I’m pleased to announce the arrival of my little miracle (manufactured today, September 25th, 2015).
My little bundle of joy will come home in a few weeks (by convoy), where I’ll help him to quickly grow up (van conversion). As an adult he’ll be able to travel the country and experience America’s natural beauty.
My Cargo Van
It has been a fairly easy process up till now. I ordered the vehicle at the dealer on July 31st, expecting a 3 month wait. As expected, I received a copy of the ‘Confirmed Order’ less than a week later. This shows what was input at the dealership. If there are errors to the order or delays in a particular option(s), this will be noted at time of order and can be rectified before the production starts.
About a month later (August 25th), I received the VIN number from the dealer, who told me that the vehicle was scheduled to go to the plant on Sept. 21st; once scheduled for build, your dealer is billed for the vehicle and you can get a printout of the window sticker. I was able to retrieve the sticker on Sept. 17th. That showed a revised scheduled build date of Sept. 25th and that’s where we are now.
In the meantime I have confirmed my car loan and will be contacting the dealer with the request to preclude the vehicle from any of their advertising. I like a clean car when I pick it up! Their ‘daily status reports’ should keep me well-informed about where the van is and when I can expect it to arrive at the dealership.
This project is the culmination of 30 years of RV use. It began with a 4-year period, living continuously in a travel trailer, traveling all over the US, Canada and Mexico, visiting every corner of the continent (except Alaska). From Sydney, NS. and Port Hardy, Vancouver Island, BC. to San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, MX. and Cancun, Yucatan, MX. Sometimes stuck in the mud for two days and other times covered with a foot of snow, but generally following the sun, exploring every corner of the country. In later years, that discovery continued a few times a year. During that period, the cars changed, as did the trailers, and the family around me passed away, leaving me single with my partner-in-crime and with a great desire to recapture those wonderful moments in time.
That brings me back to today, with my narrowly defined choice of a cargo van as transportation. More mobile, disguised as a regular van to be stealthy, yet equipped with solar and other amenities to allow for extended boondocking.
With all that in mind, I set out to find the right cargo van, that offered a mixture of affordability and serviceability. With the MB Sprinter lacking in both and the Ram ProMaster reasonably priced, but burdened with Chrysler’s unfavorable history, I ended up with the Ford Transit as the vehicle of choice.
To make the van conversion a success, I set out with the following requirements:
- Overall Comfort
At the top of my list. Getting older, means a transition into the easy life.
- 5-Day Off-Grid Survival
Create a van suitable for extended boondocking.
- Off-Road Capabilities
Preferably 4×4 without the price. The Limited-Slip rear axle will help me with that.
- Ability to Transport a Bike and/or Kayak
Like to bring some alternative form of transportation, while traveling.
- Daily Transportation at Home
As it will be my only vehicle, the van has to function as my daily mode of transportation.
With these principals in mind, I will soon start the real conversion. It will be a slow process, in which every detail will be recorded, both in print as well as on video, in addition to Live Discussions and perhaps Live Broadcasts, where the reader can ask questions or give his input.
which transit engine did you choose and why?
I ordered a Ford Transit 250 Medium Roof Cargo Van with a 3.7L V6 FFV engine. You can read more about vehicle choice here. Reasons are many.
I’m not a sporty or aggressive driver and while many rave about the responsiveness of the Ecoboost engine, that’s the least of my requirements.
I’m not really qualified to give a judgment about the technical differences between the engines, but torque is not a major concern for me. Even though the van comes with a hitch and brake controller, those will only be used very infrequently, far away from mountains or hill country.
Another, long term issue is that the Ecoboost is a more complicated engine, and more service, cost and repairs are to be expected over the life of the engine. The price difference is substantial and I haven’t heard or read about major deficiencies of the standard 3.7L, except that it performs well.
The diesel is an entirely different story. Financially uninteresting: it adds multiple thousands of dollars to the MSRP, and while diesel fuel prices and taxes on diesel vehicles can be much lower in Europe, in the US it’s the opposite. Than there is the additional fluids to worry about (and cost) and as the current Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal shows, emission standards and checks will only be more rigid in the future. Some may have a specific application for a diesel vehicle, but not in my case. Price and diesel were also major factors for me not to choose a MB Sprinter.
Hi there, love your site.
You have become my official conversion mentor. Which means, I forward your webpages to my husband so that he can do the work. 🙂 We currently have a Connect and, after initially fantasizing of converting it for some seasonal travel to the South, we’ve concluded that perhaps it is just a bit too tiny for such an endeavor. We plan on upsizing and I want to follow your lead. I’m wondering why you opted for a 250 rather than a 130? And, would you consider a used Transit with 20,000 miles ?
Great to hear from you. Never imagined, I would become a mentor, but Hey, I’m not complaining.
A connect is a great little van and there are people that have converted it into a (tiny) camper, but too small to really live in, especially if there’s more than one person.
Upsizing to a Ford Transit van is always a good idea, even a used one with 20,000 miles on it. You have to take your precautions and have it checked out, but it’s virtually a new van with hopefully a long life ahead of it.
The reason for getting a 250 instead of a 150 is simple. With a complete conversion, you’ll be adding a lot of weight to the vehicle. A 150 (½ ton) would exceed its GVWR quite easily and it is less of an issue with the 250 (¾ ton). During the build I will try to keep a list of added weight to avoid any potential problems. In some cases, especially with the Extended Length or heavy duty use, you might consider a 350 (1 ton).
Thanks so much for responding. I forgot to check until now. There is one available in our area 6,000 miles $28+g. Seems to be just like yours. Husband will be checking it out soon.
You mentioned a “limited slip differential”. Did you mean that literally?, or did you mean the optional ($450 or so) LOCKING differential, the so-called eLocker, made by Eaton I believe.
If the latter, I will be very interested in its case history. It seems like a cost-effective way to get traction that is drastically better than a rear wheel drive van with an open differential. (the common van.)
Dear kaBLOOnie boonster:
I must say that one of my weak points is the mechanical side of the van.
I chose for the optional 3.73 Limited-Slip axle ($325.00), to have more traction during slow speeds, those last miles off-road to these dispersed campsites. During regular driving, the AdvanceTrac traction system of the Transit would take over. A real 4×4 would have been a better solution, but much more expensive and not what I was looking for.
Sorry, cannot give you an opinion or advice about the Elocker from Eaton.
I have a new ford transit 150 lr window cargo van…unfortunately ford did not install full headliner,no cargo area flooring or panels on walls below windows…can you help me find a shop to install these items.. Robert
Unfortunately, I don’t take orders for products or materials. I’m just a blogger, who writes about his experiences in converting a cargo van into an RV and I cannot recommend any particular outfit without personal experience with such a company.
With a little DIY experience, you should be able to accomplish the installation of these items yourself and do an even better job than a regular factory install.
A simple task is the cargo area floor, which I will demonstrate on this website in the coming weeks, after I have received my new Ford Transit. You can improve on the basic install by adding soundproofing, insulation and a subfloor. Then it is easy to finish with your own choice of floor material, such as rubber, vinyl, carpet or laminates. A little more experience is needed for the other items, but these are well within reach of a DIY’er.
Even less complicated would be, if you ordered the original items directly through your Ford dealer and then installed them yourself or by the dealer. However, that will add up quickly and probably leave a hole in your pocket.
If you need help with these projects, you may be able to find assistance from a good friend or at a local woodworking club. They may be able to assist you or even install it for you. And you may always email me with specific questions.
I have been slowly outfitting a mountain bike lifestyle rig in my medium roof 250 with the 3.5 turbo. After driving that 3.7 around the block and on the highway, the twin turbo was a no-brainer. Too many of them on the road to worry about an inability to get good maintenance/repairs and the “car guys” out there do nothing but rave about the compressed motors available these days. After being a diesel guy for years, I’m glad I went with that ecoboost, but have to be kind to the accelerator if I want acceptable fuel economy.
There are lots of good reviews on the EcoBoost, but also about repairs. I think it still has to prove itself.
Me, I demand very little from an engine, drive very relaxed and seldom in the mountains. Price and ful efficiency were way more important.
In the end, I think, it’s a personal choice and as with any car, you have to be lucky and not buy a lemon.