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Thread: Converting a van into a truck

  1. #1
    Junior Member Defined's Avatar
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    Cool Converting a van into a truck

    I know this is kind of an odd thread, but I'd figure if anyone might be able to advise me it would definitely be on HE Forums. What I want to do is take an old extended cargo van (3/4 or 1 ton) and turn it into a "van truck", like this little photo-manipulation I made shows:
    http://img120.imageshack.us/img120/1...uckideaki1.gif

    By now you're either thinking, "wow, this is one helluva cool idea." Or "wow, that's one of the stupidest things I've ever heard of." Regardless of what you think, it's what I want to do. I need something to keep myself busy and work on.

    Now if I could have your input...
    1. What should I use to saw off the cargo area, a Sawzall or something?

    2. I'm don't know how to weld, so should I save the very back of it (where the doors are) and bring it to a welder to have them close the cab off?

    3. Am I correct on the following 'steps' to pursue this?
    Start -- Disconnect battery --> Gut interior --> Draw markings where to cut --> Cut into small sections with reciprocating saw --> Save doors and back area so it can be welded onto cab --> Bring to welding shop to have them close off the cab -- Done

  2. #2
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    Theres a whole list of reasons why it wont work . But what the heck if you have a van you can chop up go for it , you may want to invest in a mig welder though or it going to get expensive quick.

  3. #3
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    ive seen several done that way did know where there was one for about 5,000 but i think he sold it already it was a one ton ford with a 460 got about 8 mpg

  4. #4
    Junior Member Defined's Avatar
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    IH, can I ask why you don't think it will work? I have seen a few such "van truck" creations myself, so I know there has to be a way around doing it. Heck, I've seen weirder things (like an old neighbor of mine who converted a car into a tractor.)

    Anyway, give me more details on your thoughts - I'm interested in what others have to say from all perspectives.

  5. #5
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    I have seen quite a few over the years. They are pretty goofy looking. I just saw last week someone who took a old ambulance E-350. Yanked the box. Sealed up the back somehow. Then put a 10' flat bed on it. Made a goose next puller with it.
    1999 F-350 xlt ex-cab 4x4 diesel 9' rugby dump, 9' Western Pro plus w/wings, Swenson under tailgate spreader and central hydraulics
    2003 F-250 xlt ex-cab 4x4 diesel
    2007 Bri-Mar 18' 12,000
    2000 Bobcat 773GT high flow w/cab(heat), 68" low profile bucket, 42" forks, tilt a tac, 68" 4in1 bucket, 74" snow bucket 8' protec snow pusher
    2000 Kubota B7500 w/cab and alot of attachments
    1972 Bobcat 600M skidloader w/54" tooth bucket

    bank to say yes, but dealer said no GRRR:
    1998 John Deere 310SE exhoe, 4x4, Cab

  6. #6
    Super Moderator CM1995's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Defined View Post
    Heck, I've seen weirder things (like an old neighbor of mine who converted a car into a tractor.)
    First question - do you have any pics of this? That sounds pretty darn interesting - in a redneck fashion.

    Back to the van to truck thing. I say go for it if you have the time and $$$.
    My suggestion would be to chop it like your picture shows but remove the rear van part and add one of those gooseneck bodies - flat bed with a head board. That way the headboard would protect the "modification" to the back of the van. Actually you may be on to something. With the regular van doors on the curbside, it would give you dry and secure stortage for valuable tools - it would make one heck of a tool box. BTW - definetly disconnect the batteries before welding - it may fry the 'puter in it. Junkyard wars - carry on!

    The body I am talking about is this:
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Countryboy's Avatar
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    It will work but the effort you put into it will determine how well the finished product looks.

    If you can't weld then I would let a welder do it. Having said that, you need to make sure thats all he has to do or your bill is going to go up rather quickly. By that I mean make sure all the metal is shaped and formed like it should be and prep all your surfaces to be welded. Have it to where he can hold it where it goes and weld it up. That will save you some money.

    Quote Originally Posted by Defined View Post
    Cut into small sections with reciprocating saw
    When cutting, make one large cut instead of a bunch of little ones. This will give you one large piece where you can cut what you need. Pull the interior around where you are making the cut so you can make sure you're not cutting through any fuel lines and such.

    Body work is not hard. All your doing is bending metal.

  8. #8
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    it will work. its going to take a lot of work to do.

    first off if you have had any desire to weld at all nows the time to learn. taking to a welder is going to get EXPENCIVE fast. go to your local welding supply and get a nice mig setup. don't try and go cheap gettin it from home depot or lowes. you'll end up paying the same for it in the long run. you'll be welding like a pro in no time.

    second try to use a cut off grinder as much as you can. it will make a much nicer cut that requires less body work in the end. a sawzall tends to grab and pull sheet metal distorting it.

    now on to the fun part. i'd say cut off the whole back end so that you have the doors and frame. i'd have about 6" of flat side to join to the front.

    next you'll need to chop the doors and frame shorter so that it will swing over your floor.so again chop it in the lower section of the doors so that when you remove a chunk of metal all of it will line up easy again.

    next i'd see about getting a doner truck bed to get the top rails off of and the back tail gate, lights and the works to weld on to the back.

    then on to the custom sheet metal and my favorite thing fiberglass, its great for places that need something custom that wont get abused. a little grinding and body filler to smooth everything out and a nice coat of paint.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Defined View Post
    2. I'm don't know how to weld, so should I save the very back of it (where the doors are) and bring it to a welder to have them close the cab off?
    Wrenchbender...paging Mr. Wrenchbender...please pick up the nearest white courtesy phone...

    3. Am I correct on the following 'steps' to pursue this?
    Start -- Disconnect battery --> Gut interior --> Draw markings where to cut --> Cut into small sections with reciprocating saw --> Save doors and back area so it can be welded onto cab --> Bring to welding shop to have them close off the cab -- Done
    I think you missed a few:
    1) Buy beer.
    2) Drink beer.

    3) Disconnect battery.
    4) Buy more beer.
    5) Drink beer.

    6) Draw markings where to cut.
    7) Buy more beer.
    8) Drink beer.

    9) Cut into small sections.
    10) Realize there is no turning back now and go get more beer.
    11) Drink beer.

    12) Save doors and back area so it can be welded onto cab.
    13) Buy some beer for the boys at the welding shop.
    14) Bring to welding shop to have them close off the cab - don't forget the beer 15) Return all the empty beer cans so you can pay the welding bill.

    Man, you're going to need a lot of beer...

    Sorry couldn't help myself... In all seriousness, like Countryboy said, it you're willing to put the effort into it to have a nice finished product, it could probably turn out OK.

    Joe

  10. #10
    Senior Member wrenchbender's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Defined View Post
    I know this is kind of an odd thread, but I'd figure if anyone might be able to advise me it would definitely be on HE Forums. What I want to do is take an old extended cargo van (3/4 or 1 ton) and turn it into a "van truck", like this little photo-manipulation I made shows:
    http://img120.imageshack.us/img120/1...uckideaki1.gif

    By now you're either thinking, "wow, this is one helluva cool idea." Or "wow, that's one of the stupidest things I've ever heard of." Regardless of what you think, it's what I want to do. I need something to keep myself busy and work on.

    Now if I could have your input...
    1. What should I use to saw off the cargo area, a Sawzall or something?

    2. I'm don't know how to weld, so should I save the very back of it (where the doors are) and bring it to a welder to have them close the cab off?

    3. Am I correct on the following 'steps' to pursue this?
    Start -- Disconnect battery --> Gut interior --> Draw markings where to cut --> Cut into small sections with reciprocating saw --> Save doors and back area so it can be welded onto cab --> Bring to welding shop to have them close off the cab -- Done

    Yes this is very doable there are a few around here some look like crap and there is one that is very sharp looking. The nice one was made from an E-350 with dual wheels. They moved the back up to just behind the second row of seats. This made the Van/Truck a 6 door vehicle 1 on the drivers side three on the pass side & 2 on the back(the 2 on the rear are useless). Then they custom built a bed on the back sorta like CM1995 posted. The guy pulls his 30+ foot horse trailer with it to shows.
    So if you're going to cut this thing your self be sure to leave enough meat to trim when reassembling.DON'T cut the seam where it's put together near the rear doors. Make your cut towards the front of the seam a few inches. And as CB said gut the inside before cutting anything also check under the floor for your fuel lines and maybe rear A/C lines as well.

    As for the tool of choice to cut with I like useing a cutoff saw/air body saw. It will make clean smooth cuts and dosen't distort the metal also it wont bind up on ya. And yeah we want to see pics... before... during and after.

    Electra_Glide "Wrenchbender...paging Mr. Wrenchbender...please pick up the nearest white courtesy phone..."


    Electra-Glide, I picked up the courtesy phone but it ain't white anymore, it used to be but now it's kinda brownish black awh heck it's just dirty.lol
    Whatever you do make it count life's short enjoy it!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrenchbender View Post
    Electra-Glide, I picked up the courtesy phone but it ain't white anymore, it used to be but now it's kinda brownish black awh heck it's just dirty.lol
    Dang...didn't your momma teach you to wash your hands when you come in from playin' in the dirt? Geez...some peoples' kids...***

    Joe

  12. #12
    Senior Member wrenchbender's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Electra_Glide View Post
    Dang...didn't your momma teach you to wash your hands when you come in from playin' in the dirt? Geez...some peoples' kids...***

    Joe
    She tried, but I guess it didn't sink in very well.lol
    Whatever you do make it count life's short enjoy it!

  13. #13
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    I love Google.

    You never know what will turn up.

  14. #14
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    convert van to pickup? You guys must be like my neighbor to the north and love loads of self inflicted pain. Why not just go get a truck?

  15. #15
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    My brother and I did a couple Econoline 150's a few years back. I just helped e was the brainchild on it. One winter dirt moving was slow so he picked up a Beater Dark green 150 Econoline work van. He built a few rods in his day and we went to work. He marked the lines he wanted left and the body line that runs the middl of the van. He made the cut the cut the back of the cab off square and saved the back doors. He left enough of the van body for a room a bit longer than a fullsized truck seat. It was about 18 inches more than the seat width for leg room.

    Since the truck bodies ave the same or close to it bodylines we used alot of Ford truck parts. To cap the sides he found a rotted out truck with a long bed and we cut the top of the bed caps off and borrowed the tailgate and hinges.

    It looked really nice when he got done. He put a set of of junkyard chrome on wheels on it and painted it up. It had a 300 six in it. He then finished the inside out from the junkyard when a Ford Van with coach kit came in. He put in both captains chairs, the rear bench seat and, all the rear internal wood moulding and trimmings. A 250 dollar van no one wanted and about 40 bucks at a time playing turned into a much wanted ride. He sold it for 3500.

    The next one he did was a simimilar cargo van it had a windowed side door. He left it and capped the bed and slid the rear doors up and shaved them and welded shut. Left the side door and slide intact and cut part of the rood and left window from a passenger van with a symetical windo on that side out. He did the bed the same way as the earlier truck. This time he made it a full crew cab tuck and with the sliding door it was super nice.
    Lots of Uhaul trucks and old RV's around here get a zip kit. Its a fiberglass cap that mates to the cab and it bolted into place.

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