Hello, I have been lurking on the forums for a good long while now and thought it was time I introduced myself. My name is Jeff and I love the outdoors. Specifically I love to climb, paddle, mountain bike, run and generally explore anywhere cell phones don’t work. I saw my first “outdoor” van 5 years ago on a month long trip through the west of the front range. We were living out of a ’98 4-runner and stumbled across a lifted 4wd E350 van in Jackson Hole. I had never seen anything like it and when the owners showed up I saw they had a bed and kitchen setup inside, along with a ton of outdoor gear. My mind was blown. From then on, buying a larger vehicle to outfit for backcountry adventure became a loosely batted around dream... until 3 months ago. Having met the most amazingly awesome lady in the world, who surprisingly enough thought buying a van and dumping a small fortune (or money and time) into it and then traveling the Americas was a great idea…I started searching for our new project.
Fast forward 1.5 years and I find this on ebay…
2009 E350 6.0L PSD with 90k miles, no reserve and low starting bid…she was mine. We were planning the build before the auction ended. After getting her home, we started gathering materials and the game was on…
DISCLAIMER: Our goals are to keep the build functional and economical. I have never done this before and am learning as I go but plan to do as much of the work myself as possible. She will not be quiet as pimped as some of the rigs on here...for now at least.
The next week I had a race to drive to so I pulled the walls and rigged up a bike mount. I even slept down by the river.
Once i was home we pulled the rest of the interior out and got started on the floor. I used painters paper to make templates and then a jig saw to cut the 0.5 inch plywood.
My trusty assistant then sanded and finished the pieces.
We used reflectix insulation on all the amenable surfaces and fiberglass insulation to fill any voids. The walls were cut from 1/4inch plywood and attached to a 1x4 that was glued/screwed into the wall.
Next we started on the bed. We decided that the van had to be able to store bikes inside since we would be leaving her at trail heads for weeks at a time and didn't want them to be exposed to the elements anyway so we planned out an elevated twin bed with bike storage behind it. The van also came with a rear AC that I didn't want to get rid of so we decided to reroute the airflow.
We also needed a rear seat so I built a bench with under seat storage (still a work in progress).
The post makes it look like this happened overnight but in reality this has taken 2 months. I also painted to the wheels black, snagged some racks off ebay and bolted up an ARB awning. With the van now usable we took out first trip (Pics to come).
I have also installed a new head unit and backup camera and a coolant filter.
There is a lot in the works and this site has been amazingly helpful so far. My next projects are:
1) house power (going in now)
2) 2inch lift and AT tires (we are in upstate new york) - hoping to get an E-locker with 3.73 gears shortly there after.
3) closet and kitchen
4) passenger swivel seat
We have a ton more to do, it should be one hell of a journey!!