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View Full Version : 4x4 gear conversion onto 2005 2w


Gabe Athouse
05-18-2015, 05:13 PM
Hi new owner here. I'm looking at converting a USA spec 2005 sprinter to 4x4 using used factory components from the UK. Does anyone know the list of stuff needed? Is it the entire transmission that gets swapped, and does the trans from the 2.3L mate to the later 2.7L?

Thanks, many more questions to come so brace yourselves ;)

syncro_G
05-19-2015, 12:33 AM
I'm curious too. From what I can tell, it's a fairly complicated task that would involve ecu tuning and swapping lots of parts.
Another option that would not be cheap (but would make for lots of great story telling) might be to travel to Europe with the van and get it converted while on vacation.

skydiver007
05-19-2015, 02:01 AM
Here is where you go. They know how.

http://www.sprinterstore.com/sprinter_4x4.htm

Gabe Athouse
05-19-2015, 03:53 AM
Those options seem nice but cost prohibitive. I'm thinking about purchasing and entire 4x4 van that runs but can't be registered here because laws, and swapping anything necessary off it to make mine worky on 4 but retain the ability to get tags. If that means swapping ECU then I guess that's possible too. If the donor van was capable of accepting all the crap I take off my van and still be a drivable 2wd van then I could send it back to Canada for sale, or possibly sell to someone who could use it in some other way, or parts.

Eric Experience
05-19-2015, 11:09 AM
Gabe.
I take it from your reference to a 2.3 you are looking at a 308D as the donor vehicle. they had the ZG1 transfer case high range only. You could do that but if you want low range you need to get a TIN donor with the ZG3 transfer case, The rear axle is easy if it has the same ratio, the transfer case bolts to the floor and is driven with a shaft so you keep the original gear box. The hard work is the front cross member, it contains the diff and the steering rack, you would have to make sure you get the longer steering shaft. The controls are vacuum driven by solenoids connected to the ECU. You can just switch them manually but you must turn of the ABS and the traction control when 4x4 is engaged. Depends on your skills with electronics if you can pull it of. Eric.

syncro_G
05-19-2015, 04:22 PM
Swapping from a donor van would be the easiest. However, I don't know that 4x4 T1N's were imported to North America

david_42
05-19-2015, 04:53 PM
Gabe, it would be helpful if you posted your location.

Gabe Athouse
05-19-2015, 06:55 PM
I'm in Portland Oregon. No t1n was available here in 4x4. I'm not super clear on the models and running gear they had across the pond in UK. This is the info I need so I can search UK for donors, and I will import, temporarily, a U.K. 4x4 so I can swap stuff out. Then I will export the remainder to Canada most likely. My electrics skills are only so-so, but my dad can help a bit here if I can get his head around it. I would actually prefer to disable ABS and ESC while in 4x4 because that stuff usually compromises the driving experience anyway.
This seems like the easiest and most cost effective way to get true 4x4 in the states. Also, if no low range I suppose I'm okay with that because this is an automatic rig which makes low range less of a necessity IMO. I'm not looking for extreme capability, but more like climbing and sand ability and for the odd moment when stuck on mud or whatever.

A.Hayes
05-19-2015, 07:26 PM
Gabe- I suggest you attend NW Sprintefest: http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=37960&highlight=Sprinterfest and talk to Sprinter Store owner John Bendit. He converted a T1N for forum user Motobueno several years back using all the (grey market) MB parts. The van has been at the event many times, and those guys can give you the full run down on what is involved... No getting around it, it's a major undertaking.

Good luck and maybe I'll see you there!

Gabe Athouse
05-19-2015, 09:31 PM
Hopefully it's an unachievable dream because I'd rather keep it simple and save myself a LOT of work and a LOT of money but the inner child in me is always wanting 4matic if yall know what I mean.

vanski
05-19-2015, 10:11 PM
Hi Gabe. Lots of folks' inner child are wanting to convert their T1Ns to 4x4s here in the US... I started a thread a while back regarding the ability to import the appropriate drive train pieces direct from the manufacturer considering Mercedes is now selling the 4x4. Well that didn't idea didn't go too far but some good ideas did come from that thread regarding a similar approach to yours; importing 4x4s and then taking the needed parts. From the research I've done the only economical way for individuals to convert is if a bunch of us team up (including our $$), we source the appropriate parts with a dependable sourcing agent, load them into a container, ship them here to the states, and then have a qualified engineer who would want to embark on the project for around 10 conversions. The sourcing and shipping cost is what can kill you here but if a group of US folks had a buying agent in Europe the numbers could work out.

Gabe Athouse
05-20-2015, 12:41 AM
I have the agents, shippers, and sourcer. He has import routes into Canada for while vehicles that are 15+ yrs old.

syncro_G
05-20-2015, 02:22 AM
I don't know the cost of a donor 4x4 but the kit from Oberainger (OEM to Mercedes) is, I think, around $12K. The advantage of the kit is that all parts are new. If you find a donor vehicle that's cheap enough, you may very well end up with a bunch of very used parts that will need rebuilding.

The problem with the kit is that Oberainger is not allowed to sell to the US. I assume, however, that if you have someone in Germany who can receive the order and then ship it, you might be much further along in the process. I have no idea what the customs part of it would look like.

And from what I've read, once you have the parts (either from a donor or as kit) the parts are not designed for our NAFTA sprinters and so further fabrication is needed.

Gabe Athouse
05-20-2015, 02:43 AM
Interesting. As it happens I also have an good friend in Germany, who actually works for Mercedes, as a parts sourcing manager. And, I'm a fabricator with all the tools needed for about anything. So, the only missing component is MONEY! Ain't it always the way? Now, if you guys all have the money, and we were to really investigate this avenue, I'm curious if my 2 friends and their associated agents could get us a "group buy" type situation going straight from the home country.

vanski
05-20-2015, 04:08 AM
Sounds good. I'm sure lots of folks would love to hear how it could be done, without cutting corners, for about $12K+/-. Some glaring concerns I'm seeing on my side with the limited information you've provided: The 4 matic thing.. Seems like most folks would want to see high and low capability.. Bringing entire vehicles over seems like a gross overkill to what needs to happen regarding the needed parts. Why can't the individual parts be sourced, put in a container or truck, shipped over?

lindenengineering
05-20-2015, 05:16 AM
I will chime in here maybe deflate a few bubbles of imagination.
I have done this conversion.
Source parts from MOT failures in the UK.
First cost pricing 1500 quid auction.
Dismantle and crush what you don't need.
Local labor cost involved for downgrade I budgeted 750 quid to get it all a part and then collated into crates.
OK the cheapest way is to ship per 40ft container to Houston and onward rail to Denver. That means a lot of busted down Sprinters for bits! But a crate of pertinent bits for single conversion was $1000 surface UK exit port to Denver.

Tear down and install of the conversion is going to be about $5000 in direct labor costs so you get to about $12500 with about 15% profit on it on average using my example and prototype unit which I suppose is still scudding about.

Now recently I posted a poll on what you Sprinter owners would pay for a conversion!
$500o seems to be the break point, 10K is too rich for most and $12500 is as much as a decent deposit on a new un!
So why bother?

Here's a tester!
The first one with $12,500 cash on my desk or in my grubby mitt and I will do it with a 180 days lead time!
I will wait for takers--probably my beard will grow like Khomeini's in breathless anticipation!:laughing::popcorn:
Dennis

jostalli
05-20-2015, 05:40 AM
I'm afraid Dennis is right and this thread will quickly die.

Gabe Athouse
05-20-2015, 06:16 AM
My hope was to save the labor costs by doing the work myself. And the whole truck import was simply to maximize the shipping by being able to sell the donor van as a 2wd when finished as well, or part it out. My friend brings a 40' container for 6500$ from England. Sometimes they are half empty anyway. So it might be possible to get a running van here for around 8000$. I'm still not clear why so much electrical parts are required for this conversion but do not doubt that it's a financially unwise proposition, especially since Awd conversion stateside is now under 6$K.
I'm still very new to this platform so just spitballing and learning right now.

lindenengineering
05-20-2015, 01:46 PM
My hope was to save the labor costs by doing the work myself. And the whole truck import was simply to maximize the shipping by being able to sell the donor van as a 2wd when finished as well, or part it out. My friend brings a 40' container for 6500$ from England. Sometimes they are half empty anyway. So it might be possible to get a running van here for around 8000$. I'm still not clear why so much electrical parts are required for this conversion but do not doubt that it's a financially unwise proposition, especially since Awd conversion stateside is now under 6$K.
I'm still very new to this platform so just spitballing and learning right now.

Whao! my Sprinter adventurer!:thumbup:
For import into the USA the van has to be 25 years old remember.
The Customs are Gubbermint and although some consider just "dumb workers" they are pretty sharp about trying ways of getting around import barriers. If anything is wrong you run the risk of load confiscation/destruction , or at best return to the cargo to port of origine. Plus being levied a hefty fine!
By importing major sub assys you avoid that problem, but of course it denies you the vague opportunity of flogging off what is left!
You should of course not overlook several factors!
NO parts availability on this side of the pond!
And
Don't expect any parts support from MB USA even if you have the old Vin# from the donor.
Everything and I mean everything has to come from Europe!

Digressing a bit I fix Landrovers in my shop and grey market Defender's seem to have many Americans go wobbly at the knees wanting one! :rolleyes:
Two in particular have 300 TDi engines in them. To fix these brutes everything as to come in from specialist in the UK. Job repair times get stretched out so far that two and three months lead time is not unusual to fix even simple faults which have downed the rig! A never ending story!
I bet I make at least two or three phone call a week across the pond at 4,00 am searching for bits to fix some of these prized beauties which boiled down are underneath rusty crocs but have flashy paint jobs!
The same goes for Pinzgauers--there is always someone who wants to put a Chev 350 in it!:lol:
I did have an abandoned Citroen 2.5 diesel car which I busted up for parts principally for the slant engine for a diesel Pinz re-power. I warned the bloke who just had to have it for many millions of green clams. Without the ability to Vous parlez Francais technique Monsieur to La Belle France the vehicle was dead in the water after about years use!
Parts availability is very important if you want to enjoy the rig to the fullest.
Dennis

Gabe Athouse
05-20-2015, 02:29 PM
Thanks, and I appreciate the devils advocate really, but maybe we can get back to my original concern of what it takes to do the conversion. I will worry about the logistics of getting those parts here. There are other legal ways that you are not mentioning here that I would be using if I brought a whole vehicle here. Did I mention I have an inside guy at MB in the parts dept? He's a pretty high up employee. Anyway that's not important. What parts are needed to do the conversion correctly?

icarus
05-20-2015, 04:45 PM
Just as an aside, I love conversations that include the phrase "yes...but...". Or "I know...but...". Is always seems to lead to circular logic. No offense intended to the OP,as people who have thier mind/heart set on doing something deserve answers as much as any other question, since they may well do it any way. Better to be informed.

Icarus

Gabe Athouse
05-20-2015, 05:05 PM
If I could afford a new 4x4 van I would just do that. The point is I like to tinker and I'm capable of making things happen that lots of other people would consider an impossibility. I do it without excess money however. I have resources and skills that the average person might not. I've made a career out of that. There's lots of ways to get to a solution and I have no doubt that this is one of those instances. In fact, it's already being done in different ways. I may never go down that path with my 2005 dodge van, but I'm looking for detailed info on what it takes so I can make that decision for me, not for the average over-funded over-lander. It's not circular logic it's just the way that out-of-box thinking happens, at least for me.

lindenengineering
05-20-2015, 07:23 PM
Gabe
Well all power to you!
However the words of a very famous American Ambassador to Iraq (when I live there) , once said to me after I advised him to keep his marine guards off of his Cadillac. I therefore quote his thoughtful and unforgetable words that merit contemplation to those embarking upon a project which in your case might consume large amounts of green money & effort to no avail!

Quote

Mr Williams
Unfortunately we Americans are a nation of tinkerers and experimenters who embark upon projects and adventures without the slightest regard to a satisfactory outcome which often ends in a disaster; often of course due to lack of foresight or training!

In fact its an indefatigable flaw in the nations character & we get our fingers burnt!

Regretably we tinker and experiment with other nations, which frankly pzzes them off and that is where I have come in to SOOTH those nations that have been upset by us!
Its called nation building really!:lol:

We all had a chuckle at this profound statement while playing badminton with the British Ambassador & Mil Attache at the British embassy Baghdad.:thumbup: Pink gins all round!:thumbup:
Anyway a statement worthy of contemplation.
Cheers Dennis

MillionMileSprinter
05-20-2015, 09:28 PM
Gabe, thanks for posting this question to the forum (where else would you post it?). Never the less, only a few of the forum members have even seen a 4x4 T1N. In the US, there appear to be only 2 of them. The UK and our Aussie brothers have them available. So doing the 2wd to 4wd conversion is something that we just know little to nothing about, other than its really hard and expensive.
That being said, I for one, am drooling over my keyboard thinking about the possibility
I even went on eBay UK and found the cheapest 4x4 T1N... For only 48,000 USD. Ouch. This is a project that seems doable with the right amount of parts, time and money.
Please post photos and updates as you progress. Many of us would love to follow your work.

vanski
05-20-2015, 10:28 PM
Gabe, thanks for posting this question to the forum (where else would you post it?). Never the less, only a few of the forum members have even seen a 4x4 T1N. In the US, there appear to be only 2 of them. The UK and our Aussie brothers have them available. So doing the 2wd to 4wd conversion is something that we just know little to nothing about, other than its really hard and expensive.
That being said, I for one, am drooling over my keyboard thinking about the possibility
I even went on eBay UK and found the cheapest 4x4 T1N... For only 48,000 USD. Ouch. This is a project that seems doable with the right amount of parts, time and money.
Please post photos and updates as you progress. Many of us would love to follow your work.

I wouldn't get that discouraged... There are quite a few shops that do it with bastardized Ford/Chevy parts and a few who do it with new OEM parts, but none who do it the way you and Dennis are talking. Far more than two in the country. Probably by a factor of at least 10.

Big project, of course, but if you're handy in this way and get the appropriate parts list, then the parts, and have the 'solutions' mind like you say you have and the time and the money when needed you'll get it done.

syncro_G
05-21-2015, 04:10 AM
Get a VIN from a sprinter 4x4 and start studying the Mercedes EPC. chart out the differences and make a parts list. I know plenty of guys who have obsessed over G Wagen mods in that way. It helps to find an enthusiast in the UK who can field questions as you go.

Gabe Athouse
05-21-2015, 04:22 AM
Crazier ideas have happened

MillionMileSprinter
05-21-2015, 12:26 PM
I wouldn't get that discouraged... There are quite a few shops that do it with bastardized Ford/Chevy parts and a few who do it with new OEM parts, but none who do it the way you and Dennis are talking. Far more than two in the country. Probably by a factor of at least 10.


Yeah, I know about the bastardized Ford/Chevy drivetrains. When I said there were two in the country, I meant specifically how he wants to do it, like you said "none who do it the way you and Dennis are talking."
Will be watching to see how this unfolds.:popcorn: