Sprinter 4WD Conversion Idea, GMT-800 IFS.

luthj

Engineer In Residence
Another 5k miles, still rolling along. Going to have another go at refining the alignment at the next maintenance stopover in July. The aftermarket rack has a bit of play at center I want to tighten up, and maybe replace the sway bar bushings, as the center ones are getting a bit loose. I need to do a light tire clearance on the passenger side, as a bit of rubbing showed up when wheeling and tripoding in Utah.

Mostly have my shock settings dialed in for various terrain, but low speed on the front is a bit low, so I am often maxed out. I will increase 30% if I rebuild or revalve.

Due to how far forward the front of the subframe is, and the lowish spring rate, I have hit the skid plate when coming down off a shelf at speed. I have got into the habit of timing my braking to reduce front compression in these cases. I have a big dent in the front of the skid from a 40 mph hit on a rock hiding in a shadow. Plate had a bit of warp I need to bend out later. Subframe is fine, but shifted back 1/64", which tells you that the rock was obliterated... lol.

I am considering using a second leaf in the rear to lift a bit less than 1". Mostly for increased rear bump travel. I would adjust the front up to match. I rarely bottom on the front, but the rear does happen at speed sometimes.

Still noodling sway bar disconnects. Rear would be easy, and it's the stiffest. On severe off camber tracks the sway bars are typically great for preventing the tall vehicles from transferring additional weight to the downhill wheels. With the damping I have the van is near critical damping in roll,b so I don't get bad rocking. However the abrupt body roll with the rear coming off a step is not very comfortable.

Did about 10 hours in 4low last week. No issues to report other than 10 mpg. With the weight of the can sometimes the front axle sleeve sticks when going to 2hi in the tcase and I need to reverse to get it free.
 

tom2turbo

New member
Set the endplay, installed the bearing and seal, and torqued down the output collar nut. The bearing I ordered was the wrong size (30mm ID instead of 32). Someone will be getting an angry email. I pulled the bearing from the sprinters trans. It was in good shape, so I flushed and installed it. Its will have an easy life with no driveshaft hanging off it.

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Hopefully it will never come apart again. Of course now I need to call Jen any time it needs moved. Its just not safe to even tip it over, to much aluminum casting to break. I am still waiting on the sleeves for the valve body. Hopefully I will have those tomorrow, and I can get the valve body bolted on after work.

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Can you share your source for the TC?
 

tom2turbo

New member
Torque converter? It was a Rock Auto unit, I can look up the brand if you like.

If it's the transfer case your after, I went junkyard hopping via car-part.com
OK that is good information. Brand would be nice. So did you go with and special clutch materials or just the generic RA offering?
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
It was a standard rebuilt. The gold standard would be direct from MB, but it's pricey. I bought a DACCO brand.

If you have a local custom builder, a T1N TC with the latter ncv3 hub/clutch is better.
 

DzlToy

Explorer
Have you considered real off road gearing for this thing? IIRC, the "crawl ratio" - and I say that ROTFLMFAO, is about 25:1. I know it isn't a rock crawler, but you may be pleasantly surprised how useful low gearing is, both on and off road. Something in the 100:1 range is really good. My 4Runner has 47:1 and it is not low enough IMO.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
I don't want to break stuff, so the 2.7/1 low range is fine for me. With the automatic I get extra slip when crawling anyways. Besides, having a top speed of 15mph in low range would make it unusable for much of my driving.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
Put the van through it's paces. Was a day of hard work. I don't think we will be doing it again, at least by choice.

I can definitely confirm the rollover angle is greater than 30 degrees.

The only close calls were nearly hitting the driveshaft.

I needed the front locker a few times, used the rear regularly. There was a fair bit of rock stacking, and extensive spotting.

A friend was with us in a ncv3 lightly modified 170wb factory 4x4. Folks like to talk trash about the factory awd system, but the traction control is quite good. Even with it's 1.6 low range, it cleared everything our van did, albeit with a bit of wheelspin needed.

No significant damage, but the front skidplate had a bunch more hits. The step bumper needs an adjustment.

For comparison, a beginner skill level driver caravaned with us in a 95 Wrangler, no lockers, 32" tires, otherwise stock. Other than getting cross axle and needing a push, the Jeep made it through without much trouble. Though we supplied a bunch of route advice and driving technique. Which was very necessary. It's hard to find a more capable stock 4x4 though.

I probably could have driven the wrangler through without a spotter myself, but it would have been a close thing. I would rate this a 3 or low 4. I would guess most folks in even moderately modified 4x4s would just turn back, unless they had an experienced spotter.

We were fortunate, as the dunes were a bit damp from recent rain, so they handled the vans without issue.

The only recovery gear used was the shovel and jack, when I lost my focus, and high centered the diff on shelf.

This is the limit for all but the most modified vans I think.

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Farfrumwork

Active member
Nice job putting your rig through the paces, and a NCV3!

I've found our 4x4 (awd) NCV3 to be pretty capable, especially for a big ass van - although its as 'small' as they come (144 low top) and built out as a 'lightweight' weekender. It's ~7500lb loaded to go.

I'm pretty sure I've seen that tan T1N around here. They are in the Boulder, CO area?


Could you get a bit more clearance with more tire? Or are there more limitations to how big you can go on that model?
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
That t1n is in the boulder area. But there are several that look really similar about.

The ncv3 accepts a larger tire, but may need a lift.

For my van, I can't go much bigger in the front without a fair bit of modification to the wheel well sheet metal. I could possibly do a 32" tire, if I did some cutting and welding. No plans to do that though.
 
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