Hello everyone, I'm new to the forum. I'll have to say thanks to all the contributors and moderators for making this forum possible. What an excellent resource.
We recently (finally!) purchased a new to us van to build out for an adventure van to haul our family to rivers and mountains. We are located in Tennessee and we do a lot of weekend trips mostly to nearby whitewater rivers and creeks. We also wanted a van for longer cross country trips.
We bought a 2006 E350 XLT Super Duty with a high top. It was a wheel chair transportation van in it's previously life in Wisconsin, however we bought it via NC. I didn't discover this forum until after the purchase and we sort of feel into buying a van with a raised top, luck? We shall see, we think so. We knew we wanted an extended passenger and decided we wanted the Ford e-series with the 5.4L gas.
Here was a photo of the drive home after picking up the van near Asheville, NC.
The high top was installed by an outfit in Oklahoma that does these wheelchair vans. It has a stout steel roll cage between the headliner and the fiberglass top. With the roll cage we loose about 3-5" of head space inside the van. Not crazy about it but more on that later.
The van has 173,000 miles but mechanically seems well taken care of. The interior was dirty as all heck and has been smoked in. Needless to say it is currently getting a deep clean. Good thing I used to detail cars back in college.
Did I mention we are building this on a tight budget. We wanted to stay in the $4 to 6k range for the initial purchase and we got this van for $3,800. We feel like it was a fair price for the mileage but that's a lot of van for under $4k so we are happy with it so far.
We plan a simple build that will fit at least four passengers, we have a 2 year old and 70 pup that will be travel with use on most trips. At this point our basic plan is as follows: platform bed in the back with a permanent queen size bed with storage underneath. Two bucket seats or a double bench seat in front of the bed with a cabinet, fridge, storage behind the drivers seat back to the bed. A permanent bed is a must for us at this point. We want to make those weekend trips easy and not having to situate gear, move this, move that, unfold this, latch that, unfold the mattress, get the bleepin sags, etc. We just want to pull in the campground, put the kid to sleep and hit the bed - if needed. Anyway, more on the build later. Here are some more photos.
Shampooed the headliner trying to get the smoke smell out.
The license plate was riveted on so had to remove, drill them out and install my new plates.
I ordered a new OEM carpet from Fam Van Parts for a $100, $150 shipped. It's not the permanent set up we want but it was cheap and quick as we have a trip coming up in a couple weeks. It's plush and gets us by until we figure out our final build flooring. The plywood with rubber flooring on top of that which I've seen on the forum looks good and reasonably priced and easy to install.
Current set up
Will build a bed platform in the back soon as temporary measure for our upcoming week long trip. This will help us figure out what we need for a long term set up. I'm hoping to get it high enough to put our mtn bikes on fork mounts below, approx 32" clearance. The total ceiling height is about 60 to 62 inches. Will have to sacrifice head room while sleeping if we want that much storage.
First kayak trip to one of our local runs. Considering a rack on top eventually for whitewater boats. Not sure how that would work or about accessing. We shall see.
I'll try to post back when I can with updates on the build. I plan to keep it 2wd but will consider a posi-track or limited slip differential if I determine that would help with the conditions. I typically won't need 4wd as we mostly need clearance for rough putin roads but most the time 2wd is fine.
Well, I hope to hear any all feedback and input. I need all the help I can get.