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Old 01-20-2010, 10:30 PM   #1
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Polar Bear 1

This is my build thread for Polar Bear 1

Last fall, I drove out to Lake Tahoe and bought a 4x4 1987 Ford E250 Van and drove it back to Boulder, CO. My girlfriend and I quickly named the van "Polar Bear". This was a quick stop in Nevada:



On the ride home, Polar Bear sprang a number of leaks. Turned out, the previous owner must have put some kind of additive in the fluids to stop leaks and cleaned up the bottom of the van. Once home, I found a lot more required repair work than I expected. The list included bearings in the rear diff and xfer case, engine leaks, steering issues, drive shaft issues, and much more.

While I was a bit bummed out, my girlfriend did a photoshop of many of the mods I had talked about. It raised my spirits:



We decided to give it a spin as a camper completely unmodified. We spent a winter night inside the tin can in the Colorado mountains. It was a bad idea, it was very cold. It was fun, but doing so without a good heater was not smart.



One day I went out to check the flex. This is the best spot I could find to try it out:



Up until the day I was required to register the van in CO (had 2 month to get past emissions), I tried like hell to sell it. Even with the mechanical issues, I got a good deal on the van. I just wanted to hand it off to someone with more time and expertise. Alas, after many near sells, the time came to register the van so I set out to make some improvements.

Thus far, I've done the following:
- New exaust + cats.
- Oil pressure sender.
- New IAC (to resolve engine stalls).
- Body repairs and Maaco paint.
- 32" BFG ATs.
- 16" teflon Mojave rims.
- Junkyard spare tire on steel rim.
- Junkyard tire swing.
- Rear diff rebuilt.
- Junkyard front grill painted black.

Today, Polar Bear looks like this:



You may have noticed some ugly road dirt splashed up on the side. Today I got my "Flexy Flares" in the mail and will be installing them on Saturday. Ironically, I finally found fitted black fender flares in the junk yard this last weekend. However, after holding the Flexy Flares up against the van, I think they're going to look much better.

In addition to the flares, I've also picked up some old GMC Safari seats and a junkyard steering column that I will be eventually installing.

As for the interior buildout, I'm making floorplans and learning as much as I can before I begin. I think the first thing I'll attack will be electrical. After that, subfloor and walls. I want to cover the walls and existing headliner with some glued on vinyl from the fabric store. I haven't decided what colors I want to use on the inside. Here are some snapshots of the inside currently:



As I progress, I'll post updates here. Unless, of course, someone decides to buy the project off of me. Right now, I'm bumping a total investment of $10,000. I hope one of my next investments is a big fat roof rack.

More to come.
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Old 01-20-2010, 11:08 PM   #2
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Re: Polar Bear 1

Looking good. I just started tearing into my 2WD doing minor mods and stuff. Curious to watch where you go with the build!
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Old 01-23-2010, 10:03 PM   #3
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Re: Polar Bear 1

I just bought a 1993 E250 4x4 from a member of the forum. I will be picking it next week and starting my int, build as well I might have to wait till spring to start since the garage is full of other unfinished this and thats. I love what your girlfriend did and its turning out to be very close. It really sucks that the old owner did that. At least everything will be new when your done i guess. I just love the old body style. if my last van would had been at least a E250 I would have kept it and built it.
be sure and do lots of research as you go so I can learn from you. Thanks

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Old 01-24-2010, 11:12 AM   #4
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Re: Polar Bear 1

Flexy Flares



Last night I finished what I thought would be a simple mod, I installed Fender Flares. I couldn't find flares made for this old van so I ordered something called "Flexy Flares"

It took me a fully day to do the install, but not all of that was the fault of the Flexy Flares. I have a rust spot at the bottom of the drivers door that Maaco didn't clean up before painting and is now causing issues. I decided to run by Maaco to see if they'd cover it.

On the way, getting coffee in the drive-through, I noticed a new squeak. As I inched forward, I listened close to determine what it was. Then I heard the distinct sound of my van scraping against one of those yellow drive-through poles. I was so intently listening to the squeak, I forgot to pay attention to my mirrors. I was able to buff the paint out fairly well, but dented a fender a bit:



So the day started out rough! Before I could install the flares, I needed to clean up the wheel wells a bit. Like the door, there were several spots of rust under the paint in the wells. I ran a grinding disk over the wells and knocked out any patches I could find. Then I took some 'stops rust' spray paint and sprayed it in a cup. I used a paint brush to apply the paint to the wells and let that dry.

Then I had to measure and cut the fenders. This was a pain. They flop around a lot and it's hard to get the right measurements. Cutting was surprisingly easy.

My girlfriend helped me start the install but centering and installing 2 starter screws in each. From there I did the rest.

Pro Tip Don't do like I did. I thought I could work around the wheels and, for the most part, I could. However, there were a few places where the tires got in the way. Follow the instructions and REMOVE the wheels. I did this on the back *after* running to the hardware store twice after breaking drillbits. Once the tires were off, installation was much easier.

I did not get a perfect seal on any of the wheels. Each wheel has at least one spot where I'm going to need to adjust the fender for a better fit. This probably wouldn't have happened if I'd had help through the full install.

Ironically, I finally found a set of fitted flares on a truck in the junk yard the day after my Flexy Flares arrived in the mail. Had I know what I know how, I would have installed those and sent the Flexy Flares back.

It took around 8 hours to do the install mostly by myself. It was tiring as I had too twist and torque them around with one hand while drilling and screwing with the other.

Still, for what they are, it's amazing that they work as well as they do. The final look is alright. I do wish they would have shipped with black screws instead of shiny ones. The screws look kinda tacky. It probably won't be long and they'll be covered with mud and dirt.



I didn't expect to make a post here for just one mod. But, it was so much work I just had to go on about it. Additionally, I thought I'd talk about the Flexy Flares here on the forums. I don't recommend them unless, like me, you simply can't find flares anywhere else.
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Old 01-24-2010, 05:34 PM   #5
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Re: Polar Bear 1

Took Polar Bear offroad today to get a feel for how she performs. Managed to get stuck in a deep snow drift along the way. Had an RV sink in the back I'd picked up from a junk yard for $2. Made for an adequate shovel.

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Old 01-24-2010, 06:57 PM   #6
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Re: Polar Bear 1

Looking good! I also have an old style van, fortunately mine was in much better shape than yours, having been maintained by mechanics from a federal law enforcement agency. Check out the pics in my gallery. Looking forward to following your build as I have a long way to go with mine.
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Old 01-24-2010, 07:28 PM   #7
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Re: Polar Bear 1

Quote:
Then I heard the distinct sound of my van scraping against one of those yellow drive-through poles.
In telling about this you're a better man than I. Those are the kind of stories, and I have a few, that I keep to myself.
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Old 01-24-2010, 08:24 PM   #8
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Re: Polar Bear 1

Quote:
Originally Posted by ULTSUV
Check out the pics in my gallery. Looking forward to following your build as I have a long way to go with mine.
Your van looks familiar. Was that an ex-surveillance van on e-bay?

Quote:
Originally Posted by WVvan
I. Those are the kind of stories, and I have a few, that I keep to myself.
Heh... Well, I can tell you I was ready to clean the side of the van off as quickly as possible. I felt a little "scarlet letter"ish while driving around.
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Old 01-24-2010, 08:32 PM   #9
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Re: Polar Bear 1

It wasn't on ebay, altho there was a similar one on there from So Texas. I found mine here locally a couple years ago at a lot in Lakeside, CA. It is in fact an ex-surveillance van, owned by a Federal Law Enforcement agency here in San Diego and apparently used very little. By the way, on the Econoline Forum there is a post from a guy that did a great job on his interior, I will look for the link for you.
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Old 01-24-2010, 10:40 PM   #10
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Re: Polar Bear 1

Here's the link to the interior build on the econoline forum.

http://econolines.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=1910

I thought his rig came out pretty nice.
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