09 AWD Express travel van

OldYota

Observer
Finally pulled the trigger and got an 09 AWD express conversion for the family. Cant wait to put some adventure miles on it.IMG_2178.jpg


Anyone ever remove all that trim around the bottom to improve ground clearance?

I'm thinking get rid of that trim, different wheels and tires without a lift and it should be solid for most forest roads or slightly better?
 

OldYota

Observer
Planing a coast to coast trip for the summer, and would love to take the van through some mild off road if I can get it ready on time. Anyone know if removing the trim will get me across the mojave road?
 

simple

Adventurer
Mild off-roading would remove it pretty good. :) Just kiddin. It would definitely unfasten, the question is how looks underneath. If the paint is worn, you could have bedliner material applied to the rockers. If you remove it carefully I bet you could get something for it and those wheels and tires would probably pay for new ones you like better.
 

CrabbyMcNab

Adventurer
There is another recent GM van thread on here where the owner removed the trim. Should be one of the most recent and I believe a light color van, gold maybe? Let me take a look
 
I think the type of ground effects on your van are bolted thru the body/doors, so holes will remain upon removal - nothing you couldn't live with if rust treated:

http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/136528-BUILD-THREAD-2010-Express-AWD-Conversion-van-Overland-combo?highlight=awd+express

The running boards on my van were bolted underneath and pretty clean other than mild scuffs upon removal - about 1 hour to remove both sides:

http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/131491-GMC-Savana-AWD-De-Conversion-(Dodge-Ram-replacement)
 

TrainingWheelz

New member
I had similar body trim on my '97 Astro Conversion Van. I removed it last summer at 17+ years old and no issues. It was secured by a line of screws and some type of adhesive. WD-40, bug & tar remover, and lots of scrubbing got all the adhesive off and the paint looked great. The holes had a tiny bit of rust so I cleaned them well, sprayed some primer, a little caulk to seal them up and then ran a strip of 2" thick black auto molding down the side to cover the holes. Was not interested in bondo-ing and doing proper finishing work to repair :)

The bumper covers are a little different...my OE front cover was cut down and the rear was completely removed to fit the conv van trim. In my case, I pulled the OE covers off the outgoing van, sprayed 'em black and put 'em on the new van. If you don't have OE spares, I guess your solution depends on how much $$ you want to spend. I did see some aftermarket covers online for a couple hundred bucks or get some sweet tube bumpers to improve clearance, get fancy with your angle grinder and make the "styled" covers work, or???

Either way, that's a sweet van! It's just me and gf with no kids to haul but the extra room of your van over the hi-top Astro looks nice!
 

rockbender

Adventurer
Phenomenal video! Great job documenting that trip - you guys will remember that for a lifetime. That gives inspiration for longer road trips as my kids get older for sure.

Did you have an itinerary planned out and camping reservations all made in advance?

Great find on the van - looked to be the perfect tool for the job. Not too many other rigs that would carry 5-6 in that much comfort for three weeks!
 

OldYota

Observer
I had an itinerary but only reservations in Yosemite and San Francisco on fourth of july. I like the flexibility to go a little farther, stop a little sooner or take an extra day if I need it. If I know I have to be somewhere I get stressed.

Thanks for the kind words! 2018 Alaska....but that will be on motorcycles...
 

OldYota

Observer
rear leaf spring questions

The back of my van sags pretty bad. I think it needs heavier duty springs? I'm guessing the ones under there are the stock half ton springs. I use a hitch carrier for my dirt bike all the time, which puts a ton of weight way behind the rear axle.

Will 3/4 or 1 ton springs bolt into the same perches? Whats the best way to go??

Also both rear bump stops have been ripped off. they both tore and were hanging after havasupi point...just haven't gotten around to fixing them. My attention has been spent on the FJ40. I'm thinking I want the cool looking hydraulic ones? Waste of money for a van??
 
Check out these threads for information on 3/4 springs:

The pioneer:
http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/98904-GMC-1500-AWD-Van/page5

And, my own... I did change out the rear shocks for the 3/4 ton van Bilsteins:

http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/131491-GMC-Savana-AWD-De-Conversion-(Dodge-Ram-replacement)/page3



The back of my van sags pretty bad. I think it needs heavier duty springs? I'm guessing the ones under there are the stock half ton springs. I use a hitch carrier for my dirt bike all the time, which puts a ton of weight way behind the rear axle.

Will 3/4 or 1 ton springs bolt into the same perches? Whats the best way to go??

Also both rear bump stops have been ripped off. they both tore and were hanging after havasupi point...just haven't gotten around to fixing them. My attention has been spent on the FJ40. I'm thinking I want the cool looking hydraulic ones? Waste of money for a van??
 

Choff

Adventurer
We have a AWD 2005 Savana conversion van, I put air bags at the leaf springs and love the set up, can put more air if towing.
Check out AIR LIFT products
Have had them on for 100,000 miles
Choff
 

wjeeper

Active member
x2 on air bags! I installed some take off Firestone Ride-rites. Took all of an hour to install. Best of all you can tune the suspension depending on the load and road conditions.
 

Accrete

Explorer
...Anyone ever remove all that trim around the bottom to improve ground clearance?

I'm thinking get rid of that trim, different wheels and tires without a lift and it should be solid for most forest roads or slightly better?
Congrats on the acquisition ! Looks like a great rig for family fun.

For our 2010 pre-lift kit we had about ~12" of clearance on the body with standard tires from what I recall.
We are now running 265/70/r17 E rated with the BOR lift and have ~15"

You should be fine on most forestry roads once the running board treatment is removed. We ran for 3 seasons without any mods to tires/suspension and had no issues.

Happy Trails : )
Thom
 
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