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Old 03-09-2019, 12:41 PM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2019
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GU: my '17 Express Passenger 3500 extended w 6.0L

Hey, folks.

First off, despite the fact that I don't have an actual Sportsmobile, I wanted to say thanks to all of the folks on the forum. A learned a lot here in the 6-8 months I did research before actually choosing a van.

Ok, now, the actual van...as it says in the subject...'17 Express Passenger 3500 extended with the 6.0L gasser. That's probably a rather unusual combination for an adventure van and, tbh, that's why I'm planning on posting details here; the next person who goes this route will hopefully have a little bit easier time.

First, let me explain why I ended up where I did despite the popularity (and availability!) of, say an E-350 7.3L. My requirements were:

  1. Needed to have a power train capable of towing a 6500lb travel trailer without stressing the platform. This disqualified the Transit and Sprinter early on.
  2. Needed to have enough size that I could have both first row passenger seats and room for a motorcycle "garage" in the back.
  3. A preference against diesel so I can avoid having to know/find/become a diesel mechanic.

I was already familiar with this platform due to having built an Express 1500 w/ 5.3L gasser.

Cons for the platform:

  1. Virtually zero availability for high rear doors which would make access to the moto garage easier.
  2. Not a lot of after-market availability for bubble tops for standing in the moto garage (Fiberne may be applicable here).
  3. Very limited after-market availability of adventure kit relative to, say, the E-series, Sprinter, and even the Transit.
  4. That OEM open diff...oh, man, that OEM open diff. They aren't lying when they say you'll get stuck in wet grass.

Ok, mods so far:

Just one but its an important one: just had West Coast Differentials in Rancho Cordova, CA install an Eaton TruTrac and it has made a world of difference. Pre-install I was getting stuck on wet pine needles and a minimal amount of dirt/mud when trying to even exit the lane. Even with crap OEM tires its now a non-issue once the rear is locked.

The diff situation on the 3500 is, as many of you already know, chaotic. There are a number of rear-ends which appear to have been used in the 3500 and even if you have what appears to be a GM 14-bolt 9.5" its possible that the internals are not what they appear and, at least according to everyone I've asked, that would mean complete lack of after-market support for a replacement diff. I was careful when I purchased mine and verified it was a GM 14bolt before the purchase (picture attached to help others validate that's what they have installed). There's also a GM OEM "locker" option (G80) for this vehicle but its a a clutch-based LSD. I went with the Eaton helical LSD on the idea of better performance + less maintenance required.

That's it for now..I'm removing rear seats, carpet, etc this weekend as a start for the moto garage.

More coming soon...
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Old 03-09-2019, 05:21 PM   #2
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Congrats and happy to see another Express with some activity here. Excited to follow your progress.
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Old 03-10-2019, 07:57 AM   #3
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Posts: 8,160
Nice!

I love the Chevy 6.0l. I had one in a truck. I've been told they will go about a half million miles with basically one part needing to be replaced, an oil pump around 300k or so. This comes from a guy who had several in his delivery fleet.

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Old 03-17-2019, 08:33 AM   #4
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Congrats. Looking forward to watching what you do. I have the G80 axle on my van.
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