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Old 08-04-2018, 06:02 PM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 12
SOLD: 1996 SMB 4x4 EB51 w/penthouse top

For sale is our 1996 Ford E-350 Sportsmobile 4x4 Van, located in Issaquah, WA (near Seattle).


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I know, I know, I don't have many posts (longtime lurker) and now I'm selling. In my defense I've been working pretty hard the last few years toward an early retirement and haven't spent much time on the web. I have another van project in the works and need to make space. I have benefited greatly from the experience on this forum and hope to share more of mine in the future.

We are the second owners, having purchased it in 2009 from a family in Nevada.

I will post some pictures here, but a more complete set can be found in my Google album at

If you click on the ‘i’ button, you will better be able to see the descriptions I have added to some photos.

The base van is an extended E-350 (VIN 1FDJS34G0THA36215) Super Duty van with the 7.5 L (460 CI) gasoline engine, currently with about 86,000 miles. The van was converted by Quigley to four wheel drive and features a full-float limited slip rear axle with a 3.55 ratio. The front axle is a high pinion Dana 60 with the 35 spline shafts and manual Warn hubs. The van is running on 265/75R16 Michelin LTX A/T 2 E-rated tires with about 20k miles.

This is an extended body van with the EB-51 layout. This gave us seating and sleeping space for the four of us, plus a large area at the rear for all that additional stuff that comes along.

The van is equipped with the usual standard features, including:
• Penthouse top with upstairs bed platform
• Norcold DC-351D 2CF AC/DC refrigerator
• Suburban NT12S propane furnace
• 2 burner propane cooktop
• Fresh water system with 9 gallon tank, ShurFlo pump or external hose operation
• Grey water tank
• Dual deep cycle house batteries
• Intellipower 9145 converter/charger with Charge Wizard
• 6 Yakima top loader brackets for your rack needs
• Rear door mounted ladder

We made the following changes/additions over the years:
• Agile Ride Improvement Package including four custom-valved Fox shocks and steering stabilizer, an add-a-leaf in the rear, new front coils and sway bar bushings
• Aluminess spare tire mount (fits behind standard Ford step bumper)
• Quigley torque arms replaced (well, 3 out of 4) with new versions
• The original two piece overhead bed was replaced by a three piece platform to improve seated headroom over the rear seat (tall kids)
• The original Intellipower 9100 unit died and was replaced with the 9145 with the charge wizard dongle
• Curtains were added to the penthouse windows
• Reading lights replaced with LED models
• The rear seat was modified to increase the backrest height for head/neck safety and three three point seat belts were added
• The rear seat and bed were recushioned with a memory foam mattress from IKEA, but we kept the original 1996 upholstery
• The ‘upper cabinet’ over the bed shown in the diagram above was deleted to prevent morning concussions
• The furnace/power converter equipment package under the bed was reconfigured for more storage volume and covered in new plywood
• A rear heater/blower was plumbed into the engine coolant system and utilizes the furnace vents and a control switch mounted near the rear seat
• The groovy 1990s pinstriping was erased (after some of the pics), but you can still see the outlines if you are sentimental and look closely
• Additional brake/turn signals added to bumper as the spare blocks the left
• Rusty propane door replaced with new from SMB

Additional work performed includes:
• Regular fluid maintenance, of course
• Ignition coil replacement
• New front calipers and rear (drum) slave cylinders
• Gas tank dropped and painted and vapor valves replaced to eliminate odor when filling
• Windshield replaced
• New serpentine belts
• Complete reconditioning (ouch) of E40D transmission after the front seal blew on the way to the 2017 eclipse (@85k miles), so you basically get a brand new transmission with a 3 year 50k mile warranty

ABS woes
The ABS light has been on since we owned it. Ford told the previous owner to give up after he had spent $1000 to fix it. I’ve tried everything, but it looks like there will be no ABS unless an appropriate working control unit and hydraulic pump can be sourced. The parts have been obsoleted.

Transfer Flow info
The van includes the typical cut-down main tank, but was also originally equipped with an additional Transfer Flow tank mounted behind the rear axle. The previous owner decided to disable this tank due, if I remember correctly, to Transfer Flow refusing to service the system after a few years. I have never bothered to reactivate it, but the tank, pump, fill and wiring are all there for you.

The StarCool system works, but it is only cool, not cold. The factory A/C is better but also not super cold. This would need some attention for those in warmer climates.

Underbody condition
If you dig through the photos you will note that there are certainly some rusty bits underneath. For the most part, the rust is surface only and is limited to the frame with the body being in good shape. This isn't an east coast perforation type situation and seems to be the norm for the Ford vans I have been underneath. Where I have done work, I have typically sanded or wire brushed the rust, then painted with some type of rust converting product. It has never been a concern to me, except when it made a fastener more difficult to work with. Let me know if you want more detailed photos.

Reason for selling?
We had a big list of improvements I was ready to make to this van (mostly interior) when up popped a local 2003 7.3L extended Quigley with a permanent high top and only 30k miles. I fell victim to the diesel disease and decided it would make a wonderful retirement project that I could build out just the way we wanted for the next 10 years.

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Now get out there and make your own memories!

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Thanks for looking and let me know if you have any questions.
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issaquah is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-05-2018, 06:01 PM   #2
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Location: San Clemente, CA
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How do we get a hold of you? I sent a pm

Grampswrx is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2018, 09:58 AM   #3
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 12
PM is best. Then I can give out my super-secret contact information.
issaquah is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2018, 06:30 PM   #4
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: NYC
Posts: 49
Awesome rig! Do you mind sharing your source for the three person, three point belted system you've got there? Did you do that modification yourself?
SOLD: 2011 E350 V10 RB50 2WD
2020 Winnebago Solis
smithie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-06-2018, 08:29 PM   #5
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 12
I did the seatbelts myself. I can't remember where I sourced them, but there are a lot of aftermarket suppliers for such things. They aren't a perfect solution, as the shoulder belt is mounted on the floor as opposed to up high like an stock belt. This makes the seat back more of the restraint system, so I tried to reinforce that at the same time I was making it taller. I wish there were more aftermarket options for truly safe convertible seat/beds.
issaquah is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2018, 03:31 PM   #6
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Posts: 12
This vehicle has been sold.
Admins, please update the title to reflect the sale when you get a chance.

issaquah is offline   Reply With Quote

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