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Old 11-04-2018, 08:59 AM   #1
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Handicapped van

I see handicap van going for good prices. Had anybody converted one of these into a sportsmobile? What are the pitfalls?
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Old 11-04-2018, 06:21 PM   #2
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I'm beginning the process with a highroof Dodge that did have an externally mounted rear wheelchair lift. It had already been removed when I bought the van but much of the wiring, switches and stuff remains. I'll need to sort through that as I go to see what can be removed. Have made no progress since the purchase because I need to replace a head gasket but even that is on hold for extensive household projects outside that claim all the good weather and daylight hours. Soon enough I'll have more to report.


Came back for a little more input. I think the door configuration is very important and some might be less desirable than others. There's another van like this in town for $1500 but it has tall side doors rather than the tall rear doors mine has. I hope to be using mine as a motohauler (both motorcycles and bicycles) so tall rear doors are an asset for me while tall side doors are less so. And these are the "normal" tall doors. Many mobility vans have wildly modified passenger side walls; sometimes with a city bus-type door instead of the normal right side passenger door, or even double doors.


I was looking for a very tall roof (+2' over stock) to give stand-up-straight interior headroom, and the tall rear doors I mentioned before. Many mobility vans have a roof that is +1' or less. Depends on what you want for your purposes.


Good luck!
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Old 11-04-2018, 08:35 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Brianf7028 View Post
I see handicap van going for good prices. Had anybody converted one of these into a sportsmobile? What are the pitfalls?
Don't be offended, I'm just giving you the facts. Sportsmobile is a brand. It is a company who takes vans and makes professionally built campers out of them. The Sportsmobile Forum is NOT affiliated with the Sportsmobile company, however a majority of people here have historically been Sportsmobile owners and quite a few are just fans.

Handicap vans can easily be converted in to a camper van but it won't be a Sportsmobile unless you take it to them for conversion, and they don't fool with old vans anymore to speak of.

I'm sharing this because many people don't know this stuff, not to be picky or snarky. You can convert a handicap van to a homebuilt camper van easily. Asking what the pitfalls are depends on your skillset and experience. Also, it depends on a million aspects of the specific van.

Read here lots. Go to the Expedition Portal 2/4 wheel drive vans section and read there lots.

This can be an addiction. Tread lightly. You may end up broke and single but you'll have an awesome van to live in down by the river.

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Old 11-04-2018, 08:59 PM   #4
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What he said above is true but this forum also has a section for Homemades and that is where I have posted about my own. You might want to follow this link and search on "handicap" or "mobility" or "wheelchair" to see what turns up. Most of the roll yer own guys probably begin with a civilian van and not necessarily a wheelchair one as I have done and as you are considering.


Homemade SMB - Ground Up Builds - Sportsmobile Forum
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Old 11-05-2018, 06:31 AM   #5
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Yep ^^^ I should've mentioned that. These days the forum traffic is at least half homebuild owners and maybe more. Many are both including myself. I had a Sportsmobile but would much rather build what I want than buy it these days.

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Old 11-05-2018, 07:01 AM   #6
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We feel the same way. We can afford a nice built unit but we like projects and if we can turn out an acceptable unit for cheap it appeals to our rustic natures, especially when you consider the likely anticipated amount of use. It was my wife who found the Dodge we bought so if anything goes wrong I can blame her.
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Old 11-05-2018, 10:00 AM   #7
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Thanks for the responses. I use "sportsmobile" generically as the type of van. I plan to build the van with my son over time and use it to travel to fun spots around the country. I also plan to used it as a "base" for my triathlons and other competition we do. Its great to come back from a mountain bike ride to have a place to chill out and reload. I have decent mechanical, welding, plumbing and electrical skills- thanks to all that construction work in my younger years. Pitfalls I was referring to are dropped floors, extra wiring, any problems in removing lift or any general experience in such a build. Unfortunately I am having problems searching the forums, some glitch with my tablet I guess.
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Old 11-05-2018, 10:02 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by campism View Post
I'm beginning the process with a highroof Dodge that did have an externally mounted rear wheelchair lift. It had already been removed when I bought the van but much of the wiring, switches and stuff remains. I'll need to sort through that as I go to see what can be removed. Have made no progress since the purchase because I need to replace a head gasket but even that is on hold for extensive household projects outside that claim all the good weather and daylight hours. Soon enough I'll have more to report.


Came back for a little more input. I think the door configuration is very important and some might be less desirable than others. There's another van like this in town for $1500 but it has tall side doors rather than the tall rear doors mine has. I hope to be using mine as a motohauler (both motorcycles and bicycles) so tall rear doors are an asset for me while tall side doors are less so. And these are the "normal" tall doors. Many mobility vans have wildly modified passenger side walls; sometimes with a city bus-type door instead of the normal right side passenger door, or even double doors.


I was looking for a very tall roof (+2' over stock) to give stand-up-straight interior headroom, and the tall rear doors I mentioned before. Many mobility vans have a roof that is +1' or less. Depends on what you want for your purposes.


Good luck!
@campism. Awesome van. Thanks for the info. I never thought about the door setup.
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Old 11-05-2018, 07:25 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Brianf7028 View Post
Thanks for the responses. I use "sportsmobile" generically as the type of van. I plan to build the van with my son over time and use it to travel to fun spots around the country. I also plan to used it as a "base" for my triathlons and other competition we do. Its great to come back from a mountain bike ride to have a place to chill out and reload. I have decent mechanical, welding, plumbing and electrical skills- thanks to all that construction work in my younger years. Pitfalls I was referring to are dropped floors, extra wiring, any problems in removing lift or any general experience in such a build. Unfortunately I am having problems searching the forums, some glitch with my tablet I guess.
Glad to have you along Brian. You'll learn a lot and find great company here. I went through that explanation basically as a disclaimer, no offense intended or taken, however, some people do get pretty picky about this sort of stuff. Many homebuilds have been listed here or posted here where the owner actually bought Sportsmobile stickers and put them on a homebuild and it always creates quite the ruckus.

Of the many vans I've had I have never had a handicap one, however I've thought about it 10 times or so. The dropped floor would be a huge asset. The electric is probably not as complex as one might think. It's basically going to be a spare battery probably (a very good thing, less to do) and some big gauge wire running to the lift itself. It will leave some big holes where it's bolted in but it couldn't be that difficult to remove and patch up. Many have done it.

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Old 11-11-2018, 03:39 PM   #10
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About a year ago I bought a 2003 Ford E350 hightop van with a wheelchair lift and converted into a camper for my wife and I. Here is a link to a public FB album I made about the conversion. We just got through traveling on a 30 day trip from Georgia to Oregon with the van and it worked great. Recommended. Link is here.
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