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Old 08-11-2009, 02:42 AM   #1
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How many REALLY use the full capability of the SMB 4x4?

Ok peeps - this thread may seem a bit out there. The question is:
For the money, how many SMB owners with SMB 4x4 system use it to it's fullest capability?
what kinds of warrantary, repair and maintenance problems have you had?
Good service?
Easy to find shops to perform maintenance that is correct, and troubleshooting and repair that is quick/honest?

I ask because the sytem is so hard core off road I wonder if users will have insight into maybe a not so balls out rock crushing 4x4 system if you were to buy again today based on how your van is used.
That's what i'm after - real world usage and honesty on what would you do today.

i love the SMB system, and money i can afford. But i want to always make the correct choices. I'm thinking Quadvan and/or Salem/Kroeger can do the 4x4 upfit with all Ford parts. There stock lift is 4 inches. I still think i can go almost anywhere an SMB setup can go. But I need more input form those in the know!

Thx
Warholic
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Old 08-11-2009, 12:25 PM   #2
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Re: How many REALLY use the full capability of the SMB 4x4?

I very much enjoy driving over things, so for me a beefy 4x4 conversion is a must-have.

But I'm suspecting one trade-off might be the ride. My Sportsmobile 4x4, with its heavy unsprung axles and stiff springs, can be a brutal ride. Airing down helps, but I can't do that on the highway. If I didn't care so much about going offroad, I'd research more carefully the differences in ride quality among: a Sportsmobile 4x4 conversion, stock 2WD, and other 4x4 conversion companies. If you just need to cross some soft sand once in a while to get to your favorite beach campsites, any 4x4 conversion would do.

Overall, my Sportsmobile 4x4 conversion has been very reliable.

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Old 08-11-2009, 04:53 PM   #3
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Re: How many REALLY use the full capability of the SMB 4x4?

I have locked both my axles to get out of some sticky situations more than once, so I definitely like that feature on the SMB's. I also like the peace of mind knowing that I can get out of a campsite no matter how much rain or snow may accumulate while camped there.
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Old 08-11-2009, 05:04 PM   #4
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Re: How many REALLY use the full capability of the SMB 4x4?

I don't think you can go wrong with a 4x conversion from any of the major conversion companies. If we hadn't come across a used SMB at a killer price and ended up starting from scratch, we probably would have gone with Quadvan for the 4x conversion, and SMBw for everything else.I think that Quadvan uses the transfer case form the Ford F-series SuperDuty's, so they should be plenty strong.

That said, we now have Atlas transfer cases in 2 out of the 3 vehicles we own, and I love them.


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Old 08-11-2009, 05:45 PM   #5
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Re: How many REALLY use the full capability of the SMB 4x4?

Unless you snap an axle or have to be pulled out by somebody else you never know that your were right at the "full capability" of the SMB 4x4... moments before.

Anyway I certainly feel like it is well worth it to me, just from the piece of mind knowing that I can go and get out anywhere I want to*. I use the ability to be in 2wd lo-range all the time for additional control and both 4x high and 4x lo regularly.

*Incidentally where I want to go and get out of are less radical than in a Jeep because of the size, weight and expense of the van.

I've only turned around once, and that was deep in the woods where the trail was already small in a place I didn't need to be anyway and I was facing an unknown mud puddle. Being from Indiana and having sunk myself more than once to the windshield in Jeeps I've had a hard time coming to terms with the seemingly solid bottoms you find here in Colorado, and turned around mainly because I didn't have a winch or any recovery gear.

I don't know what else to say- buying the best available in my mind at the time wasn't an option, so possibly I'm not the guy to listen to. In my defense I didn't know about S&K at the time.
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Old 08-11-2009, 06:56 PM   #6
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Re: How many REALLY use the full capability of the SMB 4x4?

I had a '96 S&K van before this one and liked it, but I also broke some suspension stuff the way I used it. Haven't had that problem with the SMB. I feel I use the hell out of it and it is worth the money to me. Like Jage sez, what's the full capacity?? Ya don't know till ya break it. When I ordered mine, I didn't go for the Dynatrac rear and it's always made me nervous so I just plunked down the cash and upgraded to the Dynatrac full floater. Main reason, I go places where the only option is start walking and haul the needed parts back in. No tow truck would make it. Also, when it was opened up, the axles in the stock Ford rear end were starting to get some twist in them. Glad I made the switch and the high end parts are worth it to me.
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Old 08-11-2009, 08:30 PM   #7
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Re: How many REALLY use the full capability of the SMB 4x4?

I was very happy to have the full capability of the van last year in Big Bear. 10 inches of snow in two days and tons of people driving into the ditch at every turn. I drove by with loads of traction. As the masses tried to negotiate the slippery roads in lowered Infinity's, causing havoc, I was able to stop in plenty of time without running headlong into the person in front of me, like many others did.

If you are serious about every advantage off road with a van, I'd go regular length, not extended.
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:05 PM   #8
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Re: How many REALLY use the full capability of the SMB 4x4?

Apparently, War, you will be very happy with a Quadvan, S-K, or Quigley conversion.
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Old 08-11-2009, 11:16 PM   #9
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Re: How many REALLY use the full capability of the SMB 4x4?

For me and my needs the SMB is overbuilt. If I could have bought a 4x4 sprinter when I purchased my SMB I would have. Almost everywhere I've taken my van it's made it in 2wd and almost all the places I've used 4wd a lower clearance 4wd would hve worked. I'd gladly trade some of the off road capability for better ride and better fuel economy etc. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy challenging trails and off road driving but that's just not what the smb gets used for most of it's life. It's first purpose is the family camper. For me 4wd is a must for baja, backcountry etc. but a lesser built rig would suit me fine.
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Old 08-12-2009, 04:19 AM   #10
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Re: How many REALLY use the full capability of the SMB 4x4?

Thx for input .... all of it is useful.


No matter which 4x4 system I install, I will put ARB lockers front/rear. I think that makes big difference for off-road capability.
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