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Old 10-17-2015, 11:06 AM   #1
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New guy with 4x4 camper aspirations

I've been tossing around ideas for building a 4x4 camper for a while now and after thinking about bed mounted truck campers, 4x4 van conversions, etc...I only recently started looking into converting a mini-bus. Essentially what I want is the ability to carry four people over the road safely (as in, belted in to a seat, not sitting on a couch in the camper) and then sleep four comfortably when we get there. 4WD is a must because this would be used for surf fishing/beach camping and 2WDs are not allowed on the beach, period-no exceptions. I know that you can do a lot with rear lockers, chains, etc...but it's not an option for the beaches around here. What I don't have a good handle on is dimensions-for example, where can I find dimensions for a bus like this one:



What I'd like to do is mount a large bench (think a rear bench from an E-350 van) behind the driver's seat, tight to the driver's side. Would that allow enough room to pass along the passenger side from the access door to the rear? How much room would be left behind the seat? Once I get these basics down I can get a much better idea of layout, so if anyone can direct me to a manufacturer or upfitter site with dimensions that would be great. Also, I'd love to hear from others who have done 4x4 conversions. I definitely want to stick with a Ford platform because it should be pretty straightforward to swap the drivetrain of a wrecked Super Duty into one of these as far as I can tell.
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Old 10-17-2015, 11:18 AM   #2
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For the 4x4 part there's a lot more help out there than if you were wanting to run a full size rig.
4x4 Van Conversion kits

Sportsmobile Custom Camper Vans - 4WD (4 Wheel Drive, 4x4)

This should help-
How to make a 4x4 Ford Van Construction Details Page

Heres a conversion specialist in Boulder-
Boulder Offroad 4x4 Van Custom Conversions - *Boulder Offroad is Colorado's Leading Custom 4x4 Van conversion, RV / camper*Conversion, and FabricationExperts.We want to build you your dream 4x4 camper van, offroading van, expedition vehicle, weekend
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Old 10-17-2015, 11:44 AM   #3
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Ujoint is the way to go for a DIY setup. Sportsmobile is for rich people.
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Old 10-17-2015, 12:42 PM   #4
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Pirate 4x4 would be the best place to go read for doing the 4x4 conversion yourself.

However, read, and search over there, don't ask questions. They will rip you apart for not searching.

A one ton bus like that is cheap and simple to convert compared to a full size MDT or HDT bus.

You don't need to stay with ford anything. Ford, dodge, and chevy all used the Dana 60 front axles, NP205 transfer cases, ect.

Simply pick and transmission you like that will bolt to your engine, pick a transfer case and start building. We live in the best age ever for mating parts that were not made by the same manufacture.

If I was building a bus that size into a 4x4, I would swap the entire running gear from a first gen Cummins powered Dodge into it. 5.9 12 valve cummins, getrag 5 speed, NP 205 transfer case, Dana 60 front, Dana 70 rear.

Nat
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Old 10-17-2015, 12:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nat_ster View Post
Pirate 4x4 would be the best place to go read for doing the 4x4 conversion yourself. However, read, and search over there, don't ask questions. They will rip you apart for not searching.
Ha-I'm well acquainted with Pirate and it's "colorful" members... Lot's of good tech there though. I did search around and found a listing with dimensions:

School Bus | Motorcoach & Shuttle Bus Inventory

23' - 4", which seems pretty generous.
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Old 10-17-2015, 12:52 PM   #6
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Not the same bus. One is a 6 window, the other is a 5 window.
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Old 10-17-2015, 02:40 PM   #7
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I highly recommend Ujoint, those guys are great (no affiliation at all...tell Jody, Team Turtle said hi...and also say hi to "upgrade" )

They are hands down the best DIY driveway ford conversion company, period


and we will need pictures

I have seen several ambo's done with his kits also
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Old 10-18-2015, 05:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nat_ster View Post
If I was building a bus that size into a 4x4, I would swap the entire running gear from a first gen Cummins powered Dodge into it. 5.9 12 valve cummins, getrag 5 speed, NP 205 transfer case, Dana 60 front, Dana 70 rear.
I know the Cummins 12Vs are simple and basically indestructible, but IMO, converting the bus to a different engine would just complicate things in terms of work and expense, assuming there was a good 7.3L or 6.0L under the hood already.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crazycal View Post
Not the same bus. One is a 6 window, the other is a 5 window.
Are the windows pretty much a standard size? If I knew that I could ballpark the length a little better.
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Old 10-18-2015, 06:54 PM   #9
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Are the windows pretty much a standard size? If I knew that I could ballpark the length a little better.
No they are not but I would imagine Collins windows from the same era are the same. Each window will probably add 2 feet give or take.
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Old 10-19-2015, 08:30 AM   #10
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No they are not but I would imagine Collins windows from the same era are the same. Each window will probably add 2 feet give or take.
Searching back through the archives it looks like you've had a few of these. I'm not ready to buy yet but a Collins 6 window seems to be about the size I would need-what can I expect to pay for one in good condition? I'm sure there are a lot of variables with regard to engine, mileage, etc...but am I looking at $10K, $20K, etc...?
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