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Old 07-04-2013, 12:29 PM   #41
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Re: Full-time planning

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Originally Posted by 100sqft
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Chance- Thanks for your insights on Class C vs Class B. On my way up to SMB-W I stopped by a Class C manufacturer, LazyDaze. I think they make a very solid, well-constructed rig. Even there, though, with their smallest 24', no-slide-out design, I found myself thinking, this is really more room than I'll ever need. With one exception: the cab of their Ford chassis struck me as incredibly cramped. I couldn't get from the driver's seat to the interior without some dangerous contortions. I can't see myself getting out of the driver's door in the pouring rain and running around to the entry door on the other side. The Sprinter cab is spacious by comparison. On a blog by a guy who has a LazyDaze, he makes a good case that even 8 mpg ends up not making much of an impact on the budget. However he's a camper, rather than a traveler. I'll probably be more of a traveler myself, at least in the early days. (BTW, anyone that hasn't seen the "Travels with Andy" website ought to check it out. http://www.andybaird.com/travels/ Chock full of great tips and advice, useful to any RV'er.) If I do end up slipping over to a Class C (unlikely), it'll probably be a Sprinter-based chassis. I find myself wishing SMB would branch out into sleek fiberglass shells on a Sprinter chassis.

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Thanks for link. Will certainly take a look at it.

If you are open to options beyond Mercedes brand you may want to also consider the new ProMaster van (Fiat Ducato based) in addition to small Class Cs. They are extremely popular in Europe as campers for a reason. Sportsmobile Texas told me that they will be building on ProMaster vans when available to them. And they might solve some of your design issues (although they might raise others).

Being FWD theyíll have no doghouse to impede cabin mobility like the Ford Econoline you tested. The largest ProMaster is shorter than an EB Mercedes by almost 2 feet but has more volume so youíd gain something back in width (presumably since volume has to come from somewhere). And the max weight rating for the 3500 model with single rear tires is 9350 pounds so it would solve your weight issue. Actually, the payload difference is even higher than that number indicates because the vehicle weighs less due to FWD drivetrain.

I feel the Mercedes is probably a nicer vehicle but it comes at a higher cost, and may not necessarily make a better camper for my needs. Thatís why I want to personally compare both because body width is probably more important in making a van/RV feel spacious than we think (and my wife is a little claustrophobic). In my opinion this is particularly important at eye level so itís even more important towards top of van while standing. Based on specs and pictures I think thatís where the ProMaster might just outshine both the Sprinter and new Transit.

By the way, if you havenít already, check out the 2014 Sprinter information on the Sportsmobile website. It confirmed for me that even the largest LB van will now come with the 2.1 liter 4-cylinder diesel and 7-speed automatic as standard power. And that may save a little extra weight if you decide to go with smaller engine.
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Old 07-04-2013, 04:05 PM   #42
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Re: Full-time planning

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Originally Posted by windguy
Funny you mentioned "I find myself wishing SMB would branch out into sleek fiberglass shells on a Sprinter chassis." I had similar thoughts. SMB could offer a box on a chassis and let you customize the build offering an option with a bit more space than a standard van box. That would be a new market for them but with more complexity.
SMB already tried this, back about 6 or 7 years ago. They made 2 units, then it seems they gave up.

Here's a thread on this very forum, with photos:
Sportsmobile Class C ???

And here's an actual page on Sportsmobile's own website, complete with dead photo links, and obviously no longer accessible through the main page:
http://www.sportsmobile.com/2_sr_cost_classc.html

Cheers,
Brent
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Old 07-04-2013, 07:54 PM   #43
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Re: Full-time planning

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SMB already tried this, back about 6 or 7 years ago. They made 2 units, then it seems they gave up.
thanks Brent. very interesting.
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Old 07-04-2013, 09:11 PM   #44
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Full-time planning

Try this for the SMB link: http://web.archive.org/web/200605091238 ... lassc.html

I don't know if it will d'ld the images as my Internet connection is way slow at this campsite.


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RB E350 6.8L V-10 4WD w/Front Air Lockers
PH Top, Kyocera solar with Zamp portable unit

(If we'd bought the winch, we'd make a fortune pulling cars out of the snow.)
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Old 07-05-2013, 10:56 AM   #45
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Re: Full-time planning

windguy- Thanks for your comments on the revised EB floorplan. Yes, the 2nd sink is gone, but where the wheelwell intrudes into the shower, I'm thinking about making that tall enough that I could use it as a counter.

carl- Those Zero cycles are dream machines - unfortunately, it's only in my dreams that I have the kind of cash that they cost. I really like the MX hauler, too; I'll be looking further into that.

Chance- Thanks for the very interesting tip on the ProMaster vans. You've probably seen that Winnebago has already announced their Travato based on that platform. It doesn't seem like it has enough storage space for my needs, but I'll definitely tour one when they come out. I wonder if SMB will offer ProMaster conversions as soon as they're on the market. Others may get on the bandwagon, too. And then there's the new Ford Transit to consider. So many choices. It's going to be a very interesting next six months.

vwteleman- I had no idea SMB had ventured into Class C at one time. After giving up on it, seems less likely they'd ever try it again.
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Old 07-05-2013, 11:43 AM   #46
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Re: Full-time planning

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Quote:
Originally Posted by 100sqft
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Chance- Thanks for the very interesting tip on the ProMaster vans. You've probably seen that Winnebago has already announced their Travato based on that platform. It doesn't seem like it has enough storage space for my needs, but I'll definitely tour one when they come out. I wonder if SMB will offer ProMaster conversions as soon as they're on the market. Others may get on the bandwagon, too. And then there's the new Ford Transit to consider. So many choices. It's going to be a very interesting next six months.

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SMB e-mail to me suggests they plan to build on ProMaster as soon as they can. The question I have is whether RAM can fill the pipeline fast enough so everyone that wants one can get it fairly early. We should know in a few months; sometime in the fall. I hope SMB will have at least one on display at the Houston RV show very early next year. Other manufacturers will likely have them on display too. I also expect to see various Class Bs based on the revised Mercedes chassis.

As to the Travato, I agree it doesn't have much storage for long-term camping or full timing, but the unit seems designed more for travel. Winnebago will likely add other floor plans as they usually do with most product lines. The swing-up bed that converts the unit into a small toy-hauler (which I really like for my bicycles) is clever. Could be used for a small motorcycle too.
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Old 07-05-2013, 02:51 PM   #47
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Re: Full-time planning

P.S. -- Update

100sqft,

I just saw Sportsmobile now has ProMaster section on their site. They expect to have first van in late August. The section includes pricing.


http://www.sportsmobile.com/2a_pm_vaninfo.html
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Old 07-05-2013, 07:37 PM   #48
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Re: Full-time planning

100sqft,

check out the floor plan of the Travato that Chance mentioned here and in another thread
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=10512&p=105276#p105276

floor plan
http://www.winnebagotravato.com/interior.aspx

this floor plan has some similar aspects to what you want to do, especially the rear bed and bath areas. The cutout in the bed lets you slide easier into the bath area without giving up the storage area next to it.

I like the bench seat dinette that converts into a bed. similar to what I had on my floor plan but they use the swivel seat in place of a second bench seat and the bed goes width wise rather than length wise.

for me, having a dedicated shower area seems like a waste of valuable space considering you would only use the shower area a short amount of time each day to shower at best. not sure how much time would be used either as a dual commode area. depends on each individual's needs. there are some virtues to not having to move things around each time you want to use them. I guess it's all about trade-offs when you want to compress your living area into an oversized van. not a bad idea on a permanent basis.
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Old 07-15-2013, 08:01 PM   #49
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Re: Full-time planning

Finally got around to finishing the SketchUp of the revised, lower weight, plan, so I thought I'd post some images. This plan should drive off the SMB lot (before loading up with personal possessions) a full 1000lbs under the 2500EB weight limit. As I've gotten used to this plan, I've come to appreciate that it's advantages over the original go beyond weight. The tight clearances/corners of the original plan are removed or relieved. Overall storage space has actually increased, and the shower should feel roomier enclosed by a curtain rather than by solid walls. Other things I've done to decrease weight include:
  • * Replace a closet with a clothes-hanging bar, a hanging bag with shelves, and some plastic drawers.
    * Replace the full height pantry with wire-mesh drawers and baskets.
    * Replace the rear gaucho with a platform bed. Normally this would be close to even, but in my plan it eliminated a pedestal.
    * Eliminate the galley counter extension. I expect the tripod table can serve the same function.
    * Eliminate the rear custom cabinet which, in truth, served no functional purpose.
Replacing the shelf above the galley with mesh baskets was not so much for weight, but they hold more and should allow in more outside light.


Attached Thumbnails
RV6bTop.jpg   RV6bRight.jpg   RV6bLeft.jpg  
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Old 07-18-2013, 07:03 PM   #50
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Re: Full-time planning

About 3 years ago, a road cycling/racing friend of mine from Canada purchased a used, 2005 Dodge Sprinter (Pleasureway). He and his wife use it 6Ī months a year to travel to races. A little over a year ago, I got to see the interior (no sliding door, as sink/stove there. A u-shaped couch that turns into a bed is in the back). When I was shown the shower/bathroom, his wife said she never uses it; her husband "sometimes does." This was enough to get us to start looking for a similar Sprinter, minus the shower and bath, but we ultimately bought a low top Nissan SMB. We can see the advantages of a high top Sprinter if living in it for extended periods.

This race season, we compared vans. He and his wife were amazed at the amount of storage a SMB has vs. their lack of storage in a much larger van. They now carry 4 bikes on the back and 6-8 sets of wheels inside, in addition to all their cycling gear and day to day stuff.

Regarding reliability, they drive it about 10,000 miles a year and get 1 oil change, usually at a jiffy lube type place. No problems whatsoever.

But this is not the real reason for my response. There is another way to go at this, and it starts with the relationship between the number of underpants and need to do laundry. You need about a weeks worth of clothes, with lots of layering options. Smart wool/merino wool shirts work best/don't smell and come in many weights, even short sleeves. You also need a good wind/rain shell, fleece pull over and vest and perhaps a heavy vest. Capilene or smart wool long under wear are great to sleep in when it is cold. No matter how many clothes you bring you will wear your favorite items over and over again... You get my drift. Take less and you will need less storage, or put the other way, have more storage and not need to worry about weight. Oh, keep the closet option, as they are out of site and less prone to dust that will come inside when you drive dirt roads. (Our NV was as dusty/dirty inside as out after driving the gravel roads in AK and CA.)

Food and water are another issue by themselves. We have the smallest fridge, as the next bigger one is "more freezer." We carry a cooler that uses 12 volts to keep things cool that don't need to be or are too big to be put in the fridge. We disconnect it at night when not on shore power.

We have a 17 gallon tank we fill with camp site water for washing, external shower etc. and carry 10 gallons of store bought drinking water in those tall containers as they stash well in odd places. You will go through at least 1-2 gallons a day between drinking and cooking.

Except for large RVs, we noticed on our trips that people in camper vans cook outside on stoves, or in our case use the microwave. We have come up with quite a few quick, hearty microwave meals.

Enjoy your planning.
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