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Old 05-22-2014, 05:55 PM   #1
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4x4 Motovan Planning stages

Hi all.

My girlfriend and I are researching and planning a camper van build. Our plan is to have a functional and reliable camper that will let us travel together comfortably on long weekend trips, and eventually for a year around North+South America. Would love to get some input on our build plans.

I am torn between the RB and EB van body. Aesthetically and functionally I like the RB body the best. But I am having second thoughts about starting with an EB van because I make films and ride motorcycles which are gear intensive hobbies. Gear for both of these takes up alot of space- which leads me to wanting secure storage in the EB layout. Unfortunately, the main drawback to an EB-would be traveling with my ktm 450 on a hitch hauler. Suddenly the extra 20” of the EB body and another 30” for the bike suddenly feels way tooooo long. It would leave us with a huge rear overhang when 4x4ing and a long rig to maneuver in the city. My other concern is secure storage for camera gear. I would need secure storage for hard drives and the camera + lenses, as well as larger cubbies to include big items like a slider, jib arm and sturdy tripod. Would is be be safe enough/ possible weight wise to store long items like that in a yakima style box on an electric penthouse top?

After I finish shooting films, its time to edit. Id like to be able to edit and have my gf design side by side with enough room to not feel cramped. I like the layout danhtran1143 is working with.


For the interior build, I like the modern minimal layouts and styling of outside van. I really like the compact nature of the sink/stove/fridge in the naughty dog build here. Unfortunately they said they no longer work on ford vans. So- it seems like sportsmobile and van specialties are both solid options, currently leaning towards sportsmobile.

Van specifics: Im looking for the right diesel 7.3 (super hard to find) or an '06+ 6.0 that I would bulletproof. I like the power, mileage, and sound of a diesel, but they are so damn hard to find with low miles and minimal body damage. Suspension will be a 4x4 kit form Ujoint off road. I was originally set on the 4” lift, but I recently read about the advantages to the 6” kit like turning radius increase and steering stabilization. Electric penthouse poptop with a cargo rack and storage box. House batteries and a solar kit. Ujor front bumper with a winch, dual shocks up front and an aluminess rear bumper with spare tire and work box. Arb fridge/freezer and probably use the for food prep.

I have done lots of homework— hours of scrolling through your builds and looking at camper vans for sale nationally, but you can only get so far on the computer! We would love to meet up with some folks in the Los Angeles area to chat for a bit about how they like their van setup and check out sportsmobile builds in person. Anyone like wine?
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Old 05-22-2014, 08:39 PM   #2
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Re: 4x4 Motovan Planning stages

Although I like the looks of an RB when its stock height better than an EB, I like the looks of a lifted EB better than a RB. As far as toting the bike, you could put a front hitch and put it up there if you are worried about the overhang.

Every build I've seen that Van Specialties has done, I have really liked. One of my favorites is maxacceleration's rig. Its super versatile and functional and if I had the money, I would mimic a similar build.

I have a walk though design on my SMB and I really like it. I think theres about a 50/50 split on people who like the walk through vs. the "50" layout. One thing to note is on a gaucho bench, you cant really comfortably sit back on it since the walls contour in where your head will be. I bring this up because if you were to sit there and work on your editing, depending on how you like to sit, it may be uncomfortable to you.

I'm sure you'll get plenty of input from people on here and I'm sure plenty of people will be willing to meet up with you to give you a tour of their SMB.
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Old 05-23-2014, 12:28 PM   #3
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Re: 4x4 Motovan Planning stages

I used a rear rack on my EB for my motorcycle and it wasn't much of a problem. Get one of the kinds with a jack and you only add a very minimal amount of tail to your van; mine was only about 3" (I had one custom made). The weight could be felt, but if I redistributed some inside stuff it was no problem. With the EB you lose a bit of rear angle of departure, but frankly I rarely had issues with that; usually the weight, steering radius, traction or something else was more limiting. And if you're thinking of including stuff like a shower you are gonna need the extra room.

I don't see why you can't store long stuff under that gaucho. If you do go 4" lift, that's a long reach to get your gear, especially if weather is bad. And why the extra seat? They take up tons of room and aren't very versatile.
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Old 05-27-2014, 04:02 PM   #4
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Re: 4x4 Motovan Planning stages

@mikracer thanks for the advice on the couch based editing position. i definitely couldnt tell from the photos, but it sucks that the wall would prove to be too close to my head.

after more research and thinking, we are definitely going with the RB over the EB. i found a 7.3 cargo in virginia with 150k miles that im ready to pull the trigger on today. having the EB van will just mean that i load it up with more unnecessary crap than i really need.

i spent a bit of time in photoshop to chop parts from several SMB layouts. came up with the RB69:


its a mashup of several layouts, and i took robs advice to ditch the 3rd seat. we are still not 100% settled on a smb build- because i really like the simpler style and cheaper price of van specialties. we may just use SMB for the electric PH and nothing more.

this is going to have to be a staged build because we want to pay cash for everything. it would probably be 3 phases: interior, ujor 4x4, poptop... but im not sure which stage i should do first. leaning towards the 4x4 first because its the most badass looking
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Old 05-27-2014, 04:15 PM   #5
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Re: 4x4 Motovan Planning stages

Depending on the workload of whichever SMB location you choose, they will probably not even perform an interior conversion on a van that old. Better call first before making any plans.


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Old 05-30-2014, 03:24 PM   #6
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Re: 4x4 Motovan Planning stages

Van Specialties at least has a section on early vans, so it's a hint they'll work on them. SMB West wouldn't do anything on a used van except repairs; dunno if that's changed.

I have a very very similar design in my van, it's just longer, and has a low cabinet where your closet D is. I also didn't do propane, so the sink is where the stove is on your mock up. I'm not that familiar with cabinets, but is that one called "storage cabinet C" low profile? Hope so; that long counter space below the window on the passenger side is great; makes it seem much bigger inside when you're on the gaucho. And you probably won't need that table; it's a pretty short reach to the counter.
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Old 05-30-2014, 05:47 PM   #7
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Re: 4x4 Motovan Planning stages

thanks for the SMB build info guys. i know that these are serious mods for a van, and i cant blame them for not wanting to start on an older rig. sounds like- between my smaller budget and the age of the van, it looks like a full SMB interior is out of the question. hopefully they would still install an electric ph top.

great news--- finally locked up the van! 2003 e350 diesel cargo. 155k miles


ive been looking for too long to admit...
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Old 05-30-2014, 06:33 PM   #8
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Re: 4x4 Motovan Planning stages

Sweet! If SMB wont install a pop top, I'm sure CCV will do it. It's not the closest option, but it's an option.
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Old 05-31-2014, 03:24 PM   #9
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Re: 4x4 Motovan Planning stages

Quote:
Originally Posted by ohpyramids
thanks for the SMB build info guys. i know that these are serious mods for a van, and i cant blame them for not wanting to start on an older rig. sounds like- between my smaller budget and the age of the van, it looks like a full SMB interior is out of the question. hopefully they would still install an electric ph top.

great news--- finally locked up the van! 2003 e350 diesel cargo. 155k miles


ive been looking for too long to admit...
Might look at these guys for the interior if you don't want to do it yourself:
http://rviwoodworks.com/

They do Ford vans and do a good job from what I've seen. Don't know how they price stuff.


SMBW will do a top on an older rig most of the time.

Good luck on your build
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Old 03-30-2015, 08:37 PM   #10
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Re: 4x4 Motovan Planning stages

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikracer
One thing to note is on a gaucho bench, you cant really comfortably sit back on it since the walls contour in where your head will be. I bring this up because if you were to sit there and work on your editing, depending on how you like to sit, it may be uncomfortable to you.
I've been searching the forum on this exact topic of side facing gaucho's and am getting mixed results. I was looking at a side facing gaucho as I thought it'd be a good place to sit and look out the barn doors when it was raining out or something, but it seems like some say it's great for relaxing on and others say it sucks. Is this because of height differences maybe? Or am I missing something here? I haven't had an opportunity to sit in one myself.

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