Building my own - 84 Ford Econovan Maxi

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Dec 16, 2020
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Hello CRVL Forum fans and lifestyle people! I am 52, I live in Australia and I am currently repairing an unusual van that I have fallen in love with! Her name is Maxie and she is a 1984 Ford Econovan Maxi with a 2.2 4cyl diesel engine and 5 speed! manual transmission. She does +120Kph with a bit of struggle but cruises well at the Australian average speed on the highway of 100kph. She is also very unusual in one really awesome way, there are no wheel wells inside her cargo area! Talk about your mini box van. Maxie also has a fully wired trailer hitch on her bumper, but I am not planning on using it at this time. I would not want to tow more than say 600 kilos anywho.

 She is in rough shape currently, but her core is strong and good running, it is mostly panel repair and a passenger-side floor that needs the help. She is rusting from age and outside sitting neglect, but not rusted away. Her rot is mostly the skin, like 95%. Approximately two full sheets of steel are going on her, and then I will grind, smooth, sand, and paint her in some sort of manner I can afford. I think in a month and a half I will have the outside skin ready for the road. The roof is in great condition. I will mount two solar panels, a roof vent, and a half top roof tray for super extra storage. 

 The last few weeks will be building into her with mostly free pallet wood for a gorgeous interior that is mostly carbon neutral! I have a lot of plans to go with this, it is ambitious and a bit crazy, but I think I have the right idea. I will be using an oil on the wood, perhaps a deck oil. It will cover the walls and the floor, with some sort of insulation. I have an idea to do, but it's all in my head at this point in time. I am thinking king single pullout, which serves as a couch on the passenger side, with a desk/kitchen on the driver side that flows into an L at the front of the cargo space. 

 The seats need a complete reupholstery, but I may dump the passenger seats for a flat storage area up front that I can store water and other things on. I am almost sure that's what I am doing actually. Then it is just the driver's seat that needs to be fixed. 

 Power is a different approach. I have 400-500 watts of solar, well maybe less, that I am getting off two solar panels that go on the roof. I am sticking to a pure 12v approach, as I am using a propane bottle for a gas burner or two. Most unusual is an ATX 300 watt power supply I found for my energy usage computer, so I am going to try to build a custom PC into the van furniture! Most everything else runs on 12v to USB, or just straight 12v like the lighting. I don't see a need for the inverter, plus I am looking at roof mounting a 2200 watt generator I bought for tools and work. 

Lots going on, and I do not know what all I can pack into Maxie, but whatever happens, it's going to be an amazing build when I am done! I will use this thread to update you on everything going on, but it will be a bit slow until after Xmas.

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Good luck to you. And be thankful you got the skills to do some by yourself.
Welcome Cunnings and best of luck with your new van.
If I may suggest, give yourself a bit of extra time for the build, because everything takes a lot longer than we plan.
Quite the project, but cool little van, looks like it's be fun.
Well thank you holidays (I am a grinch...) but I was able finally to get work done. I had a friend decide that I did not know what I was doing, and decided to do all the sheet metal work for me! I have a mid-build short video if you would like to watch it.

It very short but it does showcase what the damage was like and the totality of being humbled by the kind gentleman's generosity in doing the welding for me. Next up is I am going to give her a coat of bright orange paint, some super industrial stuff I picked up, good for metal painted surfaces. I am just going to roller it on, it's about being durable, not having the best-looking van on the lot. 

I have picked up a tripod mount for my phone, so the next video will show me sanding and painting. It is Saturday night here, and I will start doing that on Monday. I hope to have completely painted by Tuesday. I will be keeping these build video fairly short, I don't think anyone needs an hour-long roller paint job video, there are heaps already!
Adding a new update video!

Basically painted a third of the van, and oooo was it hard work! I needed to rest today from the exercise, but that also lets me know just how bad I need to get out of this house and into life again.
I have one more place to paint on it and the van will finally be wrapped in paint. I am going to wait on a second coat before I post another video, so the change is more dramatic. The yute tube is updated about twice a week, so if you do want to follow the entire build it will be there.
Sounds like a very challenging project. Good luck with it.