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Old 12-24-2016, 05:32 PM   #51
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Thanks Larrie. If it was out in the open I would've taken more time on this welding project but underneath my default is bulletproof. A lot of the joints here are double welded and hence, not as pretty.

I'm not planning a top at all at this point since it's really just a light camping rig for me, but if I find a fixed top cheap somewhere I might go for it.


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Old 12-29-2016, 04:19 AM   #52
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Looking good Eric!
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Old 01-11-2017, 05:37 PM   #53
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So, I've mostly got my parts rounded up for the 4x conversion on Sylvan. I plan to start on it the week before Christmas. Sharp minds will realize that is 3 weeks ago. I always underestimate just how hard it is to get anything done in the shop when my kids are out of school. So, a setback........and then another setback.

I purposefully let the fuel get pretty low on the van so the tank would be easy to remove. I've dopped full fuel tanks and it's no fun. I was running some errands a couple days after Christmas with my daughter when I looked down and the gauge was on E. I drive a lot of vehicles at work and own 4 personally so when something is low on fuel I pull over and fill it. It's a habit that guarantees me less surprises in life. Well, without ANY thought about pulling the tank I filled it up with 35 gallons of 10 lb. per gallon gasoline. Doh! I realized this literally AS I was getting back in the van. I had no plans to travel and it would take a LONG time to run down a full tank driving 15 miles RT to work.

So.........today I painstaking dropped the nearly full tank and siphoned off 5 gallons at a time (the biggest gas can I have) filling up every car in my driveway. It took hours. Wasted hours.

But, the tank is out, battery is removed, drive shaft, bumpers and exhaust from the cat back removed, wheels removed and I'm getting underway with the job which includes a thorough cleanup and rust treatment under the van.

I did have time for one small project over the holidays, up next.

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Old 01-12-2017, 07:45 AM   #54
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So, one of the things I've always puzzled over is the lack of fold down bench beds, gauchos or whatever you want to call them available in the aftermarket for home built vans. Yes, there are all sorts of complete custom beds and ideas on Pinterest but none of them use factory benches or upholstery which perfectly matches the stock seats without a lot of work. Also, they're much less safe. There are wall mounts and other ones that work for some builds but I've always wanted to just have a rear bench that folds down, like a 50, and done! I do not want to slide bed sections around and move pillows/sections/etc. creating a bed space out of valuable floor space, hence the beauty of the 50 layout.

Having recently bought another 15 passenger van I had 4 perfect benches to work with (read butcher). I've read a few threads on successful attempts at these (Boywonder and Rockbender come to mind, as well as a recent one where a guy built his own hinges, can't find it) but I've still looked for a simpler solution. I've been keeping an eye out for futons on Craigslist and just considered buying a complete one just for the hinges. One day recently, it came to me, just Google futon hinges. They are readily available for purchase and pretty cheap. I got a set for $40 on Ebay, about the limit of what I wanted to spend for something that might be a total bust.

Sofa Bed Bedding DIY Furniture Adjustable Spring Mechanism Futon Hinge Hardware | eBay

Here they are in the flesh





Then it was just a matter of making them work with a factory bench seat.

First, I pulled the upholstery back and found that the Ford seats are mated (back and butt) with big L brackets essentially, but welded as well as bolted. I used a cut off wheel on an angle grinder to cut through the welds. Then it was a simple matter of figuring out the spacing to make the hinge work properly without a big gap, drilling holes in the frames and mounting the brackets. I was even able to use some of the threaded holes Ford already had in the frames greatly simplifying the job.







Continued.......
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Old 01-12-2017, 07:52 AM   #55
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Nice! Ill be looking forward to seeing how this ends up working out. The anticipation kills.
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Old 01-12-2017, 08:01 AM   #56
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Mr. Scotty, you rock! Keep it up, I wanna see what's next...
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Old 01-12-2017, 08:08 AM   #57
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After that it was only a matter of tidying up some upholstery. No sewing was required, just trimming edges around the hinges.

Unfortunately this bed idea, with the third section stored behind the fold out bed, only gives you about a 64" long bed. I'm 74" tall but do not mind sleeping at an angle if alone or with my feet hanging off a bit. I don't stretch out a lot while sleeping, but can't sleep well if there are walls on each end of a short bed, meaning a sideways or lateral bed in a van just won't work for me. Also, I thought the dip in the factory upholstery, between the sections, would be an issue. It isn't. This bed is incredibly comfortable! YMMV.

Another disadvantage is that I can't use the factory pedestals/floor mounts as I had hoped. If you look at the way the hinges fold forward and up you'll understand that the side of the hinge is the only fixed point. Neither the butt or back of the bench can be mounted. I will have to build some sidewalls for the hinges to sit on the floor, which I'll integrate into a 50 style cabinet build.

Another problem for some will be the the benches aren't all square and tidy, and if you use factory club wagon benches you'll have holes in the ends of the sections where the armrests were as well as the taper in at the tops of the backs. I chose to use two backs and one butt for maximum length since the backs are a few inches longer. I want the bed and bench tight against the wall on the passenger side and cabinets on the driver's side so this won't be visible and made it necessary to remove the armrests.







The third section will sit on rails behind the bench and will not be attached. It can be slid, flipped, or removed when needed. The seatbelts will come through the butt section in their original location (holes) and will be bolted to the floor. These are the shorter benches (2,3 and 4) in a 15 passenger van, which seat 3 so I can still strap in 5 slim humans total in a pinch.

I'll update this post with an installed pic when I get there but it will be a few weeks.

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Old 01-12-2017, 10:02 AM   #58
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Awesome work!!!
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Old 06-27-2017, 02:38 PM   #59
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Sheesh, has it really been 6 months? This van has been sitting on my lift this entire time, with the front axle ripped out of it. I got a wee bit distracted by a couple of other vehicle projects, life, kids, all that stuff. I MUST forge on!

I have drug out all my parts from the shadows they've been kicked into and am attempting to organize everything.



Today I dropped the rear axle so undercarriage and axle cleanup can begin



She's most definitely a hovercraft now. I know that Ujoint, MG and every other 4x converter does this stuff routinely but there's nothing more alarming in my book than removing the entire driveline from your van, in your garage, where you will be the one putting it all back in, and realizing............WTF have I done!!!!



One step at a time, I suppose.

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Old 06-27-2017, 02:51 PM   #60
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