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Old 04-22-2009, 12:01 AM   #1
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New Sportsmobile Owner-first upgrades. Need advice.

New Sportsmobile Owner-first upgrades. Need advice.

Hi all
I've been hanging around for a while and saving up for Sportsmobile one day. I finally picked it up in Phoenix on Saturday and drove back to Austin this weekend.

1995 Ford E250, popup, about 100,000 miles.

It's got some issues and I'll be making fixes and upgrades. The trip home was an adventure. I plan on making the upgrades in roughly the following order and would appreciate any input on the list (brands, prices, sources, general advice):

First group of mods:

-New tires. Michelin® LTX® M/S
Tire Size: LT245/75R16/E
Are these too big for stock setup with some sag or will this be ok?
Lot's of choices and prices for what I thought was the same tire here. Not sure how to tell one from the other. I'll research some more.
http://www.discounttire.com/dtcs/tires/ ... cted=78704

-Sway bars-Hellwig. Front and rear. All I can find is 1 1/8 inch. Is that as big as they come for an E250? I thought I could find 1.5 inches. What is the best source?

-Bilstein Heavy-Duty Shock Absorber - Front- Heavy Duty (each)
-SKU: F4-BE5-E073-H0
$94.77
-Bilstein Heavy-Duty Shock Absorber - Rear-Heavy Duty (each)
SKU: F4-BE5-E074-H0
$94.77
(are these good shocks? Other recommendations?

-Tire spacers in rear. Brand? SuperTrack (formerly CorecTrack)says they don't make them for the E250. Should I go with different offset wheels? If the latter, how do I specify a wheel that would give me the 1.5 inch wider stance that the spacer would? Would I need to replace the front wheels as well (with the normal offset)? Any spacer or wheel recommendations appreciated.

$224-Hella TC400 In Car Tire Pressure Monitoring System With Adjustable Background Color Display-Best price I could find was on Amazon. Cheaper elsewhere?

-Super Springs? Heavy loading or regular loading? I am leaning toward heavy.
$426.60 + mounting kit (maybe).

-I need new front brakes. Any recommendations on a source for new slotted rotors and pads? Stainless steel braided brake lines. Motel high temp brake fluid. Buy rebuilt calipers? What is a good source for this?

-Tire balancing beads? Are these for real? Pros and cons? Can they be used with the tire pressure monitoring system mentioned above?

-New house and starter batteries. Optima Yellow Top?

Any advice appreciated.

Thanks

Tom
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Old 10-28-2010, 10:27 AM   #2
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Re: New Sportsmobile Owner-first upgrades. Need advice.

Hi Bluedog,

How are your updgrades coming along? Did the suspension updgrades make much of an improvement?

Regards,
AHuey
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Old 10-28-2010, 11:44 PM   #3
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Re: New Sportsmobile Owner-first upgrades. Need advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluedog225
-New tires. Michelin® LTX® M/S
Tire Size: LT245/75R16/E
Are these too big for stock setup with some sag or will this be ok?
Go explain to the tire shop you want to see how these fit. They should have no problem mounting one to see if it rubs in the front. You're real concern is when the van is down off the lift, does it rub at full lock (fenders or suspension components) and if there is enough space that it won't damage anything when you're not on flat ground (bump, etc).

Quote:
-Sway bars-Hellwig. Front and rear. All I can find is 1 1/8 inch. Is that as big as they come for an E250? I thought I could find 1.5 inches. What is the best source?
Skip it. I've had guys swear that I'd die if I tried to drive without one. You get used to the feeling, and the feeling is not dangerous, provided you don't react to it.

Quote:
Should I go with different offset wheels?
No, no no.. can't rotate tires and which offset will your spare be, or will you carry two spares etc.

As far as spacers, I don't know what but whatever SMB uses. make sure they're great, not just good, your life may depend on the spacers. Also, it's no rush. It's an easy thing to do once you figure out the correct thing, if you have to drive around without them, even with new wheels and tires it won't hurt anything.

Quote:
-Super Springs? Heavy loading or regular loading? I am leaning toward heavy.
$426.60 + mounting kit (maybe).
Deavers or go to any decent spring shop and have them resprung... just alternatives though, I don't know what a super spring is, so it might be good. Also, again, no swaybar alterations until AFTER spring mods, shock upgrades, and driving it for a while.

Quote:
-Tire balancing beads? Are these for real? Pros and cons?
They're for real, AFIK they work, but I tend to think of them for bias ply and hard to balance large offroad tires... not sure why that is.

Quote:
-New house and starter batteries. Optima Yellow Top?
Optima is not what it used to be. I still put one in the Jeep this year, but the van got Duralast Gold for starters, same as the F250. Personally I think your luck will be the same with any decent name brand batts, which is to say that any of them can fail- the van's Duralast are replacing two others that I'd bought not two years prior, luckily still under full warranty.

For house, Deka are supposed to be good and inexpensive. I went with them for my house battery replacements and was surprised that the newer of my two previous house batteries actually turned out to be a Deka too... I still put both new ones in, I think my problems came from mixing the new and old batts, but that's another subject.

Just remember, it's a van, if you wanted it to drive like a car you should have gotten a Sprinter .

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Old 10-28-2010, 11:57 PM   #4
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Re: New Sportsmobile Owner-first upgrades. Need advice.

For larger Hellwig sway bars, lookup "Ford Class C motorhome".
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Old 10-30-2010, 10:49 AM   #5
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Re: New Sportsmobile Owner-first upgrades. Need advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AHuey
Hi Bluedog,

How are your updgrades coming along? Did the suspension updgrades make much of an improvement?

Regards,
AHuey

Interesting to see this old post come back to life.

Let's see. Got the Michelins (LT245/75R16/E). Slightly oversized on stock rims. That was a good decision.

Got the sway bars. I like the ride stiffness. YMMV.

Kept the old shocks. They are still fine.

No tire spacers-Just too much controversy around those things.

Too many bad reviews of the Hella tire pressure monitoring system. I just do it the old fashioned way.

Had the springs resprung at a spring shop. Good decision. No more sag. Had a leaf added as well.

Had the rotors turned and new pads (Hawk). Results are fine but would really like more braking authority in my next van.....some fade in emergency situations.

Skipped the balancing beads. No balance problems so I don't need the solution.

The old batteries are still going strong. Lifeline. Pretty impressive.

I have removed a lot of the heavy, inefficient interior cabinets. Added a Thule rack system, big basket, Hulavator, rear door tire mount, big, big, underfloor storage, and a receiver mounted platform.

I guess my best advice after a year or so is to use what you have and upgrade as things wear out. It's a little too tempting to upgrade everything. Then the van becomes the project and not getting out and enjoying the things you got the van to see.

Tom
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