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curtis73
curtis73 GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
12/6/15 3:57 p.m.

As you all know, I have been looking for a 4x4 for quite a while. I also frequently tow about 5000 lbs and occasionally up to 10k.

My ideal vehicle would be a 4x4 van of some sort; SRW box van, cargo van, or ambulance. The Quigleys unfortunately cost WAY too much for what you get. (translated way too much for my wallet). Conversions for common vans are not easy or cheap either. I had resigned myself to just getting a 3/4 ton truck and there are some around here.

But something kinda popped into my brain. In the past I've had a few P30 step vans that I loved. Tons of space, beefy chassis, and the smaller ones are sized that they could be a daily driver/work rig.

I figure step vans might be an easy-ish conversion. Lots of room under there. Thoughts?

Mike
Mike GRM+ Memberand Dork
12/6/15 4:13 p.m.

What kind of 4x4 needs do you have? The departure angle would be pretty gnarly on all but the shortest models.

Wall-e
Wall-e MegaDork
12/6/15 4:14 p.m.

Are the P30s the ones with leaf springs up front? If so you probably just need a transfer case that matches your trans, and a heavy duty front axle. The F-450 or F-550 are probably easiest to find. If it doesn't have front leafs you will need to make spring mounts for the front of the chassis but that shouldn't be too earth shattering.

iceracer
iceracer PowerDork
12/6/15 4:18 p.m.

Is the 4x4 idea a want or a need.

I once worked for a John Deere dealer and did a lot of road service. Chevy van, two wheel drive, four Goodyear Wrangler tires.

You should see some of the places I had to go to service a log skidder.

In the winter.

Wall-e
Wall-e MegaDork
12/6/15 4:23 p.m.

When I did towing for Wise potato chips they had some small SRW step vans that had 4cyl Cummins motors, four speeds and straight axles that would be perfect for what your talking about.

curtis73
curtis73 GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
12/6/15 5:38 p.m.

I hate 4x4, but I need it. If I could get out of it, I would. I have two properties that are remote camps in the middle of nowhere. One is about 3 miles of fording streams, steep-ish hills, and mud to get there. I have been there without 4x4 twice; once it hadn't rained for two months and it was ok as long as I was very careful in some spots. The other time it had rained and I got stuck.... meaning I had to hike three miles through the woods in the rain to get cell phone service. Then my dad had to drive 4 hours with his truck just to pull me 4 feet out of a mud hole.... after walking three miles back to the truck in the rain. Never again.

I spend a lot of time talking people OUT of 4x4 or AWD, but it really is a need for me unfortunately.

curtis73
curtis73 GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
12/6/15 5:40 p.m.
Mike wrote: What kind of 4x4 needs do you have? The departure angle would be pretty gnarly on all but the shortest models.

Departure angles aren't bad on the shorties

curtis73
curtis73 GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
12/6/15 5:45 p.m.
Wall-e wrote: Are the P30s the ones with leaf springs up front? If so you probably just need a transfer case that matches your trans, and a heavy duty front axle. The F-450 or F-550 are probably easiest to find. If it doesn't have front leafs you will need to make spring mounts for the front of the chassis but that shouldn't be too earth shattering.

From what I'm finding, most of the P20 and lighter P30s have a truck-style double wishbone setup like the G vans and C trucks... which could be ripped out and leaf mounts welded in, but you're right. A leaf spring front would be super simple.

I think you have to get pretty big/dually before they do leaves and a solid axle up front.

I'd be looking at about a 12' box. I'm not particularly against a dually, but I have no need for it and it makes things pretty wide for daily driving in the city. I really only need one that has a little more cargo space than a cargo van.

curtis73
curtis73 GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
12/6/15 5:48 p.m.
Wall-e wrote: When I did towing for Wise potato chips they had some small SRW step vans that had 4cyl Cummins motors, four speeds and straight axles that would be perfect for what your talking about.

Probably either workhorse or Freightliner? That would be perfect.

patgizz
patgizz PowerDork
12/6/15 6:24 p.m.

divorced transfer case from ??? and axle with matching side differential to the case you're using, weld in leaf mounts, figure out steering, go.

when i converted the 98 astro van to 4x4 with 3/4 ton axles i used stock car roller bearing rear mounts instead of shackles, s10 rear leafs with more added from a couple other packs of springs i had laying around to support the weight, and tossed in a 350/700r4/np208. the stock driveshaft from the k5 blazer that i used the trans and t-case from even bolted right in.

it would definitely be easiest to find a van with a beam front axle and leafs already, but not sure about them. the more i get into 4x4 stuff the less i like it, and for the street it's almost stupid. for your case, you're probably correct wanting it.

Mike
Mike GRM+ Memberand Dork
12/6/15 6:39 p.m.
curtis73 wrote:
Mike wrote: What kind of 4x4 needs do you have? The departure angle would be pretty gnarly on all but the shortest models.
Departure angles aren't bad on the shorties

That would be pretty damn interesting. I want to see a build thread.

You did say the Quigley vans are too expensive. The Toyota Van of the 80's (which share some pickup parts), the Previa that followed, the Aztek and the Astro are all relatively cheap and are available in a 4wd or AWD version. Downside is that none of these should be towing 10k lbs.

curtis73
curtis73 GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
12/6/15 7:00 p.m.

This may be a moot point. I do have about 8 pickups that might come through for me. I think the problem is, most people selling cheap trucks aren't motivated. They put a truck up for $1500, 50 salivating people reply and then lose interest, so the sellers just don't really care. They have to put too much work into very little income.

I've probably sent out 30 emails on cheap trucks and had a small handful of replies. That's what got me started on the step van idea.

dropstep
dropstep HalfDork
12/6/15 7:17 p.m.

A lady i used to work for had a 56 chevy van that looked like that. It was on a homebuilt frame with 80s isuzu 4wd running gear. Other then the lack of power from the 4cylinder it did great getting around her wooded property.

oldopelguy
oldopelguy SuperDork
12/6/15 7:57 p.m.

The '68 or so bread van I need to get rid of would probably be an easy swap to 4wd, but shipping would make it not worth it.

From what I can tell with the newer GM ones, what we generally think of as P30s, they were available with both solid axle and ifs with no obvious reason why sometimes. As a general rule, 5/10 lug wheels means solid front axle and single rear usually means ifs, but even those aren't absolutes.

All three of the ones we had at my dad's place were aluminum body on steel frame, and all three have some oddball bracket on the frame to move the steering box forward and angle it properly for the body. The rest of the front suspension is pretty much pickup or van stuff. It wouldn't be all that tough to toss the body on an appropriate wheelbase pickup frame as an option for 4wd.

JohnRW1621
JohnRW1621 MegaDork
12/6/15 8:28 p.m.

I think you'll just need to sniff around Govdeals often till something "right" pops up.

Sample:
https://www.govdeals.com/index.cfm?fa=Main.Item&itemid=109&acctid=1455 https://www.govdeals.com/index.cfm?fa=Main.Item&itemid=1146&acctid=2787.

Kenny_McCormic
Kenny_McCormic UltimaDork
12/6/15 9:38 p.m.

Based on GM parts bin engineering, I'd hazard a guess the axle from an old K3500 bolts into the solid front axle models. Also worth investigating whether or not the frames are all drilled for the solid axle spring brackets.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
12/6/15 9:58 p.m.
curtis73 wrote: I hate 4x4, but I need it. If I could get out of it, I would. I have two properties that are remote camps in the middle of nowhere. One is about 3 miles of fording streams, steep-ish hills, and mud to get there. I have been there without 4x4 twice; once it hadn't rained for two months and it was ok as long as I was very careful in some spots. The other time it had rained and I got stuck.... meaning I had to hike three miles through the woods in the rain to get cell phone service. Then my dad had to drive 4 hours with his truck just to pull me 4 feet out of a mud hole.... after walking three miles back to the truck in the rain. Never again. I spend a lot of time talking people OUT of 4x4 or AWD, but it really is a need for me unfortunately.

Maybe just add a winch?

oldopelguy
oldopelguy SuperDork
12/6/15 10:25 p.m.

Along that line, maybe a skid loader for a weekend and $500 worth of gravel?

bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 SuperDork
12/7/15 9:17 a.m.

Does it have to be a daily driver too?

How about a bobbed Deuce & a Half? It could potentially make DD duty, but I'm not sure it would be pleasant in downtown traffic situations. Though traffic would sure get the heck out of your way.

Or CUCV Ambulance, radio, or similar military "box" trucks? They came in Chevy and Dodge flavors.

Or a more modern 4x4 Ambulance?

PHeller
PHeller PowerDork
12/7/15 10:59 a.m.
bigdaddylee82 wrote: Or CUCV Ambulance, radio, or similar military "box" trucks? They came in Chevy and Dodge flavors.

Whoa. I want one of those.

iceracer
iceracer PowerDork
12/7/15 11:17 a.m.

Biggest problem with a conversion is matching the front and rear gear ratios.

Years ago before 4x4 became THE thing, there were conversions for 2wd pickups.

At one time Jeep was the only factory built 4x4 pickup.

JThw8
JThw8 UltimaDork
12/7/15 12:20 p.m.

Ever consider 2wd and a really good winch?

JThw8
JThw8 UltimaDork
12/7/15 12:22 p.m.

dammit...why'd you have to go and make me look...this seems like a pretty good price for what it is https://cnj.craigslist.org/cto/5304269326.html

java230
java230 Reader
12/7/15 12:43 p.m.

No real quick progress, but here is a MT45 getting the 4x4 treatment.

http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/138170-My-Cummins-Allison-1000-Freightliner-MT45-Step-Van-Build

Ambulances with 4x4 go for ungodly prices... The boxes are bullet proof though, but not much headroom.

WOW Really Paul?
WOW Really Paul? MegaDork
12/7/15 12:56 p.m.

In reply to bigdaddylee82:

There is a Deuce & a half in the Indiana AutoRV for a princely sum of $3000, doesn't get any better than that.

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