Ford E350 or E450 as an platform for a TC box?

spon

Member
Hi all,

Hopefully this is the correct place to post this question.

We are very seriously considering selling the Earthcruiser that we have been living in full time for almost 4 years. It has taken us all over the US, through both Canada and Mexico with no serious issues. We have never owned any other camper, or 4x4 for that matter, so we don't have a lot to compare it to. It's really been a great vehicle and there are so many things that we like about it. But it's not perfect for us and hence I am wanting to build what we think will be the perfect vehicle for us.

After looking at many other rigs and options the current thought is to pick up an older E450 diesel, ideally already 4x4 but convert it if need be. We don't really want an ambulance for quite a few reasons, but a cutaway chassis from one could be perfect.

The problem I am finding is that no one seems to have done this and there is little information on building a box or chassis flex for this platform. Will I need a subframe and who could build that? Many RV manufacturers, box builder and ambulances build on this platform and attach directly to the 6 crossmemebers attached to the frame with a 1" bushing in between the two. Most attach the house to the cab rigidly with no gasket. You might argue that most RVs and box trucks don't go offroad much but I have seen quite a few 4x4 conversions and some do some serious offroad. Then there all the sportsmobiles out there that have a rigid body on this same platform and we all know they venture off road.

I have talked with TC (@Victorian) about this and he doesn't have any data or suggestions for who to have make a subframe (or if one is needed but he suspects it would be).

I have searched this forum and the Intenet and not been able to find anyone who has done this or might have experience with this platform. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks.SmartSelect_20210110-091717_Drive.jpg
 

rruff

Explorer
Based on the detail in the right/bottom corner, it looks like a standard cab/body mount attached to the top of the frame's C channel (rubber bushings above and below, with a bolt through the middle and washers on the ends), and the "frame spacers" are the long hat channel rails on top. Are the body mounts and frame spacers something that Ford supplies?

I can understand why TC would not be happy with that sort of mounting, since it would impart quite a bit of stress into the box. I can't give you expert advice (definitely not!), but I think this concept would work if you replace the hat channel rails with a rigid steel frame. Maybe 4" square 3/16" wall tubing? Laid across each each pair of bed mount locations like the 2nd picture, joined on the sides, with diagonal bracing as well. The idea being to create a torsionally stiff and strong structure to bolt the box to; and the chassis can still flex beneath it to a degree via body mount bushings. It should not be a problem to mount the cab to the box in this case.

Tubing with those dimensions would weigh 9.4lbs/ft. The whole thing would weigh ~900 lbs. Maybe 1/8" wall would be fine, making it ~600 lbs. Any good welder should be able to make this.

Other options that seem to be more typically used by people on this forum are 3 point or 4 point pivoting subframes, or spring mounted subframes.
 

Craig_C

Active member
I’m interested in this as well, and haven’t found anything definitive. I talked to a sales guy at Intercontinental Truck Body, ITB, in Surry BC for an hour about different options. He said he talked to the engineers and would do a subframe with a rail on rail with spring mount, the same they do on Fusos. They have never done one for an E series though. Basically like Ram5500 Camperthing did, we even talked about the video he posted. I don’t want to post prices, but if they do the subframe, they need to build and mount the box, and attach like a “pass through”. Unfortunately that priced me out.
What I have calculated for a new e450, subframe, built and mounted, DIY build with enough solar, lithium to run an AC, shower, etc. with UJOR 4x4 would be around $150k.
I also contacted Advanced RV, they are booked two years out and only doing complete builds.
I hope you build one and share what works.
 

spon

Member
Based on the detail in the right/bottom corner, it looks like a standard cab/body mount attached to the top of the frame's C channel (rubber bushings above and below, with a bolt through the middle and washers on the ends), and the "frame spacers" are the long hat channel rails on top. Are the body mounts and frame spacers something that Ford supplies?

I can understand why TC would not be happy with that sort of mounting, since it would impart quite a bit of stress into the box. I can't give you expert advice (definitely not!), but I think this concept would work if you replace the hat channel rails with a rigid steel frame. Maybe 4" square 3/16" wall tubing? Laid across each each pair of bed mount locations like the 2nd picture, joined on the sides, with diagonal bracing as well. The idea being to create a torsionally stiff and strong structure to bolt the box to; and the chassis can still flex beneath it to a degree via body mount bushings. It should not be a problem to mount the cab to the box in this case.

Tubing with those dimensions would weigh 9.4lbs/ft. The whole thing would weigh ~900 lbs. Maybe 1/8" wall would be fine, making it ~600 lbs. Any good welder should be able to make this.

Other options that seem to be more typically used by people on this forum are 3 point or 4 point pivoting subframes, or spring mounted subframes.

Thanks for the input, the bump in the frame for rear axle complicates just putting a subframe on the rails. I do think that either the cross bars come with or can be ordered. I was thinking of a couple options, putting a subframe on these existing mounts, or building a couple of 4" rectangles, one on each side of the axle and replacing the mounts and then put a sub frame on those.

With the 1" above and below at 12 points, it seems like a fair amount of frame flex will be absorbed by these mounts.

But I am no expert.
 

spon

Member
I’m interested in this as well, and haven’t found anything definitive. I talked to a sales guy at Intercontinental Truck Body, ITB, in Surry BC for an hour about different options. He said he talked to the engineers and would do a subframe with a rail on rail with spring mount, the same they do on Fusos. They have never done one for an E series though. Basically like Ram5500 Camperthing did, we even talked about the video he posted. I don’t want to post prices, but if they do the subframe, they need to build and mount the box, and attach like a “pass through”. Unfortunately that priced me out.
What I have calculated for a new e450, subframe, built and mounted, DIY build with enough solar, lithium to run an AC, shower, etc. with UJOR 4x4 would be around $150k.
I also contacted Advanced RV, they are booked two years out and only doing complete builds.
I hope you build one and share what works.

Interesting. Does anyone in the US design and build subframes?

I have not gotten as far as understanding if TC ships to Canada and then US or if there might be an advantage of taking a truck up there to pick them up and have at least the subframe built and floor mounted and then finish the box myself.
 

rruff

Explorer
Thanks for the input, the bump in the frame for rear axle complicates just putting a subframe on the rails.

I wasn't advocating mounting the subframe to the rails, but rather to the body mounts. But I don't think it would interfere in any case, so long as your crossmembers are longer than your chassis is wide (and they should be). The bump is only 3.2" tall and right where the axle is. A 4" rail on top of the body mounts would end up ~5" above the rail.

Last night I went down the black hole of trying to determine the optimal way (stiffness/weight) to build a torsionally stiff subframe. Don't know that I learned much! But... it seems that closed tubing (not open C), as much vertical height as possible, and X bracing in the center, would be good. So... my current thought is to use 6"x2" 1/8th steel, and X bracing that ties each of the crossmembers together near the cab mounts. Hopefully a structural engineer with a clue will chime in!

The companies that build truck bodies surely make subframes, but I don't know if they sell them. It's just welding metal which a lot of people can do; the design and engineering is the part that could be tricky.
 

nillum

New member
Hi, I'm a newbie here and I am interested in doing the same. I have read various threads on this very same topic. Has anyone sorted how to attach a TC box yet?
 

nillum

New member
Here is a video of Chris from ujoint talking about the V4. At 3.44 he talks about the flatbed fixed in the front and pivot in the back.
 
Interesting. Does anyone in the US design and build subframes?

I have not gotten as far as understanding if TC ships to Canada and then US or if there might be an advantage of taking a truck up there to pick them up and have at least the subframe built and floor mounted and then finish the box myself.
I'm curious to know if you ended up going through with this because I was thinking about a similar build. I know a mechanical engineer with enough vehicular smarts that I could commission him to design a torsion system if needed, but I wondered if you stuck with the E450 and got a frame designed.
 

spon

Member
No, I have not yet. I bought a F550 fire crew truck and that's been my current project, but I still love the ide of an E450 with a box on it. That said, I might just get a slide in truck camper instead.
 

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