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Old 03-17-2014, 07:42 AM   #1
dentedvw OP
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Location: ☼SLC-ish☼
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Dentedvw's ADVNV base camp mobile

We have been rolling around in our lifted E350 for about two years now, and it looks like the van is a good platform for the tomfoolery we like to get up to.

The 2001 E350 is for sale, FWIW. In Flea Mkt.

We use it as a truck, as a station wagon, as a tent, as a trailer, as a tractor, etc. It isn't any one thing. If only it were a bit taller, so when we are waiting out bad weather, or just camping or getting ready to bike/ski/climb/jump in hot springs we could stand up.

The sprinter was a bit too much money for us, and reports of not getting too far from an authorized servicing dealer scared us off. Also, the high cost of a 4x4 conversion, which we hope to do if we decide this is the right van for us.

The Ford Transit is plagued with delays after delays, and then finally when the price was revealed, it was dead in the water. Doesn't fit our budget. Perhaps we will revisit the idea in five years or so, when there is some used models around.

Throwing out the Dodge Promaster entirely due to it's FWD only configuration, that leaves only one possibility, the Nissan NV. That was easy.

It's ugly, inexpensive, and hard to find. Perfect. We got lucky, and found one only half an hour away. It was in our price range and a motivated seller. I offered 22k, he accepted, I picked it up a few days later.

DR fits right in, and it has six tie down cleats in the floor, stock.

On to the amenities! A lift kit is an amenity, right?
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Old 03-17-2014, 08:08 AM   #2
dentedvw OP
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A local shop has converted just about 100 of them to 4x4, and pricing is about 11k, plus lift, plus delays and excuses. So I hear. We set aside enough money to convert it right away, but decided to wait and see if it's the right vehicle first. We will give it a year.

Meanwhile, there are many places to get stuck, rocks and washes and sage to run into. A lift will help us there. But, nobody makes one. Well, that's okay I guess I will trial and error it. We did the same thing on the E350.

A strut spacer from a Titan seems to fit the front, but the Bilsteins for the same do not. The NV parts are taller, and much heavier. Same story with the lift blocks, shims and Ubolts in the back. So, I have some new Titan lift pieces to sell now too. Ah well, trial and error.



The spacers I bought netted about 3 inches of lift, yikes. I don't know how well this will play with the front suspension but the first order of business is getting an alignment, and apologizing to the shop doing it.


Here it sits, only the front lifted. Our drive slopes down a bit, so it actually appears level now.

Last week, I also went shopping. Windows, fabric, sunroof, second row of seats, seatbelts. Windows from Amazon, CR Laurence. Seats, well that's another story.

Nissan NV seats clip into bars set into buckets in the floor. Nissan shaved a few bucks on the cargo vans and didn't include those parts, so using stock seats was out. Also, a few dollars were shaved in the installation of seat belt mounting bits as well. Oy. So, off to the salvage yards.

I found that Late model Dodge Durango seats were not terribly uncomfortable, folded down so we can use them as a chair/table and then folded up again so they were out of the way of motorcycle wheels, or in the case of a dance party indoors. I couldn't find any seat with integrated seat belts, sadly. We wanted a second row of seats that would accommodate three people so buckets were out as well. We don't mind that they don't turn around, although that would be nice. The van's first purpose is taking people to awesome places, and these seats satisfy that need. Plus, they were cheap, and vinyl is easy to clean.


The third headrest is drying, it was soaked. I started a rumor amongst the neighborhood kids that I had to clean all the blood off the seats. I told them I got most of it, but there was a few small spots that won't come off. It could be true. There was a bit of blood on the front seats, which I didn't want. And there is a few spots of "something" I can't get off one seat.

I will plate the wall where the seat belts attach, and plate the floor underneath where the seats attach. So much welding, in fact, that I required a new welding lid. No more Harbor Freight for me. I spent a week welding on the Jeep last October, and a much of that was upside down and I grew tired of the helmet sliding around, and flopping about. When I got gas at a welding supply store last week, I also bought a helmet. It matches the NV, ugly.

Regarding the looks of the NV, you don't have to remind me, I know it's a panel truck, and it's ugly. I don't care, I am inside and it's pretty enough in there. I don't notice the extra legroom at all, but we haven't taken a long trip in it yet. I did notice that when I opened the hood that there was room for a picnic under there. I guess that makes servicing easy. Still, they could have done something better with the front end of this beast. No matter, I will just be rubbing trees and rocks and getting door dings either way. Leave the beauty to the sports cars, I bought this for camper van adventure.

It will resemble something like this NV, built locally.
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The bike never has been, never is, and never will be the limiting factor in my, your, or anyone else's ability to have an adventure. -jake28-
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Old 03-17-2014, 08:11 AM   #3
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Subscribed! I like the lifted version.
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Old 03-17-2014, 08:17 AM   #4
dentedvw OP
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Oh criminy! Holy huge images!
Sorry, sorry sorry.
No idea how to resize from IMGUR.

I also ordered wheels, and I will order tires this week too. 265/70/17 all terrains should work okay, and won't be so much taller than stock that we would need to regear.

If only there was a locking rear differential available for this axle.

Also, it would be great if there were bumpers available for this thing that don't make the front and rear so much longer. Aluminess makes the only ones available at all, as far as I can tell.

This all seems a bit scattered, but I am just covering what's been done in one week. As I progress, I will go over things more linearly. Is that a word?

Since the cargo version doesn't come with any interior in the back, we have decided to only do a little bit of outdoor carpet to cover some areas for now. As we determine our needs, we will modify as we go and perhaps add OEM interior pieces, when available.
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"Even though my trip turned out badly, I don't regret the kind of life I chose to live. Adventure!" RIP-Clay Schwartz 9/14/07
The bike never has been, never is, and never will be the limiting factor in my, your, or anyone else's ability to have an adventure. -jake28-

dentedvw screwed with this post 03-17-2014 at 08:36 AM
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Old 03-17-2014, 09:38 AM   #5
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What shop in the SLC area is doing the 4x4 conversion?
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Old 03-18-2014, 05:30 AM   #6
dentedvw OP
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Advanced Four Wheel Drive does the conversions. Unless I decided to try and tackle it myself (who knows, I may) we will have them do that too, if after a year we like this truck enough to have it done.

Ok, so here it is with spacers in the front, and blocks in the back.


I would like to use different springs in the back and get more articulation, since it's only 2wd. I know we will get stuck sometimes because a wheel lifts, but we will just have to deal with that for a bit. There is no locker available at all yet. Might get by for a while with longer shocks alone, which it definitely needs.

It's got nearly as much ground clearance as the E350 does, so we are almost there. Now to add different tires. It looks like I could probably use 285/70 tires, for nearly 33" tall tires. This should help a lot.
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"Even though my trip turned out badly, I don't regret the kind of life I chose to live. Adventure!" RIP-Clay Schwartz 9/14/07
The bike never has been, never is, and never will be the limiting factor in my, your, or anyone else's ability to have an adventure. -jake28-

dentedvw screwed with this post 03-18-2014 at 05:37 AM
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Old 03-18-2014, 05:46 AM   #7
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I am losing my mind. I have resized the photos on IMGUR. I even bought the upgraded subscription to do it. It hasn't made a difference, they are still HUGE.
I know it's annoying, I am trying to fix it.

Yesterday some of the glass arrived, so I cut in the sliding door top window. Like the rest of the van, it looks weird, but on the inside it is nicer.



It was getting late, so I didn't start laying out the sunroof. Tomorrow, and aligmnent, order tires, and sunroof. And steel for mounting the second row.
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"Even though my trip turned out badly, I don't regret the kind of life I chose to live. Adventure!" RIP-Clay Schwartz 9/14/07
The bike never has been, never is, and never will be the limiting factor in my, your, or anyone else's ability to have an adventure. -jake28-
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Old 03-18-2014, 06:15 PM   #8
dentedvw OP
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Now that the lift is done, I needed an alignment, and new wheels and tires.
If it seems like I am spending a lot of money real fast, we had saved up for a while for this thing. Sometimes, that works. Actually, this is almost a first for us.

I am getting pretty sick of IMGUR, and I have only been using it a few days. I upload a photo, and nothing happens. It doesn't show up anywhere. I upload it again, still nothing.

What is that site that lots of ADVriders use? Baldy runs it.

When I can get the photos working again, I will update.
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"Even though my trip turned out badly, I don't regret the kind of life I chose to live. Adventure!" RIP-Clay Schwartz 9/14/07
The bike never has been, never is, and never will be the limiting factor in my, your, or anyone else's ability to have an adventure. -jake28-
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Old 03-18-2014, 06:31 PM   #9
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Smug mug?

Sent by the dog
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Old 03-18-2014, 06:59 PM   #10
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My god that's ugly











Awesome!!
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Old 03-18-2014, 07:23 PM   #11
dentedvw OP
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Yeah, that's it! I should check that one out.

A driveway shot of the completed lift, new wheels and tires and a few windows in.
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"Even though my trip turned out badly, I don't regret the kind of life I chose to live. Adventure!" RIP-Clay Schwartz 9/14/07
The bike never has been, never is, and never will be the limiting factor in my, your, or anyone else's ability to have an adventure. -jake28-

dentedvw screwed with this post 03-23-2014 at 08:58 AM
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Old 03-19-2014, 05:49 PM   #12
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Use photobucket, it's free.
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Old 03-23-2014, 08:56 AM   #13
dentedvw OP
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Yesterday I hacked up some 11ga steel to make safety belt mounts.


And then we went to some hot springs in Ogden. Didn't go so well. The trail was removed, and a fence put up. Didn't get to soak. I guess only the power company gets to use them now.


Also, we bolted down the second row. No picture of that yet, perhaps later.
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"Even though my trip turned out badly, I don't regret the kind of life I chose to live. Adventure!" RIP-Clay Schwartz 9/14/07
The bike never has been, never is, and never will be the limiting factor in my, your, or anyone else's ability to have an adventure. -jake28-
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Old 03-24-2014, 06:31 AM   #14
dentedvw OP
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Yesterday I welded plates to the walls for seatbelts. Thank dog for the sunroof that comes all the way out, it gets thick in there. Had to take frequent breaks.

I still need to find longer shocks from some other vehicle because none of the shops I called are willing to bother looking up specs for shocks, they only want to look at a computer screen and say "nope, nothing listed for it, can't be done." If I could boil that down to something that fits on a license plate, it might be a good one. Should be relatively simple, they are 1/2" post mount on both ends, no bar or stem. Now that I think about it, I might have some old Rancho shocks in the garage that might fit, but they were for a Jeep, so the valving will be wrong, might not dampen enough. That's why I need help there, I can do measurements, and match parts, but I don't know how to make sure I am getting the "right" shocks in terms of damping.

Before I fit longer shocks though, I will have to modify the rear brake lines because they wrap over a crossmember and them mount to a block on the axle tube. None of it looked like it had fittings, but I will have to look again. Ideally, I could use some longer lines that are stock on a different vehicle and be done with it. The tone ring wires also will need to be rerouted or lengthened.

That all goes back to the main problem back here, traction. With no locker or limited slip available, I need to keep both rear wheels on the ground or I am going nowhere fast. That will get old, I am not used to that. All my vehicles until this one have had some type of locker, even our 2wd toyota. If I could find one that worked, I would order it in a heartbeat.

Also, the second row of seats smells. It's a bit of a disappointment, as you would imagine. I am not sure what to do about it. If it really bothers us, I will have to try and find different seats. They smell like wet foam, which is no surprise since part of it was exposed to snow all winter.
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"Even though my trip turned out badly, I don't regret the kind of life I chose to live. Adventure!" RIP-Clay Schwartz 9/14/07
The bike never has been, never is, and never will be the limiting factor in my, your, or anyone else's ability to have an adventure. -jake28-
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Old 03-25-2014, 06:46 AM   #15
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I'm sure the shocks are going to be just one of the challenges to what you want to do with your rig.
Rancho has an extended shock list ( see link )

http://www.gorancho.com/shocks.php?s...xtended_length

that show some details which may be helpful. At the bottom of that page is another link to their shock specs page.
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