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Old 08-02-2022, 09:41 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2022
Location: Bellingham, WA
Posts: 18
Climbing/Descending steep grades - 2wd...


I've got a base model '06 e250 w the 5.4l and 3.73 gearing and a penthouse seating for four w a rear face to face bench. My family enjoys exploring lots of fire service roads for dry camping and good vistas in the PNW, some are invariably steep but don't require 4x4; if anything a posi-locker can get the job done.

I'm wondering if anyone has a good solution for dealing w steep grades a 2wd, both going up and down. 1st gear w 3.73 gears just doesn't provide a lot of engine braking... not to mention petrol vrs a diesel.

Install a Transfer Case but no front axle?
One idea I had was to look at installing a transfer case but not the front axle equipment. Thought being to just have the 4Lo option of the transfer case. Not sure if this is much more economical, but figure it's gotta have some significant savings. Not having the fwd axle would save from lift requirements?

Someone on another forum suggested a 2speed rear axle, but I can't seem to find much options for that for a 3/4 truck platform... most are for dump truck / semi tractors.

Looking for some constructive criticism or pointers, open to any good directions to explore to help.



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Old 08-02-2022, 10:52 PM   #2
Join Date: Feb 2020
Location: Idaho
Posts: 90
Installing a transfer case requires bobbing the front of the fuel tank, you lose about 5 gallons of capacity. Also, you have to either rebuild the transmission to use the short tailshaft (4x4 PU style) or use the long adapter (more fuel tank cutting).

You might look into an over/under drive unit like the Gear Vendors unit. They aren't cheap.

Depending on your tire size and how fast you want to drive on the interstate, a set of 4:10 or lower) rear gears might do the trick.

Bigger brakes are always nice, there's a swap using (I think) 2008 brakes that a lot of folks do.

Good luck!

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Old 08-11-2022, 11:49 AM   #3
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Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 19
I'm in the same boat....ahrr..van. I run 8000 lbs on Sierra fireroads, etc. Love to put in an Eaton Truetrac diff but not made our rear axles. Otherwise rather not have a full locker and keep the OEM posi.
I upgraded to 2008 larger OEM brakes and I highly recommend (search the forum) Throw in some snow chains for mudded areas, run 1st downhill and conserve brakes until next beer stop. ��
GTRV Ford Econoline 250 - 2006 - 5.4l
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Old 08-11-2022, 03:28 PM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
Posts: 2,493
If you're going to go through the hassle of installing a transfer case, you might as well complete the front axle and have 4wd. You would have to modify exhaust, gas tank, transmission, and drive shaft just to install the transfer case.
2005 E350 Chateau - V10 - Agile Offroad 4x4
2012 CTS-V Wagon - For the baby...
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Old 08-11-2022, 05:26 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Idaho
Posts: 205
A fine point here. For the 5.4L 4r70 combination, a married NP271 fits without modifications to the gas tank. Tranny conversion (unless you go divorced, then no guarantees on the tank), exhaust, t-case, and drive shaft is a lot of money to still have a 2wd van. I agree go with racer’s suggestion unless you are going to go all the way.
2001 E-250 SMB 5.4L MG Coil Kit, Modified EB57
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