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Old 01-21-2012, 10:43 AM   #1
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Dented's ADV van

Having been drooling over SMB vans for more than a few years, I pulled the trigger and bought a cheap E350 van project Friday, January 20th. It is a salvage van, and I got it for a song, in my opinion. It needs some love, but should be on the road shortly.
First things first, I have to find some replacement bits. You can see most of what needs immediate attention here in the first photo, but there is a handful of suspension parts that I can pull from the local parts yards. This isn't my first salvage vehicle, I have been here before, in 2010 with my Jeep Rubicon, which this should pull easily enough to Moab, etc. Now, we won't have to sleep on the ground anymore.
On to some pictures, then some questions!



My shopping list looks like this:
fender
door
front bumper
rear bumper
beam
front shocks
front and rear anti-sway bars
tie rod
drag link
assorted plastic bits
airbags
steering wheel
seats
carpet
windshield

And that's just to get us started.
Does anyone know if I can use a steering wheel from an F series truck, or SUV? Something leather would be nice. Since I have to pull the airbag anyway, I am halfway to replacing the wheel... might as well.

The interior is pretty spartan, rubber floor, vinyl seats, FM stereo. After the essentials, it would be nice to upgrade the amenities to make us more comfortable. Nicer junkyard seats, carpet, door panels from a newer van, etc.

The goal of this van is to make something we can use as a utility vehicle, camping vehicle, base camp for desert trips, rock climbing, dirt biking, mountain biking, etc. It won't have a bathroom, or kitchen, but I have a little portable toilet, we have some parts left over from our last RV project (a bus) so it's not going to be just a van.
Eventually, we would like to convert to 4x4, for access to ski areas in the winter, sandy or otherwise slippery areas in the desert, etc. The Jeep is for off-roading, the van is the base camp so it's not going to be doing any rock crawling.
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Old 01-21-2012, 11:10 AM   #2
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Re: Dented's ADV van

You say that now but it's really nice to take the van out without the Jeep and still be able to go almost anywhere- although I love having the Jeep if we're base camping for more than a few days.

What engine?
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Old 01-21-2012, 11:39 AM   #3
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Re: Dented's ADV van

There's a rolled 4wd E350 that was available in Albuquerque, was still there a couple of weeks ago. Get that and you'd solve all your parts problems as well as the 4wd conversion....
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Old 01-21-2012, 12:11 PM   #4
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Re: Dented's ADV van

I still have like-new chrome bumpers from my 2011 E-350 available. PM me if you're interested.
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Old 01-21-2012, 12:30 PM   #5
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Re: Dented's ADV van

It's the 5.4 v8, which wasn't my first choice, but the compromise was easy, considering the price, location, and what needed to be replaced. The CoPart auction is less than a mile from my house.
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Old 01-21-2012, 12:32 PM   #6
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Re: Dented's ADV van

AdventureTrek, I think the shipping would be a killer. I will likely pull some better appearing units from a wrecker, and just paint them to spruce them up. Eventually, it would be nice to have a bumper with more utility, but for now, I just need to pass inspections, and cover the holes.
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Old 01-21-2012, 07:34 PM   #7
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Re: Dented's ADV van

Shop the suspension parts from Ford. I have found them to be MUCH cheaper than salvage yards. A new.
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Old 01-21-2012, 08:13 PM   #8
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Re: Dented's ADV van

Sometimes it's so easy to overlook the obvious, eh?
Good point, any parts in particular you recommend?
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Old 01-21-2012, 11:31 PM   #9
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Re: Dented's ADV van

Don't know where you are but you can have my 97 E350 front suspension, complete - removed it last month to stuff 4X4 under it.
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Old 01-22-2012, 12:09 PM   #10
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Re: Dented's ADV van

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dentedvw
Sometimes it's so easy to overlook the obvious, eh?
Good point, any parts in particular you recommend?
Radius arm and bracket together are about $70 from Ford. (A guardrail jump out in front of me one icy night). When I upgraded to the '09 front axle, the sway bar setup was cheaper from Ford than anything aftermarket.

On that note.... I bought a complete new take-off front axle, minus sway bar, from QuadVan for $400. It has much larger brakes, and a better radius arm design (heim joints instead of flat bushings) and also larger ball joints. I would recommend doing the same upgrade if any of the front end bits need replacing. Just re-doing ball joints costs more than the axle did. Doing the upgrade finally cured my cracking rotors problem. And it stops better now. The sway bar is also an improvement, since it has solid end-links instead of those stupid thru-axle bushings which wear out.
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