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Gatorbait 05-31-2015 07:20 PM

Dawn Patrol Build
So I'm cross posting from Expo to get a bigger audience for advice. Hopefully it can help someone else like all the build threads have helped me.

So I got to a point of making a thread. I'll start with a little background then get to the build. I'm 29, originally from FL but I've been living in Antigua, West Indies for the past 6 years. I work on the Air Force base here tracking all the launches out of Cape Canaveral. I work in comm and do everything from outside plant to COMSEC. It's a small base so we tend to be spread pretty thin.

Well I originally planned to stay here for a year or two and save for a house back in FL. But they paid for school and I really enjoyed it so I just kept on trucking and banking money for a house. There was always some rumors of them shutting the base down, but it finally happened. The company CEO flew down to tell us the bad news 6 days before christmas. Great timing. Well at least for me. I just finished my capstone project for my masters degree from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. I also got a bachelors from them while I was here too. Work paid for it and the obligation was to stay with the company for a year after. So I owe them a year from now, but since we're closing the base I can just bail now. Here's a pic of us dismantling our large telemetry antenna.

There's a bunch of other stuff that works in my favor too, but most of all is the timing. I'm ready to move on and I wanted to switch industries (I'm going into UAV's *drones*). I'm looking at moving to San Diego and can't afford a house any where near the water so I figured I'd blow it all on a road trip around the US. So I've been researching for about 2 years now and came across Vanaconda's picture in Asheville in the snow and had an epiphany. That's exactly what I want.

They are closing the base in July so I'll be moving back to FL then and I'm hoping to get on the road by september. I'm kind of doing it like a graduation present to myself. I've been in school my whole life and worked my *** off so it's time to take some time to soul search and do something selfish for a change. I just wanna go snowboard, kiteboard, surf, see football games, and see the country. My plan is go to clockwise. Here's a rough plan

So I searched and searched for a 7.3L and found something available during one of the trips I took back to FL to visit. It's a 2003 Ford E350 7.3L. I bought it in Tampa from a "mechanic." Of course it drove fine around the neighborhood and I wasn't too concerned with the issues it did have since I would be getting a lot of work done to it anyway. So I basically just trusted the guy that it would get back to the east coast like he promised it would. I really just wanted the shell with the 7.3.

And of course as soon as I got on the highway it started bogging down and he quit answering his phone. Instead of driving back to his house and driving through his living room I just dealt with it. It took about 2 hours to get 20 miles down the road. It kept cutting out and I was no where near civilization to stop anywhere. I eventually made it to a NAPA and got a fuel filter, had it replaced and off I went. For 10 miles, crapped out again. It's a long story, but the original plan was to go to the UCF bowl game, stay the night, then pick up the van to drive home. Due to the aftermath of the game and the adult beverages, the next day didn't have much patience. I ended up leaving it at some office building and coming back the next day to have it towed. $500 and off to a typical start of my vehicle life. I eventually got it home.

My plan was to get it to Chris in NC and I'd fly up there and drive it back to FL on one of my trips back home. was painless.

Gatorbait 05-31-2015 07:28 PM

Re: Dawn Patrol Build
So these are some pics once Chris got it in the shop. Went for the 6" 4x4 conversion, Stage 1 D60, 3.73 gears. Some procomps and 315/75R16/8 General Grabber redletters. They did a lot of cleaning too! The experience going through Ujoint was amazing. Very prompt, informative, and thorough. I'll write them a testimonial when I can spend some time to sit down and do it right.

So the time came to fly up to NC and pick it up. It was May and didn't think anything of it, but it was cold. Chris' shop:

First impression was WHOA! that's a hell of a lot bigger than I thought it would be lol. It was love at first sight. So I hit the road, put 700 miles on it getting home. It drove like a car. Solid as hell, 85 mph, one finger. Got like 8 thumbs up, caught a few people taking pics, got into a few conversations at gas stations, and saw a few headshakes in disgust (my favorite). :D

Gatorbait 05-31-2015 07:30 PM

Re: Dawn Patrol Build
So I had an extra week in Florida before I flew back so I decided to do some work. I planned to rhino line the whole thing. The local Air Force Base, Patrick, has a paint booth but wouldn't let me use the liner in it. Well good thing my parents don't have an HOA. This happened:

LOL Realized the van is ginormous and had to improvise with some cinderblocks.

The nice thing about this van is that all the interior parts fit in a pile.

Seats out

All the rust seemed to be surface rust. Once I started scraping and brushing, found only one bad spot. woohoo. ospho'd everything.

All sanded down and ready to go.

Gatorbait 05-31-2015 07:37 PM

Re: Dawn Patrol Build

The fun part of being home is unwrapping all the boxes that have been accumulating.

Window came in:

Surfboard container:

Seats came in:

And the best addition to the whole trip. So this dog just showed up outside my room on base in Antigua one night. I fed it, because I love dogs and he was practically starving to death. It took about a week for me to gain his trust to touch him. We're not allowed to have dogs on base, but he would keep a low profile so not a lot of people knew about him. It eventually became a problem for certain individuals on base and they caused a stink. So I shipped him back to FL the day before I flew to NC. He's the greatest dog ever! Such a well behaved puppy. Introducing Tigua (Tee-gah)

So that's where I'm at right now. I'll be moving back to FL in july and try to finish it before I have to leave in september. I don't have much planned, but I'm basically going to be going to some college football games that are along the way. I bought an Epic ski pass which is like 10 mountains in Utah/Colorado so I'm just planning on getting out there by November. I'm starting to get into the researching stage of events going on through my drive. Thanks for checking it out. I'll start updating progress again in July.

Gatorbait 05-31-2015 07:40 PM

Re: Dawn Patrol Build
one question I have is on the CRL window. Does it have to be positioned in the middle or can I position it up to the top of the indent? I'm not sure how the contour is. Also, what do you guys recommend for a diesel heater?

86Scotty 05-31-2015 09:02 PM

Re: Dawn Patrol Build
Welcome! Quite an intro. Good to have you along.

Van looks great and obviously you've been quite busy.

I can't answer your latest questions but.................... :a4:

BroncoHauler 05-31-2015 09:07 PM

Re: Dawn Patrol Build
Welcome to the forum!

That was some serious oil/dirt crud caked on the front end of your van. Reminds me of my Bronco. :b1:

BTW, what was the problem/fix to the driveability issue?


Gatorbait 06-01-2015 07:35 AM

Re: Dawn Patrol Build
It needed a few parts. HPOP, fuel sending pickup was broken off, IPR, ICP, IDM, water pump. I've been lurking for a long time. I just finally got the funds and timing to get this show started. I've been ordering parts like crazy and staging them at my parents house. I can't wait to move back. 58 more days! I have a lot of work to do. I want to be on the road by mid september.

RyanUsesThis 06-01-2015 07:48 AM

Re: Dawn Patrol Build
I'm about to install the same window. I'm guessing you can install it where ever you'd like so long as you're ok with cutting out some of the interior structural support steel. John & Mandi did a decent write up about it...

I was digging all the painting photos. That's the next major item on my list after rust mitigation.

BroncoHauler 06-01-2015 08:30 AM

Re: Dawn Patrol Build
BTW, good looking dog!

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