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Old 08-19-2014, 07:59 PM   #1
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Meet Jupiter- a Homebrew thread



Salutations! Meet Jupiter, the Red Gas Giant.
Like many here in this forum I've been oogling over the SMBs for years now and somehow found my way over here to lurk. As all good lurkers do, I combed every topic and studied every image, dreaming of the day I could enjoy the passion of campervanning with my own van.

Truth be told, I'm not a stranger to campervanning. When I met my Girlfriend 14 years ago (I know I know) she had already been bitten by the bug. Vw that is. She fell in love with a 76 Type II Transporter Wesfalia Campmobile, and bought it as her daily driver from a German mechanic here in town.



It's been eight or nine years now that I've restored and retrofitted that van. And we still love it. Besides the 45w Stereo with Aux hook ups I installed a small solar panel, removed the old ammonia fridge coil, and replaced it with a diss-assembled 12v cooler, added a relay to isolate the house and van batteries, removed the old manifold heating system and integrated a Propex propane furnace. I re-upholstered the inside and sanded the outside for days. I painted it in a weekend and revealed it to her when she came back from staying with her mom (who just had brain surgery ). Pimp your ride style. Good times.
It wasn't until the trip to Sedona that we realized we were taking the Vw to places that only a four wheeled drive vehicle might only tread. It had snowed on us, about 5 inches worth. By the time we had gotten to Flagstaff it had snowed 12 inches and at the time no heat (pre Propex).




Having had our lives spared, we decided it was time to start looking for a Sportsmobile. But we're cheap.
Three years had gone by, and that Vw has driven from Mexico to Canada couple more times.

Then there was that ad on Craigslist. As soon as I saw it I called the guy.
"Hey wanna go look at a van?" She was in.
I met the guy by the Museum on Northern Arizona and took it for a ride. The four wheel drive works, but he couldn't identify the conversion company. The brakes were a little wonky, and it leaked fluids from every seal. He wanted $8500.
"I dunno. It needs about three grand in repairs. Hows about $8000?"
"Hows about 8200?"
"Sold." She says.
I wasn't done haggling, but whats a couple a hundred bucks, when I'll be spending all my discretionary income to a hapless project with out ever any hope of remuneration for years to come...... or eternity!

Here she was:




to be continued......
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Old 08-19-2014, 08:46 PM   #2
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Re: Meet Jupiter- a Homebrew thread

Welcome, and I think you're in the running for the best background story for the name of their van.


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Old 08-19-2014, 09:57 PM   #3
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Re: Meet Jupiter- a Homebrew thread

Quote: ...when I'll be spending all my discretionary income to a hapless project with out ever any hope of remuneration for years to come...... or eternity

Really?? Seems like the way you live/share your lives together, the experiences you accumulate, and the passion you incorporate into your lives would have many willing to forego the "renumeration" they have for the priceless "renumeration" you have.

Your writeup conveys much of the shared passion that underpins this forum....

My wife and I often make reference to "Life's Magic Dance".... You are dancing it Welcome!!
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Old 08-20-2014, 04:58 AM   #4
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Re: Meet Jupiter- a Homebrew thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by wadewaydo
When I met my Girlfriend 14 years ago (I know I know) she had already been bitten by the bug. Vw that is.

to be continued......
Welcome to SMB and your story so far........hope to read more of your van's progress as it goes along.

As for the Girlfriend of 14 years----don't try fixin' that what ain't broke! Relationships are about commitment to one another, not necessarily about codifying it to suit "them" who believe life is lived but one way. I'd say she's a keeper----she probably agrees?

Its great hearing said Girlfriend is on-board and arrived with her own knowledge and interest in all this---that apparently makes these sorts of projects infinitely easier.

We're here to help, advise, confuse, disagree and congratulate you in this building odyssey---we need plenty of photos too, BTW!
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Old 08-20-2014, 06:53 PM   #5
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Re: Meet Jupiter- a Homebrew thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by wadewaydo



Here she was:




to be continued......
Looks like you've already popped your top? tell us more......

......and who's 4WD do you have?

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Old 08-21-2014, 12:48 PM   #6
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The assessment

Thanks for the replies... and words of wisdom.

There we have it
A 95 Ford Econoline E150, 4wd, Dana 60s from a 3/4 ton, 5.8l gas engine. 187k on the clock. It was a conversion van done by Waldoch. It has two Flexsteel captains chairs. No back seats, but a cheesy bed frame made by the previous, previous owner. Rear Pro Air AC/Heat. CD player with Aux input, groovy flashing LED lights that pulse with the music (first to go). Those standard CRLawrence windows with shades. The brakes and the AC were both weak. Oh, and some hippy funk. It lived up in Durango, and made someone a really nice ski van. The salt on the road there wreaked havoc with the body and they Rhino lined the rockers to cover it up.





About me
I've been a long time resident of Flagstaff, went to High School here, and graduated from NAU. I currently manage the local Ford Collision center. I've restored a couple of older vehicles and built a half a dozen totals. I've renovated (rebuilt) three older houses and am about ready to start a fourth. My dad was a carpenter, and an insurance adjuster. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. When we first moved to Flag, my dad bought a camera store. Since then I've developed a passion for Landscape photography, and have been showing my work in some local galleries and artwalks. I absolutely love the outdoors, hiking, canoeing, kayaking and backpacking.... and campervanning! You can check out my website and two blogs here:

http://www.agassizimaging.com and http://wadeatblogspot.blogspot.com



I'm not afraid to roll up my sleeves, and am pretty handy with a paint gun. I kinda detest heavy mechanical work though. So the first stop for the van was the mechanic.

The first order of business was to fix all the leaks. Radiator, hoses, belts, oil pan gaskets, valve cover gaskets, tune up, and distributor. The manifolds were both rusted out and the EGR tube. Those were replaced. There runs purrrfect now. ($2000)

"Well I don't know about the tranny, the fluid looks clean but it shifts hard 1,2 and slips 3,4."
"Yeah the previous owner just had the fluid changed."
"I wish I knew if there were metal shavings in the pan."
"Is it going to leave me stranded?"
"Maybe."
Well that's not what I wanted to hear. I didn't think it shifted all that bad, but true, there were no service records except the last oil and transmission fluid change and alignment. That was done within the last year. Hmm hem and haw hem and haw.
"If it aint broke don't fix it." She says
"Maybe." He says
Then I think back... that time we got stuck in the sand in the Vw Bus at Lone Rock. She freaked out and almost needed a valium. At least there my cell phone worked and could call a tow truck.... (long story).
"Okay put a tranny in it."
"We only use Jasper Transmissions."
Cha ching. $3600


Here we go.......
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1994 Toyota 4Runner,2001 Ford Escape,1970 Chevy El Camino,2 Cargo Trailers, 5 bikes, 4 Kayaks, 1 Canoe
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Old 08-21-2014, 02:02 PM   #7
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Re: Meet Jupiter- a Homebrew thread

So, you work at a Ford dealer, and have your mechanical work done somewhere else?
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Old 08-21-2014, 04:01 PM   #8
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Re: Meet Jupiter- a Homebrew thread

Oh, they worked on it. For the first part. Until I heard: "that's discontinued", or "that's not stock." I gave them first right of refusal. They aren't set up to do the custom stuff anyway....
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Old 08-27-2014, 06:02 PM   #9
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Re: Meet Jupiter- a Homebrew thread

Now the engine and transmission are running purrrfectly. Time to check out what they did with the suspension. I'm not sure if Waldoch does any suspension mods with their conversions, but by the looks of this conversion they weren't much good at it. It more closely resembles a Pathfinder conversion. It appears the van had F350 Dana 60 axles installed and they used as much of the donor parts from that suspension as they could.
They installed the front axles by cutting the old mounts and welding the new donor perches to the frame. The shock tower was torched and a new bracket was welded to the frame as well. The transfer case was mounted just barely in front of the fuel tank, and the crossmember that holds it has been cut and a section was lowered to hold the mount.

Everything up front there works, but a little unconventional. The rear end was not so perfect. The springs and shackles were too wide for the perch, so the rear shackles were not moving with the spring. It really gave it a hard ride, and when going over bumps it was like stuff flying all over inside. My dog must have thought we were in an anti-gravity chamber. I had to have two new springs fabricated and the right shackles installed to remedy that situation. For whatever reason the rear brake cables were cut, right at the drum. I went round and round trying to get the right cables. Of course the application was different, and the ones the right length were discontinued... Finally I said just cut the new longer cables and splice it. The brake pads weren't held against the drum without tension on the cables, so I really didn't have rear brakes. A couple of cable clamps later, and I had good brakes! I think eventually I'll look more closely at the front end, and maybe add a limited slip in the differential. As soon as I have an extra $4k.....










Now with the mechanical portion done I can finally start the body tear down and conversion/ restoration........
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1995 Econoline E-150 Custom Campmobile "Jupiter I" RB, 4wd Dana 60s, 93 Eurovan poptop.
1976 VW Type II Transporter Westfalia Campmobile.
1994 Toyota 4Runner,2001 Ford Escape,1970 Chevy El Camino,2 Cargo Trailers, 5 bikes, 4 Kayaks, 1 Canoe
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Old 08-29-2014, 04:53 PM   #10
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Re: Meet Jupiter- a Homebrew thread

Finally after months of mechanical repairs I can take it safely on a road trip. About this time I had been scouring the internet on myriad ways to spend money on outfitting the van. I knew I wanted a poptop. We loved the poptop in the Vw, and we loved sleeping up there. The cost of taking the van to California and having SMB install a top was more than half of what I paid for the van. Plus I knew I could install it myself for less. I also had considered getting a top from Colorado Camper vans. But, remember, I'm cheap. I had seen build threads that had old conversion van high tops customized to pop. I had also seen where Spurious of this forum had installed a Eurovan pop top. His didn't have sleeping up there, it was mostly for headroom. I knew I wanted to be able to sleep up there, so I started making calls, and searches. There's not much here in Flagstaff as far as recycling yards, and not one Vw Eurovan with a top in the state. I found one in California, but it was sold. There was another one outside of Denver, but they won't ship! They sent me pictures. It was the one piece Westfalia conversion with a bed! (I think it was called the Weekender) The two piece Winnebago for the full camper conversion I didn't think was going to work. Perfect. Erie Colorado....Road trip! So the plan was to take the dog, drive through Moab, up over Vail pass, and down into Denver, pick up a Uhaul trailer, go to the junk yard, pick up the top, and drive back home through Albuquerque.



I grabbed this pic from Moab. I didn't do much off roading, but the van rode really well, and handled nicely going through a snow storm over Vail pass. When I got to Erie, Google sent me on a wild goose chase trying to find the wrecking yard for two hours. Here's what I found when I got to Blake's Auto Salvage. The ideal Bat-campmobile!



No no not what I came for...... but it's sooo coool.

This is what I came for:






A poptop off a 93 VW Eurovan Weekender. I rummaged around to see if there was anything else I could salvage from the van. It was pretty junked.



Here they're just about to cut the roof off at the pillars. It took us three guys, but we were able to stuff it in Jupiter with the passenger front seat out. Roof, bed, sheet metal and all. I didn't need the trailer! Good saved me another $300 bucks! Super nice people there at Blakes. I got it home after 2 days of driving and used an engine hoist to pick it out of the van.




Up next.... slicing & dicing the roof....
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1995 Econoline E-150 Custom Campmobile "Jupiter I" RB, 4wd Dana 60s, 93 Eurovan poptop.
1976 VW Type II Transporter Westfalia Campmobile.
1994 Toyota 4Runner,2001 Ford Escape,1970 Chevy El Camino,2 Cargo Trailers, 5 bikes, 4 Kayaks, 1 Canoe
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