Hi everyone –
It’s so good to be back at the SMB home-build forum! So many familiar names from 2009-2013 … and so many that seem to have vanished….
After four years without a van, I’m back (though some of you knew that from a thread I posted in August on the electrical and electronics subforum about house batteries). Four years without a van is not a good way to live. I hope my last van is still happy with its new family in Ohio.
So, everyone: meet Ridley (as in Kemp’s ridley sea turtle) -- a Very Green Transit van.
The Green Gem Metallic color is interesting: in bright light at just the right angle, it shimmers emerald green. In other lighting conditions, Ridley looks almost black.
Ridley is a 2017 148” wheelbase long (not extended) body T-250 with a mid-roof (MR) and the 3.7L gas engine. I got Ridley in July
and have been playing and building since then, racking up 17,000 miles over the past seven months. MO to KS, OK, TX, NM, CO, WY, MT,WY, UT, CO,NM, TX, NM, UT, NM, TX, NM, TX… (I must say, the total eclipse in the Tetons was amazing!)
Nearly empty at altitude in Jackson in August, Ridley got about 23 mpg. Seriously. However, into a headwind in eastern NM, make that about 15mpg. Being used as a daily driver in mixed city street/highway driving, Ridley turns in about 17.5 mpg. Road manners are excellent, unless there is a strong crosswind: then I know I am driving a sail or giant box.
At 5’7’ I can stand in the MR with about three inches to spare (it took me about four week to not
reflexively bend over when I was in the van …. perhaps the vestige of 20+ years of E-series ownership?). With my new floor and cedar ceiling, I still seem to have nearly 2” to spare, depending on humidity (that’s a hair thing).
The Transit allows a standard 74” long east/west bed at about 30” above the floor. In my E350, the best I could eek out was 69”.
The build objective is a van that is suitable for long-term touring, 2-4 months at time (yes, Alaska, I hear you calling …. and another year to Labrador and Newfoundland…. )
Ridley’s van crush is LenS’ van (hey, if “boy-crush” and “girl-crush” and “celebrity-crush” are things, why not “van-crush”? Just sayin’. )
House electric will be 12v DC only (though there will be an extension cord threaded through the B-pillar to a household socket in the van). House batteries (initially 2 AGMs @105 AHr each) will be charged from the HD alternator via a Blue Sea ACR. The batteries will inside the van, not underneath. Solar is in the cards, but I need to study/learn more.
(Who am I kidding? I barely understand 12V and have no idea how to splice wire, so while I sort of have the theory down, I think in the interest of safety and efficiency I will hire someone else to do the major wiring and to teach me how to size, run and splice wire.)
I’m on the fence about an interior propane tank in a sealed vented locker; that may be Phase 2. Most of my cooking will outside, anyway, but on nights like tonight I am reminded that heat is good.
My bicycle(s) will ride inside the van, hanging by the front fork between the east/west bunk and the rear doors (there is a gap of about 18”). I have drawn much inspiration from FarOutRide (and even met Antoine and Isabel in Red Rock Bakery in Moab in October!). Following their example, under the bunk the rear storage will be “garage” and the aft storage will be “house” (with the MR, putting my bike under the bunk just isn’t feasible).
So that’s Ridley! Build posts will follow shortly.