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High roof van as a camping/ toy hauler

mitchntx

Follower of Rev. Doug
Joined
Jun 11, 2006
Messages
3,762
Location
Whitney
First Name
Mitch
Last Name
Warren
My overall situation has taken a dramatic turn and looking for ways to travel and not spend $100/night on hotel rooms.

I'm looking at an older fleet F350 extended wheelbase, high roof van that was used as a people transporter that were wheelchair bound.
Still has the wheel chair lift in the back.

Has a reman Triton 5.4 gas motor with about 100K on it.
Has had some recent service like front end, brakes and tires.

Comes with dual batteries and an inverter.
It has side windows and wish it were a slab side instead.

I'm looking at the lift and wondering if I can modify it to accommodate a MC wheelbase and about 900lbs.
Even if I had to fab a removable panel, it's be no different than using a ramp.

Build a fold-up platform for a mattress, a closet for storage and room in the middle for a bike.

Having said all that ... for the cost of purchase, outfitting and operating ... that'd pay for a LOT of overnight stays.
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Messages
17,338
Location
Lampasas
First Name
Drew
Last Name
Wright
Mitch check out cheaprvliving on YouTube for conversion ideas on the van your thinking about. Be well worth watching and seeing how others do it and tons of helpful hints.
 

mitchntx

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Messages
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Whitney
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Mitch
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Warren
Appears to be ~8-10" taller than the standard rear van door.
I don't think I could stand without crouching to walk through.
I certainly doubt I could ride in and get off elegantly.
 
Joined
Jun 13, 2014
Messages
1,108
Location
Krum Tx
First Name
Michael
Last Name
McMillan
My overall situation has taken a dramatic turn and looking for ways to travel and not spend $100/night on hotel rooms.

I'm looking at an older fleet F350 extended wheelbase, high roof van that was used as a people transporter that were wheelchair bound.
Still has the wheel chair lift in the back.

Has a reman Triton 5.4 gas motor with about 100K on it.
Has had some recent service like front end, brakes and tires.

Comes with dual batteries and an inverter.
It has side windows and wish it were a slab side instead.

I'm looking at the lift and wondering if I can modify it to accommodate a MC wheelbase and about 900lbs.
Even if I had to fab a removable panel, it's be no different than using a ramp.

Build a fold-up platform for a mattress, a closet for storage and room in the middle for a bike.

Having said all that ... for the cost of purchase, outfitting and operating ... that'd pay for a LOT of overnight stays.
I'm liking where this is heading.
Depending on the lift I bet it would work fine. Just how the Tommy lifts work where they come down and fold out. Those Vans are used to transport some rather large folks and those lifts don't have to much trouble.
 
Joined
Jun 13, 2014
Messages
1,108
Location
Krum Tx
First Name
Michael
Last Name
McMillan
If you want to go the school bus route I know a guy with a large blue bird bus for sale. In your area. Not sure if your wanting something that big though.
 

mitchntx

Follower of Rev. Doug
Joined
Jun 11, 2006
Messages
3,762
Location
Whitney
First Name
Mitch
Last Name
Warren
If you want to go the school bus route I know a guy with a large blue bird bus for sale. In your area. Not sure if your wanting something that big though.
I bit over the top, I would think. It would be nice though.

In doing the rough math, I would have to stay overnight (@$100/night) more than 50 times in order to break even on the initial purchase.
Factor in the cost of insurance, fuel and service plus overnight RV parking fees ... then offset that by the residual value ...
I would venture it would be close to 100 nights ($10K out of pocket).

From a logical and fiscal standpoint, it just doesn't make a lot of sense.

I think I've talked myself out of it.
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Messages
17,338
Location
Lampasas
First Name
Drew
Last Name
Wright
If you want to go the school bus route I know a guy with a large blue bird bus for sale. In your area. Not sure if your wanting something that big though.
Mitch needs a skoolie! Your on the right track. Strip out the seats add what you need and your good to go.
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2018
Messages
49
Location
Round Rock
Here is my trailer project to transport toys and camp since it is about 1500 lbs. I can trail it with my car. It also has water tank and 12v power system.
 

Attachments

Joined
Aug 9, 2013
Messages
389
Location
North Texas
A conversion van makes a lot of sense for many. What year van is it? The 3 valve vct 5.4 are known to be problematic. These engines began in 2004 for the F series, not sure about E series.
 

Yeeha! Stephen

Forum Supporter
Joined
Nov 22, 2003
Messages
1,986
Location
Bedford Texas
I had an E250 (without wheel chair lift) window van (Club Wagon) version of what you are talking about. One of the 15 passenger jobs that look like a church van.
I loved it. Set up camping stuff to be fold-up and removable but hardly ever removed it. Put over 240k miles on it before it started giving me emission troubles. Ran great but would not pass the DFW smog test. Instead of spending $$ to get it fixed, I gave it to my son-in-law and one of his construction crews still use it in one of those areas that don't require the annual smog test. It's got WAY over 300k on it and still runs and looks great .
I miss my van.
Got a pick-up now and have been looking at one of the new "Sprinter/Transit/Ram" vans and to get the same thing is $$$$$$$$ now. Waaaaa!
SS
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2018
Messages
49
Location
Round Rock
Wow I like it. Great idea.
The great thing is that once I get to the location, I can set up camp and if I need to go out for groceries I can leave the trailer behind and drive anywhere and come back. If I had a Roof Top Tent, I would have to pack all the camp in order to move the car. I can also put a motorcycle in the trailer and park inside my garage without having to pay to store it. The rack system is custom and can be lowered or raised in case in the future I want to add a RTT. It also has a second tent that attaches to this one and adds a whole room for 3-4 more campers. Good for kids!! I have a full air mattress for the trailer bed and other for the second tent. It took me a year to design it and build it.
 

mitchntx

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Whitney
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Mitch
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Warren
The 3 valve vct 5.4 are known to be problematic. These engines began in 2004 for the F series, not sure about E series.
It's a 99 model.


I am going to pass on it.
I just don't think I will have that many overnight stays in the coming years.
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
11,451
Location
Arlington
First Name
Tim
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Shelfer
If you're handy & can do home conversion stuff, a high roof van could be a pretty good alternative.

A word, though. If it's all about the money, here's something to think about. I've been an RVer - tent trailers - for over 35 years. I realized long ago that, when you get into ANY form of RVing, you're basically shifting your costs from one commodity to another. Yes, the cost of purchase, outfitting, and operating would pay for a lot of overnight stays. Then again, it's just as accurate to say you can pay for a lot of overnight stays for the cost of getting into, and staying in, any sort of camping rig - even a van conversion like you describe, unless it's going to replace another vehicle.

We've stayed in the RV game not because of cost, but because we enjoy the experience of being in a campground as opposed to a hotel room. But depending on how minimalist a camper you are, vs how frugal a hoteler you are, you can tilt the break-even point pretty far in either direction. I'd suggest some time with a spreadsheet to get a realistic assessment of where that point is.
 
Joined
Feb 9, 2012
Messages
633
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Austin
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Greg
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Hall
I am going to pass on it.
I just don't think I will have that many overnight stays in the coming years.
Signing up for any of the major hotel chain rewards programs helps out in the long run. I can regularly get rooms for around $60/night.
 

mitchntx

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Whitney
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Mitch
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Warren
I have a 28' camper in the driveway.
I'm praying for a hail storm this spring.

It's a big boat anchor to yank around.
 

Texasrider58

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Feb 1, 2016
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Mineral Wells
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David
I think an enclosed trailer is a good option. Set it up to one's preference. Could be used for other activities as well.
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
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Location
Bryan, TX
I have a Ford Transit 250 with the Ecoboost engine. It has a Tommy Gate lift on the back that I use to get my wheel chair bound mother in law into the van. The capacity is 650# and I will eventually modify it to lift my DRZ400 up to van floor level. forget about the $30-$40 fees for parking overnight. Drive down just about any forest access road and you will find a free place to camp. Even a pay place can be had for less than $15. Stay in an organized campground every 3 or 4 days for a full shower and laundry facilities. Even in the full service campgrounds, you can ask for a tent site without electricity and save money. Just don't set up the tent.
 

mitchntx

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Whitney
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Mitch
Last Name
Warren
Those are all fine reasonings.

In retrospect, I'm not the base camp kind of tourer.
It would have been great when riding at Big Bend.
But those trips are really rare.

The over-nighters I ride with mostly ride from point A to B to C to D then return to A days later ... point A being home.
 

Texasrider58

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Joined
Feb 1, 2016
Messages
228
Location
Mineral Wells
First Name
David
Maybe camping off the bike is a better option. I bought a 2-3 man tent, air mattress, air pump, one burner stove, use two sleeping bags when it's cooler. Misterk has his system down well. Camping is fun and relaxing too. I like the base camp idea also. I can carry all that I need in the trailer. My idea there is I do not want to ride the DRZ across long distances. As you stated, BB was a good example. Camping off the Strom is fun and a cheap way to travel. 2-3 day trip would be cheaper than 1 hotel room in many cases.
 

Crew Chief

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Nov 11, 2007
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Rendon TX
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Mike
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Brewster
I bit over the top, I would think. It would be nice though.

In doing the rough math, I would have to stay overnight (@$100/night) more than 50 times in order to break even on the initial purchase.
Factor in the cost of insurance, fuel and service plus overnight RV parking fees ... then offset that by the residual value ...
I would venture it would be close to 100 nights ($10K out of pocket).

From a logical and fiscal standpoint, it just doesn't make a lot of sense.

I think I've talked myself out of it.

...

We've stayed in the RV game not because of cost, but because we enjoy the experience of being in a campground as opposed to a hotel room. But depending on how minimalist a camper you are, vs how frugal a hoteler you are, you can tilt the break-even point pretty far in either direction. I'd suggest some time with a spreadsheet to get a realistic assessment of where that point is.
I've done the math a hundred times and It comes out in favor of the hotels almost always. We have to travel more than I think we possibly can to reach a breakeven with most types of RV's. There are times though where you simply want to be where the action is like tshelfer points out. In those cases the RV certainly has it's advantages. I think I decided that for those times I could rent a Toy Hauler and still come out ahead. How often you would be in that situation would affect the math.
 
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