When we bought the van 2 years ago, one condition my wife had was to install the Amp Powersteps. She is a little vertically challenged, and loves vehicles with these steps. With the addition of the Agile 4x4 and larger tires, it has become more critical that we find an easier way for her to get in and out of the van.
I agreed to her conditions, even though I knew these steps were expensive. I assumed that it would be easy to order the steps for the E350 van and doing an install. After a little searching, I realized that Amp did not make steps for our vans. Sportsmobile had also stopped making them and the only option I could find was from a company called Specialized Applications. They make brackets for the Amp Powersteps that will mount to Econoline vans, but they are expensive. It would be $2400 shipped to me in Utah. That was more than we were willing to spend, so I kept looking for options.
Over the past 2 years, I have been watching for used steps, both on the forum and the local classified adds, with no luck. So we decided to just go ahead and buy a new set of Powersteps and then figure out how to build the brackets to mount the Powersteps to the van.
After some research, and info I pulled from the forum, I learned that several have used the Amp Powersteps designed for the Hummer H2 (P/N 75107-01A). The step mechanisms mount to the frame, so it give you a pretty sturdy step, compared to the steps that mount to the body. However, since the Hummer steps are pretty short, I also purchased two of the longest steps that Amp makes (P/N 20-03752-85). These steps are 85” long, which isn’t quite long enough to stretch between the Bushwacker flares, but close enough that it looks fits good.
1 ea Amp Powersteps - P/N 75107-01A
2 ea Amp Running boards - P/N 20-03752-85
1 ea 3/16” x 4” X 20’ mild steel
18 ea 7/16” x 1.5” hex head bolt - Yellow zinc finish
18 ea 7/16” hex nut - Yellow zinc finish
18 ea 7/16” locking washer
36 ea 7/16” flat washer
3 ea 1/2” x 1.5” hex head bolt
3 ea 1/2” rivet nut
3 ea 1/2 lock washer
3 ea 1/2 flat washer
In addition, I bought various drill bits, including stubby bits, so I could get into the tight areas to drill holes into the frame. I also ended up buying a used 1/2” right angle drill, because the space between the frame and van body was too tight for a standard drill. In fact, for a couple of holes it was so tight that I had to use the right angle drill with a stubby drill bit after I cut 1-1/4” off the shank of the stubby bit.
The most challenging part of the build was determining the thickness of the brackets. The frame of the van is not parallel to the body and each side of the van is a little different. This required building four different bracket thicknesses to keep the steps parallel to the body. I built prototype brackets from wood to fine tune the design of each bracket.
The wiring of the steps is pretty easy. You need to tap into the door ajar wire from each door, to obtain a ground signal to trigger the steps. I also added a toggle switch in the dash that will lock the steps in the down position with the doors shut. The switch is part of a circuit with a relay and two shunts at each side of the van.
Wood bracket prototypes for determining the proper bracket thickness.
Building steel brackets. I don’t have a way to accurately cut metal to a set width, so I used wood spacers to space the front and back of each bracket to the proper distance.
With the spacers in place, I tack welded the brackets.
After confirming the dimensions, I fully welding the brackets and trimmed the sides using an angle grinder.
Brackets are trimmed, cleaned up and painted.
Brackets and steps installed.
Switch to lock steps in down position.
This was one of the more challenging projects on the van. It was a lot of money to spend, without being sure how to make the steps fit on the van. It was also a lot of work, on cold December days, to get the holes drilled in the frame in the proper location.
I think the steps look good on the van, and it makes my wife happy.