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Old 08-20-2019, 02:56 PM   #11
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Yeah, great stuff. Thanks.
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Old 08-20-2019, 03:06 PM   #12
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Your interior Pic's brought back some fond memories of a Van a group of us built "back in the day", but our interior was complemented by orange shag carpet
***Sounds like you've been successful in creating some great memories! Look forward to the updates.
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Old 08-20-2019, 10:37 PM   #13
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Your interior Pic's brought back some fond memories of a Van a group of us built "back in the day", but our interior was complemented by orange shag carpet
***Sounds like you've been successful in creating some great memories! Look forward to the updates.
I'm glad to hear it haha - we quickly discovered how easily some stapled fabric can cover the weird ***** angles and such in the econoline vans.

A few updates of projects that have been done recently....

Passenger swivel seat & new countertop build/location:

I always new a swivel seat would be an awesome addition, but could never bite the $200+ bullet to get one. Then I discovered the beauty of junkyards and picked one up out of an old Chevy van for ~$20. With the help of a friend I got it mounted on our existing seat platform. It isn't the prettiest, but it works.
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The new swivel functionality also required moving the counter top from directly behind the passenger seat (duh). The new counter is made entirely out of scrap material from the shop I work at and is surprisingly functional. While I'd like to say that I planned it out, I ended up needing to finish it quickly in preparation for a trip. None-the-less, it turned out well. It perfectly fits our coleman 2 burner stove, all our pots and pans (mostly cast iron), 11lbs propane tank, and has additional interior and exterior fold-out counter tops for additional space. The other mini game changer is that the new counter top now means that you only have to open one of the side barn doors to get inside. Previously we had to open both and enter through the rear door (the front, which opens first, was blocked by the counter). These are the little things you learn after living in your van for a while....

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Old 08-20-2019, 10:45 PM   #14
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LED headlight update

Not much of a conversion - after doing research for better lighting on dark forest service roads, I discovered a great post on here from another member that highlighted the importance of starting with updating your driving lights before anything else. At their recommendation, I went with the budget, $100 amazon LED lights that are plug and play with square econoline headlights. I had the Euro-style lights, so I made a <$20 trip to the junk yard and got everything that I needed to make the swap. I can honestly recommend this to anybody - the look good aesthetically (donít look super modded or anything) and visually the are at least 3x better than the stock lights. The best part is that I can use them on and off road - no risk of blinding somebody/getting a ticket with a lightbar. Iíd love to have a lightbar up high to better illuminate the potholes directly in front of me at night, but donít have the need to prioritize that with these lights at this point.

Old euro-style lights (can't figure out how to get this to appear right-side-up)
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Junkyard sealed beam next to plug-and-play LED
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LEDs installed. I spray painted the surrounding plastic housing black (it was ugly grey).
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Happy to walk anybody through this process if they're interested - the post where I found out about this setup didn't go in to detail, but it honestly is a pretty easy process. Once you have all of the parts it takes maybe 2hrs to complete?
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Old 08-22-2019, 12:01 AM   #15
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New (to me) tires

The van got a new (used) set of tires today. Went from 225/75/16 no-name highway tires to 265/75/16 General Grabber AT 2s. I knew I would need new tires within the next 5,000ish miles and then I let an alignment/camber issue go untreated for too long and one tire was wearing pretty poorly. The camber issue forced me to act faster than I would have liked to due to needing a solid set of tires before a 1200 mile round trip to burning man next week.

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I paid $325 for all 4 general grabbers (~$80/tire; new they are $200/tire) and they all have a bit over 50% tread left. Will try to sell the nissan rims the tires came on, as well as 3 of the 5 tires that I had taken off the van. Picked up a non-matching spare for another $20. Hoping to keep an eye out for a matching spare and matching rim for the spare as well. Buyers remorse has/had me wondering pretty hard if I should have gotten the larger tires. Yes, they make the van look way cooler (can't lie about that one), but there are also a lot of cons:
  • hit to mpg (my 12-13mpg avg can't stand to go much lower)
  • speedo/odometer will now be innacurate (still need to figure out the exact impact on these)
  • impact on gear ratio/drivetrain: i've always been super comfortable with my gearing, especially at highway speeds of ~65-75mph). I'm worried it may not settle in to the cruising speed quite as smoothly.
  • increased road noise? can't imagine the highway noise will be any louder than it already is. this isn't a lexus suv.

The benefits are seemingly slim, in comparison:
  • slightly better clearance: ok, can't argue against that
  • better off-road traction: honestly, i've rarely lost traction/gotten stuck in the van, even with the no-name highway tires. Definitely have a bit of luck on my side in that regard, but it does seem to me that it's relatively difficult to get an 8,000lbs van stuck. If I do get stuck, I'm likely doing something that I definitely shouldn't be doing in a 2wd van, AND i likely would have been stuck regardless of the tires.

At the end of the day, I needed some new tires and I found a solid deal on the AT2s. Ended up spending an additional $200 for mounting the tires and $200 for fixing the alignment/camber (ugh). Only time will tell if it was a good decision. At least it looks cool.

PS - i've never seen my rims so shiny and clean. les schwabb for the win.
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Old 08-25-2019, 02:04 PM   #16
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enjoy the AT2's, I have the same ones. Another benefit of getting an E class/10 ply tire like you have, is that you can you can air down to around 30ish psi (whatever looks/feels rigjt) when spending extended time driving over bumpy gravel or sandy roads. Dramaticaly smoothes out the ride, increases floatation. You may find your tire shop set the pressure ~80 psi.
consider carrying an air compressor if you dont already have one.
enjoy!
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Old 08-25-2019, 02:47 PM   #17
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enjoy the AT2's, I have the same ones. Another benefit of getting an E class/10 ply tire like you have, is that you can you can air down to around 30ish psi (whatever looks/feels rigjt) when spending extended time driving over bumpy gravel or sandy roads. Dramaticaly smoothes out the ride, increases floatation. You may find your tire shop set the pressure ~80 psi.
consider carrying an air compressor if you dont already have one.
enjoy!
Good to hear - I did get a smallish compressor last winter for adjusting tire pressure more often. Honestly haven't dont it enough and I've been curious of what people run when they have ~8,000lbs GVW. I typically run mine at 68 front/72 rear for highway travel due to the weight. 500ish miles in to our drive down to Burning Man, tires seem to be doing solid. Road noise is only really noticeable at lower speeds (~35mph). MPG may have dropped slightly, will have to see once I have more data.
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Old 08-25-2019, 03:30 PM   #18
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I'd say your pressure is in the ballpark for safety and fuel economy, given your weight. If you are finding you feel every crack in the highway, consider dropping a few psi in the rear. You drop a few psi, you drop abit of economy, but gain some comfort.

Have fun at the Burn! I wouldn't worry about airing down for the playa, however, if for some freak reason you get stuck in drove of playa dust, or even the extremely soft shoulders of the highway in the area, don't spin the wheels. Reduce the tire pressures till you can crawl out; you will see the tire flattening out. I self extracted from a sand dune by going down near 20 psi, in 2wd.
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Old 08-25-2019, 09:35 PM   #19
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I'd say your pressure is in the ballpark for safety and fuel economy, given your weight. If you are finding you feel every crack in the highway, consider dropping a few psi in the rear. You drop a few psi, you drop abit of economy, but gain some comfort.

Have fun at the Burn! I wouldn't worry about airing down for the playa, however, if for some freak reason you get stuck in drove of playa dust, or even the extremely soft shoulders of the highway in the area, don't spin the wheels. Reduce the tire pressures till you can crawl out; you will see the tire flattening out. I self extracted from a sand dune by going down near 20 psi, in 2wd.
Yeah, we definitely feel every bump on the highway, but I've also kind of taken that as par for the course with these vans. No use expecting it to feel like a Lexus SUV. I did notice that the AT2s I have are only 6 ply, even though they're E rated. Didnt really pay attention to that when I bought them.

Drove down a decently steep and soft FS offshoot rd for the night near lake tahoe, looks like I'll be testing out airing down the tires tomorrow morning to get out of here
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Old 08-26-2019, 05:29 AM   #20
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Sweet build and thank you for posting all the info. I am about to take the plunge myself. Any pro or cons to getting a handicap van?
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