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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings,

I have purchased an 05 Express 3500 van. I have brackets from Timberline 4x4 to make it a 4x4, GM 9.5 front diff, LS motor, 4l80E I am going to build up to take the 600HP I am going to get out of the engine (Cam, high comp pistons, headers, program, port work, anything else, motor, trans, xfer case, driveline and frame are mostly in our shop, pics of the boxes below).

I have a rear covered utility bed I am going to seal with it's own HEPA filtration, ballistic glass (already have several sheets) and make it a very comfortable live-in rear portion, sealed off from the cab (But accessible from inside).

The utility bed is about 122" long. The van's wheelbase is 135". I was originally going to make it a "shorty" and butt the utility bed living portion right up to the cab, but sadly that did not work, and I needed to extend the frame.

I cut the frame, expecting to elongate it about 19.5", except waiting on inspiration, I decided to elongate it another 30" to accommodate ONE of the side doors, as a "decontamination/ holding room" that is part of the cab, but also separated via a steel partition with a locking door (I have the partition w/ door, it came with the van).

Originally, I thought, extending it another 30" would be good for resale/ additional storage as I intend to have quite a bit of fun with this van, touring the USA with it.

I took measurements, careful measurements from months of data collecting, made my marks, and was delighted to discover they lined up PERFECTLY across the roof. So I grabbed the sawzall to begin cutting the van in half, when...

Something stopped me.

Okay, so I do not want a rig that's as long as a commercial schoolbus. I do NOT want something hard to drive or back up, but there will be a camera system/warning beeper. I especially do not want something that is going to limit me to the most basic trails, offroad. (Neither do I want a short rig that will fool me into tackling rough trails and getting into trouble, either.)

My question is, if it were your rig, would you keep BOTH side doors, and extend it another 2+ feet on top of the additional nearly three?

I have the xfer case and driveline, and frame jig to ensure however long I decide to make it, the sides will be EXACT, so length isn't a problem...

I DO plan on reselling the rig as a semi-armored 4x4 survival vehicle, and plan on getting a good price for it, but if it's limousine long... I do need it to be driveable, and I do not want it to be so big I regret the large decon/holding room (Decontamination from light NBC contact, or a holding room for rowdy zombies, but in peacetime, just a lot of extra storage)

As it stands I will need to replace the left hand door from crash damage, which is not an issue, i've already driven the pins partially out.

But, I do not want to cut the van, only to realize, I would have been better off retaining BOTH side doors.

Further, I want this rig to be able to get into camping spots where I will not be disturbed by any humans, and I know the longer the rig, the more difficult this can get. I HAVE noticed that a lot of commercial passenger vans, the longer ones, will be as long as this one if I keep both doors, so it's not like it will be obscenely long, even with both side doors.

About the rig: I intend to have two winches, front and rear, septic tank, water tank, gun safe, HAM radio, 1600w solar, PSW/MPPT inverter/charger, small shop for when i get bored, and a motorized bed/sofa, (The bed, and possibly toilet will have to ingress into one of the storage compartments to save space) with an articulating arm for the security camera monitor and dual laptops, plus cellphone booster, full spectrum LED lighting inside, on board air and dual lockers, front and rear, with a ballistic glass sunroof that opens onto a sun deck. It will be coated in FDE bedliner outside, and the utility bed will be accessible from both outside and inside (nothing sealed off from within the ute bed), motorcycle either on the front or rear.

This is my second such van build.

Any ideas before I begin surgery?

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Any ideas before I begin surgery?

Yes, get a calendar and figure out how many months or years this is going to take you and if it will be completed before the nuclear apocalypse.

I am just not getting the idea of driving around a radiated wasteland in search of 'juice' to feed your envisioned survival behemoth.
 

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1. A 600 hp LS is not gonna make torque to pull that thing around. For that much weight you’re very much gonna want to detune that engine.

2. For the zombie apocalypse I would make it as close to stock van length as possible. They’re already huge and hard to maneuver on anything other than paved roads.

3. I wouldn’t worry about all the nuclear blast shit, decontamination room, etc. Given all the questions you’ve had about this fan you’ll be dead long before you make it into the van. Where are you going to find gas? For something that gets probably 2 miles to the gallon?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
1. This isn't a "casually tour the wasteland during a 5 month vacation" after economic collapse vehicle. I don't care about nukes, but wealthy people do, it is primarily for resale factors. Gas won't be an issue. This is a "bugout" vehicle that is going to stay in someone's garage fully fueled with a battery maintainer when I am done with it, that they can jump in and reliably and efficiently take to an off-road spot to hunker down while regular people without vehicles like this kill each other for food because hurr durr they weren't prepared.

It's not going to weigh that much. I think you're picturing 1\2" ar500 plates throughout. No. It's going to have ballistic glass as windows, be securable and lockable from the living quarters. It's like a "mobile safe room", except if the zombies wanted in bad enough they'd get in. The sun deck is also a "pop out and take care of the zombies" avenue, it I defensible. But will be a thousand times more secure than a "regular" van, including the ability to completely disable the van from in the living quarters.

IT IS NOT UPARMORED. I will probably be adding 1700 lbs additionally to what was there in the back, and the axle is rated for 3 tons, it's not going to be anywhere near the gvrw. It's going to be a light semi armored tactical escape vehicle. Not a Brinks van that takes ten minutes to get to 60 mph at 3 mpg.

It won't weigh much more than a covered utility plumbers van fully stocked with tools and equipment. They get good mileage as it is, and mine will be tuned for it to do even better (yes it's possible we aren't in carburator days and granny gears in pickups any more...)

But you'll need more than a hammer and regular tools to get in. And if there's fallout (main concern for surviving nukes), there will be protection from that.

The schedule is irrelevant. It could pop off after I write this. Who cares? I'm gonna build it regardless.

What do you mean with the questions I've been asking? You didn't even know a 13 bolt gm rear end existed (you said it was impossible till I posted a pic... But thanks for the advice)

2. One vote for keeping it short.

3. I'm thinking an extra five feet on stock isn't going to be that big of a deal. There are stock vans that are longer than it will be.

I'm leaning towards keeping both doors.

CONSTRUCTIVE advice appreciated.
 

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Wealthy people are not going bet their life on, and spend a pile of money on some cobbled together 'escape from the desperate radiated hoards' rig based on a 20 year old van, built by 'some guy' in his backyard......which will probably be a 30 year old van when and if you get it done.

Please tell us you are just pullin our legs. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Wealthy people are not going bet their life on, and spend a pile of money on some cobbled together 'escape from the desperate radiated hoards' rig based on a 20 year old van, built by 'some guy' in his backyard......which will probably be a 30 year old van when and if you get it done.

Please tell us you are just pullin our legs. ;)
If I had access to multi million dollar equipment and vehicles to cater to rich Arabs...

I sure as fuck wouldn't be asking you assholes for advice, that's for damn sure.

However, there are people who will buy something that will give them an edge up over vehicles you'll be running in given a nuclear event. We had a world leader threaten the planet with nuclear retaliation just a few months ago.

It's called "supply and demand"

Anyway, I slept on it and am sort of back to keeping the van shorter.

I'm probably better off asking elsewhere, thanks anyway
 
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