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Old 09-18-2012, 06:55 PM   #1
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Voice your complaints here

Apologies for the provocative subject.

I'm torn between the 144" versus 170" WB so I'm requesting feedback to the folowing question(s).

For those of you who have the RB, have you ever had situations where you felt really limited due to space issues?

OR

For those of you with the EB (or LB for the truly decadent types), have you ever had situations where you felt limited because the van was too big?

In the end either choice will require compromises so I'm trying to get some real world info to get a more complete picture of which compromises I'll ultimately be making.

Thanks in advance.

Cheers!
Mike
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Old 09-18-2012, 07:33 PM   #2
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Voice your complaints here

Mike,

We have an 89 RB there are times that I would like a longer van. When this one dies I will go for a longer unit. Would like a wider bed, on board toilet, more storage, and a row of forward facing passenger seats for the grand kid(s). Do not get me wrong we love our RB SMB. These are just dreams when and if it comes time to change vehicles.
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Old 09-18-2012, 07:41 PM   #3
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Re: Voice your complaints here

Mike, I can't speak from experience with a EB Sprinter CAMPER, but I did put a couple hundred thousand miles at work (on rural delivery routes). Absolutely no reason that I could see NOT to go for the long one and have the extra space. They don't 'drive big' if you know what I mean. The only thing you will notice is that in, say, a grocery store parking lot, you are about 1.5 spaces long instead of one, but you are almost that long with a RB van and a bike rack, so just keep that in mind. Sprinters drive great, wish I could afford one!
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Old 09-19-2012, 05:30 PM   #4
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Re: Voice your complaints here

We have a 144" and have no storage complaints. We lived in it 4+ weeks while in Alaska and Canada.

There are some roads you can't go on if you are over 20' and the ferry to Alaska charges a lot more if you are over 21'. Some camp sites will only let 20' rv's in. Going to an A's game we pay the normal rate but if longer we would have to pay for 2 spots.

It is just me, my wife and my dog. We carry camp items like hatchet, extra rope, fire starter, etc in a cooler, sleeping bags go in the back as well (my back porch I call) it. I keep all my stuff on board. My wife packs extra clothes in a small softpack and has another for all the girl things like make-up, etc. We used to carry a dog crate but no longer bother with that. http://www.ourexcellentadventures.com/2 ... r-storage/

Regards,

Keith
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Old 09-19-2012, 07:39 PM   #5
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Re: Voice your complaints here

Thanks all; this is exactly the type of info I was hoping to get. I suppose I could give a little more info regarding the nature of my inquiry.

My vehicle needs are:
1) Seating for two adults and one (or maybe two ) toddler(s). This will require forward facing seating with child seat anchor attachments. I'm not willing to make any safety compromises here.

2) Ample storage space for tents, sleeping bags, cooking supplies, 2-3 surfboards (probably go with a roof rack for those but inside storage would be nice), wetsuits, guitar, and other miscellaneous necessities and toys.

3) Maneuverability, parking accessibility, and convenience for day trips to the beach, trailhead, etc.

4) Desirable amenities include a useable galley (with cook top, refrigerator, and some counter space for food prep) and enough sleeping space for occasional stealth over-nighting.

We don't plan to "live" in the van when camping (i.e., we plan to sleep in a tent and do most activities outside) but we'd like to be able to do some meal preps without pulling out coolers/cooking gear and have capability for the aforementioned occasional stealth over-nighting.

My concerns with the longer van are:
1) Parking at my home since I donít have a huge amount of space and my HOA might have some gripes about "RV" parking (I havenít checked into that yet)

2) Handling on winding mountain roads (which I hope to travel frequently)

3) Turning radius for the many U-turns I routinely have to make (they're not only legal in California they're often necessary)

4) Access limitations (parking lots, campgrounds, etc.)

My biggest concern with the shorter van is how to best balance sleeping accomodations with storage space. I don't want to use up valuable space with beds when I don't plan to do a lot of sleeing in the van. If I go with the short WB, I'll probably end up buying or renting roof or trailer hitch cargo carriers for longer trips and may eventually get a small trailer to tow when the kid(s) get older.

You've already provided info to help with decision-making for many of my "concern" items so thanks and keep 'em coming.

Cheers!
Mike
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Old 09-19-2012, 09:03 PM   #6
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Re: Voice your complaints here

we have a 2012 SMB 144 sprinter pop top. Weighs about 7K loaded. The road handling, engine performance and turning radius is excellent on windy roads and doing u turns as well as the highway. 7k miles so far in 4 months from CA to AK with an average MPG of 19.5 according to the Van information system. Our only disappointment is the driving position, the adjustable seat and steering wheel just seems to have the steering wheel position is a little too far or high for us and we get shoulder fatigue on multi-hour drives if you don't watch your posture. But the view out is the best of any van. We sometimes pull a trailer with canoe or bikes. Love the rear camera.

Living in AK we wanted indoor sleeping for 4 adults due to weather and bears and we cook and clean mostly outdoors with a portable camp kitchen setup. I have owned 3 Westfalias over nearly 25 years and we based our SMB layout on what we did not like on that layout (aka the model 50). The westy had too much hard to access storage that was too deep and awkward to get to. Things just got buried and often lost. We have much less storage but it is far more functional. Since you have kids and surfboards (the roof is way up there btw) you probably should consider the high top model to put the boards inside. One thing about facing forward with a back bench is that it is way back there from the driving position so the kids will likely feel isolated and more easily bored. And tall adults sitting back there will have there legs in the way of kitchen activities. And the seating for dining is cramped for 4 or you have two in back and two in the front eating. You might want to go with the longer model and include two forward swivel seats for the kids and dining and have more room for kitchen, water storage, toilet (you did not mention what you wanted for toilet facilities) etc as well as overhead room inside for the boards. The longer unit will give you more options for stealth sleeping arrangements although you will look pretty unstealthy from the outside with the long length. Check out Outsidevans.com for some innovative interior ideas with lots of windsurfing equipment.

PS one more thing, if you are going to use the van as a daily drive vehicle the added length could be a parking hassle.
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Old 09-20-2012, 12:51 PM   #7
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Re: Voice your complaints here

Wow, I'm floored by the generosity of people in this forum who take the time to write such detailed and helpful posts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spenard
We sometimes pull a trailer with canoe or bikes. Love the rear camera.
I was going to ask about that from one of your other posts. You use the camera for backing a trailer? If so, that must take some getting used to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spenard
... due to weather and bears ......
The little black bears in the Sierras are know to rip open car doors in search of a meal. Those bears you have up there must be able to rip a roof clean off.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spenard
...the roof is way up there btw...
Yeah, that may present some problems but it'd only be done on longer trips. We're definitely going with the hightop model and I'll try to figure out a some kind of solid rack system for inside. Thanks for the tip to check out Outside Van for ideas. If they were closer, I'd be considering them to do the upfitting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spenard
One thing about facing forward with a back bench is that it is way back there from the driving position so the kids will likely feel isolated and more easily bored.
Ideally, I'd like a bench seat just behind the cockpit that would unfold flat so it could be used as a small bed; maybe with a thin cushion on top. Seems like it should be fairly easy to design/make for a resourceful upfitter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spenard
...you did not mention what you wanted for toilet facilities ...
Probably get a port-a-potti but nothing beyond that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spenard
The longer unit will give you more options for stealth sleeping arrangements although you will look pretty unstealthy from the outside with the long length.
I'm beginning to think that stealth over-nighting is unrealistic for my situation. That worked really well for me in my younger days (when money for a motel was out of the question) but perhaps I can swallow my pride and get a motel room once in a while.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spenard
PS one more thing, if you are going to use the van as a daily drive vehicle the added length could be a parking hassle.
Yep, and a van that's too much hassle to use whenever I want to is a pretty bad purchase.

Cheers!
Mike

p.s. I've enjoyed your photos a few times over. Thanks for posting them.

p.p.s. Saw a 144" hightop cargo Sprinter with Alaska plates on the 405 freeway the other day. It looked brand new. I was wondering how he made that drive without getting at least a scuff or two on it.
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Old 09-28-2012, 09:57 AM   #8
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Re: Voice your complaints here

For us, the extra space is well worth the parking hassle. We don't have our EB Sprinter SMB yet, but have driven our tow vehicle, a F550 crew cab long bed which is about the same length and wider, for 12 years. I have been in parking garages (SMB will be too high for that) many times and even my wife has parked in small strip-maul parking lots. Since it sticks out a few feet on diagonal and perpendicular parking, we try not to stay long in such places. In a large Walmart etc. lot we park near the back taking two end-to-end spaces. I understand so big is not good if you park all day in the city, but I think that parking for shopping and eating is not a hassle, although it may be an extra risk in some situations. My wife mentioned that a grocery in our town near an old folks home has lots of fender-benders, so good to park near the back when possible.

We just finished a one-week rental of an EB Sprinter Great-West Van conversion (watch for details and photos later). We parked in car spaces many times on the Gettysburg auto tour. After a few times I felt as comfortable as when driving any car. Being narrower and smaller turning radius than our truck made a big difference.

David
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Old 10-17-2012, 03:54 PM   #9
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Re: Voice your complaints here

I have an RB 144" and from a driving standpoint I would find it hard to beat. I echo Spenard's comments. Turning around in a gas station in Lone Pine I noticed that people were watching and appeared suprised with the turning radius, or maybe it was just me.

I can pull up into a parking space and just get out and walk away. I'm not blocking traffic or taking up 2 spaces.

If I lived in a more open environment it might be different but I live in an environment where size matters and the better size is smaller.

If I move to an even more rural location and I plan on using this rig primarily out on the open road then I would definitely opt for a longer model. I feel that we got all we wanted except one thing, storage space. We are good at being creative but if we had more room I could use more brainpower on trip planning and not filtering needs. I assume we will develop an efficient routine but it's hard to replace all space needs with better efficiency.

Either way, if it fits somewhere around your residence then it will be a good choice.

Good luck.

Chumley
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Old 10-17-2012, 04:57 PM   #10
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Re: Voice your complaints here

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spenard
One thing about facing forward with a back bench is that it is way back there from the driving position so the kids will likely feel isolated and more easily boredIdeally, I'd like a bench seat just behind the cockpit that would unfold flat so it could be used as a small bed; maybe with a thin cushion on top. Seems like it should be fairly easy to design/make for a resourceful upfitter.


I am working on a bunch of sketch plans for SMB sprinters now, will be making a factory visit to SMB West next week to see what's feasible and check out their builds. One thing I am going to ask them is if they can turn a "Dinette W" sideways with 30-36" width so we could have a fore and aft convertible dinette. Don't see why it wouldn't work. If so, this might answer your needs as well.

I am trying to get to either an EB Chevy with high fixed top (Cruiser II), or SB Sprinter with penthouse, either of which would have an upper bed and lower convertible dinette, rear bath and mid-kitchen.
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