In March of 2014 I bought a 2012 E350 EB Passenger with Quigley 4x4 conversion and ~36,000 miles on it. The previous owner bought the van new as a support vehicle for his dirt bike trips down the Baja peninsula. I've ridden dirt bikes and mountain bikes with the previous owner and he seemed to take good care of his stuff. He had a sprinter van built by Outside Van and said he was getting ready to sell his E350. I told him I would be interested, we agreed on a price, and I bought the van when he took delivery of his Sprinter. I had only test driven the E350 around town when I bought it and everything seemed good with it.
In my first weekend of van ownership, I loaded my dirt bikes and hit the road with my new (to me) van. I quickly discovered the Quigley bump travel problem and had a hard time steering through curves on the highway as the steering was a little unpredictable. I was also unhappy with the interior configuration, so I ripped out the interior behind the front seats and set out on a mission to rebuild the interior that I wanted and find a way to improve the suspension and steering. I've made some progress with the interior and same with the suspension, but almost 3 years later, I've put less than 1,000 miles on the van and the interior is still not done.
I purchased and installed Agile's Quigley RIP kit which seemed to cure Quigley bump travel problem, but not the steering issue. I've always felt like the front axle sits too far rearward and would like to run a 35" tire. When MGMetalworks posted his 4x4 conversion it seemed like the solution to all my steering and tire clearance problems, so I promptly sourced a 2013 F250 front axle and the MGMetalworks kit from U-Joint Offroad.
I found a junkyard about 30 miles away with 5 2013 or newer Ford Superduty front axles. I called ahead and the guy said they had them off the vehicles and ready to go for $1500. I took off work early and drove to the junkyard with the stock numbers for the axles. For some reason I was expecting them to stacked neatly on some sort of axle rack where I could quickly look at them and pick one out. When I arrived I told the guy I had called and would like to look at the axles. It turned out that he had ~5,000 axles of all makes and type sitting on the ground along the fence. I had to walk through and identify the 5 I was interested in, then compare them to find which I though was best. I did manage to identify 4 of the 5 axles and picked the best looking one. Oh, and the axle didn't have any of the suspension or steering linkage. Here is what I came home with:
I went back to the junk yard the following weekend and pulled radius arms, drag link, tie rod, and sway bar off other trucks for $100.
Since this axle has 3.73 gears and my van has 4.10 gears, I would have to have the axle re-geared. Since I didn't know how many miles were on the axle, I went ahead and replaced all the wear items in/on the axle. $4,431 later I have an axle with new gears, bearings, seals, u-joints, ball joints, unit bearings, and brakes. Also, the housing was sandblasted and painted.
My new drag link is not in the picture, but I won't be using the junkyard draglink sitting under the axle. I put my 2 spare tires on the axle to make easier to move around my shop.
Sitting under and behind the axle are MG and UJOR parts for my conversion. I'm planning to start the conversion this weekend and have it finished after 2 weekends. I'm hoping to get the rear done (just swapping leaf packs, adding wheel spacers, and maybe a longer brake line), and removing the Quigley parts from the front this weekend. The next weekend will be installing the new front axle.
I was not able to get the bolts for the radius arms where they connect to the front axle from the junkyard where I got the axle and radius arms. I see ford-parts.com sells the bolts for $28.50 each and the nuts for $10.36 each. They have the same part number as the bolts and nuts on the other end of the radius arms where the bolt to the radius arm mounts. I did get this hardware from the junkyard, so I ordered very similar nuts and bolts from Fastenal much cheaper than ford-parts.com. My question is how to you adjust caster on these axles? None of the radius arm bolts appear to be eccentric.