Ford Transit USA Forum banner

1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Being a long-time lurker allowed me to become inspired, do a camervan build plan, and buy a 2020 Transit from @CrewVanMan (delivery last weekend). I’m an engineer and program manager by trade, so I have plenty of written details and plans. As a small token of appreciation for this community for all the help I’ve received, I’ll keep updating this thread with pictures and details as the build progresses. Comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome, and thanks for all the help so far and in the future!
132959

Design Vision
  • Hop in Fri after work with bikes, clothes, and dog, and start driving--fill up with water and groceries on the way, sleep anywhere, and wake up to make coffee and breakfast before the Sat adventure (probably an epic road or mountain bike ride with my wife somewhere in CO, UT, or AZ)
132964

  • Just add water and gasoline on the way to the adventure
  • Lightweight, efficient: as much as possible with a nearly-4-ton van!
  • Configurable, upgradeable
  • Stealth-ish--when driving or sleeping in suburban/urban places, nothing on the outside looks too obviously like a campsite, or like there is anything to steal inside
  • Drive through snow/slush/rain with bikes protected inside; highly prefer to not remove bike wheels
  • Normal uses: maybe 9K mi/yr?
    • Short work commutes: ~300 mi/yr, maybe 20 trips
    • Hauling building and van upgrade supplies around town or to to a vacation place: ~1K mi/yr, maybe 15 trips
    • Stealth camping in the city for Fri night parties followed by Sat morn bike rides: ~1.5K mi/yr, maybe 15 trips
    • More remote driving/camping/cycling trips, long weekends through 2-weeks: ~~6K mi/yr, maybe 8 trips
Garage and vehicle
  • The Van! Garage-storable Pop-top weekend adventure camper
    • Basic vehicle: It is a $46K ($34.5K base price plus $11.5K options) 2020 Ford Transit T-350 “1 ton” Cargo Van medium roof 130” wheelbase AWD 3.5L "eco boost" dual-turbocharged V6 with 306 hp and 400 ft-lbs of torque, 25 gal gas tank, heavy-duty front axle, 3.73 gear ratio limited-slip rear axle, and factory-installed upgrades: swivel seats, dual 70 Ah AGM batteries, dual alternators, lane keeping, and adaptive cruise.
      • Higher ratio axle was not an option on this vehicle size--more pulling power and less fuel econ;
      • Lower ratio axle was available as an option that we didn’t get, 3.31--might have been higher top-end speed and better fuel economy on the flats, but would have been harder getting up and down passes especially when fully loaded for camping and/or towing; also, when larger tires are added, it makes this ratio effectively lower.
132960
132961
132962

  • Upfit: We're upfitting it for ~$40K with an insulated pop-top, all electric (no propane) hot water and appliance suite using BattleBorn LiFePO4 (lithium iron phosphate) 12V battery pack with 5x 100 Ah (>6 kWh usable power), a Espar gasoline air heater, a thermostat-controlled vent fan, a full indoor/outdoor kitchen with induction cooking, outdoor hot/cold shower, portable cassette toilet, 2 removable passenger seats with seat belts, birds-eye camera system, and a manual awning.
  • Dimensions: Overall, it (just) fits in our garage: 18' long, 9' high, 7' wide. The cargo area (living room, kitchen) is 49.1 square feet, plus the area of the two front swivel seats.
  • Weights and efficiency: The gas mileage of the empty stock van in Feb 2020 was about 15.5 mpg with 87 octane, mostly flat highway for the first 600 miles on the odo., at an actual vehicle weight of 5900 lbs; I’ll update with after up-fit weights and gas mileage.
  • Major options:
    • White exterior, two factory-installed swivel seats, heavy duty front axle, heavy duty limited-slip rear axle (extra clutch that prevents rear-wheel slip) @ 3.73 gear ratio
    • Electrical upgrades: aux fuse panel, dual AGM batteries, trailer wiring and tow mode, dual alternator, and engine block heater
    • Safety/convenience upgrades: adaptive cruise control, BLIS (blind spot), auto headlights, heated long-arm mirrors, keyless entry, perimeter alarm, mid-level audio/XM radio, vehicle maintenance monitor
132963

  • Dimensions
    • 218” long bumper-to-bumper (18.2’)
    • ~110.5” (9.2’) high with Maxair fan after CCV conversion (they promise!), stock wheels (stock was 110.8”)
      • Stock wheels and tires pre-pop-top, have 15.5” of clearance to garage door
      • I’ll update with the post-pop-top clearance.
    • 130” wheelbase (<11’), cargo area about 104” long (<9’)
    • 83.2” width, mirrors folded
    • Rear cargo door opening 61 w x 64 t; side open 51 w x 63” t
    • 28.9” load height stock
    • 54.8” between wheel wells;
    • Garage 9.75’ (117”) tall, absolute max vehicle length 224”
    • Tallest bicycle handlebar wheel-on is 45”; longest is 77” long, 16” wide at pedals, 30” wide handlebar
  • Other options we considered for the van
    • Ford diesel. We thought about it for the higher torque. But, we’re not planning on doing a lot of towing. So, we ended up with gas for the quicker availability in the 2020 model year, lower acquisition cost, lower maintenance cost, lower fuel cost (at least for the next few years), better performance in the cold at 10K’, and better fuel availability (especially if we drive into Central/South America)
    • Ford low roof. Maybe slightly better weight/efficiency than med/high roof...but very tight inside with pop-top down (stealth camping)
      • 84” overall outside height, rear cargo door opening height 49”, cargo height max 56.9”
    • Mercedes models are too long for our garage.
    • Promaster high roof (106” tall, shorter than Ford med roof) and 213” long--fits in the garage, but, no 4-wheel or AWD option, crappy ride/seats, no swivel, no adaptive cruise, no lane keeping/departure
Phase I mod plan
The first phase of the van plan: get the major exterior and structural components in place that are important for planning and install of the rest of the interior. The big one: Colorado Campervan install of the pop top. I’m also having them install a manual 3m Fiamma awning, and also install my Espar Airtronic B4 cab heater (with “pro” controller).

  • Pop top: because we have a small van, we live 20 minutes from CCV, and they have a great product that gives us a lot of floorspace. We probably would have gone with a bed-lift if we had liked the Promaster more--sleeping “east west” on a bed lift would have been a nice use of space in a garage-sized van. But, we liked the Ford AWD and safety features and size, which means that we’d be sleeping “north-south” in a short-wheelbase van that fits in our garage. So, pop-top it is! We got CCV to install their insulation package, along with their lighting package.
  • Awning: manual is cheaper, and 1 less thing that requires a wire, switch, fuse, and maintenance. Only time will tell if I regret it when I’m manually extending or retracting it!
  • Espar heater: the “v2” of their gas heater has the high-altitude kit included, and it seemed to get slightly better reviews than Webasto. An in-cab heater was essential, since we plan to use this van in Leadville, CO at 10K’ in the winter. CCV is installing it, because I was looking for a way to shorten the build time a bit--giving a pro this task cost some coin, but probably saved me two straight weekends of very frustrating work!
  • Removable passenger seats: going with bus seats, come with integrated seatbelts, meant to be mounted to floor
In the next few weeks, I’ll be updating progress on the rest of the first phase: electric and plumbing rough-in, L-track, and some other rough-out details.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
203 Posts
This is very much my use case also. I am going to buy a slightly different van and the build will be a little different but MANY things are the same.
I’ll be very interested in your updates.
Yes, you sound like an engineer. If you had any doubts. However I appreciate the detail. Keep it coming.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Great post, keep them coming. How fast were you driving when you got that 15.5 mpg?
It was the drive from MO back to CO, breaking in the engine by varying the cruise between 55 and 80. Not very scientific, but it only spent <700 mi of its life without a pop top, so that's the only data point I can contribute to a stock van with my options. As a side note, I really enjoyed the adaptive cruise, it was actually a good way to purposely not keep the speed exactly the same for a long drive. Set it to 80, but get behind a slower big rig and go at their speed for awhile, then get out behind someone going a little faster, etc. Good way to pass the time while breaking in the engine.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,140 Posts
Glad to get to meet you and deliver this very special built AWD Transit van. This is just one of many Matt Ford customers who plans out their special ordered 2020 Transit to fit their long term needs.

Keep up the future posts on any updates you do to your AWD Transit. Glad you got to see how the Adaptive Cruise works when you are on the highway and make use of it in traffic situations.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Glad to get to meet you and deliver this very special built AWD Transit van. This is just one of many Matt Ford customers who plans out their special ordered 2020 Transit to fit their long term needs.

Keep up the future posts on any updates you do to your AWD Transit. Glad you got to see how the Adaptive Cruise works when you are on the highway and make use of it in traffic situations.
Will definitely keep you posted. @[email protected] , good to meet you too, and a pleasure working with you and seeing first hand the thousands of fleet vehicles that Ford is putting ahead of other custom vehicles like mine. Made me feel lucky that I was able to sneak in line, and "only" had to wait 17 weeks between order and delivery!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Well, the van is back from Colorado Camper Van, and it is looking very, very nice! It grew in weight from 5900 lbs to 6420 lbs from them doing the pop-top (“4-season” insulated), a Maxair fan, adding the Fiama awning, and adding the Espar heater (both weights from the same truck scale near my house, both with a full tank of gas, my wife and I, and my dog). That leaves a total of 3000 lbs I can add in the upfit. My front axle came in at 3680 lbs, so I can only add 950 lbs in the front--that might be tight. I might be re-thinking where I put my batteries and water to try to get more weight on the rear axle.
133525

They also did a great job with custom brackets to mount the awning. The awning is manual, but pretty straightforward to put out and retract. I love how sleek it is--it doesn’t look bulky like a lot of the motorized awnings I’ve seen.
133524


133526


The pop-top from CCV has a ton of headroom--plenty to sit up in bed and hang out, drink coffee. It fits in my garage, with 6.25” to spare. That’s great news--to get more ground clearance, I want to do a 2” lift, and tires that are 1” diameter more. So, I’ll be good to go, especially after adding more weight and weighing down the suspension a bit.
133523


With the bed panels removed, and the top up, the interior of this thing is HUGE! It is like being inside of a tall outdoor gazebo. With windows all around, with the top up and windows open, it transforms from a closed, private, cozy van into a huge room with a 360-degree view. Really, it is better than I thought it would be.
133527


I’m still in the midst of electrical system final design (Fast charging advice needed: dual alternators, 2020 Transit all electric LiFePO4 campervan), so that’s what I’m working on right now. I also have sound deadening that I’ll be adding, and some L-track on the way. Rough frame, rough electric, here we come!
133528
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
I'll build it as quick as I can and keep posting pics--I don't envy you having to wait through all the delays and now a production shut down!

...I’m following this build.
Waiting for the AWD 2020 Transit cargo.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
191 Posts
Well, the van is back from Colorado Camper Van, and it is looking very, very nice! It grew in weight from 5900 lbs to 6420 lbs from them doing the pop-top (“4-season” insulated), a Maxair fan, adding the Fiama awning, and adding the Espar heater (both weights from the same truck scale near my house, both with a full tank of gas, my wife and I, and my dog). That leaves a total of 3000 lbs I can add in the upfit. My front axle came in at 3680 lbs, so I can only add 950 lbs in the front--that might be tight. I might be re-thinking where I put my batteries and water to try to get more weight on the rear axle.
View attachment 133525
They also did a great job with custom brackets to mount the awning. The awning is manual, but pretty straightforward to put out and retract. I love how sleek it is--it doesn’t look bulky like a lot of the motorized awnings I’ve seen.
View attachment 133524

View attachment 133526

The pop-top from CCV has a ton of headroom--plenty to sit up in bed and hang out, drink coffee. It fits in my garage, with 6.25” to spare. That’s great news--to get more ground clearance, I want to do a 2” lift, and tires that are 1” diameter more. So, I’ll be good to go, especially after adding more weight and weighing down the suspension a bit.
View attachment 133523

With the bed panels removed, and the top up, the interior of this thing is HUGE! It is like being inside of a tall outdoor gazebo. With windows all around, with the top up and windows open, it transforms from a closed, private, cozy van into a huge room with a 360-degree view. Really, it is better than I thought it would be.
View attachment 133527

I’m still in the midst of electrical system final design (Fast charging advice needed: dual alternators, 2020 Transit all electric LiFePO4 campervan), so that’s what I’m working on right now. I also have sound deadening that I’ll be adding, and some L-track on the way. Rough frame, rough electric, here we come!
View attachment 133528
Nice!

How did CCV reinforce the roof where the ribs were removed?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
203 Posts
I'll build it as quick as I can and keep posting pics--I don't envy you having to wait through all the delays and now a production shut down!
Oh I think I have given up for 2020. I’ll have to change my sig to 2021. Production and delivery was messed up before the manufacturing shutdown and now I’m hearing about changes for 2021 that I’m interested in.
I’m in no hurry really. I figure my van is now delayed at least 6 months.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Nice!

How did CCV reinforce the roof where the ribs were removed?
I got to see some other vans in progress up at CCV. They put a metal frame around the cutout. They claim that it is stronger than stock, and I think that claim is plausible. I have a feeling that is where a lot of the weight comes from.

Have you checked this out as an option: https://amsolar.com/rv-battery-accessories/98-altcli230

See Dave's Lorax build thread.....seems to have worked great for him.
That build is one of my inspirations for sure, he did a fantastic job. That AM Solar option was in the running, but I think I'm leaning towards an option that will allow me to fine-tune the amount of current that I take out of my starter battery/alternator combo. He reports that his setup gets a max of 175A, and I'm going to shoot for a little bit more out of my dual 250A heavy duty alternators if I can. There is a real possibility that the vehicle won't support it, so we'll see...Science!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
134 Posts
He reports that his setup gets a max of 175A, and I'm going to shoot for a little bit more out of my dual 250A heavy duty alternators if I can.
IIRC, Dave has only one 250A alternator and that is probably what is limiting his max current. With your dual 250A alternators, I would guess you would easily surpass a max of 175. Your limiting factor might be the 230A Cyrix-Li-ct. As I understand it, the Cyrix-Li-ct just serves as a pass through and doesn't have any current limiting capabilities.....it will just pass through whatever current the batteries are looking for (when it sees the correct voltages).....I'm assuming up to a max of 230A. My only concern would be if your batteries want more than 230A, you might have to figure out a way to limit the current so it doesn't fry the Cyrix! I'm just conjecturing on those last two statements regarding the 230A.....you would have to do some research to verify that. Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Did I see Shirley in the Bearmouth area of MT, today (I-90, mm 138, 1330ish local)? And, WTH, who had the red Transit with a bike rack earlier in the day?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
IIRC, Dave has only one 250A alternator and that is probably what is limiting his max current. With your dual 250A alternators, I would guess you would easily surpass a max of 175. Your limiting factor might be the 230A Cyrix-Li-ct. As I understand it, the Cyrix-Li-ct just serves as a pass through and doesn't have any current limiting capabilities.....it will just pass through whatever current the batteries are looking for (when it sees the correct voltages).....I'm assuming up to a max of 230A. My only concern would be if your batteries want more than 230A, you might have to figure out a way to limit the current so it doesn't fry the Cyrix! I'm just conjecturing on those last two statements regarding the 230A.....you would have to do some research to verify that. Good luck!
Yeah, the way I understand it, without regulation, my big house battery bank will happily draw down the alternator/starter-battery voltage and draw many hundreds of amps if the wiring/fusing will let it. So, I need some kind of current regulation. At the same time, the vehicle voltage will usually be too low to top off my house bank, so I also need a boost (and sometimes buck) converter. The AM solar setup is good for a lot of users, but I'm going to be using dual heavy duty alternators as my primary charging source for a big house bank, so I think I've settled on a large inverter feeding my Victron 3000VA charger. The charger will allow me to fine-tune current draw and get as much as I can out of the alternators without frying them.
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top