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Old 05-20-2020, 01:56 PM   #1
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Chinook 4x4 swap

Howdy im new on the forum even though i have been reading posts on and off for over a year now. I just created an account today. I have a 2005 Chinook RV which is a E350 SD cutaway with a fiberglass camper shell on back.

A couple of years back i was thinking about converting to 4x4 but convinced myself i didnt need it and opted for weldtec grocery getter 4 inch lift kit instead.
However i have managed to get myself stuck multiple times now and ended up having to get towed out so i am wanting to convert to 4x4 again.

I have contacted two seperate outfits and inquired about their kits and weighed pros and cons. However the problem is this.......

I havent found one company yet that will dedicate the time pre-sale to fully inform the consumer about the conversion and each step involved. I prefer to always gather a full understanding of the task im about to undertake before i start chopping cross members up and sending driveshafts off to be modified ect.....

I havent been able to find a company that will fully disclose potential issues that might arise, (many of which i have read on this forum and others). ABS, VSS, steering box failures, death wobble, exhaust modifications, ect.... or even discuss possible alternatives and or solutions to these issues.

Im not the type that is willing to start cutting up my truck without 100% complete details about what im starting. The way i see it, is if a company isnt willing to take the time to insure the customer has a full understanding of the job he is undertaking, then they probably arent going to be much help after the fact.

That said, does anyone know of a company out there that takes the time to inform the consumer pre-sale or are they all just looking to sell parts and the rest is on you to figure out, even if it means your truck sits unusable for a year while you sort out issues?

They all claim theres tons of information about the swaps on these forums, but there really isnt that much in depth information. I dont think i have ever seen anyone make or include a post on swapping or modifying the exhaust Y-pipe, never seen anything on which ERA works best or if they are even reliable, ect... never seen a post about relocating EVAP system that is attached to the frame or relocating the muffler and cat, ect.... To me these are the nuisance items that cause the biggest problems, not installing the tranfercase or front axle.... This is exactly why i put the Weldtec kit on originally instead of doing the conversion the first time... The weldtec kit gave me the added clearance i was looking for but it also allowed me to venture into areas i probably shouldnt have been in and i ended up stuck because i lacked 4x4.

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Old 05-20-2020, 02:07 PM   #2
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Because you have a Chinook, and i sound like you aren't super familiar with the E-series platform, I highly recommend just taking it to QuadVan. Starting around '03, they became the factory converter for Chinook after taking it them over from Quigley. They'll know if there's any interference specific to only chinooks. One thing to beware of, is Chinook offered the Banks PowerPack as a factory option as well. At the time, QuadVan re-built the driver side headers for T-case and drive-ine clearance. But right now, they're just too busy for that particular mod. Everything else however, is bolted in.

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Old 05-20-2020, 02:34 PM   #3
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Thanks, but im not looking to pay someone else to do the conversion for me. I have a very good and complete understanding of my rig,its chassis, its engine, its exhaust system, ect.... My understanding of my E series isnt the issue. The issue is that this conversion doesnt involve E-series parts. It involves taking pickup truck parts and putting them onto the E-series and making everything else fit and work properly.

Again, putting the axle under the truck and installing an output shaft and transfer case are no brainers, obviously the driveshaft has to be shortend and the yoke changed and a front shaft located and modified. These things are straight forward and are not the items that cause issues in doing the swap. My concerns are as mentioned... ERA are they reliable and accurate, is there an alternative to using an ERA, can a guy have a trigger wheel manufactured versus using an ERA on 4R100 with a 271 TC. Does anyone manufacture an external trigger wheel and pickup that could be mounted forward of the front driveshaft yoke, ect..... these are the types of questions i have. Will the Y pipe from the F-series pickup work versus trying to bribe the exhaust shop into removing the OEM Y pipe and building me a new one.... Do i need to get a shorter muffler to push the CAT back towards the rear axle due to limited distance between tailpipe and axle housing, if so then i have to trash my brand new ford muffler.... ect, ect....

Follow what im getting at? These types of issues can cause delays in completeing a project if you dont know what to expect before you start a conversion. Its no fun doing a conversion or building a hotrod if the game plan is to jump in head first without knowing what your up against only to run into multiple issues along the way that you didnt know were going to be issues. Follow my train of thought?

Heres a scenario, you swap an axle under the front, you yank the tranny, swap out the output shaft, reinstall your tranny, go to install your new transfer case and it wont fit because the big fat catalytic convertor is hanging in the way and rubs on the passenger side of the T-case. Now what? You cant drive it to the muffler shop and you cant install your transfer case until you remove your exhaust system and even then you cant drive it the the muffler shop once the t-case is installed because now you have no exhaust system.... then even if you manage to get it to the exhaust shop they wont touch it because you removed the catalytic convertor. The obvious answer...... You need to know in advance before you start yanking things apart exactly what needs to be done. In this case the exhaust system clearly should have been the first step in the conversion process not the last. Right?

So theres the dilema in selling kits without answers pre-sale. Supposedly these companies have done tons of swaps, wouldnt you think that they have these answers available? Wouldnt one assume they would know if a catalytic convertor has to be moved and how far for each engine combination, ect...? So is this top secret information, or is it that we just dont have time to get into specifics about the swap until you spend a few grand on my kit??? This isnt just a simple swap, this involves cutting up the primary X-member which is a structural part of the chassis.So now we look at death wobble, steering box failures, and questions come to mind.... that need answers.

Knowing that once you commit to cutting that X-member there is NO reverting back to the Twin I-beam suspension system. That said, every detail of this conversion process needs to be disclosed prior to spending thousands of dollars on a kit so that the consumer knows exactly what he is getting himself into prior to busting out a flame wrench or grinder and taking it to the chassis of his truck.

Oooofff, now my fingers are worn out... sorry i was so long winded.
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Old 05-20-2020, 03:47 PM   #4
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Whoa. I'll have whatever caffeinated beverage this Chinook guy had.

You want a complete soup to nuts recipe list from a company like Ujoint? Something they just post on their website? Every step? C'mon dude, you seem pretty smart but you can't even get a factory maintenance manual without paying for it. They aren't giving that for free! They bust their ass to do 4*4 conversions.

Have you emailed them these specific questions? Ujoint is on this site and might respond to PM?

You aren't been unreasonable but you need to accept some risk if you are making a Chinook a 4*4. It isn't a 8 hour swap with an instruction manual from IKEA
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Old 05-20-2020, 03:56 PM   #5
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There's where you and i differ in opinion. I dont consider cutting up the cross member of my $40,000 truck as a reasonable risk to take without having answers to every question i have up front. Im not looking to reinvent the wheel here. I just want to purchase a kit, know exactly whats involved down to the smallest detail before i compromise the x-member. The reason being is that once that x-member is cut, you will never be able to return it to the factory twin I-beam suspension.

With that said, if a kit manufacturer cant answer a question or two because they simply dont know, then all they have to do is say"i dont know" or "i dont have an answer for that question".... at that point i can weigh the answers i do have and decide if that risk is worth taking.

Let me also add, some of these seemingly non-issues to you on a standard e350 swap become huge issues on a 12,000 pound, 11 foot tall, 21 foot long truck.

Again, im not asking how to yank a transmission, or install a front axle, or transfer case, or shorten a driveshaft, or rebuild a transmission..... the questions i have are the ones that most people dont even think about until they run up against a problem midway threw the swap. The small things that present the big problems...
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Old 05-20-2020, 04:27 PM   #6
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Posts: 936 to Ujoint personally...

They have done plenty in house including Chinooks.
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Old 05-20-2020, 05:14 PM   #7
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There's "service before the sale", and then there's "burn up a bunch of someone's valuable time".

The margin on most kits is such that beyond a certain number of hours on the phone, they actually to better just to ignore you, rather than to sell you a kit, if they have to spend a dozen hours talking you into it first.

If you want your questions answered before you can pull the trigger, I'd focus on writing a very concise list of specific questions so that they can help you with a minimum of time expended on their end.

As others have said, ujoint is probably your best bet. Here's an E450 from from their IG this week that dwarfs your rig: They definitely can handle your Chinook.
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Old 05-20-2020, 05:19 PM   #8
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Hey Chinook, after you get this all figured out and completed... I may be interested in your old grocery getter lift kit. Do you have an adea of when you might tackle this project?

2001 Van Haus E350 EB 7.3L Quadvan 4X4
1999 Sportsmobile E150 - SOLD
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Old 05-20-2020, 06:05 PM   #9
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I wanted to have already been started on it by now, i saved up the funds, located the axle and a different transmission and transfer case but until i get some detailed answers to my questions im just in limbo.
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Old 05-20-2020, 06:09 PM   #10
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I went thru the same thing back before i just decided to install the grocery getter kit from weldtec and forget about the 4x4. Its like Herbie stated, even though i sent my questions via email, when a question gets answered or only partially answered, it raises more questions, so after a couple of back and forths eventually you just get ignored.

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