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Old 05-29-2020, 02:14 PM   #1
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DIY 4x4 Conversion & Introduction

Hello. I wanted to start a thread to share the 4x4 conversion and general build out of my 2009 E350. Technically I'm building this for a friend but for sake of conversation it's mine . I'll try and post pictures as it goes and probably have a few questions along the way. Full disclosure in that I definitely should have done more research prior to jumping into this build but it sounded fun so we will just need to figure things out on the fly.

The details.

Van
= 2009 E350, SWB, 6.8l V-10, around 160,000 km (O-Canada).

The suspension plan
= 2005+ Super duty front axle & radius arm, DIY radius arm brackets, track bar, lower coil mounts, 880s coil springs. Rear will get a DIY 4" shackle flip, maybe a lift block if necessary to level. Retain the stock rear axle along with some wheel spacers/adapters to convert to 8x170 BCD.

Drivetrain = I have a free 373 transfer-case so depending on how challenging setting up the electronics are (I did see there were a few posts on here about this) I may go this route. If not manual 371 all the way.

General Build Out. Van is going to be used as an "adventure rig" so it will not get a full on camper conversion but will receive some upgrades. 24" high roof, front & rear bumpers, ladders, roof rack, fender flares, the basic stuff.

Surprises
Fuel tank. Completely caught me off guard that the fuel tank would occupy the same space as the transfer-case. However I believe the plan will now be to build a larger capacity tank to replace the factory tank in the same location. Along the same lines as the ones offered by TransferFlow.

Exhaust. I haven't seen others mention this but the drive side catalytic converter sure looks like it is right where the front drive shaft needs to be. Not sure if a 4x4 truck Y-pipe can be used or cut and weld the stock one to make everything fit. Status on this is TBD.

Not planning on re-inventing the wheel here and the build will rely heavily on the influence of others and their builds and components.
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Old 05-29-2020, 02:29 PM   #2
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For now here is a stock picture.

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Old 05-29-2020, 03:03 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Pucry View Post
Technically I'm building this for a friend but for sake of conversation it's mine ...
Wish I had friends like you!
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Old 05-29-2020, 05:00 PM   #4
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Me to, however i have found over the course of my life that when others do things for you, they usually dont have the same expectations or standards that you have.
Should be interesting, i have asked a couple of the same questions myself.

I can tell you that i have been told by members in the know that the truck Y pipe will NOT work. Thats all i can offer at this point.
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Old 05-29-2020, 05:59 PM   #5
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Good luck, I look forward to watching your progress. I hope your friend appreciates how good he has it.

Jeff
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Old 05-29-2020, 06:03 PM   #6
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How are you adapting the radius arm brackets to the van?

Beware the the van frames are wider. While the truck brackets can be bolted up, this will create non-parallel radius arms, which will cause death wobble. That’s the main reason more folks aren’t just bolting on truck axles. Radius arm suspensions are susceptible to bad geometry. That’s why we have people like MG selling hardware kits.
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Old 05-30-2020, 06:55 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone for the encouragement. I'm fortunate that I am the shade tree mechanic to many of my friends, not for general maintenance type jobs but rather when things get a little more custom. I enjoy the projects and it's always fun to spend someone else's money. Chinook is right but in my case it's always my standards that are higher.

So here are a few pictures of my current progress. I'm doing this in my low two car garage. I had to flatten the vans tires to get it through the door and I am not sure yet how to get it back out when it's complete. lol.

First few are removing the stock suspension, rolling the axle into place and trying to figure out where it should live.







I'm still not sure of the exact axle placement so you'll see in the radius arm mounts that I have build it has multiple holes for a few different options. These will be removed later on. The mounts are laser cut and tabbed so they go together pretty easy. Keep in mind in all these photos everything is just tacked, I'm not going to weld anything out until I know that it is going to work.







Coil spring lower mount to mate the SD axle and the factory van lower isolator.







I just noticed that I didn't take any pictures of the track bar bracket on the bench. Was too excited to get it installed and see if the holes lined up.







So far this part has been pretty straight forward. I've hit a bit of a standstill because we don't yet have the wheels and tires. The plan was to run 35's like most people but last minute 37's might have been ordered (not by me ). I'm going to pump the brakes a bit until they arrive and see how much higher this thing will need to go once wheels/tires arrive and can be test fit. The steering angle is already pretty steep, not sure how much more this can be pushed. Might have to source a drop pitman arm.......and then redo the track bar mount to keep steering angles parallel.

In the meantime will work on trans crossmember, fuel tank, custom front bumper, t-case install.

Cheers
JP
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Old 05-30-2020, 07:39 AM   #8
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Awesome, thanks for taking us along.
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Old 05-30-2020, 05:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pucry View Post
Thanks everyone for the encouragement. I'm fortunate that I am the shade tree mechanic to many of my friends, not for general maintenance type jobs but rather when things get a little more custom. I enjoy the projects and it's always fun to spend someone else's money.

Cheers
JP
If the work you do is reflected in the brackets you're fabricating you're sooooooo far beyond a "shade tree mechanic" its appalling.

Like yourself I prefer thinking my standards are above those of any customer (whether paying or not) and in most cases I deliver better than expected. Not sure what that says but I don't want anyone who contracts my work to be disappointed no matter what money was (or was not) involved. Its the pride of a job well done driving me---I'm sure its the same for you as well.

Great looking work so far and I'm looking forward to your progress!
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Old 05-30-2020, 07:51 PM   #10
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Impressive work! I like the "can do" attitude - reflected in your willingness to move forward with an idea and just address issues as they develop.
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