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Old 02-16-2023, 10:15 AM   #211
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Update:
- No changes or updates to the build but we did get out for a quick trip over the Cascades to the Mckenzie River area and it worked great! Van has been running well and after getting some more hours behind the wheel I can say I am very impressed and stoked on the U-Joint 4x4 Conversion. It drives great on road, smooth off road, and works great on the snow/ice! We still haven't had it in any serious off road conditions due to the amount of snow we have had this year but come spring I think we will be getting even more use out of it.For now here are a few quick pictures of Vandit in its natural habitat and some of the Mckenzie River area.

Couldn't be happier with the color of the van in these PNW forests










-The last thing that is somewhat of an update to the build is that I am getting closer to the final design for the rear bumper. I have been slowly trying to teach myself Fusion 360 to be able to create a better working model, and think I am starting to figure it out. Hopefully, soon I will have some updates on the Rear Bumper Project thread.
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Old 02-16-2023, 11:11 PM   #212
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Absolutely amazing build! I have been doing research on builds for the last few years and can say with 100% confidence this is the nicest low top build on the planet. The attention to detail is incredible. Are you planning to do the Penthouse top at some point?

Also serious points for taking on a 4x4 conversion, even with a kit that looks like a ton of work! I am also in Bend, maybe we can meet up sometime for some van camping.
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Old 02-17-2023, 11:45 AM   #213
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Originally Posted by h.grenade View Post
Absolutely amazing build! I have been doing research on builds for the last few years and can say with 100% confidence this is the nicest low top build on the planet. The attention to detail is incredible. Are you planning to do the Penthouse top at some point?

Also serious points for taking on a 4x4 conversion, even with a kit that looks like a ton of work! I am also in Bend, maybe we can meet up sometime for some van camping.
Thanks for the compliments! We had originally planned on getting the Penthouse pop top done in the first couple of years of the build but now for a few reasons we are on sure if or when we will do it. One of the biggest reasons is that so far it hasn't been a huge hindrance to not having the pop top. Obviously being able to stand would be helpful at times, but those occasions have been limited. Another reason is obviously cost. So far we have spent a ton on the van and right now the added $14k-$16k doesn't seem worth it since like I said it hasn't felt like a need. Then lastly but very importantly I don't think we could fit in the garage if we added a pop top unless it was something more like a GTRV pop top. I have to say having the van locked up out of the element in a well insulated garage is a very nice luxury that I am not ready to give up!

The 4x4 conversion was a big project and more outside of my comfort zone than the interior stuff, but I am happy with how it came together. It's great to see another member in Bend, I'll have to keep my eye out for your van around town and out in the woods!
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Old 02-17-2023, 03:08 PM   #214
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The penthouse would be great for standing room and you keep the cabinets and bed where they are. Where did you get that bench seat btw? I looked forever and couldn't find anything.

But yeah parking in a garage and getting drive thru on the road are great features

I would really like to know how the UJOR conversion handles on the road. In tight corners, highway, etc. I am leaning towards coil vs leaf for the conversion but I'm in the same boat as you. I have spent to much on our "RV" features and don't have much left for off roading haha
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Old 02-18-2023, 12:25 PM   #215
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Where did you get that bench seat btw? I looked forever and couldn't find anything.
I'm also interested in the seat, especially the key measurements in addition to the source.
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Old 02-21-2023, 09:39 AM   #216
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Originally Posted by h.grenade View Post
The penthouse would be great for standing room and you keep the cabinets and bed where they are. Where did you get that bench seat btw? I looked forever and couldn't find anything.

But yeah parking in a garage and getting drive thru on the road are great features

I would really like to know how the UJOR conversion handles on the road. In tight corners, highway, etc. I am leaning towards coil vs leaf for the conversion but I'm in the same boat as you. I have spent to much on our "RV" features and don't have much left for off roading haha
See my response below to BCam for info about the seat.

As for the U-Joint 4x4 conversion I have been thoroughly impressed! I went round and round trying to find the right company and suspension system and I am so happy that I put a little more into it and went with U-Joint. I have driven 3 different coil conversion vans, and one older Quigley on leafs and I think the U-Joint ride is the best! I know others may have different opinions, but for me, it is the best I have driven.

Highway Driving: The van drives great tracks better than stock, and has zero bump steer. Very little body roll and is way more fun to drive than stock.

City Driving: Around town, it drives great! I think it's still easy to park, easy on the tighter curvy roads, predictable in traffic, and just enjoyable. Also as you know we have plenty of roundabouts in Bend and it does great through them with little body roll.

Ride Quality: Is far improved from stock with it being smooth and predictable on and off road. I think the shock tuning is what really makes or breaks a suspension system's ride quality. No matter what you choose I would get custom-tuned shocks because that will make a world of difference.

Turning Radius: Everyone always points out the steering radius on U-Joint vans, and I have to say personally it has hardly been noticeable. The van isn't a small car to start with, so it's not going to be easy to maneuver in tight parking lots no matter what at least that is my mindset on it. I have a relatively tight turn to get in and out of my driveway from my alley and before the conversion, it usually took a 2-point turn, and after it usually takes a 2-point turn. I personally think the turning radius is made into a bigger issue than it really is but I know factually it does get affected some by the conversion.

Company: Chris and U-Joint in general have been great to work with, very responsive to questions and products are top notch! I would highly recommend their products not only because they do a great job,l but also because the customer service of things is some of the best I have had during this whole build.

Hope all this helps in your decision making between coil and leafs!

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Originally Posted by BCam View Post
I'm also interested in the seat, especially the key measurements in addition to the source.
Key measurements of the seat/bed are.
Seat Mode: 20.5" Seat Depth x 53" Wide x 18" High from cushion to the floor
Bed Mode: 72" Long x 53" Wide. x 18" High from cushion to the floor
I have had quite a few people reach out about the bench seat and tried to keep the build thread from saying too much about it. I've sent quite a few private messages to people who have asked but have avoided publicly saying who I got the bench seat from because it was not a good experience working with the company and don't really want this thread turning into a discussion about the company. I'll spare the details but let's just say it was a huge hassle and I wouldn't recommend the company. If you want to know more I can PM you the info and drawings I sent to the others who have reached out.

Here is a bit of information I have compiled and shared with others who have asked about the seat.
One thing I did learn about halfway through my whole seat ordeal is almost all these seat/bed frames are being manufactured by a few companies based out of the midwest. One of them is Shrock. I previously had links and names to a few companies but I can't find all of them now, sorry. So this means that if you can find a local upholstery company to do the upholstery side of things you could possibly source the frame from one of them and then have it made locally to match your specs. Now knowing what I do I would have gone that route.

Another option I would look at is reaching out to Axis Vehicle Outfitters. I haven't worked with them directly so I can't say how they are, but I did reach out to them previously when I was looking for a seat and they said they would possibly be able to sell a seat, but by the time I got that email, I had already placed my order with the other company. At a minimum, they might be able to tell you where they get the frames from.

A few other options I had previously found were Danny's Vans, Ok Custom Van Interiors, and Discount Van and Truck.

One last option depending on what level of effort you want to put in you could buy just the hinge assembly (Jackknife hinge replacement) and build or have a fabricator build a seat frame and then have an upholstery shop do all the upholstery of it. This option is obviously the most work, but would most likely allow you to get the specs just right for you.
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Old 02-21-2023, 09:34 PM   #217
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Thanks for the info on the UJOR and the seats. I found a few of these companies but didn't really trust them 100 percent.

Honestly choosing a seat/mounting was the worst part of the build so far. The stress of making sure that it's safe. If you just bolt ford transit seats to the floor, maybe your insurance company doesn't cover it in an accident. Even if you buy an FVMSS certified seat and its installed half-ass you could have problems. I asked Field Van and they wont do an install without buying the whole build from them. Fair but doesn't help. Same with all local van builders. I looked at the modular floor seat system that Aventure Wagon and other use and thats like 7k for the floor and 2k for each seat. Not really an option for us. I just decided to have an old Sportsmobile seat welded to my factory mounts. But I still could have problems down the road. There is no easy answer. Just drive it I guess and don't worry about it! haha
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Old 02-22-2023, 08:38 AM   #218
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Add my thanks for the seat information. I appreciate the complete and honest response. It will keep us from repeating your bad experience.
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Old 02-22-2023, 08:52 AM   #219
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Tell us about the yellow window covers.........
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Old 02-22-2023, 09:14 AM   #220
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Quote:
Originally Posted by h.grenade View Post
Thanks for the info on the UJOR and the seats. I found a few of these companies but didn't really trust them 100 percent.

Honestly choosing a seat/mounting was the worst part of the build so far. The stress of making sure that it's safe. If you just bolt ford transit seats to the floor, maybe your insurance company doesn't cover it in an accident. Even if you buy an FVMSS certified seat and its installed half-ass you could have problems. I asked Field Van and they wont do an install without buying the whole build from them. Fair but doesn't help. Same with all local van builders. I looked at the modular floor seat system that Aventure Wagon and other use and thats like 7k for the floor and 2k for each seat. Not really an option for us. I just decided to have an old Sportsmobile seat welded to my factory mounts. But I still could have problems down the road. There is no easy answer. Just drive it I guess and don't worry about it! haha
Yeah, I know with 100% certainty that the seat in my van is not crash test rated even though I'm pretty sure it's basically what Sportsmobile and Field Vans use in their builds. From what I have seen in most rvs and vans even from high end certified builders the added seats with seatbelts are more there to get around seat belt laws than for having seats that are certified for safety. There are obviously expectations, but many don't seem to do a whole lot unless you are willing to pay a lot as you point out.

As for insurance unless you have a special policy like an agreed cash value with a company that actually knows what they are insuring you run the risk of them pointing to any modifications of the van for reasons that they will not cover it in an accident. On another note insurance companies will also usually total out a vehicle if the cost to repair is 50% or more and they determine that price by using a stock vehicle resale value. So unless you have a more specialized insurance policy almost all the added cost you put into the vehicle is not taken into account. Trying to find insurance on a home built van for an appropriate agreed value was not the easiest of tasks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BCam View Post
Add my thanks for the seat information. I appreciate the complete and honest response. It will keep us from repeating your bad experience.
I'm glad you found it helpful, and as you said I hope that it helps others from having similar experiences.
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