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Old 04-10-2016, 01:57 AM   #1
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Need Help Brainstorming A Home Build

I could use a little help with planning a build for a 4wd moto van/camper van. I'll start with how I got to where I am now and go on to what I'm looking to do, and can use your help in planning my build.

I do a lot of motorcycle track days (road racing) and have traditionally had a trailer of some sort to haul my bike to the track. Where I used to live, I had 3 tracks within 2 hours drive time and getting up early and getting to the track Saturday morning and returning home Saturday evening was no big deal. Since relocating to southern CA, tracks are further away and doing a track day means getting to the track Friday night and sleeping there in order to get a full night's sleep.

Also, the opportunity for off road exploration is everywhere. I'd love to get a 4wd vehicle of some sort to add another fun activity and take advantage of the area.

I'm not a fan of single use vehicles. I'd like to get something that has multiple capabilities and would like to not need a trailer anymore.

I'd like a vehicle that will be able to do the following things:

1) Be capable of carrying at least one motorcycle (primarily a street bike but likely a dirt bike down the road)

2) Have some space for sleeping

3) Have off road capability.

The first rules out a large SUV due to rear door height which stinks because an older Suburban can be had for pennies.

Here's the features I'd like to have:

Extended length van

Diesel

Raised roof

Eventually I'd like solar panels and some small heater

Sleeping for 2- A bed that either folds down from the wall, drops down from the ceiling, or folds out backwards from behind the front seats. I plan to have the sleeping area in the middle of the van in order to make room for the motorcycle

Storage for a grille, DC refrigerator, and water jugs. I don't plan on putting a sink or anything like that in place.

I have a preference for the GM vans due to their longer wheelbase but Duramax vans are relatively uncommon, so I won't rule out a Ford van. But dollar for dollar I'll take the GM model.

The work involved:

I have seen a few vans for sale that I like but most have no windows. What's involved in putting one in? Is it something a home guy can do cleanly or is this best for a shop?

I'm probably going to have to find a van and get a 4x4 system installed. Being in CA I'm pretty far from the Quigley factory, so are there any conversion companies out this way? Or another question is how difficult is the conversion to do yourself? I can source axles and transfer cases, but I'm sure there's a laundry list of parts that I'm missing.

What are you guys using for interior and insulation? I was thinking about using the foam insulation boards and then using masonite covered with some sort of fabric to make interior walls. Is this a good idea? Are there better materials?

Big one here, does a sliding door really interfere with larger tires when the van is lifted? I found a great looking moto van near me but it has a sliding door on the side.

That's about all I have for now, let me know what you think.
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Old 04-10-2016, 08:24 AM   #2
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Boulder Offroad does a lot of Chevys, not exactly close to you but closer. I'm sure there are some Chevy converters out your way. Your needs are pretty popular as far as home builds go. I would recommend a simple bed down one side, open storage on the other, perhaps a gaucho couch/bed combo that folds or slides out for a second person. All of your questions on insulation and tons of other ideas can be found in the home build section here, just start wading through and you'll get lots of ideas.
Windows aren't hard to install, you can do it if you're basically handy and have the nerve to cut a huge hole in your van wall. You can also probably install your own raised roof. It's not that difficult if you can get a helper or two when you're ready to lift it on. Once again, it involves cutting a huge hole in the roof of your van, and you better be committed. If I were you I would shop on the government auction sites or look at all the fleet sales places you can find. I think the likelihood of finding an extended van with a top already on it are better there. Also, a diesel Chevy might pop up but it will without a doubt be high miles already and still high dollar.
Good luck, keep us posted on your build!

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Old 04-10-2016, 08:31 AM   #3
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Hi and welcome!

start reading this forum......there is info here that answers all of your questions above.

In summary:

If you want 4X4, fords are the most popular...there is a larger selection of accessories for Fords also like bumpers and fender flares

There are at least 2 4WD converters on this forum, Bajasportsmobile (Agile offroad) and Ujoint on the east coast. These conversions are typically heavy duty stuff with manual locking hubs, etc.

There are many possibilities with Fords, coils, leafs, twin traction beam, etc. all with plusses and minuses.....

GMs are available factory AWD, but can be hard to find.

Do a search here for maxacceleration's build.....he has a moto hauler that should be very close to what you are considering.

I'm in OC (Coto De Caza); If you'd like to chat about vans, let me know.

Mine setup is primarily used for camping and hauling dirt bikes, but the bikes stay on the trailer or Joe Hauler.

I did the search for you.....here is maxacceleration's build:

http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...rior-5601.html
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Old 04-10-2016, 04:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 86Scotty View Post
Boulder Offroad does a lot of Chevys, not exactly close to you but closer. I'm sure there are some Chevy converters out your way. Your needs are pretty popular as far as home builds go. I would recommend a simple bed down one side, open storage on the other, perhaps a gaucho couch/bed combo that folds or slides out for a second person. All of your questions on insulation and tons of other ideas can be found in the home build section here, just start wading through and you'll get lots of ideas.
Windows aren't hard to install, you can do it if you're basically handy and have the nerve to cut a huge hole in your van wall. You can also probably install your own raised roof. It's not that difficult if you can get a helper or two when you're ready to lift it on. Once again, it involves cutting a huge hole in the roof of your van, and you better be committed. If I were you I would shop on the government auction sites or look at all the fleet sales places you can find. I think the likelihood of finding an extended van with a top already on it are better there. Also, a diesel Chevy might pop up but it will without a doubt be high miles already and still high dollar.
Good luck, keep us posted on your build!

I'll keep combing through this section to read up on what you said about insulation and such. I've read a few builds from other sites and youtube but they just call it "insulation" or "wall" without citing what they actually bought or where they got it. I'll keep looking on here.

Boulder Offroad...in Boulder, CO? My sister lives in Longmont so dropping a van off would be a good excuse to stop by and visit her.

I'm not sure I'd want to tackle a roof, but a window would be a maybe. I'll have to look up some how-to videos on that one before I attempt it. I'd definitely need a parts list so I don't start and find I'm missing a component and come up short.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boywonder View Post
Hi and welcome!

start reading this forum......there is info here that answers all of your questions above.

In summary:

If you want 4X4, fords are the most popular...there is a larger selection of accessories for Fords also like bumpers and fender flares

There are at least 2 4WD converters on this forum, Bajasportsmobile (Agile offroad) and Ujoint on the east coast. These conversions are typically heavy duty stuff with manual locking hubs, etc.

There are many possibilities with Fords, coils, leafs, twin traction beam, etc. all with plusses and minuses.....

GMs are available factory AWD, but can be hard to find.

Do a search here for maxacceleration's build.....he has a moto hauler that should be very close to what you are considering.

I'm in OC (Coto De Caza); If you'd like to chat about vans, let me know.

Mine setup is primarily used for camping and hauling dirt bikes, but the bikes stay on the trailer or Joe Hauler.

I did the search for you.....here is maxacceleration's build:

http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...rior-5601.html
I'll look up the forum members you mentioned and see what they do. I didn't realize the actual conversion people were frequenters!

Someone posted Maxaccelerations's build in my intro thread, that's very close to what I'd like. Just a business-first interior with a few creature comforts. The configuration I have in mind is a little different but the idea is the same.

I had to look up where you are but you're only 30 minutes from me. I'm just off Jamboree and I-5. I'd love to hear about you're experiences.
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Old 04-10-2016, 04:25 PM   #5
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One other thing, I always hear about these government auction sites but the few that I've found always seem to be months out of date or anything current is selling junk like office furniture. Any time I see a desirable vehicle for sale on an random .gov auction link, it sold 3 years ago. Is there an official .gov auction site somewhere? I'm rather vague as to how that system works.

And here's a big one, I've been talking Duramax all along, but would really like to know how much better diesel is vs. gas. (I have a 7.3PSD F350 right now, so diesel itself isn't new to me) What are you guys really getting for fuel mileage with both types of vehicles? For the price difference, it seems like I can get a nice gas van and get the conversion done for the price of a diesel van alone. The cost difference would take quite a few miles to justify the expense. Plus the modern diesels seem to be having more trouble than ever, between the Ford 6.0 and its woes and I see a few issues with the DEF Duramax engines. However I'm still trying to understand if the Duramax issues listed for the pickups also affect the van engines.
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Old 04-10-2016, 08:05 PM   #6
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Boulder Offroad...in Boulder, CO?
Yes, very good I hear but not cheap. No good converters are. In fact, no bad converters are. I think forum member REF knows those guys. Maybe he'll chime in or you could PM him.

I usually find lots of vans and current auctions on Govdeals.com There are 132 active van listings there right now, and they make it easy by having a specific van section. I have not bought anything there but I've been close.

Diesel vs. Gas. Don't say that very loud around here. You'll start a riot. The problem with any SMB, gas or diesel, is that they are big, heavy vehicles which we lift and put bigger tires on and then throw all our crap in. They get crap for gas mileage. All of em. I get 10, but mine's an old 460. A lot of the v10 people say 10, then there's that one guy who gets 18. Diesel people here don't get much better, I think 13-14 is probably average for the decked out 7.3 SMB vans. Oh, except for that one guy who gets like 25. You know the guy. He's on lots of forums but I've never met him in real life.

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Old 04-11-2016, 06:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wantahertzdonut View Post
One other thing, I always hear about these government auction sites but the few that I've found always seem to be months out of date or anything current is selling junk like office furniture. Any time I see a desirable vehicle for sale on an random .gov auction link, it sold 3 years ago. Is there an official .gov auction site somewhere? I'm rather vague as to how that system works.
I've frequently found a lot of potentially desirable vehicles through eBay. Needless to say its a huge marketplace, sales or auctions are completely up-to-date, real-time contact & conversation with the sellers possible. When on a serious hunt its good having multiple sources.

Sometimes the perfect van requires a bit of travel to acquire--buying something worth having and gently used isn't always in our local area. My past three Ford E250's were all found "elsewhere"; he closest about 75 miles, another 435 miles one way.

HTH
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Old 04-11-2016, 09:41 AM   #8
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I've got a few random thoughts for you:

What's your budget like? Cash upfront or 'build as you go' makes a lot of difference. ie the previous owner (who originally converted my camper van to 4x4) spent over $11k having a shop in Idaho use a combination of a UJOR kit and locally sourced parts.

Diesels are more expensive than gas powered vans, weather or not it's worth it sorta depends on how many miles you expect to put on it. Sometimes the offset in increased fuel mileage doesn't make up for the higher purchase price.

I wouldn't be stuck on a specific brand, but I can say having a more common Ford makes retrofitting and finding repair parts much easier/cheaper than going with a Chevy or Dodge.

I have a fold out sofa in front section of my 32' race trailer that makes into a comfortable bed. One option is to buy a van with no interior, and just bolt in something like that, or a side wall, fold down single bunk (like they use in some Toy Hauler trailers). Then just use plastic storage bins ratchet strapped in place with D rings for gear, clothes, stove and coffee pot.
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Old 04-11-2016, 08:36 PM   #9
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Here's a low mileage, extended GMC van with a duramax. It's even already set up for a moto van.

2008 Gmc 2500 Turbo Diesel Moto Van
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Old 04-11-2016, 09:10 PM   #10
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Here's a low mileage, extended GMC van with a duramax. It's even already set up for a moto van.

2008 Gmc 2500 Turbo Diesel Moto Van
I'm looking at that one this Wednesday!
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