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Advice on Body lift Vauxhall Combo 1.7CDTI

Discussion in 'Other Car/Van Related Technical Information Required / Provided' started by Jake Morgan, Aug 21, 2016.

  1. Jake Morgan

    Jake Morgan New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    1
    Drives:
    Vauxhall Combo 1.7 CTDiI
    Hello,

    I Have Vauxhall Combo 1.7CDTI 2003, It's a great little motor but I'm finding myself working and driving a lot in fields, farms and sometimes forests. I cannot afford to upgrade to 4x4 at this point so I'm looking at options for making the van more capable for off-road use. I've been looking into body/ suspension lifts but am not having much luck finding what I need for my specific vehicle. Same goes for off road tires/ wheels. Can anyone shed some light on the best / most affordable method for achieving this?

    Cheers

    Jake
     
  2. edessex

    edessex Mud Lover

    Messages:
    496
    Likes Received:
    122
    Location:
    Near Stansted Airport, Herts
    Drives:
    1993 Vauxhall Astra C14SE
    I know a little about this topic, but I'm on the way out now. I'll write a proper reply tonight!
     
    Fred Bassett likes this.
  3. edessex

    edessex Mud Lover

    Messages:
    496
    Likes Received:
    122
    Location:
    Near Stansted Airport, Herts
    Drives:
    1993 Vauxhall Astra C14SE
    Rightidokie, some brief background on myself first, I've worked in the horticulture trade for 12+ years now, and over the last 5 or so years I've been involved in the agriculture industry. Soil type round this way is heavy Essex clay.

    I've always been interested in off-roading, and have owned several 4x4's. I still own a Land Rover One-Ten, but it's been laid up for years, every time I decide to fix it back up I decide I can't warrant the running and ongoing repair costs of a 4x4 (I am very tight).

    My current daily driver and workhorse is a 1993 Vauxhall Astra 1.4i. I also have a 'proper' van, 54 Vauxhall Movano, but the Astra does 99% of the dirty work.

    I recently decided to re-enter the greenlaning world, in the Astra.

    To give an idea of what the Astra deals with:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    Now that is out of the way, we can get on with what modifications you can do on a 2WD.

    But remember the golden rule: Everything you GAIN in one respect, you LOSE in another.


    TYRE / WHEEL SIZE:
    This is the easiest place to start. If you increase the overall height of your wheels, then you will increase the ride height. Remember that it isn't just rim size, it's a combination of rim size and tyre sidewall height.
    I have achieved a 1" lift all round by upping the wheel size.

    However, as per the golden rule, drastically increasing the tyre/wheel size does have negative effects, the obvious being that you can throw the speedo off, but more importantly it can add strain on the engine and gearbox. You might find pulling away much slower, especially with a load in.

    Another point to remember is that you want to decide on a tyre size which is as common as possible, going for obscure sizes will narrow your tyre choices and make them more expensive.

    Also consider clearances on your vehicle, how large can you go without fouling on anything?


    TYRE TREAD PATTERN:
    This is very, very important. I've seen many a 4x4 come unstuck, it doesn't matter how good the vehicle or driver is, if the rubber is naff, you won't get anywhere!

    In the 4x4 world there are 3 categories of tyre:
    -Road -as they say on the tin really, unlikely to be much good for you.
    -MT -Mud Terrain, these offer the best grip in heavy mud conditions. Again remembering the golden rule, they are the worst tyre on tarmac, noisy, poor grip, and can lower MPG considerably.
    AT -All Terrain, the best all-rounder. My advice would be to aim for this section.

    Now in car size tyres things differ slightly, I've found it best to look for road legal Autograss tyres, as these are close to AT tyres. Commercial vehicle pattern tyres can sometimes fall just within AT style, so worth considering. Anything saying M&S is worth a look, but bear in mind some are softer rubber, so will wear quicker.

    As you have a commercial vehicle, you need to find out if you have to have tyres marked 'C'. I don't think you will on a Combo, but obviously its up to you to make sure you stay legal.

    My current tyres are Malatesta Polaris, and handle the loose/muddy stuff well. They also cope on wet tarmac better than I expected.

    [​IMG]


    I also put AT/autograss type tyres on my rear (undriven) wheels, as I was getting some more sideways motion than I was happy with. I currently have Technic Weatherspeed 2's on there.

    [​IMG]


    Tyres can be a very in-depth thing, you need to consider weight and speed ratings. I'll leave it at that for tyres for now.



    SUSPENSION:

    Longer springs are the easiest thing to consider. I was lucky in that I discovered that people lowered the back ends of Mk3 Astra Estates by fitting Hatch springs. If it lowers one way, it'll raise the other, usually. I gained 2" of lift by fitting Estate springs.

    For the front I fitted heavier springs out of a diesel model, this raised the front 1".

    Have a search around on the net, see if you can find Combo springs being used to lower anything, I'm not full of hope for that, but you might strike lucky.

    I'm not sure of the suspension setup on a Combo, but I assume its springs and shocks separate on the rear, and that it is coil springs not a torsion bar, and that the fronts are MacPherson struts?

    For the rears, you might be able to use spring spacer blocks.

    [​IMG]

    Or you might be able to cut the spring cup off, weld a block underneath, and weld the cup back on.

    For the rear shocks, longer shocks are best, or shock extenders.


    For the front, longer springs can only take you so far. You can make a coilover strut, and buy long springs. This might be the easiest as there will be info on the web about making coilover struts to lower Combo vans, I assume. So you can use this information, but make it go up instead of down.

    I'm too tight for that, and it requires calculations on spring weight, which I got lost with!


    Another option is strut spacer blocks, these go inbetween the strut and the body.

    [​IMG]

    However you have to consider the effect of moving the strut down. It can throw off the camber for starters. You might also need to cut a lower slot for the tie rod bar, and then there is the driveshaft angle and the wishbone angle.

    I've decided on my Astra that I'm going to cut the strut tube below the spring seat, and weld in more tube. Even this has complications, as it has in insert shock, so I need a block dropped in the modified tube. But this keeps the top of the strut, and the tie rod, all standard.
    The Astra have a vertical bush, so I need to fit wishbone off another model to allow the wishbone to go down at a steeper angle. This involves modifying the subframe.


    So there are the main methods, but you need to be familiar with your suspension before you decide what route to take.


    Needless to say, the golden rule comes in again. Gain in ride height can cause more body roll, poor handling in wind, etc.


    EQUIPMENT:

    There is a phrase in the 4x4 world; 'all the gear and no idea'. This is usually applied to those who jack up their vehicles as much as possible, fit oversized aggressive MT tyres, fit a winch, etc, but don't know how to drive across mud, or how to recover themselves.

    Firstly, the best way to NOT get stuck, is to drive the area sensibly. I don't know what level of experience you have, but there are tutorials online.

    Next is kit. If you are driving fields in the wet, I recommend snow chains. Nothing fancy, cheap ones will do, on driving wheels only.

    I've got 4x4's stuck here before, the Astra on chains made it.

    [​IMG]


    Hand winch is a worthwhile buy, plus tree straps and something to use as a ground anchor.

    [​IMG]


    Some form of grip mats, I have recovered the Astra loads in thick mud using cheapy plastic snow mat things, track mats in another term used. The best is something referred to in the 4x4 world as waffle boards, which are off-cuts from fibreglass industrial flooring grates. They offer great grip, and can also be used for bridging gaps. But they are heavy when full of mud!

    [​IMG]


    So I think that is the basics covered. I am very interested in what you end up doing, as my next vehicle will more than likely be a Combo.
     
    Laikasorbit likes this.
  4. Jake Morgan

    Jake Morgan New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    1
    Drives:
    Vauxhall Combo 1.7 CTDiI
    You sir are a gent. thank you so much for all the info i will be sure to keep you posted with what i decided and how she turns out.

    thank you again!
     
    edessex likes this.

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