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1988 Econoline 150 Okanagan MFG Camper Van

Discussion in 'Ford E-Series' started by andonso, Apr 10, 2018.

  1. andonso

    andonso New Member

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    Hello,

    I have a 1988 E-150 (in the process of purchasing) that was converted to a camper by Okanagan MFG back in 1988

    I would like to be able to take the Van camping off-road such as in the National Forest. The Van's ride is currently imo a bit low, at a height that's ok for paved roads but perhaps too low for non paved dirt and gravel roads and off-road. I've owned 4x4 SUV's. The last one was a Jeep where I installed an OME lift kit that provided a 2.5 inch lift with new springs and shocks.

    I'm uncertain if there are any lift kits for a 1988 E-150 or if a lift kit for a F-150 would work with a E-150?

    I was thinking of finding springs and shocks for the E-150 with higher spring rates enough to lift the Van at least a few inches.

    A person on another forum suggested a 4x4 conversion however I don't want to spend money to have someone convert an E-150 to a 4x4. So if converting to a 4x4 it would need to be something I'm able to perform my self with a parts list, compatible axles, etc.

    I have little information about the Van other than what is on the door decal and information found via a free Vin search. I'm uncertain what would be available from a paid vin search. From what I've been told the Van was originally registered in Alaska by a person who has since past away. The current owner was in the process of having the title transferred, lost the title and other information which included the name and address of the original owner who past away. So I'm going to need to fill out and mail a couple to forms into Alaska DMV. One is for a research verification of a motor vehicle record, once this information is received I can then apply for a duplicate title. I'll then need to register the van in my state which charges $125.00 to register out of state vehicles.

    Information from door decal

    OKANAGAN MFG
    GVWR 2948 / FVWR FRT: 1403
    GVW - 6500 LBS
    MPV XX
    KG RR 1723

    Other information found online
    Trim: Short Trim (???)
    Fuel Capacity 18 gallon
    Anti-Brake System Non-Abs
    Style / Body: Cargo Van 3D
    Engine: 5.0L V8 EFI - OHV 12V
    Country of Assembly: United States
  2. Action

    Action Moderator Staff Member Respected Member

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    Welcome to the FFO!

    Not sure what you paid for the van conversion and going to 4X4 may exceed the price you paid.

    Any 30 year old vehicle with metal springs has worn out or close to worn out springs. I had a 1990 E150 van conversion and I installed springs all around. I did go for a little extra capacity and gained about 1 1/4 ride height. I bought my springs here and installed myself. http://www.sdtrucksprings.com/ It wasn't that hard. And it made what I thought was a big impact. I modified that Van to tow 7500 pounds and it did that rather well.

    Your van has the GVWR to take some load. New springs will restore that ride height. Shocks will not impact height, however they will go a long way to making the ride feel better.

    Where are you located, Alaska???
    Or are you in the lower 48?
    (You did not complete your profile)

    >>>>>>>>>>>>Action
  3. andonso

    andonso New Member

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    I'm in Washington State but have friends that work and/or reside in Alaska. Some go fishing each year in Alaska as the salmon and other fish runs have diminished over time in Northwest.

    I'm also looking at new tires besides new suspension parts. I don't think I would want to create a bastard pack out of junk yard springs.

    Yes a 4x4 conversion may not be worth the additional cost. I'm familiar with 4x4 SUV's such as Jeeps but not so much with trucks and Vans. A 4x4 conversion I think min. would require another rear axle and perhaps a replacement or conversion of the front? Transmissions adapters or perhaps another transmission as some conversion also replace the transmission.

    If I'm able to find used parts at a reasonable price I could perform a 4x4 conversion myself which would also require new suspension and possibly different steering parts?

    At this point in time I'm looking at new tires and suspension.

    However I'm uncertain of clearances for a maximum tire size? (height and width)

    Perhaps something like 265/60 15s front and 275/60 15s rear ?

    Wouldn't need to be 60's which may be near the maximum width without modifications.

    I noticed from the link you provided that there are rear springs but did not see any front springs for a 1988 e-150

    1975-1991 Ford E100, E150 - Leaf Spring (Rear - 6 Leaves)

    I also found some rear helper springs. Some of which appear to be dual or triple spring sets that provide a lift such as 2.5 inches, etc.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
  4. Action

    Action Moderator Staff Member Respected Member

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    A good set of new tires will help the ride.
    You don't need to go wider. In fact very wide tires may be an issue off road.
    Tread design and inflation are two factors in off road. And you may know more about that than I.

    As far as 4X4 conversion. Econoline NEVER had a 4X4 option. You would need to go to a vendor that does 4X4 conversions, like this place http://advanced4x4vans.com/4x4-van/ford-4x4-van-conversion/ (Think thousands of dollars for this service)
    Or find one you can take the parts. With that said I lived in Wash for a number of years and in the rural areas there are 4X4 ambulances. If you found one for sale or ????

    All you are looking for is higher ground clearance, so you might want to pursue that direction. How much more would be the question?

    New tires and bring your existing suspension to brand new condition will get you some of what you want. (If not all of it) That generation of Econoline can benefit from newer springs, shocks, bushings and some of those did not have a sway bar up front. Adding one if you don't have one helps in a big way.

    Also many of the steering parts can be excessively worn. Replacing those parts can drastically change the feel if that is the case.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Action
  5. andonso

    andonso New Member

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    yes that appears what I may do as a conversion may be too expensive and difficult even if finding parts from a salvage yard

    new stock springs, shock and tires would likely be the best solution. However I would like to if possible to abotain a small lift such as 1.5 to 3 inches above stock height.

    Even a small lift ~2 inches can potentially save your exhaust. I have a Jeep Cherokee with a stock suspensions where I needed to keep replacing the exhaust parts, such as the muffler, etc. as most stock heights are designed for on road pavement. Car manufactures perform alot of engineering and testing for stock height suspensions but for anything above stock height they normally leave it to 3rd parties which specifalize in lifts.

    One lift kit company I've used in the past is OME. They create lift kits for many types of vehicle including service vehicles, forest service vehicles, etc. where they test each model lines with their lift kits to determine they work as expected and if they need to make any modifications to their springs and lift kits.

    Much of it comes down the specific specifications of the springs and shocks. Spring and load rates of the front and rear springs. Curvature of leaf spring, etc.

    That's what most of the lift kit companies do is test different springs to see how they perform with certain vehicles at certain conditions and lift heights.

    If I were able to get more detailed information of the different springs that will fit a 1988 E-150 possibly I could create my own lift. such as ~2 to ~3 inches. Wouldn't need to be great, enough to keep things from the undercarriage from being damage.
  6. Action

    Action Moderator Staff Member Respected Member

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    Replacing springs will likely get you an inch. You might be able to ekk out another inch with tires.

    After that it will be a lift kit that you need. The issue may be the age of your ride. There may be few choices for third generation Econobox. Did a search and found this. https://weldtecdesigns.com/product/econoline-lift-kit/

    6 inches is a bit greater than you want. And as some point the higher center of gravity can be an issue on freeway with high winds.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>Action
  7. andonso

    andonso New Member

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    It may take some work getting it back in shape as the exterior has some surface rust. The engine and transmission feel as if they function well. So far haven't been able to find any problems, damage, leaks, etc.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2018
  8. andonso

    andonso New Member

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    Yes even 4 inches is a bit much as when you increase the height of a vehicle it not only changes the suspension it changes the steering geometry.

    With the E-150 I would be looking for perhaps a 1 to 3 inch lift. Going to 4+ inches there's often other things to consider when lifting.

    On my Jeep I only lifted ~2.5 inches as many Jeeps are short wheelbase and when going greater than 3 inches often require a SYE and custom drive shaft which typically runs $600.00 or more. A SYE is a slip yoke eliminator and replaces at a the stock single cardian u-joint with a double cardian u-joint.

    https://d2jocyn8o0ggnq.cloudfront.n.../product/8f916e0a6a6d8224f9e233397c6c5595.jpg

    A double cadian u-joint allows for greater driveshaft angles.

    When one drives over bumps and dips the driveshaft continually changes it angle where it connects via u-joints. Usually are only allowed a certain degree angle from where it connects to the transmission, transfer case (if 4x4) and rear differential.



    Sometimes you can adjust the angle rear differential (axle) and/or drop the transfer case a little bit to adjust the increased angles caused by a lift. However over a 3 inch lift often requires a SYE or the u-joint will suffer additional wear and need to be replaced much sooner.

    On my Jeep I installed a shorter lift ~2.5 inch from OME which provides lifts for service vehicles, etc. My rear leaf springs were changed from a single to a dual stage springs that are design to carry a constant load and are able to adjust from lighter to heavier loads.

    Many vehicles have stock dual stage leaf springs, however some don't and sometimes all that's required to change to a dual stage spring is to install one flat spring with both neg and pos camber that kicks in when a load becomes heavier.

    To perform a lift properly one should have the specifications on the OEM stock springs and the new replacement springs.

    Some 4x4'ers spend from around ~2 to ~4 grand on their lift as one may need to replace much of the steering and all of the suspension with new shocks, control arms, etc.

    You can lift using helper springs, air bags and air shocks however these methods aren't normally preferred when lifting for off-road terrains.

    Air shocks may work for a while, however your placing most of the vehicle weight on the shocks which isn't really a good idea for off-road.

    Air bags are better designed for on-road travel, helper springs your basically adding an exterior spring support to your current springs which also isn't a good idea for suspensions going off-road.

    Here's a video of a E-150 lift with kit that uses chocks. Chocks are a less expensive method used by some off-roaders but aren't a preferred method to lift. I suppose I could use some short chocks from 1 to 3 inches and then use some equal length spring spacers on the front coil springs.



    One might be able to perform a similar lift without all the brackets from the lift kit if only going up one or two inches perhaps 2.5" inches if the lift doesn't change the steering by too much. What happens sometimes for some lifts is it places additional stress on the steering parts which then wears the steering out sooner. I will need to take a closer look to determine which steering and suspension parts would be effected by a lift as car manufactures often have the specs precise without any room for changes. e.g. a ball joint designed to work at a certain deg. angle changing it's angle even slightly much may wear it out prematurely.

    The preferred method to lift a vehicle is to use new higher springs on both the front and rear, where there's no more than a 1/2 difference between the front and rear of the vehicle when on level ground. This is important as differences between the front and rear of the vehicle can throw off things such as front wheel camber, steering, etc.

    Also often new longer shocks are often required. Instead of new longer shocks some people use shocks extensions, however it's preferred to replace the shocks rather than use shock extensions.

    Other thing to look at when lifting is the condition of the steering such as ball joints, the steering box (some lifts may require a heavier duty steering box), Tire and wheel spacing and clearances (lifts often use larger tires which may rub on the fender wells or other steering and suspension parts), wheel off-set (if the wheels need to be spaced wider), general overall functionality of the lift making certain it doesn't throw anything off from the stock suspension and steering which done by an auto maker's engineers. Lifting a vehicle you are changing an auto makers suspension , steering specifications and sometimes wheel and tire specifications.

    Anytime you change size of a tire and wheel going to effect the differential gearing. Some people also change the gear ratio for front and rear diffs. such as from e.g. 3.55 to 3.73, 4.10, 4.30, etc.

    If you going to all the trouble to change gears I would consider installing for 2wd a limited slip or a full or part time locking differential.

    Changing differential gears requires the new gears and carrier if needed, that the installation to be precise and some skill is required as it's not a matter of just swapping in new set of gears.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
  9. Action

    Action Moderator Staff Member Respected Member

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    Your van does not have ball joints. It has king pins.
    The stock rear springs on a E150 are single stage.

    If stock your 30 year old springs have already sagged an 1 or so. Just restoring stock springs will give you some lift. When I bought my rear leafs for my 1990 E150 (From ATS) they recommended an addition leaf or a slightly greater spring load rating. (I forget) it got the rear end off the floor and did the job for the trailer towing I was doing.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>Action
  10. andonso

    andonso New Member

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    Ok, thanks. It's been a while since I've worked on a Ford. The first vehicle I worked on was a 52 Ford back in the 60s when I was 14.

    The past 10 years worked on a 98 Jeep, before that a 86 Chev that I didn't do alot of work on. Also many other vehicles before that however most were 1980s and older. The 98 Jeep is the most recent yr. car i've worked on and is controlled by a obd2 computer.

    I do have an 92 E-350 motorhome that I really haven't worked on as it has stayed in one spot the past 10 years. I did repair it's vacuum lines which became eaten by mice, who created a nest on top of the engine.

    If or when put it on the road again I do need to fix it's overdrive which has seemed to quit working from the automatic shift lever.

    I've ordered a 1988 F100 - F350 Ford Factory service manual (covers econolines) and will need to study the difference as well as look at the wear of the 88's steering.

    I'm uncertain of the 88's vehicle mileage as the older odometer shows 87090 and uncertain if it's 87090, 187090 or 287090 miles.

    It's possibly it's only 87090 and just sat for many years. Many RV owners don't put that many miles on a RV used perhaps once or twice a year. My 92 E-350 RV has only around ~50,000 original miles as the odometer in 1992 changed to six digits.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
  11. Action

    Action Moderator Staff Member Respected Member

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    The '88 is EZ to work on as far as technology. Because it is a van access to some things isn't that EZ.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>Action

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