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2020 148 HR AWD on order
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Discussion Starter #1
I’ve already posted a bit here but wanted to introduce myself now that we have our van, have made a few small mods and camped in it ... though just three nights.

2020 AWD 250 cargo van, HR 148, dual batteries, swivel seats and tow package. 3.5 EcoBoost. Coming from a 4wd Tacoma, though owned a Vanagon Westy in the early ‘90’s. So far loving the powertrain; our 3rd gen V6 Tacoma gets a lot of hate for its peaky engine and “active” transmission shifting, though after 4 years I’m used to it. But the EcoBoost and ten speed are a revelation; effortless power and smooth shifting, even on steep grades at 8000’ elevation.

Gripes: cargo lights. Grrr ... will need to put in a real switch; I’ve seen the posts on this topic. The wide mirrors are WIDE. Good visibility but needed to fold them in a few times getting into some tight spots dispersed camping. Power folding would be nice. The swivel seats are OK but Ford could have done a better job with the ease-of-use.

Mods so far: plywood floor courtesy of another member here, installed over a BedRug for insulation; two 12V outlets for fridge and miscellaneous, connected to CCP2; and a high bed made of a few pieces of dimensional lumber and 1/2” Baltic birch plywood. The bed platform is 41” above the floor, with 3” cross beams, to provide clearance for two bikes fork-mounted to the floor below. Plenty of headroom above. No paneling, insulation or ventilation yet except for a ceiling “liner” made from a moving blanket and bungee nets. Oh, and some Strawfoot covers for the slider and rear door glass, and Weathertech shields for the windshield and front glass.

Long term plan is to insulate and panel, full onboard hot/cold/gray water, electric cooktop (no propane), and gasoline heater but for now we’re just using our gear from decades of dispersed tent camping: propane stove with 5 lb tank, plastic bins and duffle bags, supplemented by a Dometic PLB40 battery and CFX35 fridge with a folding 130W solar panel.
 

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Welcome to the addiction! Yes the Ecoboost is a revelation and it never gets old, especially at altitude :) We criss cross the Sierras and Western NV regularly and are never short of power.

Sound like you are working towards a similar conifuration to where we ended up. Any reason for not wanting to use propane? We have a 2 burner stove and use refillable 1lb propane bottles. One bottle lasts us for one to two weeks of camping.

We are off to Inyo NF and the White Mountains next week, from the Bay Area, via 108, 395, 120 east then into the Inyo NF.
 

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'Nother CA guy here. We too are running a quick'n'dirty conversion while we have fun and figure out what we want to do when we really convert it. In the meantime we are having a blast! I think getting out there and using it before undertaking a major conversion will save you time and money as well as improve the design.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
'Nother CA guy here. We too are running a quick'n'dirty conversion while we have fun and figure out what we want to do when we really convert it. In the meantime we are having a blast! I think getting out there and using it before undertaking a major conversion will save you time and money as well as improve the design.
Good point. Another posting I saw suggested that making a quick and dirty prototype helps you get to the final design much quicker. I had 35 years experience in product development and that was certainly true for commercial products. There’s a lot of hate for wood construction here, but as someone who worked with sheetmetal and extrusions in my career, found that $100 worth of lumber, a few boxes of construction screws and a few days of work can help one converge on the right design pretty quickly. And if you can’t re-use the wood, you can always throw it in the campfire. When campfires are allowed :)
 

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Dman, I like your thinking. I don't even have my van, yet, but I had similar thinking because despite all the research, I won't really know what I want until I have it. Having something that can be put together cheaply and easily will help achieve the final design much faster. As an engineer, I know that you never get it 100% the first time.
 

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I also have a background in product development, so expected to go through a few iterations before we settled on what worked 85% for us (vans are like boats, you are never really done).

We did 3 four day trips before settling on V1, then probably 6 more before the urge to use overwhelmed the desire to improve - at about V3.2. now its mostly fine tuning are revisiting finishes and a few fittings that were literally thrown together to test.
 
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I like what Im hearing because Ive read for days on end and haven't seen a van I could just duplicate.
Dont get me wrong the builds here are amazing and I will steal ideas for sure so I dont reinvent the wheel.
My first iteration dream van for starters would look like....

1. Easily converted from an adventurer back to a hauler for whatever.
2. A garage for two large mountain bikes etc.
3. Durable stress free finishes so no sweat banging it up a little.
4 Plug and play removable kitchen
5. Super good lighting
 

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I like what Im hearing because Ive read for days on end and haven't seen a van I could just duplicate.
Dont get me wrong the builds here are amazing and I will steal ideas for sure so I dont reinvent the wheel.
My first iteration dream van for starters would look like....

1. Easily converted from an adventurer back to a hauler for whatever.
2. A garage for two large mountain bikes etc.
3. Durable stress free finishes so no sweat banging it up a little.
4 Plug and play removable kitchen
5. Super good lighting
That's pretty much what I went for. The primary goal was to be able to remove everything in less than an hour, so I could use the van to haul stuff. Ironically, I never have since Covid19 changed my business plans. However, its still good to be able to pull everything out and hose it down after a few, week long trips in the desert. The sand and dust get everywhere. I see lots of beautiful interiors but cant imagine they stay that way for long with the abuse our van's interior gets.
 

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I like what Im hearing because Ive read for days on end and haven't seen a van I could just duplicate.
Dont get me wrong the builds here are amazing and I will steal ideas for sure so I dont reinvent the wheel.
My first iteration dream van for starters would look like....

1. Easily converted from an adventurer back to a hauler for whatever.
2. A garage for two large mountain bikes etc.
3. Durable stress free finishes so no sweat banging it up a little.
4 Plug and play removable kitchen
5. Super good lighting
I’ve got to second this. I’m getting a 2021 and it will be minimal to start. Only the things which are nonnegotiable. Seating, a fridge. Toilet. Folks can tent it the first few trips.
Then we see what we need.
 

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You know, rereading this thread, I felt like I’ve found my people. I’ve been looking for this minimalist build and I’ve gone through so many layouts and ideas,
Probably over a year or more when I got this idea. 4 bikes, 4 people travel, 4 people, in a pinch, sleep inside.
Now that may never happen, except in snow, and even then I’ve camped in a tent in snow many nights.
So, most nights, you don’t have 4 sleep in the van.
You go from there.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
We’re on the second night (well, afternoon still) of our second outing. In addition to the elevated bed and bike fork mounts we had last time, I added a quick and dirty cabinet system (plastic drawer units from Staples encased in a plywood frame with a 48” long counter on top) behind the driver seat plus a 12x48 longitudinal shelf above the passenger rear wheel well. Realizing we don’t need a lot of fancy cabinets, so next steps will be insulation, Maxxaire, then water and bigger house batteries and more solar, as well as a gasoline heater.

Also did a bit more trail crawling ... about a mile or two of loosing dusty and mildly rocky two-track up to a lovely camp spot in the aspens. Mud/Ruts mode holds 1st gear while Tow/Haul gives a bit more flexibility but seems to hold gears well when the trail has smooth/straight spots where you want a bit more speed. Traction was never an issue with the OEM Conti’s but ground clearance feels marginal so line selection was critical and the wide towing mirrors are NFG in the trees. And, I never felt need for a low range.
 

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We’re on the second night (well, afternoon still) of our second outing. In addition to the elevated bed and bike fork mounts we had last time, I added a quick and dirty cabinet system (plastic drawer units from Staples encased in a plywood frame with a 48” long counter on top) behind the driver seat plus a 12x48 longitudinal shelf above the passenger rear wheel well. Realizing we don’t need a lot of fancy cabinets, so next steps will be insulation, Maxxaire, then water and bigger house batteries and more solar, as well as a gasoline heater.

Also did a bit more trail crawling ... about a mile or two of loosing dusty and mildly rocky two-track up to a lovely camp spot in the aspens. Mud/Ruts mode holds 1st gear while Tow/Haul gives a bit more flexibility but seems to hold gears well when the trail has smooth/straight spots where you want a bit more speed. Traction was never an issue with the OEM Conti’s but ground clearance feels marginal so line selection was critical and the wide towing mirrors are NFG in the trees. And, I never felt need for a low range.
Trail name or location by chance? And pics!

Looking for some nice spots to hit up and camp at. Also in NorCal btw
 

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Hey guys Im in Santa Cruz. Ill be pulling the trigger soon on my adventure build. It might be fun to check on each others progress. I have extensive carpentry/ kitchen/ bath remodeling experience. Im going to need help with electrical logistics. I want clean and durable infrastructure with confidence its gonna work out in the middle of nowhere. Then ill enjoy dialing things in from there. Maybe plywood panel walls with electrical chases for easier expansion/contraction...Here I go woohoo
 
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