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Old 02-19-2013, 09:47 AM   #1
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Lessons Learned

I decided I ought to start a new thread where people can share unexpected things they've learned regarding their Sportsmobile.

Having just moved from the warm desert of Las Vegas to the cold mountains of Wyoming I've learned a couple of things about my SMB that I hadn't thought of. In another tread I told of how I learned that my 2W drive with a locking differential doesn't work as well as I expected in snow and ice.

I also learned that a solar panel doesn't do a lot of good when it's covered with snow. Prior to moving to Wyoming I always thought that if I ever got stranded somewhere in a snow storm I would be fine staying in my SMB because I had plenty of propane heat and solar power. It's strange how I never thought of the snow sticking to the roof of the SMB. Below is a picture of my SMB with just a little bit of snow on the roof and solar panel. One would think that it would be easy to just get up there and scrape it off. But when the chill factor is below zero and the snow is caked with ice it's not so easy to get up on the roof of the SMB. Now I can see how the Donner Party got trapped. They probably thought "We'll just wait until tomorrow. Then we'll scrape the snow off of the roof." But then tomorrow is an even worse day and the snow just keeps piling up. So you wait another day. Pretty soon you're freezing to death inside your snowbound SMB.



What unexpected lessons have you learned while using your Sportsmobile?
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2002 Ford E250, 5.4L V8, RB-50 (AdVANture)
4x2, Action Van Ultimate Suspension System, 4 1/2" lift
Dana Spicer Gear, ARB Full Air Locking Differential
285/70R17 Big Foot A/T tires
Aluminess Bumpers F/R, Bushwhacker fender flares
Smittybilt XRC 12 Winch
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Old 02-19-2013, 10:24 AM   #2
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Re: Lessons Learned

Getting the spare out from under the van can be difficult if the van is down in a hole.
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Old 02-19-2013, 10:27 AM   #3
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Re: Lessons Learned

Mac,

If you know the snow is coming, could you rig a tarp over the panel and then pull tarp down after the snowfall has stopped? Hardly ideal, but it would shift the effort to pre-snow, rather that post-snow.


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Old 02-19-2013, 10:34 AM   #4
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Re: Lessons Learned

Good idea Herb! Easily done unless the snow is very heavy.
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2002 Ford E250, 5.4L V8, RB-50 (AdVANture)
4x2, Action Van Ultimate Suspension System, 4 1/2" lift
Dana Spicer Gear, ARB Full Air Locking Differential
285/70R17 Big Foot A/T tires
Aluminess Bumpers F/R, Bushwhacker fender flares
Smittybilt XRC 12 Winch
2014 Chaser Adventure Off-Road Trailer
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Old 02-19-2013, 11:31 AM   #5
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Re: Lessons Learned

Hey Mac, a note on your opening post. my propane tank/furnace, used very carefully in my extra-insulated van, with the top down and reflectix up, will still only hold survival temps for at best 5 or 6 days in the climate you describe. YMMV.

I bet you really are experiencing "climate-shock" from your changed location. I experience a major physical change when I leave the hot and ridiculously-humid South and go to the hot and ridiculously-arid West... I dry out like jerky (insert wisecracks here) and no amount of water seems to help... 'course beer doesn't help, only makes it worse.

My most unexpected lesson about these vans is the vast difference from tent camping... I just can't go back now.

And, the unexpected money these evil machines soak up
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Old 02-19-2013, 10:20 PM   #6
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Re: Lessons Learned

Damn Mac. Where do you want this to go? Know your limitations? Have backups? One might say don't go anywhere with a 6.0 PSD but any engine or drivetrain can break down for a host of reasons. You found a 4x2 isn't good in snow but even a 4x4 can get stuck. So I'm not too sure what you're after.

Kinda how I look at things:
I'm always lookin to do stuff that I can't do so I can learn how to do it but there is a limit. Provide somebody shows me how, I'm all ears. For me at least, it’s a small drop in the bucket. Broke down in the field can take a toll in my case. I admit I'm no mechanic which is why I carry a sat phone.
SO:
IMO the #1 thing is to always carry some form of communication that works and go with multiple vehicles when possible. I only have few friends with off road rigs, so I violate this rule all the time. I'm just waiting for the day this bites me in the ass but I have my Sat phone. Because anything can fail, the more types of communication stuff you have the better. I like the idea of keeping a green LASER on board. Piss off the airplanes...hopefully somebody up there will turn you in.

I try to know the limits of my ride and what lies ahead. I usually turn back if I'm not sure if I can make it. This has got me in some trouble in the past. Arrogant bastard maybe or stupid…you choose but I prefer to read up on where I plan to go. Some folks want the surprise of where they're going. Not me, I rather know. I ask on trail conditions, and try to find somebody who has been there recently if possible. Expect adverse weather and trail conditions. I've almost rolled my rig more than once due to slippery conditions or a washout.

I try to have a good backup plan. A BOB is an example. Nope, I really don't have one but if I can throw some stuff in a pack and move off I might be able to find help. Telling somebody where the hell you're going just might be more important but sometimes that just isn't possible provided you’re a wanderer.

Recovery equipment, tools and parts are huge. But you can't have it all and a breakdown can stop you dead in your tracks. I’ve been towed several times in the past. I'm ain't no "Jeremiah Johnson" even with a good weapon so the Sat phone has been worth its weight in gold for my travels...and I can order pizza with it.
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