4 Wheel Drive Van – 4 Wheel Drive Vans

www.4wheeldrivevan.com is the home of my 4×4 van!

Please follow the DIY progress on my 1997 Ford E250 4X4 Van Conversion w/ Solar .

King of the Hammers 2014 is going on this week

King of the Hammers 2014 is going on Feb 1 – 9 and for the second year in a row, I’m not there.
I’m watching it on USTREAM.tv but somehow it’s not quite the same as being there.

These days as a business owner and a father of two young girls I don’t get the time off that I used to and when I do, Mom and the girls don’t want to drive five days cross country to a cold dusty desert to listen to V8 engines howl as race buggies bounce around on the rocks.

If I can make a half million this year I can probably afford to take two weeks off next winter for KOH 2015. Help me make my goal by buying a beach house from www.RehobothBeachRealty.com

Found these Cab Backs for Ford Vans today. Pretty Cool




Bad things come in threes?

These days my van only gets used every now and then to move something or for the occasional road trip. Last week while using it to move a bunch of furniture I turned the steering wheel hard to the left and felt something pop, instantly I had no power steering. I man-handled the wheel and made it from one location to the next about 10 miles away. When I finally had a chance to inspect the damage I noticed I was leaking not only power steering fluid but oil and radiator fluid. Somehow I developed a hairline crack in the top of the plastic portion of the radiator, a pin hole leak in the oil cooler and spinning the old power steering fluid pump by hand it was apparent the internal bearings had self destructed.

My guess is that power steering pulley seized up and the engine overheated causing the already old radiator to crack. How the pinhole in the oil cooler happened I have no idea. Maybe only because bad things come in threes?

To repair the damage I had to replace the power steering pump, high pressure ps line, power steering pulley, radiator and small oil cooler in front of  the radiator. Doing all the work myself the bill came to about $500 in parts and fluids.

Install Notes: It’s a PITA to remove or install the power steering pulley without using a special tool. I think the tool was around $30 at the local auto parts place.

Over a year since my last post – Time for a new project.

I’m starting to think it’s time to build a new rig. I’m thinking 1999 – 2003 7.3L 4×4 Ford Ambulance Camper.

Something like this:

4x4 ambulance

4×4 ambulance


Motorcycle Trailer Hitch Carrier. Don’t buy this one for a KLR 650!

I was a little skeptical purchasing this motorcycle trailer hitch carrier from Harbor Freight but the advertisement on their website showed them using it for the same bike that I own so I paid the $149 and ordered one. Maximum weight for this carrier is supposed to be 400 lbs and a dry KLR 650 comes in around 380 lbs.

Harbor Freight Motorcycle hitch carrier

The very first time I loaded my KLR 650 on this carrier I was shocked by how much side to side movement and up and down play there was. In my head I thought “There is no way this rack will last the 6000 miles I am about to drive”.  Loading it was a two person job until I started running the engine in first gear and letting the motor do the work. Not sitting on the bike riding it up the ramp but standing next to it with a hand on the brake, clutch, throttle and kill switch. Balancing it while strapping it down by myself was also a little unnerving but not bad once I got the hang of it.

Poorly designed motorcycle rackTo strengthen the rack I added four cargo straps to my rear bumper which luckily had some D rings on it. After tightening them down there was very little movement in the rack, but the rack frame itself did not look strong enough to hold the 380 lb motorcycle. The front tire supports built into the frame do not line up with the KLR tires and do nothing but scratch the rims. I quit using them after the second day.

KLR 650 on a cheap motorcylce hitch carrierYou can actually see the aluminum cycle carrier being bent by the weight of this bike. I was lucky and the rack survived the 6000 mile road trip but I never felt comfortable with it behind the van. I fully expected it to crack in half . Do not purchase this rack to haul around any bike weighing more than 250 lbs.  I plan on welding two additional supports coming off the trailer hitch where it screws onto the frame of the van to help support the load.

Ford Van Steering Stablizer. Best money spent in a long time.

Throughout the ownership of  my E250 Ford Van it has suffered from being blown around by gusty winds and passing semi trucks. The steering has always seemed a little loose and making thousands of small corrections in steering can really wear me out over 12 hours of driving. I did a little research and found a steering stabilizer that comes standard on the Ford Van Ambulances but not the regular E Series Vans. The good news is the holes for mounting the stabilizer are already there on your Van.

Installation was pretty straight forward. I’m nothing but a self taught weekend warrior mechanic and it took me about an hour to install.

Required Parts:

  1. F2UZ-3E652A Bracket $53.90
  2. F2UZ-3E652B Bracket $80.22
  3. F7UZ-3E651AB Damper $60.62
  4. I used six 3/8″ grade 8 bolts 3/4 long with lock washers and grade 8 lock nuts.

I found the parts by doing a Google search for the part numbers. The best prices I found were on Amazon.com

ford van steering stabilizer parts

Van Steering Stabilizer Bracket

Van Steering Stabilizer Bracket


tapping the 3/8th inch mounting holes

tapping the 3/8th inch mounting holes

Stabilizer Bracket Installed

Van stabilizer bolted in

stabilizer bolted in


Steering stabilizer attachement to drag link

Steering stabilizer attachement to drag link

I just put 6000 miles on the van driving from Delaware to California and back again and can say the Van Steering Stabilizer made a huge difference. It still does not steer like a sports car but it does not get blown around like it used to by wind gusts and passing semi trucks. The van also does not wander as much as it used to. I give this modification/upgrade an A+





King of the Hammers 2012 Race Results

49 Official Finishers of the 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers

1 Erik Miller 4421 Cumberland MD 6:03:51
Erik Miller Hing of the Hammers 2012 Winner Car #4421

2 Rick Mooneyham 554 Lake Havasu City AZ 6:16:48

rick mooneyham car 554 2nd place

3 Shannon Campbell 5 Gilbert AZ 6:33:40

shannon campbell 3rd place KOH 2012

4 Derek West 4420 Springfield MO 7:20:24

5 Loren Healy 4428 Farmington NM 7:22:05

6 Brad Lovell 232 Colorado Springs CO 7:26:23

7 Brian Shirley 18 Dodge City KS 7:31:53

8 Rusty Bray 4498 Richmond KY 7:31:54

9 Mike Klensin 4431 Tucson AZ 7:40:58

10 Casey Currie 2 Anaheim CA 8:16:04

11 Ben Dinkins 4403 Annopolis MO 8:24:49

12 Jon Cagliero 27 Paso Robles CA 8:27:17

13 Brandon Watson 4488 Carbondale CO 8:32:54

14 Jeff Russell 4427 Shadow Hills CA 8:39:10

15 Ivan VanOrtwick 4466 Whittier CA 8:41:08

16 Ben Napier 4461 Sydney AUS 8:42:00

17 John Webb 4468 Concord CA 8:50:28

18 Levi Shirley 81 Dodge City KS 9:03:20

19 Jason Scherer 76 Danville CA 9:05:36

20 Alan Woodson 86 Charlottesville VA 9:20:43

21 Jason Blanton 966 Kirkland WA 9:27:33

22 Jeremy Dickenson 4419 Cedar Park TX 9:34:49

23 Harold Fijman 777 San Ramon CA 9:38:50

24 Alex Hardaway 4481 Santa Rosa CA 9:40:59

25 Nick Finch 2228 Dean Park NSW 2761 Australia 9:46:51

26 Lucas Murphy 816 Easton MA 9:47:20

27 Ritchie Keller 202 Elkland MO 9:47:24

28 Cottin Rodd 4407 Cortez CO 9:47:48

29 Scott Ward 4438 Lake Havasu City AZ 9:57:40

30 John James 28 Fresno CA 10:17:58

31 Jason Shipman 4414 Farmington MO 10:22:00

32 Hunter Sparrow 72 Arvada CO 10:23:20

33 Mat Noualy 328 Mt Albert ONT, CA 10:32:45

34 Chris Garrison 4494 Rancho Cordova CA 10:45:50

35 Dave Bovich 50 Shasta Lake CA 10:51:37

36 Les Figueroa 4478 Henderson NV 10:59:24

37 Fabio Manno 100 Rome Italy 11:21:07

38 Doug Evans 4457 Hayfork CA 11:24:58

39 Larry Anderson 742 Dixon CA 11:52:39

40 Matt Peterson 212 Colorado Springs CO 11:54:41

41 Robb Kaufman 22 RockyView County CAN 12:05:47

42 Paul Garner 4409 Queen Creek AZ 12:21:57

43 Bart Dixon 26 San Diego CA 12:57:47

44 Curtis Warner 4410 Armstrong BC 12:59:05

45 Brandon Heyes 4558 Rancho Cucamonga CA 13:02:45

46 Jesse Haines 4499 Sparks NV 13:05:48

47 Warren Thomas 257 Morro Bay CA 13:19:25

48 Tom Wayes 321 San Jose CA 13:33:45

49 Stan Haynes 4408 Ft. Wayne IN 13:38:55

Racing after dark at KOH 2012

This may look like a studio shot but it was taken on a trail named Trapdoor during the 2012 King of the Hammers Ultra 4 Offroad Race after dark. The car was stuck on a rock for a few minutes and the lighting was provided by the vehicle.

King of the Hammers after dark


New Camera = Better Pictures

King of the hammers 2012 LCQ

Nikon D90 Camera Body + 80 – 200 2.8 zoom.

A few photos from Johnson Valley CA, 2/6/2012

2827 more miles on the odometer.

Finally arrived at King of the Hammers 2012 after 5 days of driving and 2827 miles on the road.

2012 King of the Hammers Course Map

Here’s a copy of the 2012 King of the Hammers Course Map:

King of the Hammers 2012 Course Map

King of the Hammers 2012 Course Map

On the road to King of the Hammers 2012

I left Delaware at 10:00pm Tuesday night 1/31/2012 after replacing the starter motor in my nannies (yes, I have a live-in German babysitter for my two young girls) Jeep WJ with a flashlight in a office parking lot. It was also after a full day of work and I don’t know where I came up with the energy but I was able to drive till about 3:30am before pulling off at a rest stop to take a quick nap. Three hours later and I was back on the road heading towards Knoxville TN to pick up a motorcycle I found for sale on the KLR650.net forums Around 5:30 in the evening I arrived at the sellers house. He showed me the bike, let me take a test drive I gave him some cash and we signed some paperwork and the bike was mine. I had planned on staying at a hotel that evening but Mike and his wife Leslie were very gracious and offered me a room for the night. He recently left the Army and I have been out of Air force about 5 years ago so we stayed up late swapping war stories over a few beers. The following morning I packed up my belongings, said my goodbyes and got back on the road. Most of the drive was pretty uneventful. Around noon I stopped at a Honda dealership to have some new tires installed on the bike. Big mistake. The service department was rude and the prices were ridiculous.  It cost me $161.02 in labor to have two tires (which I supplied) installed. I guess I could say I was robbed in Tennessee. Screw them. I left them negative feedback on Google Places and I hope they loose some potential business because of it. Back on the road… I drove through a good portion of the night and made it just past Little Rock Arkansas where I stopped at another rest stop to catch a few Z’s. It is now 9:30AM on 2/3/2012 and I’m getting back on the road headed through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and finally to my destination of Johnson Valley California.

KOH 2012 Preparation

Not a very exciting post but I changed the oil and bolted on a new class 4 hitch to the Van today. The oil = Mobile Synthetic 5w-40. The rear hitch will support the new KLR 650 dual purpose bike I just purchased to get me into places the van won’t fit. Pictures coming soon. Tomorrow I’ll change the air filter and install the new front steering stabilizer. I also picked up a new Laptop and Nikon D90 camera body for the race.

32 days till King of the Hammers 2012

39 Days till King of the Hammers 2012

So much to do to get ready for the race…. In the meantime here’s a few more photos from KOH 2011 LCQ

Casey Currie LCQ KOH 2011

Casey Currie LCQ KOH 2011


9 February 2011 KOH LCQ

9 February 2011 KOH LCQ

Zach Steele. Car 7214 KOH

Zach Steele. Car 7214 KOH


Happy New Year, King of the Hammers 2012 is just around the corner.

It’s only a month till King of the Hammers 2012 in Johnson Valley California. I’m tuning up the van once again to make the 6000 mile round trip.

Here’s some photos from King of the Hammers 2011:

Nor Cal Rock Racing

Nor Cal Rock Racing


The Pirate4x4.com four wheel drive van at KOH 2011

The Pirate4x4.com four wheel drive van at KOH 2011


Car 4488 KOH 2011

Car 4488 KOH 2011


Car 4406 KOH 2011

Car 4406 KOH 2011


Car 4454 KOH 2011

Car 4454 KOH 2011


blanco basura

blanco basura


Car 69 KOH 2011 Drivers

Car 69 KOH 2011 Drivers


Kirby Racing KOH 2011

Kirby Racing KOH 2011


Car 914 KOH 2011

Car 914 KOH 2011


Helicopter Fly Over KOH 2011

Helicopter Fly Over KOH 2011


If you’ll be at KOH 2012 and need some photos of your Rig give me a call at 302 258 4368. I’ll be the guy on the lakebed with a solar panel on the roof of his E250 van.

SHTF – Staying Clean Long After a Disaster.

Most survival gurus would welcome the chance to get lost somewhere. We could live off the land, and abandon the so-called “civilized” world, in favor of a more natural existence. But, in reality, there’s one luxury I’d really miss, and that would be soap. Cleanliness in underrated in my humble opinion. When I get back from long outdoor adventures, the first creature comfort I treat myself to is a long shower with a bar of my favorite natural soap. That got me thinking. What if I could make soap in the wild? Then I could truly leave civilization behind, and not worry about using up that last sliver of soap I’d brought along, and needing to cut my adventure short in order to get clean. I could just make more!!

What would I need in order to make natural soap in the wild? Not much, but it would take a bit of a time commitment- which isn’t really a problem, since we’re out in the wild with no obligations!

Supplies and Ingredients for Soap Making in the Wild:
* 2 gallon-size containers (milk jugs, buckets, 2-liter bottles, etc).
* long handled spoon- preferably stainless steel (NOT aluminum!), or wood (but never use a wood soap spoon for food).
* stainless steel pot that can hold about a gallon worth of ingredients
* fat- about 2 cups of miscellaneous fat (lard, tallow, animal fat from hunting adventures, scraps from dinner, etc).
* 1 gallon of water
* pebbles or gravel
* sand or pine needles
* 4-5 cups worth of ash from a campfire
* cheesecloth or fabric
* a container to hold melted fat (2 cups worth)
* a handfull of fresh pine needles for scent and scrubbiness

Cut the tops off of your gallon milk jugs creating as deep a bucket as you can. Poke a hole in the center of the bottom of one jug. Fill with a one inch layer of pebbles. Cover this with a 2 inch layer of sand or even pine needles. You’re trying to create a filter. Now cover the top with about 4-5 inches of ash from last night’s campfire. Place the now-filled jug over the empty jug. Pour about a half gallon worth of water *extremely* slowly through your rock/sand “filter” being sure to collect the water that trickles out into the empty jug. The slower you pour, the better. You want this step to take about 5 minutes total in order to collect enough lye from the ash.

Next, you’ll pour the collected lye water into the stainless steel pot and boil it until it is reduced to about 2 cups of liquid. Pour it back into the jug.

Now it’s time to clean your fat. This will keep your finished soap from turning rancid and becoming unusable. The process of cleaning fat is called “rendering.” You’ll boil the fat in the stainless steel pot with half as much water, and as the water evaporates, impurities will float to the surface. Continue boiling, and these “cracklings” will eventually sink. At that point, strain the fat through a piece of cheesecloth or fabric into a container.

Combine about 1 1/2 cups of melted fat with your lye water in the stainless steel pot, and boil it while stirring. Continue stirring and boiling until the water evaporates, and the mixture thickens. You want it to get really, really thick. Keep stirring and boiling until it gets as thick as you can get it. Adding a handful of pine needles to your soap while it’s cooking can provide a bit of scent and scrubby texture. Because you’re boiling your lye water and fat, and keeping it heated for quite some time, there won’t be any need to “cure” your soap further. It will be ready to use (and a bit gloppy), as soon as it gets really really thick. Store the soap in an open container- water will continue to evaporate out. It may never get as hard as an ordinary bar of soap- this all depends on the strength of your lye solution and the fats used.

Depending on the strength of the lye solution you were able to get from your ash, your soap could be really gentle, or a bit on the harsh side, but it will clean quite nicely! After making a few batches, you’ll know whether your ash solution is too strong or too weak. Adjustments in the amount of fat used, or in the preparation of your lye water (use more ash, pour water through the ash slower for a stronger solution, or faster to get a weaker solution) will allow you to fine tune your soap. Or, you could just start your adventure in the wild with a large supply of already made natural soap, and spend your time enjoying what you really escaped civilization to do!

Article written by Erin Lee of the Natural Bar Soap Company.

Best Jeep JK Long Arm Kit – Which Suspension Kit to go with?

My wife has given me the OK to start looking for a new Jeep. I prefer the 2 door she prefers the 4 door so guess which one we will be purchasing? Answer = 4Door. Stock Jeeps claim to be “Trail Rated” but anyone who has been offroad in a stock wrangler knows they leave a lot to be desired. Quite honestly straight from the factory most jeeps are nothing more than “Mall Rated” with the added ability of doing better in snow and sand than a 2wd. Typically the #1 modification to improve offroad capability is larger tires. 33″ used to be pretty big but these days 35″ and even 37″ are becoming the norm for modified Jeeps with many people choosing to go even larger. My jeep will be both a daily driver in Durango Colorado to get me to and from the ski slopes and a mild trail rig to be used on some of the tamer trails around Moab Utah and the surrounding area. I’m torn between a 3.5″ lift and a 5.5″ lift but since the price is about the same I say if you are going to Lift a Jeep why not go bigger.

The two companies I am looking at are Clayton Offroad and Rock Krawler both come highly recommended and both are weld on solutions rather than bolt on.

I’m looking for comments from you as to which kit you would go with and why?

Car 541: King of the Hammers LCQ

Some Photos for my new friends at Militaryjeepers.com

Car 541: King of the Hammers LCQ







Note to myself: Great video on the LS engine

I may start working on my own buggy after my trip to the King of the Hammers. The majority of the cars I saw had LS engines. Extreme4x4 just had a really good show featuring the LS Engine that you can watch at this link: LS ENGINES

According to Ian from Extreme 4×4 the LQ9 engine used in many performance trucks is more or less a Corvette Gen4 LS engine made of cast Iron rather than Aluminum at a fraction of the cost and able to crank out 500+ hp. Used Vette engines are typically in the $5000 – $10,000 range whereas a LQ9 Takeout engine with everything needed to make it run can be found for around $2000.

Ian specifically recommended EFI Engine Supply and Turn Key Engine Supply as a source for LS engines. For the best deals you would probably have better luck searching Ebay.

From Wikipedia:

The Vortec HO 6000 or VortecMAX is a special high-output version of the Vortec 6000 V8 truck engine originally designed for Cadillac. This engine was introduced in other truck lines as VortecMAX for 2006. It features high-compression (10:1) flat-top pistons for an extra 10 hp (7 kW) and 10 lb·ft (14 N·m), bringing output to 345 hp (257 kW) and 380 lb·ft (515 N·m). LQ9s are built only in Romulus, Michigan. GM also listed it as based on LS architecture.

LQ9 (VIN N) Applications:

Car 4473- 4 Wheel Parts – KOH 2011

Car 4473- 4 Wheel Parts – KOH 2011

Car 4473- 4 Wheel Parts - KOH 2011

Car 4473 - 4 Wheel Parts - KOH 2011

Lucas Oil | King of the Hammers 2011

Photos of Car 4478 Lucas Oil shot at Chocolate Thunder on February 11th:

car 4478 Lucas Oil King of the Hammers 2011

Car 4478 Lucas Oil King of the Hammers 2011

car 4478 Lucas Oil King of the Hammers 2011

car 4478 Lucas Oil King of the Hammers 2011

car 4478 Lucas Oil King of the Hammers 2011

Car 4478 Lucas Oil King of the Hammers 2011

Raw Carnage at King of the Hammers 2011

Here’s another short video I threw together of King of the Hammers racers who made it up waterfall at Backdoor without using their winches.

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