Ford E350 Diesel Van Conversion For Family Of Four

My 2001 GMC school bus conversion has done more than just providing a tiny home on wheels for me. It's introduced me to like minded people and families that are living life the way it should be. Chasing adventures and sunsets rather than big paychecks. When we launched the Kickstarter to fund our documentary and six web episodes we offered a summer day and night in the bus as a reward. Tony Shirley and his family wanted to help with the project and also spend a lot of time in their converted Ford E350 van. They purchased the summer day and night in the bus reward and little did I know that I was going to become such good friends with them.

A while back Tony asked me to help him drive a unique Bigfoot RV from Montana to New England. With seven cross country trips already under my belt I was happy to help. While staying for a few days in New England he handed me the keys to their "Fun Van" and let me explore the Atlantic coastline. The van is setup for their family of four to live out of for long periods of time and I decided to do an exclusive tour of their van conversion.

Van Specs:

Make: Ford
Model: E350
Year: 2005
Motor: 6L Diesel
Bells and Whistles:
- 6" lift on 35's
- 4:56 gears
- Posi (front and rear)
- BPD oil cooler
- 215 Amp alternator
- Billet Coolant Impeller
- ARP head studs
- STC Tuner
- Warn Hubs
- AMP steps
- Rigid Dual 50" and 30" light bars
- Rigid Backup Lights
- Hella 500 Fog Lights (front bumper)
- Hella 500r Lights (rear bumper)
- sPOD Switches
- 4D House Battery with separator and Blue Wave fuse panel

Beds and sleeping arrangement

With limited space Tony designed a bench seat that folds into a queen size bed. They use an air mattress with an air pump built into it for adding padding. Their 26 gallon water tank for showers and dishes is stored under the bench seat. The kids have the luxury of sleeping in the "penthouse" which is the pop top that was installed on the top of the van.

Here the bench seat is unfolded and rolled out. Note the tankless water heater for showers.


Bed mode with the Aerobed that has a built in pump.


Aerobed with built in pump.


Threaded rods that act as support for when bed is unfolded.


Note the wheels that allow the bench to roll out into a queen bed. The 26 gal. water tank under.


The "penthouse" where the kids sleep.

Shower and Toilet

 If you've been looking for a stationary tankless water heater for a tiny home or van conversion this is well worth looking into. I tested it first hand with a shower outside the back doors of the van and couldn't believe how fast it heats up off propane. I had the temperature on low and it was still almost a little too hot but I like my showers more on the warm side as opposed to hot. The water pump used was extremely efficient and honestly probably could have been downgraded to one without as much PSI but again, that's my personal preference.


Marey Tankless Instant Hot Water Heater. The red switch on the right is for the pump.


You can also shower inside if you need to be incognito. The floor has a trap door.


Trap door allows you to stand up in the van and all water drains through a small hole that can be plugged with a bolt.


Water tank, pump and twist on strainer.


Thetford porta potti with wheels on the bottom.


Kitchen Cooking Area

Tony fabricated an awesome way to store the Primus two burner stove in the door panel. It swivels down and is the perfect height for cooking. For kitchenware they had to maximize space and found a compact GSI cook kit and kitchenware. 



Primus two burner propane stove for cooking.


GSI cooking kit.

Kitchen utensils.


Space is limited so Tony designed custom cabinets to store the bare essentials. I've seen various methods of keeping cabinets shut during transit but I liked his combination of bungees, latches and magnet catches.


Good use of three cabinet catches to keep things shut.



Magnet catches to keep the cabinets shut.


 View from the front seats looking back. Captain chairs for everyone.


Power setup is pretty simple with a 215 AMP alternator, 4D house battery and a Blue Wave fuse box. Lights are LED rope lights around the ceiling.

Deep cycle battery charged off motor when running and 1500 watt inverter.


12V power runs for charging up in the back of the van.


Van Exterior

This is where the tour of this van might cater more towards men. All the aftermarket bells and whistles that make this van conversion look like it's ready for the zombie apocalypse.

Aluminess Bumper
Rigid 50" light bar up top with white and amber

Rigid 30" light bar on grill with white and amber
Hella 500 Fog Lights
6" Lift
35" Tires
Warn Hubs


As the evening came to a close I found a pull out by a lighthouse and made home for the night with the waves lapping against the shore.


I'd like to thank the Shirley family for the hospitality out on the north east as well as their support in Bus Life Adventure. They are living proof that life does not need to be lived as we have been brain washed to. Their two kids are being home schooled to allow for a better life and I can attest that these two kids are smarter and surprisingly adult-like when holding a conversation.

The Shirley's during their visit to Utah for their day and night in the bus.