Finally My Own 4x4 Van (1985 E150 Chassis)

Ari3sgr3gg0

Active member
So I got a great deal on this van and it was less than 5 minutes from where I lived. I had been thinking of a full size van for taking my family exploring on trails without needing a caravan of vehicles. Within a day of wanting to make that a reality this van popped up. It has a carbed 351, AOD or E4OD (Haven't gotten to explore it more to find out) and half ton axles. So far the plan is some minor beauty upgrades, having a fun time doing wire tracing, and getting it ready to where I feel that it can drive hours from home without issue. Future plans? 1 ton or 3/4 ton axles, diesel for sure, grill guards, and I've always wanted a burly winch up front. I don't have an unlimited budget so things will happen as they happen. I'm going to use my threads on here as a way to stay motivated to always be doing something to my vehicle. Especially since replacements aren't easy to come by.Van Side Day 1.jpgVan Rear to Front Day 1.jpgVan Front To Back Day 1.jpgVan Driver Seat Day 1.jpgVan Rear Day 1.jpgVan Front Day 1.jpgVan Side Doors Open Day 1.jpg
 

calicamper

Expedition Leader
I recall the modern tarus starter motor is a big improvement over the stock one known for lighting the battery cable on fire. Our 85 E250 had a few burning battery cable events. Its the starter motor type they used, cant recall the exact details but its a odd starter design prone to causing that issue. I think the Tarus starter was a bolt in swap, do some digging I bet you’ll find the details.
Oh the brakes were lousy so keep that in mind👍
 

68camaro

Any River...Any Place
Congrats on purchase and future van projects. I hope you get to use it quickly and "don't let perfect get in the way of the good".
 

Ari3sgr3gg0

Active member
Got the van back home today, got some under carriage shots. Front axle, rear axle, transfer case, passenger side of transmission, and spring hangerFront Axle Day 1.jpgBack of Front Axle Day 1.jpgFront of Rear Axle Day 1.jpgBack of Rear Axle Day 1.jpgPassenger Transmission Side Day 1.jpgTransfercase Day 1.jpgSpring Hanger Day 1.jpg
 

Ari3sgr3gg0

Active member
So I'm doing some tire shopping so that I can have some tires that are new on the van, it has 235/75/15 on it now but I'm flip flopping between 31x10.50 or 33x12.50. I really think the 33 would fill the wheel well nicely but I have concerns over whether it would work on the rims it has now and also the cost is about double the 31. With the 31 my main concern is how well it will actually fit into the wheel well looks wise. Wouldn't mind some input before I pull the trigger on tires.
 

greengreer

Adventurer
Awesome find. Looks like a 9" rear. Whats the front axle? D44?

I vote 33x10.50 Not too many options in that size but enough. Plus it will look great and put some sidewall under there without needing wider wheels.
 

Ari3sgr3gg0

Active member
Awesome find. Looks like a 9" rear. Whats the front axle? D44?

I vote 33x10.50 Not too many options in that size but enough. Plus it will look great and put some sidewall under there without needing wider wheels.
No idea on what the axles are, I normally don't deal with anything half ton related so I'm learning as I go. Those 33 10.50 cost more than normal 33 12.50, part of the tire shopping problem is getting budget approval from wife. Since I just bought the van, titled, plated, and misc parts shopping is all adding up.
 

Ari3sgr3gg0

Active member
So today I took care of paperwork to make sure the van can be driven on the road whenever I want without worry. Didn't have much day light left so I cleaned some of the carb off from all of the grime that had built up. The air cleaner was completely missing so I just used a cheap 10" Edelbrock cleaner to match the carb. Intake manifold is actually really nice looking under all the grime. Going to have to learn more about Duraspark as well. Seems at one point somebody actually cared about this van since I'm seeing new parts, upgraded parts, and the 4x4 conversion doesn't appear to have been done by the usual upfitters. I didn't like the fuel filter resting on the upper radiator hose so I routed it up and away. The old deep cycle battery was a joke, even if it was a new battery the 18? gauge wire run from the front of the van all the way to the rear would never give a good charge. So I'll have to start fresh in the charging department. Clipped out the old and placed in one of my spare deep cycle batteries I had laying around. As a nice surprise I found out the front lights bolted to the bumper actually work too.Carburetor Day 1.jpgCarb and Intake Before.jpgAir Cleaner Added.jpgDuraspark.jpgFuel Filter by Upper Radiator Hose.jpgOld Deep Cycle Battery.jpgUsed Interstate Battery.jpg
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
I see leaf springs in the front - is this an old Pathfinder 4wd conversion or is it a home-brew? I think 1985 is too old for a Sportsmobile or UJOR, right?

IIRC 1985 would have been at towards the end of the Pathfinder era. I remember they were big in the 70's.

I also think Pathfinder was the only company that did half ton van conversions, aren't SMB and UJOR all 3/4 or 1 ton vans?

Looks like a lot of good potential but I'll have to say, I think you have a long road ahead of you. Good luck and post it up here!
 

Chevrolado

Cruisin'
My uncle had a van like that back in the day that we used to cruise around Oregon on family vacations in.. awesome.
Definitely following along on this one. Looks like a fun resto-mod type platform to go from. Good buy.
 

Ari3sgr3gg0

Active member
So I took it up to the parts store today to get some little TLC items. Added up to nearly Benjamin after I perused the shelves :(. So I have some additional things I'm going to do. Get a tube running from the valve cover breather to the air cleaner inlet, change fuel filter, extend the fuel line to give it some needed slack, change the coolant reservoir, and adjust the AOD shifting linkage. Confirmed that it is an AOD under there and the shifts are harsh, also they occur later than I think they should. Going to have to change the rear seal on the NP208 because it is dribbling trans oil on the driveline. I'll have to look at whether the AOD and NP208 share fluid or not. Oil pressure seems low at idle on the mechanical gauge and doesn't quite get to 20 psi. So I'll investigate whether that is normal or not too. On a brighter note I got a good shot of the van by the river.Carb Inlet.jpgOil Filler Outlet.jpgCoolant Resevoir.jpgAOD Linkage.jpgAcross from Rattlesnake.jpg
 

Ari3sgr3gg0

Active member
Bump up to 16” wheel and run 255/85-16 tires. Tall skinnies are the best.
Budget permitting that would have been great. Unfortunately my parents haven't revealed that I'm actually from a wealthy family and can quit working. End goal when I have some 8 lug axles under it I'll likely start with 235/85/16 then bump up to 255/85/16.
 
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