The Erickson Family Rotating Header Image

Van Beast

OK, this is my new to me kite adventure van beast. I’m still coming up with a good name, but for now its “Van Beast”. Its a 2008 Ford E-350 4×4 van with the 4×4 Quigley conversion.

News Flash 3: I have returned to Alaska this summer to sell my sailboat and to finish up my van. I am having Alaska Camper Van Conversions finish up the van for me. You can find them at the link above. And here is my current wish list for what I’m having done.

News Flash 2: I’ve completed the transaction and I’m now the proud owner of a huge monster 4×4 van sitting in my driveway. Its a beast! I’ll spend the next year or two converting it into my perfect kite surfing adventure/camper van.

News Flash: Mechanic says its good so I have told the current owner I will complete the purchase. The only faults the mechanic found were minor. The differential cover gasket has a slow seep, the right rear axle seal is slow leaking, and OBD plug doesn’t have power to pin 16. These are easy fixes that I can do myself and I have done similar work on other cars I’ve owned in the past.

The insurance companies have picked up on how rare these critters are and have priced their insurance accordingly. Ouch! I added the vehicle to my exising car insurance as of Friday the 9th.

I’m in the process of negotiating to purchase this bad boy this week. Its a 2008 Ford E-350 1 ton extended passenger van with the Quigley 4×4 conversion. There are no stock 4×4 vans made in the US. All of them are aftermarket conversions. Quigley is the most well known and has been in business since 1963 and they started their 4×4 van conversions in 1966. I’ll be taking this beast to go see a mechanic tomorrow to ensure its as represented. If it is I’ll go ahead and complete the purchase.

You can go as posh or as simple as you wish once you remove most of the seats. I’ll tend towards the simple end. Once mechanical systems check out the first order of business will be to truck bed line with a polyurathane product the wheel wells and the lower quarter panels and the interior. I’ll occassionally be dripping saltwater all over everything and frankly that rusts a vehicle very quickly unless you take serious steps to water/rust proof things.

As time and my paycheck allows I’ll eventually morph it into something more along the lines of the examples below. This process should eventually result in the perfect kite surfing adventure beast for me.


Immediate To-Do-List Projects

  • purchase a Ford service manualjust won an EBay acution for the service manuals and a manual on the wiring diagram – arrived
  • see if Quigley has a manual for their 4×4 bits – their website has comprehensive service info
  • replace wiper blades – they are in tatters
  • valve stem pressure sensing capshad an extra set – looks like one of the four leaks. Found a flat tire. Took cap off and am watching the tire.  Cured leak.  Had same issue happen with a second tire.  Took all the caps off and threw them away!
  • service the minor oil leak to right rear axle seal
  • service the front differential cover seal – new gasket
  • fix the OBD plug’s power issue – pin 16 has no power
  • window coverings
  • torque the spark plugs – blowing spark plugs is a known issue with Ford 5.4 L Triton engines
  • purchase blue tooth OBD scanner and gauge cluster
  • purchase a triple head ball hitch
  • remove and sell most of the interior seats – seat 4 gone, 2 through 4 gone this weekend
  • strip the unused seat belts out – use one as a replacement for my worn driver’s side belt in my pickup
  • strip most of the interior
  • truck bed line the interior floor, partway up the interior walls, door jambs, and at major wear and rust points
  • truck bed line the wheel wells and the exterior bottom quarter panels
  • front side window rain/wind guards
  • install a rear view backup video system – Deal Extreme has them for cheap
  • extra set of rims for winter tires

Medium-Term Projects

  • cable that controls the automatic transmission shift lever needs adjusting
  • roof rack
  • side ladder
  • powder coat the existing tow hitch system – powder coating guide
  • aggressive rear bumper – with spare wheel, gas can, propane, bike, water, etc racks – Aluminess? – Used? – Relearn how to weld?

Interior Conversion

  • bed platform – folding camp cot for now
  • cabinets, sink, food/clothing/bedding storage – cheap plastic tubs for now
  • water proof wet kite gear storage boxes – plastic tubs for now.  check out rock climber Alex Honnold’s system in video above – Or perhaps use the monster roof cargo carrier I kept from the Wall-o-Poo RV. I could mount and unmount this as needed.
  • water tank(s) – Dromedary bags for now
  • porta potty – bucket and seat with plastic bags and kitty litter for now
  • outside solar shower system – 10 liter dromidary bag with a shower head – coming
  • propane system?
  • stove – I have an old school dual burner kerosene stove (smells). Or do I spring for a new propane stove (creates water vapor)?  Simple cheap butane burner for now
  • catalytic propane heater? or use my existing old school Force 10 kerosene heater? Or do I drop serious coin on a new Dickinson/Espar/Webasto? Or perhaps something like a gasifier wood stove
  • Carbon monoxide monitor!

DC Solar System

Suspension Upgrades

  • talk with the guys at Agile Off Road about beefing up the off road capabilities of the Twin-I-Beam front suspension.

Long-Term Projects

  • check out the rear passenger window tinting – darker?
  • electric front 4×4 hubs?
  • fender flares at some point?
  • aggressive front aluminum bumper? Used?
  • winch?
  • chip engine?
  • flames paint job?
  • awning? – I’ve got lots of used sailboat sails than could be reused.
  • poptop?