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DonShockley

Converted 2015 LWB Wagon into a Van

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I decided to convert my 2015 TC LWB Wagon into a Van. I got the Wagon because of the incentives, the 6 month or more delay on a custom Van order, and the Wagon had most of the features I wanted to customize a Van with. But my lifestyle rarely involves a single passenger, and never a need for 7, so the seats were more of a hindrance than a benefit. Although the flat deck provided with both rows folded is the best implementation of cargo duty in a passenger vehicle I’ve seen, I wanted more space and storage. So I set about a slow conversion process, trying things for a few days until the next improvement necessary became apparent. I’ve waited until the process seemed to be pretty final before writing this up to share. I’ll try to hit the highlights in the photos and descriptions below. But here’s the final result.

Wagon to Van 1

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The first step was done even before I made the decision to leave the seats out permanently. Initially I only removed the seats (T50 bolts) to install the seat covers. And I really liked how much additional space it provided. Although it was not as usable as the stock flat deck, due to the seat mountings and other odd shapes, there was a significant increase in storage area. How to make use of it all would be a challenge. There were also the openings in the carpeting from the seat mounts that would have to be dealt with.

Wagon to Van 2a

Wagon to Van 2b

Wagon to Van 2c

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The first attempt was to simply fill the main seat recess with the emergency gear and other junk I tend to carry at all times and just use the WeatherTech mat (designed to cover the fold flat set decking) as a cover. But this proved to be too uneven and unstable for my needs. Locating properly sized bins and stowing the gear in them provided a lot of improvement. But any heavy use was off limits and the floor was still uneven. Also a lot of wasted space, filled with hard foam sheets, under the bins themselves.

Wagon to Van 3a

Wagon to Van 3b

Wagon to Van 3c

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My initial thought was to use even more foam to lift the deck surface above all the obstructions to get a nice flat plywood deck. But the rise of the seat mounts would have meant raising the floor 2 ½ inches, almost half the extra space gained by removing the seats. But I could get a mostly flat floor by removing the center seat mount (T50 bolts). I decided to leave the side mounts since the obstruction was minimal, the door sill trim was attached to them, and they would provide a nice strong mounting point for securing cargo. That way a single sheet of plywood would provide the smooth load floor that was my goal and only cost ¾ inch of space. This gave strength to the top of the bins and allows them to be removed from the side. I also chose not to cover the plastic trim at the rear of the floor to minimize risk of damaging it under heavy loads and maintain access to the spare tire lowering winch.

Wagon to Van 4a

Wagon to Van 4b

Wagon to Van 4c

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But the long length of plywood over the bins still had a lot of flex. Since the floor was raised in the middle between the bins, this was a good spot to add support. I was able to use the scrap cutouts from the seat mount area to make the support with a flat base to minimize the carpet compression and dual sides to allow storage of my trailer hitch bar in the middle. This helped a lot, but the front corners still flexed too much under even moderate load. But a 2x4 stiffener along the front edge and some additional legs at the corners took care of that. The legs had to be just outside the 4 ft width of the plywood in order to land on the nice flat area of the floor underneath the B pillars.

Wagon to Van 5a

Wagon to Van 5b

Wagon to Van 5c

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A few mistakes were made along the way. Initially I made the openings around the seat mounts too large. The front of the flat floor dropped off slightly before making the large drop. My initial cut was meant to clear the entire mount but the slight drop allowed an extra 2 ½ inches of overlap at the front. I corrected this with more plywood and truss build plates. And my clearance around the middle mounting points was ¼ inch too small to clear the plastic trim around it, so I enlarged it when rounding the panel edges by making a couple extra passes with the router. And I also decided to bolt down the panel, mostly in case of a crash, and the 70mm bolts were a bit too long. But there was enough clear area under the floor to fully tighten them. The proper size would have been M10-1.50 x 60mm.

Wagon to Van 6a

Wagon to Van 6b

Wagon to Van 6c

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I had been hoping to reuse the WeatherTech mat with the new lower floor. But the custom fit was too wide for the narrower area where the seats had been mounted. The extra bends and crimps would have been marginally usable, but looked bad to boot so I made my own mat. My local Tractor Supply store had (horse stall?) rubber matting available by the foot. http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/rb-rubber-multi-mat-rolled-rubber-1-4-in-thick-sold-by-the-foot

And here I had some good luck. The remaining piece on the roll was just about an extra foot longer than my plywood. So rather than cut it exact, I just bought what was left. When test fitting prior to cutting, I liked how it overlapped the plastic trim panel left uncovered earlier. So I used the extra length to cut 2 extra layers and glued them together to let the mat sit flat over the trim area also. Now the rubber mat covers from seat back to lift gate. I did need to do a bit of cut out for the lift gate latch. And another one at the front for the console power point.

Wagon to Van 7a

Wagon to Van 7b

Wagon to Van 7c

Wagon to Van 7d

Edited by DonShockley

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And what happened to the seats I removed since I decided not to reinstall them after adding the seat covers?

Why, they got mummified of course! To be resurrected when I trade in the vehicle in 7-10 years.

And unless something better comes along in that time, the next one will be another Transit Connect. I was also able to eliminate the need for the foam fillers under the stowage boxes by finding some of my normal carry items that filled the gaps. I also added a couple homemade cargo bars using 1 ½ PVC piping. One to stop objects sliding back and forth, although it was mostly needed with just the plywood floor. The rubber mat stops the sliding. The other is just to keep grocery bags upright. Not tested yet but a quickie build using leftovers on hand.

Wagon to Van 8a

Wagon to Van 8b

Wagon to Van 8c

Edited by DonShockley

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Here's a couple extras! The first is a drawing with all the measurements for the single piece plywood deck I built. And these measurements were corrected to fix the errors I described earlier. Naturally these were for my vehicle so there's no guarantee they'll match yours if you want to try this build. But it should be close if you have a LWB Wagon.

The second is a quick diagram and explanation I had for some alternate ways of doing the job that occurred to me during the build. My initial thought was for a smooth, strong and flat floor from a single continuous sheet. But you can get a bit more coverage, 57" wide at the doors instead of 48" wide, if you are willing to have a cut joint in the middle of your floor. It was also starting to become a pain every time I had to install and remove the single panel for the numerous trials and modifications. A narrower folding floor, 26" wide when folded with hinges, can be made in 3 pieces to make frequent installation and removal much easier. Unfortunately, it will also require a second (half) sheet of plywood. I tried and just couldn't seem to get all 3 pieces to pattern onto a single 4x8 sheet if you want the full 57" width at the doors.

They are in PDF format for most universal viewing. That's part of the reason for the delay in posting this thread. It took a week to try to learn the DraftSight program well enough to produce a useful drawing.

Transit Connect Floor Alternate Ideas.pdf

Transit Connect Floor Dimensioned.pdf

But if you want the CAD drawings I generated for these, PM me an email address to send them to.

I tried to upload the .dwg files but the forum wouldn't allow it.

Update: Found an error in the files orignally posted. Fixed the error and posted new corrected files.

Edited by DonShockley
Reload pdf missing after forum upgrade

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thats an awesome post.. i like what you have done...

it looks like its created a lot of space.. its it just a case of removing the four star bolts on the rear mosts seats to remove?

i too purchased the Tourneo waggon over the van versions as it was the same price here...

presently i have made a folding plywood base that covers the seats for mine, in various arrangements with timber runners to locate plastic boxes..but what you have done is really good.. and creates huge space

its a truly great versatile vehicle that drives great and i can only see more people going down your route...

great tip re the horse mat, just ordered some from the bay...

andy

Edited by Andrew James

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..... its it just a case of removing the four star bolts on the rear mosts seats to remove?....

Yes. Each seat is held in by four bolts (T50 needed to remove). The third row seats have them at each corner and you need to slide the seat all the way forward to remove the rear two, then slide the seat back to access the front two. The second row seats have four each also, but in pairs of two at the front. And each seat also has locating pins on the base so you have to give it a little wiggle and lift straight up after you remove the bolts to break it loose. The second row seats are easiest to remove when folded and the third row seats while unfolded.

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Awesome post. I appreciate that it all can be reverted back to the original wagon configuration fairy easily. I don't have a TC yet, but will likely do a modified version of this, keeping the second row seats, and configuring it for camping.

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Sorry to resurrect a somewhat old thread, but I am doing something similar now. Did you consider pulling the carpet entirely?

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Resurrect away, that's the whole purpose of the thread: to be here to hopefully help when people need it to do something similar. Happy to answer any questions.

Yes I did think about removing the carpet completely along with the remaining seat mounting plates. But in both cases it looked like it would lead to affecting other items and potentially causing a lot more extra work. The plastic trim piece on the floor at the rear door goes on top of the carpet. And removing that would have involved removing the rear anchors and spare tire access plate. Similarly, it would have also required removing the middle anchor points. The trim pieces on the side walls also sit on top of the carpet. Maybe removing the carpet would have just left a small gap but maybe it would have caused the hole side panels to shift or break when trying to hang from the plastic clips instead of sitting on the carpet. And if I had tried to remove the remaining seat anchors at the side, the floor would have been flatter but I would have left the trim pieces on the ends unsupported and they would have eventually gotten broken. In both cases, I figured the slight inconvenience of leaving them in place was outweighed by preserving the ability to convert back to the wagon configuration with relative ease. Even though I don't anticipate doing that until I trade it in many years from now.

In addition to making a level surface over the gap left by removing the seats, and protecting the carpet underneath, the plywood also spreads any weight out over a larger surface area. I stopped tightening the bolts as soon as I felt the resistance of the carpet/foam underneath. Heavy loads are a rarity, and usually only carried for a short time. I am hoping that there will be little compression of the carpet and foam to preserve their function over the years. I am sure the top will be flattened but should fluff up with a good vacuuming.

Edited by DonShockley

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Don, thank you so much for posting this excellent write-up. Your planning, workmanship, and attention to detail is great.

As a future (hopefully) owner of a Transit Connect this is very valuable to me.

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Don, the links to your pdf files lead me to an error message.  Do you have an updated location for them?

 

Thank you

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It looks like the previously uploaded pdf files may have disappeared during the forum changes a few weeks back. I reloaded the files back into the previous posts. They seem to be working now, at least when I tried. Let me know if there are still problems and I can email them if you need.

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Thank you

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Hi Don - I've been looking at buying a Transit Connect for the past couple of months but was really struggling with the choice between Wagon and Van.  I rarely have any need of guest seating, but I've still been very wary of committing to having none for those rare occasions when I might want to transport more than one passenger.  This post makes me feel much better about the idea of going with a Wagon and essentially converting it to a van while always retaining the option of adding the seats back.  Very much appreciate the info and details to help with the process!

One question for you based on your alternate ideas for the multi-piece platforms.  If I wanted an option to keep the second row seats in place while covering the third row cargo area, do you think it would work easily enough to change the split-point of the overall footprint?  (E.g., two pieces of 47x52 and 57x26 instead of 47x30 and 57x48, or whatever the precise lengths would be to have the rear cargo plywood section end where the second row of seats begins.)  Or are there varying floor levels underneath that would cause stability issues?

I'm probably getting way ahead of myself and my capabilities, but you've inspired me!

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The floor is essentially flat right up to the brackets for the second row seats. I would double check the clearance under the back of the seat with it raised and 'ocked before extending any added floor under the seat. And there would be a two levels if you rwmoved the third row but left in the second row. The TC actually has a nice flat floor woth both rows in and it just costs you 6 inches of height. If it were me, I would either keep both rows or loose both rows. And if you still want the stronger, smoother floor it can still be installed on top of the laid down seats. And strategic hinge placement would still allow raising the second row.

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Mine  is a wagon and Don is right  if you can live with the  6 inch height reduction then the TC is a  perfect compromise. In my case I have the back      completely  filled with tools with the Middle seat up . I made a floor extension that makes the Third seat extend up to the back doors .  this is a very handy Vehicle.

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Thanks to you both for your replies - I like the idea of having that extra 6" clearance, so I'd probably just default to removing both rows and telling everyone I can't give more than one person a ride at a time... :)

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The best part is that you will still have the option of the seats if your situation changes .

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Interesting.  In my area, we have plenty of cargo vans. We have plenty of wagons also.  But dealership lots have 3 vans for every wagon.  On some lots, it's more like 10 vans for every wagon.  

 

In the U.S., all Transit Connects are imported as wagons, then stripped of the interiors to be sold as vans.

 

I suppose it would be more difficult to convert the van into a wagon.  But then again, who would buy a van, which was shipped to the U.S. as a wagon and then converted into a van, only to reverse engineer it?  

Was it more cost effective to purchase a wagon, then strip it yourself?  Consider your labor.

At any rate, good job.  

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I knew about the wagon to van strip down process on the Gen1 imports, which was part of the reason I went the direction I did. This being my first TC, I wasn't sure which version I wold prefer, and the wagon had some advantages like the extra insulation under the trim which would be a big benefit in the Texas heat.

Being unsure of which would fit me best, I figured it would be much easier for me to repeat the wagon-to-van strip down process by removing already installed items than it would be to try to find and install seats, etc. which would be necessart to convert a van into a wagon. Several forum members have started the process of finding and installing seats in a van and have ran into assorted difficulties. I don't recall seeing any threads documenting the successful completion of the process.

Although this thread may make it seem difficult since I included all my experimentation and errors, that was more about me taking my time to find what worked for me. And I wanted to use every bit of available space, including the wasted space under the floor extension of the factory vans. Several van owners have posted their own methods of recovering this missed storage opportunity,

The reason for posting this thread was to provide a quick and dirty resource for anybody that didn't enjoy the problem solving like I did. Somebody who just repeats the end results by buying the materials listed ahead of time, doing the cuts/floor assembly to the same plans, and does the seat removal and wood floor installation all in one shot could do the whole job in probably 2-4 hours on a weekend afternoon. Quicker if you have help to remove and install the large items. That was the only "hard" part of the job for me, moving the larger second row seat and the large sheet of plywood by myself. It adds a lot of time moving them a few inches at a time until something hangs up and then moving around to another door to free it up. With 2 people to hold everything off the floor while you move it into position, a 30 minute install becomes less than 5 minutes.

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