And now the moment you didn't know you've been waiting for...Atl-Atl's 4x4 Ford E350 RV documentation thread!!

Atl-atl

Adventurer
Hold your horses its not 4x4 yet, thats the ride you'll come along on when we all pile in for a trip down UJoint Lane. There are 7 seat belts in this mini class C beast so everyone that will actually be interested in this thread can come along. ?

If you follow some of my other threads on here you might be thinking "Dont you have a K5 Blazer with a camper thats a half done project that you should be finishing?" Well the answer is yes. I also have a Tacoma thats an ongoing offroad/camping project as well as some other things in the garage/driveway/yard. Now that we have that cleared up Ill tell you why I added another big dumb project. I got married last year and the wife and I decided to forgo an overseas honeymoon (because the world is crazy and our home continent is big/cool enough) in favor of traveling North America for a year or so before we have kids. So I did what any reasonably intelligent nearly middle aged guy would do as the economy is turning down, political tensions are high, WW3 is one mistake away from beginning etc. I quit my job and bought an RV.

I know that sounds crazy but the original plan was actually to mortgage an Earthroamer for this trip. The main reason we didnt wasnt actually affordability it was usability. Earthroamers are friggin huge. You cant park it in a normal spot, you cant drive it into the city, you can go off road to access remote spots but in reality its very difficult, especially if its somewhere you havent been or there are trees. All of the enormous globe-trotting cabover luxury homes on wheels are great too but have you ever seen one anywhere other than a desert, high desert, or lumbering along the highway at a max speed of 55? Nope, because they cant. Enter @ujoint. I went straight to them when we landed on a mini class C RV for our trip. A few years back my good friend Justin @UjointoffroadCO converted his Econoline to 4x4. I watched the process and then proceeded to go on some offroad/camping/adventures with him and saw just how well the van works first hand. A regular Econoline just wasn't enough room for us...

Here are the details. 2017 Ford E350 with a 2016 build date that is titled as a 2018 Thor Majestic 19G. I guess it takes that long to build even the smallest of RVs. 78,XXX surely trouble free miles as a rental with Cruise America. 2-Valve V10 rated at 305/425, 6 speed auto, factory 4.56 gears and single rear wheels which is pretty rare for an RV. I was hoping to find a 2020 or newer for the 7.3 Godzilla V8 but they just arent for sale used yet. This thing has plenty of power though, drives and shifts like a modern truck and doesnt feel like an RV until you pass a semi at highway speed. The best part is it fits in a regular parking spot (barely) because its only about 19 feet long! Surprisingly its in great shape. These stubby Class Cs arent very popular as rentals so they dont get nearly as beat up or as many miles put on them as the bigger ones. This means you actually pay more for a smaller vehicle but Id rather have it be nicer and pay a premium. Ford no longer makes the Econolines for the general public but they do sell it as a cutaway cab+chassis to upfitters. Also, Thor no longer makes the 19G model available to the public so these are very hard to find. You basically have to buy one used through Cruise America/Cruise Canada or find someone selling an older one/used one they purchased in the past. Now that Ive bored you to death about a van, here are some pics.

Delivery day
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Home
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5 minutes in the Arizona sun makes for quick work removing the dumb decals.
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Porky the pig isnt actually that fat. Curb weight is more than an F350 but GVWR is actually lower.
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6R140 is known to be as reliable as the V10, which is very. Only downside is I have to drop the trans to swap the tailshaft so it can accept a transfer case. The older vans with the 5 speed dont require pulling the trans, oh well.
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4.56s are great. These also came with 4.10s and its luck-of-the-draw what you're going to get. 4.56 should be perfect with this motor/trans and tires I plan to run.
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Now for the painful part. Anyone that has followed along with my K5 build knows I recently made a comment along the lines of "well these are the most expensive leaf springs Ill ever buy." Boy was I wrong. ?‍♂️ Curious about the cost to convert an Econoline to 4x4 "the right way?" Continue reading.
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Wyuna

Observer
Ouch, that hurts, but you will have a decent resale value if you ever decide to sell it.

It looks like a great platform, yes it would be great to have more space, but like you pointed out, you will have more exploring options in a smaller rig.

looking forwards to the build
 

b. rock

Active member
I was very, very close to getting one of those and converting it. Best of luck, curious to see how the shell and interior holds up if you do take it off road.

Comically, my diesel 4x4 high top E-350, empty, weighs more than that thing does.
 

Railvan

Adventurer
Tell us about the camper box. Is it wood frame or aluminum? That total weight on your rig is well below my 10,000 pound E350 4x4 Sportsmobile but the 4x4 axles, transfer case driveshafts, etc do add weight. I'll be curious to see what yours weighs when you are done.
 

motovan_mn

Active member
Comically, my diesel 4x4 high top E-350, empty, weighs more than that thing does.

I was thinking the same thing. My 2013 E350 RB w/ 12 passenger seating, RTT, and UJOR conversion weighed in at a hair over 8,000 lbs. Of course taking out just a couple of those heavy bench seats brought it under the 8k mark.

Tell us about the camper box. Is it wood frame or aluminum? That total weight on your rig is well below my 10,000 pound E350 4x4 Sportsmobile but the 4x4 axles, transfer case driveshafts, etc do add weight. I'll be curious to see what yours weighs when you are done.

I believe Chris mentioned to me that the 4x4 conversion (t-case, driveshaft, front axle, etc...) adds about 800 lbs in weight. I didn't get to do a direct before/after measurement for just the 4x4 conversion because so many different things changed on the van at once, but roughly accounting for the other changes, that figure is about right for us.
 

Atl-atl

Adventurer
I was very, very close to getting one of those and converting it. Best of luck, curious to see how the shell and interior holds up if you do take it off road.

Comically, my diesel 4x4 high top E-350, empty, weighs more than that thing does.
Tell us about the camper box. Is it wood frame or aluminum? That total weight on your rig is well below my 10,000 pound E350 4x4 Sportsmobile but the 4x4 axles, transfer case driveshafts, etc do add weight. I'll be curious to see what yours weighs when you are done.
I am also quite interested to see how it holds up ha. From what I can tell so far the skin is aluminum and there is approximately 1 1/2" of wood in between the outer skin and inner skin. Im guessing that is just blocking/backing in certain areas for strength and the majority of the space is just insulation. I havent dug far enough into it yet to see exactly whats under the skin. Im hoping at least the corners and some amount of "studs" are aluminum. Ill certainly report back.
 

Atl-atl

Adventurer
Weekend update!! Wife was out of town and I did nothing but work on the RV. Going to have to split this one into multiple posts. First things first, Ive actually been struggling with the radio for a while. Turns out the cutaway chassis that Ford sells has completely different wiring behind the dash than the previous econoline. I was all excited about installing a new head unit, speakers etc. and ordered up a bunch of stuff from Crutchfield. Got the harness all wired up and ready to install, only to find out the factory head unit has 2 plugs not 1 and half the wires dont match up. :mad:

So I get on some Ford forums and thankfully am able to find someone who posts a nearly accurate wiring diagram for a cutaway vehicle. I banged my head against the wall for quite a while with this wiring. I tested every damn wire behind the dash with a light and I swear I was trying things and getting different results each time. Wiring has always been a weakness of mine. The more I do it the easier it gets but Im still not great at it. I actually like doing it though, I like any kind of tinkering though so that shouldnt come as a surprise.

Long story short I got it working and Im ecstatic. The head unit is a Jensen CAR8000. It fits into a double din hole and has a 10" screen that floats in front of the dash. Its DVD ready which is cool if we ever want to watch something but Im not sure we'll actually use it. It has carplay/android auto, touch screen, simple features and thats all I need since its going in an RV. The real piece de resistance of this update is not the head unit, its the new rearview mirror. Its a Brandmotion FVMR-1100. When off its simply a mirror. When on its a touchscreen monitor with multiple camera capability, built in "dashcam" recording, hitch view, backup view etc. Its so ********** rad I want one in all my cars.

Wiring looked great for all of 5 minutes
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Stupid Ford, also you can see the cut wires in the plug, thats from Thor. They cut and rewire things with different color wires, there are no schematics available and generally make things a nightmare to work with.
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New speakers all around, highly rated but inexpensive Kickers sound great.
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Dont mind the extra holes, all the cabinetry is getting repainted...
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Also started with blackening the front end. Forgot to order some parts for the headlights since Im converting from the big one piece units "down" to 5x7 lights so for now Ive got no headlights but the front already looks better. Undecided on smoking the orange markers above the headlights. The new lights have build in LED turn signals so I guess Ill wait until theyre in to see how good they are. Fender flares look great and dont stick out too far with the stock wheels/tires. Cant wait to get the new bumper.
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86scotty

Cynic
Looks great! Care to document the headlight changeover? I'm still deciding. I'll definitely be going black up front as soon as I get bumpers ordered, the grill is easy, but I've never heard about the headlight swap. I figured it was plug and play.
 

Roam.Wild

Active member
This is almost exactly what we wanted to build! We weren't able to find a 19G to our liking so we started looking at the ALP19RD, same camper basically but with the rear dining setup. Only in Canada though. Excited to see this build.
 

Atl-atl

Adventurer
Looks great! Care to document the headlight changeover? I'm still deciding. I'll definitely be going black up front as soon as I get bumpers ordered, the grill is easy, but I've never heard about the headlight swap. I figured it was plug and play.
I will document it here. I also thought it was going to be plug and play, its not. Naively I bought LED 5x7 lights thinking just the black trim bezel would be all I need. Its going to be a lot more involved, including wiring. I actually had to go into a Ford dealership today to order parts because I couldn't find everything online and also couldn't find a single 08+ Econoline at a local junkyard, of which there are a plethora within 30 minutes of me in Phoenix, to say thats frustrating is a huge understatement.

This is almost exactly what we wanted to build! We weren't able to find a 19G to our liking so we started looking at the ALP19RD, same camper basically but with the rear dining setup. Only in Canada though. Excited to see this build.
Interesting, Ive never heard of the ALP19RD. I just googled it and I kinda like the rear dinette layout. Id love to see one of these in person some day but it seems even more rare than the Thor 19G.
 

Atl-atl

Adventurer
Part deuce from the weekend that I was too tired to post last night.

The new range showed up. Its my favorite piece of kit to date. Its literally a miniature 3 burner stove/oven with its own matching hood, backlighting, glass top for extra countertop space, electric start, runs on propane and it was $600. So rad. I immediately cut up the countertop to test fit the opening before I install the new counters. Then proceeded to have demo day. Delicate demo day but still demo day.
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Buh Bye
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Stripped all of the cabinet doors, drawer hardware, window coverings, trim, lighting, electronics and misc. accessories to get ready for paint which will hopefully happen this weekend.
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Last thing I got to was adding backing to the interior of the old microwave "hole" and trimming it with new 1/4" ply to create a nook that we will use for misc. storage. You can see the wonderful plethora of staples that hold together a lot of the interior. Id say its about 50% screws 50% staples.
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Last but certainly not least. Got word today that springs are 5 weeks out and all other parts are 2-3 weeks out so its possible that May 1st is a realistic completion date.
 

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