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Hey everyone! I'm new to this incredibly helpful forum and wanted to introduce myself and pick your brains for guidance. I'm from Missouri and am looking to build a wheelchair-accessible adventure-mobile. My wife uses the chair, but we're getting rid of our traditional wheelchair van (Honda Odyssey) in hopes of ordering a 2019 Transit within the next couple of weeks. We're hoping to get into an accessible vehicle that will give us access to places we've previously struggled with. For example, we've been out of cell range and struggling to get back up a steep gravel road after checking out a river access spot (the front wheel drive on the Honda barely got us out). Another time was when we joined some friends for a campout, but nearly got high-centered on a steep railroad crossing on their land (again, no cell service out there and the wheelchair conversion kit on the Honda left us with minimal ground clearance). I realize the Transit isn't currently offered in 4WD, but I'm not willing to risk (or pay for) a 4WD Sprinter. So I'm hoping to build/order a new Transit that will give me more offroad confidence and better ground clearance than our Honda had.


So we're looking at getting the medium roof, regular wheelbase Transit Cargo with the 3.31 Limited Slip Axle and 3.5L Ecoboost. From there, I'm hoping to upgrade the tires (all-terrain/offroad) and install a 2–3" lift. I also read about someone adding an ARB locker. I'm hoping with all that, and plenty of weight over the rear axles, I could get around how we'd like. Keep in mind, I'm not going to be towing, off-roading or overlanding. But we would like to explore a dirt road from time to time without worrying as much as I am now about getting stuck.


So here are some questions. Am I on a good path with the specs listed? How terrible will the MPGs be if I do all this? Is FordPass available on the 2019 Transits? If I wanted to build this into a camper van down the road, what other options do I need to add (interior upgrade package, aux heater/AC prep, dual HD batteries, HD alternator, builders prep package, RV prep package, upfitter switches, etc.)?


There's just a lot of options when custom ordering, and I'm not entirely sure what everything does, or if I'll need them.


Anyway, I know I've rambled a lot, but I'm hoping to get some conversations started to give me a bit more confidence when pulling the trigger on my custom order soon. Thanks in advance! - Chris
 

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Welcome! You've made a good start by researching here, there is a wealth of experience, expertise, ideas, and information in this forum, with a little bit of cajoling thrown in for good measure.

Your specs seem to be a good base for the desires and needs you describe. A thing to consider on options is whether they are integral to the initial build, easy to add later, or able to be added with moderate to involved expense & effort.

For instance:
-engine choice needs to be made at the onset, as does length & height.
-if you want windows all around, start with them
-the differential can be changed, but at a much higher cost later
-adding dual batteries or lighted mirrors does not take much to do
-adding an HD alternator not so much
-and so on

There are many great threads that you can read to whet your appetite, the search function is useful for finding them.
 

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We are having one done NOW at Lone Star Handicap Vans in Tyler, TX. Some of the specifications we have on this one may be of use to you.

Went with the T-250 MR R1D body style (SWB Dual Sliding Door) Blue Jeans exterior, Charcoal Cloth interior, 3.5L EcoBoost with 3.31 Limited Slip rear axle. Factory front/rear A/C to go with the rear couch/folding bed. The customer wanted lots of options so this one has most of the popular options.

You can see pictures of this Transit van under the thread 'Matt Ford/Lone Star Handicap Transit Conversion Van' with some of the equipment that will be added to it as it progresses through conversion.
 

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Yep, get the factory limited slip for a fraction of the cost of an aftermarket installation.
If you're getting a cargo, go ahead and order full windows. You can always cover up the ones you don't use/need from the inside.
Dual batteries might be good, it's easy to add a second in parallel for $100, though.
HD alternator would only be required if you are going to be running a bunch of high-power electric stuff with the motor running, like microwaving a meal while using a lift for a wheelchair while also winching yourself up a hill.
Upfitter switches could be handy, that way you don't have to make your own.

Keep in mind that it costs well over a thousand dollars just to get a couple inches more ground clearance (rear shock relocation kit, and a new set of taller tires, which might require a body lift kit for clearance, depending on what tires), and none of these things are available from the factory.

Also, I explored dirt roads, jeep trails and no trails offroad with my '74 Fiat 128 and bald tires. Just sayin'. Something heavy with a long wheelbase like the Transit might be more difficult, though. That's the price you pay to have a rolling apartment.
 

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Hi Chris,

Depending on your budget, you may want to consider a 4X4 conversion from either Quigley in PA or Quadvan in OR. There is a dealer in Newberg, OR that orders a lot of Quigley vans. They are expensive so you would to determine how much the "insurance" provided by 4X4 is worth. Best of luck.
 

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.
If you are willing to wait nine months for delivery, you could wait until May to see what the 2020 redesign has - rumours of AWD and the like.
I think September is the earliest you could get delivery.
.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks, everyone. Yeah, I've considered the Quigleys and Quadvan 4x4 conversions, but it seems like there's quite a wait, and they certainly are expensive. But by the time I get this where I want it, I'll probably have waited six months and spent an extra $10–20k anyway, so who knows! At this point, I'm wondering what the chances are of finding a used one with MOST of the extras I want (limited slip, windows, cargo/no seats, etc.). Seems like if the big aftermarket expense to add is the limited slip, maybe I just focus on getting the size of van I want, with reasonable mileage and limited slip and go from there. I just hate that most are white, but maybe I'll give it a paint job while I'm at it! ; )
 

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Just a quick update. I've learned a lot in the last week. The main thing I discovered that it's not advisable to remove the front passenger seat on a Transit. There's just too many critical components to mess with. I'm sure a few of you pro DIY-ers have done it before, but I've talked to multiple folks who won't even consider it. So. I've pivoted to the full-size van world instead. I'm currently looking at a 2014 Ford E-350 extended body that has a fiberglass raised roof. So far it's looking promising. It's only got 85k miles, a big ole V8, already has a wheelchair ramp, has good ground clearance and a removable front passenger seat. So we'll see how it goes!
 

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The main thing I discovered that it's not advisable to remove the front passenger seat on a Transit. There's just too many critical components to mess with.
Depends on the van options. I have a 2015 with no components under the passenger seat. No electrical either. Passenger seat easy to remove with four bolts.
 

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Depends on the van options. I have a 2015 with no components under the passenger seat. No electrical either. Passenger seat easy to remove with four bolts.

Interesting. Did you order it yourself, or did you buy it that way used? I've been through the custom build process online and didn't see anything that specified that change. Of course, not all of the customizable options are described well either. If anyone knows how to order one this way, I'd love to know! I do like the new amenities offered in the Transits, as the Econolines didn't receive many amenity upgrades on their way toward being discontinued...
 

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Ordered it new. Attached is the options list ordered in 2015. Do not know is current new vans would be the same.

http://www.ortontransit.info/transit_order_page.php

I did remove the jack that was stored under the seat. Built my own seat swivel and the jack was in the way. With my options I did not have any electrical cords that needed to be pulled through a hollow swivel seat shaft. My swivel seat shaft is solid 1 1/4" SS bar.
 

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I don't believe there is anything important under the passenger seat, other than jack storage. I haven't looked closely at the Transit, but on my Sprinter the seat base was bolted to the floor and could be removed, creating a big open space. Maybe the Transit base is welded?
 

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Have you played with fords online build site? There is nothing under the passenger seat except the jack, lots of people use the space for a heater install. Unless you order with power seat, and you wouldn’t. You can order with the just a power drivers seat if you want that.
Actually I think you can order with no passenger seat at all, not positive.
 

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The main thing I discovered that it's not advisable to remove the front passenger seat on a Transit. There's just too many critical components to mess with.
I haven't removed the passenger seat but reading the posts of people who've added swivels, the only thing under there for them have been airbag wires which they've passed through without too much hassle.

The only other things that might be there depends on your options: heated seats, power seats. I would still think it's doable. I'd be curious to hear why people thought you shouldn't mess with them. Maybe that advice was from people with minimal DIY skills?
 

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Seems like you have a lot of specific options in mind, so my personal recommendation would be to go with a Rollx conversion as they have a huge amount of customized minivan wheelchair conversion options for just about any type of van you could want — and if you’re struggling to decide on which options to pick, their sales team is really friendly and helpful on that front. Plus they have such a large inventory (the biggest in the US, I think) that it’s possible you could find the vehicle and features you want right away without even having to make a custom order.
 
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