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Old 08-13-2013, 10:32 PM   #1
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The Vanther

Hey guys,
I've been cruising around this site for a while and it has been an amazing resource for me! I've found this to be the most helpful site out there for getting the info I need on many different occasions. After lots of research and searching, I purchased a van. It's my second 4x4 van and I'm hoping this one will be much more enjoyable than the last (old school Dodge full-time 4x4).

While I was planning on getting a 2wd van to convert through Chris at Ujoint, I found my van and it was too good of a deal to pass up. As a young designer, budget has to be at the forefront of all my decisions. My criteria for the van was finding a diesel, preferably EB, with low mileage that was either 4x4 or ready to convert. I ended up with a 2008 6.0l Ford E350 EB with 600 miles on it. I am going to be using this van as my surf/snowboard vehicle and it will be towing a couple of snowmobiles in the winter for backcountry snowboarding. I just got the van back from Van Specialties where I had the interior done. I kept it very simple for now (finished the whole van, insulated, soundproofed, subfloor and flooring, LED lighting, swivel passenger seat, fold down bench seat with extension platform). While it's a really basic interior in comparison to an SMB, I just wanted to make it comfortable and usable, leaving the potential for building the interior out farther as money allows. Since most all the camping I do is weekends and overnights, I don't have as much of a need for all the amenities.

I have lots of plans for the van in the near future. Here's a list of things that should be done in the next month or so, assuming all goes to plan:
- Full long arm suspension kit
- Wheels and tires (35's on black 17" Mickey Thompsons)
- 4.10 gear ratio
- Coolant filter
- Custom roof rack
- Custom rock sliders/steps
- Coolant flush, fluid and full engine checkup
- Possibly upgrade to Warn premium hubs over the Ford ones I have (anyone have thoughts on that???)
- Edge Insight CTS monitor with egt probe

Here's a list of things I plan to do as money allows:
- Get rid of any chrome!!
- Custom front and rear bumpers, winch and lights
- Exhaust
- 6.0l bulletproofing
- Aux batteries, inverter, etc... (Already had the van wired for 12v power)
- Webasto diesel heater
- Sound system

Here's a photo of the van from this past weekend. Went camping and surfing at the coast. Even had to engage the 4wd for the first time offroad! The van drove really nicely and it was very comfortable to sleep in; couldn't be happier with it!

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Old 08-13-2013, 11:20 PM   #2
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Re: Introducing the Vanther

Nice! Welcome to the forum. I have a similar rig and same use. Hopefully cross paths. I'm heading over the PC dune to surf, paddle board, and jet ski Thursday. See you on St Helen's for some snowmoboarding.
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Old 08-14-2013, 12:18 AM   #3
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Re: Introducing the Vanther

Nice! Hope to see you up there this winter. I didn't make it there this past winter, but went to Helens a few times the season before. The terrain is a bit flat, but there's tons of good booter building spots! Here's a shot I took the last time I was up at Helens (spring 2012).
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Old 08-17-2013, 08:54 AM   #4
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Re: Introducing the Vanther

That looks familiar! I can't post a pic for some reason but that is what we do exactly. I have a great shot of my buddy and I from the summit. We ride double and have some sort of mind link because we are able to anywhere two up. Super fun!
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Old 08-17-2013, 04:39 PM   #5
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Re: Introducing the Vanther

Can you please post a picture of the interior you had done .. Thanks
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Old 08-21-2013, 08:26 AM   #6
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Re: Introducing the Vanther

Yeah, I'll post some pics of the interior when I get back from my vacation.
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Old 10-08-2013, 12:14 AM   #7
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Re: The Vanther

I finally got my suspension setup all dialed in. I went with the long arm kit from ccv and ended up having to make a lot of custom upgrades to make it work. By no means was it a simple bolt on install. After a lot of troubleshooting I ended up getting a setup that I'm really psyched on. It's now a completely custom setup and is quite different than the suspension setup Derek sent me. I went with an adjustable track bar (seemed to be a necessary move after installing the suspension), adjustable control arms pushing the front axle forward 1.5", Bilstein 5160's all the way around, a rear add a leaf and a 2" block to give the rear a little more lift than the front. The van is sitting on 35's now and I don't have any rubbing, not even turned all the way over. The ride is great and I can't tell you how much more comfortable the van is to drive. It has completely eliminated the bump steer I was suffering from and has added quite a bit of travel. I couldn't imagine bottoming out now. I took some speed bumps at 25 mph and couldn't believe how well it handled. I can now comfortably drive the van with one hand on bumpy roads without being worried about getting pulled around. I can confidently say that it handles far better than my old Ford F350.

I also got an Edge Insight cts monitor with egt probe. I am very happy I did this as it gives me much more confidence driving my 6.0l diesel. I also installed a Sinister Diesel coolant filter. I will run the van this way for a while until I decide which direction I will go with the bulletproofing. So far the engine is still being broken in and is driving flawlessly. The one thing I haven't done yet is re-gear the van. It's still running 3.73 gears and I think I'm going to go to 4.10's. If anyone has thoughts or personal gearing experiences they could share that would be awesome. I'm mostly interested in power, rpms and fuel economy.

I also installed my aluminess side ladder, custom rock slider steps and just put on my custom roof rack (not it picture below). Things are definitely coming together. I got to do a nice camping surf trip this weekend to the coast and did some offroading to get to the campsite. The van performed very well.
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Old 10-08-2013, 07:53 PM   #8
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Re: The Vanther

Interesting on the long-arm, non-bolt-in set-up. I realize you've got requests for other pics, but if/when you are able I'd be interested in seeing your adjustable track bar and other photos of the front suspension.


Curious also your impressions driving the van with 35's and the 3.73.
I have 33's and the 3.55. Sometimes I feel like I'm a bit under geared, but I don't tow and it's been fine so far.


Good luck with your build, sounds great so far.
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Old 10-08-2013, 08:39 PM   #9
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Re: The Vanther

Here's a photo of the interior as requested. So far it's still just a very basic interior... Insulated, soundproofed, finished walls, headliner and floor, LED lighting, swivel passenger seat and large bench seat bed. The bed is bigger than a queen sized bed and makes for some very comfortable sleeping. The extension platform matches the seat and everything can be removed on quick release to open up the entire van for cargo usage. So far it's been perfect for my overnight camping purposes; very comfortable sleep even for a taller person.


As for the gearing, my mechanic drove the van and tested the rpm's with the 35's on it. They were right about where they should be so he recommended I drive it a bit before re-gearing it. I think it actually has plenty of power with the 3.73, but I haven't done any towing yet and I did notice I have to take overdrive off more on climbs than I did with the smaller tires. All in all the difference isn't too noticeable. I will be keeping a close eye on mpg's to see where I'm at. I suspect I would probably get better milage with 4.10's. I'll take some suspension photos soon.
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Old 10-10-2013, 09:50 AM   #10
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Re: The Vanther

Van looks great.

That bench/bed looks like exactly what I'm looking for. Where did you find it? Any pictures of it folded up?
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