Great question to put out to the community gnty. I have the Deaver "package" that I believe Deaver is recommending.
The set up was a huge improvement over what the van was like before. But, though my van was stock as is came from SMB in 05,
when I bought it in 2010 it had been crashed by the previous owner and straighten out buy an orangutan. So I'm not sure if
my before assessment is what all stock '05 SMB's are like. Before the front axle had 1" of up travel, the rear was around 2"
and with the original Old Man Emu shocks with 60k miles on them. So to say it rode bad is an understatement. It was dangerous.
So to go with the Deaver setup was almost a no brainier for me At the time, 2010. It seemed to be the set up to have if you
wanted to keep with leaf springs.
It was pricey but I thought it was digestible because on mine they did the following.
Front and Rear spring packs
Bilstein shocks front with remote reservoir, rear conventional all valved to their spec
New pan hard bar with urethane bushings
New axle perch (these are to reinforce the one SMB had that seemed to fail)
New U bolts and grade 8 hardware all over
New Rear shackle to accommodate their spring
I might be forgetting something else but that's the big stuff.
Dropped off the van and a week later all good.
To answer your question what's it like now. I feel it's what the van should have rode like from SMB. As if this should have
been the starting point. It feels like I actually have a suspension that is "working". One of the short comings is that with the
Deavers I still only have about 3"-4" of up travel before hitting the stops. However the ride is progressive and predictable. I
haven't seemed to have any weird events like death wobble, etc. Also I'm currently replacing the spring bushings because the rubber
in the conventional bushings has turned to snot allowing the springs to walk back and forth.
Finally, if I was to do it today I would wonder what is available today 6 years later that could be even better.
Even with a solid front axle. Perhaps some of the forum members close to the suspension community could chime in.
I haven't kept up with the posts involving the independent front suspensions but I could see that being
a big leap forward, albeit a very drastic one to throw your solid Dynatrac front axle out.
I hope this helps. I have no regrets for going with Deaver and an old school set up.
2005 SMB RB 4x4 6.0 PSD
A rocket on the pad is safe,
but it's not what rockets are built for.