And Van Wilder is home plus first upgrade, tires.

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Upgrade: Tires Nokian Hakkapeliitta LT2 265/75 R16

Time: Minimal, tire shop did the work

Cost: $790.48

After weighing all the options out there we settled on a Ford Transit van and searched around the interwebs for a used model with the options we needed. Craigslist searches were fruitless but we found the van we wanted at Uftring Auto Mall in East Peoria, IL. It was a bit different bargaining over the phone with a sales person. Although these vans are in demand and not much bargaining can be had but there was still the back and forth. Thankfully our time wasn’t spent sitting in a showroom while people came and went, it was “Ok, I will call you back” and so on. Needless to say getting it home was a bit more tiring.

Once the deal was finalized we looked at a few of options to get the van to us in Colorado.

  • Have a friend in Indianapolis drive it out and then we would fly him home
  • Delivery company
  • One of us fly out and then drive home.

We really wanted it here ASAP and our friend wasn’t available for a couple of weeks so that option was out. The next option we looked at was the delivery company. The initial prices were coming back fairly reasonable but once they had the measurements of the van the price rose from around $400 to almost $1,500. That price would cut into our conversion budget so onto flying out and doing it ourselves. A one-way flight was only $170 and the drive back would just be a long day, easy...

Luckily I had a 4 day (4 days off in a row) coming up so a ticket was purchased and the date set. Woke at 4am for the alpine start to Colorado Springs airport and set off. We were nervous because the day before our area experienced winds of 100mph and all the flights were canceled and we hoped I would be able to get out this am. Checked the flight status before leaving and all appeared to be on time and the winds were down. Received my pat down at he the security checkpoint and sat down at the gate. That was when the annoucement was made.

“Attention passengers. We were just informed the pilot found a hydraulic problem with the aircraft and he is waiting for a mechanic to check it out."

I immediately got in line to see what my options were or if I would miss my connecting flight. I had to fly south to Dallas before I could fly north to Peoria. The gate agent was very forthcoming and recommended I take a flight on another airline from Denver to Chicago and then to Peoria becaue hydraulic issues generally take awhile to sort out. I took him up on the offer and he booked me on a shuttle van from Colorado Springs to Denver. Things are looking good!

It has been a bit since I flew across the country and when the delayed flight annoucement to Chicago came across my memory also came back of many missed flights and delays related to going throught Chicago. Needless to say I missed my connector in Chicago to Peoria and I had to get a hotel room to stay overnight. Needless to say, our sales man John Applen was very understanding and recommended a hotel just up the street and he picked me up in the morning. Great customer service!

After completing the paperwork and John getting me all setup with the van, going over the controls and hooking my phone up to Sync, I was off. There is a thread on FordtransitforumsUSA dedicated to the lack of snow performance of these vans with the stock tires and no weight in the back. Both of which this van had. I looked at the grey clouds and pondered for a moment about getting some sandbags but I looked at my weather app and it showed clear weather all the way home. Weather apps are about as reliable as weather people.

We like our beer and I was told to stop at John's Grocery in Iowa City and Beer Corner USA in Omaha, NE. I quickly looked at the website for Beer Corner but skipped John’s website. On the outside John’s looked like a little neighborhood grocery store with take away food. Once inside I turned a corner at a sign pointing to the beer area and it was like a hallway from “The Shining”, it seemed to extend out against all laws of physics and then there was the beer cooler. So much beer.. Colorado was well represented on the shelves and there were other beers I recognized so I tried to concentrate on beers from the area. Luckily the beer manager, Chris, came up and started showing me the goods. I held back a bit because I was thinking about Beer Corner and what I may find and place with such a hallowed name.

First cargo load for Van Wilder

The temps dropped significantly across the Nebraska but Van Wilder was keeping me warm and comfortable. The seats and cockpit are well laidout and she handles like a dream. The Ecoboost motor will definitely let you know when you are putting your foot on the pedal as your body presses into the back of the seat. The windows and lenght of the hood allows me to see everything around me and even in the strong winds she tracked like a charm. The sun put my fears of weather at bay, but there I still felt something in my gut.

Next stop Omaha and Beer Corner! Exited the van and saw the back of a small strip painted with beer banners and restaurants and the excitement built. See those blue skies? All is good.

I was hurried along to Beertopia by the single digit temps and wind and as I came in the door I was deflated. There was a decent selection of beers and I purchased a few sours and saisons but otherwise nothing super exciting. I was hoping to find some Cantillon but none were found. Deposited a small box of beers into Van Wilder and then had dinner at Crescent moon. Pretty good tap seletion and good food. Beer Corner is definitely worth a stop if you are in the area but I would not go too far out of my way to get there. Now John’s Grocery is another story.

Back on the road. As the miles ticked past and the night came on a few flurries came across the windshield. Oh boy. Well it really started blowing and snowing. Nothing was really building on the road but as I went over a uphill bridge there was a slight buildup of snow and the backend suddenly started to sway. Thank you for the traction control for stopping the wheelspin and keeping us moving forward in a straight line. The snow became a bit heavier and the winds picked up more but I cut my speed significantly and I started making mental calculations about arrival times to home.

I brought a sleeping bag, pad and inflateable pillow with me and I thought about pulling over to sleep and let the weather pass. I gave myself another hour to see how it went and the snow let up and I had clear roads the rest of the way home. I took a deep breath and sighed, thankful I didn’t just wad up our new to us van. Arrival time was about 0130, took me about 15 hours to get home.

We are following a Transit van build from a couple in Canada (FaroutRide) that also mountain bike and ski. They recently went on a ski trip and I reached out for some tire information. They are using BFG AT tires because they are planning on traveling and didn’t want to change tires mid travel but said they would go with a studded tire if they were not traveling. So we called up the tire shop close to our house and made the appointment to have four Nokian Hakkapelliita LT2 studded tires installed. We also upsized to a 265/75, which gave the van a bit higher clearance and more aggresive look.

Stock

Nokian

We have had a bit more snow and these tires changed the snow and ice handling of the van. There are also six 60lb bags of sand in the back for more weight and traction. I thought it was just the wind but when the tires were installed the alignment was checked and it was a bit off so that added to our install cost. Anyone want some stock tires with 14k miles on them? We will make you a good deal.

Van wilder is home and we are smiling. My hands and nerves are back to normal, after sampling some of the booty I brought home!

Also took Van Wilder to Alpine Mechanisms for some planning so stay tuned. Great things are coming.