Please help find a suitable van to build for boondocking.

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morkani

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As the title says.

Few extra details.

Van can be anywhere.
I do not have a build site yet.
I need to have the purchase completed by the end of next week.
I know close to nothing about engines & mechanical though (hence why i'm posting here :p ).
Would prefer 4x4 to get into some of the better roads (unless the high-top makes that useless.)
Budget 20k, but would prefer to find something cheaper. I just want to make sure it's not something that's going to be in the shop constantly.
I've been looking at the Penske cargo vans partly because they sell a warranty, but I'm thinking they might be overpriced and I might regret the experience.

If there's any other details needed let me know. 

And thanks! :)
 

slow2day

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Google 4x4 vans for sale.That would be a start. IMHO 4x4 isn't necessary for boondocking. They will be more costly to buy and to fix. Also probably hard to find.
 

morkani

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slow2day said:
Google 4x4 vans for sale.That would be a start. IMHO 4x4 isn't necessary for boondocking. They will be more costly to buy and to fix. Also probably hard to find.

Thank you for that suggestion. I have performed that google search already. However, I get so overwhelmed with all the "spec's" and not knowing what's good/bad. Left to my own devices, I'll pick out a vehicle in my price range, and since I can't think of anything else I need to look for, I'll check for something that has no rust on the body.

I mean.....take the penske vans for example. (i've been looking at those because the warranty will make me less worried about buying a van while not knowing if i'm buying one that's reliable) I still don't know if I should be looking at 2007/2013/2015 combined with how many miles I should be looking for, and if I should factor in the fact that penske is likely doing long hauls instead of intown driving. or is it visa versa? These are only some of the questions that I think might be pertinent and I'm not sure about the questions that i don't know to ask. I was hoping ya'll with your knowledgeable about these things, might be kind enough to assist me in locating a van quickly. (my house is closing much much faster than I expected (next thursday).

I definately will leave out the 4x4, but that's gonna widen my search even more hehe. :p (someone else told me they got access to like 3x the roads with 4x4 (but I think that was a smaller van).
 

B and C

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My van came with posi-trac and has served me well. It only kicked in once (that I know of) crossing a muddy stretch. Much better than a one wheel peel of regular vans but a locker is better yet.
 

slow2day

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morkani said:
I mean.....take the penske vans for example. (i've been looking at those because the warranty will make me less worried about buying a van while not knowing if i'm buying one that's reliable) 

Have a link? How can we offer an opinion on something we can't evaluate? Check online used car buying guides.
 

morkani

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slow2day said:
Have a link? How can we offer an opinion on something we can't evaluate? Check online used car buying guides.

Sorry. Sure, I have a link for ya. I was just using them as an example though. I was hesitant to post a link before because I wasn't sure that penske van's are what I should be shopping (that's why I was asked those questions).

https://m.penskeusedtrucks.com/ut/#/search-inventory

(
I think that link might not show my search filters. I think that's just in my cookies. But using their filters, I can get it down to 164 vehicles.) 
This is prolly a good spot to start asking questions....what filters should I be using, some of the preferences I know, but others I have no idea & because of this, I can't get my list narrowed down much.
the * ones are the ones I don't know.

type - cargo van
*make
*model
*year
price 7-20k (don't know what's reasonable though for what I get)
*mileage
condition: Proven & premium(that makes it eligable for a waranty.)
automatic
*cab
*speeds
there's a "length" option on here, I hadn't considered the different lengths I've been talked out of doing a box truck because of the size (was looking at 26'). I would like to boondock, but I also want as much space inside as possible. what's the longest ya'll would recommend while still being able to go down those roads for boondocking (4x4 or no)
*Engine Make
*gas/diesel
*HP (horsepower?) I presumed the more the better since I want to be able to get into spots off the beaten path sometimes?
*Drive Axels?

Getting these filters to be able to filter down a bit on some of the other websites as well will help a lot i'm sure, then I can ask more specifically comparing one van to another.

Sorry about not providing enough details in the initial post. I can tend to get verbose & I was trying to keep it short and sweet and let ppl ask the questions necessary.
 

morkani

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B and C said:
My van came with posi-trac and has served me well.  It only kicked in once (that I know of) crossing a muddy stretch.  Much better than a one wheel peel of regular vans but a locker is better yet.

Does your van have a high top? And I looked up a posi-trac on google, but I'm not sure I understand what it is. Are you advocating for the posi-trac or the locker? (not sure what a one wheel peel is).
 

tx2sturgis

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Hey I see you have changed over to looking for a van...

It might be too late to ask your buyer if you can pay rent and stay for another month or so...but worth a try, maybe they can use the reverse cash.

Any of us here could type out a long detailed explanation of the differences between open differentials (the one wheel peel) and positrack (or limited slip) differentials, and locking differentials.

The bare bones, simple answer is, that positrack and locking diffs can in some situations increase traction of the rear wheels when you are in marginal conditions like snow or mud, but to get full advantage you need to have some weight back there and have some good M+S or all terrain tires.

Positrack (or limited slip) operate automatically, with no action by the driver needed, but a locking diff has to be engaged with a switch or button on the dash, then disengaged when back on dry pavement or hard-packed dirt. 

Either one can be helpful, but neither one is an excuse to drive into a challenging or bad situation.
 

eDJ_

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In the past I think the "Posi-trac" was called a "limited slip differential.  LSD

The differential had multiple floating clutches like a motorcycle clutch.

This youtube is an animated CAD and is technical.  But if you watch it a couple
of times,  you'll get the idea of how it transfers drive traction to the opposite
wheel from the one that is slipping. 

Things I can tell you about them.

1) they cut into your gas mileage.

2) if you are on a slope that slips to the side of the vehicle and you speed up the engine
to get traction...both wheels will begin to spin and the rear of the vehicle may begin to
slip to the downhill side of the vehicle.   This could  be counter to what you are wanting.
LSD's generally work best of fairly flat surfaces.

3) LSD's require special gear oil

4) the clutches in a LSC can wear to the point where they are ineffective

Youtube & Limited Slip Differental


Other differentials explained

 

Stargazer

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You know what they say about 4WD, don't you? You just get stuck farther from help.
 

B and C

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morkani said:
Does your van have a high top? And I looked up a posi-trac on google, but I'm not sure I understand what it is. Are you advocating for the posi-trac or the locker? (not sure what a one wheel peel is).

My Roadtrek is 9 1/2 feet tall and 21 feet long, not a small van and weighs about 9700 Lbs wet.
 

morkani

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tx2sturgis said:
Hey I see you have changed over to looking for a van...

It might be too late to ask your buyer if you can pay rent and stay for another month or so...but worth a try, maybe they can use the reverse cash.

Any of us here could type out a long detailed explanation of the differences between open differentials (the one wheel peel)  and positrack (or limited slip) differentials, and locking differentials.

The bare bones, simple answer is, that positrack and locking diffs can in some situations increase traction of the rear wheels when you are in marginal conditions like snow or mud, but to get full advantage you need to have some weight back there and have some good M+S or all terrain tires.

Positrack (or limited slip) operate automatically, with no action by the driver needed, but a locking diff has to be engaged with a switch or button on the dash, then disengaged when back on dry pavement or hard-packed dirt. 

Either one can be helpful, but neither one is an excuse to drive into a challenging or bad situation.
Yea, I've been convinced that I'll never really be able to go anywhere with the box truck. & I'd still like to do some fishing/foraging/being in nature a bit. I hear I can access more BLM roads with a van. Pretty much though, what i'm hearing in this thread....is that 4x4 and Locking differentials etc might give me too much confidence to push the limits of the van's capabilities. it'd be better to just be cautious always & I can still access a lot of area's that I described.
That's a really good tip about the buyer. I'm going to ask my realtor tomorrow.

How about the other aspects of buying this van. I'm sold on not insisting on 4x4 unless i'm given a reason to think otherwise. does the locking differential or positrac decision only necessary if I'm buying a 4x4?
 

morkani

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B and C said:
My Roadtrek is 9 1/2 feet tall and 21 feet long, not a small van and weighs about 9700 Lbs wet.
I just looked at some pictures online of the Roadtrek, and apparently it's classified as a class b even though it looks like a van? looks are deceiving too, I wouldn't have guessed a van could get to 21 ft.

question though, they look pretty low to the ground, would you say that you pretty much don't have access to most blm grounds? Or the ability to drive up to a lake and go fishing?

If not, I probably do still want to look for a smaller van.
 

highdesertranger

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"but a locking diff has to be engaged with a switch or button on the dash"

not true.

some need to be switched on and off but a Detroit locker is automatic no switching. they are strong as hell, they only have a couple parts, no clutches, no special fluid and when they lock they lock. no slip there. oh yeah they have been around unchanged since the 1930's so it's a proven design. however people complain that they are harsh when engaging or disengaging.

DO NOT buy a 4x4 conversion. I repeat do not buy a 4x4 conversion van. if you want a 4x4 get a factory built one not a conversion. and since there are really no factory built 4x4 vans your out of luck there. there are some AWD(All Wheel Drive) ones but I wouldn't recommend those either.

highdesertranger
 

WanderingRose

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I have an older class b as well, and they are definitely low to the ground.

It’s on a Dodge Sprinter chassis, like many UPS and FedEx vans are.

Mine is 22’, some of the more recent models are 24’.

I still do many BLM and forest service roads, if they are maintained and not with huge ruts, and my experience around the country is that many if not most are maintained so that I can access without difficulty.

I do tend to head for established forest service campgrounds, tho, as the roads to them are usually well maintained and I prefer to be in a patrolled somewhere I and the dog would be found in event of emergency.

Classb’s are not for off roading, they have very low clearance.

That said, I love mine and being a completely self contained little house.
 

B and C

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I drive a lot of back roads including two trak (two wheel ruts with grass in the middle). My only real worry traveling rocky/unlevel roads is my tank dump. It is the lowest spot on the van. I pick my way through when the going gets tough. I have been all over the desert and mountains in it. It doesn't have a lot of ground clearance but I haven't drug the dump setup off yet. I do have to get out on occasion to check clearances when the going gets tough.

We used to travel in a van back when but now that I am older, all the amenities sure makes camping easier. Fresh water at the turn of a fawcett, flush commode, refrigerator, heat, hot water, etc. A lot more systems to keep operational but well worth it. It even has a shower, generator and convection/microwave in it. I have 4 computers in it all in ultra small form factor, think HP 800 G1 https://www.newegg.com/p/1VK-001E-4...G1&cm_re=HP_800 G1-_-9SIAMH5BWY2910-_-Product as an example. One of them is even an i7 (my workhorse).

These all run off car adapters (12V) as well as the two TV's, a 19" and a 24". I have an inverter but have only used it once. Most everything I have runs off 12V or USB power. When I need 120VAC, I use the generator.

The space is small but I spend most time outdoors and retreat when it gets dark and colder or rainy.

Look at my avatar to see what it looks like. Mine is a 2000 200 versatile.
 

bullfrog

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Don’t overlook taking something like an electric bicycle or towing a 4x4, that way you have transportation if something breaks or you really want to get into a remote fishing hole.
 

B and C

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I used to tow a '96 Geo Tracker convertible 4X4 but found the trouble was not worth it.  I am contemplating an electric bicycle now though.  It can be carried on the hitch.  I used to tow my harley in an enclosed trailer but gave that notion up too.  Not near as nimble towing stuff unless there are two of you to each drive one when the going gets tough.

IMG_20160621_192958256.jpg

Here is one with the motorcycle trailer.
 

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morkani

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WanderingRose said:
I have an older class b as well, and they are definitely low to the ground.

It’s on a Dodge Sprinter chassis, like many UPS and FedEx vans are.

Mine is 22’, some of the more recent models are 24’.

I still do many BLM and forest service roads, if they are maintained and not with huge ruts, and my experience around the country is that many if not most are maintained so that I can access without difficulty.

I do tend to head for established forest service campgrounds, tho, as the roads to them are usually well maintained and I prefer to be in a patrolled somewhere I and the dog would be found in event of emergency.

Classb’s are not for off roading, they have very low clearance.

That said, I love mine and being a completely self contained little house.

Wow, that's impressive, and outside, it just looks like a van lol.
You don't really boondock with all those amenities right? I wouldn't think you'd have the power for all that even with the gene.
 

slow2day

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There are several lower mileage GMC vans that look good on the Penske site.The Transits are FWD and should be avoided if you want to offroad much. You can google pros and cons of FWD.

I've recently travelled over some pretty rough terrain in my 2WD and have had no problems. You just need to know the limits of your vehicle. That only comes thru experience.
 
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