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Old 01-12-2018, 09:53 AM   #1
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The Vanilla Transit

And she is rather vanilla. I'm posting this mild build here for those who have thought of the Transit but not seen many specifics on what you get and what you can do. It is the new Econoline, like it or not. I don't love the nose but the rest of the van has grown on me fast from day one.

I actually bought this van for work since I have changed jobs. I travel all the time nowadays in the hot shot/expedite business so I'm spending 4ish nights a week in the van. I don't run decals and stay light to avoid DOT regs so this allows me to spend my free time sightseeing, hiking and camping just like I've always loved to do in my previous vans/SMBs.

I bought the van from a shuttle company in Atlanta that went out of business, very low miles.

2015 Transit T350 wagon
mid roof (6' walk around), LWB
3.5 Ecoboost twin turbo V6, 6 speed tranny
310hp/400lbft torque
2wd for now
29k when I bought it

I'm happy to answer questions from anyone leaning towards one of these but to put a few things simply: It drives like a car. It's unbelievably quiet and smooth compared to an E-series. It's huge under the hood and the 3.5 is a BIG V6, so easy to work on. No doghouse, all under the rather long and hideous hood. It's as fast and strong as a V10 and gets 17 mpg. I'm down to 15 with bigger tires. It's FAST! I know that's a really relative term. If coming from any E-series van you just wouldn't believe how fast these things are for a 6,000 lb. vehicle. They are a real sleeper in traffic.

Here she is a day or two after I took delivery next to my silver V10 sold to forum member 'ale' (Alex).

IMG_2975 by 86scotty, on Flickr

First thing I did was pull all the benches and add window tint. Limo over the factory tint on the rears, 20% on the fronts and a limo strip across the windshield. First drive in a Transit vs. an E-series and you notice all the light, all the glass! Huge windows, tons of vision and a really open and big feeling. Mine is a mid roof wagon but I suspect it would be the same in a low roof cargo. The windows and windshield are about double E-series height.

IMG_2977 by 86scotty, on Flickr

Here are my plans using SMBs easy software. I have no skillz with Google Sketchup or any of those. SMB makes it too easy.

Transit EB lower 2017-10-08 at 7.24.10 PM by 86scotty, on Flickr
Transit EB upper 2017-10-08 at 7.27.36 PM by 86scotty, on Flickr

The rear seats pictured are the factory benches, just reconfigured. I've changed the floor tracks around to put them where I want them. single jumpseat just inside the slider and double seat on the driver's side. Walkthrough between.
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2006 Chevy Express AWD
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SMBs and other various vanlike projects sold...
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Old 01-12-2018, 10:24 AM   #2
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As soon as I got tags I hit the road for work and all work ceased for awhile. It's pretty easy to cover the miles in this thing and in no time I was near 50k. Original tires were toast. I went with Ultra Toils in the factory size since I can't get too aggessive with a mostly-work truck. I did go for much bigger BFG KO2's, 245/75-16. I need a lift but they fit without trimming and took my mpg's down from 17 to 15.

Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

My next biggest need was heat. I'm in the northern U.S. a lot and had a Planar diesel furnace sourced for another project so it went in.

First off, the Transit comes with a single AGM battery unless you opt for duals. Mine had the single, which is mounted under the driver's seat, with a ton of wasted space filled with foam and plastic. Out with all that crap. Good spot for a furnace. Oh, this Transit did come with a 250 amp alternator! Pretty damn fantastic IMO.

Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

This is the seat base removed and one of like 15 ECU type boxes I had to work around. Too many electronics on these new fangled rigs.

Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

Mock up of battery and furnace under driver's seat

Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

Closer, ECU and wiring rearranged, everything in the box. To answer the obvious question: These diesel furnaces don't even get warm to the touch. All of the heat escapes through the floor exhaust or the vent. I have no worries with it right beside my battery.

Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

Blue Sea 7610 mounted

Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

Temporary duct mount, cabinets to come:

Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

Wall control/thermostat and digital voltage meter on B-pillar:

Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

You may've noticed I said diesel furnace and I have a gas van. This Planar cam with it's own 7l fuel cell. I mounted it, for now, just inside the left rear door on top of the AC blower. This will soon be in a cabinet. There is no smell whatsoever, it is simple to fill and I can monitor the level. This particular tank is no good for an under van mount. It would be way too difficult to fill anyway.

Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

Only one tiny hole was necessary for the fuel line, just forward of the left rear wheel well. In-line fuel pump visible here. These furnaces are very quiet and the only tell-tale, in or outside, is the clicking of this little pump.

Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

Intake/exhaust and fuel inlet mount under van underneath driver's seat:
Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

I can't say enough about the efficiency or performance of this little heater. My battery bank doesn't even know it's there. I can run it 10 hours and maybe drop .2 or .3 volts. That's with fridge cycling too. It sips fuel at about a quart/liter per night unless it gets down in the single digits where it about doubles that. Still, I'm heating the van every night for about $5 a week.

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2006 Chevy Express AWD
2015 Transit MR T350 ecoBoost, Vanilla
SMBs and other various vanlike projects sold...
...My name is Eric and I have a van problem...
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Old 01-12-2018, 10:43 AM   #3
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Next up, batteries. I was going to really go over the top with two 4d's but my use case with this van is a bit different. I'm driving it constantly. It doesn't really sit much at all. I can put off solar for a long time with a battery bank that will last a couple days at most so I went with a two 6v golf cart batteries instead, one on each side of the van for balance, just forward of the rear wheel wells. They will be sealed in cabinets and vented outside (through the floor) soon but for now I've lived with them inside so far. 230ah bank charged via a Blue Sea 7610. I butchered the walls and floor a little to drop them in and put them in boxes:

Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

Untitled by 86scotty, on Flickr

Next up, insulation. Lots and lots of it. Everything covered in Reflectix and loose insulation jammed into every crevice. This took days. First, I gutted it including obtrusive rear AC ducting, curtain airbags and all trim:

Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

Vanilla by 86scotty, on Flickr

The only thing I haven't insulated yet is the front and rear doors and under the cab area.

So now I'm warm and have power. Next up, a galley.

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Old 01-12-2018, 10:59 AM   #4
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Are there any issues with removing the rear airbags? Does it throw error codes into the system or anything?

Thanks for the build thread! As always, very useful.
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Old 01-12-2018, 11:12 AM   #5
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Yes, you'll get a light. I'm putting cabinets there though so they had to go.
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SMBs and other various vanlike projects sold...
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Old 01-12-2018, 03:30 PM   #6
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Garage
Looking good, no surprise.

Sounds like you like the Planar.

Thanks for posting.
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Old 01-12-2018, 04:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianW View Post
Are there any issues with removing the rear airbags? Does it throw error codes into the system or anything?

Thanks for the build thread! As always, very useful.
The airbags can be "simulated". I did it in mine. Both front seat airbags and all the curtain airbags were taken out and replaced with spoof devices.
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Old 01-12-2018, 07:51 PM   #8
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Super curious about your furnace. You said Planar what model? And also where'd you get it?
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Old 01-12-2018, 08:45 PM   #9
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I bought it on Amazon I think. It was Amazon or Ebay. I'm pretty sure Amazon because I was worried about the seller at first and I trust Amazon's policing better than Ebay's. Here's why: It is a Planar 44d, but a Russian exported model. It has Russian markings, labels and a Russian manual. The fuel cell even has Russian imprinted in it. Probably says 'diesel fuel only' or 'die you yanks' or 'Bezerker' or something. No matter. Planar has a statement on their website (that I saw long after I bought it) that says they don't approve of online sellers selling units from Russia and they won't support the warranty. Basically, to me, that means this: They export their product to Russia. Some crafty comrade has figured out how to turn a quick buck selling them online due to the exchange rate or whatever and the price, when I bought it, was less than half of Planar's price out of Canada where they are made. Unfortunately they have gone up everywhere in the last year. I bought mine a good while back.
The seller has great reviews and is still selling them. Once I got it in my hands and saw the quality of everything I had no doubts. It's not a knock off or anything. It is really well made and has heated my arse for a couple months now.

At the moment I cannot find them on Amazon but they are on eBay.
Here's a link:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Air-Heater-...NW4R3f&vxp=mtr

You can find the Planar models straight from Planar on Ebay too for almost twice the price.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Planar-44D-...JWT2Ek&vxp=mtr
__________________
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2015 Transit MR T350 ecoBoost, Vanilla
SMBs and other various vanlike projects sold...
...My name is Eric and I have a van problem...
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Old 01-13-2018, 06:56 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgmetalworks View Post
The airbags can be "simulated". I did it in mine. Both front seat airbags and all the curtain airbags were taken out and replaced with spoof devices.
Where might one or two of us find such devices, those you'd recommend that is?
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