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Old 03-07-2019, 03:45 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: GTA, Ontario
Posts: 906
1979 Dodge MB400 build

Hi all,

86Scotty wanted an update on my Nov 2018 purchase of a 1979 Dodge Kary van that I bought on eBay and drove from California to home in Canada.

It made it. The burping and plehcking going up hills hasn't been licked so the roadside fuel pump install was for naught.

The truck is sitting in a snow bank right now while I wait for warmer weather. It's too big to fit in the garage. That idea had crossed my mind, but the implications of which never seeped into my consciousness. Need a new shop!

I made some suggestions on another posting about planning a project so as to avoid making too many mistakes. I'll keep that in mind here.

First thing is chassis selection. I am tall and big, and my wife, Leggz, is tall so we need a bigger bed than the 4x4 pop top B350 was offering us. Queen size minimum.

We also have the entire contents, minus the penthouse, still rotting away in a 1982 B250 Sportsmobile. Yup. Sink, toilet, stove, and all the bits to make it run. Even the propane tank has fuel in it. I also have a propane freezer and a propane fridge to add to the mix.

The 4x4 option has been great for us, but frankly I drive everywhere in 2wd until I need to use it and that is not often. We live in a very densely inhabited part of Ontario and getting to places where you need 4x4 is time consuming. The math on extra batteries and a winch makes more sense than the added cost of the 4x4 conversion. Yes we get snow, but it kills me to drive some of my precious southwest sourced old iron in the battery acid used to de-ice the roads. Rust never sleeps.

I stumbled upon a 1979 Dodge cube van on eBay living in California with an unbelievable 7548 miles on it. $2500. It was a good chassis choice for us as it has hinged doors, insulated walls and ceiling, and great ceiling height. GVWR is 10,500 lbs. Engine is perhaps that last 440 cu in ever built by Chrysler. 1979 was that engine's last year. Lots of torque. The box interior measures just shy of 8 feet wide by 14 feet long by 7 feet high.

I've been thinking about interior layout for this beast.

I bought 5 RV windows with screens from an RV salvage yard in January along with a full height RV door and screen door combo. I even found the doors keys in the wreck.

The seats only have lap belts.

Leggz has asked for shoulder belts. Unfortunately there is nowhere to bolt the shoulder harness so I bought two driver side manual seats from a salvage yard. They incorporate the belt in the seat so we are good to go. Why two driver side seats? I can only buy new seat foam for drivers' seats. Welcome to the fun of sourcing Dodge parts.

I have all the parts for a working toilet, but Leggz and I don't want one so we'll take our toilet seat-on-a- bucket system for the boonies.

The walls are covered in 1/4 inch Douglas fir plywood that will look fine with a semi transparent stain. The ceiling is the same plywood covered in a peeling vinyl wallpaper. The plywood floor will be covered with one piece sheet vinyl for easy hosing out after muddy adventures.

"Talk is cheap. Whiskey costs money."
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Old 03-08-2019, 06:50 AM   #2
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Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Richmond VA
Posts: 146
Glad to see another Dodge in the works! I'll follow your build in case I can pirate any ideas for our B350 highroof.

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Old 03-08-2019, 10:59 AM   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: GTA, Ontario
Posts: 906
Chassis picked. Now for some rough layouts. Graph paper...


1- fold up queen size wall bed and table to maximize floor space
2- use the old RV equipment already owned
3- be able to use the RV as a cube van if needed. ie it would be painful to rent a cube van to move a load of lumber when one already has one
4- we're tall!

From upper left...

22" deep shelf running full width with dividers and mesh/net to hold light items like bedding and clothes. This depth gives us room for the cab seats to recline further back that the rear cab wall which we'll remove.

Propane fridge mounted high on the wall above a 38" high, top opening propane chest freezer. 38" is our preferred counter height so the freezer top can be used as a small counter when loading the upper fridge. Propane units have to be vented and will sit in custom sheet metal screwed to the wall. They can be vented next to a door. Door will be pinned open with a standoff as needed. Trust venting will be okay as freezer only rated at 1000 Btu/hr. Fridge much less. New CO/propane sensor wall mounted below units.

26"Wx80"H exterior door with screen door. Tall enough to just fit under an 84" ceiling. No head banging. Maybe waist squeezing. Unit came out of burnt RV and cleaned up well. $85

Wheel well rises 5.5" up through floor.

57"Wx25"H 50/50 slider window with screen. Unit gold tinted single pane with white frame. I even found white butyl tape for the installation. Debate over height above floor welcome! $125 each.

Cushioned seating bench 16"Hx16"D running full width at the rear hinged doors. Weatherstripping et al for dust and bug control. Center section 4'-4" to be removable to allow sheet construction material to be load in via rear doors as needed. End sections to be accessed from exterior for chains, tools, and jacks.

Hinged rear cargo doors will have 30"Wx42"H "T" windows in each. Both with small screen windows. $200 The doors will have a 3/16" steel frame around both windows to strengthen the doors and mount the hinges. One new hinge for each doors. All steel to be galvanized after fabrication.

Folding queen bed and folding queen table unit. Floor space saver bed to hinge down from wall on its long edge and land on benches and one folding leg. With bed up a hinged table will fold down and land on the table peg and floor base from the old SMB. Bed will be held vertical by rope looped back to side wall. Bed base will be piano hinged to 12"Wx16"H under bed storage cabinet.

Another 57"Wx25"H sliding 50/50 screen window on wall behind raised bed. Same debate about height above floor. Obviously only usable and visible with bed down, but will offer substantial ventilation and cross ventilation. $125

60"Lx24"Dx38"H countertop with 2 burner stove and sink from old SMB. Cabinets below to be made from four 15" pedestal filing cabinets. These cabinets come with 3 full extension drawers of varying size with the lower drawer always being file size. Latches and locks keep everything from flying around. At 28" high they will wall mount and leave the floor open for easy cleaning. The tops can be unbolted for easy mods. And any sheet sound control medium can be slapped on the steel.

Lastly the window above the counter is an emergency egress hinged unit. With a 50/50 slider and screen. 42"Wx25"H. $100 Again height above floor debate most welcome.

Details, bed/table:

This detail is looking through the road side wall with the cab on the left.

The bed does not reach all the way to the rear cargo doors so that when the seat bench cushions are folded to allow the bed to lower the cushions act as a headboard.

The table is simply hinged to the bottom of the bed and lowers on to a post and base from the old SMB.

This next sketch looking rearward shows the bed up against the road side wall with the table lowered. A long piano hinge mounts the bed.

Looking forward towards the cab the sink base is on the left with the fridge over the freezer on the left. The hash marked areas above are the mesh/net soft goods storage area. NO noisy cutlery, when we hit bumps, over the cab!

Last sketch, so far, is the curb side wall with the fridge and freezer positions showing through the wall. Window height still open for debate!

Window/door placement detail:

curb side photo mock up

road side photo mock up

"Talk is cheap. Whiskey costs money."
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