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Old 08-10-2013, 01:28 AM   #1
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Ford E350 raised-roof extended basic project

As my first post on this forum, please excuse my ignorance on the topic of vans, and van projects.

This is going to be my first "project" when dealing with vans. I currently own a Ford e350 15 passenger window van, and am about to purchase a Ford e350 15 passenger van with a raised roof. I'm purchasing it from a transport company that has used it as a wheelchair van, so it has a 24" raised roof and an interesting seating layout as well as a wheelchair lift (side door).

I'm not doing any sort of crazy conversion to my van, and I'm sure my 'build' will seem relatively brainless to most of you, but with zero experience in this field, I would love some suggestions and help with my modifications.

I would like to remove the wheel chair lift, which I'll have done by a mechanic or something of the kind, however once it's gone, I'll have a significant amount of seating room, that is not being used due to wheelchair brackets in the floor.

The layout I'm thinking of is this:
Leave the back bench seat (4 people), and back side bench (folding 3 people) where they are now, remove the single rear captain chair, and add in a normal oem 3 person bench into it's normal mounting position directly behind the driver and passenger seats. I would like to if possible add a bench facing backwards, back to back with the added 3 person bench.

Where the rear captain chair is, I'd like to build some sort of storage area, covering the wheel-well. In this storage I'd love to have some sort of table, ideally something that could extend out into the leg area of the seating.
The only photo I have of the interior of the van is attached, It's looking over the drivers seat, and there's obviously a good amount of space you can not see, but I'm going to grab some more pictures this week.

In addition to the interior seating layout changes, I'd like to build a shelf, and a bunk. Over the driver/passenger seats, I'd like to put a shelf at the original roof level, for storage, and entertainment (TV,etc). At the rear of the van, over the bench, I'd like to build a bunk, at original roof level. I'm thinking that with 24" of head room that's more than enough for one person less than 6 feet tall to sleep, however I have absolutely no idea how I would build either of these two pieces.

Finally, I'd love to attach an awning on the passenger side of the van, ideally long enough to go from the passenger window, past the side door, however I don't know where I'd buy one, or anything about the integrity of mounting something as heavy as I'd imagine an awning would be to the fiberglass of the raised roof.

All help and suggestions are greatly appreciated, Thanks!
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:39 AM   #2
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Re: Ford E350 raised-roof extended basic project

Welcome Dwin, glad to have you along. You have found the right place to learn and gather ideas!

Check out the Homemade/Ground up builds section and just start reading. There are endless builds here, but many of them are long ago so you'll have to just surf for awhile. There are no dumb questions. Your van looks like a good canvas. If you have any help (skilled or not) you can probably remove that wheelchair lift yourself as a first project. I haven't done this but it's destruction more than construction and will help you experiment a little with van mods and learning about yours.

Also check out the van builds on the Expedition Portal, under expedition vehicles/4x4 camper vans.
They aren't all 4x4, BTW.


Currently vanless. Weird.
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Old 08-12-2013, 12:29 PM   #3
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Re: Ford E350 raised-roof extended basic project

We looked at a van with a handicap top. The top had an inner and outer fiberglass shell separated by 3 or 4 inches, and there was a steel roll cage in that space. We passed because we didn't want the weight and space taken by the roll cage. It would have been difficult to insulate the roof too.
2009 E250 RB 5.4L "SilVan"
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Old 08-12-2013, 01:14 PM   #4
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Re: Ford E350 raised-roof extended basic project

I'm actually not going to be using it for a sports/expedition/off road vehicle. It's going to be a band van, transport and sleep 5-7 people, all it'll need is the few things I want to do to it mentioned above and power. No bathroom/sink/running water. Nothing fancy, and no actual vehicle mods, the worst roads this'll see are worn our pot-hole filled Walmart parking lots!
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Old 08-12-2013, 02:27 PM   #5
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Re: Ford E350 raised-roof extended basic project

I think your layout sounds great. I'm considering doing something similar to mine be adding new seat tracks, so I can relocate seats as desired. My only comment would that for rear-facing seats, make sure you use a tall seat that offers head protection. The standard bench seats are not tall enough, but the optional "center-isle" seats are.

As mentioned, look at the home-build section. Lots of good seat info there. I see U-Joint Offroad now sells Toyota Sienna captains chairs seat bases (hint hint).
2000 E450 dually V10 wagon
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