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Old 06-05-2019, 06:50 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Asheville, NC
Posts: 161
Year: 1999
Coachwork: American Cargo 14'L x 7'8"W x 7'H Box
Chassis: Ford E350 Cutaway
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 11500 lbs
Auxiliary tank on Ford E350 box van conversion

Finally making slow progress on my Ford E350 box van that was so far misused as a moving truck, occasional daily driver, and storage unit.

My reasons for converting a box van rather than a bus are my height of 6'6" and the ease of modifying the E350 chassis to 4WD.

Today was a good day at the junkyard. For $200 I got a fiberglass wind deflector, or aerocap, that makes the front a little more streamlined and creates additional storage above the cab roof. I am not going to cut out the metal like they do in delivery vehicles but put cabinet doors on the inside of the current box front wall.

Another $50 got me a fuel tank that is as good as new. Clean inside and out with the factory barcode sticker still attached. That second tank will allow me to purchase more Diesel where it is cheap and of course increase the range in remote areas.

Pictures show the silver auxiliary tank in back of the black main tank. I decided to mount the auxiliary tank higher to avoid reducing the departure angle of the vehicle. (The whole suspension will be lifted 6" as part of the 4WD conversion after the build-out is complete and the springs can be matched to the final curb weight)

The plan is to leave the connections between diesel engine engine and main tank as is and pump the content of the aux tank over into the main, when that one is sufficiently low. To avoid siphoning from the higher tank into the lower main, I plan to use either a marine anti-siphoning valve or a solenoid valve that is wired in parallel with the pump.

On the fill side I am still undecided whether to "Y" the existing fill hose to the aux tank (both tanks would then be filled at the same time) or to install a second fill port so that the tanks can be filled independently.

What do you think?
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Old 06-08-2019, 05:40 PM   #2
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Asheville, NC
Posts: 161
Year: 1999
Coachwork: American Cargo 14'L x 7'8"W x 7'H Box
Chassis: Ford E350 Cutaway
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 11500 lbs
Fiberglas wind deflector is pre-installed. It fits the body perfectly with excess material that can be trimmed.

However, the aerocap makes it obvious that the Ford cab is not centered on the box body. A very helpful employee at Utilimaster (they sell the fiberglass caps and a ton of other box van parts) had mentioned that the cab may be off-center on most vehicles.

Since I want to reseal the joint between cab and box with Sikaflex anyway, I will try to center the cab on the box before final installation of the fiberglass aerocap. Either the box or the cab has to move about 1/4" on the frame.

BTW: The dark area under the driver side door is not rust, it's the paint worn off from getting in and out of the vehicle. I will address this when painting the fiberglass cap.

Still undecided on how to fill the two tanks.
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Old 06-08-2019, 06:06 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Fresnope, CA
Posts: 31
I would definitely have a separate fill tube for the aux tank. No reason other than personal preference...and a bit of skepticism about getting the flow of fuel to self regulate with no hang-ups.

What will be your source for the 4WD parts? F250-350?
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Old 06-08-2019, 07:05 PM   #4
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Asheville, NC
Posts: 161
Year: 1999
Coachwork: American Cargo 14'L x 7'8"W x 7'H Box
Chassis: Ford E350 Cutaway
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 11500 lbs
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustKip View Post
I would definitely have a separate fill tube for the aux tank. No reason other than personal preference...and a bit of skepticism about getting the flow of fuel to self regulate with no hang-ups.

What will be your source for the 4WD parts? F250-350?
Just found another fill port to install aft of the current one. With two fill ports I can keep the aux tank empty for short hauls or when the fuel price is high.

I live a few miles away from U-joint Offroad. It was in fact a visit to U-joint that made me look for a Ford cutaway vehicle rather than a bus.

U-joint uses front axle and transfer case from the F-350 with custom springs and weldments to attach the front springs to the E-series frame. I drove in one their converted vehicle and even if you do not need 4WD, the ride quality improvement alone is worth the conversion. With a 6" lift there was no swaying or porpoising, it laid on the road like a sheet of plywood.

I plan to buy the parts and do the conversion myself. That would also be a good opportunity to beef-up the 4R100 tranny.
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Old 06-08-2019, 07:14 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Fresnope, CA
Posts: 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by alpine44 View Post
I live a few miles away from U-joint Offroad. It was in fact a visit to U-joint that made me look for a Ford cutaway vehicle rather than a bus.
Isn't a cutaway the same van with a bus body instead of a box? How does that make any difference for the addition of 4X4?
I'm 6'1" and most van based buses don't have enough headroom even for me.
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Old 06-08-2019, 09:04 PM   #6
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Asheville, NC
Posts: 161
Year: 1999
Coachwork: American Cargo 14'L x 7'8"W x 7'H Box
Chassis: Ford E350 Cutaway
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 11500 lbs
Quote:
Originally Posted by JustKip View Post
Isn't a cutaway the same van with a bus body instead of a box? How does that make any difference for the addition of 4X4?
I'm 6'1" and most van based buses don't have enough headroom even for me.
A cutaway vehicle is a van chassis with the body cut off at the B pillar behind the driver seat. Frame with gas tank, engine, tranny, nose, and cab of a van but no body in the rear. The companies who buy cutaways from the OEMs then put shuttle, shorty, or box bodies on the exposed frame behind the cab.

On shuttle and short buses the passengers side is often cut closer to the A pillar to make room for the entrance door. On box vans the rear of the cab is usually straight.

One big reason to go with a box van (cutaway with a box connected to the rear of the cab) rather than a short bus was the full 7' height in the box and that is with a flat floor and no wheel wells sticking out.

Another reason was the stealth factor. Even with windows cut high up in the box this is going to look commercial, like a mobile testing lab, rather than recreational. The vehicle I bought was actually a water quality testing unit and I wish they had left the stickers on it.

The U-joint conversion works on any E-series chassis regardless of body style. They convert a lot of class C RVs from NY and MA for beach camping where 4WD is required by the state. I know that they are working on other platforms as well but you would have to contact them about specifics.
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