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Old 12-23-2020, 08:55 AM   #1
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Help choosing between 2 vans for my build.

Hello all, new to here and seeking some advice.
I purchased a 1994 coachmen 19RB for SUPER cheap...like really really cheap. The reason is prior owner somehow caught the passenger side battery on fire which took out blower assemblies, ac components, wiring, windshield. Fortunately it was extinguished before any fire got the cabin.
So...my plan is to transplant the high roof, and whatever RV components I see fit into another van. Eventually 4x4, Sportsmobile/rvíish build.
So Iím stuck buying an extended model van pre facelift (2007 and older ) so the roof fits.
Iíve been searching for a while and Iím about to pull the trigger on one. Iím debating between a low mileage (125k) 2006 E250 or a mid/high mileage (280k) 2001 E350 7.3PSD.
The gasser needs a tune up, has a skip likely plugs, wires, ignition at some level. Needs a new serpentine belt and maybe a tensioner.
Diesel is supposedly pretty good running van. Just recently tracked down a misfire to a bad injector and was replaced. It does still have a random misfire when it hits a bump in the road or corners hard ( possibly wiring for injectors, maybe worse, who knows.) Also, has been having D light flash ďsometimesĒ. Transmission was replaced by Ford at some point, it has a reman sticker on the trans. Service records...unknown.

So In short...am I going to be miserably slow and underpowered with the gasser 4.6 after loading it down and 4x4 bigger tires etc? This one is attractive because of condition and low miles.
Is this diesel one a better choice for such a build because of hp and torque? This one worries me a bit with the higher mileage and some gremlins with its operation, and do NOT want to get a van that I spend up resources just to get it to a reliable status. Afraid with ďDĒ light the trans may be giving up, owner hasnít offered any info after asking multiple times on what the code is...which also concerns me.

Any opinions and advice welcome.

Iím a newbie to Ford vans, but I am a mechanic. I have been an auto tech, now commercial aircraft mechanic. Built multiple Land Cruisers, car engines, Diesel engines, jet engines, tractor engines etc... so in terms of being mechanical savy being a factor on either choice Iím not too concerned. I just donít want to have a terribly underpowered van when all is said and done. Nor do I want to buy a diesel that turns into a can of worms.

Iím pretty close to buying the 4.6 gasser unless Iím talked out of it here.
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Old 12-23-2020, 09:04 AM   #2
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If your plan is go to 4x4 with a full RV build out I would definitely go with the 7.3 diesel over the 4.6 gasser. Full disclosure here, I have owned two 7.3 diesels and I am a huge fan so I am definitely biased. I do think with a full buildout and high top a 4.6 will feel underpowered.

Just curious why are your only options these two vans? There are loads of E-series vans out there. Find it hard to imagine you can't find a nice 5.4 gasser that would be suitable.

Lastly are you sure you need a pre 2007 for everything to fit? I am not sure all that much changed on the roof lines on the 08 and up models. Some other members here may be able to shed more light on that.
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Old 12-23-2020, 10:32 AM   #3
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Just curious why are your only options these two vans? There are loads of E-series vans out there. Find it hard to imagine you can't find a nice 5.4 gasser that would be suitable.

Lastly are you sure you need a pre 2007 for everything to fit? I am not sure all that much changed on the roof lines on the 08 and up models. Some other members here may be able to shed more light on that.
Itís been very challenging finding extended models of any sort here in Georgia, but especially 7.3PSDís.

As for the roof, 2008 and later had slightly different lengths from what I have gathered. If someone here could factually dismiss that, it would really open up some options.
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Old 12-23-2020, 02:42 PM   #4
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Personally I wouldn't even consider the 4.6 for a build (especially if you were adding weight and increasing tire size), just not enough power. I would even venture to say a good majority of those seeking a Van probably feel the same - in the long run, this could/would limit your audience for a future sale if/when it comes to that. Cant go wrong with the 7.3
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Old 12-23-2020, 02:49 PM   #5
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Gotcha, yeah the more I’ve been researching and these replies have landed me in passing up this 4.6 I found.
Now I’m just debating if I want to get this 7.3 that seems to have some issues that will need to be sorted...on top of being at nearly 300k miles. But, then again I know these motors can last 500k and beyond with proper care. I just hope It’s not a case where I’ll inherit the costly maintenance the other guy hasn’t done.
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Old 12-23-2020, 03:33 PM   #6
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Cant go wrong with the 7.3
Lol I've seen plenty go wrong with the 7.3 PSD. Mostly in the form of pumping tons of money into maintenance. Fun to say what you said but let's be realistic. It is an expensive knuckle busting engine when it needs work done to it.

Any of the Econoline engines can go to 500k miles. I see them all the time at the junk yard. You don't see too many 7.3 PSD there but part of that is rarity and value not just reliability.
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Old 12-23-2020, 04:24 PM   #7
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The comment "cant go wrong with the 7.3" was intended as a validation between the choices the OP presented...complimented by the reputation (deserving or not) which saturates public opinion of that motor (the "500K motor). So YES, the 7.3 will attract more potential buyers than a 4.6 regardless of maintenance costs.
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Old 12-23-2020, 05:48 PM   #8
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I get it. Giving you grief thats all and offering up knowledge that it is still notably expensive
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