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Ford Transit Moto Camper Van Build

Yinzer Moto

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The third time is a charm. I am starting this thread to help keep me on track with this build and get input from the many knowledgeable people around here.

I started with a short box truck, that thing was perfect for me but started to rust out.

https://advrider.com/f/threads/building-a-rv-moto-transport-from-a-box-truck.1114902/

I had a friend who offered a short school bus up to me and I jumped on it for another build. I liked the idea of a little more room and it was a basic Chevy van based chassis. The build started but I quickly realized I was making decisions based on that this thing was not going to last very long. I had some trouble with the throttle body and was not easily able to get parts.

https://advrider.com/f/threads/short-bus-into-a-moto-hauler-rv-yinzer-style.1329763/

I need a vehicle that I can just jump into and drive across the country. Owning a beater vehicle for around town travel is fine but I decided it was time to get something new or almost new. My work schedule is flexible and I can spend a few days broken down in a random town but my wife’s work schedule is a little more strict. The idea is I can feel ok investing in a nice build, knowing that I will keep this rig for a long time.

So this followed us home last week.


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It is the first brand new vehicle that my wife or I have ever bought. It is a 2019 Transit 250 with the 3.7L motor. We were trying to find lightly used but we ended up with this for nearly what they were selling for as used vehicles. We decided on the high roof and extended length because it is just a toy hauler. We don’t need to drive it in the city much. This one has a couple features that I like; 4.10 axle gears with the limited slip, dual batteries with 160ah of capacity, high output 220amp alternator, cruise control.

We need to use it almost immediately, so I tossed a board in the pocket, so I could tie bikes down.

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Then we took off for the weekend for a couple days of riding.

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The weekend is over and I need to get a step by step plan in place.
 

Yinzer Moto

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I am copying and pasting this thread from the other site. The above thread is from June 2019. The copied posts will bring us up to current time.
Some of the posts may seem like I am talking to nobody, I am not allowed to copy peoples quotes over, so there might be a little disconnect, stick with it, hopefully it will make sense eventually.
 
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Yinzer Moto

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The build:

Our camping needs are minimal. We just need a place to sleep, a place to cook, some way to charge gadgets (phones, tablets, etc). An awning would be nice as well as a comfortable when it decides to pour down rain.

Bike hauling would be smaller bikes, we have 2 WR250Rs, 2 trials bikes and my dirt bike. The majority of the time, it will just be 2 bikes but there might be a trip or two per year where it would be nice to have all 5. This thing is big enough to put all 5 inside but I think 3 is a better plan, then put the 2 trials bikes on a rear rack.

I got some inspiration from some builds that I have found. I kind of like this one where they make a separate area for the bikes.

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Yinzer Moto

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The dealer is supplying a rubber cargo mat, wheel well covers and all the related trim. That should arrive in a day or so.

One of the first things I am going to do (and most scary) is cut some holes in the sheet metal. I have a fantastic fan coming and I would like to cut the side door out for a RV style window.

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I am thinking about a small amount of solar on the roof but I am not sure it is necessary with the van’s battery and charging capacity. If I do solar, it will be because I want to install a dorm fridge. Modern coolers work so well, that might be all we need. Just charging devices and running the fan should not tax the batteries much. I would install a low voltage cut off switch.

Once I make a decision on the electric, I want to insulate. I am thinking I will contact a spray foam company and have it sprayed with closed cell foam
 

Yinzer Moto

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The insulation is ordered. We decided on Thinsulate. It is designed for this application, why mess around? I went with a 50’ roll. I don’t think it is enough but I can do the front of the van and do the bike garage later.


The next small issue is corrosion protection on drilled and cut holes.

Ford sells this stuff.

https://www.amazon.com/Genuine-Ford-PM-13-Anti-Corrosion-Coating/dp/B000NUERNS

My issue is I was hoping to cut and drill some holes this weekend. The dealer has it for $40 but the issue with that is more the time involved in running to the dealer to get it.

Is there anything similar that I could just grab from an auto body shop or a NAPA? I believe the Motorcraft product is an epoxy paint, if that makes a difference
 

Yinzer Moto

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I had to tarp it last night because of rain

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The spacer ring and adhesive looks good

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I made a plywood trim ring for the inside. I had to add 2 3/8” pieces to the front and back. Then contoured them to the arch of the roof with a belt sander. Then a healthy bead of 3m window weld

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Clamped and waiting for it to cure.

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Yinzer Moto

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The fan is installed, not wired. I’ll working on a wiring plan tomorrow. The upfitter switch bank and dual batteries has a lot of possibilities, Does anyone know if this thing has a low voltage cut out, to preserve enough power to turn the starter over?

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Yinzer Moto

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Today was electrical exploration day. I think I have a solid plan.

When I get some wires hooked up and can test the plan, I will detail how to take advantage of the OEM features that Ford has built into this truck.

It took me most of the day to get to this point. If I had a guide and had to do it again. This would only be an hour of work.

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The possibilities are pretty endless with the 43 pin wire harness, I could control everything from locks to turn signals. I am not going to do much right now. Just running power wires back for fan and some phone chargers.

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Yinzer Moto

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Let’s talk about wire.

I’ll be running in the morning for wire for the upfitter switches. One circuit is 40amp and the other is 12amp. In past projects I have used landscape light wire because of its heavy insulation and durability. I am thinking of running to NAPA in the morning and seeing what they have for wire. 10ga for the 40 amp and 12ga for the 20amp. I am going to need 125 feet of wire, so if there are cheaper but still durable options, I am open to that. I kind of like the NAPA option because I can color code some stuff. I need so much because the grounds for the switches need to be kept separate and run back to the source. I guess it has something to do with the CAN Bus system.
 

Yinzer Moto

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These 2 wires are the 40amp leads. I will step up to 10ga, where I connect to them, behind the glovebox. Then I will be running to the center console, under the floor map to behind the drivers seat and terminate in the wall. That run will be about 8’. That run may not even get used, it will be used to charge a house battery bank, if I put enough electrical in the van to require a house battery.

Do you think it should be 8 or will 10 be ok?

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Yinzer Moto

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Good points. I looked up a wiring chart and it looks like for the 15’ it will be, it should be 8ga. I’ll trim Fords wiring back, close to the connection point.

Typically I could see the load being less but when used for a charging application, like I intend it to be used, it might draw a pretty high rate for a long amount of time. 8ga it is.

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Yinzer Moto

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I ended up going to the electrical supply near me. It is a cool old building, like going into an old hardware store. I love any excuse to go there and bullshit with the guy there.

I told him about my project and what @RustySpokes suggested. He suggested SO cord. This will work really well. It has a heavy jacket, so I don’t need to worry about split loom. The copper strands are fine, so it is flexible. I got 8ga and 12ga.

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Yinzer Moto

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If anyone has one of these vans with the upfitter switches. This post will be helpful. I basically spent all of Sunday trying to sort this out.


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The first 2 switches are 20 amp, the second 2 are 40 amp. 1-3 are switched with the key turned to the accessory position. 4 only has power when the motor is running. In the bag with the wire harness, there is a jumper that replaces a relay. By replacing the relay, switches 1-3 are live all of the time. The relay is located in the drivers seat base.

You can see the cover on the back left of the seat base. Take that cover off and replace the relay that is in the center, closest to the fuses.

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The 40 amp circuits are not live from the factory and need to be hooked up. There is a bit of misinformation on the internet about how this needs to be done. It is really easy if the van is empty. At the back of the seat base is a bit of floor liner. Lift that up and you’ll see the wired tapped up in there. Cut the tape.

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I cut a small hole in the floor liner and passed the wires through. They need to go around to the left side of the seat base. There is a power distribution block there. Place the wires on two of the terminals. Then cut the cover so the wires can pass through. It cuts easily with a razor knife. There is a third terminal there that could be used for something else, I believe it is rated at 60amps. It is always live.

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Yinzer Moto

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Next I moved up to the dashboard. Depending on your plan, you may not need to take as much apart as I did. I wanted the wires to pass under the floor mat, so I had to remove the center console and passenger seat base. The floor liner has hard styrofoam on it that I was able to cut a channel in and pass the wires to the back.

First unlatch the glovebox and flip it down. Back on the right is are the electrical connections.

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Remove the dummy plugs and plug the wire harnesses in. The large wire harness has switches 1 and 2 in it. The wire harness with switches 3 and 4 is the 4 wire harness.

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This document explains what wires do what. They also want certain grounds hooked up. With the upfitter switches, the grounds need to go all the way back to the source.

https://madocumentupload.marketinga...da0711959da9552645875b259b3da6b5b41b&v5=False

I did not like Fords 12ga wiring for the 40 amp circuit, so I trimmed it back within a few inches of the plug. Then I attached the 8ga wire it that. I know soldering wires is frowned upon in vehicles but I reinforced it with heavy shrink wrap. It should last a long time.

The wires are now run over to the drivers side wall. I used a heavy rubber splicing tape to protect sharp corners. I was also able to remove a bit of foam from the floor liner so that it lays flat.
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Glowing switches is a good thing. Somewhere online, it was mentioned that they will not glow if there is no key in the ignition but that does not appear to be true with this van. Switch 4 will glow, even if the engine is off but it is not supplying power with the engine off.

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For now, I only have switch 1 completed. It is wired to the exhaust fan. Switch 2 will power several 12v power ports throughout the back of the van. I don’t have a use for switch 3 at the moment but the wire is pulled to the back and ready to go. Switch 4 will recharge a house battery while the engine is running.
 

Yinzer Moto

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While I had the passenger seat base out for the wiring. I cut the little metal hoop off the base. I believe this is to attach a child seat. I have seen reports of it needing to be removed in order to install a swivel seat base.

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Yinzer Moto

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Bike test fit. 4 bikes inside. Maybe a 5th on a hitch rack. Maybe 3 inside and 2 on a hitch rack.

It is good to know it is possible.

7’3” of length to where the front wheels touch. 6’6” left to the front seats. The bed will extend back to the headlight/number plates on the bikes.

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Yinzer Moto

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Got a lot of wood cut today. A couple teaser pics, I did not take many. I’ll take more tomorrow.


2x4 cut to reinforce the plywood.

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Cabinet installed at 40” tall. We needed 40” to tuck the front of the bikes under the back half of the bed. I left the front of the riser open so it can be used for storage.

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Here is how the cabinet base went together

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Yinzer Moto

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I carved a chunk of 2”x2” wood out to act as a spacer and a place to attach ceiling material at the front of the cab. There are so many different angles here. I slowly whittled it away with a circular saw.

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