Technical note... talked to a major RV maker of class Bs not long ago..
Said they cannot fit swivel seats etc... use the original seat base and reupholster them because the law and certification in FMVSS is real hard to do with add on seats. Some RV makers will still do it, but many are just using the original seats.
In any case, for safety reason --- you know Ford or GM thoroughly tested the seats for safety, do you really want to put in your own and find out how good you are?
On a similar note... assume you are not adding a high top.. huge technical issues there.
* This post was
edited 03/05/12 07:45am by NewsW *
I can add that I used to pull a 28' TT with my Dodge B-250 5.9L with ease. Don't do that anymore, but I'm am transforming the van into a small RV as you can see at http://cargovanconversion.com (lots of pictures).
Using just the van for 4 people to sleep in, is stretching it a bit.
My website describes the conversion of my Dodge B-250 van into a small RV. I deal with a lot of woodworking, but hope to be quite specific on solar as well.
I know Sprinter passenger van kits were sent to Freightliner for assembly, the van was in the sales catalog for the first generation imported to us, but I have never found one for sale new or used, and can't remember seeing one in the U.S., although I have ridden in them on tours in Mexico......
We've got at least 3 passenger Sprinters in town here. One is a short low-top used by a family, the others seem to be commercial elderly/handicapped transports.
IIRC, the passenger kits were assembled somewhere up north, unlike the cargo versions, which were (are?) being done in SC. I used to see new ones on transporters going north & west on I-26 & I-40 quite often. Haven't seen any lately, but I'm not on that side of town as often as I was.
Jim, "Transfer: A promotion that you get on the condition that you leave town."
Having an E-450 for seven years now, knowing what it is like in the cab, when looking for a passenger van my first preference would be the Chevy, if there is to be a right front seat passenger. That space is pretty miserable except for small people with short legs.
But when I was looking recently, found Ford E-350s outnumbering Chevy 2500s and 3500s about 8 to 1 (roughly reflecting the ratio on initial sales the past 5-10 years). For low mileage passenger vans itt was more like 20 to 1, but that may be a local market phenomenon. We are in the headquarters area for a couple of the national rental agencies, so we see a lot of passenger vans coming off lease at 15,000 to 40,000 miles, 9 to 18 months old, at around 50-65% of original MSRP. Most are Fords, the larger local rental fleet and majority of courtesy bus leases are Fords, and a smaller rental fleet is a Ford/Chevy mix. One result of the scarcity of Chevy passenger vans is that the dealers can ask a higher price, while the Ford prices are more like they are trying to dump the things.
I can find a lot of Chevy Express cargo vans at a couple of local specialty light truck outlets, but those are coming out of commercial fleets at 3 to 6 years old, and typically 100,000 to 150,000 miles. A lot cheaper to buy, 30% to 50% of a new one.
I've also looked for used Sprinter vans (my real preference among what is available today) but they are scarce, hardly ever sold with moderate mileage, and for a given age and mileage double the price of Ford or Chevy. I know Sprinter passenger van kits were sent to Freightliner for assembly, the van was in the sales catalog for the first generation imported to us, but I have never found one for sale new or used, and can't remember seeing one in the U.S., although I have ridden in them on tours in Mexico.
The passenger vans have creature comforts not offered in the cargo vans (rear air particularly), and are finished for passenger comfort. That does not include the level of insulation typical for a RV van conversion (for one thing, you have a huge amount of uninsulated window area). The passenger vans get sound-deadening mats and spray-on materials not in the cargo vans, but not much heat insulation. To insulate, you would have to pull the trim you want to keep, insulate (and run utilities, etc) before re-installing. But that's sort of a minor thing.
The cargo vans are bare to the outside skin, with framework exposed floor to ceiling, and accessible across the ceiling (if you are not going to cut off the top for standup clearance). They are a better starting point for building a house inside, but not a better starting point if what you want is mostly 5-8 person window van with some camping facilities added. FWIW, pretty much every builder of leisure van conversions started with a cargo van rather than a window van.
Think about the scale of what you want to do. An empty van can pull a pretty good size trailer, and even a "1/2 ton" has a good GCWR if it is a V-8, Ford or Chevy. But what you do on conversion can use up most of the GVWR even on a one-ton van, so you find yourself rated to pull 4-5 tons of something, but no capacity left on the rear axle for the tongue weight of your trailer.
There are lots of blogs and web pages about "how I built my own" so you can find plenty of experienced-based advice. Cost will depend on how much house you go for. Even paying someone for a commercial conversion, you might spend less than $5000 on the house, or you can add more than $75,000 worth of fixtures and modifications to a $24,000 bare cargo van. This is well reflected in B prices.