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Old 10-28-2015, 11:11 PM   #1
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Snow and Ice....

Hello all,

Been away from the forum for years, but after visiting QuadVan and SMB years ago, I find myself 'circling back around' for the van I was going to build previously.

I live in SouthCentral, Alaska and do some driving along a winding, rolling, mountain road. Handling I should emphasize, is important to staying alive. Of equal or greater importance, is the ability to maintain good traction on snow and ice. The wife has traction control in her Subaru and it is impressive to say the least. Any information on what model year this started being put into 'modern' vans, and if those van systems are comparable to other anti-skid/traction control vehicles would be of great value to me. Other relevant info is what type tires do you run on snow and ice, and how do they perform for you? I currently run 35x12.5xR18's on my Dodge 2500 - that are double-studded (on Firestone Destinations) and the performance is satisfactory, but probably not optimal.

Please advise,
Phil
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Old 10-29-2015, 07:57 AM   #2
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Re: Snow and Ice....

AKPhil: This is my experience. You have to have 4x4 or chains on the rear. A van is just as bad as a rear wheel drive pickup truck, light in the rear and can't go up even a slight hill on ice or snow without chains on the rear or the pulling from a 4x4 front axle. If I could do it all over again I would go with the AgileOffroad.com TTB Dana 50 front axle.

http://agileoffroad.com/

BajaSportsmobile (aka AgileOffroad.com) suffered a lot of grief recently because he couldn't keep up with demand, so he took his website down. What his plans are I don't know. I hope he continues to work and not completely retire. Ujoint or Quadvan would be second choices both with a conventional solid axle.

I like the Hercules Trail Digger MT when studded (come with stud holes) they are great for throwing, not collecting, powder - collecting powder can cause the tire to slick up.

http://www.herculestire.com/tire-galler ... mt/#loaded

I like heavy on snow and ice, so a late model V-10 E350 would be worth a look, then converted to 4x4.

My 7.3L 2002 E350 with the above tires is a tractor on snow and ice. But the handling of a tractor is a far cry from the handling of your wife's Subaru...

There are some Canadian members here and an AK'er or too who likely have suggestions as well.

What about the new Sprinter 4x4? It may be their first year or so and may take some time to work kinks out. So the MB brand-loyal early adopters are MB's guinea pigs:

http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showth ... 893&page=7
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Old 10-29-2015, 08:13 AM   #3
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Re: Snow and Ice....

Yes 4X4, agile's TTB would be a great choice for handling, it does not require a large lift like some of the other outfitter 4X4 setups. Take a look at Goodyear wrangler duratracs, also studable(is that even a word?) been very happy with them for mixed daily, highway and offroad uses, and even without the studs, on mixed snow/ice.
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Old 10-29-2015, 08:42 AM   #4
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Re: Snow and Ice....

Quote:
Originally Posted by E350
AKPhil:

I like the Hercules Trail Digger MT when studded (come with stud holes) they are great for throwing, not collecting, powder - collecting powder can cause the tire to slick up.
Good snow/ice tires have lots of siping that collect snow for better traction, snow grips to snow and ice better than any rubber or tire lug.

If you want AWD with traction control like a Subaru you should consider a AWD Chevy Express or GMC Savana with the optional traction control. No conversion needed, although only available in 1/2 tons except for a few rare 2003 3/4 tons.
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Old 10-29-2015, 08:53 AM   #5
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Re: Snow and Ice....

Quote:
Originally Posted by TeleSteve
Good snow/ice tires have lots of siping that collect snow for better traction, snow grips to snow and ice better than any rubber or tire lug.
"snow grips to snow"? Boy, that has not been my experience. No better siping than on my Michelin LTX MS2's. But they slick up in powder. No better powder traction than than the Hercules Trail Digger MT when studded because they don't slick up in powder. And no better ice traction than carbide steel studs (except for V-bar chains).

But that is the great thing about forums, everyone gets to share their personal experience.
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Old 10-29-2015, 10:46 AM   #6
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Re: Snow and Ice....

I did a ice driving rally school in Lapland (Finland) a couple of winters ago. Snow does grip to snow - but it slides on ice. When racing on packed snow the grip was great - it only got crazy when snow was on top of ice.

P.s Agile is here to stay - great thing coming... I have a new partner and we have lots of ramping up to do to be in full swing come January 1st. In the mean time we are busy as can be with 4x4 conversions and getting more RIP Kits out.

I really appreciate everyone's support and patients.
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Old 10-29-2015, 11:19 AM   #7
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Re: Snow and Ice....

AKPhil - here in Utah where we get our fair share of snow, one of the best all around full size truck tires for winter use is the Duratrac especially on Snow/Ice as they can also be studded. Not necessarily my 1st pick for a desert/4wd type of tire as the sidewalls are a bit thinner on the E Rated ones but if your #1 priority is Winter performance then Summer - check them out. Ran a set on my '10 F150 CrewCab 4x4 and they were awesome in the winter and I didn't even run studs in them
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Old 10-29-2015, 12:46 PM   #8
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Re: Snow and Ice....

Stability Control (RSC) started on Ford EB Wagons in 2005, and expanded to RB Wagons in 2008. In 2009 it became optional on cargo vans and at some point (2011?).Note that earlier cargo vans got traction control only, but it isn't quite the same as stability control on snow and ice.

Chevy also offered the StabilTrak in their Wagons around the same time as Ford. I'm not sure about their cargo vans.

Ford's RSC is a pretty good system. StabilTrack isn't bad either, but Fords RSC isn't overly intrusive like other systems, yet still keeps you mostly out of trouble. The Ford RSC system was essentially developed by Volvo, and migrated to Ford during their ownership years.
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Old 10-29-2015, 04:21 PM   #9
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Re: Snow and Ice....

Quote:
Originally Posted by BajaSportsmobile
I did a ice driving rally school in Lapland (Finland) a couple of winters ago. Snow does grip to snow - but it slides on ice. When racing on packed snow the grip was great - it only got crazy when snow was on top of ice.

P.s Agile is here to stay - great thing coming... I have a new partner and we have lots of ramping up to do to be in full swing come January 1st. In the mean time we are busy as can be with 4x4 conversions and getting more RIP Kits out.

I really appreciate everyone's support and patients.
That driving school must have been a blast.

Glad to hear that good things are coming.
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Old 10-30-2015, 01:21 AM   #10
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Re: Snow and Ice....

Awesome, I mean AWESOME responses. Thanks so much, guys. Great info, and I am well on my way. In fact, I agree with nearly every single comment made.

I am 'tracking' (no pun intended) on the tires, and based on those tire choices, believe I have a full solution there. I currently run studded tires and believe in them without question. Also, John at QuadVan (who I visited years ago, and feel confident in listening to) mentioned that having a heavier van will add to traction/bite, so I may be looking for a 350 series model. Still, I really don't want any additional vehicle weight unless necessary - a 1500 series, or maybe 2500 series, should meet my suspension and towing capacity needs. I don't tow or haul anything over 600lbs these days, and won't be loading the van down in full camper fashion. This makes me believe that a 1500 or no more than a 2500 vehicle w/ traction control will be enough to get the job done for me.

I am also hearing that either Ford's AdvanceTrac w/ RSC or Chevy/GMC Stabilitrac are good systems. So any of those manufacturer's are in the running. To make things really easy on me, I would love to just purchase a Ford, GMC or Chevy w/ AWD and traction control, lift it (some) and be done (kind of). Stuck here in Alaska, and due to lacking availability, I can greatly reduce logistics issues (inspection, transportation, delivery, etc.) by buying an Express or Safari van up here. However, John at QuadVan said that he won't build on Chevy/GMC because their suspension/chassis work leaves much to be desired, while Ford is better built and tougher. Thoughts on that? I do not want to build a 'light-weight' of a van. "Better to have and not need" (in vehicle weight, suspension capacity, and engine power) as they say.

Finally, if I end up with a Chevy and GMC van w/ AWD and traction control, I would want to lift the vehicle high enough to get 33's under it. Don't want a really high-sitting van, and ground clearance is not much of an issue for me, but I do feel the need to put some 33's under there for proportion and 'stance.' If I have AWD and traction control, I just need to get the van in the air a little bit.....ideally with a simple and inexpensive body lift. Is is possible to do this without compromising the suspension/chassis of the van, and also (very important) without creating really dorky looking gaps between the bumpers and body?

Thoughts please, and many, many thanks!

Phil
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