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Old 08-06-2019, 01:01 PM   #1
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Which weldtec options?

Hello, we're completing a 20,000+ mi trip through South America this month.

We've decided to keep (long term) our 1999 E350 EB self build with a Fiberine 30" Camper top, but we want to improve the rather dismal handling that the stock suspension has provided over the last 8 months. In my research I think I've determined that a weldtec upgrade is most likely the best option, as we have no plans to convert the van to 4x4.

Fully loaded the van is pushing the gvwr for the E350 with over 9,000lbs.

I am not looking for additional height, so I am aiming at the shorter kit (Ocotillo cruiser). I also need to improve the rear suspension ride, as the washboards of the Carretera Austral and Ruta 40 made it apparent that the standard leaf pack is quite rigid.

My question to this group is which options are 'worth the money'.

Should I go with the full custom leaf pack, or is the full length helper spring sufficient?

Do the fox shocks truly make a significant improvement in ride?

Is the steering stabilizer necessary in this configuration?

Once installed can the Ocotillo cruiser lift accept 17" wheels (I'm looking to upgrade the brake system to the larger rotors in the future - we quickly learned how 'fun' the stock brakes are with a fully loaded van going down the Andes passes)

Finally, is weldtec the right product, or is there another company I should be looking at?

Thanks and I appreciate any feedback.

-jeff

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Old 08-06-2019, 01:29 PM   #2
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Sounds like an epic trip, I'm envious!


So you put it through it's paces, uncovered some things you'd fix if you keep it, decided to keep it, and now plan to spend some dough on upgrades after you complete this trip.


I've found myself standing in that same crossroads more than once.



It it were me, I'd start by asking myself "what do I wish for my next adventure?"


If it's more of the same, and 4x4 isn't in your pan, but E450 brakes and 17" wheels and are, it sounds like you're on the right track.



My guess is your shocks are tired, everyone I've talked to says South American roads beat the crap out of suspension parts, so you might be looking at ball joints and tie rods at the same time. I'd reserve room in the budget for those items. I like steering dampers, and as good a shock set as I can afford. If the rear sags, and you don't want to 'spring' for new lef springs, a long helper and an airbag setup might be the more direct route, as custom rear leafs are 'hit and miss' with choosing the right set up.


I'm sure others that have used WeldTec have advice. Good luck on the remainder of your journey, both hands on the wheel and keep the shiny side up, rubber side down!
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Old 08-06-2019, 01:44 PM   #3
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Looking at your van, it's pretty clear you're sitting on the rear overload leafs, which is where the terrible ride comes from.

My suggestion is a combination of adding a leaf, and then replacing the bump stop with Sumo Springs. Basically, the Sumos will function as overload springs, and keep the actual overloads from engaging. Sumo springs are urethane-foam springs, so they have self-damping properties, unlike airbags.

IMO - the main leafs on the vans aren't bad, and if you keep them off the overloads, you'll get most of the benefit of a custom spring pack, at a fraction of the cost.

FWIW - I added 2 extra leafs, long travel airbags, and Sumos. It rides ok empty, rides great with a moderate load, rides like a Cadillac with a heavy load.


As for your brakes, the best upgrade you can do is a 2008+ front axle swap. Most folks buy them as new take-offs from the 4x4 converters. Besides the much better brakes, you can all new ball joints, and a better sway bar and radius arm joints. Stock 16" wheels fit those larger brakes, but most aftermarket wheels won't fit without upsizing to 17"
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Old 08-06-2019, 01:47 PM   #4
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I had the Weldtec 4" performance package installed on my '03 E350 EB 7.3. I upgraded with the extended radius arms and steering stabilizer. I can't compare to other Weldtec options. My mechanic who did the install said the stabilizer helps (he test drove with and without the stabilizer). I went with 265/75R16 BFG KO2's. I've heard you can go up to 17" wheels, but I had already spent enough and didn't want to buy a new set of wheels. I'm very happy with the outcome--it rides way better than stock in all conditions.
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Old 08-06-2019, 02:21 PM   #5
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I would go for Fox shocks, full custom rear leaf pack and the stabilizer. I have the fox shocks on 2 vans and they are wonderful. The custom leaf pack is what a van truly needs because they make you weigh it first, then build the springs based on that. A van weighs 6k pounds empty and 11k loaded. Its really hard to build a spring that rides right given the huge range of weight.

If you are keeping the van long term, make it ride right.
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Old 08-06-2019, 02:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grampswrx View Post
I would go for Fox shocks, full custom rear leaf pack and the stabilizer. I have the fox shocks on 2 vans and they are wonderful. The custom leaf pack is what a van truly needs because they make you weigh it first, then build the springs based on that. A van weighs 6k pounds empty and 11k loaded. Its really hard to build a spring that rides right given the huge range of weight.

If you are keeping the van long term, make it ride right.

This would be my recommendation as well. I've had custom Fox shocks put on two vans now and they really do make an appreciable difference. Since you're going to be out and pounding on it with a consistent load (a bit of an assumption here) then a custom leaf pack makes some sense. Especially if you're whole pack is likely fatigued and needing replacement anyway.
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Old 08-07-2019, 07:26 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by jjbusch View Post

Thanks and I appreciate any feedback.

-jeff
This post might help you.

http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...ght-23948.html
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Old 08-07-2019, 12:41 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the replies.

As we have determined that this van meets our needs for extended travel (both space and capabilities) and we have plans to set out on another longer journey in the next few years, we are willing to invest a bit of cash to do it right. Everything I've been able to find and read about the Weldtec lifts has been positive, which I don't think has been the case for other providers.

So, based on the comments here and other threads I have been able to find, I am about to pull the trigger.

Having said that, weldtec came back today and informed me that with everything I am doing, my pricing is the same as their 6" lift, so they are asking if I'd like to go that route.

Does anyone have a strong opinion about 4" vs 6" lift? I've honestly never researched lifting a vehicle before, so I am not well versed on why people choose one height over another - any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanks!
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Old 08-07-2019, 02:16 PM   #9
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6" lift gives more up-travel which can smooth out bumpy roads more. 6" also allows you to run bigger tires, which you don't sound very interested in, but lots of people like. It will also make you taller, which you may not like.

Assess your needs: will you truly benefit from the additional 2-4" of up travel? Are you bombing down bumpy roads (like I do in baja)? If not, stick with 4".
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Old 08-07-2019, 03:56 PM   #10
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I was faced with the same Weldtec option: 4" v. 6". I've heard great things about the 6" kit. But I only wanted/needed 4". If I went with the 6" I likely would have been sucked into the scope creep trap and spent more $ on wheels and larger tires, neither which I needed. I also have a lifted 6" 4x4 van and don't regret sticking with the 4" kit for this van. As a daily driver it is more comfortable than my 6" van. Most of my driving is getting to a destination and this van won't be doing any rock crawling. This gives me adequate extra clearance with a better than stock ride. I suspect you won't regret doing either kit when done.
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