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PostPosted: April 7th, 2016, 12:33 pm 
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Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Hi all - as a new owner of a 2003 Chinook Premier I have been searching these boards and others to find solutions for a variety of challenges. So far I've been able to solve my boat towing problem (electric steps), found a replacement lense for my bath fan/light and resolved my anxiety over the fact that there were no screws on my rear tailights (turns out that they simply pop out!)

My latest challenge is side view mirrors. Mine are manual but I would like to convert them to power telescoping ones that I see as original equipment on lots of E-series vans. I don't need built in turn signals or heated mirrors as I have been able to determine through online research that this requires a lot of rewiring and replacement of some existing parts such as the power distribution unit. There's no cutout on the dash or armrest for a power mirror switch but I'm assuming I could replace the armrests with ones that have that opening. So, my question is, how complicated is it to upgrade to power mirrors? Are the wires to control a power mirror already part of the existing wiring loom so that it can be a "plug and play" installation? Any help is appreciated - thanks!

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PostPosted: April 7th, 2016, 12:50 pm 
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Location: 1999 Concourse
Hi there! Glad you're getting good info here - it's a nice community.

So, my guess is that your Chinook does not have stock Ford mirrors, but rather has Velvac mirrors. I base this on the fact that all of the '97-and-newer Concourses and Premiers I have looked at have Velvac mirrors.

Now, could you change to Ford telescoping power mirrors? I don't see why not, Ford-body-wise, IF you used the van mirrors (not the F-series truck mirrors). The holes in the door are the same for the Fords or the Velvacs. BUT, I'm not sure the Fords would telescope far enough out. Reason is they are made for a standard van body width. I imagine this is why Chinook used Velvacs in the first place. Velvacs have several optional arm lengths for the various width RV or other service body widths (which are wider than standard van width). I just helped a friend put on Velvacs with longer arms because the RV manufacturer (not Chinook) had used arms for a narrower body than the RV had, and thus rear view was quite limited (I was following him a LONG way back and he still couldn't see me, is how we got to looking into it).

The various Velvac mirror models each come in manual or power/heated versions. Of course you need the wires on the inside if you want power/heated, plus the appropriate mirror model. I *think* the wires may already be there inside the Ford, but I can't remember for sure. I would wager it wouldn't be TOO hard to get them there if you wanted them, but I can't remember all the details right at the moment.

None of these Velvacs telescope, but they do fold into the body to get through narrow areas. But in a way, telescoping wouldn't make sense anyway: Since the RV body never gets narrower (and you'd be unlikely to be towing something very much wider), there is no need to telescope in for "daily driving" like you would in a van where you have a ~6' wide body for daily use, and then an 8' wide trailer (your RV body still needs the wide mirrors even when not towing). The nice thing with the Chinook is the mirror arm length they used is actually for a slightly wider body (Chinook body falls between the sizes), so it's still quite nice for, say, towing my 8'+ wide boat.

My rig has the Velvac 2015 model mirror, but that is not made anymore. They (and Chinook) went to the Velvac 2020 model right around 1999 (I've seen 1999's with either style, depending on what time of the year they were made as they changed over). So you'd be looking at the 2020's.

The other option is standard or deluxe head. Standard head is a bit smaller (but still plenty large in my opinion) and has little "blind spot" mirrors in one corner of the main mirror head. Deluxe head is larger - and slightly offset (so there is a left and a right mirror head vs. them both being the same) - and has a large/separate blind spot mirror along the bottom. It's a very nice mirror, but I think maybe the standard head is slightly more in proportion to the Chinook. But the deluxe head is very nice of course.

I'll warn you - they don't come cheap. When researching for my buddy, I found the best prices (and good service) at Ryder Fleet Products. It's a bit of a hunt to find the complete mirror assemblies, but they are there and they are less expensive that way than buying them piecemeal.

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PostPosted: April 7th, 2016, 5:02 pm 
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Hi again Blue - Ouch!!! You weren't kidding about the prices. Looks like over a grand to convert to the 2020's. They're offering them in two widths for rv bodies that are 96 and 102 inch wide. You're right about the telescoping - as long as they fold in they should work for getting in and out of my really tight driveway (already took out my front neighbor's drainspout when I brought our rig home). Given that there is wiring involved I may have to have someone install them for me but the upgrade seems worth it to me. So, if I can pick your brain again, given that the Chinook is about 90 inches wide will the mirrors for a 96 inch wide rv work for me, considering that I do tow a boat (boat/trailer combo is 102 inches wide)?

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PostPosted: April 7th, 2016, 6:44 pm 
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I agree that good mirrors are worth it. One funny thing is that I used to kind of poo-poo power-adjustable mirrors. After all, I reasoned, once I get them where I want them, I'm good.

BUT, then I discovered how handy it is to be able to adjust the passenger side one way down when, say, backing the boat trailer down the ramp and into the water - or other similar things. Then, "zzzzzppp," raise it back again to pull forward.

I find the arm length on mine to be just great, and as I remember it's slightly longer than it would "have" to be according to Velvac. But let me measure the arms and post back.

BG

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PostPosted: April 7th, 2016, 7:04 pm 
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I think this is the part number you need, assuming you have a 2002 chassis:

Velvac 714503, which includes both right and left heated power mirrors, switch panel and harnesses. I think they connect to the Ford wiring harness, and have pretty good instructions, so you might DIY.

Here is a source for the set, for about $600:

http://www.finditparts.com/products/507 ... aQodULQJaQ

Update: You should confirm the color and part number. header says black, description says white.

Clay

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PostPosted: April 8th, 2016, 8:47 am 
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I measured the arms on my Velvac standard-head, heated/power mirrors this morning and, depending on where you measure from, I got something between 13.5" and 15". Since the 96" body width mirror has a 14.5" arm, I would say that is what I have. Since the body width is actually around 91" (and a little narrower where the mirror actually views), I think that's a great length. Just a wee bit more than you "have" to have, but not crazy long. I'd buy the same length if I were buying new. I'd also get power mirrors again (I could take or leave heated, but I think they come as a package).

I'm not sure I'd move "up" to the deluxe mirror head, even though I'm usually all for an upgrade. A friend has the deluxe heads (this is the other-brand rig we just upgraded to the correct arm length) and they are HUGE. Well, they seem huge anyway. Also, they cantilever slightly from the head (in other words, the vertical stalk coming up into the head on the standard head comes up in the center; but it's off to one side on the deluxe head), so they project a bit more. I think they are also probably more expensive - also the head sides are not interchangeable on the deluxe heads because there is a left and a right. The blind-spot mirror is a nicer/bigger version, so it's a trade-off. I'm used to the corner type ones like on the standard heads (been using them for years) and find that I actually use the main mirrors more and then the blind spot mirrors for a double check (with bigger/better blind spot mirrors I tend to ignore the main mirror :? ). I would get the standard head mirrors myself; but I couldn't say either is better as there are pros and cons to each.

BTW, I don't think there is anything actually different about the up-to-2002 doors and the 2003-2008 ones, but there might be one additional hole (which you can drill out). I'm fuzzy on this now but had it in mind on my previous standard body Ford van because I was looking for Ford telescoping mirrors on eBay and wanted to know all the ones that would possibly fit (narrow body so did not need Velvacs). Clay has a good point on checking your chassis year - oftentimes it's a year behind the "Chinook model" year, due to offset new model changeover times between Ford and Chinook (common on motorhomes).

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PostPosted: April 8th, 2016, 3:22 pm 
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Hi Blue and Caconcourse - I like the price on that link from caconcourse. The listing doesn't say if wiring and switches are included but I can call them to confirm. My next question is whether or not my E350 is a 2002 or a 2003. The Ford sticker inside the drivers door frame says it was built in November of 2002. Is there some other way to determine if its a 02 or 03?

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PostPosted: April 8th, 2016, 6:45 pm 
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Here is a link to a Ford VIN decoder. You can just plug in your VIN and get the model year. The year code is one of the positions in the VIN but I forget which one, plus this'll let you see other stuff.

http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/vindecoder.php

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PostPosted: April 9th, 2016, 10:35 am 
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Hey Blue - thanks for the link. Turns out she IS a 2003 chassis so hopefully there won't be any holes to drill. I've been down with a really bad cold the past week so I've had lots of time to think about upgrades. As they say, "Idle hands are the devil's workshop". Been driving my wife crazy with all my ideas for the rv but it got her going so one additional project from her is swapping out the mirror-black doors on the fridge for some brushed aluminum ones. Parts are piling up on my command center (the dining room table) so once I'm recovered I'll be hard at it. Thanks again for all the tips.

Paul

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PostPosted: April 9th, 2016, 2:36 pm 
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Sounds like fun times ahead! :mrgreen:

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