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Old 04-23-2021, 07:57 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by VanHallen View Post
I think he's able to do the recesses / wheel wells

I'm not sure what Ford's commitment is to the E350 as for a bit it looked like it was going to be replaced and phased out with the Transit. However, since Ford added the V8 (in two models, a performance and economy version), perhaps the'll keep it around for a while.

Just for clarity, there is no need to design around the hump in the frame over the rear axle...with the normal frame mounting on our vans a flat floor rides above that hump.

Yes, wheel wells need to be factored in but that is very simple to design and build compared to getting the box mated to the cab and mounting the box to the frame.

And yes, I agree, I think Ford is going to keep the cutaway around for a long time. The Transit cannot take the weight of a big Class C so the only option is the E-series cutaway. And RVs have different emissions and fuel economy requirements, so the regulations that forced the phaseout of the E-Series vans don't apply.

Another sign of this is that Ford didn't make a 2020 model cutaway...they skipped that year to integrate the new 7.3 V8, give the face an update (new headlights/grill etc) and give it an entirely new electronics package. I'm sure it has to take years of sales to amortize those costs.
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Old 04-23-2021, 08:21 AM   #32
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I agree all of this is just personal opinion and would love to hear what Chris thinks about about mounting a composite box versus these other style of camper that have have more built in flex. He would be be able to see and know first hand the extent the e350 Cutaway Chassis flexes after a 6inch lifted 4x4 conversion. Frankly, it would be great if he and Andreas (Total Composite) could simply to a mounting and flex tests to determine if a direct mount, modified direct mount with springs or some sort of subframe are needed? I suspect there would be enough of a market to make the R&D worthwhile. An e350 Chassis could then be ordered, drop shipped, converted with box added, and then titled as a road legal vehicle. Later after the box is built out, it could be retitled as an RV.
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Old 04-23-2021, 09:05 AM   #33
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Pop tops make so much sense...big proponent here! When up, they make the space so much more livable in terms of light, visibility, ventilation and added sleeping....all plusses when in a small space. .
Yes, there are some big benefits, but for me pop-tops are a no-go. I live in GA and with our rain and humidity there would forever be mold and eventual rot on the fabric. Hardtops for me.
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Old 04-23-2021, 09:25 AM   #34
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Personally though, these days I'm seeing more merit in one on a F series (or other make) pick up cab chassis that has the simplicity and affordability of factory 4wd.

When you add up TC box plus E350 chassis cab plus 4wd conversion plus pop top of some make things get really expensive before you even start on the interior.

A factory 4wd chassis cab seems like it would be cheaper than E series chassis cab plus 4wd conversion but I haven't priced it out.

Then the compromise becomes no flat floor and floor mounted van seats (which I personally love) and not as easy a pass thru.
Agree...there is certainly benefits to a truck setup...but here are my thoughts:

When I measured and compared my E350 to my friends F350, from the front of the bumper to the back of the front door the F350 was 2' longer. That means for a given length of vehicle I can have a 2' longer box...that is roughly 91sqf more internal space.

I don't think of it as a passthrough...in a van the cab is can essentially 100% be usable as part fo the daily living area. I can use the spin the seats for easy use and now turned my driving area into a living area...plus I can use the dash or floorboard for storage and whatever is there is only an arms reach away...not crawling through a hole like a tunnel rat.

The seating position in a Van chassis is much taller than with a truck...this gives a much better view of the traffic ahead and the would around you. In my van I can see the ground 4' closer vs when in my truck. That is significant when in traffic and amazing when wondering off pavement.

If we stay with building a box onto a cutaway vs building a box on a factory 4x4 truck chassis I'm convinced there is a cost difference. Roughly, a new F350 with decent options is around $60K. The E-350 cutaway with the good options will be $38K. Add $20K for a 4x4 conversion to the van and you roughly the same price....again, assuming both need the same box.
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Old 04-23-2021, 09:43 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by VanHallen View Post
I agree all of this is just personal opinion and would love to hear what Chris thinks about about mounting a composite box versus these other style of camper that have have more built in flex. He would be be able to see and know first hand the extent the e350 Cutaway Chassis flexes after a 6inch lifted 4x4 conversion. .
Context is key. I think it is fair to say that Chris builds the most off-road capable vans of any of the high volume conversion shops. I don't know how many people actually get a U-Joint conversion because they need those enhanced capabilities or because they look super cool and U-Joint is really the ONLY shop on the east coast. I suspect the later two.

My point is that most people don't do extreme enough off-roading where flex is a major concern.

Yes, I think it would be great if there was some combined effort to make this a feasible business but both companies have business to run and I think the market is too small to warrant the time.

Plus, Chris is building his cutaway to replace "V4" (https://www.facebook.com/ujointoffro...9727161732222/) so having a versatile flatbed, that is off-road capable and serves as an excellent billboard for his company are likely the drivers for the project...not building an integrated cab/box camper.

I've been to his shop a few times, and have seen the amazing craftsmanship of his team which is why if I do this project I'll have him build a low flatbed on the frame rails to which I'll mount the box.
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Old 04-23-2021, 01:13 PM   #36
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My point is that most people don't do extreme enough off-roading where flex is a major concern.

Yes, I think it would be great if there was some combined effort to make this a feasible business but both companies have business to run and I think the market is too small to warrant the time.

Plus, Chris is building his cutaway to replace "V4" (https://www.facebook.com/ujointoffro...9727161732222/) so having a versatile flatbed, that is off-road capable and serves as an excellent billboard for his company are likely the drivers for the project...not building an integrated cab/box camper.

I've been to his shop a few times, and have seen the amazing craftsmanship of his team which is why if I do this project I'll have him build a low flat on the frame rails to which I'll mount the box.
Hmmm, I can't imagine going through a 25K UJOR 4x4 conversion and not taking it off road where flex wouldn't be noticeable. I can see not wanting to rock crawl with with a full size vehicle but expecting to encounter some heavily rutted or washed out sections should definitely be on the table. Someone investing in an e350 Chassis plus the 4x4 conversion would likely not go an add a box or camper if they knew that would be the fail point. The main purpose would be to get out there a little further and stay there a little longer, right? Otherwise the transit, Sprinter or truck camper would be just fine.

I agree it would be a rather niche market with those interested in something like this would be SMB Classic, Earth Cruiser, and GXV Adventure truck enthusiasts on more of a budget and willing to complete the interior on their own. Many Four Wheel Camper owners have opted for a shell over a built camper to get exactly what they like with a budget they can afford.

UJOR or similar 4x4 conversion company is in the best position to know the flex of the e350 Chassis with a 4x4 conversion and likely has all of the skill sets to figure out the best mounting options. In the case of UJOR, it would be a natural extension of their business to offer a box mounting solution as an option, not that different than adding bumpers, or roof racks which are obviously different than their core focus around 4x4 conversion / suspension. Of course they don't have to do this if they don't want to. I just happen to think there is a real opportunity and enough of a market for both UJOR and Total Composites to figure this out. With a few examples out there, I bet people with dedicated flatbed campers would take serious look at this set up too. I just think a lot of people lost site of the e350 when Ford just went to the Chassis and then Vanlife took off where Sprinters, Promasters, and Transits filled the void. Now that composite boxes are being made available to mortals thanks to Total Composites, a chassis van becomes a great option, especially one with guts and 4x4 legs But until someone with the skills and expertise puts one together it's hard to really convey the real potential.

If you move forward with your project, I'd love to see what you decide and how it turns out. I'm very interested in finding some sort of workable solution.
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Old 04-23-2021, 02:18 PM   #37
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Hmmm, I can't imagine going through a 25K UJOR 4x4 conversion and not taking it off road where flex wouldn't be noticeable. I can see not wanting to rock crawl with with a full size vehicle but expecting to encounter some heavily rutted or washed out sections should definitely be on the table. Someone investing in an e350 Chassis plus the 4x4 conversion would likely not go an add a box or camper if they knew that would be the fail point. The main purpose would be to get out there a little further and stay there a little longer, right? Otherwise the transit, Sprinter or truck camper would be just fine.

If you move forward with your project, I'd love to see what you decide and how it turns out. I'm very interested in finding some sort of workable solution.
In and around Atlanta I probably see 10+ lifted Jeeps per day...all with 35-37" tires, aftermarket bumpers, winches, roll bars etc...and ALL are spotless. I'm out in the woods almost every weekend and I hardly ever see any of these street queens on even the closest forest service roads. So, I personally can believe that many people will spend big $$ on making a vehicle look cool with no intension of using them to their fullest.

Maybe it is different where you live...and if so that is awesome. I'd rather see a bunch of beat up and dirty vehicles from use than the street queens that I most see around here.

Context is key and here in the south east the biggest limiting factor with taking a big vehicle off-road is the trees/branches. The rough roads around here are often overgrown with trees and branches that will stop a big vehicle from passing well before vehicle flex becomes an issue.

Further adding to MY context is that I ride motorcycles...everywhere and all the time. I go camping to go dirt riding. I use my van simply as a way to get my bikes to a remote camping spot and then it literally is my basecamp, parked and unmoved until I am ready to go home. I said it before that I'm way more concerned about being stuck in a wet grassy field than anywhere else.

Either way, I do love this conversation, this has been great to understand different thoughts and objectives. I'll make a note to talk with U-Joint team about any issues they may or may not be seeing in the big class C rigs they are regularly converting.

And yes, I'll keep this forum updated on any progress I make...and I hope everybody else does the same. I likely won't be making any progress until the fall/winter.

Oh, and I'm going to swing by GEV in person this summer to talk to them doing a DIY box for me - https://www.globalxvehicles.com/diy.html


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Old 04-23-2021, 03:03 PM   #38
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In and around Atlanta I probably see 10+ lifted Jeeps per day...all with 35-37" tires, aftermarket bumpers, winches, roll bars etc...and ALL are spotless.
FJefman, Would love know what you discover and decide!

I know people overbuild vehicles and never use them to their fullest potential, especially with jeeps. I do somehow think it's a bit different when it comes to doing a 4x4 van conversion and then adding a box to it, especially as Sportsmobiles have been around for decades. There are many who use these in the way they were designed.

A lot of what UJOR seems to do is the conversion work that the customer then takes to Sportsmobile or some other upfitter to complete the interior. In one video (December 2018, I think), they did one with Spartan FRP Cargo box and the guy went on to do an amazing DIY build. Chris indicated they would be interested in doing more like that, so I thought this might be an even better fit. Maybe UJOR has a larger Mall Crawler clientele than I imaged? I would hope if there were a few people with initial interest there would be enough upside to do a few flex and mounting option tests.

I live in Utah with all sorts of amazing terrain, and have aspirations of Baja and Alaska with this next build while doing some of the Western State BDRs with this. Fullsize and Expedition Vehicles can do well here and can quickly find their limits. Like you, a van can serve as a weekend basecamp as it can tow jeeps & trailers or it can be well suited for much longer trips across varied terrain and weather conditions. This is why it's a worthwhile pursuit, imo.

Stopping by GXV / Adventure truck division would be worthwhile. I know their panels are thicker and heavier but likely have the expertise to make something like this possible. Earth Cruiser and their Core group would be another shop with relevant expertise and they are partners with Total Composites. Neither of these companies have formally worked with the e350 Chassis and I'm sure have their reasons. But again, I think that is mostly due to the signal Ford sent when discontinuing the van in 2014 but it may look very different now with the V8 / 6spd and awesome 4x4 conversions going on...here's to hoping
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Old 04-23-2021, 03:49 PM   #39
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Current concept attached.
138" SRW chassis.
Box interior dimensions: 3000 long x 2045 wide x 1950 high
Still some tweaking to be done.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Ford E350 Composite Camper Concept.pdf (38.0 KB, 39 views)
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Old 04-23-2021, 04:16 PM   #40
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Current concept attached.
138" SRW chassis.
Box interior dimensions: 3000 long x 2045 wide x 1950 high
Still some tweaking to be done.
Very nice. If you haven't decided on windows, and doors, yet take at look at these dual pane acrylic awning windows.

https://www.ternoverland.com/arctic-tern-window

Herb
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