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Old 02-04-2017, 06:26 PM   #1
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Hi all,

I'm travelling this week and have a good amount of time to kill. So, I thought I'd list some of the mods I was planning on making to get some opinions. Not really a build thread, more like a collection of my thoughts .

The small things I've done so far/have ready to go. Let me know if anyone would like any particular links:

1. Installed head unit and new front door speakers
2. Installed LED lights throughout (sourced a bunch from wal-mart for cheap - all work great so far)
3. Installed a shark bite style T-connection near the waterpump in the rear and attached a shower head. (Thanks for the help with this! - Camco has a great one with an on off switch that doesn't leak at all - $16 on Amazon)
4. Ordered a knockoff Bazooka sub/amp combo (8 inch Rockville). Installing in the space behind the driver seat and cabinet. This was the biggest one I could fit in that area. Very cheap, so I'm not sure how good it will be, but figured it was worth a shot. Will update once I get back from travel and install.
5. Have my solar setup all mapped out (thanks Boywonder). 2 100W Renogy panels with a Morningstar PWM remote and all the goodies. Started a thread on this and will update once installed.

Things I'd LIKE to do, but need some opinions:
1. Remove the running boards and replace with a couple of bully aluminum side steps. Does anyone know which model fits the best on a 2003 E250 - having a hard time finding any info online. Also, please let me know if anyone is interested in the running boards. They are in pretty good shape, small dents here and there, but overall nice.
2.Install external propane tank. There's no stove in the camper, and I don't ever intend on cooking inside. I'd really just like an external tank, maybe 3 gallons or so. I've read quite a few threads and obviously know the dangers of carrying even small tanks in the cab, so this is pretty high on my list. I saw a couple of reco's for the gowesty tank on a thread or two. Is this something I could bolt on myself? What else would be needed...once again, just looking for a tank that I can hook up a stove to outside of the vehicle. EDIT - this thread (http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...d-16545-3.html) has been helpful, but seems like this might be a job for a pro - any suggestions on SD area installer?

Finally, the big one, and the one that I'm struggling with the most:

SUSPENSION!

So here's the deal, as I've mentioned before, I'm an accountant (aka cheap) so every decision I make is very measured in regard to cost vs benefit. I've been reading through threads like crazy to try and determine what, if any, improvements I should make to the suspension. In summary, what I'd like is a van that can handle an average (or slightly below average) fire road. I'm thinking the worst terrain I'll encounter in the next year is some unmaintained roads in Baja.

I'd obviously love to do a 4wd conversion, but that's not currently in my budget. So the next option is a lift with locking rear diff. I've researched the lifts quite a bit and it seems Weldtech is at the top of the list. But, all in, that costs nearly $5k. Add a locking rear diff and we're getting up there (and I want to be careful to not overinvest in the van right off the bat). On top of that, I guess I'm not really sure how "worth it" a lift is. The aesthetics of a lift don't matter to me at all - the only thing I'm concerned with is capability. Guess I'm just looking for general opinions on the matter.

So to summarize, given what I'd like to use the vehicle for, and keeping costs in mind, what would you do:
1. Bigger tires with new wheels? Currently running 225/75/16 and from what I've read it seems like I could probably fit 245/75/16 without causing any issue. Anybody running that size stock?
2. Add a winch? This would be helpful, but requires a new bumper, which would impact suspension. Doesn't seem like a smart move for me at this point.
3. Still get a locking rear diff without a lift?

Sorry if that was a bit of a ramble, but as always, everyone's input is highly appreciated!
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Old 02-04-2017, 06:44 PM   #2
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My 98 E250 EB is stock 2WD and I've had it down some challenging fire roads and the like. I'm running the 225-16 tires, but the 245s were also an OEM stock size so can be added with no modifications (as far as I know). The Ford vans have a pretty good amount of ground clearance even stock, so unless you are planning to do some very challenging fire roads I bet you'll be fine. Do you have a LSD rear already? You don't say. That plus some good AT tires will get you in and out of plenty of places IMO. Add a rear locker if you want to step it up a notch, but beware that they have their downsides (plenty of threads on the forum).

I love the 4WD vans and how they look, where they can take you, etc., but for me I'm happy with where my 2WD can take me. 90% of our travel is on road/highway, so the cost and upkeep of a 2 WD just isn't worth it for me. The best upgrade I did was to retrofit a 2012 front suspension/brake setup. Greatly improves braking and the suspension has improvements too. Check with 4x4 converters for take-off parts at a reasonable price (I got mine from Quigley).
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Old 02-04-2017, 06:47 PM   #3
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Thanks BrianW. Yeah, should have mentioned that the van does have LSD. You summarized exactly how I feel...good to know that the 2wd is pretty capable as is.
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Old 02-04-2017, 06:53 PM   #4
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The best upgrade I did was to retrofit a 2012 front suspension/brake setup. Greatly improves braking and the suspension has improvements too. Check with 4x4 converters for take-off parts at a reasonable price (I got mine from Quigley).
Great advice...I'll definitely be looking into that.
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Old 02-04-2017, 10:18 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Roccon99 View Post
Hi all,

SUSPENSION!

...Every decision I make is very measured in regard to cost vs benefit. I've been reading through threads like crazy to try and determine what, if any, improvements I should make to the suspension. In summary, what I'd like is a van that can handle an average (or slightly below average) fire road. I'm thinking the worst terrain I'll encounter in the next year is some unmaintained roads in Baja.
I always get the most satisfaction for my buck when I upgrade the suspension on my dirt bikes and my trucks. Best money spent, every time. So....

Today I dropped off my SMB at WeldTech to get their "Complete Performance Package". This gets me 6" of lift and way more travel front and back. I'm running new BFG 265-16 tires, these were fine with the stock set-up with only a little rub on the front stock bumper once in a while during some turns, very tolerable. My motivation in getting WeldTech's 'package' is not for a lift but to give me more travel in the suspension, the lifted look is bonus. I don't like bottoming out on street feature in town, nor do I like taking a 50 mph truck trail at 10 mph because I have bad shocks and no travel.

I looked into 4x4 conversion at Agile, I really wanted it, but way too much. The cost/benefit is not there for me, I wouldn't flip on the 4x4 enough to justify. However, with WeldTech's 'package', I start using it from the moment I drive away from their garage: speed bumps, pot holes, rough drive way transitions, dirt roads. The upgrade is working for me every moment I drive my van.
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Old 02-04-2017, 10:19 PM   #6
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start with the details of your van in current config and lets dig in from there...
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Old 02-04-2017, 10:32 PM   #7
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..........
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Old 02-04-2017, 10:40 PM   #8
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seems like you should already have 245/75-16 on there...
with the BFG A/T 265/76-16 & stock LSD I have, with good driving skills I haven't been stuck yet, from sandy beaches to mud in the mnts...
RWD (with LSD or locker) is fine for most of the places most of the time BUT I do want to back out west one day and get in to some very remote places and that will require having a real 4X4 system.

If you plan on putting some weight in your van and adding larger diameter tires, I would suggest regearing and getting a tune for the 5.4
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Old 02-04-2017, 11:13 PM   #9
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However, with WeldTech's 'package', I start using it from the moment I drive away from their garage: speed bumps, pot holes, rough drive way transitions, dirt roads. The upgrade is working for me every moment I drive my van.
Thanks for the input Youngster. I'll be interested to hear how you like it, though I'm sure it will be awesome. I spoke with Jeremy the other day and he invited me down to drive an upgraded van for comparison. Sounds like it's a pretty impressive change. And I do totally agree, the additional suspension travel and overall drive quality is a big plus. But, I imagine there are some drawbacks as well, like a higher center of gravity and obviously reduced economy (but that comes with any lift/tire increase).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bbasso View Post
start with the details of your van in current config and lets dig in from there...
Sorry, some background info would definitely be helpful. So it's a 2003 E250 RB SMB 2WD custom floorplan. 75,000 miles. Has the rear LSD. I can't recall the exact weight (written in the manual), but I think it's around 7800. Current wheels are the stock steelies/hubcaps. I'd like to replace those with some very basic black off road wheels. Current tires are 225/75/16 Michelin LTX M/S, 2012 date code, so I'd like to replace soon (not the recalled ones). Stock suspension.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bbasso View Post
seems like you should already have 245/75-16 on there...
with the BFG A/T 265/76-16 & stock LSD I have, with good driving skills I haven't been stuck yet, from sandy beaches to mud in the mnts...
RWD (with LSD or locker) is fine for most of the places most of the time BUT I do want to back out west one day and get in to some very remote places and that will require having a real 4X4 system.

If you plan on putting some weight in your van and adding larger diameter tires, I would suggest regearing and getting a tune for the 5.4
I have heard of people fitting the 265's...wasn't sure how tight that would be. As far as regearing, would you do that based on any change in tire size, or is there a threshold (like going from 225 to 265). Also, I've never had a car regeared...what can you expect to pay for something like that?

Finally, is there any compromise between the two? Could I add better tires, maybe replace the front end as BrianW suggested, or upgrade the suspension components themselves to improve the ride? I haven't been on any rough roads yet, but it does bang around quite a bit during overpass transitions, etc.
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Old 02-04-2017, 11:28 PM   #10
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also, I'm pretty sure it's 3.73, but I'm not positive as it's written on the original window sticker which is with the van.
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