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Old 06-05-2015, 05:27 PM   #1
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Colorado E350 Gray Vhale Build Thread

Greetings!

First off, thank you everyone for all of the great feedback and encouragement you provide for each other and previous lurkers like myself. I'll be cross-posting on Expo as well. JWA - as you'll see in another post, I need to thank you for your guidance in window installation. Cheers!

We were initially dead set on a 3/4 or 1 ton truck with a FWC Hawk out back…then we were positive we wanted a Sprinter. As the build progresses you'll see what kinds of features we prioritized. Wife and I are in our late 30's, we have a 3 year old son, and a mid-sized pooch. We live on Colorado's Front Range and we are both teachers so we've got summer's off together. We are really lucky to make this happen and at the same time it feels risky, but we've made ourselves feel better by saying, "We have 3 months of the year off of work together, we can't NOT make this happen!"

It's a 2010 RB Cargo with the V10...I felt we'd need it with the amount of driving I do with 3-4 mountain bikes on the hitch rack cruising up in to the mountains. Had to have it shipped from Long Island. The dealer said the engine was "clean enough to eat a meatball off of." That pretty much sold me - kidding, I had a mechanic check it out and it looks to be in good shape. It's got 78k miles and looks really clean. Dealer said the previous owner was in the music recording business - they had bulkhead and the cargo area was finished with plywood and carpet as you'll see. We really didn't want white...silver works for us. Might get a matte black grille or plasti-dip it someday. Kiddo really likes animals and my wife immediately said that if I found a silver one it would be called the Gray Whale...so Gray Vhale it is!

When it showed up at our house though, the driver side door handle was stuck in the open position and wouldn't open the door - pretty sure the hamfisted truck driver did that thinking the door was unlocked. No biggie - I pulled the panel that afternoon and got things readjusted properly - it should stay fixed now.

Here is the van in the drive-way...the 4Runner in the scene is what this eventually replaces when it has a car seat in it.



These beauties are going in (kiddo turned the headrests around). The big box is a queen size futon that will go on a modular platform. This is the most contentious part of the build. I don't want it to fit but my wife says it has to fit...so it's going to fit. We lose a lot of "living area" with it, and it's going to make it a PITA to keep this the "transformer" build I had in my mind going into this, but it makes her happy so I'm going to be happy with it. She wants a super comfy place to crash for a nap with the kiddo in the afternoon while I'm out riding bikes. We can make that work!



A view of the interior with the bulk head and a random leftover shelf removed.





Took out the carpet covered 1/4" plywood to find this insulation work behind it. It was effective in the hot sun, but I'm going to try to do better. Doing some sound deadening and insulation will go like this: Dynamat Extreme patchwork throughout, Reflectix, 3M Thinsulate and then put back up most of the carpeted 1/4" plywood. We don't plan on building a lot of permanent cabinetry and most of the storage will be under the bed.



Dynamat Extreme



Took up this carpet and plywood to check for rust, then putting down BedRug VanRug.


iPod plugs in the stereo:wings:missed that for a few years with the 2006 4Runner - needs a new antenna.

:victory: thanks for reading! Any and all constructive criticism is welcomed!
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Old 06-05-2015, 10:00 PM   #2
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Re: Colorado E350 Gray Vhale Build Thread

Welcome to the forum. My wife and as a teacher and had summers off. She found teaching to be hard work but summers off make up for it. Good luck with the build.
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Old 06-06-2015, 07:46 AM   #3
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Re: Colorado E350 Gray Vhale Build Thread

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Old 06-06-2015, 07:58 AM   #4
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Re: Colorado E350 Gray Vhale Build Thread

Welcome! .....and keep the pictures coming......
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Old 06-10-2015, 08:22 AM   #5
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Insulation and Window Update

Lots of non-van related responsibilities as of late plus nearly 3 weeks of unusually rainy weather here on the front range slowed me down as well because I don't have a shop to work in. Moved through plenty of highs and lows too, with my comfort in taking on this task, but I think I should be able to make everything happen.

Here's my old Toyota pickup...the first vehicle in which I did my own honest to goodness solo road trip...about 3k miles up in to BC, down the west coast and across deserts back to the midwest. Daryl was it's name after the old guy I bought it from back in Iowa...an '81 with 60k miles was new to me in 2001. My middle name is Fred and I was a "truck patch" farmer. Man, I don't have any pictures of it but I had this six foot topper on it and used to haul my produce, and an Amish guy's produce and flowers to market in it. That truck did more work over the years than most trucks do in America these days. Those were the days. Then I just became a gardener, and now a middle school Biology teacher. When I went back to school to get my teaching degree I took a summer off for that trip. Put a Weber carb in it before I left and that little 22r ran like a top the whole time. Pretty sure I had to replace the slave cylinder in the clutch somewhere near SLC on separate trip though. Rust was its demise...it was taking over by the time I'd bought Daryl and with the time and money I had those days I was just putting bandaids on it. Decided to enter the modern world when i moved to Colorado for my first teaching job...I hear it's still on the road though!





I picked out this beauty before moving to Colorado...



But with a little one on the way we needed more doors so out with the new and in with the slightly older 4Runner



Aaaand....back to our regularly scheduled programming:

Started insulation with Reflectix and 3M Thinsulate. Using 3M double stick tape on the Reflectix and 3M spray adhesive for the Thinsulate.

Couldn't leave that much Thinsulate on the door panel...just wouldn't go on...but I left the Reflectix on and ended up cutting all but the top third of the Thinsulate off and stuffed it in to the empty spaces around the panel pockets and around the interior door handle to cut down on noise and cold infiltration.



Then I started cutting panels of Reflectix and sliding it in to every void I could find:

The rear pillars which hold the tail lights:





Between the two layers of the body, over the wheel wells...you can see my VanRug is down now...you can see some of the Thinsulate I started placing as a second layer in these voids:




Then I started stuffing Thinsulate in those places. It fits just snug enough to hold the Reflectix in place but not really be compressed - lots of airspace still present. I measured and cut the scrim with a utility blade and then did the final cut just through the Thinsulate with utility scissors. Then held up panels and found good places to cut them again so they would be workable sizes to be able to move into the spaces without too much struggle.





I guess I forgot to take an "after" photo of the Thinsulate above but I fit it neatly and maintained its shape between the two layers of metal.

Then it was time to start putting the "interior" layer of Reflectix down and another layer of Thinsulate will go on top between it and the interior panels.





WAIT!!! Where did that window come from? It's a C.R. LAURENCE VW21601L CRL T-Slider Window - Driver Side Forward 1992+ Ford Vans 44-1/4" x 22"

JWA over at the SMB forum gave me some pointers as did perusing a bunch of other threads here and there.

Stencil cut and placed.



Taped it off (here I'm almost finished cutting it out with a jigsaw).



Cut through both layers at once:



Then if you look back at the interior shots you can see how roughly I cut the interior whole bigger for the inner clamp ring using my cutoff wheel and hand shears. Not the cleanest but I got the job done:





I cut the hole too small initially and had to do some tedious resizing to get the window to easily fit. Used silicone sealant/adhesive as I couldn't find round butyl tape as narrow as recommended. Should hold up well...going to be a PITA to trim around the inside though - I left myself very little room to work with.

Another interior shot:



Window ruminations are...out the window! As you can see these tires won't fit under the van:



Chris from UJOR sent a crate my way and Greg at Greg's 4WD Extreme in Longmont, Co are going to help me with the conversion. Couldn't be more excited! 6" Stage 2 with ProComps on 35" BFG KO2's should get me around, ya think?!
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Old 06-10-2015, 08:38 AM   #6
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Re: Colorado E350 Gray Vhale Build Thread

love those old toyotas. i had an 88 sr5 v6 for 18 years. was a great truck. i hear its still rolling around, but have yet to spot it. my wife fell in love with my old truck before she even knew who i was. she had to leave when i was selling it. funny how we can get attached to things like that.

the van is looking good! i just installed that same window and we love it! look forward to seeing it a little higher in the air and some meaty tires underneath it!
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Old 06-10-2015, 08:27 PM   #7
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Re: Colorado E350 Gray Vhale Build Thread

You're not kidding about all the rain on the front range... It's getting old. I'm comtimplating solar, but recently I doubt it would do much good.

Are you in/near Denver?
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Old 06-10-2015, 10:10 PM   #8
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Re: Colorado E350 Gray Vhale Build Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2horsegarage
You're not kidding about all the rain on the front range... It's getting old. I'm comtimplating solar, but recently I doubt it would do much good.

Are you in/near Denver?
Ha! Possibly about the solar?!?! We are in Boulder and head straight up to the Peak to Peak when we are staying local but hoping this rig will give us more flexibility when heading further west. Any van meet-ups happening soon?
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Old 06-11-2015, 07:53 AM   #9
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Re: Colorado E350 Gray Vhale Build Thread

I'm not aware of any meet ups... But would love to meet some other folks. We are in North West Denver.
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Old 06-11-2015, 09:07 AM   #10
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Re: Colorado E350 Gray Vhale Build Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2horsegarage
I'm not aware of any meet ups... But would love to meet some other folks. We are in North West Denver.
REF was talking about setting something up, so I think you should harass him!
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