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Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
8/31/16 1:04 p.m.

So, I bought the old GRM van for Challenge money.

Here's a current photo:

What will I do with it? For now, I'm using it as a tool locker while I build a garage. From there? It'll be a tow rig and camper.

Let the story commence! I'll start off with a few photos–I haven't really done a thing to it yet.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
8/31/16 1:50 p.m.
Petrolburner
Petrolburner Dork
8/31/16 2:07 p.m.

Gertrude and I are honored to have inspired your van purchase. I sold my trial van to my Mom and Stepfather and my Brother just sold his Tundra, as I did, to buy a 1997 E350 EB with a V10. Vans are awesome.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
8/31/16 2:23 p.m.

Very nice. And yes, after a week or so of just using it for construction, I'm sold. Having something this huuuuuge is awesome. Can't wait to start exploring with it!

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
8/31/16 10:23 p.m.

Project number one is complete!

Know those handy VIN decoders available online? When I was adding the van to my insurance policy, I figured it wouldn't hurt to decode the VIN for fun.

Looks like I have a white van with grey interior (yay). 4.10 gears, so that's cool. No limited slip, though. :( Power windows, yep. Power door locks, yep. Keyless entry....

What? Keyless entry? No way! GRM bought this van when it was only a couple of years old, and never got any key fobs. It doesn't have keyless entry, does it...?

I wonder what replacement fobs cost... I mean it couldn't hurt to try.

SOLD! They arrived today. I put the van into programming mode via instructions from the internet (cycle the key 8 times), clicked the button on the fob, and BOOM! I now have keyless entry.

Also on today's win list, my buddy with a glass company came over and glued the rearview mirror back onto the windshield ($free!). It fell off a few months ago. Could I have glued it on myself? Yes, and I tried last night, but it immediately fell back off.

Petrolburner
Petrolburner Dork
9/1/16 1:41 a.m.

That's awesome! I spent hundreds of dollars on a remote start install to get keyless entry.

failboat
failboat UberDork
9/1/16 9:44 a.m.

Fullsize vans make the greatest road trip vehicles.

Not sure how comfy the oem seats are, but you could probably snag some seats out of a conversion van for more comfort. Up to and including the rear bench that folds to a bed.

I took many trips and camped in a short wheelbase chevy for many years and about 100k miles. I always told myself if I were to do it again it would be with one of these extended econolines or at the very least, a long wheelbase van. I am sure the extra space is awesome.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
9/4/16 9:27 p.m.

Update time!

First, a shot of the mighty van in the garage it helped build:

Harbor Freight mailed me a 25% off coupon. Hmmm... I went in for a few tools for the van, and came out with a 301 piece mechanic's tool kit:

I also snagged a 2000 watt continuous (4k watt peak) power inverter on clearance for $108, as well as a few tie down straps and such.

From there, I pointed the van's nose north. It was junkyard time, because our local pick and pull had a 40% off sale this weekend. I snagged a taillight to replace my cracked one, a rear sill plate that disappeared years ago, and four new rear and side windows. Why new windows? Because I wanted the pop-out style for camping. My van had fixed rear and side glass, but soon it will have opening windows all around! Total price for all this? $89. So far, I'm amazed at how easy parts are to find. Ford basically made the exact same van for 25 years, so stuff is super plentiful. Mine even already has all the bolt holes for the new window latches and such.

While I was at the yard, I was also cruising for some SCHWEEEEET conversion van seats. My goal? Purple Velour or GTFO. And... I found a set!

Unfortunately, they smelled terrible and were covered in cigarette burns. Oh well–maybe next time.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
9/4/16 9:37 p.m.

Next on the list: A vibration at 70 mph. Now, I'm no tire balancing expert, but I've balanced a few sets in my day, and my girlfriend is currently pursuing her masters in the field. The van has basically new General tires, but whoever installed them put weights directly across from... other weights. Not just on one wheel: On all four.

The van is my new tire-hauling vehicle until I fix the Trooper's heater core, and I only had free time on Saturday afternoon. What does this mean? My normal hookup where I can use the equipment to do my own mounting and balancing wouldn't be available until after labor day. Unacceptable!

So, I went to a normal person tire shop (Discount Tire), and paid them to balance the tires.

Hah, just kidding! That's Shane, who you've probably seen working on projects in the magazine. I told him we were in for a bumpy ride to pick up his new project car unless he balanced the tires, and he was nice enough to agree.

While the wheels were off, I inspected what I could. The brakes are all fresh, and the calipers and lines are also only a few thousand miles old. Also, this van has more lug studs than any vehicle I've ever owned–and twice as many as my first car. That's progress, right? Now that the tires are properly balanced, the van rides muuuuuch smoother.

Speaking of that project car... Shane and I went to the Walt Disney World car repair shop (about 1.5 hours away) to pick up an Accord project. A few friends work there, but I didn't see any giant mice. The van handled the job admirably! Then again, I was also sort of the van's previous owner, so I guess I knew it would.

After we got back, we got to talking... there are about 6 of us that want to visit friends in Austin... and I have a van....

What could go wrong?

petegossett
petegossett UltimaDork
9/4/16 10:04 p.m.

In reply to Tom Suddard:

I'm right at the 1/2-way point in Biloxi. Hit me up if you run into problems or need anything at all.

Stampie
Stampie HalfDork
9/4/16 10:19 p.m.
Tom Suddard wrote: Also on today's win list, my buddy with a glass company came over and glued the rearview mirror back onto the windshield ($free!). It fell off a few months ago. Could I have glued it on myself? Yes, and I tried last night, but it immediately fell back off.

I remember trying the diy glueing of the rear view mirror back on. Kicked my behind three times till I paid the glass shop $10 to do it. I spent more than that on glue.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
9/4/16 10:21 p.m.
Stampie wrote:
Tom Suddard wrote: Also on today's win list, my buddy with a glass company came over and glued the rearview mirror back onto the windshield ($free!). It fell off a few months ago. Could I have glued it on myself? Yes, and I tried last night, but it immediately fell back off.

I remember trying the diy glueing of the rear view mirror back on. Kicked my behind three times till I paid the glass shop $10 to do it. I spent more than on glue.

I actually managed to get my money back from Advance. I walked in and said "I know I probably sound like a scumbag, but can I have my money back for this glue I used? It didn't work, and I followed the directions exactly." The guy shrugged, and handed me my $10. Good stuff.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
9/6/16 4:15 p.m.

I think I figured out what I'll replace the GRM signage with: In other news, Shane asked me to go with him to pull an engine he'd bought on labor day. First, I went to Lowes (had to buy garage materials anyway) and fleshed out my HF tool kit a little more: Then, the process started. It took us just over 1.5 hours from parking the van to driving away with the engine. Who can... NAME! THAT! BLOCK! crowd applauds.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
9/6/16 4:17 p.m.

Oh and in the top left of the last photo, you'll see my SCHWEET paper towel holder. It's an old event lanyard and a carabiner. I strapped a trash can in front of the cooler, too. So convenient!

TIGMOTORSPORTS
TIGMOTORSPORTS HalfDork
9/6/16 4:19 p.m.

Nice score and shared advice on the keyless entry.

I think you are on to some great ideas with the van. There are alot of people that could benefit with a good used cargo van write-up. They are cheap and plentiful, for some add a back seat to also haul the kids and still have room for car parts and cargo.

failboat
failboat UberDork
9/7/16 2:03 a.m.

Planet express logo is on point.

I've also seen someone around here running an Umbrella Corporation logo on a cargo van

Petrolburner
Petrolburner Dork
9/8/16 1:52 p.m.

H22A!

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
9/9/16 8:57 a.m.

I have this mental image of Gary going, "you mean after all these years I could have had keyless entry? Sonnuva..."

Either way, it's cool to see the GRM van I've seen so many times will continue to live on within the family.

Personally, I'd also be scouring the yards for a van to cull a raised roof from as well as conversion van seats. While I realize you would lose being able to put the van in the garage, but worth it, IMHO for additional standing height when camping.

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
9/9/16 9:07 a.m.

Please do this:

Marjorie Suddard
Marjorie Suddard General Manager
9/9/16 9:13 a.m.

He's already looking for the high top, but said the only one he's found so far had done some hard time in an inverted position. It was a medivac vehicle, too. Hope it wasn't carrying a customer when that happened

Marjorie Suddard
Marjorie Suddard General Manager
9/9/16 9:19 a.m.

Mainly, though, I just stopped in to ask you guys to stop encouraging Tom's project creep... OMG, I can't believe I even said that. Tom, what the hell: long as you're doing it, add a sauna. And a kegerator.

Margie

Lof8
Lof8 HalfDork
9/9/16 9:26 a.m.

Sweet ass van! That garage looks awesome! I will have one someday!

java230
java230 Dork
9/9/16 10:29 a.m.

Did someone say project creep?

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
9/9/16 11:48 a.m.
Marjorie Suddard wrote: Mainly, though, I just stopped in to ask you guys to stop encouraging Tom's project creep... OMG, I can't believe I even said that. Tom, what the hell: long as you're doing it, add a sauna. And a kegerator. Margie

You live in Florida. It already has a sauna.

Project creep? Encourage? Really? It's like you don't know us at all...

A kegerator, though... damn... I hadn't thought of that.

rob_lewis
rob_lewis SuperDork
9/9/16 2:16 p.m.

You might realize it after a trip to Austin, but the one thing I'd recommend is sound deadening. There's about 40 different ways to do it, from cheap foil back mastic to Home Depot foam boards to full of Dynamat (expensive). Pick one that matches your budget. Your ears will thank me after a long trip.

-Rob

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