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Old 02-27-2016, 10:53 AM   #1
Gone Traveling
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Nor-East Uni-Stat
Posts: 26
Project Codename: "Toaster"

Back Ground/The Beginning:

April 18th 2015

So the old Ford Ranger decided it's seen enough of our traveling habits and thus it was time for a new car or truck. But we never expected to be driving a van. We sold the 1995 Ranger and walked 3 blocks to the local Ford Dealer.. That meant we didn't have any means for transportation for at least 30 min. Once at the dealership, we set out to find something sporty (in my case) and something practical (in her case).

One thing I learn while attempting to site in those practical cars and small trucks, is that our government up and decided to change the rules by creating a new safely rule which states that certain cars and trucks had to have their seats redesigned to better comfort the driver. To me this meant I was hunched over and very uncomfortable. But we found a loophole in this new ruling.

We found out that the larger trucks and vans are exempt from this new ruling.. thus our search really took off. having only 14K in our pocket to work with.. we tried sitting in one of those big trucks.. but 14K wasn't going to make a dent into those payments.. We're between a rock and a hard place. Whats this?.. Over in a corner lot away from the average buying public was the Ford Vans (commercial/utility vans) I asked to look at one of the larger transit vans.. but again.. way over our budget.. then I spotted 4 Transit Connects on the lot.

At first my wife said she wasn't willing to drive a little van like this.. Mind you she had seen the early Transit Connect vans and not the brand new redesigned TC. "That's Cute!" she said.. She even said the van reminded her of when she use to drive the AMC Pacer.. you know the one with all the windows shaped like an egg.

[picture removed]
So, I'm looking at this ugly duckling of a van.. which actually saved us and my back. I couldn't fit or even enter those other small cars.. I could actually sit in this van and feel comfortable.. took it for a test drive and was growing more confident.

While I took that test drive, Little did I know that the paper work was all ready completed, so by the time I returned.. we drove off the lot with that van in less than 30min.. Amazing how salesmen bend over backwards when you have cash in your hands.

From my understanding, the van's body is made in Turkey or Spain and the engine (Mazda 2.5L I4) was made in Mexico. Then brought here to the US via the Baltimore Harbor, where they (Ford) removes the rear seats (to beat a tariff tax) Then those same seats and hardware sent back tho where ever and place in the next set of vans.

We have plans for this van, but as of yet.. nothing has been working out and I'll go into more detail with the next installment. Thanks for ready and the vote of confidence.

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Old 02-27-2016, 11:05 AM   #2
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Location: Switzerland
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Robert Morehead made some camper with one of those. If you haven't seen it yet, take a look at his website : vw dodge ford connect minivan camper van eco camper routan caravan toyota honda kia fiatTrailers camper toyhauler popup custom work and play

Travelling in VivaLaVida (custom 2010 6.0 Ford E-350 Extended with U-Joint 4WD conversion)
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Old 02-27-2016, 12:45 PM   #3
Gone Traveling
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Nor-East Uni-Stat
Posts: 26
The idea was to create something different out of this little van and everything was pointing the direction creating an overlander. Now our little van wasn't going to see any off roads unless an occasional dirt or gravel road was off limits.. But with this in mind.. I wanted to start working on the van from the ground up. This meant new wheels and tires.

I started my search for a rugged type wheel for our van because I was hoping to create that overlander. Well, we've had several wheel companies contact us, but all of these wheels were doomed to fail from the start. I contacted Vision Off road in an attempt to see if their "warrior" wheels would fit the van.. there was similarities.. except, the wheels bolt patter needed to be changed.

[image removed]

Vision spokesperson said they would be glad to mill us a set of their warrior wheels.. but there was a catch.. I needed to place an order for 200 units coasting 31K.. Nope.

Our next attempt came from wheelpros, where they sent us one of their 775 Rockstar wheels for the van. I've always loved these rugged looking wheels expect I didn't care for the center star cap.

[image removed]
OMG's these wheels are way to heavy, the center bore was too big and look.. 10 lug holes when I requested 5.. there was no way that these 17"x8" wheels were going on our van and it actually best safe driving.

[image removed]

Then came our best shot of getting a set of custom wheels for the van from BraidUSA, This is a Spanish rally wheel company and I was offered a great deal on their Terra wheels, custom milled to my specs. In exchange for a space on the van for their logo. I was in heaven.. but right before we made the deal.. we learn that the Terra wheels are not DOT approved.. Drat.

We've got a lead on 2 sets of wheels that might fit and we've learn that the Volvo wheels as well as the Ford Focus wheels have the same bolt patter, nearly the same center bore. Yet the offset maybe an issue. So once we locate a set of these wheels, we're going to try them on for size.

Here is a list of sites we've used to figure out what bolt pattern we had as well as what center bore the stock wheels were and what to look for within other vehicles that have the same bolt pattern or close enough center bore.
  • (Not Related To Hot Rod Magazines "Road Kill" show)
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Old 02-27-2016, 07:48 PM   #4
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Looking forward to this build, thanks.........
Arctic Traveller
2001 GTRV
Advanced 4wd
Agile Ride improvement package
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Old 02-27-2016, 10:24 PM   #5
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Location: California
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This will be sweet to watch.
Check out "tinyvantravels" on Instagram she is converting one too.
2004 6.0 PSD
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Old 02-28-2016, 05:04 AM   #6
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Location: boise idaho
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is there a reason you havent considered wheel spacers? that way you can run whatever bolt pattern wheel you find that you like.

if it were me, id get them setup with the transit bolt pattern to the standard 5x114 bolt pattern that so many vehicles use or the very common 6x5.5 pattern that all the toyotas use. everybody makes wheels for toyota 4x4's... opens your wheel option tenfold. from cheap, easily replaceable factory alloys, to whatever aftermarket you find that you like.
"understeer is when you hit the wall with the front of your car, oversteer is when you hit the wall with the rear of your car, horsepower is how hard your car hits the wall, and torque is how far your car moves the wall."
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Old 02-28-2016, 06:13 AM   #7
Gone Traveling
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Nor-East Uni-Stat
Posts: 26
Good questions @shenrie and at one point we did consider spacers, mild ones at best.. But allow me to continue the story.

Not having any luck on finding that perfect off road type wheel, I was at the end of my rope, when another Transit Connect owner said that I needed to stop this foolishness and join the Stance community.. this is where members take their cars, truck and van and lower them.. often ragging them out.. So I gave up my idea of wanting to create an overlander for a chance to stance the van.

While at the stance community I noticed how these guys added "static" coil overs or "bagged" their suspensions. Then adding air systems into their rides.. This gave me the idea to get an air line in the van.. but too may come to past.

What you're looking at is a stanced van that has been lowered by using a crossed reference coil over system that wasn't even listed for the Ford Transit Connect. The kid who did this did his own homework. Even the company that manufactures these coil overs had no clue this system would fit on the van. Then this kid mounted 18"x9" ROTIFORM VCE Monoblocks on 205/40/18 tires.

I'm not impressed with the van being lowered with larger than normal wheels.. What I am impress with is how he did it and how this kid managed to cross reference parts to find a coil over set for his van. What I'm waiting to see if that I've heard that this same coil over set not only can be lowered.. it can be raised 2''..

The stance guys all suggested the spacers also, but I just wasn't ready to take that type of approach. One main reason is that the gods sent my 6 emails claiming that if I did anything to our van, they (Ford) would void my life time warranty.. I've been between a rock and a hard place and limited to what we though we could or can actually do to the van.

One of Ford's claims is that if we us spacers this would cause undue stress on these connection points/joints/baring etc. and Ford wasn't going to cover this. Even our dealership, which is willing to help with finding products for the van suggested that we not use spacers.

Later and even the stance community started having their doubts about me even getting a set of wheels on the van. In my view I was wanting to find a wheel that was around 17'' or 18'' and I could have used any ole wheel, except finding the correct load rated tires was going to be an even bigger challenge. Find a wheel then find a tire with the same or higher loader rated wasn't easy. Mainly because I was looking to increase the wheel size, where as I should have just increase the tire size.

Send numerous emails to all types of wheel and tire sites, I wasn't getting any support for our van.. and most had no clue to what was on the or even wanted to deal with finding this info. I've had to do most if not all the leg work on finding and matching wheels and tires. The odd thing here, is that no one knew simple data about the van, center bore size, bolt pattern, offset etc. I was left to find this out for myself.

One site that was more than informative was and still is and I've even offered my support and finding to them because allot of their data is geared toward the European market, not those vehicle here in the states.

After the fail attempts on finding wheels and sure I could have selected any ole wheel in the words of the stance community.. it didn't fit our build or our van. I think because I wasn't able to locate that perfect wheel I did an impulse buy on the next set I found. It was like taking a shot at a dart board blindfolded..

See what happens next in our next installment.
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Old 02-28-2016, 07:30 AM   #8
Gone Traveling
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Nor-East Uni-Stat
Posts: 26

Don't let the post title fool you, it has nothing to do with the real October fest. But nothing has been done with the van by this time.. and I was growing impatient and discouraged. What was happening is that I wasn't getting straight answers from anyone.. and all those we spoke with, claim that their wheels would fit on the van. But I wasn't about to shell out $1,500 bucks just to see if something would fit only to end up sending it back and being charge a restocking fee.

check their sites.. they have these neat flash programs where you input data about your ride and they add the tires/wheels etc.. just so you could see what it would look like. The only trouble.. it's all computer entered data. Sure looks good on paper.. but in the real world.. it didn't fit as with the case of the Wheelpro 775's.

At this time, early October, it had been raining for almost 2 weeks, and we were tired of it. We had plan a trip to the beach in our little van, but learn that would have to be canceled due to a major storm hitting the coast.

My wife had this idea to locate somewhere in the US that was sunny.. researching the weather map.. I said "Arkansas?" Yep. we packed up our camping gear, jumped in the van and drove to Arkansas for the hell of it. This was our first official travel experience in the van which is being used as a daily driver.

[Picture removed]

This was funny, What you’re looking at is the great Mississippi river.. and according to our map (which is brand new) it claims there is a bridge here.. we didn’t see any bridge.. but the water level was extremely for this time of the year.

Another reason we wanted to travel to AK, is because I have been hearing that Dog Patch USA was purchased and was going through some remodeling and redeveloping. I recall visiting this when I was real young and wants to go there again someday.

On a wing and a prayer.. we camped along the way still looking for the spot in the sun.. Although the van doesn't have a navigation system, we hope to have one installed later.. So for the time being.. the map was the next best thing and this proved to be very beneficial.
[picture removed]

Driving the van turned into pure excitement and when we found route 160 running east/west through Missouri.. wow what a rush. We started following one of the locals who seem to have driven this route before. She was in an early model Toyota and was taking this route like she knew it. I was very impress as she slowed and took the corners.. very reminiscent of my SCCA days.

If you've never been on route 160, and you have a larger truck of van.. you might not make it or if you do. you'd have to drive extremely slower than the posted speed. This road have sharp turns, switch backs, dog legs and deep dips. which made us feel a few "G's" and bottoming out the van. We had so much fun on that road.

All that time I followed that girl until she came to a stop at a local food market, where as I pulled up beside her, rolled down the window and thanked her for shows us that road. We both had a good laugh and blast on that road. We hope to return there again some day.
[picture removed]
And of course our retuning trip took us to and through the Great Smokey mountains.. Early fall colors made for some great images.

After that experience, I then realize what this van really is.. it's a sports car in disguise and has room in the back to haul stuff. So was this the end of our dream of creating an overlander?..

See what happens next in our next installment.
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Old 02-28-2016, 02:58 PM   #9
Gone Traveling
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Nor-East Uni-Stat
Posts: 26
Maximum Tires With Too Much Effort

Just to clarify, the wheelpros 10 lug holes is how wheelpros does this.. don't ask me why.. But when I placed the order I request 5 hole at 5-108 (5x4.25) lug pattern and they screwed that up.. but again.. check any image online of some of these wheels, you'll see that they drill 10 holes.

Onward. So as I said above.. We found those wheels.. but as of today, I still feel this was a rebound/impulse buy cause I was getting frustrated. I was really hoping for those BraidUSA wheels, this meant getting those wheels and half the price in exchange for space on the van for them to advertise.

As a side note here.. There are companies out there that want your business and to get it their do just about anything to earn your respect and business, even if it means sending you their products free. But of course one would have to put in a good word on their behalf.

As I said above.. Tirerack seem to be only one willing to work with on this.. and although I noticed some discrepancies.. I stayed with them and in return they gave me a great deal on a set of..

Mind you I thought and still feel this was in impulse buy because I could find those rugged wheels we actually wanted. The are the 16"x7" Gray Sparco wheels.. which actually measures 17"x8". The reason why I went back to 16's instead of 17 or larger.. is that trying to match up a wheel with a tire and retaining the same of better load rating was a nightmare.

Speaking of tires and load rates, it was time to search for those tires and the load rating had to be 97 or better. of coarse we considered the Yokohama Geolandars.. but according to other who had these tires on their older TC's the ride was harsh. I still wanted something rugged and was very tempted to order tires out of the country.

I've hard that in UK, they have tires that are called "All weather" and multi tread patterns.. But getting these tires to the states would have been a fortune. We could have went for a Canadian brand.. but selected a tire based on its tread design and it's past..

This is the Maxxis Victra 215/55/16 all season tires.. and we love them. The tread design was perfect.. except soon after purchasing them.. and having them installed on the van.. I was starting to regret my purchase.. reason being is that I actually wanted a larger tires, not the same size.. But thats water under the bridge now.

I'm not the only TC owner to be searching for these things a whole team of use are still looking and searching for anything we can put on or install in these small vans.. Ford just made these things for one reason.. to deliver stuff in crowded city streets. By no means did they construct this van to do any off roading..
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Old 02-28-2016, 05:39 PM   #10
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Location: So Cal
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Depending on what type of front suspension you have, using springs/shocks to raise the van may result in camber that is way out of spec.......

This is a problem with 2WD econolines.

What else besides tires/wheels are you planning for your van?

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