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Old 02-27-2017, 05:38 PM   #21
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Agile would be a No-Brainer for you if you are in socal. My conversion came in toward 20k but I needed a custom fuel tank, Wheels & Tires, and had a limited slip rear put in.
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Old 02-27-2017, 08:22 PM   #22
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All good feedback. Thanks. Please keep it coming.
For the record, I'm in Southern California, near the beach in LA. I need a good freeway ride, because it can be a ways to get to the outskirts from here, and I regularly tow a 4000lb trailer load to so-cal race tracks....a good road-ride us important along with traction in soft-sand, dirt, and snow.
If you're buying a van to convert to a camper yourself, then it would make sense to do a 4x4 conversion yourself, or at least consider doing that.

If you're shopping for a used SMB (or similar), and are asking if there are differences in the 4x4 systems that should be a consideration given your usage? I would say no. They're all basically the same from a functional standpoint, at least from the perspective of your usage. It's good to have some general idea of the differences (i.e. the Atlas transfer case can shift the front/rear axles independently), but I wouldn't rule out a good SMB that ticks all your other boxes simply because of who did the 4x4 conversion. Each conversion has it's pros and cons, but they're subtle from your usage perspective.
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Old 02-27-2017, 09:05 PM   #23
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x5 Agile is the way to go for the best ride. However, it does have some limitation in the weight department, and IFS isn't the best for really heavy trailers.

Also don't forget about QuadVan. QuadVans ride very well, and also carry a full factory warranty.

For a DIY coil-spring/solid axle system, then MGMetalWorks is the way to go.


Quigley's don't have enough compressions travel. Advance doesn't even know what they're installing in people's vans, plus they use short, rough-riding springs.

U-Joint is pretty much the go-to for DIY kits, and the best leaf-spring conversion out there.
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Old 02-27-2017, 09:32 PM   #24
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Without a doubt the best/smoothest ride is Agile's TTB conversion, done in El Cajon.
Certainly Ramseys TTB conversion is the best riding van I've ever driven. If you drive one, you will see what I'm talking about, and I'm sure you can do that if you drop by the shop. They also are capable of some very serious off road work. As for towing, all I know is Ramsey towed a completely overloaded trailer from the shop in El Cajon to Cabo, and busted an axle or two on the trailer, but the van did fine. Should you end up with something other than a TTB conversion, the guys can still make huge improvements to the suspension of what ever system you do get.
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Old 02-27-2017, 09:55 PM   #25
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I think it worth mentioning that if you find a Quigley Chevy or GM, Weldtec is doing a pretty amazing IFS Lift. This is not the factory AWD versions of these vans, but a Quigley conversion they do some serious improvements on. Weldtec is also down there in El Cajon area.

I will say this though, once you get a lifted 4x4 van under you, no matter what your intentions, you may be looking to push the boundaries. I wanted to handle snow, dirt roads, and light trail but also do well on the highway. Now I think I can get a little heavier, but I need some experience under my belt first. I do like cruising comfortably at 75 on the highway though.
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Old 02-27-2017, 10:00 PM   #26
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All valuable feedback. Initial email communication with Agile provided a ballpark estimate of $15-17k.
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Old 02-27-2017, 10:48 PM   #27
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The following list shows the questions that I considered as I was evaluating my options for a 4x4 conversion. As in most things in life, I do not believe that there are any universal right answers. It has been my observation that each of these questions has a different meaning, and a different level of importance, for each van owner. However, for me it was useful to consider each of these items, with appropriate weight for my uses, in making my choice of a conversion shop. In the end, I am happy with what I did, but I also think that I would have been happy with any of several other options, as well.

As I was considering my options, I was particularly appreciative of the time and effort that three shops put into helping me think through what I wanted to do: Ramsey and John at Agile; Michael at MG Metalworks/Expo Vans; and John at Quadvan. I learned a lot from each one of these gentlemen, and I appreciate the genius that goes into each of their unique designs.

The Questions:
1. Conversion Type: Straight Axle or IFS
Evaluate ride and handling characteristics of each. Consider age of the physical parts, and age of the technology going into those parts. Consider load rating of each option.

2. Engineering
Who engineered the system? How well is it engineered? How long has it been in use? How many vans are on the road with this system? What is the failure rate/frequency of issues? Is the system evaluated/approved by Ford? Has it been validated to work correctly with the van’s impact absorption system?

3. Performance
How does the system perform in the types of environments in which the van will be used, such as highway, washboard dirt, heavy loads etc.?

4. Non-Custom Parts
Are the stock parts that are used in the conversion new, used, or remanufactured? What kind of warranty do they carry? To what extent does the conversion take advantage of current technology, such as the extra-large brake rotors included with new Ford axles?

5. Custom Parts
With respect to the custom parts used for the conversion, to what extent do these custom parts have components (such as bushings) that need servicing? Are service parts readily available?

6. Big-Picture Thinking
A conversion is much more than a couple of radius arms and a transfer case. A fully operational conversion requires an appropriate axle ratio, and appropriate wheels and tires. To what extent is the shop paying attention to these issues, and assisting the customer in making good decisions regarding the complete system? Is the shop focused on just a conversion, or are they focused on making sure that the entire system is in place and works as a whole, resulting in a fully functional van and a happy driver?

7. Warranty
What warranty is offered? What does it cover?

8. Legal Compliance
Is the conversion fully certified to comply with all applicable state and federal highway safety regulations? (If not—and the van is involved in an on-road accident—there can be legal and insurance fallout, even if the accident is not the fault of the van owner.)

9. Product Liability Insurance
Does the conversion shop carry product liability insurance?

10. Longevity
For how many years has the shop been in business? How likely are they to remain in business in the future?

11. Price
What will the complete conversion cost, including everything needed to have a fully functional system, such as wheels, tires, axle ratio conversion, gas tank modifications, etc?

12. Location/Responsiveness
How close is the shop to me if I need repairs in the future? How responsive is the owner when questions and issues arise?
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Old 02-27-2017, 10:56 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carringb View Post
x5 Agile is the way to go for the best ride. However, it does have some limitation in the weight department, and IFS isn't the best for really heavy trailers.

Also don't forget about QuadVan. QuadVans ride very well, and also carry a full factory warranty.

For a DIY coil-spring/solid axle system, then MGMetalWorks is the way to go.


Quigley's don't have enough compressions travel. Advance doesn't even know what they're installing in people's vans, plus they use short, rough-riding springs.

U-Joint is pretty much the go-to for DIY kits, and the best leaf-spring conversion out there.
Oh yes thanks for mentioning QUADVAN before I got a chance...GREAT riding vans with no front end bumpstop bothers you will see mentioned in other threads...That is why we had Quadvan do Sporty before SMB North finished it up...smooth at any speed and living in IOWA we tend to push it till we get to the Rockies...have fun, but I would go with the suggestion before...maybe just buy a good used 12-14 Econoline and do things per company i.e.: Quadvan (if near Portland/Oregon has no sales tax on things saves hundreds) do your 4x4 and bumpers, winch, tires/rims etc ,), SMB do your penthouse top (make sure to get the electric motor) and any other stuffs you need in the van, then start your awesome adventures...times a wastin' as my grandpa always said...but with that said, maybe just keep an eye out on the SMB West for a good used and pounce on IT! GOOD LUCK!
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Old 02-28-2017, 09:55 AM   #29
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after sending a quick email to "Advanced", here is a brief response from them:

"The conversion includes a Dana Front Axle, 2 speed transfercase, spicer drivelines, Warn locking hubs, Rancho adjustable shocks, we do have to modify the gas tank. You will have about 31.5 gallon tank when done. You may consider changing the gear ratio depending on the size of tire you are going to run."
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Old 02-28-2017, 11:16 AM   #30
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^^^ id highly suggest doing a search on this forum for advanced info and read each thread top to bottom. only happy customers I can recall seeing from owners with advanced conversions lived within a rocks throw of the shop in Utah...
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