2003 E-150 Build (Family Adventure Van)

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WUzombies

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Purchased from a fleet resale lot in north Texas in June 2015 on the way home from a two week trip to the Smokey Mountains. It took that trip to finally get my wife to agree to the purchase (After trying for nearly 5 years), found the van online and quickly made the purchase. 2003 E-150 XL with only 30,000 miles on the clock.

The plan isn't a vehicle to sleep in, we ground tent, but to have something to bomb down forestry roads, drive on routes like Old Ore Road in Big Bend, just a way to carry our gear where ever we want to explore and camp.

Right now I'm rushing to finish to a certain point before our big 2016 trip.

So far I installed a gear shelf, 2-meter Yaesu, CB, Wilson cell phone repeater (which is awesome), built a roof rack with ladder using a free cycled set of contractor bars and about $150 worth of ERW that my engineer wife sized for load.

Also put new wheels and tires, replaced rotary, brakes, bearings, new coil springs on the front end and some other reliability repairs and modifications.

As of this post I'm fabricating the front bumper to be finished before building the rear bumper with planned swing outs.

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ShawnR

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Man that is a sweet rig. You really know how to travel in comfort. The rack on top is sweet. Looks sturdy enough to set up a tripod and stand on.
 

WUzombies

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Looks sturdy enough to set up a tripod and stand on.
That was one of my goals when building it. :blush:

Stacey David did something on his show a good while back where he brought in a project car, said what he wanted to do then went a wildly different direction to prove a point about setting project goals and following them. This build has some very specific project goals and I'm slowly making my way through them. Something I promised my wife was that the total build would be under $20k including purchase price of the vehicle. So far so good and by the time I get to getting on board air, locker, winch and a few other things I should still be well under the budget cap.
 

ShawnR

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Wow that's cool. The rack I'm putting on my Jeep won't be sturdy enough to stand on but at least I'll have more gear space. Keep us posted on the progress. Can't wait to see it when you're done. Someday we'll have to meet up on the trails and do some photographing.
 

Overland-Indiana

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That's awesome you have the little helper with you! It is great to keep kids involved, they LOVE it!
 
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WUzombies

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What is roof rack decking made of? Almost looks like cat walk decking.

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FarmTek PolyMax. It's ABS aplastic, strong and much lighter than expanded steel. As in the 4ftx8ft of decking on my roof rack weighs 30lbs. https://www.farmtek.com/farm/supplies/ProductDisplay?catalogId=15052&storeId=10001&langId=-1&division=FarmTek&productId=20251

Right now it's zip tied to the rack with a metric ton of zip ties. I'm trying to decide if I need to do more, but even driving on the highway it's been fine so far.
 

WUzombies

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This is such a great pic. Love when the kids get involved
The entire build is about family adventure, so the family should be involved with the build too. As much as they can. My little girl is 4, my boy turns 6 in a few weeks. She wants to wear pink skirts and turn wrenches with me, he likes the electronics and HAM radio stuff. I'm having fun watching them explore and learn, figuring out who they are for themselves in the process.
 
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benmmc

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Oh man, that's awesome. I've wanted to build a van for a long time (one day :smiley:). Yours is looking good, looking forward to seeing updates!
 
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benmmc

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Also, which Wilson booster did you get? Do they really work? My home gets crappy reception, and of course it'd be cool to have better signal out there as well.
 

WUzombies

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Also, which Wilson booster did you get? Do they really work? My home gets crappy reception, and of course it'd be cool to have better signal out there as well.
https://www.wilsonamplifiers.com/wilson-mobile-4g-50-db-amplifier-kit-460108/

I'm also using the big @$$ trucker antenna on the van. It has done well for me, but better when stationary. Basically it'll take a disappearing bar and make it a couple of bars of 3G, a couple of bars of no-G and sneak up to 4G sometimes.
 
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roamingtimber

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You're van is awesome! I love how family focused it is. There's nothing cooler than when my 3 yo son "helps" me on my Jeep! I think taking kids camping and exploring is greatest thing to do as a parent. There are so many studies about the positive affects the outdoors have on kids and their development.
 
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