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r1alvin

2016 TC XLT LWB Wagon Project Mtn. Biker/Dog Hauler/Camper

102 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Hello everyone! My name is Alvin and I just purchased this gently used (prior rental fleet unit) 2016 TC XLT LWB Wagon on Wednesday April 12th 2017. 

Background: I'm coming off of a 2011 Ford F150 XLT 4X4 Supercrew. I have spent hundreds upon thousands of hours digging around forums, and watching youtube videos and visiting dealer lots looking at all types of vans for the past 2 years. Sprinters, Full sized Transits, Sportsmobile conversions, Class B RV's, and Airstreams. I loved my Ford truck, but in 6 years of ownership I only used the 4x4 option maybe 3 times, and I never towed a single trailer with it even though it had the full trailer package and trailer brake. Also, I ride motorcycles and maybe had to haul my motorcycle only a handful of times in the bed. Made the life decision that it was time to downsize and get something that was more practical and useful for my use and hobbies. I purchased a mountain bike this past January and it turns out I drive to the trail a lot,,,2 or 3 times per week,,,30 minute commute minimum. I also own 2 beagle boys that are show dogs and we travel to dog shows sometimes and we also travel to Lure Coursing Trials in and out of state. We bring my electric Onewheel with us everywhere we travel so that will be mounted in the van somewhere as well.

Why Transit Connect? The things about the Transit Connect that appealed to me most was the rear lift gate hatch that seconds as an awning to hide from the sun/rain, the slider doors on the driver side in addition to the passenger side allowing me quick access to the rear, the front passenger seat forward flip tray function, and the large open space in the rear of the van. I really wanted the cargo van with lift gate but it turns out that those are super rare and the single nearest unit was about 6 hours away. I liked the idea of the wagon to get the rear A/C and heating vents, and the liftgate. My original plan was to carry my Mountain Bike inside the van. After I got the van, I decided against it because it would be way too messy with a dirty, sweat covered bike. Going with the hitch mount is perfect because I can hose the bike off on the rack when I get home, and the rack has a lock built in as well. Plus I won't have to clean a dirty van. I am not opposed to storing the bike inside the van if the bike is clean, so I am going to keep that in mind during the build.

Build/Teardown: So, lets start with what I have done so far. As of 4/14/17 this is what I have done to the Wagon so far:

Removed the second row and 3rd row seats including all of the brackets.

Completely removed both 3rd row passenger seatbelts from the rear most of the Transit.

Installed a Uhaul Class 3 Hitch Receiver 2" Max Towing Weight 3,500lbs, 525lb tongue weight. Purchased from Uhaul Part Code 78578  $149.95

Purchased and installed Qty. 2 Pawslife Quilted Bucket Car Seat Covers purchased from Bed Bath and Beyond for 19.99 each.

Purchased and Installed a Thule T2 Pro XT Hitch mounted Bike rack. Purchased from my local bike shop. MSRP: $579.95

Limo Tint is going in all of the rear windows next week along with regular legal tint on driver and passenger side windows.

Currently Researching: 

Flooring options.

Raised sleeping area with storage underneath that double as a bench seat (3 box style as many have seen online).

Fresh water tank installation option. 5 Gallons at most.

Canvas privacy shades for windows and cab partition with either a velcro or button style mount.

Electrical,,,well first I need to find a full blowup of the electrical diagram so I can get my meter and figure out what everything does. Theres a cool fuseblock in the back that I would like to try to leverage as a hub if possible.  I have about 19 years experience working directly on low/medium and high voltage switchgear and control circuit applications in the field so I'm not afraid to wire, solder, troubleshoot, trace, etc. but vehicular systems are kind of their own beast. I am more afraid of cutting into sheet metal that is painted.

Lithium House pack/Inverter combo and solar panel to keep my Onewheel juiced up on the road.

That's all for now! I'll try to keep this thread updated the best I can. Enjoy!

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Edited by r1alvin
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Posted (edited)

Bike Rack. Please note: The rack tilts downward at an angle in an effort to move the strapped bike away from the lift gate however, with this configuration, and with the bike in the closest mount to the car, the liftgate will not clear the bike. Either the bike must be removed from the rack completely or it might work with the bike on the outer mount of the rack away from the liftgate.

I can also add that this Thule rack keeps the bar end further away from the glass than the Kuat NV Base 2.0 that I was originally going to purchase. My bar end was about 2 inches or less away from hitting the rear glass with the Kuat. Here, I have much more clearance. 

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Edited by r1alvin

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The tilt feature is probably designed to work in hatchbacks and sedans. It's almost impossible to clear a "wall" of the size of the van without some extra mechanism.

Then again, it's quite easy to remove the bike.

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Posted (edited)

On 4/15/2017 at 7:46 AM, mrtn said:

 

Okay so here I am today,,,Limo Tint Complete,,,Pulled the side panels in the rear, removed the final 2nd row seatbelts,,,removed the carpeting. I think I am going to go with carpet again but I'm not sure how I'm going to pad the underside of it. Dynamat? Some other type of soft barrier or foam? Any suggestions? I am also looking for a local reliable outfitter to install a low profile roof top unit and shore power connection to my van. I was thinking like a Coleman Mach 8 since its only 8" tall and will allow me to park in my garage. 

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Edited by r1alvin
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Well I was hoping for more input from this forum. I see tons of other helpful threads in the search but not much discussion here. Ah well. Back to the midnight oil searching google.  

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You may want to consider using closed cell foam exercise mat material instead of carpet. Lots of options on Amazon. Maybe glue a thin layer of padding down first to keep the mats from moving? 

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39 minutes ago, Don Ridley said:

You may want to consider using closed cell foam exercise mat material instead of carpet. Lots of options on Amazon. Maybe glue a thin layer of padding down first to keep the mats from moving? 

I am definitely considering it. I found some large "soft interlocking mats"  at Lowes today about 2' x 2' in size and 1/2" thick. I think that might do the trick but I will have to insert some foam in-between the ribs to get things level...hoping the mats wont flex too much. Trying to stay as thin as possible and avoid having to use plywood back there as a subfloor. I have also ordered a box of dynamat extreme to put down on the floor and while I have the sides panels off.

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How do you plan to Power the AC .  The Mach 8 Colman is a good unit but needs sizeable power?  If you do a good install the AC unit could be easily removable.  The Roof opening is a standard 14-14 RV roof vent size and a Cover could be made fill the hole when you do not need the AC.

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, G B L said:

How do you plan to Power the AC .  The Mach 8 Colman is a good unit but needs sizeable power?  If you do a good install the AC unit could be easily removable.  The Roof opening is a standard 14-14 RV roof vent size and a Cover could be made fill the hole when you do not need the AC.

Primarily for use on shore power electric connection and then sometime later look at configuring the floorplan to carry a small 2000W gas inverter generator. I just really want to have the ability to go somewhere with my dogs, plug in, cool down and shut the van off. Not looking to be able to remove the unit from the roof. A/C must always be available and installed in Texas! I am also looking at other Roof Top units that are low profile (10" or less in height from the van roof) 

Edited by r1alvin

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The nice thing about a standard 14-14 Rv install is if the unit ever croaks then the replacement is much easier. The TC is Small so the standard inside vent setup would work well.  The Hitch out the back gives you the option of a swing away basket on the back for the generator.  Your plan is coming together 

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Posted (edited)

Today I completely removed both second row seat mounts under the carpet and the center bracket...I am going to build up a wooden platform to run across the top of that huge opening where the rear A/C ducts run. It looks like I can possibly get away with not having to cut the carpet. I think having a nice flat base in that spot will be best instead of bringing it up to the cargo floor height and using the void underneath as storage. Plus it should make getting in and out of the van easier as well. I also purchased some 2' x 2' rubber interlocking tile from Lowes. These mats are pretty neat at 1/2" thick but they will require a flat base for sure so I found a nice 4x 8 panel 1/2" sanded plywood that I will use as a base over the "dynamatted" floor once all of that comes in! The tiles were cheap so I may or may not use them,,,Have been throwing around the idea of laminate floor planks on top of the plywood but rubber seems like it may hold up better to road vibration,,,we shall see,,,

Edited by r1alvin
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Posted (edited)

Now onto the awkward floor fix,,,after lots of careful thought with weight and strength in mind,,,I decided to go with a galvanized Unistrut base and either a 1/2" oak or birch ply cut to fit the entire area from door to door and screwed down into the unistrut. if the 1/2" ends up being too flimsy I can go to 3/4". No carpeting will be cut and all existing M10x1.50 threaded holes are being used. This photo is simply mocking up what I'm doing here. It should explain itself if you know what you're looking at under that carpet. All Unistrut purchased from Home depot and the M10x1.50 hardware from Ace.

The small 2x4 to the left will be replaced with another one of the small vertical risers I'm bolting in (Had to call it quits for the night because I didn't want to continue pissing my neighbors off cutting unitstrut with my mitre saw lol)

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Edited by r1alvin
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It looks like a good plan r1alvin.  The photo's do help to define a better understanding of your work.  You do good work!  LOL on whizzing off the neighbors.....

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I recently saw a floor made of plywood topped with vinyl flooring.  It looked very nice.  I'm sure there are other materials other than plywood that could form the base with vinyl on top.  Just another lame thought from Loafer. 

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I wonder if you use a thicker, dense foam or rubber mat you may not need the plywood base.

http://www.americanfloormats.com/gym-mats/

There are a lot of options. I have an aversion to putting wood inside a vehicle so I would be motivated to try something else. Maybe the rubber weightlifting mats? 

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Posted (edited)

Got 36sq. ft of Xtreme Dynamat yesterday,,,went to work all morning,,I removed the plastic ductwork up to that hub so I could lay the sheets down on that sheetmetal under it. fun process,,,I'm kidding. Kind of a pain in the butt. I never enjoyed wrapping presents let alone trying to work this tacky stuff into nooks and crannies and there are plenty in here lol.

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Edited by r1alvin

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So I have one sheet left and it looks like it will be used up on the last bare metal section I have left on the floor (under the rubber tile ij the pic below).  Most of the rear cargo area floor is complete but I just ordered another box of dynamat from amazon so I can finish up the rear kick panel and get the sides and the rear hatch door and whatever else I can get my hands on. I can now move forward with the unistrut framing and deck for the second row! 

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Posted (edited)

Alright! Unistrut Frame is bolted in and tight,,,FYI,,,Its a LOT easier fitting a 17mm wrench and socket through the Unistrut and onto M10x1.5 hardware then it is to fit a 3/4" wrench over 1/2" Hardware....so stock up on M10x1.50 hardware,,,I weighed each post at about 2lbs each and the long top bar is 3lbs. All together the frame and hardware weighs approximately 12-15lbs. Taking a break and then ripping some wood tomorrow before the rest of my dynamat comes in. The plywood will bolt into the unistrut using tapered head 1/2" bolts, will run the width of the van and will rest on the small ledge (slightly above it)

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Edited by r1alvin

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Posted (edited)

Here's a quick update hopefully the site lets me post up in here:

I made a video in addition to these pics:

Trimmed and Layed down this perforated Hardboard in prep. to start finishing the floor,,,

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Dynamat in the rear liftgate and driver side sliding door complete.

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Finished the unistrut frame and flat surface over the second row area with a piece of 1/2" Oak Plywood: 

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Edited by r1alvin

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Posted (edited)

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Removed the panel, trimmed up the dense foam mats to add support between the raised ribs,,,

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Edited by r1alvin

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okay so now I have a nice flat hardboard surface ready for a floor,,,I have decided not to use the foam tile mats for the surface. they are very thick (1/2") and I do not believe that they are very durable for what I want to do,,,so...I went to Lowes today and saw some Faux Wood Grain Vinyl floor planks (non adhesive) (very thin too) in many diferent colors that interlock together and also another similar item with an adhesive back,,,,I think one of these 2 will be a good start I'm just not too sure which flooring will behave best when the vehicle is in motion,,,decisions,,,

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You have done the hard work with the dynamat and all the cutting of the foam mats. Does the floor need to hard and smooth for sliding heavy loads across? Or should it be tacky and softer, maybe for sleeping or dog paw traction? It will be nice to see what works for you.

How about something like this:

https://www.lowes.com/pd/NuTek-48-in-x-120-in-Black-with-10-Eggshell-Flecks-Loose-Lay-Rubber-Sheet/50199835

You may be able to put it directly on top of the dynamat and foam cutouts. A handful of screws will keep it in place.

Whatever you decide, you will no doubt install it expertly. Nice work so far.

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Don Ridley said:

You have done the hard work with the dynamat and all the cutting of the foam mats. Does the floor need to hard and smooth for sliding heavy loads across? Or should it be tacky and softer, maybe for sleeping or dog paw traction? It will be nice to see what works for you.

How about something like this:

https://www.lowes.com/pd/NuTek-48-in-x-120-in-Black-with-10-Eggshell-Flecks-Loose-Lay-Rubber-Sheet/50199835

You may be able to put it directly on top of the dynamat and foam cutouts. A handful of screws will keep it in place.

Whatever you decide, you will no doubt install it expertly. Nice work so far.

Thanks Don,,,Yes I believe hard and smooth will be best,,,When I travel with my beagles, they share a metal wire crate together so I would be securing the crate to the existing tie downs and probably for extra anti slip, use a thin rubber mat under the crate. Interesting material you linked me up there,,,When I head back to Lowes, I will have them show me that stuff,,,It looks like its on their rollers in the carpet section. I would like to keep the hardboard down as it's providing a really nice flat surface and its really light and easy to move. I might have them cut me a section of that material just as a placemat for under the crate. 

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Edited by r1alvin

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Posted (edited)

I used the carpet that I pulled out as a template and cut open access holes to most of the M10 hardware underneath the Hardboard. I also saved the Hardboard scraps to reinsert into the holes that I'm not planning on using. Flooring samples are below, Floating Luxury Commercial/Residential Vinyl Plank,,,The stuff is water resistant and has a Limited lifetime residential warranty. I think I'm going to use the darker Burnished Oak Steel on the right. Samples are 2mm thick,,,actual vinyl is 4mm thick,,,the 4mm will slip right under the rear threshold but not underneath the plastic flange for the 2 tie down clips,,,,I kind of like the idea of having a floor that can be removed easily if I change my mind in the future,,

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Edited by r1alvin

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