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Old 05-02-2014, 07:22 PM   #1
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Designing my Dog Van: Too Simple for Sportsmobile?

I'm so very new to this...I want a new van to use for hauling my dogs around to all their shows and events. (I swear, I drive more than a soccer mom!) I've never had a customized van, so all of the options seem a bit overwhelming. While I'm fairly handy, I'm really not handy enough to do any real customization.

I'm trying to figure out if the best approach is to buy a stock (or custom ordered) van from a dealer and just make it work? Or have it outfitted to fit my specific needs. And if I have it outfitted, is this such a plain customization that anyone could do it? Or should I make the pilgramage to Sportsmobile?

I know I want a Sprinter. Plan to buy new.
I'm planning on the high roof...just so I can easily stack crates.
I know I want lots of creature comforts when driving. (Cup holders, leather seats, iphone integration, power windows, etc.)
I don't need to camp, so don't really need the RV features. A fridge would be nice, but not required.
I want the interior to look nice...maybe not luxurious, but not just crates thrown into the back of a van.
I need to keep everyone cool on hot southern California days, so insulation and air conditioning is a must.
It has to be fairly easy to keep clean.

This won't be my daily driver. My trips are usually 1 to 3 days. I always travel with two dogs, but sometimes as many as 5.

I only need seats for the driver and one passenger, but it would be nice to be able to seat another person now and again.

I'm short. Steps would be nice

I'd love an outside awning. I imagine hanging out at a lure coursing event, the dogs lounging in their crates in the van, me sitting out under the awning in a camp chair.

Stuff that needs to go in the van:
- Two large crates (42”x28”x30” each)
- Two smaller crates (36”x23”x25”)
- Canopy for the show site (48” x 12” x 12”)
- A small collection of folding crates, chairs and pens (approximate dimension as one big crate—42x28x30) Nice if these could be stacked on end to make it easier to get any one out without having to dig through the pile.
- Travel bin (usually just one, about the same size as a smaller crate 36x23x25)
- Cart for hauling stuff to the show site (38”x32”x10”)
- A collection of smaller bags and coolers for training stuff.

And that's about it.

Next decisions I have to make:
- What length? Is the regular body long enough for my needs?
- Sportsmobile? Local dealer with local outfitter? Or just a local dealer custom ordered?

Any advice for an overwhelmed noob?
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Old 05-02-2014, 07:46 PM   #2
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Re: Designing my Dog Van: Too Simple for Sportsmobile?

There are Sprinter guys and gals here who will be along to help you.
But when I was in the same situation, ordering my van new, I realized that I wanted rear AC and windows, and a finished interior, and those things only came factory in the wagons not the cargo vans. There is an additional cost for a passenger wagon with those amenities over that of a cargo van of the same engine, wheelbase, height, etc. which would need to be compared with the cost of adding any rear AC, windows, or finished interior by an aftermarket converter such as SMB. After doing that comparison, I ordered a 15 passenger wagon, sold most of the seats and did my relatively minor conversions in there.
So based on my limited experience, I would say that one of the first decisions for you to make is whether you want to start with a Sprinter cargo van or with a Sprinter passenger wagon as the starting point for your customization?
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Old 05-03-2014, 07:55 PM   #3
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Re: Designing my Dog Van: Too Simple for Sportsmobile?

I know you said you wanted a Sprinter, but this Ford already has a lot of what you want.

http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale ... =365462433
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Old 05-03-2014, 08:56 PM   #4
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Re: Designing my Dog Van: Too Simple for Sportsmobile?

And if you're sure you want a Sprinter, here's a pretty cool example from member k9sprinter viewtopic.php?t=5616

Lots of pics, so give everything a moment to load after you click.
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Old 05-04-2014, 09:49 PM   #5
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Re: Designing my Dog Van: Too Simple for Sportsmobile?

Do you need AC when the vehicle is off? If so, a roof mounted AC unit with an onboard generator would be needed. I only ask because you imagined being parked with the awning out with you outside and the dogs in the crate.
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Old 05-04-2014, 09:53 PM   #6
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Re: Designing my Dog Van: Too Simple for Sportsmobile?

Give it up. (She was a one post wonder. She is never coming back to look at our responses...
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Old 05-04-2014, 11:22 PM   #7
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Re: Designing my Dog Van: Too Simple for Sportsmobile?

Huh...didn't mean to dis anyone...

Yes, I'm sure I want a Sprinter, but thanks for the link! I have seen the lovely Dober Van. Quite inspirational.

I am hoping to have some cooling with the engine turned off, at the minimum a fan, but full ac would be better. I'm leaning toward the crew or cargo...I don't think I want all the extra windows since they make the inside even warmer.

I'm wading through all the options now. Whew! So many choices. Think I'll give Sportsmobile a call and see if they can help me narrow it down a bit.
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Old 05-04-2014, 11:57 PM   #8
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Re: Designing my Dog Van: Too Simple for Sportsmobile?

I'd be looking at an auto-start generator for the A/C. Not sure about the Sprinters but SMB has mounted Onan generators under the frame and they're fairly quite. Running a large battery system would be rather expensive and heavy. But if you're not planning a full build out, a set of Lithium batteries might be an idea...an expensive idea.
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Old 05-05-2014, 12:16 AM   #9
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Re: Designing my Dog Van: Too Simple for Sportsmobile?

Thanks. Th generator would also be useful for running a dryer when grooming.
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Old 05-26-2014, 03:00 AM   #10
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Re: Designing my Dog Van: Too Simple for Sportsmobile?

You might consider the new Promaster from Dodge. More interior room, same mpg as Sprinter but gasoline, really nice road manners, lower floor so loading is .much easier ,.Better yet. Look at the Winnebago Travato to see the possibilities. Loaded for around $65k .list is $85k but people are getting them around $65k. Make your own for a lot less.
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