Free 7 Day Trial RV GPS App RV Trip Planner Campground Reviews RV Maintenance Free 7 Day Trial ×
 


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 09-20-2010, 08:07 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 752
Most Adventurous Off Pavement Destinations Possible 2WD SMB?

Alan Feld was in Sacramento on other business last Friday and met with me for an hour after that. My wife and I are hoping to buy a SMB, but cannot decide on the specific vehicle. If we decide we need 4x4, we'll go Ford. If we decide we can do without 4x4, we'll go with Sprinter. We like the handling, the already high roof, the fuel economy, and the number of available air bags the Sprinter has. We want a nice touring vehicle that we can use solo, camp out of when we want to, but also to be able to tow a 2-3k lb. travel trailer when we also want to have a base camp where we can hook up to utilities on some trips. We also want to do some off pavement adventuring.

We have done a lot of backpacking into very remote areas of the Sierra and Rockies, but we are closing in on 60 y.o. and that is becoming more difficult. We are not sure we want the extra upfront cost, the higher number of things that can break down, the stiffer ride, the increased maintenance, etc. that come with having 4x4.

My questions do NOT center around the pros and cons of 2x4 vs. 4x4, the comparative performance of the vehicles, or the towing abilities of each. I already know the answers to all those things. What I do want to find are places we can go off pavement in the outback and still do o.k. I am asking for suggested destinations: the wildest places we can go with 2x4 and still do o.k. I saw a picture of a Sprinter at one of the Moab events. My wife prefers that any off pavement adventuring we do not be too far from civilization or be in a caravan. I have heard that parts of Death valley, Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods are ok for off pavement 2x4, but that other parts require 4x4, whereas Canyon de Chelly is 4x4 only and with a guide. I have hiked all over Desolation Wilderness and have no desire to take any vehicle on the Rubicon. If we believe we can find enough great destinations reachable by 2x4, we may forget the 4x4 (I know SMB can upfit a Ford later and SK the same for a Sprinter).

So these are my questions:

1.) What places do you consider to be wild, off pavement, have solitude, and not too risky for 2x4?

2.) Which (if any) of the caravan events sponsored by this board would allow a 2x4 SMB to be part of the group?

3.) What do you think are the most amazing places that we would miss out on by not having 4x4?

Your replies are greatly appreciated and your candor desired.

Tom
__________________

TomH is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2010, 10:28 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
charlie56's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: santa rosa ca
Posts: 994
Re: Most Adventurous Off Pavement Destinations Possible 2WD SMB?

Pick up the books titled Backcountry Adventures by Massey & Wilson. There are editions for Northern & Southern California, Arizona, Utah. In the books are hundreds of off-pavement roads classified between 1 and 7. Any 2wd sportsmobile will have no problem with 1 & 2 rated trails and with a careful driver the 3-rated trails are probably doable. The problem I see with most of this class of roads is the slope. Its not so much a case of needing 4wd, its more a case of needing a low range gearbox so you don;t burn out your brakes with these heavy vehicles.

(If you become a subscriber to this forum you have access to the route files in Google Earth. Also if you join trails.com, you have access to all of the trail descriptions online.)

Hope this helps.

Cottonwood and Marble Canyon in Death Valley are doable in 2wd. So is Warm Springs Road up to the Grantham Mine.
__________________

__________________
... Charlie
EV-2 build is now complete, (yeah right).
KZ6T
charlie56 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2010, 04:59 PM   #3
Site Team
 
daveb's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Turlock Ca
Posts: 10,174
Garage
Re: Most Adventurous Off Pavement Destinations Possible 2WD SMB?

I know a guy that has a 2WD SMB / Crusier top that can go almost anywhere a 4x4 can go. He does have a limited slip rear end with good off road tires, but he also has it lifted and there is a winch with a pul-pal on board. Height is a factor for him sometimes but standard forest service roads are usually doable. Sprinters are somewhat low to the ground and most have street tires but even those can tackle a lot of forest service roads in dry weather.
Most of the roads around Fresno Dome and many around Shaver lake are easy 2WD roads that get you away from the masses.
http://autoramblings.com/sportsmobile/?p=558
http://autoramblings.com/sportsmobile/?p=598
__________________
2006 Ford 6.0PSD EB-50/E-PH SMB 4X4 Rock Crawler Trailer

Sportsmobile 4X4 Adventures..........On and off road adventures
daveb is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2010, 05:38 PM   #4
Site Team
 
BroncoHauler's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Southern New Mexico
Posts: 9,765
Re: Most Adventurous Off Pavement Destinations Possible 2WD SMB?

The lame answer is "it depends." Though 2wd can get you many places tha 4wd can get you, it is usually tougher on the vehicle and the trail than 4wd. Slipping and spinning tires, more throttle and more speed are much tougher on drivetrain and suspension components.

FYI, SMBw still has their 4wd modified Sprinter for sale.
http://www.sportsmobile.com/z-PO_calif.html


Herb
__________________
SMB-less as of 02/04/2012. Our savings account is richer, but our adventures are poorer.
BroncoHauler is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-02-2010, 12:49 AM   #5
Senior Member
 
cellularSTEVE's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: SoCal
Posts: 1,070
Re: Most Adventurous Off Pavement Destinations Possible 2WD SMB?

I think high clearance is important. Often I run in 2 wheel drive and can get to remote places, but with washboard, ruts etc, high clearance is important. So are good tires (AT or MT).

For example on our forum trip last week mac had 2WD and basically did just fine. This was to Toroweap, Grand Canyon. Also the Racetrack at Death Valley has been doable in 2WD. The Shafer Trail and the White Rim Trail out of Moab seem to be fine for 2WD too. Valley of the Gods was fine in 2WD, at least where I was.

On those types of trails, 4WD is good insurance if you are by yourself. But a winch and sand anchor (i.e. Pullpal) can be good insurance too with 2WD.

steve
__________________
'05 Ford V-10 4x4 SMB "50" White
'00 Jeep Cherokee 4x4 Highly Modified
'04 Jeep Grand Cherokee- wife won't let me modify it. :-(
Does anyone really read this stuff other than surfgeek?
cellularSTEVE is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-02-2010, 09:45 AM   #6
Senior Member
 
jage's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Parker, CO
Posts: 7,621
Re: Most Adventurous Off Pavement Destinations Possible 2WD SMB?

Yeah, I'm in 2wd most of the time. You can always add 4x4 to the Sprinter, it's just a little more rare than on a van, and you'll have to look harder for a place to do it.

The biggest advantage of 4x4 is no worries- if your wife is uncomfortable when the dirt road gets a little rough, then 4x4 is a godsend- just having it. There are tons of places I wouldn't go offroad without the 4x4, but once I get there, I'm like "I could have brought a beemer down this!"

Also, this:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2181
__________________
good to be back
jage is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-02-2010, 02:33 PM   #7
Junior Member
 
ScotFree's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Posts: 27
Re: Most Adventurous Off Pavement Destinations Possible 2WD SMB?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cellularSTEVE
I think high clearance is important. Often I run in 2 wheel drive and can get to remote places, but with washboard, ruts etc, high clearance is important. So are good tires (AT or MT).

For example on our forum trip last week mac had 2WD and basically did just fine. This was to Toroweap, Grand Canyon. Also the Racetrack at Death Valley has been doable in 2WD. The Shafer Trail and the White Rim Trail out of Moab seem to be fine for 2WD too. Valley of the Gods was fine in 2WD, at least where I was.

On those types of trails, 4WD is good insurance if you are by yourself. But a winch and sand anchor (i.e. Pullpal) can be good insurance too with 2WD.

steve
Ok, so how much Clearance is enough. I am currently comparing 4x4 Conversion shops for my 08 E350 EB & who ever I use, it will entail a 4" lift ABOVE the axle centerline, plus 17" replacemnet tires. That raises the center of gravity 4" to a vehicle that some safety groups already consider dangerously top-heavy. Tire height is the only component that raises Clearace, right? By Clearance, I mean distance from ground to bottom of Diff on level ground. Factory is 8.2." with 29" tires/wheels. 33" tires will increase Clearance to about 10". So, if folks with experience could assure me that 9" Clearance is enough, then I could go with 32" tires and keep the C of G an inch lower. Any input will be appreciated. A side note to TomH, I've heard that Sprinters have anti-rollover controls built in the computer that controls braking & suspension. But you have an overall height clearance limitation; narrow forest service roads often have low over-hanging tree branches. And with 2WD, even a tame road can turn nasty if the weather changes. Preciptition Happens.
__________________
'08 E350 SD EB Cargo 6.0
Bought New 5/2010
Quad Van 4x4
Rudimentary DIY Camper
ScotFree is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-02-2010, 09:25 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
jage's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Parker, CO
Posts: 7,621
Re: Most Adventurous Off Pavement Destinations Possible 2WD SMB?

The problem is if you go places where people have made ruts with 44" tires, then your 38" tires are going to be too small- I'm sure the 44" guys have the same problem with the 54" guys in some areas- that said, I've done amazing things with a stock Jeep Cherokee with bald street tires.

How much is enough? Depends on where your drive. I think any recognizable 4x4 for the Ford Chassis will be more than enough for anything you want to take it through. Also check out Camburg posts for 2wd clearance info: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=5301&hilit=camburg

I think that's a great way to go if you're sticking to 2wd.
__________________
good to be back
jage is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-03-2010, 10:28 AM   #9
Site Team
 
Ford_6L_E350's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Washington - Ridgefield
Posts: 4,727
Re: Most Adventurous Off Pavement Destinations Possible 2WD SMB?

Last month at Toroweap, Mac asked the same kind of questions. I suggested he save some serious money and get a Camburg lift and a rear locker or LSD.

If I were doing a new SMB today, that is what I would opt for.

Mike
__________________
Alaska to Key West, Labrador and more
Prostate cancer survivor. See Thread Prostate cancer and Sportsmobiles
2015 VW GTI 2020 Fiat 124 Spider
2012 E250 Hitop camper
Ford_6L_E350 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2010, 05:19 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
Silver350's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: BC Canada
Posts: 427
Re: Most Adventurous Off Pavement Destinations Possible 2WD SMB?

I bet these folks are happy they got a 4X4

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5396
__________________

__________________
"there is neither science nor fact prevailing here" - vlamgat
Silver350 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3
Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Sportsmobile SIP or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:11 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×