Van Go

Jim

Beyond the edge is the unknown. Here be Dragons
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How's dat for a nice simple title? :er:

I retired a while back... 'k... more than a while... Air Force. Airlines. Teaching.... put a fork in me.
Sue is retiring at the end of this year and our plan (from the last 30 yrs) has always been to travel once we're retired. Not air travel mind you... lord knows I've had my fill of that. :cautious:

Nope... think Americana... Route 66 and all that. We want to travel the backroads and byways... the road less traveled shall we say. A week here, a month there... nowhere and everywhere. Life in the slow lane I guess you could say.

So the logical choice (for us) is traveling in a van. Even if I could afford a gigantic RV, I wouldn't. Motels and hotels? Screw that. Tents and motorcycles? Man I'd love to, but where the mind's willing, the body's.... um... old. 🧓 So van it is. And like everything else I've ever done, it's DIY. And with that....

It's a Ford E-250. Rolled off the line in '05 and straight into a conversion garage called Eclipse Van Conversions. From there it went to Kansas University's Research Department, where it spent it's life until I picked it up this past winter. Has just over 100k on the clock... a 5.4L V-8... it's just barely broke in. For the most part it was well maintained. There's some problems I'll get to here in a bit. But here it is the day after I drove it home. I swear I took some more interior pics. I'll add them as I run across 'em.


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KU had it set up as a mobile field office. A couch that folded into a (small) bed, a desk and filing cabinets and drawers. Not really suitable for camping, but stripped down it's the perfect canvas... so to speak.



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You can see in the last pic the "deconstruction" is started. I seriously considered saving large parts of the interior. In the end I'm glad I took it all apart... there's zilch for insulation... not even a whiff. Next pic is after about 500lbs of desk, cabinets and steel floor were removed. Seriously, where you see the carpet flattened, was 1/8" steel plate. Took me and two neighbors to get it out. EDIT: That's the actual steel plate you're looking at... before we removed it.



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After completely gutting it, I discovered the floor was rotted out where Eclipse installed the sofa and neglected to seal the holes they cut.



1687398158369.png




The underlying crossmembers and such were still solid so I just ground out the corrosion and screwed and glued in replacement floor that I beat out of sheet stock I found in the basement. Thought about dragging up the welders from the basement and welding it all in... but nah.... good enough.



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And with that done I now have my clean slate with which to build "VanGo." Um... that's Sue's name, not mine.... :whistle:
 
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How's dat for a nice simple title? :er:

I retired a while back... 'k... more than a while... Air Force. Airlines. Teaching.... put a fork in me, I'm done.
Sue is retiring at the end of this year and our plan (from the last 30 yrs) has always been to travel once we're retired. Not air travel mind you... lord knows I've had my fill of that. :cautious:

Nope... think Americana... Route 66 and all that. We want to travel the backroads and byways... the road less traveled shall we say. A week here, a month there... nowhere and everywhere. Life in the slow lane I guess you could say.

So the logical choice (for us) is traveling in a van. Even if I could afford a gigantic RV, I wouldn't. Motels and hotels? Screw that. Tents and motorcycles? Man I'd love to, but where the mind's willing, the body's.... um... old. 🧓 So van it is. And like everything else I've ever done, it's DIY. And with that....

It's a Ford E-250. Rolled off the line in '05 and straight into a conversion garage called Eclipse Van Conversions. From there it went to Kansas University's Research Department, where it spent it's life until I picked it up this past winter. Has just over 100k on the clock... a 5.4L V-8... it's just barely broke in. For the most part it was well maintained. There's some problems I'll get to here in a bit. But here it is the day after I drove it home. I swear I took some more interior pics. I'll add them as I run across 'em.


View attachment 245734

View attachment 245735



KU had it set up as a mobile field office. A couch that folded into a (small) bed, a desk and filing cabinets and drawers. Not really suitable for camping, but stripped down it's the perfect canvas... so to speak.



View attachment 245736

View attachment 245737



You can see in the last pic the "deconstruction is started. I seriously considered saving large parts of the interior. In the end I'm glad I took it all apart... there's zilch for insulation... not even a whiff. Next pic is after about 500lbs of desk, cabinets and steel floor were removed. Seriously, where you see the carpet flattened, was 1/8" steel plate. Took me and two neighbors to get it out.



View attachment 245748



After completely gutting it, I discovered the floor was rotted out where Eclipse installed the sofa and neglected to seal the holes they cut.



View attachment 245749



The underlying crossmembers and such were still solid so I just ground out the corrosion and screwed and glued in replacement floor that I beat out of sheet stock I found in the basement. Thought about dragging up the welders from the basement and welding it all in... but nah.... good enough.



View attachment 245750

View attachment 245751

View attachment 245752



And with that done I now have my clean slate with which to build "Van Go." Um... that's Sue's name, not mine.... :whistle:
Ain't nothing wrong with that repair. Good luck with the project.
 
So the first problem that needed addressing was electrical. There was a parasitic drain that killed both batteries in about 3-4 days. Hooked up my meter and an hour after you shut the engine off the van electrics was still drawing about 800Ma. That's almost a full amp... continuous until the batteries died. Through a process of pulling fuses and measuring I finally chased it down to what Ford cryptically calls a "power saver" circuit. Even more unbelievable... Ford built that circuit into the instrument cluster. Turns out this isn't an uncommon problem. There's a company called Circuit Board Medics that specialize in saving these old Ford instrument clusters. They resolder every connection and replace all the (many) components involved in the power saver circuit. 3 days and 250 bucks later my parasitic drain was down to 15Ma. Hadn't planned on spending that... but I'll take it.

While I had the instrument panel in pieces I added two USB ports, a voltmeter, and a modern radio head with navigation just because I can.



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If I were going to travel (I'm not...had a belly full of that) that'd be the way I'd do it.

Wife was daydreaming and mentioned "How nice a full size RV would be."

I said yeah, except:

$250K purchase price for a mid-range one.
Insurance?
Registration?
$500 oil changes (diesel)
Insane maintenance costs
4 figure towing charges if (when...) it breaks down
$4 fuel.
4-5 MPG
Driving in traffic
Finding places to park it

and half a dozen other things I'm sure I forgot.
 
We ain't as high falute'n as Jean Claude (Damn Van) will be be. Ours is more of a swiss army knife, does a little bit of everything. but when we do road trip the van is the tool. Allison's taking it horse camping next week, throw in the futon, done.


Going to be fun following Jim's build.
Might want to look around here for some idears.
https://www.fordtransitusaforum.com/forums/camper-vans-and-conversions.114/
It's transit based, but conversions is conversions.
 

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If I were going to travel (I'm not...had a belly full of that) that'd be the way I'd do it.

Wife was daydreaming and mentioned "How nice a full size RV would be."

I said yeah, except:

$250K purchase price for a mid-range one.
Insurance?
Registration?
$500 oil changes (diesel)
Insane maintenance costs
4 figure towing charges if (when...) it breaks down
$4 fuel.
4-5 MPG
Driving in traffic
Finding places to park it

and half a dozen other things I'm sure I forgot.
You can almost hear them depreciating.
 
So the first problem that needed addressing was electrical. There was a parasitic drain that killed both batteries in about 3-4 days. Hooked up my meter and an hour after you shut the engine off the van electrics was still drawing about 800Ma. That's almost a full amp... continuous until the batteries died. Through a process of pulling fuses and measuring I finally chased it down to what Ford cryptically calls a "power saver" circuit. Even more unbelievable... Ford built that circuit into the instrument cluster. Turns out this isn't an uncommon problem. There's a company called Circuit Board Medics that specialize in saving these old Ford instrument clusters. They resolder every connection and replace all the (many) components involved in the power saver circuit. 3 days and 250 bucks later my parasitic drain was down to 15Ma. Hadn't planned on spending that... but I'll take it.

While I had the instrument panel in pieces I added two USB ports, a voltmeter, and a modern radio head with navigation just because I can.



View attachment 245756

View attachment 245757

View attachment 245758
Good to know. I have a '94 F-350 Diesel that drains the batteries and the LCD odometer need restoring anyway so...
 
If I were going to travel (I'm not...had a belly full of that) that'd be the way I'd do it.

Wife was daydreaming and mentioned "How nice a full size RV would be."

I said yeah, except:

$250K purchase price for a mid-range one.
Insurance?
Registration?
$500 oil changes (diesel)
Insane maintenance costs
4 figure towing charges if (when...) it breaks down
$4 fuel.
4-5 MPG
Driving in traffic
Finding places to park it

and half a dozen other things I'm sure I forgot.
Not to mention that they like sitting around even less than your bike. Then there the problem of keeping mice etc. out and chasing down electric problems that they cause. You will spend at least a week prepping and repairing one everytime you use it after it's a few years old, If you must have one, rent. Yeah it's expensive but unless you are going to live in it 4+ month a year, it's probably cheaper in the long run.
 
Ford dash electric drain, had a 98? F150 that would do it when it rained. Turned out a windshield seal leak would send water down into the dash. That would trigger the drain. Dry, no problems. Cured that one with silicone seal.
 
Thought you might be looking for some design ideas…..

You know, like some cool gold shag carpet and a fireplace,
IMG_5864.jpeg

Or crushed velvet with a wet bar and water bed,
IMG_5863.jpeg

And don’t forget the side pipes and cool mural!
IMG_5860.jpeg

Feel free to use any of these ideas, no need to thank me! 😆
 
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