Road trip building a van for SEMA 2019

1leglance

2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
Day -1 of SEMA 2019 Build a Ford Transit 4x4 Poptop Van Roadtrip

Update time for everyone, we ARE in Kansas anymore Toto! Or Claycomo to be more precise. But amidst the soybean fields, I found where Ford grows Transit vans! And some of them grow pretty tall.


And I admit I geeked out a bit at the serious architecture of the Ford Assembly Plant, very solid.



Now you know I am embarking on a serious Overland Trip when I drive through Overland Park and even see Overland Photo supply since it is really all about the ‘gram after all.



Back home Dave the Fabricator (really of Rock Solid Products) is working hard on the double tube rack to handle the torsional load of the massive 23Zero awning, 270 degrees and 280 square foot of coverage are not to be messed with, plus something has to support the Lightforce Nightfall LED’s



Meanwhile, I am testing a new leg while trying not to abuse the temp socket too much.



Also just before I left I wanted to put in a new Treehouse to Tacoma gasket and make sure everything is right on this setup before I put it up for sale. So if you know anyone who needs a killer ready to roll ride this is the one.




Lastly, for today, there is still some parts selection going on. Quadvan just sent me these pictures of their Intercooler skid, Transfer Case skid, and Gas Tank skid. Yeah, I ordered them all. I had already ordered the VanCompass intercooler skid and rear diff skid but it is nice to have everything come from one place so I think I will switch out to the Quadvan products since they are doing the 4wd conversion.



 

1leglance

2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
Quick Details and I will try for full disclousure....
2019 Ford Transit 130wb regular body, low roof....I am paying $33K from Matt Ford, great dealer 20mi from the Transit factory.
Sportsmobile poptop $10k est paying retail
Quadvan 4wd conversion $15k est paying retail
Aluminess front bumper $3k paid retail
Method 701 50% off
Eaton F & R trutrac paying retail
Lightforce lights full sponsorship
Victron solar & lithium battery (I bought the residential panel but Victron full sponsorship on most of the rest, except Blue Sea and misc bits)
Mile Marker winch full sponsorship
Extreme Outback on board air, wholesale pricing
MaxxTrax 4 of them in red, 20% discount
Rollercam straps full sponsorship
ARB X-jack, paid retail
L-track, paid retail
Scheel-man amazing seats, got a deal on demo seats $1500

I will add more to this list, but I am currently running around Kansas City trying to arrange the van delivery, yeah it actually gets built TOMORROW.
 

Recommended books for Overlanding

Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World
by Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman
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Crossing the Congo: Over Land and Water in a Hard Place
by Mike Martin, Chloe Baker, Charlie Hatch-Barnwell
From $29.95

1leglance

2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
Day 0 of SEMA 2019 Build a Ford Transit 4×4 Poptop Van Roadtrip

Today is the Day a Van gets built…..I think, I hope, I have not been able to make sure, but I trust the power of positive thinking, and a little 1 leg luck.

Yesterday I spent a bunch of time with the great folks at Matt Ford, from the parts guys that helped me figure out where some boost/pressure sensors where (cool news coming on that) to the finance fellow Fred who helped me pay for a van that doesn’t actually exist yet.





I also got to test drive a high top, 148 Ecoboost for a buddy. I had been telling folks how easy it was to deal with Ed and the folks at Matt Ford and there are actually people who want high roof vans. After seeing how much room is inside those things I can understand why. Now I can say I am really an influencer since a deposit was made and a trip arranged for another VanLifer to join the fray.



Another cool thing about Ed the mighty salesman is how tight he is with the Transit powers at Ford. From big things like the new CrewVan model to small things like a factory floor mat. And never scoff at a well-designed product like this floormat, after all the times Martin our engineer has complained about a poor design I get that the little things matter. The 2 part design keeps you from spilling the dirt and rocks out when you want to dump that mess. Not bad price at $95 (I paid for it quick, they only had 1 left).



Of course, I had to end the day with some Kansas City BBQ, and I knew my belly led me in the right direction when I saw a Transit parked in front of Slaps. They were out of ribs by 6 pm but everyone knows a quality joint should run out of meat each evening. Never trust a place that has plenty of long smoked meat around.

 

SOAZ

Tim and Kelsey get lost..
Good thing you are too many countries away to stop me from grabbing Condor! Martin and I are happy to fund your continued adventured through a very very long term rental of Condor :)
Well, if we continue to travel we'll really have to re-assess what to do with Condor so you never know.
 

1leglance

2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
Today things should be done at Sportsmobile West:
Electric Poptop w/bed, color matched in bedliner, with thule rails, solar wiring/panel install
Drivers side awning window
$14,800 total tax and all and yea I paid that with tax, no sponsorship...love these folks.
Oh and I sold out
 

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The Alchemist, 25th Anniversary: A Fable About Following ...
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Overlanding the Americas: La Lucha
by Mr Graeme Robert Bell
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Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World
by Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman
From $14.59
Motorcycle Messengers 2: Tales from the Road by Writers w...
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1leglance

2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
I had such a great time on the Kansas dirt roads!
I promise a big post soon, I am tracking data on weight gain, mpg and thoughts on the mods....
 

1leglance

2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
PLG & Forum Update 10/16 only 18 days to Build a Van

Currently at in the Aluminess Customer Louge writing this up while the shop folks make front bumper magic happen.
Like many things along “the road to SEMA” (I am almost getting tired of saying that), I am sure there will be mistakes in my vision, my plan, my understanding of how all the bits will fit together. And like the previous mistakes the killer cool people helping me will make something great come out of it.
Lightforce sent flush mount Venom lights which was a cool idea, but Aluminess had already built the bumper with a tube to protect a standard single post mount 6in light. Luckily Lightforce is smarter than me and sent a set of that style Venom also. I am really curious which will work (or maybe 1 set IN the bumper and the other ON TOP !

I did ask for the weight of all the Ford bits they are taking off…..sorry super happy assembly line people. And a weight of the bumper going on since it is all about the data for you folks.

Sportsmobile actually finished up at the time they said they would when Jason quoted me weeks ago. It is nice that the operation there is so well run. Having the guys who worked on the van sign the back door was my favorite part. And some of them had been part of my van almost 10yrs before. That is a sign of a good company if folks stay around, especially since moving OUT of California would be a solid business choice for the owners. But nope, good employees are worth way too much to move away from.

Of all the shinny metal that was removed I was able to save the window slug which will get some pics stuck on and go in my shop. Hard to let all that pretty red paint go to scrap.


If you are ever passing through Fresno it is well worth the time to stop in the showroom. They have pretty much every configuration you want and you can see a 60’s VW and soon a 70’s Ford for historical comparison.
Oh and before you start thinking this is a paid post, well NOPE I paid the same price you would. $14,800 for an Electric Poptop, color matched in bedliner, solar panel install (my panel) with wiring, Drivers side awning window and too many laughs and jokes to count.

VanLife is the hot ticket right now, so if you are thinking of having someone else build your van, just ask:
How long have you been doing this?
How many have you built?

Now that said, I will be doing my own interior….for a couple of reasons:
I am burning through cash like a drug dealer and I still am not sure exactly what I want.
Light…Check
Minimal….Check
Sleep above or below……I have no idea. I have not slept in the penthouse bed yet so I am not sure how easily my 1 legged self will gimp up and down. I am not sure how comfy it will be for my terrible back & hip. So you all will just have to come back and see what happens.

I am bummed I lost the cool LED lights that Ford puts in. Those have to be the best cargo area light I have ever seen. Really bright, neat aluminum heat sink and flush mount. I did save them and will find a use. Sportsmobile does put in their own lights, stylish brushed aluminum but there are only 2 up front. I think strip or side lights might work better…….sorry I had to pause to write a note as an idea flashed into my head and it will drift out like my cigar smoke if I don’t capture it.

My first driving impression was on the highway since Sportsmobile doesn’t have a dirt playground, but wouldn’t that be cool? I could absolutely tell the center of gravity has changed. I was really hoping to find a Truck Scale before I got to Aluminess but it was a 5hr drive south last night and early up to Heatshield Products this morning. However if I deduct the bumper when I find a scale today I will know what the top/window difference is.

The vehicle doesn’t feel tippy, it actually feels more solid and planted. Strange since all the weight went as high as possible. Even the solar panel moved from against to the van wall to the roof. Oh and MISTAKE ALERT….Bo the very nice wiring man was super kind along with Bernie in telling me that my 3M VHB & plastic solar mounts would “not be the best idea”.

Since I had already ordered the Thule rails it was a breeze for Bo to make brackets to low mount the panel to the rails. Love it and rock solid….I might have “passed” someone at 90mph on Grapevine pass as part of my data collection on wind noise and panel securement.

And for everyone curious about the roof “fence” (yeah I got tired of explaining it wasn’t really a roof rack, just an place to hang the 23Zero awning and Lightforce lights while protecting my poptop. Well it was a tight, tight fit but I think I can get through SEMA and then Dave the Fabricator can do a couple of tweaks to make it perfect. The “concept” is sound, it was just amazing he did as well as he did with 2 visits by a Uhaul Transit and 6hrs with mine.

And here is another MISTAKE ALERT, I knew we needed some sort of rubber gasket between the roof fence feet and the Transit body. I was just thinking it was for paint protection and vibration. Nope! It was because water can flood through those factory mounting points!
So anyone thinking of making your own roof anything, make sure you silicone, or gasket or something to seal up around those bolts, rain INSIDE your van is a bad thing.

Before I forget, let’s talk MPG (yeah my brain bounces around)….these are hand calc based on odometer & pump (stock tires, 3.31 ratio, 3.5 Eco, luggage and 2 extra single factory Transit seats…Certified scale weight 5780lbs
Here is a summary of most of my fillups, at over 500 miles a day I am getting frazzled:
KC to Witchita :15.7
13.8 (fast driving and variable RPM for engine breakin
14.9 (lower speed and less throttle modulation
15.1 (now 6815lbs with more crap hitting the highway to Sportmobile in Fresno)
13.2 (up and down a lot of hills)
12.8 (pushing way hard from Fresno south to LA, new Sportsmobile roof, still need new weight)
14 (pushing much less hard)
So I am at 2500 miles and my avg from Kansas City around the Southwest has been 14ish, hard driving, 5 over the speed limit maybe, maybe more….and not quite 7000lbs.
I will continue to update the data and info along the way….and pics as soon as I get to good wifi!
 
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