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newrider3 HalfDork
10/10/21 12:23 a.m.

Wait, another build thread when none of my existing build threads have progress or closure? *shocked*


I've been daydreaming of a purpose-built/retrofitted race hauler since probably my second 24 Hours of Lemons race. Borrowed pickups and open trailers for our first few races got us by. For the past couple years with our Starlet, I was able to tow using my Grand Caravan and a UTV trailer. But I've always thought I would be happier with a vehicle that could physically carry the race car, rather than maneuvering and parking even a small trailer. And after moving to the mountains I quickly grew tired of the van+trailer combo struggling for traction up my steep gravel driveway and winding neighborhood road. 


So, I've been idly searching for used busses/chassis cab trucks/cutaway van box trucks for quite a while, and stumbled upon this gem for a pretty good price on craigslist just after our last race this fall. 1995 Ford E-350 box truck, equipped with an EFI 460 and E4OD auto. The custom hand-painted logo on the driver's door claims it's called Green Hornet, but I prefer to call it Green Piece or the EW-HAUL. 

Talked the seller down to $2k because it the engine wouldn't even spin over with a fresh battery, and paid (what felt like a very reasonable) $500 to get it towed home. Once I had it home I threw in a battery, doubled up the battery cables (Fords of this era are notorious for undersized power and ground to starter), and a new starter, and it surprisingly fired right up on 1/8 tank of 8 year old gas (totally assumed it would need a new fuel pump, but nope). 


After getting the engine running, I quickly realized it's severely lacking in forward gears. Reverse is great, and it will move forward in D with lots of slipping, and nothing happens in L or 2. Oh well, time to learn how to rebuild an E4OD.

Also didn't quite realize until getting it home, based on the 2012 license plate tags and silty river mud stuck to every horizontal suspension/chassis surface, that this thing definitely got hit by the big Boulder/Estes Park floods in 2013. Oops. 

newrider3 HalfDork
10/10/21 12:38 a.m.

Been playing with it for the past few weeks, no major progress, just things like new brakes, shocks, and tires; tearing out old stuff we won't need; pulling the old plywood flooring; general cleanup; farting around with cosmetics and painting stuff. 



Ah yes, I choose 215s for the 11,000lb gross-weight-rated tow pig, but insist on 225s for the 1,800lb race hooptie... hashtag pizzacutters.


Who wins in a fight: recalled HF jackstands, or a stack of wood?

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/10/21 5:55 a.m.

In reply to newrider3 :

Is EW-Haul going to be your Lemons theme once this beast is complete? Because that would be berkeleying awesome. 

1SlowVW HalfDork
10/10/21 6:04 a.m.
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) said:

In reply to newrider3 :

Is EW-Haul going to be your Lemons theme once this beast is complete? Because that would be berkeleying awesome. 

Agreed, fantastic name. Cool truck too.

jh36 HalfDork
10/10/21 7:08 a.m.

Following with great interest. One unsolicited vote for a lift/load gate cause I've been trying to think of a grassroots way to do that. 

newrider3 HalfDork
10/10/21 9:59 p.m.
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) said:

Is EW-Haul going to be your Lemons theme once this beast is complete? Because that would be berkeleying awesome. 

Honestly, it hadn't even occurred to me. That would be a great theme for our 1UZ Volvo, since it needs a better paint job before it comes back out to a Lemons race.

newrider3 HalfDork
10/23/21 11:59 a.m.

Chipping away slowly, procrastinating the transmission work because it at least runs well enough right now to poot around the yard, I'm not looking forward to making it immobile while I try to rebuild the trans.


The fun thing about this style of box truck, with the fiberglass/plywood composite wall panels, is that the outside trim and bolts are what hold the whole thing together. So I've had to be careful when removing the trim and hardware in order to install toolboxes and storage bins. All of the original rusty hardware is being replaced with stainless, in socket head and hex head as opposed to the infuriating original e-torx and carriage bolts. Outside rub rail trim is replaced with some 6061 flat bar which supports both the wall bolts as well as the tool box/storage compartment framing.



These toolboxes are held in both by bolts through the wall panel and trim, and also by a piece of unistrut supported by threaded rod. Of course, I bought the cheapest boxes I could find, and they're probably also going to need some angle iron and plywood secured inside to keep the contents from just bending the bottom panel.



Cutting some big holes in the front part of the side skirts to add storage compartments for race fuel jugs, bbq grill, camping equipment, large tools, etc. Going to build frames out of more unistrut, since it is much cheaper per foot than square tubing or angle iron at current steel prices.


californiamilleghia UltraDork
10/23/21 12:29 p.m.

Neat build

What is the total weight with race car you are aiming for ?

And do need to stop at the truck scales ?

We have truck scales less than 10 miles down the freeway from my place and that is always a consideration.

Added: and what are the rules in the states you will be driving thru , will that cause problems ?

TED_fiestaHP HalfDork
10/23/21 12:31 p.m.

   I added some aluminum stow boxes to my trailer, the aluminum corner seems are not very strong.  I added aluminum angle all along the inside corners, with lots of stainless bolts.   If you want I can  upload some pictures.

newrider3 HalfDork
10/23/21 1:00 p.m.

In reply to californiamilleghia :

Title says it's 7700lbs empty, which seems like an overestimate to me. I doubt I'll be hitting the 11,000lb GVWR even fully loaded with tools, race car, and food/beverages.

It is titled and will be plated no differently than a 1 ton pickup here in CO. I talked to the clerk and recorder when I was getting the title transferred; for a vehicle this small there's no title or reg difference before or after it's converted to an RV. It will be insured as an RV if that happens to get me a better rate. This isn't classified as a commercial vehicle here, and in any case it's being used as a personal RV so I am not beholden to weigh stations and associated commerical rules.

75% or more of the planned use case will be within this state, but if I did travel to AZ/UT/CA etc and get stopped, they would have little to say once they see the RV door and windows, sink, beds, refrigerator, microwave, etc that I plan to install in the box.

Antihero (Forum Supporter)
Antihero (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
10/23/21 1:58 p.m.

If you don't go with EW-Haul, Radest Rust that's spelled out on the side is cool too

newrider3 HalfDork
11/5/21 12:48 p.m.

Trans pulled for an attempt at DIY E4OD rebuild.

The removal was shockingly easy, took about two and a half hours spread out over three quick garage breaks yesterday. The full-size van doghouse makes it so easy to access the bellhousing bolts.


TVR Scott
TVR Scott SuperDork
11/5/21 1:02 p.m.

Neat project.  Reminds me of my first job out of college designing mobile-equipment for the telephone service industry.  Lots of poorly built, out of square truck bodies.

XenaFordPrincess New Reader
11/6/21 10:39 a.m.

I used to rebuild those transmissions, they're not too complicated.   There are some special tools required for the intermediate clutch return spring.  What part of Colorado are you in?

newrider3 HalfDork
11/6/21 7:19 p.m.

Managed to get the trans mounted to an engine stand, this will certainly be better than sitting with it on the cold concrete floor.


In reply to XenaFordPrincess :

I'm just west of Golden.

Thanks for the heads up, just looked up the tool and looks like something I could cobble together pretty easily. I also found the ATSG rebuild manual online, going to be handy to reference on the garage computer.


newrider3 HalfDork
11/7/21 1:26 p.m.

Trans case is empty.

*very, very frightening me*



Made my own version of the intermediate pack spring compressor mentioned above.

Note: I totally removed the wrong snap ring in this picture.

newrider3 HalfDork
11/10/21 4:20 p.m.

Think I may have discovered the failure mode of the transmission. It was apparent upon initial teardown that the intermediate clutch pack was dying - the frictions were worn most of the way through on one side. 

I just finished removing the direct clutch pack from the intermediate drum - and it's completely dickered. Frictions so far gone that several of the plates are welded together.


Some searching tells me this could have been caused by leakage of fluid where it passes from the valve body to the intermediate and direct clutches. Sonnax makes a seal kit to correct this, and upon inspection of my center support and intermediate cylinder I see the exact wear patterns they indicate as problematic. 


CyberEric Dork
11/10/21 4:50 p.m.

Wow! I had no idea they looked like that inside.

Cool stuff, thanks for sharing.

When you finish all that, let us know if the steering feels sloppy on the freeway. I've spent waaaaay too much time getting my Econoline to steer better.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/10/21 5:03 p.m.

Awesome project!  I like the cargo boxes under the floor.

CLynn85 HalfDork
11/10/21 8:24 p.m.

As a closet uhaul fan, I'm loving this.

newrider3 HalfDork
12/2/21 7:53 p.m.

Been shafted waiting for parts for a few weeks now; was nearly ready to reassemble the trans when I realized the forward shell was worn out; the first one I bought never shipped and I had no word from the seller so I had to reorder Monday when they sent a refund instead of tracking info. Hopefully have it this weekend.

At least the transmission case is shiny now? I dropped it off at a trans shop for a jet wash and decided to squirt some paint on the case once it was clean, because I was bored and I have a painting problem. 



Today I started playing around with seats and seat mounts. Just returned from a long road trip over the holiday so driver ergonomics and seat comfort were fresh on my mind. 

Unlike a handful of members here, I actually find the Dodge/Chrysler Stow 'N Go seats to be quite pleasant. Minimal padding, but my back likes that. Good range of backrest angle adjustment too. Decided to test fit one seat borrowed from my Grand Caravan. I should be able to fit three of these side by side in the cab, and the folding feature means the cab-to-box passthrough won't be permanently occluded.

newrider3 HalfDork
4/5/22 1:01 p.m.

Been on light duty for a while after bilateral carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel release surgeries, finally starting to make progress on various projects now that race season is fast approaching. 
I did at least get the trans thrown in before the first surgery, and got the ancilliaries hooked up in the meantime. Hasn't been over 30mph or much further than the driveway/neighborhood, but the rebuilt trans seems great so far.


Got the unistrut framed side compartments mostly wrapped up, just needs some side/end panels to get them sealed up. I have put absolutely no thought into the doors for these yet, I'm sure that will bite me soon.


I never should have removed the original wood floor from the box, with the way lumber prices have been still bouncing around between expensive and ridiculous. I was at least able to recycle some of the old ply for the storage compartment floors. 

Before I get some foam insulation and new flooring installed in the box, I have been working on a winch mount recessed below the floor. Popped four holes in part of the box subframe to slide in some 1.75" DOM backed up with some fish plates on the outside. Should be nice having everything below the floor except the Hawse fairlead for the synthetic winch rope.



John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
4/5/22 1:42 p.m.

Did the seats work 3-a-wide?  Interesting use of 2nd row seats as front rows.

If they didn't work, these Ford pickup center seats seem to be all over FB.  Not a full size seat but more of a jump seat.  I've heard of people using them on fishing boats too. 

Integrated seat belt is nice too:


Sample:  https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/1167223864030631/?ref=search&referral_code=marketplace_search&referral_story_type=post&tracking=browse_serp%3A883d368c-f2cd-4fa9-8868-9ba5c98dfc07

newrider3 HalfDork
4/5/22 2:22 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

Yep, with the driver and passenger seat slid outward as far as practical, there's room for a third in the middle with 1/2" of wiggle room per side. Fitting three seats was a big part of the swap, so my wife and daughter can both ride in the future. 

Another nice part about these seats is the buckle receiver is built in, so I just had to bolt the Grand Caravan seat belt and retractor assemblies into the cab. Might end up with just a lap belt in the middle, but the seats are also conveniently LATCH compatible so my daughter's car seat will be quite safe in the middle seat for a long time yet.

golfduke Dork
4/5/22 2:35 p.m.

Rad Rust > Ew-Haul, in my humble opinion, but cook build still!!!


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