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Old 01-27-2014, 09:50 AM   #1
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which van to buy and an intro

I apologize if this is the wrong place for this post but I am new here and still trying to figure things out. I am a travel nurse and looking to convert a cargo can into a camper that I can live in, possibly not full time if I can find assignments close to friends and relatives. But if I am forced to be away from people I can stay with I want something I can live in, probably an RV park or campground where I will have access to a shower and bathroom.
So here is my initial idea. I want to have a bed with storage underneath, cabinet/closet space beside the bed and a counter top area behind the drivers seat with room for small sink, propane camp stove and some cabinet space underneath (probably put propane tank and grey water under counter too). Im not sure what I will do about A/C and or heat because I am hoping to stay in more temperate climates as I move around and not be in temperatures that are too extreme. Possibly looking into solar but that may be something to do down the road.

So the vehicle I was looking at is a 2008 ford e-250 3.5 V6 FI SOHC. That seams to be the most common cargo van that I can find in my price range of under $10,000. Would the e-250 be a large enough platform to build what I want into or would I have to go with an e-350? I am really just getting started here and am not set in my ways with anything so any help would be greatly appreciated. I have been browsing this form for a day or so and it looks like this is the place to be for a cargo van conversion.

Thank you in advance for any helpful information and I look forward to posting here more with my progress.

photocodo
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Old 01-27-2014, 11:24 AM   #2
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Re: which van to buy and an intro

An E250 should be ok for a conversion like you describe. Ford discontinued the V6 after 2006 I believe (it was a 4.2L). The E250 either comes with a 4.6L or 5.4L V8. Both are reliable, but the 4.6L may be a little anemic for a camper-van. It'll get you where you need to go, but don't expect to be be passing cars while going up mountain grades.

My suggestion is try to narrow down you floor-plan needs first, then start van shopping. The floorplan will drive whether you need an RB or an EB van (long or short) and could affect what class chassis you need (150 vs 250 vs 350). It sound like you are describing a "50" floorplan, aka the Westy layout. This can work in both RB and EB vans.
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Old 01-27-2014, 11:30 AM   #3
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Re: which van to buy and an intro

BTW - Are you planning on having it converted, or doing the work yourself?

I ran across a nice camper van locally, I think built by Van Specialties. It's fully self-contained, which could be really useful if you have to spend a night in a bad neighborhood or in bad weather.
http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/rvd/4306435543.html
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Old 01-27-2014, 12:00 PM   #4
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Re: which van to buy and an intro

carringb, thank you for the reply. I am planning on doing most of the work myself. I do plan to have some type of electrical system and hope to integrate solar at some point but that will be down the road a bit. I mainly just need the bed, storage and a counter top area that I can cook on. My initial thoughts are to have a small sink that connects directly to a grey tank underneath and have a fresh tank possibly hung above the sink or maybe beside it. So I won't necessarily have "running water" but I will have access to water while I am cooking, brushing teeth etc. I plan on using a two burner coleman camping stove for now until I can save up for something a little more permanent. I was thinking about putting a propane tank under the cabinet for now until I can purchase and mount a larger one underneath the van. The propane will mainly be used for cooking and depending on the weather I may use it as a heat source (mr heater?). Eventually I would like to have my electrical system set up so I can plug it in when I am at a camp site or if I am not near a power source I can use solar/batteries and possibly have a back up generator. But that is all a little over my head right now so I will need to do some research on how to set that up. I really don't need too many bells and whistles, just a comfortable place to sleep, enough storage for some gear, a place to cook and the ability to keep the temperature adequate. I will insulate the van before I start the build and put a wood floor in. These are just my preliminary ideas that could very well change before I actually buy the van. I would love to be able to afford something bigger and something that has already been converted but my budget is tight and have the skills to build what I need inside (electrical is another story).
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Old 01-28-2014, 02:13 PM   #5
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Re: which van to buy and an intro

Where are you located? I have been finding partially converted vans a lot on CL (already insualted, make shift storage, etc). You might be able to save some money by finding one thats already started.
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Old 01-28-2014, 07:16 PM   #6
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Re: which van to buy and an intro

Im located in Asheville, NC. I have looked on CL quite a bit but havent really found what Im looking for. I have found a couple older rigs but because I will be living in it full time I am hoping to get a newer van so Im not worrying about the mechanical side so much. Another question I have is about the material used to manufacture bed frame, cabinet frames etc. I have acecss to a welder but am only skilled enough to weld steel. Would 1x1 steel tubing or angle be lighter than using wood? The wood would be easier to work with and faster for me to work with but the metal would last longer and if its significantly lighter that may be the way for me to go since I am looking at an E250 instead of the E350.
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Old 01-28-2014, 09:51 PM   #7
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Re: which van to buy and an intro

This is one located near me. Asking price is a bit above your $10k range, but I don't know if that number was including an interior buildout. This one is pretty much done, I think. Could be a fun trip to drive back to NC from CA.

http://slo.craigslist.org/rvs/4293875302.html
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Old 01-28-2014, 10:37 PM   #8
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Re: which van to buy and an intro

That is a slick rig. I would love to fly out and drive it back, I lived in santa barbara for a few years and would love to get back out to visit. A little out of my price range though. I found a local dealership that has 4 or 5 2008 E250s with 144k-170k on them. Asking $8500 for each one so I may go check him out. My plan is to get the van and sound/insulate plus an interior skin then frame out the bed, cabinets etc to get started. Then as I save money start slowly investing in upgrades and more luxuries. It seems like a lot of guys are dropping a lot of cash at once for these rigs but mine will have to go up slowly cause I just dont have the cash flow to do it all at once. I would love a professionally build rig but I think building it out myself will be very rewarding.
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Old 01-28-2014, 11:08 PM   #9
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Re: which van to buy and an intro

I think it will be very rewarding as well. Whichever you decide to buy, dont forget to post a build thread!
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Old 01-29-2014, 08:35 AM   #10
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Re: which van to buy and an intro

Photocodo,

Have you stopped by U-Joint offroad's shop in your area? I think he's near you in Fletcher, NC. I believe he's more focused on 4x4 conversions but he may have some insight into where to source a van. Chris @ UJoint is a busy guy but is super helpful. He's on this forum frequently too.
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