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Discussion Starter · #61 · (Edited)
Here's the latest. getting ready or in a few weeks to have the new Bilstein struts mounted onto the van. this will help with some of that hard downward motion when the van dives into curves. Then we're heading up to the powder coaters to have that balloon spare powder coated. Once the spare wheel is completed we're off to Discount Tire to have them mount up a balloon tire. While at DT, we're make arrangements to order and bring in 1 of the new wheels that going on the van. Took me forever to find something that would work. Instead of going with the 18x8 as I've said above, we're going with a newly discovered 18x7.5 wheel. But before I spend all that money on a set of 2crave wheels (which will be the most expensive wheel I've ever purchased to date) I'm only going to order just one wheel and have Discount tire fit a 225/50/18 tire on the wheel and we'll check the fit.
Here's the new wheels?
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2Crave N26 18x7.5 ET40 and no, there's not going to be any lowering of the van as this is the largest possible setup without lowering. nope changed our mind again.. it's increasingly becoming very difficult to locate wheels for the van. Backorder or out stock noticed is all we're seeing online.
 

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Discussion Starter · #62 · (Edited)
Here's the latest:

Finally completed redesigning and stitching up those two covercraft dash covers. Although these covers are tight and a bit bulky, we're heading to an embroidery shop in southern PA to have them add a custom text to the cover. Once we drop off the cover were then driving another 2-3 hours to our powder coater to drop off the spare balloon wheel for powder coating.
Once we get word about the dash cover being completed we have to head over to our local lowes for a couple packs of the industrial strength 2'' velcro strips as the included strips with the cover are too thin and would not support the doubled redesigned dash cover.

Sometime between then and now, we're be making an appointment for firestone to install a set of the Bilstein struts and later the rear shocks. Then a short time afterward we'll finally have a chance to order 1 2crave wheels as these are on back order for at least 8 weeks. Hoping we can get at least one wheel sooner than later and within that time frame head back up to PA to pick up the powder coated spare balloon wheel.

One thing's for sure when the season changes, we get busier with upgrading the van.
 

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Discussion Starter · #63 · (Edited)
here's the latest:
While we wait for our tax refund to arrive which is taking longer than expected, i went ahead and ordered 1 yard of the diamond tucked carbon fiber material from fabric empire. In an earlier post, you would have read that I'm wanting to use this material to cover the wood blanks located in the back of the van.
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I've selected the foax carbon fiber diamond tucked with padding material for these panels.
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Amazon/fabric empire says it should arrive Mar 1st.
 

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Here's the latest:

While we wait for our tax refund to arrive which is taking longer than expected, i went ahead and ordered 1 yard of the diamond tucked carbon fiber material from fabric empire. In an earlier post, you would have read that I'm wanting to use this material to cover the wood blanks located in the back of the van.

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I've selected the foax carbon fiber diamond tucked with padding material for these panels.

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Amazon/fabric empire says it should arrive Mar 1st.
Thats going look quite Awesome!!! I've beeen wanting to do something for my :12 E150 with nothing
on the side , rear, Ceiling. You make plywood covers for the Holes?
 

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Discussion Starter · #66 · (Edited)
Last weekend, we drove to the local Lube center for an oil change & tire rotation. The mechanic seem not to have a clue what he was doing. He misaligned our Voxx wheels and stripped 2 of the DPA tuner lugs. Fortunately I had spare lugs in my compressor kit as the set typically comes with enough lugs for 5 wheels. This makes Jiffy lube, Valvoline and now Lube center off our list of places to take any of our vehicles to for an oil change.
 

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Discussion Starter · #67 · (Edited)
Here's the latest..

Welp as expected, we filed our income tax return/refund incorrectly and waited 42 days to get it direct deposited. This means that we're not going to be getting as much as we thought. Not trying to cheap the system, we just thought we didn't get that third covid relief check.. but after checking our account, we did. The build will continue none the less..

Heading over to the Firestone service center this weekend to set up that Bilstein strut install, then we're off for a long weekend into PA. Heading to the embroidery shop to not only have the dash cover embroider, but I had an idea. I'll be removing the head rest covers had have them embroidered with the same custom text/logo. This will give me a chance to redesign the head rest foam as it protrudes my head and neck too far forward.

I've also laid out the diamond tucked carbon fiber material on the sewing table in the basement but haven't done anything to it.. yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #71 ·
Here's the Latest.

Before we head out for a long weekend, I needed to remove the headrest as we're having the embroidery shop stich in the same text/logo on the dash cover and both headrest covers. While the headrest cover was off a did a few minor modifications to the headrest foam padding. (which I can't show you)
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The issue is no matter what seat I sit in, the seat is attempting to crunch me over and into the seat. the worse part is the headrest is forcing my neck forward then causing stress on my lower back. Even with the multi position rest, it's still not far enough back for the headrest to be comfortable. Even though we're getting the dash cover and both headrest embroidered, I'll not be able to show you the end result because I'm waiting to have personalized plates made and once I have these, I'll make the big reveal.

TC and see you in a few.
 

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Discussion Starter · #72 ·
Back sooner than expected. For almost 1 month I've emailed the embroidery shop making sure everything was clear on what needed to be done. The shop foreman assure us that they would be there today as the shop would close at 3:00pm. But they said that if we ran late to call and they would hang around till we arrive. We arrived at 2:00 pm and the shop was closed.
We had other plans before getting to their shop. We stopped off at Firestone and attempted to schedule an appointment to have a set of the Bilstein struts installed on our van. The Firestone manager called around to their parts suppliers and NONE of them can get the struts we needed.
Then we get word that a "blizzard" of sorts was about ready to pound parts of PA with heavy snow by night fall.. so we hightailed it out of PA.. the whole trip was a waste.. Spent 7 hours on the road and nothing to show for it.. back to square one. Fortunately, I have a list of others willing to do many of the jobs I've been searching to have done. So I sent out emails just to reconnect with them and get things lined up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #73 ·
Here's the latest.
If you read in some of my earlier post, you'll see that we've had this t0brid spare for some time and finally had a chance to drive the wheel to the shop in Northern PA
I did some cross-referencing on RoadKillCustom.com. The site list other wheels that have the same bolt pattern and center bore.
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Using this reference, I was able to locate a 2005 Thunderbird spare balloon wheel that has the same bolt pattern and center bore at a salvage years in Spartan, SC. This would be a 12 hour drive for us to get the wheel or have the salvage shop shipped to us. We've elected to take a long weekend and go pick it up.
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One thing I found out about the wheel mainly the spare tire used is that several Ford Thunderbird forums has said that the Maxxis tire has been known to simply explode while in the back of the car or even while used as the spare. So if you're driving a newer T-Brid best take care and change out that Maxxis tire for another brand.
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Once at the shop, we had them let the air out of the tires just to be on the safe side while driving back home. But along the way we had AAA remove the tire from the wheel. Months passed as we just couldn't like of our powder coaters with a time to get the wheel to their shop. We could have shipped the wheel to them. But we learn they've moved into a new location and had an open house.
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This past weekend, we finally had a chance to take the wheel to Northern PA which would be a drive of 4 hours for us all to see the new shop and drop off the wheel.
Checking out the new shop and talking to the owner as well as the shop staff, we headed back for home. They told us the wheel should be ready at the end of April where again we'll take another long weekend and head back up there to pick the wheel up ourselves.
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We're going with a CC Navy Blue which is the closest color to the Ford Blue which is on the van. Thankfully, it was a sunny day and I was able to take several of the color chart bottles out to the van. Although the picture posted here doesn't do the color justice, the color is nearly spot on.
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So why all this trouble for one spare wheel? Currently, we're driving a 2020 Ford Transit Connect XL and I wanted to get rid of the full size Transit Connect spare tire which is tucked up under the rear of the van because of how difficult it is to extract the spare from the van. Using the RoadkillCustoms site I was able to track down the T-bird spare which has the same bolt pattern, center bore and is load rated enough to support our 2020 Connect.
Stay Tuned.. We'll update this thread when the wheel has been completed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #74 ·
Here's the latest.
Just found the front set of the Bilstein B6 Performance struts for our 2020 Connect. it's taken me months to do so. Now that I've ordered them, we should get them in a few weeks. Once in house, we'll then head over to our local Ford Performance dealership for the install.
Typically the Ford Dealership installed mustang, raptor and bronco parts so it's going to be a good day seeing the van get new struts after only two years of rough roads in Maryland. According to the dealership, it should take roughly 4-6 hours for the installed. Plus an alignment would be needed which is one thing I'm also looking forward to having done on the van.
These Bilstein struts wok with the current Ford Coil springs and one could upgrade the springs to lower the van, but we're not looking to lower or raise the van. Mind you it was a pain to locate these struts as many sites list these as well as the rear struts out of stock. So my options were running out.
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Over the weekend, We get word that our embroidered items have been completed, so tonight we'll head out to the shop to pick up the dash cover and two head rests.
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Not our actually dash cover as this offering was made by another car accessory retailers. But you get the general idea of how the cover looks. As for the text, I'll not be able to show what text we had embroidered on the cover and headrest until we get those custom plated on the van.
 

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Discussion Starter · #75 ·
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Did something today I've wanted to do for a long time, get rid of the useless eyesore seat tray which is mounted to the seat rails and has absolutely zero purpose mounted to the seat frame rail between the seat and the rocker panel molding.. This molded tray was installed on the seat rails before the seat was mounted in the van. So removing these trays was difficult.
Because I never wanted to see this tray even again, I took some metal cutters to cut area away from the molded tray at the back of the tray, then popped the retaining pins from within/under the seat rail and slide the what was remaining of these trays out from the seat. way a difference and I should have don this sooner.. the unseen dirt and some change started collecting under this tray.
 

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Discussion Starter · #76 ·
Disappointing news this morning, Just found out that online retailers lied to us as their site claims to have these struts in stock. Moments ago I get an email saying these struts have bene discontinued and are no longer being offered by the manufacture. As I said Sat when I first ordered these struts the online retailer site said they had 1 drivers side strut and 2 passenger side struts in stock. but later change the status to "out of stock" soon after I order them. Now I have to go through red tape in order to get a refund on these items.

I've also, located 3 more retailers that claim these struts are in stock, one in fact is located in Canada and their struts cost 2x as much to get. I hope we don't have to go that route. Lastly, I pulled up summitracing's site just to see a list of what is available for the TC. Monroe, motorcraft and Bilstein are the only struts that have listed on their site, but their either back ordered, special order or ships from manufacture. It's clear that NO one has an inventory of struts.

One bright spot, picked up the embroidered dash cover and headrest yesterday. Very please at how both of these look. Now to get some double strength velcro to mount the dash cover to the dash and smooth everything out.. Shame I can't show you what the dahs cover looks like or the text added as I'm waiting for the big reveal when we have our personalize plated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #77 ·
Update:
It's just been confirmed that Bilstein has discontinued making the B6 struts for our van. at least this is according to the aftermarket retailer we attempt to buy a set of these from. I've contacted Bilstein North American and Europe to verify this with no word yet. So my order with that aftermarket retailer has officially been canceled and now waiting for our money to be refunded.

The sad part about this, is over the weekend, I placed the order for the struts under the assumption that the site I ordered them from said they had these struts in stock and once the order went through, the site updated saying they had zero in stock or struct were on back order and this was after they took my money..

Not only this, but I located a site that claims that the Koni Red or Yellow struts will fit on the Connect. Can anyone reading this confirm that the Koni strut will fit on your Connect or what other UK options do you have for performance struts in your country. My challenge for anyone reading.. I need a cross reference for struts in your country that i can use here in the US.

Lastly, My hopes of having a set of performance struts installed on the van are dwindling.. What's left?.. Monroe or Motorcraft struts.. everything else is either discontinued or back ordered.
 

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Discussion Starter · #78 ·
This Just In:

Positive progress this afternoon after finally getting in touch with our wheel manufacture. I've been trying to contact them for months. even tried to contact them through a retailers. They finally spoke to me about the wheels we're interested in and they are in stock. Yes!..

Next time to get that powder coated spare and head over to our local Discount Tire (which is 3-4 hours away) We'll prob wait till the end of the month to head back north into PA to get that spare wheel, then head due west through several other states to get to that Discount Tire show room.

As for the struts.. it looks as if we'll never be able to get the Bilstein struts so we're going to have to deal with either Monroe or Motorcraft as there's nothing else available.
 

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Discussion Starter · #79 ·
Here's the latest:

This just in, after months if not years of sending emails to Bilstein asking about their performance struts, I get an email from cooperate and Bilstein tech support informing my that because of the break down in the supply chain, they have been delayed in getting these products out to their consumers. But news from cooperate and others the Bilstein tech works with has said they we could see something around May 2022 supply's start to trickle back into their warehouses.

 

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Discussion Starter · #80 ·
Great strides have been made today with a minor set back. I was taking part in another forum when they started (as always) kidding me about how I do things. In fact they were calling me out and even made fun of anyone who's helped me with our build. Thankfully, this issue has now been taken care of and all those who have helped me in the past will continue to do so in the future.

Leaning toward new tires now based on the wheels we're getting. There is a science to this as not all tires are made the same way. Some lay flat while others have square edges. So even though the tire reads 245/40/18 and based on the wheel width, the tire might flex inward or outward (budging out).

One thing that has helped is searching for images of 18''x8.5'' wheels with the 245/40/18 tires.. Added an image showing what we're dealing with.
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Although these are not the correct wheels or the correct tires, it gives me an idea of what the 245 tires look like on a 18x8.5 wheel. Say for instance, when I search for a particular tire, typically there is a rim range listed for that tire. I found two moments ago and the both have two differ rim width ranges but for the same tire size. This means the tire will either budge out or stretch inward.

I'm not ready to reveal what tires or what wheels we'll be going with. After driving to Discount Tire 4 hours away to check the 245 size tires, these are going to be too wide.. We're prob go with 235/45/18s instead.
 
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