Our GTRV camper van just rolled over 70,000 km, a bit over 43,000 miles so I thought it was about time to do a bit of a review.
I had a couple of chats with Roy about a conversion in 2009 at his shop and had a general sense of what we wanted in a conversion. I returned to BC in February of 2010 from Cambodia where we were living at the time and bought our van. It was a 2009 Ford E350 XLT, heavy duty passenger van with just about all of the options. I had been looking at cargo vans earlier but the price of this van and the options it had was just too good to pass up on. I dropped the van off at GTRV in Richmond and headed back to Cambodia. Roy and I kept in touch by email about the conversion and things went really smoothly. I came back to BC in May and picked up the completed van.
Since then the van has made one trip from the Sunshine Coast to Halifax and back, one from the Sunshine Coast to Halifax, across the United States and back to the coast, and the Sunshine Coast to Palm Springs and back. The current road trip started in the Sunshine Coast, down the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California, around Arizona and southern California and later back to the Sunshine Coast.
So far the van has performed well with just regular maintenance and other than replacing the rear transmission seal twice under warranty it has been trouble free. I’m glad that that I bought the 350 instead of the 150 & 250 cargo vans that I’d been looking at.
The conversion part of things has been trouble free as well. Some adjustments were made to the tension on the tambour doors and the top position was adjusted as well. All of this was done promptly, efficiently and under warranty at the shop in Richmond. Last year the Elixir power converter failed and was replaced by Bryan under warranty but this converter is now failing as well. A couple of days ago I ordered a WF8735P WFCO 8735P Power Center from Best Converter. Randy at Best Converter was great to deal with answering my email questions on a Sunday with recommendations on a replacement for the Elixir-25 and shipping was prompt.
Our conversion is the standard plan with propane water heater, furnace, Fiamma 35 awning, Fantastic Fan, v-top, storage compartment instead of a top bunk, a hard wired Progressive Industries power & surge protector and an additional coach battery.
What would I do differently? I’d probably order the Fiamma 45 awning, it is heavier than the 35 but is easier to put up when you are by yourself. That is probably the only change that I would make. The conversion has turned out to be extremely practical, functional and efficient. We have enough storage for long road trips and the van is very comfortable as well.
I remember Roy telling me that a GTRV conversion on a Ford van is probably the largest you could go and still have a dual use vehicle and he was absolutely right. The van is easy to park, easy to set up, not too bad on gas and parts and servicing can be done almost anywhere, not a bad compromise. I’ve only come across one campsite where they didn’t allow the van because it wasn’t fully equipped with a toilet and shower but who would want to stay in a place that exclusive anyway. They also insisted on inspecting every vehicle before they were allowed to enter.