Mission Dawn Patrol

#1
So I got to a point of making a thread. I'll start with a little background then get to the build. I'm 29, originally from FL but I've been living in Antigua, West Indies for the past 6 years. I work on the Air Force base here tracking all the launches out of Cape Canaveral. I work in comm and do everything from outside plant to COMSEC. It's a small base so we tend to be spread pretty thin.



Well I originally planned to stay here for a year or two and save for a house back in FL. But they paid for school and I really enjoyed it so I just kept on trucking and banking money for a house. There was always some rumors of them shutting the base down, but it finally happened. The company CEO flew down to tell us the bad news 6 days before christmas. Great timing. Well at least for me. I just finished my capstone project for my masters degree from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. I also got a bachelors from them while I was here too. Work paid for it and the obligation was to stay with the company for a year after. So I owe them a year from now, but since we're closing the base I can just bail now. Here's a pic of us dismantling our large telemetry antenna.




There's a bunch of other stuff that works in my favor too, but most of all is the timing. I'm ready to move on and I wanted to switch industries (I'm going into UAV's *drones*). I'm looking at moving to San Diego and can't afford a house any where near the water so I figured I'd blow it all on a road trip around the US. So I've been researching for about 2 years now and came across Vanaconda's picture in Asheville in the snow and had an epiphany. That's exactly what I want.

They are closing the base in July so I'll be moving back to FL then and I'm hoping to get on the road by september. I'm kind of doing it like a graduation present to myself. I've been in school my whole life and worked my *** off so it's time to take some time to soul search and do something selfish for a change. I just wanna go snowboard, kiteboard, surf, see football games, and see the country. My plan is go to clockwise. Here's a rough plan



So I searched and searched for a 7.3L and found something available during one of the trips I took back to FL to visit. It's a 2003 Ford E350 7.3L. I bought it in Tampa from a "mechanic." Of course it drove fine around the neighborhood and I wasn't too concerned with the issues it did have since I would be getting a lot of work done to it anyway. So I basically just trusted the guy that it would get back to the east coast like he promised it would. I really just wanted the shell with the 7.3.

And of course as soon as I got on the highway it started bogging down and he quit answering his phone. Instead of driving back to his house and driving through his living room I just dealt with it. It took about 2 hours to get 20 miles down the road. It kept cutting out and I was no where near civilization to stop anywhere. I eventually made it to a NAPA and got a fuel filter, had it replaced and off I went. For 10 miles, crapped out again. It's a long story, but the original plan was to go to the UCF bowl game, stay the night, then pick up the van to drive home. Due to the aftermath of the game and the adult beverages, the next day didn't have much patience. I ended up leaving it at some office building and coming back the next day to have it towed. $500 and off to a typical start of my vehicle life. I eventually got it home.



My plan was to get it to Chris in NC and I'd fly up there and drive it back to FL on one of my trips back home. uship.com was painless.



 
#2
So these are some pics once Chris got it in the shop. Went for the 6" 4x4 conversion, Stage 1 D60, 3.73 gears. Some procomps and 315/75R16/8 General Grabber redletters. They did a lot of cleaning too! The experience going through Ujoint was amazing. Very prompt, informative, and thorough. I'll write them a testimonial when I can spend some time to sit down and do it right.























So the time came to fly up to NC and pick it up. It was May and didn't think anything of it, but it was cold. Chris' shop:




First impression was WHOA! that's a hell of a lot bigger than I thought it would be lol. It was love at first sight. So I hit the road, put 700 miles on it getting home. It drove like a car. Solid as hell, 85 mph, one finger. Got like 8 thumbs up, caught a few people taking pics, got into a few conversations at gas stations, and saw a few headshakes in disgust (my favorite). :D

Here she is at home, safe and sound. I gotta talk my dad into making the driveway bigger, ha.
 
#3
So I had an extra week in Florida before I flew back so I decided to do some work. I planned to rhino line the whole thing. The local Air Force Base, Patrick, has a paint booth but wouldn't let me use the liner in it. Well good thing my parents don't have an HOA. This happened:



LOL Realized the van is ginormous and had to improvise with some cinderblocks.


The nice thing about this van is that all the interior parts fit in a pile.


Seats out




All the rust seemed to be surface rust. Once I started scraping and brushing, found only one bad spot. woohoo. ospho'd everything.


All sanded down and ready to go.




















 
#4
Here's the color





























The fun part of being home is unwrapping all the boxes that have been accumulating.

Window came in:


Surfboard container:


Seats came in:




And the best addition to the whole trip. So this dog just showed up outside my room on base in Antigua one night. I fed it, because I love dogs and he was practically starving to death. It took about a week for me to gain his trust to touch him. We're not allowed to have dogs on base, but he would keep a low profile so not a lot of people knew about him. It eventually became a problem for certain individuals on base and they caused a stink. So I shipped him back to FL the day before I flew to NC. He's the greatest dog ever! Such a well behaved puppy. Introducing Tigua (Tee-gah)







So that's where I'm at right now. I'll be moving back to FL in july and try to finish it before I have to leave in september. I don't have much planned, but I'm basically going to be going to some college football games that are along the way. I bought an Epic ski pass which is like 10 mountains in Utah/Colorado so I'm just planning on getting out there by November. I'm starting to get into the researching stage of events going on through my drive. Thanks for checking it out. I'll start updating progress again in July.
 
#9
Holla when you get to CO. I work in downtown Breck. If you are still around during runoff, we'll go surf a ton of river waves.

Be careful in CO. It has a nasty habit of keeping people that "pass through"
 

guidolyons

Addicted to Gear Oil
#11
That van screams "Moove biatch, get out the way!" Looking forward to the rest of the build, and the cross country adventure...AdVANture? :sombrero:
 
#13
Nice work! Love that U-Joint build. I'll be following since I am in the (slow) process of building out my van as well.
I was really impressed with the Ujoint stuff. Chris really has his sht together.

Holla when you get to CO. I work in downtown Breck. If you are still around during runoff, we'll go surf a ton of river waves.

Be careful in CO. It has a nasty habit of keeping people that "pass through"
That would be fking awesome lol I'll probably ask you for some advice on which parking lots I should try to boondock in. I have some friends in steamboat springs and another friend that was living in the breck area last year that will be boondocking with me. But the more advice the better. Do you snowboard? It would always be nice to cruise down the mountain with someone.

And did you use monstaliner? If so, how much did it take to get you covered?
U-POL Raptor liner. About 5 kits for the tan and 1.5 kits for the black.

Very nice! What ended up being the issue of the van cutting out? Looking forward to the build and trip updates once that begins!
I think it was a few things. Maybe if Chris browses this thread he can chime in with what it was exactly. It sat for about 6 months before I picked it up so it definitely seemed like a fuel issue to me.
 
#14
That would be fking awesome lol I'll probably ask you for some advice on which parking lots I should try to boondock in. I have some friends in steamboat springs and another friend that was living in the breck area last year that will be boondocking with me. But the more advice the better. Do you snowboard? It would always be nice to cruise down the mountain with someone.
I can def line you out on some spots. I only snowboard in the BC anymore (splitboard) as I love surfing terrain. I can line you out on some good spots in SoCal too, we're out there every October looking for waves. Nice build, pumped to watch it come together. I built my van for the same purpose.
 

ujoint

Supporting Sponsor
#15
Holla when you get to CO. I work in downtown Breck. If you are still around during runoff, we'll go surf a ton of river waves.

Be careful in CO. It has a nasty habit of keeping people that "pass through"
I'm in breck right now!

Very nice! What ended up being the issue of the van cutting out? Looking forward to the build and trip updates once that begins!
It needed a few parts. HPOP, fuel sending pickup was broken off, IPR, ICP, IDM, water pump. All I can think of now! It stalled on me 3-4 times just moving it from the truck to a parking spot. Once we got everything done it was the smoothest 7.3 at UJ! The guy who previously owned it should have his cards pulled.