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artur1808
artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/26/20 9:45 a.m.

Made some significant progress on the van yesterday. Started the day off by giving the roof a good power washing to remove years of dirt/grime from the fiberglass top:


with that clean, i started on the process of adding some windows. The idea is that I'll replace the lights on the passenger side of the roof with some RV windows.
 


 

The fiberglass roof - presumably because of the ambulance conversion - has a metal "cage" underneath it. So a couple of bars had to get cut out where they would interfere with the windows:

 


 

somewhere in here I stopped taking pictures and started sampling some paint on the back of the van. Well once I started some painting, I decided to power through and finish before the sun set. So here's a comparison that I'm particularly proud of.

Before:

After:


 


 

bonus picture of my cat - Kenny G - getting ready for a road trip:



 

artur1808
artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/26/20 9:48 a.m.

While I have access to a power washer, does anyone have any tips for removing oil/diesel stains from a concrete driveway?

 

i was thinking of spraying with brakekleen and scrubbing before powerwashing? I have a bit of cleaner/degreaser left but I'm not sure it'll be enough and trying to find cleaning products is pretty hard right now...

wvumtnbkr
wvumtnbkr UberDork
4/26/20 10:19 a.m.

Oil dry and a dance party to really crush it into the concrete, then sweep it up.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/26/20 11:02 a.m.
artur1808 said:

Found a picture of the muffler. Easily the biggest muffler I've ever dealt with. 3.5" inlet/outlet, 37" end to end. 
 

I installed a similar "muffler" on my Cummins - since when I bought it there was just straight pipe from the turbo back and my inspection guys said there has to be something there to pass PA inspection - so I cut one of these in.  While it looks like a muffler, there was absolutely zero reduction in exhaust noise. That may be good or bad depending on what you're after.  A 12V Cummins isn't a "stealthy" vehicle on a good day, so I didn't really care.

AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/26/20 11:38 a.m.

Great idea with the windows up top. It's got to make the inside feel a lot bigger than it is. 

artur1808
artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/26/20 12:21 p.m.

In reply to AxeHealey :

Not only that, but it's nice to not have to crouch down to look out. I love the added headroom of the high roof and being able to see out of it is even better

artur1808
artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/26/20 12:24 p.m.

In reply to Ian F (Forum Supporter) :

Yeah, the 7.3 is naturally just very loud as well. The muffler may have made the exhaust a bit louder, but from the drivers seat the engine clacking is so loud anyway that I couldn't really notice a change. I'm just glad it brought out some of the turbo noises to smooth the sound out a bit 

preach
preach Reader
4/26/20 12:30 p.m.

Very nice touches.

jerrysarcastic (Forum Supporter)
jerrysarcastic (Forum Supporter) New Reader
4/26/20 3:52 p.m.
Oil dry and a dance party to really crush it into the concrete, then sweep it up.

Clay-based kitty litter (and the same dance party) also works for me.  The more you can pulverize and grind it into the surface the better.  Maybe Kenny G. Has some to spare? :D

Digging this project by the way.  Now I suddenly want an ambulance. Keep it up!

artur1808
artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/26/20 4:16 p.m.

In reply to jerrysarcastic (Forum Supporter) :

Good call, he might! I don't know if it's clay-based, I just buy the bag from Costco. I'll definitely look into it though, thanks for the tip

artur1808
artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/26/20 4:22 p.m.

After testing/replacing seemingly every sensor in the speedometer circuit, I did what I should have done to start with. I connected the obd2 scanner and monitored GPS speed vs. what the pcm saw. Even though the speedometer was erratic, the pcm saw the correct speed, and the odometer seemed to work even at slower speeds when the speedometer didn't. All of this pointed to the speedometer itself being the culprit. 
 

And since I have always hated that the vans didn't get a tach, I did some research and found that the gauge cluster from a truck will swap right after re-pinning a few connectors. Comparison of the two:


 

Took a bit to figure out wiring, but I took it for a quick test and all is working! Finally have a tachometer AND a functioning speedometer. 
 


 

this did make me think; why did ford bother creating a unique gauge cluster for the vans? With them being THIS similar and all the wiring already being there (albeit slightly out of order), it seems like the money they saved by eliminating the tach would be cancelled  out by the massive cost of tooling up a unique cluster.
 

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) PowerDork
4/26/20 6:31 p.m.
jerrysarcastic (Forum Supporter) said:
Oil dry and a dance party to really crush it into the concrete, then sweep it up.

Clay-based kitty litter (and the same dance party) also works for me.  The more you can pulverize and grind it into the surface the better.  Maybe Kenny G. Has some to spare? :D

Digging this project by the way.  Now I suddenly want an ambulance. Keep it up!

A tip someone told me years ago.....you can scrub the stay dry into the concrete floor with a brick, just like Grandma scrubbed her floors with a stiff brush. It actually works rather well, I've done it.

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ Dork
4/26/20 6:37 p.m.

And you got 100000 less miles so it’s a win win.

artur1808
artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/27/20 8:34 a.m.

In reply to DeadSkunk (Warren) :

Good tip, thanks! I'll definitely give it a shot. 

 

In reply to A 401 CJ :

Honestly, with all of the improvements in the cabin it feels like it actually does have 100,000 fewer miles now haha. That said, it still feels like a quarter million mile 7.3 sitting 6 inches from your leg, so it's not that refined.

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ Dork
4/27/20 6:18 p.m.
artur1808 said:

In reply to DeadSkunk (Warren) :

Good tip, thanks! I'll definitely give it a shot. 

 

In reply to A 401 CJ :

Honestly, with all of the improvements in the cabin it feels like it actually does have 100,000 fewer miles now haha. That said, it still feels like a quarter million mile 7.3 sitting 6 inches from your leg, so it's not that refined.

Wife: this thing sounds like a farm tractor going down the road.

 

Me: well it is an International HARVESTER.

artur1808
artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/27/20 8:01 p.m.

In reply to A 401 CJ :

Haha exactly, I stopped at a friends place the other day and he commented that he thought the UPS truck was pulling up

artur1808
artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/4/20 7:50 a.m.

Late last week I installed a tuner and some gauges to monitor vitals, and the tuner significantly woke the van up. I'm only planning on running the mild "daily driver" tunes, but I am very happy with how it runs/drives. Spools way sooner, shifts are smooth. Once I get over the excitement and lighten up my right foot, I'll be eager to see how much fuel economy changes. Throttle response and passing power at highway speeds are amazing.

 

On the interior of the van, I finally removed the ceiling panel, which also required some disassembly of the cabinets. I took the loose insulation that had been lining the raised roof and shoved it up over the drivers compartment. Also emptied a couple cans of expanding foam insulation to fill in the "ribs" in the bodywork and along the edge where the metal body and fiberglass roof meet. 

The reflective "bubble-wrap" type insulation was already in place from the ambulance conversion. I picked up a 4x8 sheet of 1" thick foam board and chopped it up to fill in the spaces between the cage. 

 

I'm hoping to start actually trimming out the ceiling and walls this week. The plan is to reuse the existing wiring for overhead lights and just replace the giant dome lights with small 12v LEDs for interior lighting.

wae (Forum Supporter)
wae (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
5/4/20 8:02 a.m.

In reply to artur1808 :

Wow!  I had no idea that the roofs on those were actually built around actual metal!  How sturdy is that, anyway?  I mean, I get that it probably wouldn't survive being dropped upside down or anything, but it looks pretty solid from the pictures.

In re: the tach...  I think they actually made two different clusters for the van!  Maybe the diesel versions didn't have a tach available, but I had two E150s and one had a tach while the other did not.  Never understood that either - seems like it would have been way cheaper to just make one and be finished with it.

Thinkkker
Thinkkker UltraDork
5/4/20 8:07 a.m.

Im just curious, where did you get the windows from?  Last I looked, they were a bit more than I wanted to pay for a "non-essential" point in the trailer.

artur1808
artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/4/20 9:40 a.m.
wae (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to artur1808 :

Wow!  I had no idea that the roofs on those were actually built around actual metal!  How sturdy is that, anyway?  I mean, I get that it probably wouldn't survive being dropped upside down or anything, but it looks pretty solid from the pictures.

In re: the tach...  I think they actually made two different clusters for the van!  Maybe the diesel versions didn't have a tach available, but I had two E150s and one had a tach while the other did not.  Never understood that either - seems like it would have been way cheaper to just make one and be finished with it.

It seems pretty solid, but there's just enough of a gap between the fiberglass roof and the metal structure that I don't feel terribly comfortable standing on the roof just for the sake of the fiberglass cracking. I know the full "box" type ambulances were supposed to have been built to hold the weight of the entire ambulance in the event of a rollover, but I'm not sure that's the case with the van-bodied ambulances. I think it was meant to offer SOME protection in a rollover though since they probably counted on the back being occupied at all times when going down the road. I don't think "normal" high roof vans have the same structure; it's usually just fiberglass bonded to the metal van body. 

 

What year were your e150's? I think at some point in the 2000's they "updated" the gauge clusters and added a tach. I remember seeing one at a junkyard but it was for a gas engine. 

 

Thinkkker said:

Im just curious, where did you get the windows from?  Last I looked, they were a bit more than I wanted to pay for a "non-essential" point in the trailer.

https://www.recpro.com/rv-window-12w-x-24h/

wae (Forum Supporter)
wae (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
5/4/20 10:08 a.m.

In reply to artur1808 :

Oh, yeah, that could be the difference.  One was a '97 and the other was an '06.  The '06 had the tach in it.

artur1808
artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/28/20 9:14 p.m.

Been pretty slow on updates with this thing. Wired up the trailer connector and used it to pull the trailer around with some landscape supplies. Only got stuck in the yard once with the open diff.


 

Got some new shocks all around. Also hoping to land a gig on the committee that names shocks:


 

While I was in there I replaced the front pads. The ones it had were still at about 90% life but I assume they were some sort of basic fleet brake pad because they REALLY liked to squeak at slow speeds. 
 

On the "house" side of things I finally got electrical stuff in place. 
 

 

100Ah battery connected to the Van batteries with an isolator. Should keep it charged off the alternator when the van is running but not allow any of the house stuff to drain the starting batteries. 1000W pure sine wave inverter for 120v stuff and a fuse panel for 12v stuff. That outlet at the back of this cabinet is the shore power. 
 

with that in place I got most of the lights wired up and started paneling the  ceiling:


 

Flipping the switch and seeing the lights work for the first time has been one of the most rewarding parts of this project so far. It's my first time doing anything like this and there's still a ton of work to do on the interior, but it's a big step in the right direction!

artur1808
artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
6/6/20 6:11 p.m.

Progress!


 

I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm pretty pleased with how things are coming together. Almost ready for some paint

artur1808
artur1808 GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
6/22/20 4:11 p.m.

The van has survived its maiden camping voyage!

 

In the days leading up to the trip, the interior got some paint, I put down some peel-n-stick flooring, trimmed things out a bit, and built a temporary bed frame:

As I'd suspected, the bed frame was a bit too tall. This height was meant to be a trial run, and I'd positioned it such that I could stack two of my Home Depot totes underneath it. I think it'll come down 6-8", but should still provide plenty of storage. 

 

Overall, the van performed very well on the trip! Definitely some improvements to be made and a million fine details to work through in the "living" area, but I'm calling it a successful trip. Quick list of things:

-exterior door handle stopped working suddenly so we had to open it from the inside each time. This got old fast. Will need to make a junkyard run. 

-Engine is still loud. I'm going to shim the injectors and see if I can make any more tweaks to get some of the engine noise out of the cab. From outside the van it seems like its mostly exhaust noise, but unless the windows are down all you hear from inside is the clacking of the engine. Turning the radio up works well, but too much noise of any kind gets tiring after a while. Maybe I'm getting old?

-We need dedicated spots for all of our stuff. We managed just fine but were mostly living out of our bags because we hadn't really worked through where to put everything so it got disorganized fast. 

-High beams don't work anymore? Going to check some fuses on this one since I haven't messed with the headlights at all.

-New shocks are a delight. Rides a bit less like a truck and a bit more like a boat. Still firm, but actually soaks up some bumps now.

-Need to investigate the shifter/transmission. Maybe this is something that some of you may have experience with? Transmissions is generally working well (shifts smooth, fluid color is good, never gets hot), but in some cases it seems like it's not engaging any gears. The times that I've noticed this have been after a few rounds of going between Reverse and Drive (turning around in tight spots, maneuvering the trailer, austin powers reenactments, etc). Reverse seems to work consistently, but the forward gears don't engage. I've had some success with shifting it farther into 1st or 2nd. I've read that the shift "range selectors" on these are known to have some issues so I'm going to start there. Definitely worrisome when you pick a gear and it just revs like it's in neutral.

 

Anyway, here are a few more pictures of the van:

 

 

AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
6/22/20 8:20 p.m.

Dig it. Looking good!

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