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Old 09-12-2019, 07:26 PM   #1
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How old is too old to build out?

Hey - looking for some opinions... I currently own a 2002 Ford E350 Quigley with about 110k miles on it. The engine runs fine, trans seems fine, no known mechanical issues overall. After about 8 years and 80k miles my wife and I decided a van is a long term keeper. We want to build it out with a pop top, 4wd and a nice flexible interior (think hard side tent and storage for seasonal gear). I am estimating the pop top and build to be in the $20-25k range. My question to the forum is, is a van that aged worth the investment? Or do i sell it while the value is still strong? I would estmate about $60K for a newer conversion that ti ks all the boxes. Thoughts? Input? How old, mileage, condition would you consider making the investment on?
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Old 09-12-2019, 07:36 PM   #2
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Nothing wrong with converting a 2002, there should be plenty of life left. Depending on how much you do yourself a 4wd conversion can run you from $8K to $20K. That may be your biggest challenge if you outsource the 4wd conversion. Some companies may not take on a 17 year old rig.


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Old 09-12-2019, 07:36 PM   #3
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I'd say the main thing is you won't get back out of it what you put into it. But that's usually true of projects like this. If you plan to keep it long term, though, that's probably not a big issue.

After 8 years and 80,000 miles you probably have the van pretty well sorted and know its condition. When making decisions like that I try to take into account what it'll take to get a newer vehicle up to that same standard. Unless you have the budget to buy brand new, true "needs nothing" buys are pretty rare.

I'd base the decision partly on whether you like the drivetrain combination you have. If you do, sticking with it might be better than trying to find another van with exactly the combination you want.
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Old 09-13-2019, 12:12 AM   #4
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You already have one of the major expense items done (4x4). I wouldn't hesitate going forward with a buildout unless you are unhappy with the van or want a different body (RB vs EB) or drivetrain.
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Old 09-13-2019, 09:50 AM   #5
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Just do it

There's a bunch of upgrades I'd put off previously, worried that I had too many miles. At one point, I was sure I'd upgrade to a newer van by 250,000 miles. Then 350,000. Then 450,000. I'm at 472,000 now and saving up for an investment property, so by the time I make that work out, and the save up for a new van I'll probably 700,000 miles on this one.

With the E-series especially, the only real reason to go with with a newer one is because yours has terminal rust. Anything other issues you might run into, just swap out the parts as you go. Need more power? Do an engine swap. Good condition late-model E-series vans with the V10 or diesel carry enough of a premium, it's generally cheaper to keep an old one going.
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Old 09-13-2019, 01:21 PM   #6
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Thanks - all helpful. The van is still rust free. And like I said, no mechanical issues. Only 110k on a V10. I already have Quigley 4wd with a RIP kit. It still wallowed like hell down the highway. I added a rear sway last night and it seems to have made a positive difference. Now to figure out how to improve braking... if I add the pop top, I'm sure I won't lose money if I decide to sell. It makes van lovers cry to know what I paid for it originally.
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Old 09-22-2019, 02:09 PM   #7
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The one thing that seems true is that the first build out is just that, "the first". Over time, what we think is necessary turns out to be a royal pain. Where you locate some component is not how you would do it, if you did it over. I'd use your present rig as a lab. Do changes in stages. Use and test. Then move to the next stage. If you are not someone wired to deal with trial and error, (especially the error part), or if you have a limited budget, think things through carefully.
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Old 09-23-2019, 04:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilma View Post
If you are not someone wired to deal with trial and error, (especially the error part), or if you have a limited budget, think things through carefully.
That's very, VERY true! Nothing more disappointing than a carefully thought out and executed plan that falls short of the anticipated result. Such things are 100% part of the DIY conversion process though so if patient and budget are in short supply be prepared for a lot of aggravation.

To me if the body and frame proper are in good rust-free condition everything else is just bolt-on parts---up to and including the drive train. Typically most vans will go 250K + miles pretty much trouble-free with proper maintenance so at 110K miles there's a lot of life left. The year of original build isn't nearly as important as the real condition of whatever van you want to build out.

I'm driving two E-250's both with well over 265K miles with original engines, transmissions and rear axles. Those have been mostly trouble-free miles but I maintain my own stuff unless its something I can't or don't want to do. I don't worry about cost as these are work trucks---if they're not running I'm not earning.

Even so it pays to keep the maintenance up according to established schedules---that alone assures reliability over your ownership.

Good luck with whatever direction you take Theshwed!
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Old 09-23-2019, 10:35 PM   #9
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I'm driving a 2003 E350 Quigley 7.3 268,000 Sportsmobile conversion.
I'm a list guy
Things important to me:
Refrigerator ........have not bought ice on over 16 years
Porta Potty.........let it rain let it snow
Bed......seems better than in house bed but think it's more being out in god's country
Heater....just spent 4 nights in High Sierra Ellery Lake 10,000 ft......very cold but not inside
Passenger chair swivel..........very comfortable and expands the living area
Only you know what's important to you and the wife.
I cook outside. Have a one burner stove I use inside in a.m. for coffee etc.
I also have a sink and hot water but rarely use them.
Awning which is also rarely used....I have lost 2 to sudden wind storms.
I hope this helps....and questions just ask
HighCountry Mike 2003 Sportsmobile
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Old 09-23-2019, 11:51 PM   #10
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Passenger seat swivels are great, especially if you have someone with you. It really lets you take advantage of having a van with a single interior space, instead of a pickup camper where the cab is separate. Also if you enter and leave by the side doors, a swiveled passenger seat is in just the right spot to sit down and put your shoes on.
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