeping damage to the rear axle or drive train and do understand a locked rear diff might help in that but so far the front keeps me on the path. I opted for the front before the back. Am I missing something here?
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