2009 E250 Family Adventure Van Build - Stella

Bobfab

Observer
Hi All, after a long hiatus I have returned a little wiser, a little old and with some young-ins in the mix. This thread is to capture and document the build of my 2009 Ford E-250 van! If you came here hoping for an exciting, offroad 4x4 build, get ready to be let down! Also if you think we are joining the throngs of people building a van so they can live full time and embrace that #vanlife, you would also be dead wrong.

The focus of this is to collaborate and build a family adventure vehicle for myself, wife and 2 daughters! I have been always inspired by the ingenuity of folks on this forum and hope that I can contribute in a similar fashion! So here is the run down & backstory... I am a PA native but have lived all over the western US over the past couple years. Shortly after starting a family of our own, my wife and I eventually gravitated back east to our extended family and roots in PA. In working through finding your trusted mechanic, I stumbled upon a real shade tree spot where I have been taking my vehicles for repairs that exceed my equipment, tire changes, state inspection (ugh), etc... A month or so when I was there I noticed an extended, high roof van in the lot among the weeds and had to ask.... the rest is history. After the most elongated auto transaction i have ended up with this:

Stella Blue - 2009 E250, formerly an accessibility van. High roof, extended body, 4.6L V8, looks like open diff.... 84k miles on the clock!



more to come....
 
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Raul

Adventurer
Oh the possibilities! Nice van. I have a similar family set up, wife and twin daughters (now 18 y.o.) and the adventures we have done in vans are priceless.
 

Bobfab

Observer
Oh the possibilities! Nice van. I have a similar family set up, wife and twin daughters (now 18 y.o.) and the adventures we have done in vans are priceless.
Ironically enough I must thank you for your thread, it was very inspirational and really influenced the buy! Thanks so much for sharing! I'm afraid my van won't nearly be as capable as yours, great build!



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Bobfab

Observer
Okay, i will try to continue on with the story...

I joked around with the mechanic about buying this thing, he evaluated just how serious I was, but after some internet research I thought it was a good deal at 5k$. The vehicle was a previous handicap / mobility van with the wheelchair lift already removed. It hadnt been on the road since 2014 and prior to being removed from the road, it was in a front end collision. The mechanic was able to replace the headlight, grill, front driver fender, driver door and suspension pc's, but otherwise was left there. I took it for a test ride to make sure there was nothing funky with the frame or drivetrain, but man... the alignment was way off. Totally unsafe / unfit to drive as-is. So, we re-negotiated the deal....

5250$ for the vehicle with the following stipulations:
- It was able to be aligned and drive okay (aligned by seller)
- New windshield (by seller for $250)
- State inspection
- New tires (to be provided by me and installed by seller)
- Fresh oil change for the trans fluid & engine oil

And with that, it was done...

Upon purchase we replaced the 245/75/16's with some beefier 265/75/16's Sumitomo Encounter AT's


did some planning of the rear area:


And brought her home:


We started to clean out the nastiness that was a retired van with 6 years of funk, even had the original owners manual:
 

Bobfab

Observer
Next, i never thought i would be so excited about hubcaps, but i replaced the 3 missing caps and 1 broken cap with some of amazons finest Ford replica caps:


It made a major difference on the aesthetics:


visited its Ford Stable mate:



I wanted to get rid of the AM radio and put something more contemporary installed. I bought a Binzie Android 9.1. It has been giving me major issues with keyboard functionality, but if i can get it to work it will be a great multimedia center:



After that was in, my wife and kids helped yanking the seats and started planning / mocking up:



I also yanked these horrible rotting running boards:


Next missions:
- Decommission the Handicap interlock system
- Figure out what is draining the battery
- yank the floor
- Figure out what is causing the heavy rear vibrations at 45mph (any ideas!?, tires should be properly balanced since they are new, but it feels like a really out of balance rear wheel)
- Install new "Rally armor" left over mudflaps
- Install family friendly seating
- Finalize State inspection

 

wgeyer88

New member
Looks like a nice van! Congrats on the purchase.

tires usually won’t cause a rear vibration, even if they are out of balance. Unless they are already bad. Have you checked the rear driveshaft and u joints? That would be my guess.
 

Bobfab

Observer
So i had a chance to crawl under the van yesterday and take a look at the driveshaft. It does have a significant size dent, which i have attempted to relay here in this photo. Do you guys think this could cause a vibration that comes on at a particular speed? How do you check the U-joints, apologies i am a FWD honda & moto guy, my full-size machinery experience is limited. Telling enough to spend the $200 for a used one on ebay? Seems like they changed in 2008-2014 and my local salvage yard doesn't have any newer vans in the lot to pillage.



 

Bobfab

Observer
Nice score with the high top! Where are you in PA? I’m near Philly.


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I am about an hour NW of Philly by the Limerick Nuke Plant but a philly native. Cool to see other local members on here!



Looks like a nice van! Congrats on the purchase.

tires usually won’t cause a rear vibration, even if they are out of balance. Unless they are already bad. Have you checked the rear driveshaft and u joints? That would be my guess.
Thanks! We are pretty excited if we can get it running smoothly for long distances. See above for the driveshaft, it looks bigger in person.
 

PhillySMB

Member
Harry’s U-Pull-It in Pennsburg usually has a good selection of Econolines in the yard and is my go-to place for used parts. Looks like they only have a few in stock right now, though, and all older. https://www.wegotused.com


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Bobfab

Observer
Harry’s U-Pull-It in Pennsburg usually has a good selection of Econolines in the yard and is my go-to place for used parts. Looks like they only have a few in stock right now, though, and all older. https://www.wegotused.com


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Yeah, i just went there last weekend for the first time. What an experience... and close to home. It appears that the newer econolines utilize a different driveshaft... Aluminum in 2008+ maybe?
 

Bobfab

Observer
Thanks for the input everyone. I put a 4' level on the driveshaft today and there is an obvious tweak with a straight edge on there. I am sure hoping this is the cause of the issue. I ordered a used Ebay shaft and some new SKF u-joints. This will be my first driveshaft replacement project, wish me luck!

Got some other parts in the mail today and received notice the new bench seats are in transit at will be at the transportation depot tomorrow! We are headed out of town in a non-overland adventure to the jersey shore this weekend and also my father-in-law (Tiger owner) is in town (solar/house system no worky) ... and we are trying to sell our travel trailer this weekend, so real updates will either be limited with competing priorities or very late night :)
 

jonathon

Active member
The 2v 4.6 is about as bullet proof of a V8 you can get, won’t be the quickest but they never die. Nice find.
 
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