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Discussion Starter · #61 ·
Hi Gregoryx
I am still up in the air on ordering a cargo van with all around windows or a passenger van. Don't need the seats. Probably will install a two person folding jump seat just behind the driver. My main reason for choosing the passenger van would be the finished ceiling and walls. Not seeing myself being able to do custom side and ceiling installs, but would have to take out existing walls and ceiling for solar install anyways and reinstall. Pretty pricey to have an outfitter install walls and ceiling on cargo package. Pretty much settled on NS set up, climbing over partner in bed would be a big problem with E/W flare set up. Not worried about fishbowl aspect. Privacy glass seems really dark. AC in rear might be a plus. Any tips appreciated. Thanks
I think I mentioned it previously, but never sure... the biggest driver for non-passenger for us was the dual-rear-wheels. I didn't want them; I wanted single-rear-wheels. Mostly because I think that handles better in snow and ice; but I could be wrong... and that was a big decider.

The other big factor was the rather HUGE intrusion into the passenger compartment of the top of the passenger van for the AC stuff. Both sides of the passenger above the windows stick out into the van pretty far.

Here's a shot from the VanDoIt folks (just thinking where I'd get an image).
Building Blue Vehicle Light Mode of transport


Here's ours.
Motor vehicle Automotive design Gas Machine Wood


We have cabinets that intrude less or about the same as the silly AC vent upper panels. So I would have removed all that ceiling stuff. The lower panels aren't a problem, but neither is covering the lower panels - they're pretty simple and straight.

Of course, our unfinished walls look like crap because this is WAY outside my field of expertise / comfort. I'd love to get some factory rear door panels as a start, but haven't pursued it yet. We will end up covering the crappy-looking walls eventually with neoprene and fabric; but I'm not optimistic on the outcome.

The ceiling is actually a really easy one to do. Ours is a bit more complex; but the method we used on a friend's rig was amazingly simple and (I think) looks great. It's the same simple panels that we have in ours but they go all the way to the edges. It is one day's work. the upper sections of the wall are tougher; but there are many solutions for that - and it's a non-issue if you install cabinets.
 

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Discussion Starter · #62 ·
Propane locker.

Last rig, we used an 11-pound propane tank with our inline shower water heater. It was such a convenient size and shape we considered using it again in this rig. Then we decided maybe an under-chassis tank was a better idea. But the convenience of filling this tank is hard to beat. We bought another one and tried it with the oven to see how well it holds up - how much propane does the oven use? We've used the oven and stove a lot and only used half a tank, so we're keeping it.

Initially, it was just strapped onto the back of the galley. Probably fine. But why not do it right? So... how hard IS it to do it right? Our understanding is that the issue is propane is heavier than air - more like a liquid than a gas (like natural gas), so the problem is that propane will "pool" as it invisibly leaks out - making the floor of the van ready to burn up. So the solution is to put it in a "bucket" of sorts with a hole in the bottom that drains to the outside, where it can drain / dissipate. Not super rocket-science. And, let's face it, anything we do is better than it just strapped in there; so... hard to go wrong with such a low bar!

It's tucked as close to the rear wheel as possible.
Tire Wheel Motor vehicle Handle Automotive design


Those two wood pieces just drop in. Keeps it from rattling around while being easy to remove. The hose just sticks out that side opening. Not perfectly sealed, obviously, but significantly better than it was, right? And simple.
Automotive design Gadget Gas Machine Auto part


Everything is lined with an off-brand Flex Seal tape. Seems fine. You can see the hole down at the bottom corner - using a 1" PVC pipe. Didn't want to actually fill it with water to test... but it seems good.
Building Automotive tire Floor Flooring House


Flooring Floor Wood Picture frame Gas
 

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I think I mentioned it previously, but never sure... the biggest driver for non-passenger for us was the dual-rear-wheels. I didn't want them; I wanted single-rear-wheels. Mostly because I think that handles better in snow and ice; but I could be wrong... and that was a big decider.

The other big factor was the rather HUGE intrusion into the passenger compartment of the top of the passenger van for the AC stuff. Both sides of the passenger above the windows stick out into the van pretty far.

Here's a shot from the VanDoIt folks (just thinking where I'd get an image).
View attachment 159733

Here's ours.
View attachment 159734

We have cabinets that intrude less or about the same as the silly AC vent upper panels. So I would have removed all that ceiling stuff. The lower panels aren't a problem, but neither is covering the lower panels - they're pretty simple and straight.

Of course, our unfinished walls look like crap because this is WAY outside my field of expertise / comfort. I'd love to get some factory rear door panels as a start, but haven't pursued it yet. We will end up covering the crappy-looking walls eventually with neoprene and fabric; but I'm not optimistic on the outcome.

The ceiling is actually a really easy one to do. Ours is a bit more complex; but the method we used on a friend's rig was amazingly simple and (I think) looks great. It's the same simple panels that we have in ours but they go all the way to the edges. It is one day's work. the upper sections of the wall are tougher; but there are many solutions for that - and it's a non-issue if you install cabinets.
Thanks Gregoryx, very informative.
 

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Discussion Starter · #64 · (Edited)
Roadmaster Active Suspension post ($550 direct purchase)

Just installed them this afternoon. Short test-drive showed a noticeable decrease in squat on acceleration. Taking corners at twice the recommended speed seemed a bit better than previously, but it's hard to say. No noticeable increase in roughness or anything negative.

Installing them didn't take too long once I got the van off the ground and got over my fear of such a heavy rig resting on the jack-stands while on our angled driveway and all that. As always, first one took an hour and a half; second one took a half-hour. Of course, it took me an hour to find my jack-stands and wheel-chocks. Too much stuff in the garage.

Automotive tire Wood Bumper Coil Coil spring


Automotive tire Gear Wood Bicycle part Automotive wheel system


Automotive tire Motor vehicle Gas Fender Auto part



My high-tech method of getting the van off the ground. Three 2x4s stacked on top of the hydraulic / jack-stands. It works. But it really doesn't instill confidence. :LOL:
Wood Automotive exterior Bumper Line Automotive tire
 

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Discussion Starter · #65 · (Edited)
Air Lift Load Lifter 5000 Ultimate and Wireless Kit post (~$500 on Amazon)

Just realized I didn't post anything about this. And, of course, they're visible in the RAS post above.

Inflation to full, then dropping to lowest setting. You can see the height drop a bit. Of course, it will actually drop further when driving as it settles.

We put the manual inflation Schrader valves under a cover by the fuel tank.

Air Lift observations:

Primary driver was the van was chewing holes in our driveway with the tow hitch if we forgot to do the angle right when pulling in. Which, of course, meant it was scraping elsewhere at times. How to fix that? Add heavy springs? Don't want the stiffer ride, really... it rides SO nice on a smooth highway. Bags seemed a best-of-both for clearance and the /option/ to stiffen up the suspension.

Outcome was immediate: push the button to take it to 100psi and no trouble hitting at all. Drove it a few thousand miles of all terrain and concluded that running 25-30psi regularly stiffened up the suspension just enough to take it back to feeling more like stock - or as much as it could after adding 3,000 pounds. Up it to ~60psi and it was a bit "stiff" which /might/ have helped on sway / turns? Hard to be sure. But noticeably stiffer. Accidentally leave it at 100psi after putting it up for clearance and feel freeway inconsistencies like a sharp whack.

Then realize the bags are also like an RV-leveling system "lite" version... feeling pretty happy about that. Get it close left-right with the front end an inch higher and use the Air Lift to get it perfect. Love it.

Ended up removing the tow-hitch as well... don't really use it and can always put it back on with a half-dozen bolts. Plenty of clearance now.

Tire Wheel Automotive tire Vehicle Aircraft


Automotive lighting Electrical wiring Motor vehicle Vehicle Trunk


Fixture Automotive tire Automotive exterior Vehicle door Automotive lighting
 

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Discussion Starter · #66 · (Edited)
Espar B4L-M2 post

Motor vehicle Trunk Vehicle Automotive exterior Automotive tire



Mounted in the driver's side behind the wheel. It kept shutting itself off until I smoothed out that first curve a bit - needed to airflow better, I guess. Still need to re-route that output. It is HOT. It melted the lid of the potty which was near the output. 😬

Automotive exterior Automotive tire Gas Bumper Auto part


Fuel tank. Wasn't /too/ hard to drop it. A bit of the check-list in case someone is doing it:
  1. Made sure it only had a couple gallons of gas in it.
  2. Two of us working on it. Would have been tougher solo.
  3. Lifted the van a bit - raised the Air Lift to max in the rear and used jack-stands in the front.
  4. Disconnected the fuel filler (simple hose clamp and some muscle)
  5. Put a piece of duck tape over the filler hole (less fuel to splash out)
  6. Loosened all eight bolts. (~40-50kN for reference)
  7. Got a few 2x4s to hold the rear of the tank from going all the way to the ground
  8. Put a floor jack under the front of the tank (with a 2x4 across for balance)
  9. Removed all four straps - keeping track of which was which and what direction
  10. Removed rear straps first - dropping tank onto the 2x4s
  11. Last one we removed was the front - weight of the front on the floor jack
  12. Removed all the rear 2x4s - keeping the front of the tank UP
  13. Disconnected the fuel lines - just a small flat-head screwdriver and fingers-work
  14. Pop the fuel lines out of their press-fit slots
  15. Disconnected electrical connector - pull out the red thing, then press the lock tab release
  16. Then lower the tank all the way to the ground and slide it out.
Pretty easy. No special tools - just a small flat-head screwdriver. An hour first time. Probably 15 minutes the second time.

Pulled the plastic cover off then bashed the metal ring off with a screwdriver and a mallet.

Drilled a 5/16" hole, cut 2-1/2" off the standpipe and put it in. It's very close to the float; but doesn't touch. We had about 2 gallons of gas in the tank at the time, so we made it a little higher than that - probably good for 3-4 gallons in the 31 gallon tank with the 2.5" cut-off.
Automotive tire Hood Bumper Gas Bicycle handlebar


Reassembled with the stand-pipe in place and the fuel feed line connected.
Automotive tire Motor vehicle Hood Automotive design Rim


Reconnected fuel lines and electrical. Zip-tied the heater fuel line on to a wiring harness mount point and again to the wiring harness itself.
Automotive tire Asphalt Road surface Hood Motor vehicle


Routed the fuel line to the rear - behind our 20-gallon fresh-water tank. Will install the pump next. Then the heater behind the driver's side rear wheel.

Cut a piece of 1/8" aluminum plate to fit for the heater mount.
Wood Rectangle Table Grey Material property


Popped a couple holes in the floor to route the lines. Kept the hot one in the middle; not worried about the intake side heat. Lined the sides of the plywood with aluminum tape.
Rectangle Wood Material property Fluid Gas


Not the finished plate - ended up adding two more screws and some 2-sided tape just to assure a good seal.
Light Automotive tire Line Tool Bicycle part


Bicycle tire Automotive tire Wood Bicycle fork Bicycle part


Automotive tire Motor vehicle Bumper Automotive exterior Gas
 

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With both the air lift and the RAS that should give a solid ride for being built out on the mountain passes. Update on this setup later on please.
 

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Discussion Starter · #68 ·
With both the air lift and the RAS that should give a solid ride for being built out on the mountain passes. Update on this setup later on please.
For sure. Heading to the mountains next week. I'll be sure to update.
 

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Ya, would love to hear details on ride improvement from just air bags then added RAS.

The air bag video was cool, not as mesmerizing as watching the bed go up and down 🤣🤣 but helpful, none the less - thanks. Planning air bags and deciding on other options - struts those RAS etc. And now I'm pondering a lift bed. its pretty cool for that price.
 

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Discussion Starter · #70 ·
Ya, would love to hear details on ride improvement from just air bags then added RAS.

The air bag video was cool, not as mesmerizing as watching the bed go up and down 🤣🤣 but helpful, none the less - thanks. Planning air bags and deciding on other options - struts those RAS etc. And now I'm pondering a lift bed. its pretty cool for that price.
Ah... good points. I'll go back to those posts and add thoughts on the changes they made - in case someone looks at the post without looking here.

And, yeah... that's how I felt about the bed thing as well: for the /money/ seems an obvious solution.


Air Lift observations:

Primary driver was the van was chewing holes in our driveway with the tow hitch if we forgot to do the angle right when pulling in. Which, of course, meant it was scraping elsewhere at times. How to fix that? Add heavy springs? Don't want the stiffer ride, really... it rides SO nice on a smooth highway. Bags seemed a best-of-both for clearance and the /option/ to stiffen up the suspension.

Outcome was immediate: push the button to take it to 100psi and no trouble hitting at all. Drove it a few thousand miles of all terrain and concluded that running 25-30psi regularly stiffened up the suspension just enough to take it back to feeling more like stock - or as much as it could after adding 3,000 pounds. Up it to ~60psi and it was a bit "stiff" which /might/ have helped on sway / turns? Hard to be sure. But noticeably stiffer. Accidentally leave it at 100psi after putting it up for clearance and feel freeway inconsistencies like a sharp whack.

Then realize the bags are also like an RV-leveling system "lite" version... feeling pretty happy about that. Get it close left-right with the front end an inch higher and use the Air Lift to get it perfect. Love it.

Ended up removing the tow-hitch as well... don't really use it and can always put it back on with a half-dozen bolts. Plenty of clearance now.


RAS:

Still seemed like it could use some anti-sway work. Adding a heavy sway bar to our Sprinter helped a lot more than the Sumo springs we added to a buddy's identical rig. Then I see this RAS thing as claiming it will work as well as a sway bar for cross-wind and turns... and add a bit to the weight-compensation as well. Hm. 🤔

Price was within tolerances, so give it a try.

First drive reaction: absolutely noticeable decrease in squat on take-off. That feeling that adding heavier springs would add to a street bike or a drag rig. Winning already. And rear-end sits an inch higher or so. Took the Air Lift down to 10psi - we'll see what happens there in time.

Further observations after next week's trip.
 

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Discussion Starter · #72 ·
I'm especially interested in this aspect. Got wind?
I'm looking forward to seeing if it helps. That said... the Transit is so much better than the Sprinter was (even /with/ the aftermarket rear sway bar), it's hard to imagine a particularly large improvement on this. I'm expecting more from curves.
 

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I'm looking forward to seeing if it helps. That said... the Transit is so much better than the Sprinter was (even /with/ the aftermarket rear sway bar), it's hard to imagine a particularly large improvement on this. I'm expecting more from curves.
I'm not to worried about cornering. The navigation "system" in my other vehicles gives strong audible warnings well before any potential dangerous G-force cornering levels. I suspect the system will be even more sensitive in the Transit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #74 ·
I'm not to worried about cornering. The navigation "system" in my other vehicles gives strong audible warnings well before any potential dangerous G-force cornering levels. I suspect the system will be even more sensitive in the Transit.
Haven't observed that in the Transit, so... maybe not there?
 

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Haven't observed that in the Transit, so... maybe not there?
System not on my 2015.

I was surprised once entering a left hand sharp curve at a speed I was not concerned about. The Transit was concerned so almost locked up the two left side wheels. Has only happened once in 40,000 miles. So there are some sensors and a resultant action. Never have had any warning noises.

I do have larger 245/70/16 tires and have added a rear sway bar from the passenger version.
 

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The nav system is a sophisticated bio-neurological one and resides in the right front seat.
That seat was occupied by my old black Lab. He was great to travel with without any comments about my lack of driving ability.

One day driving up Hwy 1 just above Bodega Bay we had an incident. Road has switchbacks so driver is looking to the left while negotiating the curve. Noticed I was missing a dog. Stopped and drove back to find him. He appeared running in the direction van had been traveling. Out the open window he had gone. No injury but he was very quiet on the way home.
 

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@gregoryx you came along at the right time for me. You have a well thought out build with experience of vans to back it. You've helped me rethink my plans to a more logical approach. Totally poaching off your build. Thank you so much for documenting all of this so well. Huge respect and shall we cross paths i will extend the gratitude.
 

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Discussion Starter · #79 ·
@gregoryx you came along at the right time for me. You have a well thought out build with experience of vans to back it. You've helped me rethink my plans to a more logical approach. Totally poaching off your build. Thank you so much for documenting all of this so well. Huge respect and shall we cross paths i will extend the gratitude.
Glad it's been useful, @NW_Freedom. Fire away any questions or concerns. I'll be watching and learning from you as well! 😁
 

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My electrical totally changed. So by going 24v with dc/ac/dc i pretty much need to order the dual alternator to make this system worth while right? I know I'm going overboard with this system but there would be no worries for inclement weather since part of my plan is to use this for skiing with a epic pass. I can also switch from propane for stove and water heater.
 
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