10/16 Update… Fat Ford and Real MPG

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!

The Way it SHOULD work with “Influencers”

Heatshield Products is a company I knew I wanted to work with as soon as the idea popped into my head to build a Ford Transit Poptop 4wd. I had worked with other companies before like Sportsmobile West, Extreme Outback and Aluminess, but Heatshield was new to me but not new to lots of racers I knew.

Heatshield logo
Keep the heat and sound away BEFORE it becomes a problem.

In previous builds I had gone a more DIY approach with FatMat, Reflectix and HyTech Sales insulated paint. But on this build I wanted to treat the van more like a race car where the goal is to keep the heat away in the first place.

Now to the influencer part. We I contact Heatshield Products about working with them we chatted and then I got a chance to read through the way they do things, and I like it. Their goal is for me to take the risk (makes sense) and for me to prove myself (again makes sense). That way if I fail, no loss to them, and if I succeed I can get 100% of the cost refunded back to me.

Heatshield Products Buy Back
I take the risk, I do the work, I get my money back.

Now this is just a bit of the entire program, the outline what qualifies, the time frame and the rest of the details. But the core concept is great, if I can really influence then I shouldn’t be worried. And if I can’t afford the product then they should be worried I could do anything I promised in some proposal.

The WAVE at SEMA & San Diego Autoshow

Ok here is another from the “wayback machine”…..Before we were Peg Leg Garage my son’s and I ran Disabled Explorers. After our FJ Cruiser that traveled the Continental Divide we needed something more wheelchair friendly.

Our good friends at Sportsmobile West helped us build a 2009 Ford E-350 4×4 RV with all the cool mobility toys. Lift, hand controls, camera system under the rig and sooooo much more.

SEMA once again donated a booth for display and we also showed it at the San Diego auto show, along with a ton of outings, events and good times. Alas water in the motor killed it, sad day.

San Diego auto showWave at SEMA