Made some progress in the last couple days. I didn’t want to do anything until I had a title with our names on it, and now that that’s a reality we began work. The van is a 2000 Ford E350 15-passenger version with the extended body, standard low roof. It belonged to one of the Indian Pueblos here before we owned it, and likely spent a lot of time on washboard roads. When I test drove it, it was apparent that it probably needs ball joints and maybe tie rod ends - was a bargaining item which substantially lowered the price. I can do the work myself. It has 110K miles.
Our plan is to use it for trips from a weekend to sometimes over a month, and keep it simple. We’ll build and install a futon platform that’s removable (to use the van to haul things as needed), install a small solar system, vent fans, window coverings, bug nets, and a small folding table to use for a heater or stove. On the outside I installed a ladder rack to mount a solar panel and connections for a home made canvas awning, and a trailer hitch to tow my motorcycles or use a single motorcycle rack.
I just finished testing the electrical panel for our solar system, which I’ll use for fans, LED lights, device charging, and maybe a home-brew swamp cooler. It consists of a 150-watt panel, charge controller, fuse box, and a 110 amp AGM battery. It won’t be connected to the starting battery for charging unless I feel that it’s needed in the future.