Here’s a window into my soul. This was the part of the job I was really intimidated by and I have, literally, lost sleep over this during the entire year (I bought the Syncro donor in August of 2015!) leading to this moment. The hardest most tricky part of the conversion is changing the front suspension. The 2WD has all the lower suspension mounts integrated into the body of the van. They are assemblies that are spotwelded and/or welded into the unibody frame at the factory. Both the 2WD and 4WD have their steering rack mounts integrated into the frame, but they are different assemblies and the 4WD one has to be cut out of the donor, prepped and installed into the 2WD. The 2WD lower suspension mounts have to be completely cut out of the frame and discarded. The 4WD has a bolt-in tubular subframe that carries the lower suspension componets and the front differential. Before I bought the donor, I spent a fair amount of time researching the process of a Syncro conversion. Many of the documented conversions are limited in photos and some of the more thoroughly documented ones were done, well, in ways that I wouldn’t necessarily want to replicate. I fiercely adhere to high standards and this is my van, a vehicle I treasure. I wanted this to be right and I knew that once I started cutting, there was no turning back.
Since the Syncro’s subframe is bolt-in, the 2WD needs a few modifications to accomodate this. The easiest is the rear mounting points. The frame rails each have two holes already located in them. The Syncro has a little rectanglular opening forward of these holes to allow a steel bar that has two threaded holes in it to be slid into the frame rail. Once installed, the threaded holes in the bar align with the holes in the frame rails and serve as the rear mounting points. One simply has to add the rectangular opening to the 2WD chassis.
The last part of this process is setting up the forward mounting points for the subframe, which also serves for mounting the sway bar. Where the 2WD forward radius rod mount was cut out is a large section where the stub of the mount needs to be ground flush to the frame rail. Once that has been done, there is a slight recess in the frame rail. Just forward and rearward of that recess are sheetmetal plates that box in the frame rail. A plate of similar thickness needs to be welded into the recess to fill that void. That plate is then drilled for the subframe’s forward mounting holes and for the sway bar’s mounting holes.
I’ll have to source the correct thickness plate from a local sheet metal fabricator. Once I have done so, a future post will illustrate that installation.
Day Two complete!