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1994 B350 for camper conversion?

Discussion in 'Vans' started by Stephen, Oct 11, 2018.

  1. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    Mine has 245/75R16s all around. Since it needs new rubber I was going to ask about running taller tires on the rear to help improve mileage. I know of at least one Vanagon guy doing this, and a guy in the 'hood with a Ford E350 has taller rears, 285s, I think. I'll have to ask him how that affects his mileage. Build sheet says 200mm rear axle, but that's all the detail that's available until I crawl underneath and look for ID tags or markings. If the stock rear end is okay I'm unlikely to consider a gearing swap unless the fuel mileage is abysmal (pleeeease, no).

    I did measure the fuel tank and it is the larger one.

    The van has a large space behind the tank and ahead of the rear bumper. I'll have to see about mounting a spare tire there instead of the interior mount that is stock in order to free up space for the camper build.
     
  2. Scrounge

    Scrounge Got parts?

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    The FSM would be your best choice, if you can find one. Years ago, I saw one for full-sized Dodge vans at a Half Price Books location in northwest Austin, though I don't recall what model year it was. If you find one for a later model, it should work; I think your body style was made through the 2003 model year, with the same engine choices. In addition to used bookstores, a swap meet vendor might have one. Haynes has some good information, though I prefer Chilton's to Haynes, and Motor's to Chilton's.

    You might find an owner's manual in a junkyard.

    There should be a sticker on the driver's door, or maybe on the door panel, that indicates the factory tire size. If they seem small to you, it's probably a good idea to stay within a size or two of original. Much larger won't improve gas mileage: they'll make the speedometer and odometer read differently, which might make mileage SEEM better when calculated. But you didn't buy this vehicle for its fuel efficiency. Expect 16 freeway mpg at best, maybe 12 in city driving.

    Some vans have a bracket for the spare tire on one of the rear doors. Storing it inside of the vehicle will help it last longer. Long ago, I owned a customized B200 that had a bed on a platform with a storage area underneath that could only be accessed by opening the rear door.

    Rather than cutting up your garage, have you considered building a tall carport? Under one, the van will at least be sheltered from the sun and precipitation.
     
  3. dana44

    Ad-Free Member

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    200 mm rear axle equates to a 7.87 inch rear end. Seems kind of small for a B350, but that 's just me.
     
  4. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    Did some field work today since the driveway work got rained out. Went by a small bike co-op in town to speak with the owner, who has a stock-roof '02 B350. I wanted to pick his brain about the vans. He loves his, having owned it for about two years after having a Ford van and he's also planning a camper conversion. He much prefers the Dodge for ride and handling, although he says it is thirsty. Oh well, good to know there's a higher-geared rear axle available somewhere. If my van gets 16 MPG on the highway I'll be satisfied. Our Vanagon barely does better than that.

    I did some more measuring and calculated that the Vanagon would hold about one cord of wood behind the front seats while the big Dodge would hold almost three. That's a huge interior volume difference.

    I also hit a nearby junkyard that turns out to have about eight Dodges; a couple of my vintage ('94 and '96) plus some earlier ones and some later and most of them maxivans. Not too much of interest for me since everything is already too damaged or beat up or missing. No owner's manual to be found. One interesting item I saw is an accessory console thing that bolts onto the doghouse and has cupholders, cubbies and drawers in it. Might be worth grabbing one of those if I can find one that is not sprayed some awful color or cracked and chipped beyond usefulness.

    The '94 may have something I can use. On mine the gas gauge stays on empty, according to the seller, and the temp gauge is pegged at H all the time. If the temp problem is in the gauge I can probably salvage the one from the junkyard, while I expect the gas gauge sender to be the issue there but I'll grab the unit since it contains both.

    Junkyards are sad places if you let them get to you. One of those vans was severely caved in on the left front and the airbag deployed. I don't see how the driver could have escaped uninjured but I hope he did.
     
    #24 Stephen, Oct 20, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2018
  5. valiant67

    valiant67 ...

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    Honestly, as big and heavy as it is I don't think a gearing swap is really going to help gas mileage much. I'd just leave it as is and drive it with a very light foot. I had expected to see 3.9 gears instead of the 4.1, but given the cost to buy and swap either gears or the whole rear end you can buy a lot of gas.
     
  6. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    That was sort of how we decided on buying this instead of one of the newer highroof vans. Lots of money not spent on a newer van that could be spent propelling this one. Back to the driveway tomorrow.
     
  7. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    Pulled the doghouse today to assess the underhood situation and prepare for a compression test. Man, it looks busy in there. Sprayed PB Blaster on all pertinent fasteners for my benefit (or the mechanic's) when surgery begins. I want to keep it in running condition until I'm sure which way we're going here in case it needs to move under its own power before work begins. At that point it will be stuck in place until the work is completed.

    I also hit another junkyard that had not one single full-size Dodge van. Wow, I remember the place differently. Took the opportunity to look for some pieces for the Grand Caravan, then it was home to work on the driveway all afternoon.
     
  8. Scrounge

    Scrounge Got parts?

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    The temp gauge problem might be the sender. It acts like a sending unit for a light rather than a gauge. Unless it's also pegged with the engine off? But agreed, if the gauges are cheap enough, they're a good purchase for potential future replacement.

    Some junkyards put their inventory online, so you can see if they have any vehicles that can supply yours before you go:

    Search For Used Auto Parts | Used Auto Parts Inventory Selection | Wrench A Part (at https://wrenchapart.com/vehicle-search/?location=BUDGET+WRENCH+A+PART&make=DODGE&model=VAN&iyear=any&color=any#search )
     
  9. valiant67

    valiant67 ...

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    My guess on the gauges:
    For the fuel gauge either a bad fuel sending unit or ground to tank/sending unit.
    For the temp gauge a wire shorted to ground between the sending unit and the gauge.
     
  10. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    Temp gauge pegged at H at all times.
     
  11. valiant67

    valiant67 ...

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    That’s what happens when the wire from the sending unit is grounded. It reads full hot.
     
  12. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    Thanks! I'll check that out.
     
  13. Scrounge

    Scrounge Got parts?

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  14. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    I had already seen and read that B-Series van column and found it very informative. Thanks. I'm also interested in hunting down the aftermarket upfitter of the handicap accessories, especially the distinctive high roof. I've seen the Fiberine website but this top does not look exactly like that company's offerings. I'm interested in the top construction and wiring with an eye toward future mods; the roof has several lights along the top of each side of the roof walls just below the ceiling.
     
  15. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    Seeking info on the highroof I contacted Fiberine to see if they recognized this roof. They said it is not one of theirs and that they do not know who might have made it. Seems like they would know competitors' products also, but I guess I'll have to keep searching.
     
  16. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    Well, when it rains it just freakin' pours. Here's a second '94 Dodge B350 maxivan with highroof for sale in the area. This one looks like it has tall side doors and normal rear doors, the reverse of the one I bought, but it also probably does not have the head gasket problem mine does although I do prefer the shape of this roof to the one on my van. I'm not going to call about it because if the roof is the same height as mine and permits standing up I might just go nuts and buy it.

    94 dodge van (at https://richmond.craigslist.org/cto/d/94-dodge-van/6737771900.html )

    94 dodge van - $1500 (Richmond)

    [​IMG]


    1994 Dodge van

    fuel: gas
    title status: clean
    transmission: automatic

    1994 dodge van with power washing equipment tank ,pressure washer etc. runs great call or text me @ show contact info
     
  17. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    Still seeking info on the roof manufacturer or conversion company, I spotted a van locally with a similar roof but a different door configuration. This one is at a nearby hospital and I will follow up with that facility but first I contacted Braun, whose sticker is on that van. I have not heard back yet but hope someone with the company will recognize the roof/conversion from the photos I sent. Meanwhile, not much progress on the big white van due to ongoing projects and weather. I should be ready to get started on it right when the really cold weather hits.
    Braun1.JPG
     
  18. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    Deadends on the roof ID so far. Braun was not helpful and the van is not associated with the hospital so I'll have to leave a note next time I spot it there and hope for a response. All this is to distract me until I can start working on the van. Once I start pulling it apart the thing stays planted in position until I finish the job or have it towed away.
     
  19. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    Success on the roof ID! I've been posting in the Homemade section of the Sportsmobileforum.com and someone posted that the likely roof manufacturer is FGME (Fiberglass Molding & Engineering) in Thomasville NC. Website photos seem to confirm that but there has been no response to my inquiry. Lots of good ideas and information over on SMB about buildouts.

    [​IMG]
     
    dana44 likes this.
  20. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    I can't claim actual progress but I did work on the van for the first time since pulling the doghouse weeks ago and three months after bringing the van home. The ongoing driveway project takes every dry day and I earned brownie points by overhauling our central vac system during the recent cold spell so, by golly, it was time to look at the van.

    Compression check comes before anything so I'm prepping for that by improving access. Yanked the seats and yucky carpet that I'll attempt to clean. Made some wooden cleats to fit the seat mounting bolts to keep me from being impaled, or maybe cross-threaded. The heat shields near the manifolds were a bear to remove but after attacking everything with PB Blaster I'll be ready to pull the plugs next outing and try to determine what comes next. Still don't know if our guy wants to tackle the head gasket but I'm still willing to do it given the proper motivation.

    I'd never really just sat in the van before today. I moved the driver's bucket back one place so it's against the left opening window and I just sat in it for a while and looked around. Looks like a really neat space to fit out as a camper. Reminds me of our living room with all the windows.

    floor1.JPG

    floor2.JPG

    floor3.JPG
     
    #40 Stephen, Jan 24, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2019

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