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Old 06-18-2015, 04:49 PM   #1
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Help choosing a van...

Hey all, my name is Devin and this is my first post!

I'm dumbstruck at the community and ingenuity of those that participate on these boards. I have been drooling over the thought of building an adventure vehicle to travel and have found so much great info and so many awesome examples on this forum.

First and foremost, I must say that I am broke! I have been back and forth between NJ and SC working different jobs (law enforcement, farming, cooking) to find out what I want to do, which has led me to desire a lifestyle that will allow me to get up and go and to travel with ease. Between all the moving, I have little funds but I feel like I have the resources and resourcefulness to make up for a lack of funds.

So, my question is, what is the best route to take if I am looking for an inexpensive base van? All I am looking for is something dependable, affordable, and between $3k-$10k, regardless of mileage, body type, engine type, etc... The vehicle's main use would be a "mobile home" during the farming season and as a minimalist adventure vehicle during the off-season when I travel.

I apologize if this is a vague question, but I feel like I need to figure this part of the plan out before moving further. Thanks in advance to any who may help!
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Old 06-18-2015, 05:24 PM   #2
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Re: Help choosing a van...

Welcome... take a look at this one: viewtopic.php?f=34&t=16382
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Old 06-18-2015, 05:45 PM   #3
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Re: Help choosing a van...

Wow that looks like a steal...a bit too far for me to check out though but thanks!
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Old 06-18-2015, 05:58 PM   #4
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Re: Help choosing a van...

As a point of referene, our 1989 2WD Ford E150 with Sportsmobile conversion cost of $5,000 about four years ago. We spent six months looking at Craigslist and other sources before we found what we were looking for. Add 4x4 and the price increases dramatically. Youmay be able to find an older contractors van with 4x4 in your price range and do the conversion yourself.

Good luck with the project.
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Old 06-19-2015, 04:25 AM   #5
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Re: Help choosing a van...

Just a few random thoughts..............

-First priority should be finding a solid, good condition van that's been well maintained and/or has maintenance records. Extensive repairs up front just to have one dependable trust-worthy vehicle can not only temporarily bankrupt you but make this whole experience seem totally not worth it.

Spending upwards of $10K on just the van would get a very, very nice later model bare cargo van with lower miles, perhaps one that was well maintained.

-Minimalist builds that include some insulation, a decent plywood floor, interior lighting for overnight sleeping done right the first time can form the foundation for later additions or modifications as you better define and adjust how your van will be used.

IF you can find something already complete like Larrie that's a huge step forward but as he mentions it can take a while before finding "the one" that's right for you, and fits the budget too. Sometimes one of these would require a bit of repair, perhaps nothing immediately but needing eventual attention.

Lots of ways to go about this, no doubt more than a few different opinions what the best path might be. Most of your choice will depend on your use and bare minimum needs. I'm not all that experienced on buying a completed Sportsmobile so perhaps I approach this differently---just sharing how I'd go about beginning such a project.
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Old 06-19-2015, 04:34 AM   #6
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Re: Help choosing a van...

Good stuff, thanks yall. What gets me mixed up is that I see on some posts some members advise (for example, I don't know if this is correct or not) to go for the 6.0 version vs the 7.3 or something along those lines, or to avoid a certain year and model due to how easily it rusts. So much info I think I just need to start taking notes haha
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Old 06-19-2015, 10:04 AM   #7
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Re: Help choosing a van...

You can find some deals out there, you just have to take the time and be patient.

We are in the same financial situation, very limited at this time. We found our van for $3800 and have a minimal conversion going thus far. We have about $5000 invested at this point and it's camping ready.

Check it out here: viewtopic.php?f=24&t=15938

We were not interested in diesel for many reasons. Mainly because I'm not experienced with diesel engines at all so didn't want to start with that base. We went with the 5.4L gas and very happy with that so far. We were able to find a van with an extended roof already installed and that has been a great value for us. We also choose a window van vs. the cargo, mainly so my wife would drive it. But it does provide some cost and time savings upfront because you don't have to install any windows.

Lots of good options out there. For your use it sounds like you'd be happy with a regular body cargo van and go from there.

Good luck!
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Old 06-19-2015, 08:55 PM   #8
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Re: Help choosing a van...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jboles
You can find some deals out there, you just have to take the time and be patient.

We also choose a window van vs. the cargo, mainly so my wife would drive it. But it does provide some cost and time savings upfront because you don't have to install any...

Good luck!
Thanks for the advice! That's a good way to look at things and narrow down my search.
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Old 06-21-2015, 02:30 AM   #9
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Re: Help choosing a van...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DerbinPoison
Good stuff, thanks yall. What gets me mixed up is that I see on some posts some members advise (for example, I don't know if this is correct or not) to go for the 6.0 version vs the 7.3 or something along those lines, or to avoid a certain year and model due to how easily it rusts. So much info I think I just need to start taking notes haha
You've got that backwards, if you're looking at diesels, ford was using the tried and true, long running 7.3L diesel in the vans up to '03, then came the 6.0L because of stricter emissions, it had its fair share of problems, especially when shoehorned in the vans, it's problems are well documented here on the forum and on other sites. If you're trying to avoid added maintenance costs, it's probably best to stay away from the 6.0, as it will cost you well into the thousands just to make it a reliable ride. Many have sought out the 7.3 for that reason, including me, but they are becoming harder to find. My advice as well would be to find a clean cargo with the 5.4L gas V8 and go from there with your build. The V10 gas is another option but a thirsty beast.....
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Old 07-05-2015, 10:34 AM   #10
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Re: Help choosing a van...

I'll try to give you some personal advice.
Diesel vs gas I don't believe there is any comparison, diesel will give you more miles per gallon and has a slightly higher perceived operating costs but when you in factor in all the miles that you'll be getting out of it, I think it's a little bit less than people think.
Try to aim for the extended body van because of the additional space you will have, when staying in the van for a few days are longer you will very much appreciate it. A high top fixed or operational I would think is a must if you also plan on staying in it for a few days or longer.
Setting up the interior of a van, the cost can vary. You could find a lot of free things on Craigslist or by shopping around at job sites and talking to managers to see what supplies they don't need. Obviously something you're gonna have to buy at full price and those are things that usually most people in need of. Since you said New Jersey and South Carolina you'll be needing insulation. Don't fool yourself into thinking I heat it will overcome the cold it does but at a premium price. Insulate the rig as much as you possibly can. And since you're on the East Coast heat will be a problem as well so you going to want to put a exhaust fan on the roof. When I put mine in it drop the average temperature about 15 degrees, well worth the money spent.
Electricity is something you're gonna need for charging all your devices watching the TV or watching a movie before bed so I siggest a simple solar setup that's not tied into your starting battery K. I. S. S.
Running water is not needed in my opinion but would be fantastic to have if your budget allows. If not there are many ways to function without a fancy water setup.

The right van is out there for you just be willing to jump on it because as you know, Econoline vans are desired after.

Hopefully you understand I'm not talking about a 6.0 diesel, I'm talking about the 7.3. I've had a few of them, quite a few miles and have been very impressed with ease of maintenance reliability and fuel economy. Last week I had to do the water pump on it, a lot easier than I thought it would be.

My personal preference is a extended body 7.3 fixed high top... Just like my current one.
Good luck on your decision good luck on your search and welcome to the forum
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