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Old 04-06-2019, 07:26 PM   #1
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Knocking around an idea and need your thoughts

OK, please don't hate me. I'd like to get a bus, but I live in Chicago and to park a bus, even a mini, would send me to the poor house. Soooooooooooo, I'm thinking about buying a passenger van for now and converting it to a camper. My reasoning is this: 1. I can afford to keep it. 2. I can convert SOMETHING into a camper and I have been itching to do this for years.
My question to all you is this: What passenger van would you recommend to convert and why that model?
John
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Old 04-06-2019, 09:56 PM   #2
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OK, please don't hate me. I'd like to get a bus, but I live in Chicago and to park a bus, even a mini, would send me to the poor house. Soooooooooooo, I'm thinking about buying a passenger van for now and converting it to a camper. My reasoning is this: 1. I can afford to keep it. 2. I can convert SOMETHING into a camper and I have been itching to do this for years.
My question to all you is this: What passenger van would you recommend to convert and why that model?
John
I'd go for a plain white cargo van.
Chevy would be my pick. I just sold my dodge cargo van and they're just not as nice as the Chevy vans. The Fords are more of a PITA to work on and cost more.
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Old 04-09-2019, 08:47 PM   #3
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Any full size van would work. They take up one parking space, and they all have roughly the same cargo/living space. I assume you don’t have a garage to do major work, so you might want to make sure whatever you buy will not have mechanical issues. So newer is better in that case. My 0.02
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Old 04-10-2019, 11:28 AM   #4
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If you can fit me in your budget I would recommend a Sprinter.

I have met a handful of people living in Sprinters. One couple that I met down in Mexico had been full time in a Sprinter. for 18 months and we're having a ball.

They had an awesome setup and managed over 20mpg.
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Old 04-11-2019, 09:29 AM   #5
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research update

So I've been watching You Tube to learn more about passenger vans and define my parameter of needs a bit more.
It seems that the Ford van E 150 - E 350 with the 4.6 liter motor seems to get the highest miles on average. Longevity and a sound drive train is the number one priority I am using to base my decision on.
One of you commented that Fords are a PITA to work on; if you can go into this a bit it would be helpful.
Another person has a preference for Chevy. I'm more familiar with Chevy cars and find that the older 1960's and 70's cars are simple to work on, but I know nothing about their passenger vans.
Someone also suggested a Sprinter. I'll have to investigate those a bit more.
Priority number two is windows. I want windows all around the van. The great thing about a school bus to me has always been the windows. They allow you to see the world, and take in the view. Most Sprinters I see are for cargo use and have no windows. I don't want to mess with cutting metal and installing my own windows, that is why I like the large passenger van idea. I'm sure there are sprinters out there with windows all around. More research to be conducted.
BTW, Here is a good Y-Tube link about vans:
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Old 04-11-2019, 10:37 AM   #6
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I like sprinters but they seem like they stick out. If I were doing a van I'd get one of the many plain white fleet vans and put wording on the side to make it unattractive to break into. Joe's Septic Repair or Doug's Dog Poo Removal or something. You can find late 90s/early 2000s Ford E350 with a 7.3 diesel too.
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Old 04-11-2019, 10:44 AM   #7
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Of note regarding the Sprinter vans - my wife follows a climber / vanlifer who has had three transmissions go out on her in her late model MB Sprinter.
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Old 04-11-2019, 10:53 AM   #8
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Of note regarding the Sprinter vans - my wife follows a climber / vanlifer who has had three transmissions go out on her in her late model MB Sprinter.
Ford transmissions are probably the WORST.
That guy in the YT vid doesn't mention how much it cost to get those Fords to that unusually high mileage.
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Old 04-11-2019, 03:58 PM   #9
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If you can fit me in your budget I would recommend a Sprinter.

I have met a handful of people living in Sprinters. One couple that I met down in Mexico had been full time in a Sprinter. for 18 months and we're having a ball.

They had an awesome setup and managed over 20mpg.
Newer Sprinters have a limited dealer/service network and have had emissions related problems that you can look into at https://sprinter-source.com/forum/

If you're going as old and cheap as possible, I like the GM platform, but the Transit is my preference for the newer generation. The Promaster is ok, and offers a lot of space inside, but the steering column isn't adjustable and at a bad angle if you're tall.
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Old 04-11-2019, 05:31 PM   #10
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I worked at a dodge dealer for a few years.
The older dodge vans are underpowered, hard on frontends and eat transmissions.

It really does depend on your driving habits for transmissions but those are bad.

The for 4.6l was famous for spittin sparkplugs out of the head. 5.4l ford were bad for breaking plugs off in the head when doing a tuneup. They have changed th plug design on the newer 5.4's. Took me oersonally 8 hrs to do a tuneup on a 5.4l triton 5 out of th 8 plugs broke and its a tedious process to get them out.

If the ford route is what your after I would go the 7.3l there too underpowered to hurt themselves and prove very reliable. Put a built tranny behind it and away u go.
The chevys in the fullsize vans seem to just work the odd trans. Some frontend work but the 6.0l would be the best. There are some cargo vans out there that have the 6.6l duramax. Only rated at 250hp but it would be a great option.
The sprinters have tonns of room, good mileage. Ive seen them with 750,000 km and up. As for transmissions havnt heard much. Most off the courier vans in my area run sprinters or the mercedes version cuz thats what a sprinter is.
I personally would go with the chevy in a d-max but thats me from an automotive mechanics perspective.
Stay away from the ford 6.0l unless its been "bulletproofed"
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