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Old 10-04-2010, 02:20 PM
zuren zuren is offline
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Default AWD van transfer case swap project?



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Here is a project I'm considering...

I was doing some reading and found that some guys take Astro AWD vans and swap in a selectable transfer case (with the push button module on the dash) to gain 4WD and low range. I have read about this type of swap in Fords that have AWD.

I'm trying to determine if the same could be done to a Chevy Express G1500/2500 AWD van without a ton of surgery. It wouldn't be anything like a Quigley conversion but would make the van a bit more capable. I know the vans I'm interested in (2000-2006) use a Borg-Warner 4473 1-speed AWD transfer case. I'm trying to figure out what models of selectable transfer cases would swap with that 4473 (either electric or mechanical shift) with the least amount of trouble. Does anyone know what would work or can point me in a direction where guys talk about projects like this more often? No one seems to know or could offer any advise in the other forums I've posted in.

Thanks!
Old 10-09-2010, 08:54 PM
highpockets highpockets is offline
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I would suspect that the actual physical bolting in of a part time T-case would be a non issue compared to actually getting the computer/transmission and body control to be satisfied that it had a NON electronic part time case instead of the original 1-sp viscous electronic case that is currently in. I wonder if a AWD(with low range) out of a Tahoe/suburban would work better,still giving you the AWD that it originally had as well as hi/low Lock ??? Might check out the tech section on Caddilac Escalade forum as these have a similar(if not same) T-case setup.

Last edited by highpockets; 10-09-2010 at 08:54 PM.. Reason: spelling
Old 10-09-2010, 10:23 PM
zuren zuren is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by highpockets View Post
I would suspect that the actual physical bolting in of a part time T-case would be a non issue compared to actually getting the computer/transmission and body control to be satisfied that it had a NON electronic part time case instead of the original 1-sp viscous electronic case that is currently in. I wonder if a AWD(with low range) out of a Tahoe/suburban would work better,still giving you the AWD that it originally had as well as hi/low Lock ??? Might check out the tech section on Caddilac Escalade forum as these have a similar(if not same) T-case setup.
I was under the impression that the Borg-Warner 4473 t-case was mechanical, not electronic engagement? I guess I need to double check my information.
Old 10-09-2010, 10:47 PM
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Here is what I found on it.Sounds like a modern version of the old 203 case in full time chevs from the 70s- minus the low range and Hi-Lock. In that case,assuming the computers DONT recognize and moderate wheel speed/slip through driveshaft speed inputs vs wheel speed inputs,I would select a Manual shift,non electronic T-case from a mid 90s truck with matching trans(usually a 4L60E or 4L80E) and go from there. You may also want to add the front axle disconnect as I bet the front end is locked all the time. I believe it has been done,if you get serious about it,PM me and I will provide you some links.
Old 10-12-2010, 02:11 PM
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The older vans with leaf spring front suspension would be a lot easier to swap If you are not very fabrication savy. If you are then measure twice cut once because metal is expensive.

As far as getting the ecu or bcm to work with it you can always swap out the ecu for a stand alone custom application. You may want to consider what you want out of the van, and remeber if you are wanting to lift it that trans axles break easier than solid axles. If you are wanting a solid axle front end then I would not even worry about just swapping in a t-case. There is some easily purchased kits for ford vans being those are already solid axle front ends. I have seen some astro vans that use the s10 blazer front suspension under them.
Old 10-12-2010, 02:22 PM
Josh97526 Josh97526 is offline
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It would almost be easier to get yourself an older chevy blazer frame and running gear, and just swap out the bodies. I'm sure you can make it work with just the transfer case, but by the time you are done converting the front steering and suspension to accomodate your 4x4, you pretty much have a tahoe or Blazer frame anyways.
Old 10-12-2010, 08:13 PM
zuren zuren is offline
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Originally Posted by Josh97526 View Post
It would almost be easier to get yourself an older chevy blazer frame and running gear, and just swap out the bodies. I'm sure you can make it work with just the transfer case, but by the time you are done converting the front steering and suspension to accomodate your 4x4, you pretty much have a tahoe or Blazer frame anyways.
This is why I'm asking the question - why would I need to do anything to the steering and suspension?

This isn't going to be a rock crawler. This won't be lifted 12" with 38" tires. I want a bit more capability for sticky situations. I'm considering 2" or less of lift which would simply be some blocks in the back and adjustment of the torsion bars or new keys to lift the front a little. Considering that the AWD Express already has all of the drivetrain parts there, I thought simply swapping out the t-case would get me the 4Hi/4Lo/2Hi I want without doing anything to much else. I'm all ears if could please clarify why steering/susp. would be an issue?

As for the point of this project, it is to gain true 4x4 on a budget. I'm aware of the Ford 4x4 vans and available swaps. I'm still sorting this out but think it's doable for under $1000. The problem with Ford is this in my view:

- told by a few mechanics that Ford vans are a pain to work on (location of components)
- if I was going to buy a 2WD van, I wanted it to be diesel. That increased the cost and the Ford 6.0L diesel has a poor reputation. Fords with the 7.3L diesel and GMs with the Duramax are far and few.
- the Ford ride is rough. This will mostly be an on-pavement machine but want it to handle fireroads, 2-tracks, etc.
- all of the Ford 4x4 conversions cost $8-12,000 (Quigley, Camburg, U-Joint, etc.). I don't have that kind of cash on top of the van purchase.
- most 4x4 vans need a ~4" lift. My state has lift laws which is something I don't want to deal with.

As far as I can see at this point, swapping the Borg-Warner 4473 AWD t-case for a manual shift NP241 may be the answer but I'm still digging for info. If anyone can provide specifics as to why it WILL or WILL NOT work, I would love to here from you! Everything I'm looking at indicates that the swap should be possible with few issues.

Thanks!
Old 10-12-2010, 08:20 PM
trixie trixie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tater65ss View Post
The older vans with leaf spring front suspension would be a lot easier to swap If you are not very fabrication savy. If you are then measure twice cut once because metal is expensive.

As far as getting the ecu or bcm to work with it you can always swap out the ecu for a stand alone custom application. You may want to consider what you want out of the van, and remeber if you are wanting to lift it that trans axles break easier than solid axles. If you are wanting a solid axle front end then I would not even worry about just swapping in a t-case. There is some easily purchased kits for ford vans being those are already solid axle front ends. I have seen some astro vans that use the s10 blazer front suspension under them.

Old 10-12-2010, 08:22 PM
trixie trixie is offline
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he has an all wheel drive astro, so it has an IFS, just like an s-10 has. so all the steering, susp, and axles are there, he just wants a 2 speed transfer case.

everything about this sounds easy as pie, EXCEPT maybe the computer stuff/issues.
Old 10-12-2010, 10:00 PM
zuren zuren is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trixie View Post
he has an all wheel drive astro, so it has an IFS, just like an s-10 has. so all the steering, susp, and axles are there, he just wants a 2 speed transfer case.

everything about this sounds easy as pie, EXCEPT maybe the computer stuff/issues.
It's actually a full-size Express van but same idea. I'm told the Express shares the IFS setup/platform of the Suburban and/or Avalanche but I have not been able to officially confirm that.
Old 10-12-2010, 10:49 PM
Josh97526 Josh97526 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zuren View Post
This is why I'm asking the question - why would I need to do anything to the steering and suspension?

This isn't going to be a rock crawler. This won't be lifted 12" with 38" tires. I want a bit more capability for sticky situations. I'm considering 2" or less of lift which would simply be some blocks in the back and adjustment of the torsion bars or new keys to lift the front a little. Considering that the AWD Express already has all of the drivetrain parts there, I thought simply swapping out the t-case would get me the 4Hi/4Lo/2Hi I want without doing anything to much else. I'm all ears if could please clarify why steering/susp. would be an issue?

As for the point of this project, it is to gain true 4x4 on a budget. I'm aware of the Ford 4x4 vans and available swaps. I'm still sorting this out but think it's doable for under $1000. The problem with Ford is this in my view:

- told by a few mechanics that Ford vans are a pain to work on (location of components)
- if I was going to buy a 2WD van, I wanted it to be diesel. That increased the cost and the Ford 6.0L diesel has a poor reputation. Fords with the 7.3L diesel and GMs with the Duramax are far and few.
- the Ford ride is rough. This will mostly be an on-pavement machine but want it to handle fireroads, 2-tracks, etc.
- all of the Ford 4x4 conversions cost $8-12,000 (Quigley, Camburg, U-Joint, etc.). I don't have that kind of cash on top of the van purchase.
- most 4x4 vans need a ~4" lift. My state has lift laws which is something I don't want to deal with.

As far as I can see at this point, swapping the Borg-Warner 4473 AWD t-case for a manual shift NP241 may be the answer but I'm still digging for info. If anyone can provide specifics as to why it WILL or WILL NOT work, I would love to here from you! Everything I'm looking at indicates that the swap should be possible with few issues.

Thanks!
Ahhhh. I didn't read thoroughly enough. You are STARTING with awd. Sorry. In that case, all you have to do is find a compatible transfer case. Assuming that it fits in the tunnel, you cut the hole in the floor for the shifter, get a drive line cut, as it probably wont be the same, and you're good. I would start by looking at other vehicles of the same, or close year as the van that have the 4x4 capability that you are looking for. Ford..well...all car companies like to be able to use the same design over a large fleet of vehicles. Swapping usually goes pretty easy if you have done your homework. I would go with a "shifter" as opposed to the push button, just to eliminate potential problems. I have seen a lot of those solenoids go out, and their push button has always proved problematic.
Old 10-12-2010, 10:52 PM
Josh97526 Josh97526 is offline
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Hmmm Seems the newer models are already being made with a two speed transfer case! There ya go. I would check to see if it's compatible. I'm betting it is. Van's don't change much.
Old 10-12-2010, 11:11 PM
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If the only issue is a computer being flashed many new gm ecus and bcms can be flashed with a plug and play program. If you are worried about finding a tcase that will bolt right up there is an adapter for it out there. Hell I might even have one sitting in my garage. Sorry to tell you but some of the newer vehicles that look like they are manual shift in the floor is just another sensor sitting in a box. Youre best bet would be deciding what transfer case you want to use, being you have and awd cse there it shouldnt be hard to find one at all that will fit.
Old 11-03-2010, 10:26 PM
zuren zuren is offline
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I haven't posted in a little while since I've been doing nothing but pouring over websites, drive shaft companies, parts schematics, etc. This is the plan that I'm hoping will work:

- use a NP241 manual shift from a 1995-98 Chevy 1500 4x4
- new slip drive shaft from Tom Woods Custom Drive Shafts
- shifter out of a 2003+ Jeep Wrangler with cable shifter kit for NP241OR

I spoke to Novak Adapters who make the cable shifter kit. They said it could be adapted for a NP241. I'm leaning toward a Jeep shifter since they have a slim/low profile next to the seat. However, I'm open to other suggestions if there is something I'm grossly overlooking. The shifter sticker is wrong but I can make something new for that.

The drive shaft will be needed due to the fixed yoke on the front output (that is a slip yoke pictured below). Since the angle will change some with the NP241 yoke, I'm hoping there is no clearance issue with the cross-member you see here:



NP241 yoke


Does any one see anything I'm overlooking? Thanks!
Old 11-05-2010, 08:43 PM
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The VSS (vehicle speed sensor) may not be right for your van's speedo... there may need to be either a speedo-fix box, or get the appropriate sending unit for the back of the transfer case.

The t-case may or may not be the same length as the current unit. you may have to have both drivelines modified upon installation.

G'dood
Old 12-28-2010, 11:06 AM
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I wanted to update this thread with my progress. I have posted over at another website:

Overall project

AWD to 4x4 conversion
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