Author Topic: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4  (Read 16212 times)

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Offline pir2

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How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« on: April 1, 2010, 07:09:47 AM »
I think this comes up often enough, so I would like to try to get all pertinent information into one thread.
If you have done it or know about it, please share your knowledge here.
Don't really want to see "just buy a 4WD"  It's not what you buy!

The best thing I know of to do this is to have a full 4WD vehicle to take the parts from.
From what I know, you will need a transfer case, transmission, front spring set up, complete front axle, driveshafts, and possibly a new transmission brace? Engine support?
Body wise, if the vehicle you are converting has a regular 2WD tranny hump you may want to cut it out and use the 4WD hump from the donor vehicle.

A couple threads to maybe help
http://ramchargercentral.com/index.php/topic,46432.15.html
http://ramchargercentral.com/index.php/topic,112087.0.html

Feel free to add or correct.
« Last Edit: April 1, 2010, 07:12:56 AM by pir2 »
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Offline s ǝoɾ

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #1 on: April 1, 2010, 07:15:19 AM »
What do I do about steering? Can I just add cross over steering and leave the box in the original 2wd location?

Will jungles brackets help me install leaf springs up front?

What do I do with my old engine cross member? The control arm brackets are in the way.
Avoid replacing any part that you have not proven to be faulty through extensive testing.

Offline RXT

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #2 on: April 1, 2010, 09:31:28 PM »
You wanted all pertinent information regarding converting a 2wd into a 4wd, but you said that you "don't want to see just buy a 4wd"

I think taking on the job of converting a 2wd into a 4wd is a big decision and sometimes the best solution maybe to buy an already existing 4wd. Wouldn't that make it pertinent? I'm not trying to talk anyone out of taking on such a job, but it's far more complex then to drop out a 2wd IFS and hang on a front axle and transfer case. The entire process of converting a 2wd is akin to a complete frame up rebuild. And the conversion isn't cheaper either.

What does such a job entail? There are thousands of parts involved in a conversion. While a donor truck will make things easier, and hopefully provide most of the parts you'll need, some fabrication will still be necessary and many parts may still need to be replaced or repaired, depending on the condition of the donor truck. Cost is major factor, even if you get the donor truck for free, there are always unforeseen costs involved with any major project. Thats not to say that it can't be done, but for the most part, it's usually cheaper to buy a turn key truck that already exists, than it is to build something the company already built over a million times. 

Now there are some exceptions where converting a 2wd maybe worth it to you. For example, it usually doesn't make sense to convert a commonly available truck. However, converting something that isn't common or not available at all in a 4wd maybe something that you may want to do. For example, converting a van. 4wd vans aren't common but some people can use the extra cargo space.

Another example of when converting a 2wd maybe an option, is when the company didn't produce a vehicle with the desired drivetrain hardware, such as a one ton 4x4 Dakota. Mind you there is still the large expense and fabrication required, but the point is to build a vehicle which best fits your needs if one wasn't available at all from the factory

Ed

 
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Offline pir2

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #3 on: April 2, 2010, 06:59:13 AM »
You wanted all pertinent information regarding converting a 2wd into a 4wd, but you said that you "don't want to see just buy a 4wd"


I started this thread to have information for those that are asking about doing a conversion.  It may help them to decide whether or not it is something they want to/are capable of doing.  The more information that can be gathered in one thread the better, which leads to less repeated questions.
For example, the lowering your ride thread is a great source for those that wish to do that.
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Offline pir2

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #4 on: April 2, 2010, 07:04:32 AM »
What do I do about steering? Can I just add cross over steering and leave the box in the original 2wd location?

Will jungles brackets help me install leaf springs up front?

What do I do with my old engine cross member? The control arm brackets are in the way.

I don't have all the answers, but I believe the bracket from a 4wd steering box is required.  Old cross member out and which brackets are you referring to?
These?  http://ramchargercentral.com/index.php/topic,128928.0.html
I would say yes.
« Last Edit: April 2, 2010, 07:08:30 AM by pir2 »
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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #5 on: April 2, 2010, 05:58:55 PM »
I started this thread to have information for those that are asking about doing a conversion.  It may help them to decide whether or not it is something they want to/are capable of doing.  The more information that can be gathered in one thread the better, which leads to less repeated questions.
For example, the lowering your ride thread is a great source for those that wish to do that.

Making that decision is certainly an important factor, and indeed pertinent to the subject. Before the first bolt is turned, lets start with the pro and con to such a swap. It's been my experience that the question is typically asked by young people who want a 4wd but do not as yet own one. There is a general belief that converting a 2wd to 4wd is a simple process and relatively cheap. For the sake of providing information, these types of conversions are not what they think. They are neither cheap nor easy, however some of the mechanically inclined amongst us do have the ability to do such a complicated job, and are willing to pay more for the option to build it themselves, but it doesn't change the fact that this is a complex and relatively expensive job, especially for those who may find themselves over their head in such a project. This is why many people suggest, sell the 2wd and buy a 4wd. Consider all your options. If you have a limited budget to work with, buying an already existing 4wd will allow you to concentrate on upgrading it rather than starting with a 2wd and first converting it before you can think about upgrades that you could have spent your money on if you started with a 4wd truck.

Now of course, if you have the mechanical aptitude and money is no object, a conversion can be part of a process to build the ultimate 4x4, for example, say you wanted a killer 4x4 Dakota, rather than buy a stock 4x4 Dakota and chop off the stock components only to replace those parts with beefier parts, you can save some money by buying a 2wd truck and then stripping it down to the frame, and building it from the ground up with all your favorite hardware that never came on the Dak to begin with.

Ed
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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #6 on: April 2, 2010, 06:26:02 PM »
I have some nice front spring hangers & HD frame bushing hardware.
Check here.

http://ramchargercentral.com/index.php/topic,128928.0.html

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Offline ddgeramcharger79

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #7 on: April 3, 2010, 08:02:19 PM »
a big question is "you have a donor truck... cant you just fix your donor with the 2wd truck?"  ;D

thats what i did!!  ;D
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Offline 78magnumxe

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #8 on: April 4, 2010, 12:39:08 AM »
im pretty sure the whole point here was to NOT debate the sell your 2wd and buy a 4wd so lets leave that debate somewhere else. there are reasons to do it. case in point i am the proud new owner of a 85 crew cab long box which is of course 2wd because unless im mistaken they never made them 4wd also i got it for a good price and its next to rust free, living here in ontario thats a big deal (the truck is from alberta) i didnt have to go there to get it which is another reason to do the 2wd to 4wd swap, i dont want to drive across the continent just to get the truck i want in 4wd cause i cant find a 4wd one in good shape here. you just cant find crew cabs here in ontario 2wd or 4wd and if you do they are junk. so i want to do the swap myself eventually to make it 4wd.


anyways, the info needed here are things like are the frames the same dimensions and are all the holes needed to bolt shackles and other 4x4 front end components in a 2wd frame? some things that have been explained a few times here and there are converting 2wd trannys to 4x4 and the option of divorced transfer cases. thats all i can think of for now that hasnt already been mentioned.
« Last Edit: April 4, 2010, 09:29:56 AM by 78magnumxe »
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Offline pir2

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #9 on: April 4, 2010, 08:36:53 AM »
im pretty sure the whole point here was to NOT debate the sell your 2wd and buy a 4wd

Exactly.  This is for information.
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Offline RXT

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #10 on: April 4, 2010, 03:28:56 PM »
im pretty sure the whole point here was to NOT debate the sell your 2wd and buy a 4wd so lets leave that debate somewhere else.

I wasn't making a debate out of it. The original post was intended to address a commonly asked question in the attempt to inform, however leaving out the part that explains how difficult and expensive the process is and a viable alternative should be addressed as well. All I was doing is informing those who might be thinking about the job, before they consider the task of taking on such a job, they should consider all options, and I mean ALL options.

Quote
there are reasons to do it.

And there are reasons not to do it, for one it's a big job, much more than just cutting off an IFS and hanging on a solid axle and hooking up a transfer case. The point is, it's not as easy as it many seem, and it's beyond simple mechanical skills. Before you try doing it, learn everything that it takes to do it.

Quote
.....case in point i am the proud new owner of a 85 crew cab long box which is of course 2wd because unless im mistaken they never made them 4wd also i got it for a good price and its next to rust free, living here in ontario thats a big deal (the truck is from alberta) i didnt have to go there to get it which is another reason to do the 2wd to 4wd swap, i dont want to drive across the continent just to get the truck i want in 4wd cause i cant find a 4wd one in good shape here. you just cant find crew cabs here in ontario 2wd or 4wd and if you do they are junk. so i want to do the swap myself eventually to make it 4wd.

I understand that finding the right truck isn't always easy, but if they built them, they are out there. I did make a case for exceptions to the rule. For one, if the truck didn't exist in 4wd, the decision to convert might be more worthwhile and of personal value. In the end it's all about how much you are willing to spend. If you want something unique, building a truck that wasn't offered from the factory, maybe your best option, but to build a commonly available truck, might just not be economically feasible particularly those who are on a very tight budget.
 
Quote
anyways, the info needed here are things like are the frames the same dimensions and are all the holes needed to bolt shackles and other 4x4 front end components in a 2wd frame? some things that have been explained a few times here and there are converting 2wd trannys to 4x4 and the option of divorced transfer cases. thats all i can think of for now that hasnt already been mentioned.

Ok, in the name of information, why don't you keep track of all your expenses on your conversion and post them here and lets see if we can find a similar 4x4 model and how much it would cost to purchase it outright. Anyone else here want to post their conversion expenses for others to see?

Ed
« Last Edit: April 4, 2010, 03:33:57 PM by RXT »
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Offline BobS

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #11 on: April 5, 2010, 07:49:10 PM »
I just completed this 2WD to 4WD on my Cummins crew cab conversion.  The frame was from Florida and was a former US Navy truck.  There are cases where it takes years to locate a really decent truck frame especially if you live here in the northern rust belt states.  

It also took 5 years to locate a near perfect crew cab body which came from SW Texas but was a 2WD with a stretched rear frame.


My member name over on DTR is Treborwhich is Robert spelled backwards.
 
Here is what was involved in doing the conversion which was going from a 2WD automatic gasoline truck to 4WD 5 speed diesel:

I would imagine most consider this as an easy modification but I was not able to find any documentation on doing one.  This may fill in some of the dark areas for somebody considering how difficult it is to actually do this particular type conversion.

This pertains to a crew cab frame that I converted this past fall.  The same information should apply to a standard length frame, club cab, etc.

Everyone knows how to grind or burn out frame rivets so I will not go into that area.  I used an acetylene/oxygen torch set up with a small tip to avoid burning up the frame and a pneumatic punch to pop them out while they were still glowing hot!  If you use this method be careful as the glowing rivets can set something alight if the fall in the wrong place!  Oily rags are a prime target.

When I did the 2WD to 4WD crew cab frame conversion I CHEATED on the measurements.  I initially removed all of the cab frame brackets because 3 0f the 4 were broken.  No surprise there.  I ordered grade 5 washers from www.Mcmaster.com that were slightly larger than the original hole size and welded them to the top side of the brackets.

The front spring hangers are located by using the original predrilled factory holes located just behind the bumper bracket mounting holes.They share an identical frame mounting pattern with the bumper brackets and in my case the rear cab mount frame bracket mounting holes.  This keeps the front axle located in the proper location in the frame.  When I started to measure the dimensions from the cab frame to the front spring rear hanger location the measurements differed by almost a quarter inch between the left and right sides. The rear bracket location for the front spring is not apparently as critical as it first appears and is demonstrated by the tolerance that was acceptable on the 1992 donor frame.  At this point I decided to use the original 4WD frame sections as a donor for making frame templates.  I whacked the 4WD frame BEHIND the cab body mounting brackets and using a torch removed the the flat upper and lower sections leaving only the flat vertical faces of the frame.  Then I ground the slag and wire wheeled the surface rust before bolting the new templates to the 2WD frame by using two of the cab bracket mounts and the front bumper bracket bolt holes.


At first you need to get all of the bolts in where they are loose.  Then in the transfer areas for the location of the new hole you need to use bolts to draw the template to the 2WD frame.  In the shock mounting area there are two larger holes that will accept a 3/4 or 7/8 inch bolt with washers.  The trick is to draw the template in close by tightening the center most bolts outward to the end portions of the bumper end and the cab end.  There will be gaps because you are clamping outside radiuses to inside radiuses between the frame and template. Template bolted to the 2WD frame to locate engine crossmember mounting holes:


The actual large holes for the brackets are easily drilled using a high quality bi-metal hole saw.  


The holes may require a small bit of tweaking using a high quality round file.  The original holes are oval shaped but are located by placing the hole saw in the cab end of the oval and drilling through.  Mine worked out perfectly with just a bit of deburring required using a round file.


I also used a 7/16 inch transfer punch and a 7/16 inch drill bit to transfer the mounting rivet holes for the rear spring bracket and the engine crossmember. I replaced the all the rivets with grade 8  7/16" bolts and grade 5 hardened washers in conjunction with self locking nuts.  There was one hole on each side of the 2WD frame that was touching one of the new holes for the new shock bracket mounting holes that I welded up on each side of the 2WD frame.  This hole is the rearmost rivet hole that goes through the 2WD inner and outer mounting brackets on the frame.  The other option would be to mount the bracket and add a third hole by drilling through both parts.

On the front spring hanger bracket mounting brackets there was an 1/16 inch gap between the hanger and frame because of the very slight differences between the crew frame and the 92 frame.  I simply made shims that that were drilled for the hanger bolts to pass through which keep the shims in place. For me this was the easiest method for locating the new holes.


Transmission crossmember brackets and mounting; 2WD automatic to 5 speed 4WD:

Also if not already noted the 4WD passenger side upper crossmember mounting bracket brace has a relief formed for exhaust pipe clearance that the earlier gasser may not have.  Since I went from a 2WD automatic to 4WD 5 speed the transmission crossmember needed relocating.  Again I cheated by setting the engine and transmission assembly in the frame and used the mounts to locate.  What I found was there was only two of the original holes (1 0n each side) lined up. The other 2WD hole is circled in this picture. This is looking at the passenger side of the frame. F=front of frame.  I mounted the crossmember using those holes and then used the crossmember as a template to the new holes using the same method mentioned earlier.


Then you end up with the new circled holes for the 4WD crossmember and upper frame brace:


Then I removed the engine & trans assembly and mounted the upper frame brackets to the center section of the crossmember.  Then I staggered two new upper bracket holes by drilling through the frame and upper bracket for one hole and just drilling through the remaining hole that already lined up in the frame with the bracket below.  Everything now fits exactly as it was in the 1992 frame. Note the exhaust pipe relief that is visible in the upper support brace for the 4WD transmission crossmember in the final picture.


And as a side note, ALL of my metal cutting tools were made by Morse which held up quite well compared to Wallymart or the Harbor tools.

My completed truck, provided I live long enough, will be a W250 crew cab with 6 foot bed.  The bed BTW came from Arizona.

The Cummins donor truck that I scrapped was from here in PA.  The body from that truck actually shed enough rust to fill up a 6 gallon plastic bucket.  There are justifiable reasons to do a 4WD conversion especially if you are an older person that may not have an unlimited amount of time to complete the project.
« Last Edit: April 5, 2010, 08:02:40 PM by BobS »
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Offline 78magnumxe

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #12 on: April 5, 2010, 09:35:54 PM »
thank you very much BobS. this is the kind of information needed in this thread. are you done your swap or are you half way? would love to see some more pictures on how the leaf springs went in. my swap when i get to it is going to be almost exactly the same as what you have done, 2wd gas auto crew to 4x4 diesel 5spd crew. i like the way you used the old frame as a template to drill the needed holes. the thing i wondered most about was if the holes will be there or if they need to be drilled and you have answered that question. i also had kinda thought i would try to do the swap with the cab on but i will definatly take the body off when i do the swap. i built a truck from the ground up before and it is so much nicer working on a bare frame sitting on axles when doing this much work to it.
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Offline pir2

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #13 on: April 6, 2010, 07:10:39 AM »
Excellent write up BobS.
Thank you very much for that.
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Offline BobS

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #14 on: April 6, 2010, 07:20:42 AM »
The project is currently where you see it.  I removed all four of the body mount brackets from the frame because 3 of the 4 were either cracked or the body mount bolt actually cut a slot in the mount.  One was so bad it almost made it all the way out.  i solved this problem by repairing 3 of the mounts and replacing the fourth one.  This involved welding up the cracked areas and ordering grade 8 flat washers that fit on top of the frame brackets which I migged into place.  These trucks are notorious for destroying cab mounting brackets.  Most of these truck bodies are being held in place primarily by the radiator support mounts.  This is noticeable when it looks as thought the bed is out of line with the cab.  A close fit replacement cushion for the body mounts are found on the late 90's and 2000's Ford crown Victoria cars.  They have a metal insert that would slow down the bolt egging its way out through the bracket. I found this out after I already ordered the poly replacement cushions so I'm going the poly route.

My next step is setting the engine through the transfer case back in the chassis and getting the measurements for the new rear drive shaft.  Then removing the engine to do the front brake lines and fuel lines.  I started on this one year ago but you know how other things happen & this gets put aside due to new unexpected priorities.  BTW, I just retrofitted the older style steering box from a 1975 4WD truck because to me it's a better design.  The newer design loads the weaker center of the frame on a horizontal axis but the older style loads it vertically in the stronger direction.  Cheap Chrysler engineering because they went from a cast mounting bracket to stamped steel bracket that is highly prone for cracking.

So that's where I currently at in this point of time.
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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #15 on: April 7, 2010, 05:14:57 AM »
I've done this project a few times, and i wil reiterate It's Alot of Work

First one is a Chevy S10 Frame (C-Channel) under a 1987 Dodge Power-Ram 50 with a 9' Dumpbed. My Dad and I had to install all the Ram50 IFS components on the Chevy Frame. Not to mention custom Driveshafts, Mounts, ect

By the time this picture was taken the front suspension was pretty well worn out from it's long life as a Plow Truck/Work Truck




For the 2nd truck (still not finished), my '84 "PW50" Power-Ram 50 Turbo Diesel i found it was easier to swap under a Ranger 4WD Frame (C-Channel) for a starting point. It's alot easier to mount a Solid Axle & Leaf Springs under a C-Channel Frame than it is to on a Box Frame that's gonna die soon anyway (box frames have a limited lifespan before they rot out from the inside and the truck folds in half)



When i have the time, it's getting a Dana 60 (SRW) Front with Coil Springs (4" Skyjackers) and a Dana 60 (DRW) Rear with 1-Ton Leaf Springs. I already have the parts on hand, just don't have the motivation or ambition to do so at the moment  :P
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Offline 69HemiGTX

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #16 on: April 7, 2010, 10:06:08 AM »
Thanks for the posts, y'all!  I know the argument for buying a 4x4 is hard to ignore, but like many others here, I'm now considering eventually doing this.  I can see the relevance for this info, as 4x4 longbed crew cabs were never offered.  All duallies were 2WD, too.  I'm thinking about a crew cab dually, so this swap is a strong posibillity for me.
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Offline daveg

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #17 on: April 8, 2010, 11:06:44 AM »
back in 1984, my brother in law did this to a 1970 dodge d200. the original truck was from the forest service or the dept of the interior. he got the front axle on a trade (the owner thought it was for a chevy) and didn't want it. since the d200 was a straight axle, the dana 44 bolted right in. (don't know what he did about the steering, and i didn't know what to ask)

during the build up, he found the original 318 was bad, so he swapped in another 318. he didn't like the automatic transmission, so it got a 435. he found a floorplate with the required holes for the transmission and transfer case.

project went downhill from here. he had to fabricate a mechanical linkage for the clutch. it worked, but he didn't grind off the sharp edges from the plate he made the linkage out of. (looked bad) the transfer case had absolutely no markings on it. looking through 20+ years of 4wd magazine (identify your transfer case!) articles still have not identified the transfer case.

he was replacing the ujoints for the divorced transfer case approx every 2 months until he re-aligned the transfer case. believe it had the required driveshaft offset, but he aligned the driveshaft into a straight line (no offset) and the ujoints lived a long, happy life after that. you had to pump grease into them frequently, however since they didn't "wobble" enough to sling grease to the bearings of the ujoint.

he didn't want to spend the $$ on the speedometer cable that would reach the transfer case, so he left it hooked up to the transmission. worked ok, but in 4wd low it read about twice as fast as you were moving.

the truck was sold in 1988 but is back in the family, my son just bought it about 8 months ago. (i've already told him about www.sweptline.org)

don't know if it was cost effective to build, think he could have bought one from a government auction (the local base had hundreds of them with 4wd already installed, etc)
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Offline pir2

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #18 on: April 27, 2010, 06:39:27 AM »
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Offline Mike_87_RC_318

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2010, 07:02:57 AM »
Sorry guys but it's like driving a 16 penny nail in with a pipe wrench.

It can be done but there are better tools for the job.


In my opinion the best way is if you have two trucks - donor 4x4 with bad body and 2x4 with good body just do a body swap.
87 RC - No Longer stock, 
Upgraded to NP435 and Locked 3/4 ton axles w/ 36's on a 4 inch lift.

Next upgrade - Engine

Offline irhunter

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #20 on: June 23, 2012, 12:39:11 PM »
BobS,

Can you provide an up-date on the 4x4 conversion?

Roy

Offline Tman

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #21 on: June 28, 2012, 09:51:14 PM »
One possible problem with swapping a 4x4 frame under a 4x2 truck, is that the VIN number on the frame will not match the VIN number on the cab.  This isn't  a common problem.  But I've heard that some of the rat rod guys run into issues of this nature.   I've also heard that in one or two states the VIN numbers are checked when someone transfers a vehicle into the state.
1985 Dodge D-150 pick-up.  360, 727, 8 1/4 axle.  Royal, Prospector, & SE packages.   Looks stock
1993 Jeep Cherokee  4.0, automatic, 4x4
2002 Intrepid

Offline SuperBurban

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Re: How to Make your 4x2 into a 4x4
« Reply #22 on: June 28, 2012, 09:59:59 PM »
One possible problem with swapping a 4x4 frame under a 4x2 truck, is that the VIN number on the frame will not match the VIN number on the cab.  This isn't  a common problem.  But I've heard that some of the rat rod guys run into issues of this nature.   I've also heard that in one or two states the VIN numbers are checked when someone transfers a vehicle into the state.
I have dismantled many dodge trucks, and have yet to find a readable VIN anywhere on a frame. The only VIN they looked for when I transferred my vehicles to Co, was the dash tag. Everybody keeps repeating the rumor of frame and engine VIN's being checked, but no one has ever shown any proof of it really happening.
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