E350 Chinook Build

willywalderbeast

Master of None
After tons of research and looking at a few ambos and a handicap bus, I finally bought my '98 Side Entry Chinook Concourse. Decided that building out a full camper setup would take more time then I had, and kept thinking that having a bath would be so nice (it is!). Once we decided on a Chinook, we realized it would need to be a side entry so we could haul around a motorcycle with us, which are very rare, never mind the fact that I wanted it to have the v10 not the older 460. SO, after looking on and off for almost a year, and almost giving up and buying a rear entry chinook (literally two days before I found the one I have now) I found ours on CL 3,000 miles across the country. We paypal'd the buyer that night, booked tickets for the following week and drove her home to CT. Fast forward 6 months and we just got back from heading across country again with her over the holiday break to leave it at Weldtec Designs for a custom 6" lift! Figure I'll use this thread to show some upgrades and modifications I've made and also some travel pictures. Along with the lift the Chinook is getting front and rear bumpers, winch, onboard air, custom roof rack, I will be updating the original solar/electrical system, full respray, etc.

The first night we picked her up in Hood River OR and camped in downtown Portland.
image.jpg
Making our way across the country we had to stop at the salt flats and she what she had in her!
image.jpg
First mod I did was swap the mirrors out for some ford telescopic mirror.
image.jpg
The little dr350 we'll be carrying with us most of the time. My buddy is building a custom rear bumper/bike hauler for the camper now.
image.jpg
image.jpg
Shot of the front end before I swapped it for the 08+ front end. Also my other "camper"
image.jpg
image.jpg
We remodeled the interior using IKEA draw fronts on the existing cabinets. Also installed an oven, new countertops, sink, lighting, etc.
image.jpg
image.jpg
One the recent trip out to San Diego I grabbed a set of sienna seats of CL for $400!
image.jpg
 
Last edited:

Abitibi

Explorer
Really nice Chinook! I was also tested to use Ikea faceplates on mu Build, they look great and aren't expensive. Is it already lifted?

Cheers
David

"Another great day ruined by responsibilities"
 

willywalderbeast

Master of None
Really nice Chinook! I was also tested to use Ikea faceplates on mu Build, they look great and aren't expensive. Is it already lifted?

Cheers
David

"Another great day ruined by responsibilities"
Not yet, dropped it off last week at Weldtec where Jeremy will be installing his 6" lift and making custom rear springs for the rig and fox shocks all around. Going to go with 255/85s Cooper ST Maxx tires which are 33x10.5. Since its DRW I don't want to go any wider and have to run a huge spacer.
 

Recommended books for Overlanding

willywalderbeast

Master of None
More on the front end swap. I decided I wanted to swap the front end mostly to get better headlights on the rig. Found a couple of threads on the topic but nothing that really explained it well so I kind of just went for it. I slowly gathered parts over three months whenever I found a deal on something. Once I had everything together, I tore front end apart. Came apart really easy, maybe an hour I had everything off the front.




After scratching my head a little on how it went back together, once I realized the fenders had to go on first, it went back together fairly easy. Ordered some adapters for the headlight bulbs and the spliced in the new connector for the signal bulb and I was all set. Use the original bumper just to get it across country since I will be buying a nice winch bumper from Weldtec while its there to get lifted.

image.jpg

 
Last edited:

Abitibi

Explorer
I can only see your last picture, weird.

Cheers
David

"Another great day ruined by responsibilities"
 

Bikersmurf

Expedition Leader
I can see how you did it, and how well it turned out after (all of em). I'll keep the update in mind for the future.

How much better are the 08+ lights? Would you do it over?
 

clarkh

Observer
Going to go with 255/85s Cooper ST Maxx tires which are 33x10.5. Since its DRW I don't want to go any wider and have to run a huge spacer.
FYI - Just put these tires on the Clark Camper (E450 Ambo) With no spacer they touch. I was toying with the idea of going with 285's so I already had a 2" spacer from Chris, with that there is about 1.5" between tires at the ground. I know others are running the Toyo MT in 255 with no spacer so ST Maxx must be wider.
 

clarkh

Observer
More on the front end swap. I decided I wanted to swap the front end mostly to get better headlights on the rig. Found a couple of threads on the topic but nothing that really explained it well so I kind of just went for it. I slowly gathered parts over three months whenever I found a deal on something. Once I had everything together, I tore front end apart. Came apart really easy, maybe an hour I had everything off the front.




After scratching my head a little on how it went back together, once I realized the fenders had to go on first, it went back together fairly easy. Ordered some adapters for the headlight bulbs and the spliced in the new connector for the signal bulb and I was all set. Use the original bumper just to get it across country since I will be buying a nice winch bumper from Weldtec while its there to get lifted.

View attachment 381666

I'd like to know more about this swap if you have the time to do a little write up. I'm in SD near the beach, would love to take a look at this thing when you pick it up if there is time.
 

willywalderbeast

Master of None
I can see how you did it, and how well it turned out after (all of em). I'll keep the update in mind for the future.

How much better are the 08+ lights? Would you do it over?
To be honest i was disappointed in the light output. I bough factory headlights and just used the bulbs they came with tho. I didn't have time to fine tune them or try out different bulbs before we left for the cross country trip. There isn't much adjustment on the headlights but I'm hoping once i get it home if i try out some better bulbs i can get them to have better output. Also want to check the volts getting to the lights as the PO had some funky wiring to some ****ty fog lights spliced off the main harness so i wonder if its causing a draw.

Would i do it over, yes. I have a feeling once i play with the lights more they will be much better then what i had, and i just love the updated look of the front end. Once i get the camper resprayed this summer in a modern color scheme the camper could pass for a much new camper.

Mind telling us how much you spent on the fenders and front clip conversion?
Its all going to depend on what deals you can find on parts. I took my time and scored some deals on the more expensive pieces hood, grill, lights. Here is a list of the items needed and the prices i paid. As for the fenders and hood, I would check out Weldtec Designs as they will have available come Feb 1st fiberglass flared fenders and a nice fiberglass hood with vents. I would have went this route if they were ready sooner as the fenders are about the same price from them as i paid for used ones from a yard, and much cheaper then a new stock fender.

Hood $150 used
Grill $100 used
Upper Header Pannel $60 new
Lower Header Pannel $90 new
Fenders $400 used pair
Headlights $350 brand new oem eBay
9007 to h13 adapters $7
Parking/turn signal light plugs $50 Ebay
Radiator support tie bar (the bracket that the new hood latch mounts to) $100 used on eBay with the new style hood latch.

^^You could probably get away without the radiator tie bar if you just bought the hood latch and make a spacer. new hood latches are about $40 online.

Plus a bumper, I think stock 08+ ones go for around $200-$300. I'm not positive as I'm buying a winch bumper from Weldtec so I didn't research it that much.



FYI - Just put these tires on the Clark Camper (E450 Ambo) With no spacer they touch. I was toying with the idea of going with 285's so I already had a 2" spacer from Chris, with that there is about 1.5" between tires at the ground. I know others are running the Toyo MT in 255 with no spacer so ST Maxx must be wider.
Really?! Yea i just watched a video from Ujoint on that Bigfoot 20' camper they did and he said that it was running 255/85 with no spacer, must have been the Toyo MT's??? Not a fan of Toyo and I had the Cooper ST Maxx 255/85 on my tacoma and loved them!

I'd like to know more about this swap if you have the time to do a little write up. I'm in SD near the beach, would love to take a look at this thing when you pick it up if there is time.
Yea man PM me. Only going to have a day in SD when i pick her up before having to race across country in her but I'm sure we can link up quick.
 
Last edited:

jamesk

Observer
Pls post some more interior pics when you get the chance. I am still considering doing something similar, if I could only find a side entry chinook!
 

willywalderbeast

Master of None
Pls post some more interior pics when you get the chance. I am still considering doing something similar, if I could only find a side entry chinook!
This was what the chinook looked like originally before we redid it.
image.jpg
I had some black walnut butcher pieces left over from a recent kitchen remodel so we used it for the countertop and dinnet table.
image.jpg
Removed the microwave over the fridge as were never really hooked up to shore power and running the generator to power the microwave seems a bit silly. Plus we installed an oven in the camper so we can heat things up with that, we actually used it a ton on this last trip. We also gained a bunch of storage too by removing the microwave.
image.jpg
image.jpg
Another selling point on a side door is the fact there is a bed in the back. On all the rear entry models you don't have a fixed bed, you need to break down the dinnet and couch to sleep every night.
image.jpg
image.jpg


*Need to figure out why some of my photos rotate when posting and how to fix it.
 

Recommended books for Overlanding

willywalderbeast

Master of None
Installed these rad little knobs on the closet and bath doors.
image.jpg
image.jpg
Also speaking of the bathroom here's the only shot I have of it, from before the remodel.
image.jpeg
 
Top