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Old 11-06-2010, 07:26 PM   #1
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4x4 E350 Office

Wish I had a SMB but not there financially. Been creepin' on here looking for deals and admiring your rigs.

Just wanted to get a quick opinion on this beast I'm looking at tomorrow. I'm looking for a weekend vehicle to be a home in the snow for me, my wife & dog (wife doesn't ski so she'd be in whatever we get all weekend, so ideally it'd be spacious).

http://www.chambersmotorco.com/WEB/x2318.htm

Yah it's a beast and needs to be redone on the inside to be made super comfy, but with an asking price of $8500 (hopefully will spend under 7) I think this matches to what I'm looking for. Off the bat we could put a board across the desks and put a mattress down. Would need to figure out the heating situation, whether that be with a small propane, run off a generator, or even get something installed.

175k miles on engine.
The vehicle is 20' 3" long.
Inside 11' long x 7' wide x 6'5" tall.
The generator has 3,476 hrs.
4x4 works.
Crack in fiberglass above driver side in front of unit.
I believe the unit has had 2 owners, one being a mining company and most recently a construction company.

Just wanted to see what people thought of it, or have seen anything like this converted into an RV. Know it's not a SMB but figured you guys would have ideas/opinions. Thanks!
-Ryan
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Old 11-06-2010, 09:42 PM   #2
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Re: 4x4 E350 Office

good deal buddy IMHO

7-8 Large and some time in your home shop
and you will have a rig that meets what i/we know of your needs

i would ask:
how many miles you gonna put on it annually?
how far the commute to go skiing

will the wife REALLY be ok w/ it??

ya might troll thru my pics and there are a couple of before and afters
might help you sell your wife....

best

bw
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Old 11-06-2010, 10:30 PM   #3
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Re: 4x4 E350 Office

Size on the outside does not mean perceived sized on the inside. The lack of windows, the lack of open interior floor, being cooped up in that all day would drive me crazy, whereas I could spend days in my van.

Lest you think this is pure bias for my own van:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeta
I think the Westy camper interior is higher quality than the SMB's which are usually heavy, but delicate, MDF. I also felt much more confined in the SMB. The Westies have windows all around and over 8 feet of headroom with the top popped. My SMB had a fixed roof and only one window aside from the ones in the doors. For some reason this huge van felt smaller inside than the VW, even though it wasn't. Also the pop top mechanism in the VW is better, but I'm probably already in trouble for saying so.
In addition, the SMB is totally cozy with the top down and the Suburban propane heater. For your scenario I might lean towards fixed top because she'd have the benefit of standing up without giving up the warmth factor, but I'm not sure if that top/size/arrangement would be warm and cozy all day or hard to heat. Speaking of cozy, I can't tell where you would sit or nap in this van, and if there is more than one chair apart from the driver/passenger seats. Moving from the passenger seat to the bench is one of the things that keeps me sane in the longer sessions hanging out in the van.

I think it really comes down to if she likes it and wants to hang out there all weekend. I'm sure there are other pros and cons, but if it's right for you guys, get it.
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Old 11-06-2010, 10:40 PM   #4
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Re: 4x4 E350 Office

Thanks BW!
how many miles you gonna put on it annually?
Not sure how many miles annually, but we live in Seattle and will drive to the mountain a couple times a month (1-3 hour drive to area), then in the summer probably 2 times a month we'll be driving away from the city say 4 hours outside.

I think the furthest we'd be driving would be the Oregon Coast (around 4-5 hours).

As for my wife... she is hesitant but only because she doesn't want a money pit. We were looking for Syncros or SMB we obviously couldn't afford one that didn't require a ton of work. That was when we were looking for something that could function as our second car (not daily driver but for misc stuff around the city). But with something like what we're looking at (if it checks out) we'd still be able to afford a cheap city car while also having a roomy rig that will be more comfortable for her to spend an entire weekend in.

Oh and I'll for sure show her some of your interior pics.... looks great! My main thing at first will be to figure out the heating situation.


Jage- Very good points with the perceived size. I'll definitely make sure she doesn't feel cramped. I would probably look to put some work in moving stuff around and possibly buying a seat/bed in the future. From the pictures I think I might be able to get a board and mattress across the two desks in the back, with storage below. We'll see how it looks tomorrow.

Thanks guys! I need to try and stop imagining the lifestyle before getting a rig!
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Old 11-07-2010, 10:40 AM   #5
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Re: 4x4 E350 Office

I saw that on craigslist as well, not quite what i'm after but it is very intriguing. In fact, i posted it to the expeditionportal as an FYI post.

I think it's a pretty darn cool rig if someone is looking for something that big. I'd definitely look very carefully at the integrity of the shell, and whether it looks like it would hold up to washboard roads and swaying back and forth on back roads. You'll definitely want more windows and a more open interior layout.

I don't know you or your wife, but i think asking anyone to stay in any van for a day or two while you ski, is asking for trouble. Who could not go crazy doing that? But, you know your own wife, so i'll say no more there.

Anyway, i'd love to see someone turn that into a cool camper, i think it has a lot of potential and the price seems in a reasonable range.
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Old 11-07-2010, 05:18 PM   #6
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Re: 4x4 E350 Office

I'd love to have a crack at it (if I wasn't otherwise engaged). Especially at that price.
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Old 11-07-2010, 09:58 PM   #7
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Re: 4x4 E350 Office

So?
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Old 11-07-2010, 10:42 PM   #8
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Re: 4x4 E350 Office

So just got back and..... didn't pull the trigger (still not sure if it fits for what we're looking for). Basically this thing was a little bit bigger than I expected. I knew it was a beast but this thing is pretty tall & wide. We don't have a driveway and live in the city so we'll need to figure out where we're going to park it. Probably should have thought about this earlier.

Liked what we saw (it's the perfect winter mobile) but there are still some questions/negatives we need to discuss.
-Parking/storage
-for off-season/summer this thing isn't really ideal for forest service roads/getting off the beaten path
-wouldn't be able to stealth camp, so we'd end up having to reserve sites in advance which is what drew us to the idea of a camper. Leave on a Friday evening and just drive out of the city.
-Cost of interior renovation? (couch/furnace)

Aside from us deciding on these issues, it was pretty much the most bad-ass RV I've ever seen (this is certainly NOT a van). Inside needs to be changed/upgraded but at this price it'd be a fun project while still being ready to used now. There are boards that lay across the desks which you could sleep on for now but I definitely would want to move stuff around & put in a couch/bed. The generator couldn't start & looks pretty beat. The interior was a little grimy (some stains on roof). Layout is awkward & would need to be changed. There were two windows on the back door and one on the side so it ended up not being a big box. Runs good & brakes felt ok. Transmission might be questionable (getting into reverse took a couple seconds).

hahaha as we were test driving it with the dog inside (Bernese Mountain dog) I was trying to get my wife to like it and our dog would not stop barking! He's never been in any vehicle that big and the engine was pretty loud. Ended up climbing up on my wife in the passenger seat.... looked rediculous. Not how I saw our first RV experience & also didn't help the mood of our first ride but it was hilarious. Guy agreed to under 8 but we really couldn't drive it away without knowing it was a right fit & how difficult it'd be to fix it up.

How would you guys go about redoing the inside of this? How much would it cost to say get a couch/bed? Where do you get them & how difficult are they to install? Oh and any ideas on a cheap/safe way to heat this thing?
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Old 11-07-2010, 10:56 PM   #9
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Re: 4x4 E350 Office

I would start by getting this instead:
viewtopic.php?f=7&t=5744

And put the money into a heater and comfy seating for this season.

Either way, with a dog I wouldn't trust one of the Mr. Buddy heaters, and they're not good for all day or all night anyway. Adding propane and a suburban heater would be the way to go in a van and an alternative in that rig- you're going to be cutting holes in something for the install. I say alternative because there is probably a rooftop RV heater that can go with the AC on that one.

Was it loud because the engine was reverberating off the interior, or because it was just loud? Carpet, padding and flooring can probably help either way, or it might just need a muffler.

I think the dog has voted, and again, with everything you said about parking and camping, I'd give up on the RV sized beast and start looking for something like the one above.
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Old 11-07-2010, 11:15 PM   #10
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Re: 4x4 E350 Office

Yah it was just straight up loud. I think it was that combined with the fact that he had all this room to walk around and things were moving. Like "you guys! this building is MOVING!"

How much does it cost to get a hard-top added to one of these guys? Not sure if I'd be down to start a SMB from scratch (basic van). Just seems like a lot of work when I don't have a garage, tools or knowledge.

Both of us still are really considering getting the RV as it still might be worth spending that much for the perfect winter mobile, even if we don't use it that much other times in the year.
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