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Old 05-14-2012, 09:30 AM   #1
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Removing fiberglass running boards?

I got my first SMB last week, and overall am pretty pleased with it. However, I'm not a big fan of the fiberglass running boards, as they make the van look too much like a Roadtrek or similar campervan. Looking underneath, they seem to be just bolted onto the frame and would be easy to remove. Has anyone here done a similar removal? If so, were there any holes in the body uncovered (like in the wheel wells or elsewhere)? Were there any paint issues underneath?

My thought is to replace them with standard black Ford running boards from a passenger van for a cleaner look.

I spent some time searching the archives but didn't really find any answer, so thanks in advance for any advice.

I also have the big painted-on stripe on the side. I don't mind the ones that just are horizontal the length of the van, but mine goes vertically up the back, too. Down the road I'll probably try to figure out some way to make that more visually appealing, but I don't want to do a major repaint at this point. Has anyone had luck with removing part of the striping or simply painting over part of it? I can't imagine white paint easily covering the blue though.

Van as it currently looks:

Van mocked-up in Photoshop w/o running boards and with updated stripe:
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Old 05-14-2012, 10:00 AM   #2
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Re: Removing fiberglass running boards?

Most running boards don't put any holes in the body, but I think your type that cover so much of the body would have to for strength. In other words, I think you're gonna have some visible holes. Also, you are most likely just gonna find the factory white paint underneath, but it will be all dirty/stained/rubbed etc. from dirt being trapped under there since it was new. There will be some ugly spots which will be hard to clean. It's an easy color to match, though, you could just touch up what you needed to and it wouldn't look too bad.
The factory Ford running boards are great and I love them on 2WD vans, but I've heard they are kind of pricey. May want to start looking in the salvage yards. By the way, the driver side has only a short running board for the driver, about 3-4' long if you are talking about the style I'm thinking of, like this
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:30 AM   #3
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Re: Removing fiberglass running boards?

Thanks 86Scotty. Yes, those black ones are what I'm thinking of. My neighbor has a set on his cargo van and they look kinda nice, I think. Very understated.

I figure there will be paint mismatch underneath. It's more the holes I'm worried about. I can always patch them and touch-up, though, of course. Definitely one advantage to the plain vanilla white body color!
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:40 AM   #4
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Re: Removing fiberglass running boards?

I found them finally I think. The price on these is actually pretty good too at 259. I looked around for awhile this morning and only found the ones you have, which are $600!!!!! I can't imagine anyone paying that for them.
Anyway, hope this helps, I just found it. I think 259 is a bargain for these.
http://www.runningboardwarehouse.com...1982-2011.aspx
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Old 05-14-2012, 12:34 PM   #5
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Re: Removing fiberglass running boards?

Thanks for the link! $259 is pretty good, I agree.

The fiberglass running boards I have now are actually pretty nice, and are in great shape, but just not the style I'm looking for. I guess for those who like more of a mainstream camper look they would be appealing, as they give the van a bit of a "finished" look. For my eyes, though, they make it look too much like an RV, which I don't like.
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Old 05-14-2012, 01:17 PM   #6
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Re: Removing fiberglass running boards?

I agree, not to knock your van, but I don't love the Roadtrek look. I'd ditch em. I don't like running boards in general, but the Ford van ones are the best looking I've seen on any vehicle, really. Also, my wife and kids need them so I'll live with them.

About the striping, if you have a hair dryer or heat gun, you could probably remove the stripes altogether. I've had pretty good luck with this on a few vehicles. I don't think the Ford white fades much, so you might be able to give it a good buffing afterwards and not have any contrast at all. Your results may vary
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Old 05-14-2012, 02:22 PM   #7
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Re: Removing fiberglass running boards?

As for the running boards the Factory Ford ones are nice...They do a great job protecting the sides of the van from stone chips.
Quigley vans sometimes have a longer passenger side one on the drivers side...Doesnt do much but it does, look somewhat better.
You might try FamVans http://www.famvans.com/ they have take off parts sometimes...So does Sportsmobile and other van shops.
There was a set on here a while back and I have seen them at least twice around me on Craigslist...

On the stripes I think it depends on if they are painted or tape stripes... With a heat gun tape stripes will come off....The paint might look better than the van as its been covered up so long...Mild Home Depot laquer thinner is good for cleaning the glue residue...
If they are painted on you may have to live with them unless you want to get into a bunch of paint work...

I think without the van coversion running boards the van will look even better...

I think the van looks really good you did really well...

At least the stripes are good colors they could be much more 90s looking...
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Old 05-14-2012, 06:20 PM   #8
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Re: Removing fiberglass running boards?

Unfortunately the stripes are painted on, I checked. I guess that's a way-down-the-road update I'll do once I get the other small things sorted out. The van is in remarkably good shape for a 1998. Only 72,000 miles on it, and the first owner was a retired doctor who spared no expense on keeping it up. I've been looking for a SMB for nearly seven years since we sold our VW Westy, and the fates/planets finally aligned and I found one 400 miles away in N. Carolina. Already took it camping last Friday night and love it!
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Old 05-14-2012, 08:30 PM   #9
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Re: Removing fiberglass running boards?

I had similar running boards and a similarly funky paint job on my '95. Just got used to the paint job, or learned to ignore it anyway, but I did remove the running boards. Mine were bolted onto the body underneath with little nuts and bolts, took half an hour to remove and left holes underneath. I just left the holes, they are not visible and don't really affect anything. If you live in the rust belt you might want to put a glob of silicone in each hole or just spray them a bit.
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Old 05-15-2012, 07:35 AM   #10
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Re: Removing fiberglass running boards?

Thanks Witoke and everyone.

I took a closer look at the boards last night, and in addition to being bolted to the frame rails (as most running boards are), they are also screwed into the wheelwells with what appear to be self-tapping screws. I may work on taking them off this weekend, and will probably just fill the holes and maybe touchup with some paint to keep rust at bay.

The van is from North Carolina, so has minimal rust, but now it's in Pennsylvania so I need to be more careful about that.
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