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Old 06-13-2019, 03:11 PM   #1
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Default 4x4 question for class B

For those of you that own class B, is it worth have or getting 4x4 chassis for your class B.

We look to do some Boon-docking but not crazy offroading. Also looking for some winter camping.

Thanks

KC
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Old 06-13-2019, 04:39 PM   #2
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I don't need 4x4 because I don't plan to drive on ice, snow, or difficult roads. But I would like the extra ground clearance over pot holes, speed bumps, and steep driveway approaches. So if I ever decided I just had to have the extra clearance, I'd probably trade for a 4x4 before I'd consider adding 2-3 inches of lift to my current rig. This is because others on this forum have done satisfactory lifts, but others had difficulties finding someone who could do it right.
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Old 06-13-2019, 05:57 PM   #3
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Iíve lusted after having 4x4, but honestly Iíve been able to go down all the forest roads so far in my 3500 promaster chassis (which is probably only 7Ē ground clearance at rear axle.
But I am also not looking to chase jeeps.

In reality itís not worth the added cost for me.

Iíll just be happy to add some black rims and more aggressive tires for that poser look and save my $.

But there are some folks out there that can justify the cost!

For your enjoyment:
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Old 06-30-2019, 05:19 PM   #4
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KC, For simple boondocking no 4wd is needed. The van has so much weight on the back axle that you will have plenty of traction (unless you are considering Promaster). For rougher roads a limited slip differential is a good idea particularly if you have a stiff rear suspension or big sway bars. For winter driving you need winter tires or chains and again a limited slip differential would be good. For serious climbing on dirt or snow the 4wd would be helpful but the hit on gas mileage should be considered.
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Old 06-30-2019, 05:26 PM   #5
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KC, As far as road clearance goes my 2003 Dodge Roadtrek Popular 190 has seen pretty rough roads in Moab and has just enough ground clearance to survive scraping anything. The same would likely not be true for the Chevy chassis which is lower and has a longer wheel base. My Dodge also has a limited slip diff which helped us to go where a Sprinter with open diff got stuck.
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Old 06-30-2019, 05:54 PM   #6
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Our Transit van conversion does pretty well getting far into the PNW boonies with a limited slip differential, Nokian WRC3 tires, air bags, and picking our line carefully.


The ground clearance isn't great, mainly because the extended Transit has a really long rear overhang.
The airbags get us about 4" of extra rear end lift when needed, which has largely solved that issue.
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Old 06-30-2019, 06:37 PM   #7
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���� on limited slip differential. Tires make the biggest bang for the bux for traction. �� for small 1-3" body lift just to better clear the tail, or adjustable air bags/shocks for the back only.
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Old 06-30-2019, 07:46 PM   #8
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I don't know about winter, but I took my standard 2014 Agile over Lemhi Pass (between Idaho & Montana) last year...which is at the top of a gravel, two track, Bureau of Land Management gravel road. Definitely steep and washboardy near the summit. It handled it well. For what it's worth, I'm comfortable taking the Agile wherever I would take a two wheel drive vehicle such as a compact pickup with sort of standard ground clearance. That covers most gravel Forest Service roads, etc.
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Old 06-30-2019, 08:31 PM   #9
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Been on top of Lemhi Pass when a T-storm came along making the road real slick. Sure glad our Subaru has AWD traction as I could feel it working as we towed our tiny travel trailer.
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Old 06-30-2019, 09:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peder_y2k View Post
���� on limited slip differential. Tires make the biggest bang for the bux for traction. �� for small 1-3" body lift just to better clear the tail, or adjustable air bags/shocks for the back only.
Yes, the Nokians made a big difference from the stock Hancook tires.


The LSD also makes a big difference on our Transit when going up steep rubble/dirt roads. You do have to disable traction control for the LSD to be effective.


The rear only air bags are quite effective in improving overhang clearance. Normally we have them set to 30psi, but when the road gets rough we boost to 100psi. This does 2.5 good things:

1. At full inflation, it's about a 4" lift at the bumper, which really helps get over water bars.
2. Full inflation really cuts down on body roll, making it much easier to set a proper line of attack.
2.5 Adjustable bags help in leveling without blocks when setting up camp.


Of course, that makes for a pretty hard ride, so we lower the pressure once the road improves.
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Old 06-30-2019, 10:30 PM   #11
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The Wendland's had one and decided itwasnot for them - depite that they mostly boondock.

They said the added clearance was nice but for them, not worth the much stiffer ride. Thet didn't mention the added cost aspect - as they got it free.

There latest is standard rear wheel drive.

We had 4WD on out Sierra Diesel pickup - very rarely used it but a "Nice to have" sort of thing and used it once or twice when our heavy trailer was parked on wet grass and also on some steep campround gravel roads where the back wheels would break loose in 2WD and throw stones back on the Airstream!

I also used it when heading south in winter if we hit snowy conditions - obviously doesnt help braking, but just felt a bit more stable.

Brian
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Old 07-01-2019, 01:06 AM   #12
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Our Paseo (Transit T350HD dual rear wheel) is 2WD with a limited slip rear axle, and we've done suspension and tire changes to increase the clearance by about 3.5" at the rear bumper and 2" at the front bumper (it had a rear down stance when stock because of the weight of the Winnebago build). We are running Geolander A/T G015 tires. For our purposes this is working great, and I really don't see the need for 4WD. I have no intention of doing any real offroading, just dirt/gravel forest roads.

The current setup did great getting us to this remote campsite 10 miles down a very pot-holed forest road in the Idaho Panhandle a couple of weeks ago.



Here's a side view to show the increased clearance:

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File Type: jpg 20190617_094518.jpg (320.6 KB, 70 views)
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Old 07-01-2019, 01:34 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bozeorbust View Post
KC, As far as road clearance goes my 2003 Dodge Roadtrek Popular 190 has seen pretty rough roads in Moab and has just enough ground clearance to survive scraping anything. The same would likely not be true for the Chevy chassis which is lower and has a longer wheel base. My Dodge also has a limited slip diff which helped us to go where a Sprinter with open diff got stuck.

You are certainly right about the long wheelbase Chevy chassis. WB is 155" which in itself may not be too bad, but Airstream (in it's infinite wisdom) placed the macerator under the mid-point on the driver's side. It is right at the break-over point and 2" lower than the 8" clearance everywhere else. We've not scraped in over 17,000 miles, but it worries me often in pot holes and driveway angles.
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Old 07-01-2019, 10:48 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AAFD View Post
For those of you that own class B, is it worth have or getting 4x4 chassis for your class B.

We look to do some Boon-docking but not crazy offroading. Also looking for some winter camping.

Thanks

KC
I think that's a question you can only answer for yourself because it all depends on where, when you plan to travel. I decided that 4x4 is an absolute must have for me because I want to be able to get as far away from civilization as I can when the mood strikes, to places where I won't see any other humans. I also plan to do a lot of winter camping and even some beach camping, all of which are made much easier with 4WD.

So, in my opinion, it all depends on your specific travel plans.
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Old 07-01-2019, 01:46 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by <<B-Guy>> View Post
The Wendland's had one and decided itwasnot for them - depite that they mostly boondock.

They said the added clearance was nice but for them, not worth the much stiffer ride. Thet didn't mention the added cost aspect - as they got it free.

There latest is standard rear wheel drive.

Brian
Every RV the Wendland's have had were 2 wd. I doubt "mostly boondock" is entirely accurate but it does not include off-roading or possibly even gravel roading of any kind other than short distances at an established camp site from what I can tell. Boondocking at a Harvest Host site they currently promote does not need 4 wd. They've abandoned the Class B world for a Class C.

The Wendland's have sponsored a Winter Freezeout in Michigan's UP at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in January. I've attended most of them (in my 2 wd Sprinters). There was 2-3 feet of snow but the DNR plowed out most of the campground access roads and campsites. Still with overnight snows about another 6" accumulated often while we were there. Out of the 30 or so mostly Class Bs of all makes, brands and years each Freezeout I don't recall many if any 4x4s in the group. Keep in mind, not just at the campground, everyone had to drive 100's of miles to and from the state park in snowy and icy road conditions. I'd judge needing a 4x4 Class B in the winter is overblown.
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Old 07-01-2019, 04:41 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Peder_y2k View Post
Been on top of Lemhi Pass when a T-storm came along making the road real slick. Sure glad our Subaru has AWD traction as I could feel it working as we towed our tiny travel trailer.

A storm moved in and it hailed on us when we got to the summit. We didn't dally because we weren't sure how long the storm would last. Sadly, not much of a view given the storm, but I'd been over the Pass before. My traveling partner hadn't. Anyway, the Agile handled going downhill into MT just fine over the "marbles", probably due to the weight over the rear axle. And, the hail belt was only near the summit. The Agile handled early morning ice/snow in Yellowstone as well...provided one drove smartly and didn't get crazy on shady corners, etc.
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Old 07-01-2019, 09:52 PM   #17
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DavyDD, Then the Wendands told a fib!

When I first got into looking at "B"'s I came across their videos and podcasts and watched/istened to most.

I am sure I remember his msaying at one point that they had teh 4WD version and appreciated the increased ground clearance but they had significant complaints about to rougher ride.

They also said they had concluded that for their style of camping, they found that they really did nit need it - even on their winter Micgigan trips - and would not be getting another!

I heard him repeat his views on several subsequent podcasts when folks would raise teh question about 4WD.

Cheers .......... Brian
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Old 07-01-2019, 11:28 PM   #18
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Every RV the Wendland's have had were 2 wd. I doubt "mostly boondock" is entirely accurate but it does not include off-roading or possibly even gravel roading of any kind other than short distances at an established camp site from what I can tell. Boondocking at a Harvest Host site they currently promote does not need 4 wd. They've abandoned the Class B world for a Class C.

The Wendland's have sponsored a Winter Freezeout in Michigan's UP at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in January. I've attended most of them (in my 2 wd Sprinters). There was 2-3 feet of snow but the DNR plowed out most of the campground access roads and campsites. Still with overnight snows about another 6" accumulated often while we were there. Out of the 30 or so mostly Class Bs of all makes, brands and years each Freezeout I don't recall many if any 4x4s in the group. Keep in mind, not just at the campground, everyone had to drive 100's of miles to and from the state park in snowy and icy road conditions. I'd judge needing a 4x4 Class B in the winter is overblown.
One of their many Roadtrek Sprinters was 4wd...
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Old 07-02-2019, 08:31 PM   #19
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One of their many Roadtrek Sprinters was 4wd...
I don't recall them ever having a 4x4 Roadtrek. You'll have to verify that. I know they never had one at Tahquamenon Falls SP.
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Old 07-02-2019, 10:16 PM   #20
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If this link from 2017 works, it should verify Mike & Jennifer W's foray into the world of 4x4 Sprinters!

https://rvlifestyle.com/meet-brand-new-rv/

Brian.
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