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Old 08-23-2011, 06:38 PM   #1
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Newbie researching first SMB purchase

Hello,

My wife and I our preparing to buy our first SMB. We are looking at lightly used 2006 and newer SMBs with the 6.0 PS diesel. As we are not buy new and therefore can not spec the van *exactly* as we like, we need to find a sweet spot of equipment that we really need and what you can upgrade to later, if desired.

One on the SMB's we am looking for is has most of what we are looking for, but the 4x4 system and suspension are base -- none of the upgrades have been selected. How important are the various options:

Front and/or Rear Performance Differentials, ARB.
Rear Sway Bar & suspension Up-grades, Improve handling and side wind stability
Full Floating rear end

To be honest, I am not sure just how "extreme" our off roading will be, but we are planning a very long adventure -- at least a full year on the road, and plan to travel though N. America and S. America.

Sorry for the newbie questions.

Appreciate your input.

DJM
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Old 08-23-2011, 07:58 PM   #2
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Re: Newbie researching first SMB purchase

A 4x4 with open diffs is really still just 2wd. But if it has at least Ford limited slip, then it should do okay.

The full floater is a must if the rear axle weight more than 6350 pounds loaded, or you put on much wider tires, or use wheel spacers. If stock Ford wheels are retained, and the van isn't overweight, then it is not as important, but I would still want them.

The extended vans certainly benefit from a rear sway bar. And a heavier front bar depending on weight. Both can be DIY projects.
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Old 08-23-2011, 09:37 PM   #3
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Re: Newbie researching first SMB purchase

We're asking similar qxns for our upcoming SMB. You might look at this post:http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/vie...rs+ARB&start=0. Jage & Geoff do an excellent job of 'splainin everything.
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Old 08-24-2011, 01:48 PM   #4
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Re: Newbie researching first SMB purchase

Great link.

Appreciate the assistance.

DJM
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Old 08-27-2011, 06:34 AM   #5
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Re: Newbie researching first SMB purchase

Lockers in the back can be helpful. Lockers both front and back just give you bragging rights. Avoid the aluminum bumpers and 6.0 diesel. You can't get replacement parts on ultra custom (cool) parts in South Am. The 6.0 has been a pain for most because of maint, repairs, & down time. If you must have a diesel get an older van with the 7.4L. It is the most reliable. A gas 5.4L is adequate for almost every situation (we tow a 29' Airstream). V10 has more power but may not have support in South & Central Am. A Warn winch and Warn winch cradle will be a good investment. Winch will get you out of many unforseen situations and can be used for other things. The cradle & hardware will give you some purchase with a hi-lift. A tow package will give you a hitch receiver that can be used for a jack as well. If you are doing some aggressive crawling or are over 9000# go with steel wheels. Carry two spares - one in the original mount and the other on either a front or rear mount. Use BFGs - you can get them almost anywhere. If you take a "jeeper" trailer fit it with hubs that have the same lug pattern as the van hubs and you will have two more spares. Take lots of tools, shop manuals, at least two jacks, a "plow" for sand, a tree saver strap and a good chain. Keep all your dirty stuff in the trailer. Carry a filter system for water and mount a flat plate heat exchanger under the rear seat if you want a hot shower. Make sure both batteries are new before you head south. 100W solar panel on top will help if you are parked for more than 3 days (need >12v for furnace). Take several months to cruise through the SMB forums. Lots of good tips from the users.
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Old 08-27-2011, 08:32 AM   #6
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Re: Newbie researching first SMB purchase

Some of the 5.4 parts interchange with the V10, I would be more worried about, are you driving at altitude a lot, in that case the diesel has a clear advantage. For every other situation, I would pick the V10. V10 also simpler and easier to repair.

On diffs, I wouldn't sweat it too much. I would just get the regular rear LSD, they are pretty reliable. I think you just need to focus on simplicity. The more complex systems you have, the more likely they are to fail. Solar is a good idea, as is a winch.

I would concentrate most on:
Engine
4wd system and fully floating rear end
Interior layout
Which top does it have

Everything else after that is easier to change. I wouldn't overthink the suspension either.


Sierra, why do you say avoid aluminum bumpers?
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Old 08-27-2011, 10:38 PM   #7
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Re: Newbie researching first SMB purchase

Quote:
Originally Posted by djm68
Hello,

My wife and I our preparing to buy our first SMB. We are looking at lightly used 2006 and newer SMBs with the 6.0 PS diesel. As we are not buy new and therefore can not spec the van *exactly* as we like, we need to find a sweet spot of equipment that we really need and what you can upgrade to later, if desired.

One on the SMB's we am looking for is has most of what we are looking for, but the 4x4 system and suspension are base -- none of the upgrades have been selected. How important are the various options:

Front and/or Rear Performance Differentials, ARB.
Rear Sway Bar & suspension Up-grades, Improve handling and side wind stability
Full Floating rear end

To be honest, I am not sure just how "extreme" our off roading will be, but we are planning a very long adventure -- at least a full year on the road, and plan to travel though N. America and S. America.

Sorry for the newbie questions.

Appreciate your input.

DJM
I think your main issue is off road travel outside the US. You should research what is available in a breakdown depending where you want to travel. Anything that can break on the van must be able to be welded or repaired and you might have to carry a larger variety of parts/tools that most would never carry in the US.
The 6.0 might be a problem finding parts outside the US. If a diesel is your choice because that fuel is easier to find down there, I would consider the 7.3 PSD. If you do go with the 6.0, the later models have a much better record when it comes to engine problems. When looking at the 4x4 conversion, you'll have to look at a heavy duty system that has specific parts compared to lesser duty Ford parts that might be more easy to find down south. For instance, having a twin stick atlas II transfer case could have huge advantanges in a breakdown but if it fails where will you find the parts? Same with lockers. Personally I've found the front locker more useful on a heavy van as compared to a light jeep where rear traction is the main drive. The front locker on my van pulls me up and over when both rear tires are spinning. But down there, I'd want both (or rear LSD at minimum), with the front at least being a selectable type and I'd definately would want the full float rear axle. SMB's conversions front axle and parts are heavier duty but you get back to the problem with availability of parts again.

Other things to consider:
At least 400Ah of house battery and a good electrical separator such as the Blue Sea ACR.
Winch, Pul-Pal and good recovery equipment including a high lift jack.
High Amp alternator.
Solar, generator, or maybe one of those new fuel cells.
On board air system and maybe a backup air tank.

I'm sure there is more but maybe you've already sorted that out.
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Old 08-28-2011, 08:00 AM   #8
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Re: Newbie researching first SMB purchase

Finding parts for a 6.0L in S. America shouldn't be a problem, given that it's manufactured by Navistar International in Brazil. The Ford-specific parts I can't address.


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Old 08-28-2011, 08:25 AM   #9
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Re: Newbie researching first SMB purchase

I don't think either motor would have problems with parts availability down there. Both are very common motors even in south america.

As for needing parts..... There are way more things on the diesel that can fail which can leave you stranded, compared to the V10. With the V10, it' pretty much limited to the fuel pump, which can be addressed by installing a 2nd tank, so you have a built-it spare. It's seems like more often than than not, when a component on the diesel fails, your only option is a tow-truck.
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Old 08-28-2011, 10:18 AM   #10
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Newbie researching first SMB purchase

Does the 6.0 need USLD and is that available in Central and S. America?

I would keep it simple and functional, parts left out cost nothing and dont break down. Also, keep the bling down to a minimum, you don't want to come across like another rich Gringo even if you are one. Lower middle class in N. America is wealthy beyond measure in mist if the rest of the world.
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