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Old 01-29-2014, 07:34 AM   #1
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Location: Fresno, CA / Dayton, OH
Posts: 202
E150 for ground build

I have been looking for a base model to do a first time ground build. For a whole host of reasons, mostly based on my location, I have been having a difficult time finding a decent used Ford van to purchase. Traveling long distance for a van is not an option for me. I am not opposed to Chevys but I donít know as much about them.

I am looking for an older one so I wonít be too traumatized if I end up messing anything up. I also want to keep the cost down. This build is a going to be a light, poor-manís build. If it works out, I can use it for a few years and do a more intense build down the road.

So the one I am currently considering is a bit low on the scale. It is a 1999 E150 V8. I know later on the 150s got beefed up, but this van is from before that. It seems in great shape, good mileage and well maintained. Has the barn doors, which are hard to find around here and are important to me. I would much rather get a 250/350, but I am wondering if this might be able to handle what I am planning.

First, I have zero interest in 4x4 or off-roading. The van will be used for weekend, spontaneous trips to the coast, Big Sur, Yosemite, all on paved roads. There will be hills though, and Iím hoping to hit Yosemite in the winter so snow will be a factor occasionally too. Once or twice a year it will go 2/3 cross country and back. Again, there will be hills, as one route goes through Aspen.

Second, the build will be fairly light. I am looking to have the following mods:
Hard, bubble top
Upgraded seats to captainís seats
Platform bed or homemade dinette
Galley cabinet with icebox and sink
Fresh water in 5 gal container under sink
Grey water to another 6 gal container under sink
Portable butane stove
Second cabinet to hold small porta potti, Mr Heater, and 1 lb propane tanks
Of course, insulation, wall panels, floor
A bunch of small things that wonít really add much weight.

Based on these factors, would you think the older E150 V8 could be a strong enough option? I know those get used for conversion vans, and I donít think my build will be much more than that, but some of you know the performance realities better than me.

Any input or thoughts are appreciated! Thanks.

This is the ad for the van:

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Old 01-29-2014, 07:45 AM   #2
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Location: TN
Posts: 9,340
Re: E150 for ground build

I think you'll be fine. Fleets overload these vans constantly and they do ok. Just put good tires on it and check the pressure often as well as keeping up with other general maintenance and you'll probably never have to worry about a thing.

Is it a 4.6 or 5.4 V8? My vote would be for the latter. Also, I would look for one with power windows, locks, cruise etc. (in other words, an XLT trim) since you'll be traveling a lot in it, but you may not care.

Good luck!



2010 Chevy AWD home build
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Old 01-29-2014, 08:13 AM   #3
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Re: E150 for ground build

I also think you will be ok. Look at Accrete's build. His van has just about the same payload, and they ended up with a really nice build.
2000 E450 dually V10 wagon
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Old 01-29-2014, 08:28 AM   #4
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Re: E150 for ground build

For what you describe, I would hold out for a "Conversion Van" - many of which are E150 based and overlooked by many buyers. I see great deals on these often and the will have features that would cost a lot more to add later, like the top you want.

Here are just a few I found quickly:

Here is a GREAT DEAL!
Four time Baja 1000 winner, four time Baja 500 winner. Solo'ed the Baja 1000 to LaPaz/Cabo twice.
4-Wheeling since 1972, Desert Racing since 1989.
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Old 01-29-2014, 07:15 PM   #5
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Location: Fresno, CA / Dayton, OH
Posts: 202
Re: E150 for ground build

Thanks everyone for the replies. That information is great to know.

I was jazzed about and did check out conversion vans for a while. I test drove one, but realized the raised roof was still too short to stand in. Plus, all the wood accents felt a little claustrophobic to me. I probably would end up stripping the interior anyway, and by that point might as well put a taller roof on with windows and a vent. Although I am still considering this in a pinch.

Thanks again.
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