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Old 09-21-2014, 09:11 PM   #1
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Meet Frosty

Hello, I have been lurking on the forums for a good long while now and thought it was time I introduced myself. My name is Jeff and I love the outdoors. Specifically I love to climb, paddle, mountain bike, run and generally explore anywhere cell phones don’t work. I saw my first “outdoor” van 5 years ago on a month long trip through the west of the front range. We were living out of a ’98 4-runner and stumbled across a lifted 4wd E350 van in Jackson Hole. I had never seen anything like it and when the owners showed up I saw they had a bed and kitchen setup inside, along with a ton of outdoor gear. My mind was blown. From then on, buying a larger vehicle to outfit for backcountry adventure became a loosely batted around dream... until 3 months ago. Having met the most amazingly awesome lady in the world, who surprisingly enough thought buying a van and dumping a small fortune (or money and time) into it and then traveling the Americas was a great idea…I started searching for our new project.
Fast forward 1.5 years and I find this on ebay…


2009 E350 6.0L PSD with 90k miles, no reserve and low starting bid…she was mine. We were planning the build before the auction ended. After getting her home, we started gathering materials and the game was on…

DISCLAIMER: Our goals are to keep the build functional and economical. I have never done this before and am learning as I go but plan to do as much of the work myself as possible. She will not be quiet as pimped as some of the rigs on here...for now at least.

The next week I had a race to drive to so I pulled the walls and rigged up a bike mount. I even slept down by the river.

Once i was home we pulled the rest of the interior out and got started on the floor. I used painters paper to make templates and then a jig saw to cut the 0.5 inch plywood.

My trusty assistant then sanded and finished the pieces.

We used reflectix insulation on all the amenable surfaces and fiberglass insulation to fill any voids. The walls were cut from 1/4inch plywood and attached to a 1x4 that was glued/screwed into the wall.
Next we started on the bed. We decided that the van had to be able to store bikes inside since we would be leaving her at trail heads for weeks at a time and didn't want them to be exposed to the elements anyway so we planned out an elevated twin bed with bike storage behind it. The van also came with a rear AC that I didn't want to get rid of so we decided to reroute the airflow.


We also needed a rear seat so I built a bench with under seat storage (still a work in progress).


The post makes it look like this happened overnight but in reality this has taken 2 months. I also painted to the wheels black, snagged some racks off ebay and bolted up an ARB awning. With the van now usable we took out first trip (Pics to come).



I have also installed a new head unit and backup camera and a coolant filter.

There is a lot in the works and this site has been amazingly helpful so far. My next projects are:
1) house power (going in now)
2) 2inch lift and AT tires (we are in upstate new york) - hoping to get an E-locker with 3.73 gears shortly there after.
3) closet and kitchen
4) passenger swivel seat

We have a ton more to do, it should be one hell of a journey!!

Jeff
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Old 09-21-2014, 10:38 PM   #2
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Re: Meet Frosty

Looks like you're on your way. Nice job. Are you planning a top of some type in the future?
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Old 09-22-2014, 02:03 AM   #3
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Re: Meet Frosty

We talked about it but the goal is a sleepable toy hauler more than a camper van so she wont get a new top any time soon. Plus the bed is super comfortable. I'm 5'9 and can lay flat but just barely.
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Old 09-22-2014, 04:44 AM   #4
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Re: Meet Frosty

First impression is you've hit the utility and economical goals square on the head--congrats for that! Its too easy getting carried away with builds, adding too much and spending money on things never or seldom used, not enough to make their inclusion worth it.

Best part is after a few trips your real needs and wants will be better defined, adding things after the initial build will become much easier.

Hope to see your progress as this goes along-----looks good so far from where I'm sitting!
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Old 09-22-2014, 06:27 AM   #5
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Re: Meet Frosty

One thing you could do for the bed is to inset the walls at the foot and head of the bed. SMB does this. We have it in our van, and it provides a surprising amount of extra sleep space. Probably only 3-4 inches on each side, but it allows you to stretch out a bit more when sleeping across the van. I'm about the same height as you, and it's perfect. You'd have to redo your walls a bit, but not too much. Basically you would just frame out a box on each end up where your bed is.
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Old 09-22-2014, 08:30 PM   #6
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Re: Meet Frosty

As far as the bed goes, I actually fit in the bed just fine. However, anyone more than an inch taller than me is SOL There is a good 2-3 inches behind the walls (filled with fiberglass insulation) but unless I grow a few inches I'll leave it as is. The mattress is a 4 inch memory foam from IKEA. It was 2 inches longer than the actual bed but stuffed into space just fine. It's actually really comfortable and I have taken a few unintended naps in there when I was supposed to be working on the van.
I wanted to throw up a pic of my coolant filter mounting location because I was searching the internet for pics of mounting ideas. It is on the metal shield in front of the fuel filter. Both lines tap into the coolant system on the drivers side and then run down to and then across the top of the frame rail. Running the lines was the hardest part (once I found the pressurized line to tap into).

We also got the passenger side storage squared away. I decided against shelving as it would take up too much space and will just be using storage bins and bags to organize.

Some of the water system also went in. We went with an "indoor" tank to hopefully keep it from freezing too easily. Any wiring will be run on this side and I may try to build some simple storage above the tank. It is a 28 gallon tank so it should be plenty for washing dogs, bikes, boats and ourselves with a little left over for drinking/ cooking.

The back side will be walled off but there is still plenty of access from the side.
Stevy also started on a PVC bike rack so we can stash the bike between laps. We should get a chance to use it this week if the weather holds.


Jeff
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Old 09-23-2014, 06:49 AM   #7
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Re: Meet Frosty

nice build!

good to see others using pvc bike racks. super cheap and handy as hell. a buddy of mine put a small one in the back of his pu for our dh shuttles. holds 6 bikes np, more if you get creative, lol.

dont laugh at the old bikes too hard, pic is a good 10 years old...just always liked the snap with all the rotors

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Old 09-23-2014, 03:19 PM   #8
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Re: Meet Frosty

Those are some old school bikes, rim bike wheel sets and all. I just got rid of my 11yr old bike last year, it was light and got the job done but I was starting to collect too many.
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Old 09-23-2014, 04:19 PM   #9
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Re: Meet Frosty

Should I mentioned that my Marin has no suspension at all? Of course, why does it need suspension when I don't even ride it?


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Old 09-23-2014, 09:57 PM   #10
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Re: Meet Frosty

This is how i have the bikes rigged up now.





I really like it but it was a pain getting the spacing right so that all the bikes could fit (too many different wheel sizes, fork travels and handle bar widths. The mounts have to be slanted to keep the bikes upright since the bars are turned 45 degrees. We can carry two inside with plenty of room to spare and 2 more on the hitch. I really want to mount a repair stand onto the back door but i would have to find a way to hold it open first.
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