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Old 03-27-2016, 12:11 AM   #1
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Hi, I'm Here To Learn

Hey everyone- I'm Jim, and just recently started looking into the realm of 4x4 vans and thought this might be a good place to get some tech info on what works and what doesn't.

I settled in CA in late 2014 after traveling for a year and a half in a toy hauler thanks to my old company getting bought by a bigger one and everyone getting the boot.

While I was aware that a such thing as a 4x4 van existed since I was a kid, they were exceedingly rare in NE Ohio. But until recently, other than cool factor, I never really had a real use for such a vehicle.

My plan is to sell my toy hauler in favor of something that is easier to use for weekend trips to the motorcycle track and elsewhere, but I'd still like something that will carry a motorcycle as well as offer some space to sleep in and carry equipment. But I'd also like to go a step further and have an off-road capable vehicle since there are many opportunities to use such a thing, so I'm really trying to cram a lot of uses into one vehicle. Hence, the 4x4 van.

So I'm hoping to get some help more on the chassis end since I'm likely to build the interior for my needs, but can definitely use some guidance on all fronts.
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Old 03-27-2016, 09:10 AM   #2
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Welcome aboard! Lots of us in So Cal. Almost every topic you can think of has been discussed in this forum. The only dumb question you can ask is Diesel Vs. Gas (answer is diesel of course:-)
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Old 03-27-2016, 01:48 PM   #3
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Welcome aboard! Lots of us in So Cal. Almost every topic you can think of has been discussed in this forum. The only dumb question you can ask is Diesel Vs. Gas (answer is diesel of course:-)
Yes and the 7.3 is the Diesel to get
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Old 03-27-2016, 11:46 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forum! There is so much info here that it will make your head explode!

I remember someone here did a homebuild with tie-down rails on the van floor, and had beds that would fold down from the walls when the dirt bikes were out of the van. It was pretty minimalistic but very efficient for his needs. IIRC, there was enough room in front of the bike area to have a fridge, etc.

I tried doing several searches of the forum, but had no luck. Anybody else remember that build?
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Old 03-28-2016, 12:04 AM   #5
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Thanks for the nice welcome. Nice to see people actually watch this section, most forums I'm on overlook the intro.

You do raise one question when the 7.3 was mentioned; how come so many of the 4x4 vans on the market are Ford? For a few reasons I'm gravitating toward a Duramax GM van, but it appears GM made about 2 of them. I'm sure I can sway myself if it's more practical (and less expensive). But why are there so few GM 4x4's?

For the record, I have an F350 with a 7.3 Powerstroke and it has served me well despite being a little low on power at times (towing) but overall has been very reliable. But my interest in the GM chassis is due to the longer wheelbase on the extended vans. Better for towing which I'd like to do occasionally and departure angle. I personally think they look better too, but that's just me.

Of course I have yet to learn what you can actually tow with any 4x4 van, but that's why I'm here...to learn.
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Old 03-28-2016, 12:33 AM   #6
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Thanks for the nice welcome. Nice to see people actually watch this section, most forums I'm on overlook the intro.

You do raise one question when the 7.3 was mentioned; how come so many of the 4x4 vans on the market are Ford? For a few reasons I'm gravitating toward a Duramax GM van, but it appears GM made about 2 of them. I'm sure I can sway myself if it's more practical (and less expensive). But why are there so few GM 4x4's?

For the record, I have an F350 with a 7.3 Powerstroke and it has served me well despite being a little low on power at times (towing) but overall has been very reliable. But my interest in the GM chassis is due to the longer wheelbase on the extended vans. Better for towing which I'd like to do occasionally and departure angle. I personally think they look better too, but that's just me.

Of course I have yet to learn what you can actually tow with any 4x4 van, but that's why I'm here...to learn.
Sportsmobile did primarily Ford E-series conversions over the years, that's why you see so many of them here. Early on, many came from 4x4 conversions by Quigley and others. SMB also did Dodge and GM vans at various times, but by far Ford conversions dominated their business.

Ford used the same wheelbase for both the regular body (RB) and the extended body (EB) vans. While the EB vans have small departure angles compared to the RB's, they have the advantage of better avoiding a high-center stranding than the long-wheelbase GMs. Though on vehicles of this size, that advantage is pretty negligible compared to say, a Jeep Wrangler.
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Old 03-28-2016, 06:11 AM   #7
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I tried doing several searches of the forum, but had no luck. Anybody else remember that build?
was it this one?
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Old 03-28-2016, 07:47 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by wantahertzdonut View Post
how come so many of the 4x4 vans on the market are Ford? For a few reasons I'm gravitating toward a Duramax GM van, but it appears GM made about 2 of them. I'm sure I can sway myself if it's more practical (and less expensive). But why are there so few GM 4x4's?

For the record, I have an F350 with a 7.3 Powerstroke and it has served me well despite being a little low on power at times (towing) but overall has been very reliable. But my interest in the GM chassis is due to the longer wheelbase on the extended vans. Better for towing which I'd like to do occasionally and departure angle. I personally think they look better too, but that's just me.

Of course I have yet to learn what you can actually tow with any 4x4 van, but that's why I'm here...to learn.
Welcome! It's not just 4x4 vans that are mostly Fords, Fords just seemed to get most of the aftermarket support over the years. Most cutaways (ambulances, RVs and specialty vehicles) are Fords too. Quigley, by far the largest 4x4 conversion company, does a lot of GMs these days though.

Sure you can tow with a 4x4 van, just as much as you would with any van, assuming you're within it's practical limits. The e350 (one ton chassis) that a majority of SMBs are will tow just about anything you put behind it, especially if it's a diesel, but the V10s and older 460s tow great too.

Nothing wrong with a LWB GM van, can't wait to see what you come up with.

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Old 03-28-2016, 08:43 AM   #9
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was it this one?
That's the one! I forgot it had a pop-top.
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Old 03-28-2016, 11:32 PM   #10
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Sportsmobile did primarily Ford E-series conversions over the years, that's why you see so many of them here. Early on, many came from 4x4 conversions by Quigley and others. SMB also did Dodge and GM vans at various times, but by far Ford conversions dominated their business.

Ford used the same wheelbase for both the regular body (RB) and the extended body (EB) vans. While the EB vans have small departure angles compared to the RB's, they have the advantage of better avoiding a high-center stranding than the long-wheelbase GMs. Though on vehicles of this size, that advantage is pretty negligible compared to say, a Jeep Wrangler.
Gotcha. I wasn't sure if the conversion was easier due to equipment compatibility. Interesting that I see Quigley's and Sportsmobiles as Fords, but I saw a lot of GM vans that I think Advanced 4wd Systems built. Most were hotel shuttles in western ski areas. There was a Dodge 4x4 near my high school sunk to its axles back in the mid 90's. Haven't seen one since.

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was it this one?
That's pretty close to what I have in mind. Fold down beds, just essential food storage and prep equipment, and room for a bike or two. Don't want a pop top, but would like a slightly raised roof. Tall doors would be nice too but would that compromise the structural integrity? I should probably draw plans and put it in the Ground Up Build section.

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Originally Posted by 86Scotty View Post
Welcome! It's not just 4x4 vans that are mostly Fords, Fords just seemed to get most of the aftermarket support over the years. Most cutaways (ambulances, RVs and specialty vehicles) are Fords too. Quigley, by far the largest 4x4 conversion company, does a lot of GMs these days though.

Sure you can tow with a 4x4 van, just as much as you would with any van, assuming you're within it's practical limits. The e350 (one ton chassis) that a majority of SMBs are will tow just about anything you put behind it, especially if it's a diesel, but the V10s and older 460s tow great too.

Nothing wrong with a LWB GM van, can't wait to see what you come up with.

I noticed that too. Ford seemed to be the most outfit-able chassis.

The most I'd be towing would be a 20-25' rv. Something two people could spread out in but not so big that it's obnoxious.
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