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Old 06-02-2015, 10:11 AM   #11
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Re: Clifford - 1998 E350 Build

Looks like a pretty sweet van to start your process with! I've never owned a 7.3, but from the research I did when I was in the process of buying my van, I found that most people suggested that the lifespan of the trannies mated to the 7.3 was about 150k miles. If you have records of it being replaced or rebuilt, then you're ahead of the game. If you don't, maybe start a side fund just in case it goes. The 7.3 van I went to look at had 190k on it and it was still on its original trans and it ran smooth and shifted fine, so there are definitely exceptions.
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Old 06-02-2015, 10:14 AM   #12
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Re: Clifford - 1998 E350 Build

So, if I'm reading this right, it was $6k for a 7.3 E350 with FF axle, cheap peeling tint, 135k and a dent in the rear bumper?

Sounds like a good deal to me.

Now you can turn on the wallet vacuum.
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Old 06-02-2015, 01:11 PM   #13
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Re: Clifford - 1998 E350 Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by rallypanam
Now you can turn on the wallet vacuum.
Ha ha. SMB: The gift that keeps on taking

I love that color! Congrats
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Old 06-02-2015, 01:23 PM   #14
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Re: Clifford - 1998 E350 Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by rallypanam

Now you can turn on the wallet vacuum.

........it's a slippery slope.....fender flares, wheels, penthouse, 4WD...........
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Old 06-02-2015, 11:32 PM   #15
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Re: Clifford - 1998 E350 Build

I had started my update, but then realized i should probably give some background of the project. Hopefully this will help explain some of my decisions and also influence some of the tips and suggestions I hope to receive.

My wife and I are in our late twenties with no kids and love being on the move. This van will mainly be used as a car camping vehicle, a surf wagon and a home base at music festivals. Some goals for the van are as follows:

-Solar powered house battery - I already have a 100 watt panel, 100 amp hour deep cycle and a 1000 watt inverter

-Seating for four (while driving) - driver, passenger and a bench seat in the back with seat belts

-Comfy bed for 2 (short term) - thinking of having this permanently set up to enable a thicker mattress

-Popped top to add sleeping for four total - This is definitely long term and will most likely not happen for a while. When it does, it will definitely be diy.

-4x4 - not as long term as the popped top, but still a ways out. this will be the one thing I take to get done, probably at ujoint.

-integrated stove that slides out of the back of the van in the rear. We are big on cooking, so having a cooking setup slide out the back of the van i think is a good solution.

I will draw up the layout i have in mind and post it tomorrow. Also, I will be trying to keep this low budget in the beginning. Using what I have on hand to get started. Once funds become available, the goodies will roll in.

Now on to the update...

Just got done trying to gut the back of the van. Boy did I underestimate how much work it was going to be to pull out all of the shelves, vice, etc. Here is how it looked to start:






Several things were mounted to the floor with nuts on the underside of the van. So i had the fun experience of having my wife help out getting those loose. One nut was out of reach, so i finally gave up and just angle grinded the bolt head off the top.

Anyways, here is how she sits now:



My short term plan is to get this thing camp-able asap. My wife and I have decided we want to do the following items first

- Mount solar panel to the roof

I want to be able to remove the solar panel, so I think I will mount it with bolts through the roof. any problem with these mounts?

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NEZ ... 19FHI2Z5KL

would it be best to use silicon washers on the outside of the van to make the holes waterproof?

- get the floors down (atleast plywood in the back

Tomorrow I am planning on pulling out the plywood and evaluating the floor of the van. The plywood is screwed down, so I expect it to be in good shape with a fair amount of holes in it. What do you guys recommend for the floor in terms of treating the holes? Is it really important to seal up the holes with something like silicone and then paint? Or should I just go straight to the rattle can to just cover any exposed metal?

If I am not to worried about insulation, is it ok to use standard carpet padding under the new layer of plywood? I have some laying around, so i would like to use it if it isn't such a terrible idea.

- get the bed situated

Thoughts on this mattress?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/8-COOL-Medium-M ... 259aac3ab2

the bed, as the plan is now, will always be down. Is this a terrible idea? obviously it will be elevated to allow storage underneath.

- mount two windows in the rear where the bed will be.

This is mainly to add ventilation. Also, we have a swap cooler that i will expand on later, but i need one window as an inlet and one ope on the otherside for cross flow.

how are these windows?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-BLACK-KINRO ... 9c&vxp=mtr

In a perfect world I would get crl concaved windows. But the budget does not permit those. Would smaller windows conform to the concave of the van better? Also, smaller ones would let me replace them with a bigger hole/window later down the road if I really dont like them.

You may ask, "why the rush, save up for the good ones!"

Well at the end of summer we are headed to burning man in this van, so that is our short term deadline to get some creature comforts in.

Thanks for the help and hopefully I didn't ask too many questions. And I promise there will be more to come.
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Old 06-03-2015, 07:51 AM   #16
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Re: Clifford - 1998 E350 Build

On the floor repairs, I would recommend just searching and looking at all the pics and ideas in the homebuild section. Lots of folks have done it in lots of different ways. Some get real serious with expensive stuff like POR15 and others just get some paint on the raw metal and silicone the holes. On a couple of bigger holes in my floor I used old license plates for patches with lots of silicone, and then just bolted back down the plywood that Sportsmobile used in the original build. If it's any consolation, they on my 95 they didn't use any special treatment at all. Plywood bolted to the bare metal floor and then residential carpet and padding. This really depends on where you live too. In the Southwest I might not be too worried. In Seattle I might get more in to treating and waterproofing.

On the bedding I think the price and thickness of that is overkill. Without a raised roof you're going to be fighting for storage space and every inch matters. A foam & fabric store in my town will cut you a 4" foam mattress with a 2" memory foam topper that is supposed to be amazing, and for about half that price. In our van we just went with the 4" standard foam and my wife got her own memory foam topper for her bad back. 8" though is pretty thick and those 2+/- inches will matter in a van interior.

On the windows, about the only thing I haven't done to a van is cut and install windows, but I've read enough builds here to know that those will be a real bear to put in. They are too tall to fit in the factory window recesses in your walls so you'll have to cut and modify lots of structural steel, and then they probably won't follow the factory bend in the walls to your liking, meaning they'll stick out on the top or bottom. That's the reason you see so many smaller windows in converted vans. The old school 'custom vans' had those huge/tall windows but I don't know how they made it work.

Sounds like you've got a lot of plans for the van. Looking forward to seeing your progress.

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Old 06-03-2015, 08:37 AM   #17
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Re: Clifford - 1998 E350 Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by bemerritt

-Solar powered house battery - I already have a 100 watt panel, 100 amp hour deep cycle and a 1000 watt inverter
A single 100AH battery may be a bit light for a 1000W inverter; you'll have 50-60 AH of usable energy before being discharged. Are you planning on a microwave or other power sucking device? Use fat short cables from the battery to the inverter. Are you planning on integrating a battery separator?


Quote:
Originally Posted by bemerritt

-Comfy bed for 2 (short term) - thinking of having this permanently set up to enable a thicker mattress
Thicker mattress is nice while sleeping but plan for sufficient headroom while sitting


Quote:
Originally Posted by bemerritt
-Popped top to add sleeping for four total - This is definitely long term and will most likely not happen for a while. When it does, it will definitely be diy.
SMB won't sell PH tops for DIY, but Colorado Camper Van Does. Plan on $6K-$8K or so depending on options.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bemerritt
Several things were mounted to the floor with nuts on the underside of the van. So i had the fun experience of having my wife help out getting those loose.
When I read this I got a great visual of your wife under the van with an angle grinder and safety goggles....


Quote:
Originally Posted by bemerritt
- Mount solar panel to the roof

I want to be able to remove the solar panel, so I think I will mount it with bolts through the roof. any problem with these mounts?

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NEZ ... 19FHI2Z5KL

would it be best to use silicon washers on the outside of the van to make the holes waterproof?
Those brackets should work fine....are they plated or stainless? If they are plated, they may rust. You can make brackets out of aluminum channel but for $10 why bother......

Mcmaster sells "sealing washers" with integral o-rings. One issue with rubber washers is that when you tighten up the bolted joint they sometimes wind up twisted and squished out of their happy place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bemerritt
- get the floors down (atleast plywood in the back


If I am not to worried about insulation, is it ok to use standard carpet padding under the new layer of plywood? I have some laying around, so i would like to use it if it isn't such a terrible idea.
Member JWA will advise against padding under the wood if it touches the floor. I imagine he will be around to tell you this shortly.....If you can keep the padding off of the metal you should be fine. I put "furring strips" under the plywood with carpet padding between the strips to keep the padding off of the netal:





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Old 06-03-2015, 10:00 AM   #18
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Re: Clifford - 1998 E350 Build

As 86Scotty said, the 8" mattress may be too thick when it comes to creating enough space underneath for storage and having enough space between the ceiling and your face. Since your van is a cargo, you "gain" a couple inches by not having the headliner, but it still may be a bit uncomfortable. Before you buy a mattress, I would figure out how much height you need to clear for your kitchen/storage in the rear.

I built a very simple sleeping platform for my passenger van and the top of the platform is 21" tall and I put a 4" Ikea foam mattress on top. That was enough room underneath to store large plastic bins for camping gear and gave enough room up top not feel claustrophobic. But I have the AC headliner up top, so that probably takes away 2-3 inches of space as well.
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Old 06-03-2015, 10:54 PM   #19
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Re: Clifford - 1998 E350 Build

Thanks for all of the tips guys. I did some thinking about it as I pulled out the plywood in the back and started cleaning the floor. I'll snap some pics tomorrow since it was too dark tonight.

- Holes in the floors -

Wasn't as bad as I thought. Maybe 40 some odd holes, but none look rusted. Range in size from 1/16" to the size of the quarter. I think I will go the silicone route just to be safe. Probably use some scrap material for the bigger ones just to be safe. Then paint over it? or paint then silicone?

Overall I was shocked how good the floor looked for 17 years old.

- Bedding -

I think you guys are right. 8" is massive haha. My cooler right now stands at 17" and my frame will be 2". Add the 1" plywood and 8" mattress and that brings the top of the bed just under the window indent. Doable, but I think we will stick to this 4.75" mattress.

http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Ge ... l#shipping

Worst case we slap a 2" on top if it isn't comfy enough, but I'm sure it will.

- Floor construction -

I think I will copy Hal's build and do .5" rigid insulation under .5" plywood. Aligned so the seams don't match up.

I want an industrial like floor that looks decent, affordable and easy to clean. This is what I think I will get.

http://www.overstock.com/Sports-Toys/Ru ... oduct.html

- Windows -

I agree those windows are too big. I feel fine cutting the middle support out, as it seems that is standard, but I do want to keep the height within the window "pocket"

Probably going with two of these:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/RV-Teardrop-Car ... c1&vxp=mtr

- Battery/inverter -

Just using what i have on hand now with the 100ah battery with 1000 watt inverter charged by a 100 watt panel. For now the inverter won't power anything other than a laptop and various other low power devices. Ultimately I will double all of that when I install refrigerator down the line. Not planning on a microwave. I will also eventually install an isolator.

Also, i will most likely have a 2000 watt generator mounted to something like this:



I will need the generator to setup camp at Burning man with some power tools. Will also add as a backup to charge the house batteries if the solar can't keep up.
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Old 06-04-2015, 01:12 AM   #20
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Re: Clifford - 1998 E350 Build

I know the curved CR Laurence windows are not cheap, but I wouldn't step over a dollar to pick up a dime here. If you found a window that you liked that was about 10-12" tall I thibnk you might get away with a flat plane window, but any taller I really think you'll want something curved. I could be wrong, but put a straight edge on the outside of your van and see what it looks like.

Great base rig to start with - should be a fun project!
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