Old College Kid (re)builds a Camper/Moto Van-1989 Ford EB SMB Penthouse

Bluedog225

Observer
Nice work. Have fun.

I had a similar 95 Ford SMB.

Be careful with the roof mechanism. It can bite. I ended up strengthening mne with beefier S hooks, upgraded bolts, and chrome moly inserts into the cross arms.

Someone suggested an access hatch for fuel pump replacemnt from the top would be convenient.

I rolled on the white "cool roof" elasomeric stuff from home despot. Worked great and really renewed the top.

Great van. Keep us posted.

Tom

Ps-I almost forgot. Basement is easy. Just a metal box with a 1 inch flange. It dropped right in the rear behind the axle after I cut out the spare tire mount. I can send a link if helpful.
 

Mwilliamshs

Explorer
Nice work. Have fun.

I had a similar 95 Ford SMB.

Be careful with the roof mechanism. It can bite. I ended up strengthening mne with beefier S hooks, upgraded bolts, and chrome moly inserts into the cross arms.

Someone suggested an access hatch for fuel pump replacemnt from the top would be convenient.

I rolled on the white "cool roof" elasomeric stuff from home despot. Worked great and really renewed the top.

Great van. Keep us posted.

Tom

Ps-I almost forgot. Basement is easy. Just a metal box with a 1 inch flange. It dropped right in the rear behind the axle after I cut out the spare tire mount. I can send a link if helpful.
Thanks for the encouraging words!

1995 and 1989 are two different generations of vans. The roof mechanism works pretty slick right now but I'll add chromoly innertubes, etc when I add the solar panels to it. My spare was never mounted under the body (that's a post-1992 thing) and a basement would have to be aft of the aft-axle gas tank, which would put it between the spars of my hitch. Not impossible and I'm sure the room could be handy, just a different animal than the newer vans. I've considered one that matches the profile of the hitch as sort of a skid plate but I have no off-road van use in my future.
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I've added hatches for gas pump access in other vehicles and there's a couple of criteria I've developed for deciding whether or not I'd do it again:
1. Everything needing a pump gets the tank dropped the first time.
2. Anything with a gas tank skidplate that mounts to the frame independent of the tank gets a hatch.
3. Anything with bolts at both ends of the tank straps gets a hatch.
4. Anything with the pump mounted at a difficult angle on the tank does not get a hatch.
5. Anything that requires more work to use the hatch then to drop the tank does not get a hatch. (this typically includes pickups because the bed can be lifted easier than the tank can be dropped and with my luck the bed will be full of gravel and the truck in a parts store parking lot when the pump fails. Not saying I'm lucky, saying I'd spend a day fabbing a hatch and change the pump when I couldn't use it anyway)
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The van has no skid plate, has bolts at one end only, has it's pump mounted at about a 45* angle on it's front edge, and with the intended camper interior, the hatch would likely land right under the edge of a couch/bed. Add those up and you'll see a hatch ain't happening. They're handy but do require fab work, rust prevention, and sealing, especially when they're in the interior of your vehicle and since I just replaced the pump with a name brand unit I don't foresee any problems for a good while aaaannnndddd I just jinxed myself! LOL
 
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Mwilliamshs

Explorer


Thinking my way through a water system for the van. Just passing long quiet nights in my office at the hospital. Think this will all be installed on the passenger side, rear, with the tank just ahead of the wheel well for better weight distribution and the shower, fill points, tempering valve, etc just inside the right rear door so they're secure and no extra holes have to be cut into the van body. The heater core is also on the passenger side so no water should need to cross the body or frame and since the passenger door opens first in the back a fill-up or rinse off could be done without opening the whole rear end.
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What I want:
Hot shower
Easy access to water while cooking outside (side doors, under my awning)
Hot and cold sink in kitchen
Good filtration (water for cooking and cleaning only, drinking will be bottled or 20L purified jugs)
Reliable, leak-free system
Water and electrical efficiency (the main reason I'm not going Reverse Osmosis on filter, in which case would drink too)
Ability to fill tank from city water connection or by gravity fill or pumping from a bucket, etc.
Ability to use pressurized water in shower, sink, etc either from tank or a bucket, stream, etc or from a city water connection (hose bib). This allows unlimited hot showers from a stream or lake, using a 20L jug (think office water cooler) of filtered water (super commonly sold in central american markets) instead of onboard tank for water and filling tank by gravity (pour it in or stick a hose in without pressure [water bandit]) or filling tank from a bucket, etc by sucking from the bucket, through strainer, pump, filter, then filling the tank with the Spray-Away through the gravity filler. Also makes heating the entire tank of water possible should a large volume of hot water be needed or if the engine overheated this gives a 3 gpm liquid-to-liquid cooling system with a 20 gallon heat sink.
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I've decided to go with a liquid-to-liquid heat exchanger to obtain hot water from the engine. This is compact, effective, and energy efficient because I'll either be driving and get heat as a byproduct of a warm engine or l can heat water at idle and not use propane, etc. I've decided to use PEX lines. It's cost-effective, widely available and common in RV/Marine applications, and more durable than most alternatives especially considering unknown water qualities and temperature swings on travels.
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There are two schools of thought on plumbing, what I call daisy-chaining and the home-run system that's popular with PEX. The diagram at top of this post is of the daisy-chain strategy. The lines run from one component to another to another and being pex (as opposed to copper, cpvc, etc) it'll be connected to fittings (Tee, Ells, threaded adapters, etc) via crimps (copper rings shrunken around the fitting with a special tool), clamps (stainless clamps cinched around fittings with special pliers), or push-fit fittings (sharkbite, etc). This uses less tubing (pipe) but more fittings. The other style is the home-run and it uses manifolds (one hot, one cold) and solid legs from manifold to fixture (faucet, etc) without connections or fittings in the middle unless absolutely necessary for clearance (like an ell to make a tight-turn). Manifolds are like one big tee fitting with multiple outlet connections (see below).
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After examining the traditional daisy-chain one I think home-run is the better way to go. With an assembled camper interior the fewer connections and fittings hidden behind panels the better in my opinion, especially considering the temperature swings, bouncing around, etc that the camper will see. Home-run plumbing's advantage is that from the manifold to the faucet (for example) there's nothing but solid pipe so no likely leak-points. If PEX (or any pipe really) is gonna leak it'll likely do it at a fitting so best to eliminate as many of them as possible and consolidate as many connections as you can at the manifolds or at the fixtures. This puts any likely problem areas where they'll be easily accessed for troubleshooting or repair. The manifolds will have built in ball valves for each run so if there were a leak it could be isolated easily.
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Now about what's actually in the diagram:
The Tank will likely be used from a local RV scrapper. Goal is 25 gallons or so total capacity. For reference, Barker 11916. My van is 80 miles away on the farm so using Sportsmobile's DIY Studio it looks like the rear fenderwells are 9-10" deep and I'd like to stay flush with their inner edges for at least 8' from the inside of the rear doors so let's say I can have a tank that's 10" wide (fender will have insulation affecting its dimension and cabinet will not). DIY Studio also shows about 28" of length from the fenderwell forward to the center of the rear-most barn door, let's say I have a tank there 24" long. If that tank is 10" wide and 24" long and 20" tall its volume will be 4,800 cubic inches, which is 20.78 gallons. At 8.3 lbs/gal that's 172.47 lbs of water. The 20 gallon tank kit linked has a shipping weight of 14 lbs with threaded adapters, hoses, etc so call it 200 lbs total. The only way I can think of moving the tank any further forward is to put it on the driver's side and closer to the driver's seat which concentrates about 400 lbs in a small area and I'd rather not do that. Mounting the pair of 6v golf cart batteries (~60 lbs each) and a Manchester #66-4941 propane tank (83 lbs full) should just about perfectly cancel one another out side-to-side. (200lbs water on right and 200 lbs batteries and propane on left) Add the pump, filter, accumulator, etc and they'll hopefully balance the solar charger, inverter, etc on the other side. Method to my madness.
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The shutoff valves will be something like Watts WPBVD-08, #0653003, from their LFWPBVD line. They're full-port, lead-free, brass units with PEX ends, probably with waste drains (winterization).
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The Check Valves will likely be Sharkbite U2008-0000. They're very simple and frankly if there's a likely leak point it's probably the place where flow stops and pressure increases when anything goes wrong aka check valves and I trust sharkbites more than other PEX stuff.
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The Strainer will be a stainless mesh, probably Shurflo #255-313, as it's included with the pump (see below). Just a simple stainless screen to protect the pump from anything in the tank. They're servicable by disassembly and backflushing or replacing the screen.
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The Pump will likely be a Shurflo #4048. Flows 4.0 GPM max (~1.475 @ 45 psi) and draws 10.4 amps stalled @ 65 PSI (but draws~8.75@ 45psi & ~1.475 GPM)
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A 5 minute navy shower @ 45 PSI with the Oxygenics shower head below would use 1.475 GPM @ 45 PSI (pump limited) or 1.5 (head limited) 5 x 1.5 = 7.5 and since I like to be conservative let's say that's 8.25 (10% cushion) gallons. 8.75 amps x 1 hour = 8.75AH and 8.75/60 minutes= 0.14583 amps/minute and .14583 x 5 minutes is .73AH and that plus a 10% cushion is .8AH per shower. A 2 gallon accumulator @ 50PSI (for instance, probably needs to be 55ish, requires testing so accumulator is above pump "off" pressure) would allow the pump to run less than 3 minutes per 5 minute shower so electrical consumption would go down but is already pretty darn negligible.
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The Accumulator might be Shurflo #181-201 as it's very popular with RVs but I think an all-metal heavier duty and larger unit has some definite benefits. The larger the accumulator tank the less often the pump runs which is good for pump durability and power efficiency not to mention noise and vibration. I also think buying a bigger accumulator would be a good way to better utilize space by allowing a smaller holding tank thanks to the Accumulator's capacity. 20 gal main tank + 2 gallon acc. = 22 gallons, etc.
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The Coolant Filter is to keep the heat exchanger working as well as possible, as long as possible. Gonna use something like a Wix #24019 housing with a #24070 on it. This a simple engine coolant filter, rated at 27 microns, with no additives or chemicals involved. Just trying to prevent sediment from clogging up the exchanger.
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The water filter is a 10" whole-house water filter. There are a few different filter cartridges for the housings: carbon, pleated polypropylene, and spun cotton. These are inexpensive and typically sold in 2 packs and last 3 months or 15,000 gallons. I think packing 3 (1 in use) should definitely last a year, especially if I use an in-line RV filter to filter any imperfect water prior to putting it in the tank.
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The shower head will likely be an Oxygenics BodySpa #26781. Flows 1.5 GPM @ 45 psi and has great reviews among the water-conscious RV crowd and the tiny-house folks.
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The shower head will likely be connected to a D&W Spray-Away which is a coiled, self-retracting hose in it's own housing. The hose is fitted with a self-sealing quick-disconnect fitting.
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The shower "faucet" won't be a faucet per-se but rather an adjustable tempering valve like a Watts LFL1170-QC-M2. It connects to both hot and cold lines for inputs and has a large center-mounted knob that adjusts temperature by mixing the two automatically. This should prevent scalding (possible, especially with the engine heated heat-exchanger) and conserve water by not forcing you to run it and adjust it till it's just right then step into the stream but rather repeat a preset temperature again and again with no fear of burning. QC means it's push-fit onto PEX (sharkbite style). The LFL is the low temp range, which has a max output of 120* vs the LF model which will go up to 160*. Above those temperatures the tempering valves flow no water at all so burns should be nearly impossible and if it's too hot (very unlikely) ya just shut the motor off (wireless remote start/kill). The burning thing is a small concern for me (I'm an adult with no kids and never managed to burn myself yet) but the heat-exchanger can get very hot when you pause the shower (water sitting in heat exchanger as opposed to flowing) and the tempering valve should prevent that from being an excuse to step out of the stream and waste water.
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Here's a pic of a similar setup, the big tan knob is the tempering valve and its tempered output is the connector with the red ring around and there's also a direct inlet for a bucket. The blue ring surrounds a cold (non-tempered) output that the system's designer lated admitted is unnecessary because when unheated water is desired either the engine is allowed to cool first or the tempering valve is turned as cold as possible (~60*).

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The kitchen faucet/sink will be a nice long-neck Delta Bar Faucet I already have which is pretty basic but is a design that's been around for decades and uses readily available cartridges (I'll pack spares). The second faucet will be in the barn-doors on the side and will likely be the D&W Hot/Cold Spray-Port. It's a hot/cold faucet with the D&W quick-disconnect fitting like the Spray-Away so it can use the Spray-Away's coiled hose or a flexible spout they also offer to make it more like a regular faucet. No sink here, just the faucet. Can always use a bowl, bucket, etc if you want a "sink".
 
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Mwilliamshs

Explorer
The water system thinking has lead me to thinking engine heat. Tying the camper water system to the engine for heating means if I installed a block heater in the engine I could theoretically heat my fresh water with 120v electricity with a $19.99 part. The best brand of block heater I know of is Kat's .pdf of their catalog and their Ford 4.9L application is a 600w element that replaces the 2nd freeze plug from the front on the passenger side. I'm being specific here so I can look it up right here later. Forgetful. Part 10603 has its cord permanently attached and 11603 is removable. It's 41mm and direction is "6". Dunno what direction means yet, guessing it means the element needs to be point straight down, 6 o'clock.
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I really don't expect to get hot water from this but it's gotta help some when 110v is available and I'm going to look into hooking this big resistor (that's all a heating element is) to maybe the solar, etc.

600w / 120v = Just 5 amps but 600w / 12v = 50 amps. Hmm.
 

Mwilliamshs

Explorer
Replaced the leaky injector yesterday with one from the junkyard, new o-rings of course, leak gone! Great success.
Fired up the old boy and left him idling in the driveway while I sold some parts off my old wrecked Ranger to a Craigslist contact. Came back and all was well, no leaks, no problems. Shut him down and started re-installing the air-cleaner assembly when I heard the tell-tale bubbly hissing of a coolant leak. Checked all my hose-clamps (I'd just replaced all the hoses except the lower radiator hose) and everything seemed good but the sound wouldn't subside. Turns out the radiator neck had been repaired in the past and the solder joint was porous. As I sit in the computer lab at school typing this, the radiator lays in the bed of my truck to be dropped off at the radiator shop after class. It's the old brass and copper type, which I prefer, so I'll pay to have it properly repaired rather than replace it with an aluminum and crimped plastic tank style. Guess I'll be getting around to that lower radiator hose sooner than later!
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CTD: Took the radiator to a trusted shop I've used a lot in the past and they removed the junky solder job, reinstalled the neck very cleanly, did a low-pressure flush (25 yr old radiator doesn't want to be flushed @ 50psi and the radiator cap is only 7lbs so why risk things?), pressure tested to 15psi in a 220* tank, and charged me a whopping $16.35. Yes, less than seventeen dollars! I was damn glad. Took them all of 30 minutes and like I said, I'm an old customer, so they took pretty good care of me.
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Installed the radiator with a new lower hose and new clamps and everything's gravy. Got to drive the old boy for the first time of any significance and was quite pleased. The giant, empty cabin heated up much faster than I expected in 28* weather (ran it on recirculate so I wasn't warming cold air but re-warming inside air) and everything I expected to work, did. The start was pretty slow when warm and the ammeter needle moves very little if at all so I suspect the alternator, voltage regulator, or the starter. Gotta test things out.
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EDIT: twas the battery. Replaced it and all's good now.
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EDIT Pt 2: Van also only had 1 ground cable (battery to starter bolt) and that cable got plenty warm when cranking. Added a few grounds (battery to body, battery to frame, engine to frame) and all's good now.
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I'm very pleased with the van at this point but certainly a long way to go before I'm ready to head off to Panama. Now that it's almost my daily-driver the van should progress pretty quickly since it's been 160 miles away until now. Well...not now but probably next week.
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It's happened. Today 2/21, I have moved the van into daily driver duty and sent my 4wd ranger back to the farm. I'll be moving a couple motorcycles to my apt (have a garage now!) so the van will have a backup plan but it WILL be my primary mode of transportation. Pretty excited by this.
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Doing some maintenance on the van and contemplating a few upgrades along the way. Putting some info here for my own reference and maybe someone else's too.
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Front inner wheel bearings fit 1975-2006 E-150s.
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Front outer wheel bearings fit 1975-2006 E-150s.
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1/2 ton brake rotors from 1973-1993 Fords interchange then they grew about an inch in diameter but remained about 1.15 thick through 2006
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1/2 ton brake calipers from 1986-1993 Fords interchange and from 1975-2003 the E-150 vans use the same size calipers (piston area, so clamp force)
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This says to me the front brakes that were good enough for 6k lbs in 1973 were good enough for 6k lbs in 2003. I'd like to upgrade to 8 lug stuff but after replacing the brake pads on my front end and seeing what good shape everything is in under there I'm in no hurry. The pads I replaced were riveted (very old school) and were Motorcraft so I could almost believe they were original but the van has only a 5 digit odometer and shows 24,xxx miles so I really doubt that's really only 24k miles total. Likely 125,000 or 225,000. I'd believe 25 but the steering wheel shows some wear on the woodgrain around the cruise control switches. That's really the only wear I'd say I've found. The brake pads weren't worn through they just kinda cracked up and fell apart, due to age I'm sure.
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Rear brakes shoes interchange for 1987-1996 1/2 tons
Rear brake drums interchange for 1986-1996 1/2 ton trucks and vans and until 2000 on just vans.
This makes me wonder how 1997 1/2 van brake shoes differ from those on a 1996 model, considering that their dimensions are listed as 280 x 57 mm and 279 x 57 mm with the older ones actually being the larger, but the shoes from 1997 continue until 2003 on the vans.
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Again, 1/2 ton van brakes changed VERY little from 1975-2003. This gives me more peace of mind piloting a 25 year old machine knowing the only real upgrade Ford made to the brakes (other than a complete axle swap) is to rear discs. The very last E-150s had 8 lug hubs and a much higher GVWR so the real half-tons pretty well all had the same brake hardware that my 1989 does.
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Thinking on disc brakes for the rear lead to the 1995 and newer Ford Explorer. Same 8.8 centersection as the van but discs, strong 31 spline axles...sounds good. Must Google.
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Four Wheeler magazine: "if you're considering swapping in an Explorer axle, it measures 59.5 inches wide from flange to flange and has the largest axle tube size (3.25 inches) of this axle line."
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The Ranger Station axle FAQ says axle width at flange is:
'83-'92 Ranger rear axle = 56.5" (7.5 & 8.8)
'93-'11 Ranger rear axle = 58.5" (7.5 & 8.8)
Bronco II rear axle = 58"
Explorer rear axle 59.5"
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Pirate 4x4 says: 77-86 ford 9" F150, E150 van, full Bronco, center diff-5 on 5 1/2---65" (mines an 89 and not a 9" so may differ)
BUT hotrodreference says:
69.25" wide 1977-1986 Ford E-150 Van
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65.25" wide 1973-1986 Ford F-150 Pickup
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Axle shaft (not housing or carrier) strength comparison:
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(Numbers from January edition of Fourwheeler, page 60.)
Dana 35 rear axle COT: 870 MOT: 3480
Dana 44 rear axle COT: 1100 MOT: 4460
Ford 8.8 28spline COT: 1250 MOT: 4600
Ford 8.8 31spline COT: 1360 MOT: 5100
Dana60 semifloat COT: 1500 MOT: 5500]
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Also, Explorer SportTracs with production dates of August 19, 2002 through June 29, 2005 are equipped with 31-spline axles and rear disc brakes and are exactly what was in the previously listed 95-2001 Explorer. Before Aug 19, 2002, the Sport Tracs were equipped with the smaller 28-spline 8.8 axle shafts and used drum brakes. After June 29, 2005, Sport Tracs were produced with an Independent rear as found on 2002 regular Explorers
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http://www.rockauto.com/RSS/vehiclefeeds.php?carcode=1111644&m=wc&l=en&html=true
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Rear axle swap was a bust. Explorers, SportTracs, etc are all WAY too narrow. No biggie, just satisfied my questions.
 
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Mwilliamshs

Explorer
Now that I'm driving the van daily some issues have popped up. Primarily, the starter. Fords of this era use a direct drive starter that's a big electric motor with a gear on the end and a bendix that slides the gear out to meet the flexplate when you turn the key. This motor has windings in it that must be engergized to create a magnetic field, in which the armature rotates to turn the gear. Mine was original, I'm quite certain of that anyway as it had a Motorcraft label dated 1988 and my build date of the whole van is 10/88. Anyway, it cranked slower than I'd like at the best of times and if the van idled too long then needed to be restarted (like when I was hunting a vacuum leak) or if you were running errands and let it sit 20 minutes then tried to restart, it would protest quite stubbornly. This got worse as time went by and temperatures rose from the 20s of a couple weeks ago. Fast forward to 2 days ago when I was racing home to change shirts (lunch date marked my collar) before a meeting: knowing the van wouldn't want to restart after being driven across town in traffic then parked 20 minutes, I chose to leave it running while I ran upstairs. Came back down, hopped in and snagged my jacket cuff on the shifter while I put my briefcase in the passenger seat...pulled my cuff free and somehow tripped the ignition and killed the engine. UGH. Hit the key and barely got a groan. NO WAY it was gonna start. It was pouring rain and about 40* out so I grabbed the towel from my gym bag, held it in the river running along the curb, and used it to soak and cool the starter for about 5 minutes. It worked, but barely and I knew I was on borrowed time.
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I could get a stock replacement starter for about $80 at RockAuto, my local parts store, etc. I could also get an improved version of the same thing for about $150 from Powermaster, PA Performance, etc. OR I could upgrade the starter to a much better design for about $30. Yes, please!
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In 1993 or so Ford began installing a starter that no longer used heavy copper windings to create a magnetic field inside but instead, permanent magnets, and instead of a big heavy armature to create sufficient torque, they used a planetary gearset. This is known as a Permanent-Magnet, Gear-Reduction starter, or PMGR. The same starter fits my 4.9 and the 5.0 and 5.8 Ford engines for all years. Pretty cool. I'd returned the core for my leaky injector to the junkyard, and the 3 extras I'd bought in case the 1st replacement was a dud, and had about an $18 credit at my local Pick-N-Pull. I'd previously picked up the 6 GA charge wire from a Ford Taurus with the 3.8 v6 and a 130 amp 3G alternator. Was actually pulling the whole set-up (alternator, wire, fuse, etc) and found a crack in the alternator housing so abandoned it but held onto the cable. Drove to the junkyard, pulled a PMGR out of a Grand Marquis, and had it tested at O'Reilly's. WOW these things are fast. Pulled the old starter, moved the former power wire from the solenoid hot post to the switch post of the new starter, added the Taurus charge wire to the new power post, routed it to the battery side of the fender-mounted starter solenoid, and just that simple, I've got a FAST, light, efficient starter for a cash outlay today of about $12 for the price difference at the P-N-P and 1 terminal for attaching the charge cable to the fender-mounted solenoid's 1/4" post.
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Crank time is WAY down and thanks to the new starter's heat shield, smaller size (further from the exhaust) and improved design, my heat soak concerns are long gone. I'll run this unit till it gets tired and get a good new unit from the parts store with this one as a core of the right type. VERY good day in van-land.
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Here's my first ever YouTube upload. Be kind! https://youtu.be/U4RrVT56Pig
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Comparison shot: (yes, the new [used] starter was GREASY but worked great and cleaned up well. The car I pulled it from had a leaky power steering rack)
 
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Mwilliamshs

Explorer
Picked up a set of 16" wheels this week. Just stock steel take-offs from a 2004 E-150 but they get me into 16s and that's what I want. The van came with new front tires and mis-matched crappy rears. The rears are both P-metric garbage but I've been putting off replacing them until I could find 16" wheels. I also ordered 4 Cooper Discoverer HT3 tires in 225/75-16 Load Range E and have an appointment to get them mounted next week. These are the closest match dimensionally for the OE 235/75-15 XL but should firm things up nicely and the closed shoulder design of the HT3s should be long-wearing. Also picked up lightweight spare wheel, an OEM Ford aluminum rim in 15x6 that will get a fresh 235/75 XL or better and will weigh much less than the very heavy 15x8 chrome junk hanging on the back door at present. Got an appointment next week to have the rear bushing and seal on the C6 replaced as well. Also started on a little project of blocking some of the front grill in pursuit of better aerodynamics and ordered some material to extend the stock air dam. I dump some photos later.
 

Coby65

Observer
Cool build.
Have you thought about upgrading the rear to a 9 inch? This does provide you with more disc brake options.
For better MPG how about swapping in an AOD and ditching the C6.
I had a 54 F100 302 carb with a C6 and 3.92 gears and swapped a AOD in and was getting 18 MPG running 75-80 MPH
 

Mwilliamshs

Explorer
...Have you thought about upgrading the rear to a 9 inch? This does provide you with more disc brake options...
Don't really see a 9" as an upgrade. Stock for stock it's a wash IMO. If I made an axle swap (which I still might, that's a tough one for me) it would be to 8-lug stuff like a D60 and that'd be for load bearing and brakes.

...For better MPG how about swapping in an AOD and ditching the C6.
I had a 54 F100 302 carb with a C6 and 3.92 gears and swapped a AOD in and was getting 18 MPG running 75-80 MPH
First, your 3.92s need an OD of about 0.77 just to get down to my 3.08s so you'll naturally see greater gains from an OD trans than I could.

Second, for me, swapping transmissions to anything with OD would also require swapping axles or axle gears to see any benefit. If an axle swap happens for the sake of payload capacity, expect a trans swap too. If no axle swap occurs, a trans swap is unlikely at best. I'd rather swap to a manual trans than any other automatic and I've looked at a couple standard trans vans on CL, etc but none have been new enough to give me the steering column I'd need to complete the swap. The ignition switch moved from the dash to the column at some point during the production of these vans and that move created room for the CEL in the dash, replacing the ignition switch. A van new enough to have the right column AND a standard transmission is a rare bird.
 
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VANMAN

Observer
What you really need is a DANA 44 HD 8 lug front axle which is still here waiting for you!!! You know you wont be TRULY happy until its a 4x4.....why do this to yourself?
 

Mwilliamshs

Explorer
Been a long time since I posted in here and this one is short but personally exciting. I've found the brackets I need to get my Dometic A&E TravelAwn 2000 installed! Shipped all the way from Australia, no less. I've ordered replacement latches from Equipt1 in Salt Lake City since mine are rusted and the new ones are stainless ($20, free shipping) and ordered gutter mounting brackets and 4 new PVC end caps from Dolium Pty Ltd (Incorp. National Luna Australia ) in Welshpool, Wales, Australia ($103.04 USD with shipping). Why order from Australia? Well cuz the parts from Eezi Awn that match my awning are better than those available from Dometic for one and they're cheaper too...even with shipping from the other side of the globe!!! Crazy, huh?

If I'd found the parts in AUS first I would've ordered everything that way since even the latches would've been cheaper!

Brackets: RT52MG Price: $65.00 Pair (AUS), Awning End Plates : Large $6.50 Small $5.50 (AUS, each) from here

Dometic brackets:


Eezi Awn brackets:


As you can see the Dometic brackets are much narrower and clamp to the gutters by the pressure of only a single bolt each. That being said, there are 3 brackets in the Dometic kit and only two in the Eezi Awn but I think their wider base and better clamping should make up for it and I don't really have room for an additional bracket anyway far enough from the others to be a true benefit, I think. If that proves wrong it'll be easy enough to cut one of the Eezi Awn brackets in half on the bandsaw and use its two halves separately and be at least as good as the Dometic brackets.
 
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Mwilliamshs

Explorer
Test-fitting my awning brackets, which meant popping the top and using the rear of the van as a workbench, resulted in me realizing most of the racket I've been hearing from the back of the van when going over speedbumps, etc is not the tire-carrier as I'd suspected, but just the doors being out of adjustment.

Spent a couple hours the other night adjusting my rear doors. Got them tight, quiet and square in their hole and flush to the body. Lots of fiddling but WELL worth it. I'll get some pics later to explain this better but if anybody is interested, here's what I learned:

1) Quiet doors rest firmly against their rubber wedges when closed. Both doors have two wedges, one on top and one on bottom, retained by two bolts each. The wedges are not slotted but rather are adjusted by adding or removing shims between them and the doors. I had to get some more shims from the junkyard to get mine just right.

2) The same shims that are used to adjust the rubber wedges fit the latches that bolt to the body. The left door has 1 latch at the bottom and the right door has one on top and one on bottom.

3) The adjustment for panel gaps (space between edges) is made by loosening the two bolts that attach each door hinge to the body. These bolts are inside the body, between the door frame and the taillights. The body is slotted so the bolts can move.

4) The adjustment for panel alignment (doors being flush with body and each other when shut) is made by loosening the two bolts that attach each door hinge to the doors. These bolts are in the door jambs between the doors and the body. The doors have square holes so the bolts can move.

The order of adjustments that worked best for me without repeating labor was this:

1) Unbolt latches and wedges from body and doors

2) Work on the left door first.

3) Adjust it to be square in the opening first. (Equal space between door edge and body, all around)

4) Adjust door to be flush with body second. (You just want it flush along the hinges and at the corners, the middle of the door is adjusted with the wedges)

5) Install the top wedge and close the door till the wedge hits. You can see the gap between the wedge and the body with a flashlight. Add shims till the door closes flush with the body at its top inside corner (nearest the body's centerline). Repeat for bottom wedge and bottom inside corner. Open and close the door a few times to get a feel for how easily it swings. More shims = more resistance to opening.

6) Install the bottom wedge and add shims till the door closes flush and both top and bottom wedges are in full contact with the body when the door is closed. Open and close a few times and add or remove a shim until a difference in the door's resistance opening is observed.

7) Install the latch at the bottom and add shims until the door latches nice and tight but opens smoothly. You can kneel behind the van and watch the stiker/latch interact. Be careful closing the door after adding shims because too many can cause it to jam shut. (Trust me)

8) Repeat 3-7 for the right door WITH THE LEFT DOOR HELD OPEN.

9) Add the top latch to the right door. Following shimming procedure used for the bottom latch.

10) Close the left door fully and loosen the stiker bolt in its right-hand edge till it'll move when pressed but will stay put when released. This is like "finger-tight" minus a quarter-turn.

11) Make sure the right door is unlocked. Keeping the door latch button pressed (as though you were opening the door) close it firmly, release the button, then press it again, and open the door. This should set the striker bolt in the right place. Might take a few tries if you goof. It adjusts vertically only (not horizontally or "in-and-out"). When the right door opens and closes cleanly, you're done. Tighten up the striker bolt. Double check all the other bolts are tight. There are 30 bolts, plus the stiker!

How far the doors close is set by the rubber wedges unless the latches are WAY off then they can cause the door to not close far enough even with the wedges and striker bolt being set right.
 
Last edited:

Mwilliamshs

Explorer
Researching solar stuff because I'd like to add a Maxxair MaxxFan in the coming months to help cool the van when parked. I've got threads going elsewhere about selecting chargers and monitors but I've got to decide on panels. I'll climb up and measure my roof later but for now here's what I've found online.



That's a Kyocera KD135 panel and its dimensions are 59.06in/26.30in/1.8in. The side pictured above is the 59" one. That's a bit wider than I'd like. I'd much rather not damage anything ever but if I ever do bump the upper corner of the van into something I'd rather take a hit to the easily repaired fiberglass than the expensive and difficult to replace solar panel. I'd also like to keep the solar panel less conspicuous than that.



I do like the idea of using existing roof penetrations to attach the solar panel as pictured above. I'll have my panel mounted forward so the roof vent can be placed at the far rear. The vent fits a standard 14"x14" opening but because of its design (which I really, really like) it needs 8" of space behind it as well. Placing it 9" from the roof's back edge means it'll take up the last 23" of roof space at the rear.



That's a Suniva 255w panel (maybe a OPT255-60-4-100) and its dimensions are 65in/39in/1.5in. We're viewing the 39in side. I like that width but another few inches on each side wouldn't hurt. The van pictured is an EB. The black thing in the background is a KVH satellite TV receiver with dimensions of 32in/5in. The 65in panel and 32in satellite cover a combined 97in of length.

The Renogy RNG-100D is a 100w panel with dimensions of 47in/21.3in/1.4in. That extra 7-8" of width vs the one pictured above should be narrow enough to be protected and out of sight but help move solar forward and outward, saving room in the back for the roofvent and maybe a storage box, etc and allow sliding the panels back from the roof's front edge enough to prevent harming aerodynamics too much. Two panels will reach back 42" so there's still room for another panel if I wanted to add one. I think I'll see about leaving a gap between the panels front-to-back of an inch or two. That should help keep the panels cooler I think.

Stealing info from Aluminess roof rack data:
............................................... Length...Width F.....Width R
Ford Extended Body Gutter Mount.....144.......61............57
Ford Extended Body Penthouse Top...132.......57 1/2.......53 1/2

Measured this evening and I have 138" of roof length to work with and >57" of width. A 47" panel gives a >5" shelf on each side to protect and hide the panels and 22" for the vent and 45" overall for two panels with 2" between them leaves over 5'6" of open roof length for other uses. Slide the panels back 6" for aerodynamic reasons and I have a 5' span to add another panel, rocket box, whatever.
 
Last edited:

Mwilliamshs

Explorer
Jumping around a bit but I found a deal today I'm investigating and I'll put notes here.



Can't find much info on this stove. I really want to know if a pre-fabbed cover is available for it.

Based on this INSTALLATION, OPERATION AND
SERVICE MANUAL
looks like it's a Suburban SD-3

This parts list also indicates it's an SD-3.

Condensed the parts list down to just what's relevant to the 3 burner. The burners illustrated here match the pic below from an eBay ad.

Found this in an eBay ad:

"This is a used stove from a 1975 nomad pull behind....Measurements are 16" deep 19 wide and 2 1/2 deep for cutout in countertop, overall measures 18 deep 21 wide and is 3/4 above finished counter."

And from a different eBay listing:

6,500 -BTUH BURNER IN FRONT
2- 5,200-BTUH BURNERS IN THE BACK
MATCH-LIGHT IGNITION
CUT-OUT DIMENSIONS:18 15/16" W x 16 1/8" D x 3 1/8" H
COMES WITH COVER
UNIT MEASURES: 20 3/4" W x 17 1/2" D



Grate style is slightly different but looks like the same cooktop overall



Camping World sells the Suburban 2938AST 3 burner drop-in cooktop and its cutout dimensions are ALSO: 18 15/16"L x 16 1/8"W x 3 1/8"D



and this very nice glass cover, #2990A, that recesses the cooktop below the counter surface:






or this stainless cover, #2948ST, for mounting the cooktop on the surface of the counter:



Here's how the stainless cover mounts:



Hinge close-up:



Underside of the cover (note, this is a white cover, not stainless)



So it looks to me like since the various cooktops' cutout dimensions are the same, either cover should work for them but the corner radius on the two cooktops is different, so that'll require some double-checking. I've emailed Suburban for more info.
 
Last edited:

philos

Explorer
Test-fitting my awning brackets, which meant popping the top and using the rear of the van as a workbench, resulted in me realizing most of the racket I've been hearing from the back of the van when going over speedbumps, etc is not the tire-carrier as I'd suspected, but just the doors being out of adjustment.

Spent a couple hours the other night adjusting my rear doors. Got them tight, quiet and square in their hole and flush to the body. Lots of fiddling but WELL worth it. I'll get some pics later to explain this better but if anybody is interested, here's what I learned:

1) Quiet doors rest firmly against their rubber wedges when closed. Both doors have two wedges, one on top and one on bottom, retained by two bolts each. The wedges are not slotted but rather are adjusted by adding or removing shims between them and the doors. I had to get some more shims from the junkyard to get mine just right.

2) The same shims that are used to adjust the rubber wedges fit the latches that bolt to the body. The left door has 1 latch at the bottom and the right door has one on top and one on bottom.

3) The adjustment for panel gaps (space between edges) is made by loosening the two bolts that attach each door hinge to the body. These bolts are inside the body, between the door frame and the taillights. The body is slotted so the bolts can move.

4) The adjustment for panel alignment (doors being flush with body and each other when shut) is made by loosening the two bolts that attach each door hinge to the doors. These bolts are in the door jambs between the doors and the body. The doors have square holes so the bolts can move.

The order of adjustments that worked best for me without repeating labor was this:

1) Unbolt latches and wedges from body and doors

2) Work on the left door first.

3) Adjust it to be square in the opening first. (Equal space between door edge and body, all around)

4) Adjust door to be flush with body second. (You just want it flush along the hinges and at the corners, the middle of the door is adjusted with the wedges)

5) Install the top wedge and close the door till the wedge hits. You can see the gap between the wedge and the body with a flashlight. Add shims till the door closes flush with the body at its top inside corner (nearest the body's centerline). Repeat for bottom wedge and bottom inside corner. Open and close the door a few times to get a feel for how easily it swings. More shims = more resistance to opening.

6) Install the bottom wedge and add shims till the door closes flush and both top and bottom wedges are in full contact with the body when the door is closed. Open and close a few times and add or remove a shim until a difference in the door's resistance opening is observed.

7) Install the latch at the bottom and add shims until the door latches nice and tight but opens smoothly. You can kneel behind the van and watch the stiker/latch interact. Be careful closing the door after adding shims because too many can cause it to jam shut. (Trust me)

8) Repeat 3-7 for the right door WITH THE LEFT DOOR HELD OPEN.

9) Add the top latch to the right door. Following shimming procedure used for the bottom latch.

10) Close the left door fully and loosen the stiker bolt in its right-hand edge till it'll move when pressed but will stay put when released. This is like "finger-tight" minus a quarter-turn.

11) Make sure the right door is unlocked. Keeping the door latch button pressed (as though you were opening the door) close it firmly, release the button, then press it again, and open the door. This should set the striker bolt in the right place. Might take a few tries if you goof. It adjusts vertically only (not horizontally or "in-and-out"). When the right door opens and closes cleanly, you're done. Tighten up the striker bolt. Double check all the other bolts are tight. There are 30 bolts, plus the stiker!

How far the doors close is set by the rubber wedges unless the latches are WAY off then they can cause the door to not close far enough even with the wedges and striker bolt being set right.

Excellent write up, this should be a thread over on the main van section.


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