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Old 12-01-2014, 07:20 PM   #1
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Choosing van

I need to choose a van that will fit in 7ft. garage. It will be utilized on a daily basis but also needs to be self contained for K9 SAR mission/training work.

I need to know which van body to start with. I have looked up specs for both Chevy and Ford. Chevy is slightly (one tenth) over 7 feet. Ford Transit van is slightly under but SMB tells me they have concern I won't be able to stand up in it. Well...I am 5.3 but probably not, really not my main concern. My must haves are Potty, shower (me and dogs) bed, fridge, heat and AC. Will be using for main rig so must have seat with belt for grandsons. 7 and 9. What van do I choose?

If I just go buy it how do I know what options to select so its ready for conversions?

I have also looked at PW Traverse but seems they are hard to find and have no shower. If there is a ready made van that would fit in garage that would be good. I read thoughts on those on this site and its seems a good possible. Can you add a shower to them?

Last of all, I have a shop. My dream machine would be a Chinook Baja or 4X4 SMB...BUT driving to shop to park every day might just not be so much fun....

Advise? you guys seem to know much more then most and I appreciate any thought you have to offer on what to choose to suit my purpose and get it in the garage.
Cat
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Old 12-02-2014, 05:50 AM   #2
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Re: Choosing van

Slightly OT maybe but isn't it ironic a K9 SAR person has a screen name and proper name Cat?
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Old 12-02-2014, 11:01 AM   #3
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Re: Choosing van

A PH version would be your only option and that would be close. The issues I see are that the Danhard AC's only do a marginal job at cooling compared to a good roof top type. So it kind of depends on how much cooling you need. Just to run the standard AC's SMB installs requires about a 2-2.8 kW generator and/or a reasonable sized battery bank.

The shower can be a hard sided type that some might consider a half-shower or a tent style to be used with a pan inside the vehicle with the top up. You'd have to consider the size of the gray water tank with respect to space required to mount it as well as how often you can dump it.

Same with a marine head compared to a porta pottie.

I mean it can be done but a larger vehicle than something like a chevy or ford and storing it in a larger garage would be my suggestion.

No chance of enlarging the garage?
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Old 12-02-2014, 12:36 PM   #4
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Re: Choosing van

Pretty sure my husband will buy me a van but not remodel the house again to garage it. I might have to compromise on some of my wish list. I like your idea about a pan shower/curtain for me. If it has outside water for the dogs that will work as the water is warm.

AC is a must have. It gets really hot here in the summer. I actually leave my truck running to keep dogs cool if I have to. I saw a GTRV with the AC unit attached to the back but it ran on 110. Could that be done by enclosing the AC unit in a metal box and have the ability to connect it to power from the inside ie generator or battery?

IE potty, some of the new portables look fine actually. Any thoughts on those? easier then hauling black water and dumping?

SMB was really helpful and sent me a link to a dodge that will fit but it has more miles then what I would desire. Going to talk to GTRV later in the week as well they will work on used, might be an advantage. I looked at the PW Traverse but its only a 1/2 ton and I want 3/4 to 1. Willing to give up 4X4 as long as it has AWD. Again, maybe my wish list is too long....appreciate your thoughts. thanks daveb.
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Old 12-02-2014, 02:20 PM   #5
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Re: Choosing van

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bestcat
I like your idea about a pan shower/curtain for me. If it has outside water for the dogs that will work as the water is warm.

AC is a must have. It gets really hot here in the summer. I actually leave my truck running to keep dogs cool if I have to. I saw a GTRV with the AC unit attached to the back but it ran on 110. Could that be done by enclosing the AC unit in a metal box and have the ability to connect it to power from the inside ie generator or battery?

IE potty, some of the new portables look fine actually. Any thoughts on those? easier then hauling black water and dumping?

SMB was really helpful and sent me a link to a dodge that will fit but it has more miles then what I would desire. Going to talk to GTRV later in the week as well they will work on used, might be an advantage. I looked at the PW Traverse but its only a 1/2 ton and I want 3/4 to 1. Willing to give up 4X4 as long as it has AWD. Again, maybe my wish list is too long....appreciate your thoughts. thanks daveb.
Depends on how primitive you want to be. Some people expect what a large RV has pushed into a small space. That's very hard to do.

So I take it you are OK with a used vehicle; is new out of the question?

It all comes down to personal preference and what works for you might fail miserable for me.
An outside shower isn't a problem as would be a inside wand for a curtain type portable shower pan but to tell the truth I don't know how user friendly that is. SMB did make a fiberglass 1/2 shower that seemed to work for smaller people.

And where I would insist on being able to cool 105 temps to 70 degrees on a hot summer day, you might be fine with upper 80 degree temps. My Starcool can't keep me where I feel comfortable but it might work for you. Many people are happy with their Danhard AC's and an additional fan.

SMB used to have what they called a "G" top designed to fit most garages. As long as the vehicle had stock tires and no lift, it would fit. Chevy does a good AWD but I'm not sure of the overall height required for an average garage.


Sometimes it might be easier to dump a blackwater tank over a porta pottie. Depends on what facilities are around but really the gray water needs to go to the same places.


It might be easier to start off with a fully loaded floorplan (during a brand new planning phase) and deconstruct it to your needs. This van might have all of what you want except the overall height is too much and it sleeps/seats more than what you need. So cut it down, see if SMB still has a low cut PH top and start pulling (deleting) or minimizing what is in it until it's what you want plus fits in your garage.
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=7172

good luck on your search (BTW, make sure your garage doors are wide enough and the van will fit length wise)
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Old 12-02-2014, 06:45 PM   #6
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Re: Choosing van

All good advise, thanks! and I have seen the saudi van, gorgeous!!

I talked via email to Quigley and they sent me the specs on a GM converted~its 83.90 in height so I would have one tenth of an inch to spare. We have had a GM 1 ton extended van in the garage and its just fits. We could get other hurking vehicles in (suburban/escalade) so I think width is fine but I will be sure to measure...I found one used 4 x 4 from their leads. I would be thrilled to find a new one! I will look into the AWD too, my husband told me the same thing. He doesn't think I need the 4x4 but its hard to give up.

AC, is a must for me too, low 70's preferred. I can be fairly efficient depending on conditions... have been using the back of my avalanche for a camper. I will make do just about anywhere but I would prefer a bit more comfort at this point in my life.
Thanks again.
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Old 12-06-2014, 11:04 AM   #7
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Re: Choosing van

You might want to measure door because most 7-foot garage door openings are not quite 84 inches high. Many I've measured are a couple of inches less than nominal size.
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Old 12-07-2014, 11:45 AM   #8
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Re: Choosing van

I have a pleasure way traverse and I love it.let me tell you the interior build is very high high quality and well thought out.
However
For shower a portable pan or rubbermaid a shower curtain works ok inside with roof top up.
Almost no vans that are not either extended or have permanent fiberglass raised roofs have room for a shower.
As far for Ac goes you need a good honda generator , i think the 3000i will power a 11000btu ac unit. But you need somewhere to store the genny like an outside mounted box.
The GTRV's have propane water heaters which make a shower setup easier.
I would look for a GTRV if were to do it again.
Up here in canada any sort of pleasureway traverse or GTRV are rare as hens teeth so I got a traverse with a lot of luck and amy happy with it.
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Old 12-08-2014, 11:12 PM   #9
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Re: Choosing van

Wonder how low the Quigley Nissan 4x4 would be with a SMB PH top?

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Old 02-05-2015, 07:18 AM   #10
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Re: Choosing van

At the risk of being a pessimist, I don't think you're going to get the camper you want that will shoehorn into your garage. I would look at it from the standpoint of getting the van that will meet your needs on missions vs being able to garage it, even if that means enlarging your current one. I did K-9 SAR in a previous life so I understand the need for a modicum of comfort and being self-contained while on a search....
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