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Old 10-17-2018, 11:57 AM   #1
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Question Where to start?

Hello SMB community.

This is my first Thread so please be nice with me:-).

I and my family just spent 2 weeks in a van across the US. We had a lovely time and the kids (4 and 6) really enjoyed this adventure. We rented the van from escapevan.com.

Based on this success experience, I was thinking to buy a van for the family to continue to live the van experience during our weekend or vacation. We live in California.

I did my personal research and came to the following conclusion. We 2 choices :

1. I am buying an SMB with the good floor plan for kids (meaning no sideway sitting) and with the penthouse. This is probably the most expensive option but also the easiest (when I find the good one). No need to build the Van me, no need to buy the machines, etc. I am a tax guy with interest but limited time and capacity to do stuff myself:-).

2. I am buying a conversion van (the one with a bed already included) and I try to install a kitchen in the trunk (we want a kitchen). Plus I need to buy a pop-up tent. I think the van will cost at the end a bit less but I am even not sure about that.

My total budget would be around 15k-20k max. I do not need to a 4x4 but I want 5 seats at a minimum. 7 would be the best.

https://sportsmobile.com/preowned-sp...ile-texas-inc/

Let me know your thought about that.

I have also found this one at SMB texas which is above my budget but want to pick your brain on it. Is it a good deal?

Any bits of advice or mistakes to avoid would be greatly appreciated.

Looking forward for your advice

Bast
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Old 10-17-2018, 01:47 PM   #2
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Which pre-owned one are you looking at? The link was to all their pre owned vehicles.

I like the idea of starting with something someone else built. Smb has lots more experience building vans than me, so I wanted that. Also, I wanted the safety of them having crash tested their stuff. You can for sure find a good van in your budget. Also, when planning modifications, things always go over budget, so an already built unit will help guide you better, in my opinion.
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Old 10-17-2018, 02:26 PM   #3
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Thank you for your response. I am looking at the 2004 Ford EB55. 28K. Do you think it is a good prize?

I do agree that when we start this kind of project, budget and time always go over.
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Old 10-17-2018, 03:02 PM   #4
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I think that is a decent price. However, all the prices are negotiable even with the SMB Texas sales. That one has been for sale for at least 6-8 weeks, so I would think an offer in the $23-25k range would be in order.
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Old 10-17-2018, 03:06 PM   #5
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I think that is a decent price. However, all the prices are negotiable even with the SMB Texas sales. That one has been for sale for at least 6-8 weeks, so I would think an offer in the $23-25k range would be in order.
Thanks. worth to note there is a dent in the left rear door. So, we would need to replace the door too. There is no penthouse bed included.
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Old 10-17-2018, 03:13 PM   #6
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The penthouse bed can be added for $750 by SMB. That's what they told me when I called on that particular van. Agreed, the dent is an eyesore.

Don't let the desire to buy one get ahead of you. Take your time. I looked very seriously for 4 months before finding a really good one. A bunch slipped right through my fingers as I was the second caller or whatever.

Good luck.
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Old 10-17-2018, 03:16 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Grampswrx View Post
The penthouse bed can be added for $750 by SMB. That's what they told me when I called on that particular van. Agreed, the dent is an eyesore.

Don't let the desire to buy one get ahead of you. Take your time. I looked very seriously for 4 months before finding a really good one. A bunch slipped right through my fingers as I was the second caller or whatever.

Good luck.
Thanks. Any particular reason why you did not purchase this one particularly?
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Old 10-17-2018, 03:22 PM   #8
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Based on my experience doing about 50 nights in a van over the past year with the family I'll toss out a few considerations. We have a 2 y/o and largely boondock with our rig.

The 2004 SMB from Texas looks like a pretty decent setup for a family. Price-wise it is OK, but you'll likely end up with some projects from the get-go.

What kind of camping do you do? The SMB you refer to is setup to be dependent on generator or shore power. That works well for some, not for others. It also lacks indoor cooking other than a microwave. When you say kitchen, do you mean stove? If you want a permanent indoor stove added to that van, it is a big project once you consider the fuel routing, etc. You will have to add a penthouse platform to that van for sleeping. Adding a penthouse platform is about as straightforward as projects go. Some wood, foam, and upholstery. I'd consider it about a six-pack project. Nice because you can get some upgraded foam ready to go and choose how many panels you'll put up there. If you need to mount hangers (so you have headspace when hanging out in the van) it will be a little more involved.

Our process for buying a van was to make a list of the things that were most important and then find a van that met our budget with the most of them ready to go.

Personally, I think that the SMB penthouse is way preferable to a Rooftop tent with the only exception of not having any privacy from the youngsters. I'd suggest trying to find a van with penthouse, but consider taking on the kitchen as a project. Consider looking well east for a van, the west coast means a premium for any van nowadays. If your budget really is closer to $20K you can find something that will be a good fit if you keep your eyes open and don't mind traveling to pick it up. The one gotcha - try to find the most mechanically sound / low mile van you can afford, even at the expense of a longer kitchen build-out. Older rigs will lighten your pocketbook with necessary maintenance.
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Old 10-17-2018, 03:24 PM   #9
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When I was considering it, it was newly listed and to get the penthouse bed, transport back to CA etc. it put it too far above what I wanted to spend. I didn't feel comfortable offering what I thought would be fair. Also, it wasn't a layout i wanted. I wanted a better dining space and didn't need to seat 7 forward facing. I wanted more forward facing seating than I ended up with, but didn't need this much.
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Old 10-17-2018, 03:51 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by OlyEsteban View Post
Based on my experience doing about 50 nights in a van over the past year with the family I'll toss out a few considerations. We have a 2 y/o and largely boondock with our rig.

...
Thanks a lot for the response. I do agree with your points and I am in the same thought process than you.

We need the 7 seats for the family and guest. The reference to a kitchen is just having fridge and stove that fit well in the van. My concern with the one in Texas is that the "kitchen" is mainly indoor. I love cooking outdoors, especially when it is breakfast bacon:-). That's why we liked this setup :

https://www.escapecampervans.com/mavericks/

Any idea of how much it would cost to create this kind of "kitchen" in a conversion van trunk like that one :

https://slo.craigslist.org/cto/d/for...700659766.html

thanks for your advices
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