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Old 09-10-2011, 01:16 PM   #1
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HELP!!! first timer build starts today

I just brought home a extended E-350 with the 7.3. I travel all over the east coast racing motocross and enduros and will be setting the van up to haul and camp out of. I have my layout graphed out almost exact but am open to suggestions of any sort. Most of my questions concern electrical/water systems and materials.
Thanks in advance for any help, I have already utilized the information you guys have posted in the past, and please redirect me if my questions have already been addressed somewhere previously. HERE GOES NOTHING!!!!

***SLEEPER AREA (appox. 5ft back of front seats)
*J- shaped gaucho to start behind driver seat and to wrap around in front of left side cargo
door partially. Drawers to pull out towards outside when door is opened as well as storage
under benches(boat/RV style with drop in cushions).
*center table to drop down and complete bed
*swivel seat passenger side (IS DRIVER SIDE NEEDED?)

*WHAT TYPE OF LIGHTING (IS LED MOST EFFICIANT?) Good supplier of lights?
*SUNROOF OR VENT INSTALLATION (POSSIBLE WITH RIBBED ROOF?)
*VENTED SIDE WINDOW BEHIND DRIVER (ANY TIPS ON WHERE TO FIND/ PICS OF INSTALL?)
*SUGGESTIONS FOR WINDOWS/WINDSHIELD COVER FOR PRIVACY/INSULATION?
*IDEAS FOR WALL/FLOOR/CEILING INSULATION AND FINISH(PANELING OR CARPET?)(SUBFLOOR?)
*ANYONE USE "BUNKBOARD" ACROSS FRONT SEATS FOR A SMALL CHILD OR SMALL PERSON?


***CARGO AREA (approx 6' rear of van)************
*walled petition between areas for insulation/fumes/mud etc.
*Duraline floor coating (ANY OTHER SUGGESTIONS?)
*Was considering white plastic panel (shower Type) but the cost is overkill
(32.00 a sheet x 8 sheets at Lowes)
(ANY ALTERNATIVES? DOESN'T HAVE TO BE WATERPROFF, JUST EASY TO CLEAN
*box in wheel wells, tool box mounts to left side, right side will be an assortment
of shelving and a small closet (rear facing drawers access from outside/open doors)

*IS THERE ANY ROOM FOR FLUSH MOUNTED STORAGE UNDERNEATH THE VAN?(REAR OR FRONT)
4"-5"DEEP COULD BE UTILIZED IF WIDE ENOUGH



***EXTERIOR*************************************** ****************
*roof rack options? I have 3 Thule guttermount crossbars, does anyone know the capacity
of the bars or of the roof via 6 points mounted on the gutter railing?
*20-30 gallon flat water tank OR constructing my own PVC water tank, thinking of running
a square around the perimeter of the rack with a few cross pipes
35' of 3" PVC should hold roughly 29 gal. I could use that as a frame as well,
putting a mesh "floor" between gaps, hence a basket type rack to secure other items.

*HAS ANYONE USED THE ZODI SHOWER SYSTEM? IT LOOKS REALLY TRICK, IS IT AS EFFICIANT AS
THEY CLAIM?
*I plan the run a shower curtain between the rear cargo doors. When I come in from a
motocross race, I'm usually too nasty to have an inside shower anyway.

*ANY OTHER SHOWER IDEAS?
*ALSO, WOULD THAT TYPE OF GRAVITY FED WATER SYSTEM SUPPLY A SMALL PRESSURE WASHER ANY
AMOUNT OF TIME WHATSOEVER



***ELECTRICAL************************************* *****************************************
THIS IS THE AREA THAT IS REALLY FORIGN TO ME.
HERE IS WHAT I'M THINKING...
*I need power to run a few lights, and maybe a fan outside of the van at the
races. I do plan to get a small generator in the near future, but would like to
set my van up to sustain extra power itself a little while without it.

*I'M CONSIDERING 1 OR 2 EXTRA BATTERIES MOUNTED UNDER THE COUCH, WILL THE
ALTENATOR ON THE 7.3 HANDLE THAT? WHAT IS THE SWITCH CALLED TO PREVENT DRAINAGE
OF MAIN BATTERY'S
*WHAT SIZE INVERTER COULD I GET BY WITH, SUGGESTIONS ON BRAND OR WHERE TO GET ONE?
*HOW SHOULD I WIRE THE INVERTER UP TO SWITCH BETWEEN THE ON-BOARD POWER AND
SHORE POWER (GENERATOR)? CONSIDERED TWO SURGE STRIPS, UNPPUG ONE THEN INTO OTHER,
BUILDING SOMETYPE OF SWITCHBOARD WOULD BE BETTER, WHAT TYPE OF TOGGLE SWITCHES?

*I'm looking at a portable AC as well, Alot of our races are in the southeast and after
three hours of getting hammered in the dirt, itís never cool enough.
I'm aware that a medium sized generator is not going to power it, but with a generator
how will it do? Which AC unit?

********ALSO, COULD SOMEONE EXPLAIN TO ME AMP DRAIN RELATED TO WATTS, AND WHAT TYPE OF
BATTERY SETUP I SHOULD GO WITH FOR ONBOARD POWER. WHAT KIND OF LOW END SOLAR SET
UP WOULD HELP KEEP CHARGED?
*most of my trips are two days, one night, so for every hour Iím set up at camp, I will
usually be on the road that much time or more.
*WHICH GENERATOR? YAMAHA 2400 OR HONDA 2000? ANYTHING OUT THERE COMPARABLE TO THOSE 2?


Again, thanks for taking the time to read. If you can help point me in the right direction, it would
be appreciated. I will try to document all of the build from the ground up and post on here. What I have
in mind will be one heck of a machine, now I just have to make it happen!
>J.Ramsey<
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Old 09-10-2011, 03:57 PM   #2
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Re: HELP!!! first timer build starts today

Wow that's a lot for one post. I'm sure many will chime in on your questions but there are threads on most of what you posted.
You might try using the search feature on this site.

Good luck.
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Old 09-10-2011, 07:39 PM   #3
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Re: HELP!!! first timer build starts today

I'd go used fixed hightop, sleeping area above the bikes but not quite at the roofline, it will give you more room, more area for tools below and still be able to haul 2 bikes at once.
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Old 09-10-2011, 10:17 PM   #4
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Re: HELP!!! first timer build starts today

DaveB, thanks and yea I just found the search option.

Jage, thats a great idea, I was look for a sprinter van as my first option and ran across the ford. how much$ are you talking with the high roof? I have some good connections with some guys that do some great fab work, how much for a used top? Considering that my new race bike i have ordered cost more than my van did and I have it and and practice bike to keep up with, budget is a major factor. I'll be travelling over 30 weekends next year so I'm gonna try to save all I can. I will be camping alone 75% of the time, so I think I can make due. What power options do you suggest? Thats my biggest obsticle at the moment, can you link some good posts for me to start with?
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Old 09-11-2011, 11:01 AM   #5
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Re: HELP!!! first timer build starts today

Thule gutter towers are only rated for 60 pounds per pair, IIRC. Yaks are rated for 100/pair, and I know the Thules were much lower which is why I chose Yak.

A good commercial contractor rack can support up to 1500 pounds, so you may want to look at those options if you will be carrying a lot of weight up top. Just keep in mind that a heavy roof will require some suspension upgrades to maintain driving characteristics.
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Old 09-12-2011, 12:28 PM   #6
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Re: HELP!!! first timer build starts today

First, go to the ground-up builds section below, this is where most folks in your (and my) situation are hanging out and swapping ideas, but don't get me wrong, this whole site is GREAT!

I used to race enduros and am now just setting up an e350 for family camping, but i know just what you're doing, and boy do i miss it! Lots of driving, one night dry camping in a field most of the time, and a need for a good place to sleep and keep the bikes secure while on the road. No better answer than a van!

Lots of questions but i'll go with my most recent upgrades which i sure wish i had back then. A 10x10 ez-up canopy over the back doors (or side doors) makes a great place to keep your bike, chairs, etc. $100 bucks just about anywhere and 2 minutes to set up, keeps you out of the rain or bright sun and adds a lot of square footage to a van camping setup. Mine fits perfectly over the top of the back doors (open) and i've even been sleeping under it lately, with a $30 screen room attatched.

For power, you can spend a LOT of money on this but mine was just a few hundred bucks total and is working out great. 2 (additional) Walmart deep cycle marine batteries and a $100 Cobra 1500 watt inverter and i can power a small fridge, microwave, fans, and all of my chargers for this and that. I keep these charged with a float charger (when home) and a dual battery isolator on the road, which is a $50 Amazon find that diverts alternator charge to whichever batteries need it (truck or auxiliary) and never lets you run your truck battery down. I keep a 4.6 dorm fridge running constantly and can go about 40 or so hours before i need to start the truck or plug in to charge batteries.

Your shower idea is a great one, just using a rooftop solar (bag) shower i guess? My plan is to add a flat water tank to my roof rack someday for more capacity, or put a water tank low with a cheap RV water pump and shower hose hung up high.

I use a Honda 2000 generator which i have built a front hitch rack for also, which would give you enough power to run a small AC in the summer, but that setup isn't cheap!

Also, i'm using a Yakima rack system with a Rola extended cargo basket on top mounted toward the rear. It holds TONS of stuff, but make sure you are just loading it up when you have a few hundred pounds down low (a dirt bike or 2 and a person or 2 work perfect). I have had NO wind noise or adverse handling with this setup yet, and i was worried about both. The rain gutters and roof racks which work on our vans are VERY strong, i can walk around on mine and it doesn't move.

Keep us posted, i'm hoping to add pics and links from my setup soon, glad to swap ideas with you.
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Old 09-12-2011, 01:01 PM   #7
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Re: HELP!!! first timer build starts today

Thanks scotty! (trying to reach the broadest of opinions, so I posted in General section)

I was just looking at the same settup for power, so good luck out of the Cobra 1500? Really surprised it will push that fridge that long. I'm in the same situation, keep a fridge running a big part of the time, and i few other items that i may run alone once in a while. How good of a job does the altenator do recharging the extra batterys? Most of my races are within 3-4 hours away on average. What type of charger do you use at the house to keep them topped off? Do you have your Honda setup to recharge the batterys? Also, when checking stats of appliances, which do I need to consider? As for the EZUP, I have 2, one I can pit out of in the back and a second with side panels for cooking/showering off the side doors.

Bad news, build will be postponed a few weeks. My grandfather that was going to be helping alot on this projoct had a accident and will be out a while. He is a wealth of knowledge, considering he has owned many RVs dating back to the early seventies. He even has some good ideas that him and my father used on his '73 Dodge Tradesmen back in the day when my father traveled back and forth from Tennessee to Florida racing professionally. All and all, alot has changed, but for the most part alot has stayed the same!

May work out for the best, give me some more time to digest this great information.
Thanks guys, keep ideas coming.
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Old 09-12-2011, 01:03 PM   #8
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Re: HELP!!! first timer build starts today

check this out:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images ... automotive
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Old 09-12-2011, 02:12 PM   #9
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Re: HELP!!! first timer build starts today

Quote:
Originally Posted by MontesaGold
Thanks scotty! (trying to reach the broadest of opinions, so I posted in General section)
How good of a job does the altenator do recharging the extra batterys?
I found my diesel was pulling about as much as the alternator could put out when running at night with lights and the air running. The main cause is the add on Starcool AC does pull several amps more than those who have stock air conditioning so I Added a larger alternator. Used Nations as the source. I did have to make some mods to the case to make it fit...don't know about a gasser. I have two 4-D AGM's and it charges fast to about 90% or more and the solar tops them off. Depending on how low I've taken the batteries and whats on, I get close to 20 amps of charge if needed. I'm using a Blue Sea 7622 with remote as the isolator and really like the remote control option. YMMV
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Old 09-12-2011, 03:49 PM   #10
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Re: HELP!!! first timer build starts today

Yep, good advise from DaveB. I have a passenger model with factory rear air, so it has a 115 amp alternator and so far, it does great recharging my batteries. I have a 6 amp Stanley (the yellow tools from Lowe's) smart charger that changes to float after it charges my batteries. I wanted a battery tender, but this was half the price and readily available. It usually switches to float after one night's charge and does pretty well. I have wanted to test this setup over a week or so on the road but haven't gotten a big road trip in yet. Also, i have used the Honda to charge the batteries once, during generator hours at a no-hookup campground and it did great. I have my generator on the front bumper where i can actually run it while running down the road or parked, which you could easily do at enduros, everyone else does! No noise complaints there.
The Cobra is ok but has a noisy fan and is modified sine wave. If i could do it over again, i'd get the pure sine wave Sunforce 1000 watt off Amazon, around 200 bucks but pure sine wave with good reviews.

Ya, the ez-up awnings seem to be made for our vans, don't they? I use it at the side or back, or freestanding, and lately i've used it as a tent (with screen room attatched) if i'm somewhere fairly private.

Zodi shower, COOL! That may be my solution too! And it's fairly cheap!

Hope your granddad gets better soon,

Also, if you want to learn a TON about power solutions for your setup, check out the Open Roads Forum (or Woodall's RV forum, same thing). Find 'tech issues' in the technical section, lots of serious boondock RV guys there who know a ton about managing power, setting up solar, etc. Just beware of opinionated ********, like every forum i guess.

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