Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 03-23-2008, 01:35 PM   #1
tve
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Posts: 3
4x4 musings

I seems it's becoming my annual spring routine to check for progress on being able to get a US Sprinter 4x4. Well, unlike in previous years, it looks like something is finally moving. I'm writing down my findings and thoughts in the hope to get feedback and other points of view.

The point of the 4x4 for me is to travel around the western deserts on jeep roads. Nothing extreme, no boulder climbing stuff. But I also don't want to get stuck in a sand drift or in a muddy creek crossing. Well, 4x4 doesn't really guarantee that either, but it sure helps...

So it seems there's one system currently purchasable: Salem Kroger's conversion. The details have been listed in another thread. It uses a New Venture 271 transfer case, a Dana 60 front axle from a F350, and some more F350 components. Starting price around $18k incl new wheels and tires. What I like is that it's available now. I don't know what to think of replacing the front axle wrt driving behavior. While the 4x4 stuff is clearly not of MB origin, I'd bet that if I break down in the desert somewhere I can get someone to expertly fix the Dana 60 much faster and much more expertly than any MB approved, certified, manufactured or whatnot components. If something stock fails in the van, well, then the Dodge shop may give me some hassle over the warranty, and that's a concern. The major issue I have is what happens to the ESP. Salem Kroger reuses the ABS incl. sensors so, as Craig writes, the ESP thinks everything is stock, but clearly the drive geometry has changed. There doesn't seem to be enough info around to be able to tell whether or how much that matters in practice.

Next in line is Sportsvans hoping to be in production in july with the Oberaigner 4x4 kit. The big plus is that this is the system that is sold/approved by MB in Europe. It's also the system that modifies the Sprinter the least and integrates ESP with their 4ETS, which uses the ABS brakes to stop a spinning wheel instead of using lockable differentials. While the front suspension isn't modified, it is raised, the suspension reinforced, etc, so there must be some change in driving behavior I assume. I can't tell how strong the front ends up being and how it compares in that respect with a Dana 60.

From reading about the MB G wagens and the ML class, it seems clear to me that while 4ETS and no lockable differentials works great at speed on the road, it also seems clear that it's not good for boulder climbing, primarily because it requires too much wheel velocity before it kicks in. (Note that the G has diff locks in addition to 4ETS and the new ML now has them as option as well.) Not sure how my expected usage fares with 4ETS. (Note that the all-time Oberaigner 4wd does have the option to lock the center diff, but I'mmore interested in the part-time system for fuel economy.) Price is expected to be a bit taller than Salem Kroger's as far as I can tell.

Then comes Sportsmobile using a Dynatrac set-up. I haven't really found any technical details on this. A recent email from Sportsmobile said they're "9-12 months out". I expect the result to be similar in principle to the Salem Kroger conversion, but probably with somewhat higher-end components. From the sound of their email, they a trying to get better integration with ESP. It also sounds like they will be higher cost.

Finally, there's a post on the sprinter-source forum (http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2834) of someone who claims to have gotten a quote for 2009 Dodge sprinter that includes "Four-wheel drive - Selectable 4x4 drive system with additional low ratio feature. $12,400". No idea what to make of that.

In the end timing, trust in 4ETS, and trust in sportsvans look like some of the big question marks. On a slow trail, predictable diff locks seem to win out over 4ETS. On the repair side, even if Salem Kroger went under tomorrow I have a guarantee for plenty of parts and expertise availability. Dunno what things would be like if sportsvans pulls out of the US again in a year or two; would I have to order spares from SA or Germany and find a soul who's capable of doing the work? Even if they're doing well, how fast do I get parts to California and who has any experience working on the components?

All in all the situation is still too confused for me to shell out $90k right now (and I'm too busy with some other things too). It seems like there's light at the end of the tunnel, but it's not 100% clear how long the tunnel still is...

Thoughts, corrections, additions?
- Thorsten
__________________

tve is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-23-2008, 01:56 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
Greg In Austin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Austin, Texas
Posts: 1,545
Send a message via AIM to Greg In Austin Send a message via Yahoo to Greg In Austin
I had a conversation about Sprinter and 4x4 with SMB TX a couple of weeks ago.

They said that for the Sprinter, it might be better to call it AWD instead of 4WD. 4WD has a conotation of offroad and high ground clearance, and that is not the case for the Sprinter.

With the lower floor of the Sprinter the ground clearance needed for some of those jeep roads or forest service roads there could be a problem.

It would be interesting to see if anyone can come up with a setup that gets some ground clearance along with the 4x4.
__________________

__________________
Greg in Austin
2008 Ford 6.0PSD EB/E-PH SMB 4X4 Aluminess f/r bumpers (13.5mpg avg, 15mpg hwy) 52k miles [Texas McBeast]
2006 Toyota Prius (48 to 68 mpg) 120k miles [Penelope]
2013 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon (15 to 18 mpg) [Johnnie]
2012 Mitsubishi MiEV (no gas required) ($.50/day in electricity) [Evie]
http://badge.facebook.com/badge/1232...3.32047100.png
Greg In Austin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-23-2008, 08:08 PM   #3
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Arlington, VA
Posts: 25
I think your assessment of the current options is right on target. I have also been closely following the progress of Sprinter 4x4 options.

If you need it now Salem Kroger is your only option. Their setup may not be as sophisticated as the pending SportsVans solution, but they also have many years of experience and use proven readily available components.

I also agree that it appears that a Sprinter 4x4 will not be as off-road capable as many of the Ford E350's currently in use. Ground clearance, locking differentials and tire size options will be more limited.

My off-road needs are similar to yours and my expectation is any of the three possible options would work. Right now I am going to continue to wait and see what SportsVans delivers.
WanderDog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2008, 02:42 AM   #4
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: RSA / South Carolina
Posts: 37
Send a message via MSN to herby
Sprinter 4wd

hi guys,
havent been here for a long time. was busy!
but we see the light at the end of the tunnel.
i think all three of you are right with your concerns about the different sprinter systems and converters!

http://www.us.sportsvans.co.za/news.html

we are a bit late but we can show some slow progress.
the new sprinter 4wd is not ready jet but comming soon.
regards

herby
__________________
never fear if frank is near
if you find writing mistakes!!!
you can keep them
herby is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2008, 08:31 AM   #5
tve
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Posts: 3
Frank, that's very cool! But it's a T1N? Can you explain? Also, not so long ago you had a message on your web site about NAFTA regulations making the 4x4 conversion impossible? You're full of mysteries...
Cheers,
Thorsten
tve is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-24-2008, 10:51 AM   #6
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: RSA / South Carolina
Posts: 37
Send a message via MSN to herby
sprinter ncv3

hi thorsten
we are working on it but it was a little bit more difficult than what it looks in the beginning.
first the T1N and in about 3 month the ncv3 should be possible for testing.
we can build the ncv3 4wd now but without the safety features and that we wont do!
we are getting there.
regards

frank
__________________

__________________
never fear if frank is near
if you find writing mistakes!!!
you can keep them
herby is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3
Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Sportsmobile SIP or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:31 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.