'06 E350 Van Build

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Built By Fluffy

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So... I'm a major dufus. But...

THE VAN IS RUNNING!!!

Turns out I didn't need a tuner, didn't need to trick the PCM, didn't need to add resistors to simulate the transmission, no... I just needed to check the air box connection to the throttle body after I replaced the air filter... because is came loose. So after much headache, curses, wailing and gnashing of teeth, the simple fix got me driving the van to work today.

I'll hopefully post video soon. Other than feeling like a numbskull I'm actually rather happy I can drive my van again :)
 
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Built By Fluffy

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She runs, but not without her hiccups. Drives very much like a 4 speed truck, 1st gear is near useless for daily driving situations. That said I really need to figure out what that loud noise was when I reach 4th gear, I'm thinking it's either the T-case partially popping out of gear or something going wrong in the axle (which is more terrifying)
 
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Built By Fluffy

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Put roughly 20 miles on it so far, that incident hasn't happened again. I'm thinking either a hub locker or the t-case partially came out of gear when that happened.

Drove it from work today (roughly 3.5 miles) all in 4wd and no odd noises other than the gear whine of a t-case and front axle, so here's hoping it was a one off event!

She very much drives like a big truck, though with a very skinny footwell, but fun to drive. After switching back to the Gladiator for a trip I felt myself slamming the clutch in from getting so used to the heavy Ford clutch. I've got a few things yet to do to make her road worthy for longer trips: new (not bold placeholder) tires, axle breather tubes, ABS rewire, speedo, etc. Once I get ~500 miles of short distance trips (close to home) under the belt I'll swap out the axle gear oil and inspect the gears for improper wear, if all's good then it'll be time to plan the next family camping trip!
 

wvuoutback

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The amount of work for the manual transmission is something I would do out of principle. Your fabrication skills are top notch. Love the build!
 
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Built By Fluffy

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The amount of work for the manual transmission is something I would do out of principle. Your fabrication skills are top notch. Love the build!
Much appreciated, this project has been driven by my obsession with driving a manual and my belief that engineers need to get out of the desk from time to time and turn a wrench. I'm really hoping anyone else who wants to do a manual swap or learn to take cars apart can read this thread and find it helpful. It'll be a sad day when electric cars take over completely and the manual is gone, but something tells me I'll find a way to make an electric shiftable.

That said this has brought me out of my comfort zone and made me learn, especially the PCM/electrical component. And as an update in that regard, I've found a new error code that is limiting performance. The DTC P061C, which seems to deal with RPM differentials between the auto and the engine, is showing up and the engine looses power/chugs at about 2400 RPM. On the auto transmission there are two speed sensors; input shaft sensor (ISS) and output shaft sensor (OSS). I had already planned on tying the OSS into the front driver's side ABS sensor through an aftermarket speedo calibration unit, since that's the sensor that gives me speed information. Since the calibration unit can also do tach conversions (it's a Dakota Digital SGI-100BT for those wondering) I'm going to try and tie the Crankshaft Position Sensor into the ISS through that as well, hopefully that will allow the van to rev all the way to redline. At least it's my hunch that the ISS not getting any signal is what's causing this particular issue.
 
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Built By Fluffy

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Nope... ISS wasn't it, and I give up on all things computer...
And God bless the tuner guy I've been working with because he's probably needed the patience of a saint.

P2105 showed up again this morning while I was trying to get to work, not convenient timing. Engine refuses to run and engine light back on. Completely disassemble and clean the air intake and MAF sensors, no dice and the same P061C and P02105 codes show up. Try a second manual transmission tune and same thing...

I put the PCM back to stock and the damn thing purrs like a kitten, no engine light and the only DTC codes are related to the missing auto-transmission. Drove it around the block and the thing even revs up all the way like it's supposed to...

SO! I do think it was a dirty MAF sensor, but that doesn't explain why I wasn't getting these issues prior to doing the transmission swap. I'm just going to roll with it and keep the PCM stock for the time being. At least this means I don't have to splice into the CPS in order to give rpm data to the transmission input speed sensor.

If this issue isn't resolved and shows it's head back again, I think my only viable option would be an aftermarket stand-alone engine controller (holley terminator maybe?). Not cheap and not optimal...

If anyone else wants to do this to a Ford van, get an '04 or older model. The throttle body is mechanically controlled, the PCM is easier to swap with F-series trucks of the same years (ie replace the van PCM with a manual trans F-250 or 350 truck PCM), and they're are less speed sensors to deal with.
 
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Built By Fluffy

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Alrighty! New (and dangerous) issue discovered as I got an RPM issue fixed and then got the speedo working again...
And I did end up needing a tune

RPM issue first, it did still chug at 2500 RPM while driving. Turns out the PCM (regardless of being tuned or stock) does not like having any load on the engine while in Park or Neutral. To fix that I looked into what I could do with the Digital Transmission Range Sensor (the bit that tells the PCM your gear selection). All it is is a rotational switch that has contacts as several points to short out specific pins for your gear selection (P R N D 2 or 1). The van (or any ford) will not start the engine unless in P or N, but will only rev the engine properly in R, D, 2 or 1. So I used my Ohm meter to figure out what pins are open or closed in what setting:
DSC00696.JPG R9a4233c909b53317fdcc041e3efebcf0.jpg
So essentially I just wired those pins together on the transmission wire harness side and all worked appropriately.... while I still didn't have the speedo working

Trying to figure things out one by one, I got the speedometer back into the equation afterwards (Using a Dakota Digital SGI-100BT) which caused another issue at speed. Wasn't hard though, the Dakota Digital unit was really easy to wire in and I just used the front ABS sensor as my new speed sensor. Set it to the 6th application in the instruction manual and guessed the calibration setting spot on the first go (3.15), should also make changing tire sized super easy:
DSC00695.JPG

HOWEVER!
On stock PCM, with speedo working:
  • Without any gear selection (no pins 2-6 wired in), the engine cuts out immediately as you come to a stop
  • With a gear selected (D, 2, or 1) after getting up to speed once you go into neutral to coast or slow down the engine dies
    • terrifying if this happens at 50 mph, downhill, on a swervy road causing you lose power steering
    • typically not an issue under 30 mph
    • I think it's the PCM trying to engine brake to slow down, but instead causing the engine to die
With a manual transmission tune, with speedo working:
  • Engine RPM doesn't dip below 800 and everything runs smoothly
    • Got it up to 55 a few times then immediately into neutral, all's good
  • Still need to keep the digital transmission range sensor set up the way shown in the diagram above
Thing ran fine prior to getting the speedometer hooked back up but as soon as I did the new issues made the van fairly unsafe to drive (engine power cutting out). If anyone else wants to attempt a manual swap, I think a tune is a must or anything to keep the RPMs from cutting out while driving

Still a BAD@$$ van to drive, having a lot of fun just driving it to and from work. Hopefully soon I can turn from the 4x4 swap updates and start giving ya'll updates on camping/overlanding interior build stuff, we do have a plan and I think it'll turn out great for camping in and outside the van :)
 
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Shakes355

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Ambitious work! I love it. Couple notes. With Electronic Throttle the OEM's were able to scrap Idle Air Control Valves. It's all done by the ETB. To make that happen, the pcm pays very close attention to calculated load value on top of built-in adjustments for the parasitic load of the auto transmission (torque converters do work at all speeds including idle).

It's nearly impossible for you to trick the program and simulate the load an auto puts on the engine. Old systems ramped up the iac to "catch" the engine on the way down and the bring it softly to idle. The ETB wants to do the same thing but it doesn't see the load and as such, won't compensate.

You're also pretty spot on with the engine braking comment. Many newer vehicles will keep the torque converter locked down to a certain speed. It acts as an engine brake if the pcm is programed with it among other things.
(During engine braking the throttle is closed to create a vacuum in the cylinders on a down stroke and the fuel is cut so the engine isn't producing power)
With the converter locked, the engine speed will not drop below a certain rpm (all controlled by the transmission).

In your case, having it drop to idle as you pop it to neutral will cause a stall because: no fuel and no airflow. The engine is basically off.

It sounds like the manual tune worked for you. And without knowing exactly how you wired it, I'll just say that most MT's only have the output speed sensor (in the tcase for 4x4 applications). The computer only cares about vehicle speed and the the clutch switch.
 
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Built By Fluffy

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It sounds like the manual tune worked for you. And without knowing exactly how you wired it, I'll just say that most MT's only have the output speed sensor (in the tcase for 4x4 applications). The computer only cares about vehicle speed and the the clutch switch.
Thanks for the notes, honestly I didn't know much about modern autos and their computers so this whole thing has been a learning experience for me. Basically reverse engineering what I need or cobbling it together from other Ford Forums.

The way I wired in the new speed sensor was into the auto transmission's output sensor pigtail, I figured the input sensor wouldn't matter much anymore so I left it unplugged. Unfortunately there isn't a speed sensor on either the ZF5 transmission nor the NP271 tcase, so that's why I had to splice into the wheel ABS sensor. Ford manual trucks typically get that information from the rear ABS sensor which reads off of a tone ring on the differential.
 

Built By Fluffy

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Dilemma time!
I might be making a big trip this summer but have limited time/funds/sanity to deal with as far as the van goes. I'll need to figure what needs to happen as far as livability vs wants, and weigh that against what the Gladiator will need for the trip (topper or bed cover for security)

As for the van, she's driving great now but...
Needs: Tires, wheels, rear driver window sealed or replacement (found it leaking profusely last rain)
Wants: Insulation, roof fan/vent, installed heater, fix/get working the rear auxiliary gas tank, and an area to hold down the fridge & solar generator (ideally a full interior build, not going to happen w/ time + budget constraints)

I can probably get all of the needs fulfilled and two or three of the wants, I just need to prioritize them. The new bench that folds out into a bed is installed so at least sleeping arrangements are taken care of. I'm open to suggestions for what will end up being a 2~3 week trip, summer time, going east-bound
 

spazegun2213

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Dilemma time!
I might be making a big trip this summer but have limited time/funds/sanity to deal with as far as the van goes. I'll need to figure what needs to happen as far as livability vs wants, and weigh that against what the Gladiator will need for the trip (topper or bed cover for security)

As for the van, she's driving great now but...
Needs: Tires, wheels, rear driver window sealed or replacement (found it leaking profusely last rain)
Wants: Insulation, roof fan/vent, installed heater, fix/get working the rear auxiliary gas tank, and an area to hold down the fridge & solar generator (ideally a full interior build, not going to happen w/ time + budget constraints)

I can probably get all of the needs fulfilled and two or three of the wants, I just need to prioritize them. The new bench that folds out into a bed is installed so at least sleeping arrangements are taken care of. I'm open to suggestions for what will end up being a 2~3 week trip, summer time, going east-bound
Your needs are valid, and sadly there isn't much you can do about trying to get around them. For wheels/tires you could try getting OEM take offs from an F250/350 as they are usually cheap.

As for the wants, if you have power, then a fan is easy, just get a box fan and call it even for a while. The ability to move it in/out of the van will be nice as well on Hot days. As for a heater, I have a Mr Buddy heater, and LOVE it. Keeps the van super warm and since I already have propane in the van its a no brainer. I don't run a fridge, just a nice cooler that I literally ratchet strap into the van. Works well, doubles as a seat as well when I'm prepping food and cooking. Ice every few days hasn't been a deal breaker and at 1/2 the cost of a fridge (and being 2x the size) it was want I needed rather than wanted, lol. Thus far both Me and the Mrs

How far east and where do you want to go? If you are passing by, I always recommend El Morro National Monument.. its a cool little spot. If you are going further east, Hot Springs AR is a neat little town with lots to do (pre covid at least). Anywhere in the Appalachian Mountains is sure to impress. Front Royal Va is another cool small town, near Shenandoah National park (with skyline drive), and Luray Caverns. I haven't visited with the beast or a 4x4 so I can't comment on them being great overlanding spots, but they are cool out of the way places.
 

Built By Fluffy

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How far east and where do you want to go? If you are passing by, I always recommend El Morro National Monument.. its a cool little spot. If you are going further east, Hot Springs AR is a neat little town with lots to do (pre covid at least). Anywhere in the Appalachian Mountains is sure to impress. Front Royal Va is another cool small town, near Shenandoah National park (with skyline drive), and Luray Caverns. I haven't visited with the beast or a 4x4 so I can't comment on them being great overlanding spots, but they are cool out of the way places.
We're going to Tennessee, I might try and do so going from death valley into Utah then follow the TAT into TN. As for the wheels n tires, I know I could go cheaper, but part of my budget constraint is the want for specific wheels and tires (method + nitto). For what I have planned I figured it was best not to skimp on that.

I have and love our Mr Buddy heater, great product but it creates a lot of condensation in the van. We were planning a dickensen heater but I don't think that's in the cards unless things change plus it would require I start pluming in our propane (currently we just run a long hose from a 20 lb). The fridge (IceCo) we already have and the solar gen is on order, but there isn't much reason we couldn't just strap those down except to make life easier having them accessible in their own dedicated place.

The box fan isn't a bad idea, I'll run that past my wife, though I suspect she may want to maxxair fan. I've seen that on your van, how're you liking it?
 

spazegun2213

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We're going to Tennessee, I might try and do so going from death valley into Utah then follow the TAT into TN. As for the wheels n tires, I know I could go cheaper, but part of my budget constraint is the want for specific wheels and tires (method + nitto). For what I have planned I figured it was best not to skimp on that.

I have and love our Mr Buddy heater, great product but it creates a lot of condensation in the van. We were planning a dickensen heater but I don't think that's in the cards unless things change plus it would require I start pluming in our propane (currently we just run a long hose from a 20 lb). The fridge (IceCo) we already have and the solar gen is on order, but there isn't much reason we couldn't just strap those down except to make life easier having them accessible in their own dedicated place.

The box fan isn't a bad idea, I'll run that past my wife, though I suspect she may want to maxxair fan. I've seen that on your van, how're you liking it?

DV is awesome....
11-11 Death Valley-08175.jpg by spazegun, on Flickr

As for the wheels/tires, the one and done purchase gets you what you want/need and you don't need to buy/sell a set on the way.... thats the easy button

You get condensation with your buddy heater? When we use it we do crack the windows and sometimes but the maxxair on low to get some air moving and we've never had a problem... but we've only used it a few times. As for temporary setups, do what you need to get the job done. We can always do/have better, but with your time constraints it sounds like having you fridge/generator would rock even if you just strap them in for your trip. (and sleep on a cot or a make shift bed) *shrugs* our rigs are constantly evolving and will never be "done" lol!

A box fan isn't great, but for $10 it means you don't *need* a maxxair. We love ours, its an older manual open one that is a tad loud (I sleep directly below it so I'm bias). We haven't camped out when its REALLY hot yet so I can't actually comment how well it works moving air lots of air. But it moves enough that we can cook inside with all the doors closed and nothing smells like what we are cooking... Mrs spaze likes that :)
 
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loper

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Dilemma time!
I might be making a big trip this summer but have limited time/funds/sanity to deal with as far as the van goes. I'll need to figure what needs to happen as far as livability vs wants, and weigh that against what the Gladiator will need for the trip (topper or bed cover for security)

As for the van, she's driving great now but...
Needs: Tires, wheels, rear driver window sealed or replacement (found it leaking profusely last rain)
Wants: Insulation, roof fan/vent, installed heater, fix/get working the rear auxiliary gas tank, and an area to hold down the fridge & solar generator (ideally a full interior build, not going to happen w/ time + budget constraints)

I can probably get all of the needs fulfilled and two or three of the wants, I just need to prioritize them. The new bench that folds out into a bed is installed so at least sleeping arrangements are taken care of. I'm open to suggestions for what will end up being a 2~3 week trip, summer time, going east-bound
Definitely take care of the tires. Getting the windows sealed up isn't too hard.

My first thought would be getting the fridge and solar tied down. You don't want heavy objects loose inside the cab with you.
Second, I would get the fuel tank squared away. Longer range is always nice.
You can figure out the exact interior layout you want, based on how things go during the trip.
I have incorporated insulation, fan, etc. into my interior build. That approach might work for you.
 
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Built By Fluffy

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Already got a change in plans/job. Not a bad thing, but now we're not going as far at TN.

Definitely take care of the tires. Getting the windows sealed up isn't too hard.

My first thought would be getting the fridge and solar tied down. You don't want heavy objects loose inside the cab with you.
Second, I would get the fuel tank squared away. Longer range is always nice.
You can figure out the exact interior layout you want, based on how things go during the trip.
I have incorporated insulation, fan, etc. into my interior build. That approach might work for you.
Still going to go with a good set of rubbers though, just sold my smaller Nitto ATs to a gent with a tire blow out, his truck bed side now looks like bacon from the rubber impacts. I'm not chancing 10 yr old tires like he did, but I still don't want used.

The plan for the window was to just replace it with a metal blank, shouldn't be pricy so I'm not worried about that job. It's a fair point on fuel but to undo what I did and make the rear tank work would price out the other "wants". The dual filler neck seemed like a good idea at the time but the long hose required to make it work out needed to bend up and over a crossmember, essentially acts as a U-trap and keeps the tank from filling properly. I'll have to buy a new filler neck for the van (I hacked into the original for the mounting bracket) and fashion a separate filler neck for the rear tank.

What insulation did you use? I was planning spray foam but I wouldn't say no to something cheaper/temporary just for the summer
 

loper

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Already got a change in plans/job. Not a bad thing, but now we're not going as far at TN.



Still going to go with a good set of rubbers though, just sold my smaller Nitto ATs to a gent with a tire blow out, his truck bed side now looks like bacon from the rubber impacts. I'm not chancing 10 yr old tires like he did, but I still don't want used.

The plan for the window was to just replace it with a metal blank, shouldn't be pricy so I'm not worried about that job. It's a fair point on fuel but to undo what I did and make the rear tank work would price out the other "wants". The dual filler neck seemed like a good idea at the time but the long hose required to make it work out needed to bend up and over a crossmember, essentially acts as a U-trap and keeps the tank from filling properly. I'll have to buy a new filler neck for the van (I hacked into the original for the mounting bracket) and fashion a separate filler neck for the rear tank.

What insulation did you use? I was planning spray foam but I wouldn't say no to something cheaper/temporary just for the summer
I worry about spray foam causing rust later on, so I avoid it (I know other people like it, but that's just my opinion). I'm using two layers of 3/4" rigid styrofoam and a layer of 1/4" closed cell/foil in all the thin places, with a plastic sheet vapor barrier (upper parts of the walls, in the high top, ceiling, etc.) and rock wool stuffed into the doors and the spaces in the lower walls (vapor barrier here too). Before I started I painted all the cavities with chassis saver spray paint.

I'm not completely finished sheeting in the walls yet, and it will never be as good as a house, but I can tell quite a difference already. I've been out in both hot (around 100) and cold (about 30) and I think it's OK.
 
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Built By Fluffy

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Some mods to the bumper. Rear tire carrier would continue to wiggle/vibrate when being slammed closed, since I'm going to larger tires I figured I'd attempt to fix that.
Got this idea from a Youtuber building a Land Rover Disco, uses Chevy tailgate latches and bike brake cables to add a 3rd point of contact:
DSC00697.JPG DSC00702.JPG DSC00700.JPG

That bolt is 3/8ths and drilled through the center, the head is drilled out slightly larger so the brake cable can fit into it. I'll attach the other end of the brake cable in through the door and connect it to the door latch so it all still opens on the same pull
 
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