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Old 05-23-2020, 01:33 AM   #1
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Question Should we Invest in a "free" '99 Ford E-150 Econoline??

We are looking for a bit of advice as my family of 3 is trying to figure out if it is worth it to spend $2k to fix up the mechanical needs of this van and then another unknown amount to either fix the leaky roof or get a pop top/high top with another sleeping space.

A close friend is offering us their '99 E-150 with 171K miles at no cost. Exterior and interior are clean. The big issue seems to be a leak in the rear part of the roof. I've attached an image of the other mechanical repairs needed (not including the leaking roof) and a profile of the van. The repair estimate is about $2k.

Hoping that the experts on this forum can provide some clarity and/or direction for us. Your expert thoughts are helpful and any direction around reliability in this vehicle, pop top/high top installation recommendations near Santa Cruz, CA. (how much should we expect to spend?), and other advice you might have regarding the maintenance needs.

Thanks!

-j

Here are the mechanical issues incase the attachment is hard to read: Brake fluid is dirty, water pump is leaking, power steering pump is leaking, high pressure p/s line leaking, tranner cooler line leaking, fuel hose neck is cracked, left side washer nozzle is broke. Top off fuel tank, check for leaks, suggest fuel filler neck assy 1st then recheck.
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Repair Specs.jpg   Van Pic.jpg  
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Old 05-23-2020, 04:25 AM   #2
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What are your plans with the van?

The issue with E150 is capacity. They are limited in GVWR with lighter frames so you will be limited in what you can build inside. I believe 4x4 converters start with E250s and E350s, and so do van camper conversions.

Is the roof rusty and causing a leak? Is the water coming through the gutter seam? Depending on how bad, that could get expensive.

If it were me, I would not use an E150 or GM 1500.
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Old 05-23-2020, 09:52 AM   #3
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Thatís a $5k van if not $7500. Would you pay that much for the van without issues?
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Old 05-23-2020, 07:51 PM   #4
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I'll add this..........

The '99 E150 is a "true" E150 in that the suspension, brakes and frame are all of the lightest duty capacity Ford built into a van----it could be somewhat "improved" to handle a bit more loaded weight but not enough to accommodate anything other than a very modest build out into a mini RV or anything approaching an actual SMB.

The bolt-on leaking hoses/tubes are easy fixes but I'd venture a guess the windows as fitted to the body could be leaking rain or water and greatly impacted the van's sheet metal floor. If this is the situation you're in for a lot of money to fix any rust that's already formed in the floor.

Its somewhat unlikely the body roof is leaking (though not impossible) however either way this would be my biggest concern if you'd be doing much more than obtaining it, effecting the known repairs and leaving it otherwise "as is" to be used as an economical daily driver with more interior space than the typical modern day family vehicle.

If its found just the windows are leaking that's repairable but could involve removing a bit of the interior to properly reseal them to the body. There is an alternative "quickie" way to seal them if that's preferable over the full-on resealing.

Also at 171K miles it would probably need shocks and a front-end rebuild including ball joints etc. Its possible front coil springs might need replaced as well. The transmission would greatly benefit from a full fluid exchange or "flush". I'm guessing that would be upwards of $250 if not done DIY.

I'll also repeat nothing less than an E250 would be advisable, preferably an E350 extended body would be the best platform for a DIY build out.

Hope we're not bashing your otherwise good find too severely---I'd rehab this one and just drive it, assuming it would be useful to your family in the regard. The photo doesn't show a lot of the exterior but I don't see anything major on the driver's side to suggest its been greatly abused over time.

So I hope this helps.
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Old Yesterday, 10:00 AM   #5
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Gee, I donít know. Free is a very good price. If I had the room (big garage or covered space), Iíd put a poptop on it and do a minimalist camping build inside. Make sure everything is lightweight and take it on the road.

Even without a poptop (Iíd check with SMB and CCV first), a free van could make a great little weekend getaway vehicle. Lots of folks are happy with that. If you want a full build-out, though, all the above is good advice.
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Old Yesterday, 10:36 AM   #6
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We follow "Keep Your Daydream" on YouTube. One of the things they tell folks to do is to "start with what you have, but just get out there". This may be that kind of thing. Invest a reasonable amount and get started, then improve incrementally.
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Old Yesterday, 11:40 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Otter View Post
Gee, I donít know. Free is a very good price. If I had the room (big garage or covered space), Iíd put a poptop on it and do a minimalist camping build inside. Make sure everything is lightweight and take it on the road.

Even without a poptop (Iíd check with SMB and CCV first), a free van could make a great little weekend getaway vehicle. Lots of folks are happy with that. If you want a full build-out, though, all the above is good advice.
.
After thinking about this and reading everyone's posts, I agree with the no-pop-top solution unless you find something cheap and DIY. You'll learn a lot and can likely sell this one down the line and, at worst, break-even.
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Old Today, 10:52 AM   #8
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Thanks to all. After some closer inspection and consultation I'm going to pass on this van. Lots of rust under the body, inside the vehicle, and clearly an unrepairable roof (for a reasonable amount of money). I was in serious mold denial too. Thanks for the quick responses, thoughtful advice, and balanced thinking!
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