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Old 09-04-2018, 05:20 AM   #11
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One of the reasons folks tend to have issues on trips is many of us donít use our vans as daily drivers. I do the occasional around town trip to keep the van ďactiveĒ when Iím not using it for trips, but then Iíll take it out on a trip and drive 100s of miles in one shot. Or across the USA, even. So issues that might otherwise come up while driving around town and be easily fixed by your regular local mechanic without too
much ďlife interruptionĒ instead happen many miles from home, at an inconvenient hour, and potentially far from a service provider that you feel comfortable with.

I have a 98 Ford SMB and have driven it across the USA and back three times now, with no major issues, although we did have a few annoyances that we had to get checked out and fixed. Iím usually pretty cheap (er... ďfrugalĒ), but when it comes to the SMB Iím very proactive at replacing anything that is even close to end of life. Iíd rather spend preventative money with my trusted local mechanic that break-down money with some hack that I donít know in a town somewhere far away.
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Old 09-04-2018, 10:46 AM   #12
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Iím usually pretty cheap (er... ďfrugalĒ), but when it comes to the SMB Iím very proactive at replacing anything that is even close to end of life. Iíd rather spend preventative money with my trusted local mechanic that break-down money with some hack that I donít know in a town somewhere far away.
Me too, that's what I'm hoping to accomplish here - I'm not totally comfortable giving a blank check to our mechanic so I am hoping the SMB community can help give us advice on all of the items we should proactively replace before our next big trip. Then I can give that list to the mechanic to work on. I do try to drive the van once a week around town, but with it not being a daily driver as you said there is risk that any wear-out items don't wear out until we're on the road. So I am hoping to replace them before they wear out, and before we're on a trip.
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Old 09-04-2018, 09:53 PM   #13
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One thing I did was to heat wrap the harness. Years ago somebody posted to expect harness issues around 100K. I never made to 90. X2 on getting rid of the vac booster if you can. I'm currently running a DP tune that I like but can't say if other tunes are better however the DP tune has been way better than the SCT tune I once used. I always use a good cetane booster in the fuel. I replace the coolant every other year even though I have a filter and have kept with the standard Ford coolant. My mechanic suggests to use an additive in the coolant as well. I have use AMSOIL since about 20K but change the oil and filters according to what Ford says. I do use archoil oil additive since the bullet proofing. To tell the truth I don't know if any of these additives work but so far so good. Most of my required tows have involved Ford products not related to the 6.0 PSD. Still the facts are the 6.0 is problematic and it's probably just time before I have injector fail. Being that most of my issues have been from almost every part of the vehicle except the engine, I don't carry larger parts. Got a sat phone and a credit card.
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Old 09-04-2018, 10:20 PM   #14
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Got a sat phone and a credit card.
Had to laugh, but good advice! For me I don't worry nearly as much about the cost for repairs as I do about the inconvenience of them on a vacation with young kids.

Heat wrapping the wiring harness - now that's something I hadn't thought about. But wiring issues are one of the more frustrating things to troubleshoot, so I think that's a great idea.
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Old 09-04-2018, 10:45 PM   #15
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At the same time also installed a Mishimoto "low temp" thermostat and replaced fan & clutch. All my temps are running about 15 degrees lower now. Interestingly, even though I know my fan runs more now, I hardly ever hear it because it's so quiet.
Curious did you just replace the fan and clutch with the OE Ford part, or was there a better aftermarket part that you replaced it with? Getting that fan quieter and having it used at lower temps is very high on my to-do list, wanted to find out what part I should recommend to my mechanic if you happen to know.
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Old 09-04-2018, 11:13 PM   #16
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For me I don't worry nearly as much about the cost for repairs as I do about the inconvenience of them on a vacation with young kids.

It flat sucks being stranded but in the end it becomes part of open travel and a great learning experience for older kids. Still I almost always forget to grab a picture when I'm stressed out. I swear those are the times you remember after the fact.
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Old 09-04-2018, 11:36 PM   #17
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Commented on this exact thing to my wife when we got home. Should have had more pictures of our random hotels and vacant lots we were stranded in, and the activities we took the kids to to pass the time. Fact is the kids didnít really mind at all. They preferred the break from being in the car.
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Old 09-05-2018, 03:27 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by BrianW View Post
One of the reasons folks tend to have issues on trips is many of us donít use our vans as daily drivers. I do the occasional around town trip to keep the van ďactiveĒ when Iím not using it for trips, but then Iíll take it out on a trip and drive 100s of miles in one shot. Or across the USA, even. So issues that might otherwise come up while driving around town and be easily fixed by your regular local mechanic without too
much ďlife interruptionĒ instead happen many miles from home, at an inconvenient hour, and potentially far from a service provider that you feel comfortable with.
This is great advice and a plan many who have SMB-type vehicles used only occasionally might want to incorporate. Same would probably apply to the systems particular to an SMB, I read a lot of stories how something has broken or failed since the last trip used.

It would be a good idea to give the SMB a post-trip inspection too, perhaps long before the next trip. There's nothing more frustrating than a last minute or on-the-road discovery of something more easily repaired at home base.
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Old 09-05-2018, 08:36 AM   #19
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Curious did you just replace the fan and clutch with the OE Ford part, or was there a better aftermarket part that you replaced it with? Getting that fan quieter and having it used at lower temps is very high on my to-do list, wanted to find out what part I should recommend to my mechanic if you happen to know.
Van is heavy (11,500lbs), and I have the Aluminess bumper so my coolant temps would run around 116-118, oil temps 122-126, and trans temps 188-195 just on freeway driving (running 2250-2300rpms since I'm geared with 4:56). When I hit grades they would go up.
Put an air scoop under the front bumper directing air to the bottom of the radiator and that helped drop about 2-3 degrees.
Looked into putting in a Snow Plow fan system but that pretty much fell through - something about compatibility on an E-350.
The Mishimoto Low Temp thermostat was an idea shared by someone else on this Forum (opens fully about 10 degrees sooner than OEM). Having a Tune that engages the fan sooner was also something I read on one of the Threads. Replacing the fan & Clutch was "preventative maintenance" on my part for 2 reasons:
  • first, the old one was already 12 years old
  • secondly, since I knew the 5-Star tune would engage the fan more often it seemed logical to address the fan & clutch (especially since they were already in to attack the new Thermostat) - I replaced both with OEM because after an exhaustive search I could not find anything considered better.
Temps now: Coolant = 194-198, Oil = 206-210, and trans = 176-182. On long grades they all go up about 10-12 degrees...still well under what I had.

For consideration: As far as noise level, Before the new Fan & clutch install I could hear when the fan engaged, now i cant at all - but then I have sound deadening & thermal barrier throughout, plus have 2 layers of the heat shield under the dog house...Suspect the old fan was louder simply because it was towards the end of its life. Also, I actually drove down to visit with the group at 5-Star - they came up with my 4 Tunes (40hp w/fan, 50hp w/fan, 65hp w/fan, and stock w/fan). Engine is fully Bulletproofed, but still I've only used the 40hp w/fan, and to my surprise it really woke up the engine.
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Old 09-05-2018, 08:22 PM   #20
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Man your van sounds like it runs (or ran) at exactly the same temps as mine. Ours is pretty heavy with all of the off-road stuff too, and the temperatures in the southwest don't help either. We have an air scoop already underneath and the hood louvres to help, but this fan/clutch replacement and tune sound like the ticket. I'm going to take it in next week, have a pretty good list of items I'm going to have them address. Really hoping we can get the same results you have. Thank you!
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