1994 Ford E150 4x4 Adventure Van Build aka Vanny DeVito

#1
I recently picked up a 1994 Ford E150 with a Salem Kroger 4x4 conversion and high top for a pretty good price. I was hoping for a E350, but it was hard to pass up for a deal. That just means I'll go a little slower and enjoy the scenery. That said, it's a nice intro to the van world and hoping to do a camping build out pretty cheaply. If I like it, then I'll spring for a nicer and newer E350.

Since bknudtsen lives right down the street, I stopped by for some initial advice from the master. Amongst other help (Thanks!), he suggested I start a build thread to get some advice from other folks. I'll try and post some progress and questions along the way and hopefully some smarter folks than me will have some recommendations. I'm not super mechanical, so I'll mostly be focused on the interior build out and leaving the more technical performance stuff to a local shop as needed. However, open to thoughts on things I might be able to do myself.

A few initial questions I've been pondering:

-How should I do the interior build and bed? Bknudtsen gave some advice to be cautious of the weight for my engine's power, but a wood build seems cost efficient and something that's easy for me to tackle. I've tried searching for some used extruded aluminum to explore that route, but nothing has turned up yet. If I went the wood route, would it be a disaster? Thinking something like this guy's build, but with a sink and some storage on one side and a slightly off center coverable walk way that I can turn in to a full bed.

-I want to get all my wiring in before I start with insulation and put up some walls. Any recommendations for an isolated electrical system that could charge off the alternator? A kit of some kind would be awesome since I don't have much experience here either. I'll mostly be charging phones, computers, cameras and might run a few lights, small fridge, and maybe a TV. Also hoping to add some sort of heater system, but that might need to be propane and is TBD. Also want to beef up the sound system too by adding two speakers in the back door and one in the side, so love a system recommendation?

-Ideas for insulating the hightop? Bknudtsen recommended Ensolite, but any other ideas out there?

-Does anyone know if the 1994 seat bolt placement will work with the MGMetalWorks Seinna seat brackets? Here's a pic and the measurements are 11.5" and 7.5" between the bolts.

Thanks in advance for everyone's help along the way!



 
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#3
@ert01 The hard top seems to be a 1 piece fiberglass install.

Tonight I started the insulation process. The floor still had remnants of the original handicap setup, so I had to remove some hardware that left some bolt holes in the floor. While I was visiting Bknudtsen, he hooked me up with a sheet of RAAMmat that I just used to cover all the holes (quick and dirty option)



After that, we did a full layer of reflectix.



Next step is to start tackling the walls. The plan as of now is to do one layer of reflectix and then foam board in the areas where they're a single layer of metal. Should I be adding anything to the hollow spaces as well?

Also, anyone know where I can get replacement plastic screws like the below? Should I just be replacing with something a little more solid?

 
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#4
Amazon should have trim retainer clips, takes a bit of searching sometimes but they have them.

I used a combo of materials to insulate: (in order of application) spray-on bedliner, butyl sound dampening sheets (you don't need to cover every inch), ensolite, reflectix, harbor freight puzzle flooring, and now I'm working on my panels to cover it all. Stuck it all down with Super 90 spray from 3M.
I've done this on a couple of my rides, it works.
Using a combo of materials allows for multiple noise/temperature issues and a quieter, more solid feeling ride.

I also insulated my doghouse with similar materials (add foil backed jute in place of the reflectix), doing the doghouse made a HUGE improvement.

As to the 150/350 debate, I'd keep the 150, not that much different once you've got the 4x4.
 
#5
Looking good!
You are in Wa? Eastside somewhere?
I have a Salem Kroger conversion too and live in Renton, work in Bellevue.
Let me know if you want some help sometime or compare vans.
 
#6
@philos Thanks for the advice. I just placed an order for some RAAMmat sheets and ensolite, so hopefully I'll be able to get pretty good coverage on the high top.

@Stitebunny Yep, I'm out in North Bend and work in Bellevue as well. I'd love to meet up and chat vans, as I obviously don't know what I'm doing. :)
 

Raul

Adventurer
#8
I use a big relay starter+solenoid to isolate the auxiliary battery from the main battery. If the key in on, both batteries are together. if the key is off I am not draining the starting battery. I run a little dorm fridge out of the aux battery, but unless you have a real 12v efficient refrigerator, it is dead in a couple of hours. I have a 1000w inverter and I can run the microwave oven with the van running.

I'll love to know about the 4x4 on your van. I have a 2000 E150 that I keep thinking in converting to 4x4 (I really do not need it, but I'll love to) if I can find a cheap way to do it. Pictures and description of your front end will be great.
 

java

Expedition Leader
#9
I use a big relay starter+solenoid to isolate the auxiliary battery from the main battery. If the key in on, both batteries are together. if the key is off I am not draining the starting battery. I run a little dorm fridge out of the aux battery, but unless you have a real 12v efficient refrigerator, it is dead in a couple of hours. I have a 1000w inverter and I can run the microwave oven with the van running.

I'll love to know about the 4x4 on your van. I have a 2000 E150 that I keep thinking in converting to 4x4 (I really do not need it, but I'll love to) if I can find a cheap way to do it. Pictures and description of your front end will be great.
My 2c here, if your considering doing 4x4 swap, use the Ujoint parts and source your own axle Tcase etc. I think its the best use of $$/time and a very good end product.

The SK conversions (like he and I have have) are not ideal, they use F350 parts, the tail housing/transmission, T case and axle, those parts are good (and used in the Ujoint also), but they use short stiff front springs, and the shackles are on the front. It rides like a brick thrown down the stairs. Seriously.
 

Raul

Adventurer
#10
If I really needed a 4x4 van, I'll go the UJOR route with a E350. I've been checking his site and conversions for years. Great work. I was curious to see a low duty E150. I live in Houston and I've done 8 or 9 ski trips to Colorado and NM with my 2WD LSD E150 with off road tires with no issues. It would be nice to have the extra insurance but it is hard to sell the idea to the wife.
 

java

Expedition Leader
#11
If I really needed a 4x4 van, I'll go the UJOR route with a E350. I've been checking his site and conversions for years. Great work. I was curious to see a low duty E150. I live in Houston and I've done 8 or 9 ski trips to Colorado and NM with my 2WD LSD E150 with off road tires with no issues. It would be nice to have the extra insurance but it is hard to sell the idea to the wife.
The 150 is going to be about the same costs.... All the same 'style' parts and labor are needed.

I totally agree, thats why mine is 4x4, icy parking lots can be a huge pain in the ***.
 
#12
You are in Wa? Eastside somewhere?
I have a Salem Kroger conversion too and live in Renton, work in Bellevue.
Let me know if you want some help sometime or compare vans.
Well I guess we should all get together, Mine is a SK too!! Im in Kenmore.
Let's do it! Anyone got any good ideas for a meetup location?

I finally made some progress the last couple night on the insulation. I've been placing the RAAMmat all around and adding foam board to the bare metal spaces. Next step would be to add a layer of reflectix, but feel like I need to insulate the lower empty spaces a bit more. Should I just stuff reflectix in the best I can? Stuff with denim insulation? Any other recommendations?



I ordered a Fan-tastic vent fan as well and noticed that the hi-top has a bit of space between two layers. Think I'll have any issue installing the fan with the gap?

Is that space typically hollow with a few supports? I've been thinking about how to insulate the roof and it would be perfect if I could just stuff that empty space with some sort of insulation. Let me know if you have any experience!
 
#13
As long as you can seal the vent fan on both the inside and outside of the roof, I would not put any insulation in that space. Air does not transfer heat very well. That sealed airspace in the roof would kind of act like a thermos bottle.
 

Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
#15
NAPA, and other jobbers often have fasteners, and if you only need a few, they'll be cheaper than shipping.

I'd run with the 150... We used and abused a F150 for about 10 years in the farm, and you'd be surprised how much punishment they can take (I know vans and trucks aren't quite the same). Keep your weight in mind and you'll be fine. For wood, I'd use Baltic birch 1/4" or less in most areas, and 1/2" where you really need it.
 
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