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Old 04-25-2021, 09:36 AM   #51
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Very interested in something like this. The market needs a e350 option with a box/camper shell that you can stand in without popping. Interior height of 6’4”
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Old 04-25-2021, 10:05 AM   #52
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These are great ideas and something worth pursuing. I'm still set on a popup as it's more aligned with the advantages a e350 provides over the other platform. With it's 138in wheelbase, 4x4 conversion options that can actually reduce the turning radius and great after market bumpers where the approach and departure angles are improved, I would want to keep the box light and compact for tighter conditions, driving in highwinds like we get all the time in the west, and getting under branches and rock ledges like on the white rim trail. Keeping it light and capable, is better in sandy conditions, too. I've always liked the popups for the light, ventilation and and extra space, sleeping if you need it. That said, it still needs to be functional with the top down for quick stops and really bad weather. I do think if one type of box can be mounted, then other type could be quite easily, too. The composite boxes are particularly interesting as they tend to be a lighter weight solution that's well insulated, great for hot summers and cold climates. I'd love to see a fully functional box on the e350 come in around 8500lbs, lighter that fullsize truck campers.
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Old 04-25-2021, 11:40 AM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BroncoHauler View Post
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
Lots of Arctic Tern windows on order from Expedition Upfitter (Total Composites retail arm), the Canadian distributor for Tern.
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Old 04-25-2021, 11:50 AM   #54
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Originally Posted by eddyturn View Post
Calgary... just what I was thinking about with the 7.3 V8 which would be an awesome vehicle. Thinking like the old emergency response vans built for Red Cross. Maybe a fairing over the cab that could be integrated for additional storage.
A kickover extending over the cab was considered. Two reasons we aren't going that way.

First reason is a silly personal preference: when I sketched it out, I thought that it made the unit look too much like an RV; don't want it looking like a UHaul or an RV.

Second, I have found that during extended trips (i.e. multi week or months), I eventually have something wet, smelly, or both that I need to carry along, and it is great having that outdoor cargo spot. Coming from a Vanagon Syncro Westy, I know that I use that luggage spot quite often.

But, a kickover does definitely add some nice interior storage without affecting overall vehicle dimensions.

All comes down to personal uses and priortities.
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Old 04-25-2021, 11:58 AM   #55
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Originally Posted by Blowby View Post
Great concept,looks good!What are you thinking for internal amenities?
Interior would be relatively simple.
U-shaped sitting area with table in the rear.
Cabinet with propane stove/oven and DC compressor fridge in front of that along the driver's side. Cupboard for light items above that.
Cabinet with sink (cold water only) and overhead cupboard on passenger side.

A double bed above the rear sitting area.
When travelling, the bed would be in the lower position, and keyed into the seat backs to prevent movement.
Dogs would travel under the bed with a gate to keep them contained.

When stopped, the bed goes up, freeing up the sitting area.
At night the bed comes down, always made and ready to use.
And the dogs go back underneath for the night.

Not having to make up the bed each night, and having a good place for the dogs were key design parameters.
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Old 04-25-2021, 12:29 PM   #56
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The great thing about a custom design is that everyone has different needs and wants depending on how and where they travel and personal preferences. No right answer that fits everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fjefman View Post
Oohh...drawings, now this is getting really fun. I'm a pretty skilled fabricator but my drawing skills are crayon level.

Here are my general ideas on design.

1. I want storage above the cab. I have it now and LOVE it. Adding an overhang doesn't increase the footprint of the vehicle at all and adds lots of storage.
Storage over the cab is so useful and efficient, but for us, having outdoor storage for wet, smelly, dirty things has proven to be more important.

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Originally Posted by fjefman View Post

2. I like the internal stairs like what @geoffff has shown. I'm all about simple setup and don't want any fold out stairs. I like this on my current van and will build it into my new one.
I played around with that, but will likely go with a single internal step plus pullout (not folding) stairs. With a 4wd conversion, 6" lift and 35" tires, the bottom of the cab sill will be around 23" off the ground. Don't want any of the box hanging lower than this. Add at least 1" for some structural support and that lower step is at least 24" high. At some of the remote places I camp, it is not unusual to need 3 inches of blocks to level things out. This would make the bottom step 27". This gets tiring after multiple days or long day hikes.

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Originally Posted by fjefman View Post
3. I'll be going with the 158WB dually...mainly for the extra 20" of space between the axles and still have a short R overhang - I almost always have a motorcycle on a rear hitch carrier so that adds about 30" of length.
Currently have a Vanagon Syncro Westy so even the 138" wheelbase with a 10 foot box seems huge!

Quote:
Originally Posted by fjefman View Post
4. I really really like my double side doors and double rear doors. When I open them all up I feel very connected with the outdoors.
5. I want windows all around...again, similar to what @geoffff has drawn out. I want to see the outdoors all the time and feel like I'm in it.
Exactly! A van with the rear hatch (doors) and slider open is so wide open. We are adding as many windows as will fit so the box is as airy as possible. And going with a Tern Wildlands door that is 24.25" wide instead of their better insulated Euro door that is only 21" wide. It is only an extra 3", but every little bit helps.
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Old 04-25-2021, 11:29 PM   #57
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Thread is getting fun. Love those renderings Geoff!

Quote:
Originally Posted by fjefman View Post
Maybe I'm just ignorant/stupid, but I don't think there is too much need to worry about flex/3 point/4 point mounting with an e-series chassis.

My rational for this is that there are tens of thousands of campers on the road today with very simply box to chassis mounting..and thousands more being built every year. Many of them are built out of wood and AL siding, some with thick fiberglass side panels, slide outs, etc. Some fo these have ~25' boxes with more than 4" of overhang over the rear axle. And, almost all of them are cheaply built with little thought matching flex characteristics to the chassis/cab.

Go to any camper lot and crawl under a few of them and you will see how little thought when into design, construction techniques, flex/mounting, stability etc. Sure, they aren't made for "off-road" use but some do light off-road and hit a curb or three on every trip and they don't have catastrophic failure.

Mine will certainly be more off-road capable, but I'll be going super slow and there is only so much rough stuff I can get to before the I just can't fit 10' tall, 7' wide, 12,000lb vehicle.

Also, the chassis is designed to have a full one piece cab/box on the back (van body) that just rests on normal rubber body mounts so full box or c-frame doesn't matter, it isn't designed for serious flex. See Fuso for an example of a chassis designed for flex.

So, when I keep in mind that whatever I build will be smaller (13' box), stronger and more durable than 99% of the Class B+/Class C campers out there I think I'll be just fine with my plan.

Am I wrong for thinking this?

Jeff
Take a ride in a ClassC E350 RV that's had a lot of off-pavement (not even talking off-road) miles. Hear all those noises? That's the cabinetry falling apart. Heck, E350 SMB vans do this after off-pavement/off-road miles due to their lower quality construction. And sadly even a brand new Winnebago Revel (Mercedes Sprinter) does it new off the lot!

So yes, you're right that these are cheaply built without much thought having been put into engineering/design for true off-pavement use. That's because they're mainly meant for pavement, and the RV companies spit them out as fast as they can. So it doesn't mean that if you're going to take such a rig off-pavement/off-road, that it'd be optimal to follow suit with the same design/construction.

A chassis-cab with a box att'd to it is very different in terms of flex (2 separate units in different planes at times) than a solid E350 van body.

Andreas at TC (just like Andreas at Boxmanufaktur, Lance at Earthcruiser, etc) use a torsion-free("sprung") subframe that sits between the chassis-cab frame and the cabin/module.
\
And they'll tell you it does matter if you have an already fully boxed frame (Ford pickup) or open c-channel frame (Ford chassis-cab). They won't install one of their composite cabins onto an open c-channel frame without the custom subframe between frame and cabin.

Not trying to discourage anyone with this, but BTDT in terms of adding up all the costs...a high quality subframe, from a company who knows what they're doing (like Quade at Northwest Overland Truck) will run you ~$7500 installed. Add in ~$20-25k minimum for a TC or BM composite cabin with 90deg corners (angled corners or alcove extra $)--that's not including the actual Dometic/Seitz, Tern Overland or Outbound windows or roof hatch, so add thousands $ or more. Plus then either assembly or shipping, and then install. Then unless you're doing the interior build yourself, a pro interior with high quality components is going to be $40-80k easy. Then $20k-25k for a 4WD conversion. On top of the $38k for the new E350 chassis-cab. Then anything else you want to add on too. $150k comes up damn quick....And makes a very clean Type3 ambo w/ beefy professionally constructed-to-rigorous-standards aluminum cabin, some high quality wiring already, with some sort of starter interior(easy to make a temporary bed out of the passenger rear squad bench), at $25k look like an absolute bargain (plus then the $20-25k for the 4WD).

I do agree wit the merits of the lighterweight and thermal-transfer-free composite cabin however. Lots of planning for many years for that. A sizable project however, with lots of cooks in the kitchen.

I think some of you have seen this, but if not, I think it's the size/look many of you are after;


Thread; https://expeditionportal.com/forum/t...ox-van.198271/

And another like it; https://expeditionportal.com/forum/t...issors.222747/
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Old 04-26-2021, 08:44 AM   #58
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Originally Posted by mk216v View Post
Thread is getting fun. Love those renderings Geoff!

......

A chassis-cab with a box att'd to it is very different in terms of flex (2 separate units in different planes at times) than a solid E350 van body.

Andreas at TC (just like Andreas at Boxmanufaktur, Lance at Earthcruiser, etc) use a torsion-free("sprung") subframe that sits between the chassis-cab frame and the cabin/module.
\
And they'll tell you it does matter if you have an already fully boxed frame (Ford pickup) or open c-channel frame (Ford chassis-cab). They won't install one of their composite cabins onto an open c-channel frame without the custom subframe between frame and cabin.

Not trying to discourage anyone with this, but BTDT in terms of adding up all the costs...a high quality subframe, from a company who knows what they're doing (like Quade at Northwest Overland Truck) will run you ~$7500 installed. Add in ~$20-25k minimum for a TC or BM composite cabin with 90deg corners (angled corners or alcove extra $)--that's not including the actual Dometic/Seitz, Tern Overland or Outbound windows or roof hatch, so add thousands $ or more. Plus then either assembly or shipping, and then install. Then unless you're doing the interior build yourself, a pro interior with high quality components is going to be $40-80k easy. Then $20k-25k for a 4WD conversion. On top of the $38k for the new E350 chassis-cab. Then anything else you want to add on too. $150k comes up damn quick....And makes a very clean Type3 ambo w/ beefy professionally constructed-to-rigorous-standards aluminum cabin, some high quality wiring already, with some sort of starter interior(easy to make a temporary bed out of the passenger rear squad bench), at $25k look like an absolute bargain (plus then the $20-25k for the 4WD).

I do agree wit the merits of the lighterweight and thermal-transfer-free composite cabin however. Lots of planning for many years for that. A sizable project however, with lots of cooks in the kitchen.

I think some of you have seen this, but if not, I think it's the size/look many of you are after;


Thread; https://expeditionportal.com/forum/t...ox-van.198271/

And another like it; https://expeditionportal.com/forum/t...issors.222747/

Agreed...love Geoff's renderings and have followed Burly's thread...He loved the Ujoint 6 in conversion btw.

I agree that quality doesn't come cheap and also that simply spending more does not guarantee quality either. If you're you're going to spend money on a dedicated vehicle chassis, 4x4 conversion, composite box, windows, and systems, and either a professional or DIY build out, you want to be assured that the way the box is mounted is going to last. Otherwise it's money wasted. Until that is known through engineering and testing and not just conjecture, it's hard to take the plunge.

That said, there appears to be a lot of interest for a well built true four season off road capable rv on an e350 chassis. It needs to be in the price range near or below that of a new SMB /FV Classic and much cheaper if it's just a shell. The shell option would be preferred as it's easier to get exactly what works best for each one's intended use.

It seems like there are a few manufacturers who could do this if they recognized the need and would provide the added benefit of qualifying the build as an RV for all of the financing / insuring benefits. There are others who could successfully extend their current service offering that would help make it easier to at least get a 4x4 converted chassis and properly mounted subframe so the box could be added separately ... it's a real challenge to coordinate as an individual, so this would fill a need and likely earn a nice profit in return.
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Old 04-26-2021, 09:45 AM   #59
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Originally Posted by CalgaryMcLean View Post

I played around with that, but will likely go with a single internal step plus pullout (not folding) stairs. With a 4wd conversion, 6" lift and 35" tires, the bottom of the cab sill will be around 23" off the ground. Don't want any of the box hanging lower than this. Add at least 1" for some structural support and that lower step is at least 24" high. At some of the remote places I camp, it is not unusual to need 3 inches of blocks to level things out. This would make the bottom step 27". This gets tiring after multiple days or long day hikes.
Are you saying you don't want to go lower than the floor level (which is above the frame) or lower than the bottom of the door sills (bottom of the frame)? I won't go lower than the lowest part of anything mounted to the frame...which will likely be the exhaust and/or transmission crossbeam.
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Old 04-26-2021, 09:47 AM   #60
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Originally Posted by CalgaryMcLean View Post
Exactly! A van with the rear hatch (doors) and slider open is so wide open. We are adding as many windows as will fit so the box is as airy as possible. And going with a Tern Wildlands door that is 24.25" wide instead of their better insulated Euro door that is only 21" wide. It is only an extra 3", but every little bit helps.

It is crazy to me that it is near impossible to find a door more than 25/26" wide. I want 36"...may have to make my own but that certainly won't be fun.
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