Investing in a 4×4 modification for a class C motorhome is not something you hear about too often. Yet, RVers take their rigs seriously and their travel experiences even more so. That`s perhaps the main reason why Long Island, New York-resident Joe O`Connell ramped up the driving prowess of his 2015 Coachmen Leprechaun 319 with a 4×4 conversion kit.
O`Connell is an enthusiast who enjoys RVing with his wife Michele and daughter Emily on Montauk Beach, Long Island. He went with the 4×4 mod to handle the adverse conditions of the sand, and other common challenges when RVing on a beach. Camping at a sandy shore side has its benefits of oceanfront views and melting sunsets. Yet, it’s not as easy as it sounds and there are pros and cons to camping on the beach.
The sand is very unstable with little or no traction. Plus, there are only certain times (and certain areas) when an RV can even make it on a beach.
“It’s very difficult for a 15,000-pound, two-wheel-drive motorhome to get up onto a beach,” says O`Connell who takes this type of RVing seriously and is a supporting member of the Long Island Beach Buggy Association. “A lot of people do it of course, but it’s like driving through sugar. I have never been stuck and have always been able to get out of a potential jam. Yet, I go slow, steady and don’t apply the brakes. This 4×4 conversion will definitely help with that.”
So, O`Connell contacted UJoint OffRoad to take on the task and made the trip to its shop in North Carolina. Riding on a E-450 chassis and equipped with factory suspension, shocks, brakes, and tires, the Leprechaun’s modification would add a whole new element to the front end, providing easier manoeuverability on and of course, off the road.
“Conversions such as this are all about the leaf spring specs, the weight ratings of the unit (to the actual weight of the class C), and overall spring capacity,” says owner of UJoint OffRoad Chris Steuber. “The advantage of the springs is they hold up the exact axle weight of the vehicle. This also means that users don’t have to rely on large airbags in the rear to achieve smoother driving experiences. Basically, we replaced the Ford factory suspension and installed our spring hangers. We then added our custom-spec`d leaf springs that are an exact match to the weight of Joe`s class C.”
Additionally, there were precise upgrades to the suspension, shocks, plus the steering and braking systems. Steuber and his team also added an impressive six-inch lift with 33-inch tires. This included 255/85/16 Toyo MTs tires for the rear axle and 295/70/17 Toyo MTs for the front axle.
“Overall, we installed a Dana 60 front axle wit a Detroit Tru Trac for optimum traction,” says Steuber. “The brakes are now the same size as an F550 system for optimum stopping power. We also put in high-quality 2.0 Fox Smooth body Shocks for tighter handling. A cross-over steering system and our trac bar brackets, which makes the steering really nice without any bump-steer or strange handling is another reliable element of the conversion.”
A 4×4 Class C With Reliability and More
Although the only addition modification to the rear axle are the shocks, springs and tires, the result is a solid, smoother handling class C. Further, Steuber explains that 90 percent of the parts used for the mod are designed and manufactured in house. They are also no proprietary parts, which makes them easy to replace, be repaired and serviced at other shops. Ujoint also added a full on board air system to help with tire inflating, air bags and whatever else Joe needs compressed air for. The system has a 150psi compressor and a 2.5 gallon air tank along with quick disconnects located on each side of the RV.
While RVing is seasonal in Long Island, O’Connell has tentative plans to journey further south. He may also do some holiday camping. Yet, one thing is for sure, his experiences will most likely be on a beach.