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Old 06-25-2013, 08:02 AM   #1
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Everything plus the kitchen sink in an RB?

Hi Folks,

I've lurked here a while and am amazed at the community and of course, the Sportsmobile. Just a quick background on me: born and raised in SoCal. First car was an '86 Toyota 4x4 standard bed, standard cab truck. Had that for 15 years. Wheeled and camped all over SoCal, OR, WA, NV, AZ. Got tired of repairing the IFS so did a solid axle swap and Marlin Crawler x-fer. Wheeled the truck some more (Moab, Rubicon, Dusy, etc., etc.). Got tried of the truck and wheeling, bought a BMW motorcycle, never looked back.

Now living in MI (Ann Arbor) but the plan is to move to WA State (Snohomish County area) in about two years.

My wife and I want to get back into camping and exploring but we're done with the tent thing. Since I was a kid, I've always wanted a Westy. Been scared off at the prices of Westy Synchros. No. Make that terrified I figure for that kind of dough, we should just get a "real" truck.

While I can't see us wheeling as hard core as I did in my youth, I'd really like a 4x4. I'm a bit nervous about the timeline of our purchase and the demise of the Econoline. I'll deal with that. Also bit p.o'ed that the Powerstroke is gone too.

Just a couple of questions for those in the know:

1. Has anyone put a full bath (marine toilet/shower) in an RB? I've "built" one on the SMB site and it looks like I need to put the bath as far forward as possible (like right behind the driver's seat). Behind that, I'd put a tall galley cabinet (4 cu. ft. fridge) and a tall clothes closet beside that. On the opposite side would be the galley and a short pull-out pantry. For sleeping, we'd use a dinette all the way to the rear. My wife doesn't want to sleep in a pop-up (claustrophobic).

Has anyone crammed all of this in an RB? I figure that if we use the Cruiser II top, we can utilize upper cabinets and a platform for additional storage to make up for the lost length that we'd have in an EB.

I have sketched out a BUNCH of EB's and been able to fit in two closets, two pantrys and some additional storage. If we can get by with an RB, I'd be ecstatic. According to the SMB "build your own" studio, my idea will work (wish I could post it here). I just don't know how true my idea is in the factory. Any pics of fully-equipped RB's out there? I've searched with no luck.

2. V8 or V10? When we moved from California to Michigan I rented a Penske 15" box van. Fully loaded and with a car on a trailer (a real trailer, not a dolly), it did great. I was so impressed that I popped the hood expecting to find a V10. I was stunned when I found it that the truck was equipped with a 5.4. Thoughts? My thinking is initial buy-in cost and fuel economy, but not at the expense of climbing the Grapevine at 35 MPH

Hope I outlined all of my concerns clearly. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 06-25-2013, 08:53 AM   #2
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Re: Everything plus the kitchen sink in an RB?

Okay. I figured out how to post my dream floorplan in an RB:

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Old 06-25-2013, 09:01 AM   #3
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Re: Everything plus the kitchen sink in an RB?

With full height cabinets on both sides, not only the dinette area but the aisle as well would make me claustrophobic. A dinette across the rear is good for people under about 5'10"(?).

We have a voyager top and a 5.4l. I wouldn't want a 4" lift plus a 6" higher top. It would be really tall for the forest roads we travel, and the engine would be working hard much of the time on the highway. Not to mention cross wind handling.
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Old 06-25-2013, 09:07 AM   #4
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Re: Everything plus the kitchen sink in an RB?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhally
With full height cabinets on both sides, not only the dinette area but the aisle as well would make me claustrophobic. A dinette across the rear is good for people under about 5'10"(?).

We have a voyager top and a 5.4l. I wouldn't want a 4" lift plus a 6" higher top. It would be really tall for the forest roads we travel, and the engine would be working hard much of the time on the highway. Not to mention cross wind handling.
Hmm...I guess I never considered the dimensions of the dinette bed. I'm 6'5"...maybe I need to re-think the EB...
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:11 AM   #5
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Re: Everything plus the kitchen sink in an RB?

Well if you are thinking of getting SMB's 4x4 conversion, then the V10 is mandatory.

Once you start adding some frontal area, the V8's fuel economy drops faster than the V10s. Start pulling a mid-size trailer and they do about the same. Pull a large, heavy trailer and the V10 does better!

Plus, the V10 comes with a more robust transmission with 2 more gears in it (its actually a 6-speed but only uses 5 at a time). The TorqueShift also has automatic grade-braking. And the V10 idles quieter. Quiet enough to just use it for stationary power. Other than a portable inverter Honda, I don't you could find another generator that would be quieter.

I love having an EB van. The departure angle sometimes requires thinking through your lines a little harder, but it has never gotten me stuck. I little scrapage every now and then isn't the end of the world.
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:49 AM   #6
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Re: Everything plus the kitchen sink in an RB?

I'd rethink the poptop. I spent a short time looking at cruiser tops, but found them too claustrophobic, mainly because they all seemed to have stuff build up too high. And less window space. The penthouse creates a big, open, light space above you, so even when seated the van feels more open.

And having that bed up above creates some more options for long aisle below. For example, the tops of cabinets then become counters you can work on, especially if you're tall. And thinking of you as an overly long object I'd have to store, I'd want you lengthwise up in the penthouse, otherwise you're taking up too much room. But you have to consider the height of the penthouse; at 6'5" you're gonna be hitting the underside of the bed hanging above I think.

Of course, you do loose storage space with a penthouse. But if you are concerned about feeling shut in, then loose the storage. Getting stuck with a van you feel uncomfortable in defeats the whole purpose of getting it. And the best remedy for claustrophobia, since you can't really increase the area of the van, is to add windows...lots of 'em. Otherwise it's a cave.

And I agree about the lift plus cruiser top. I already whack too many branches with just a lift and a penthouse. I've never used a cruiser offroad, but sidehilling must be interesting.

If you liked Westys, go with that, meaning as small as possible. If you really need that extra height maybe something besides a van is in order.

And if you're sold on an inside shower, then maybe consider something else. Having one in the van means sacrificing a space that you use quite rarely. And then there's plumbing. And because you've used up that space, you tend to crowd up the interior more. And then when there's two of you in there on a rainy day and one takes a shower, well it feels like you both did. Condensation, drips, etc. Again, think of the Westy.

As alternatives to full baths consider the porta potty and hand shower combo. I like the way Cricket trailers do it: the water system comes with a hand sprayer and hose, which is useful for doing dishes, using outside, or a shower. They have a curtain that drops down just inside the door, so if you leave it open you vent much of the steam and spray outside. And you could maybe design a tray that would drain out there as well; I already use boot trays there anyway. This way you don't end up sacrificing any space except for the porta potty. On your drawing all you'd have to do is delete the shower cabinet, and swap the stove and sink right to left so the sink is nearer the door.

I've got an EB, and agonized over the decision. Turns out that while the departure angle is an issue, it's not as bad as I though it would be. I've probably had issues crowning the middle more than hitting the rear, and it's reinforced enough with a hitch that I can scrape it anyway. I've also got the 5.4, and it's fine. I've towed a car and some other stuff, and you feel it, but it didn't significantly slow me down. It's the height and lack of aero that really slows you. And I had to really beef up the sways to deal with crosswind, even with just the penthouse height.

A good source of pictures is the sportsmobile used van site. If you go to the SMB-West section, and look down a ways at the 1996 Ford EB E250/5.8L V-8, that is sorta like my interior. Having a long corridor gives it an open feel, and allows storage of long stuff. And you can pile stuff in through the rear and still access it. The couch facing a counter, with windows up above the counter, also creates an open feel. Consider carefully what you're looking at when you're sitting in the back of the van. And preferably it should be a nice view. My counter is low and runs almost the length of the passenger side, so from the gaucho I get a very wide view, including out the front windows, side door windows, etc. When you look at some of the van pictures, notice how dark some of the interiors are...that might be warning for someone with claustrophobia.

In your design, if you are seating on the couch you aren't gonna see much; I don't think there's room for much of a window above it. And you are rather isolated from someone in the passenger seat when it's reversed; not sure if that's intentional. Maybe slide everything on the driver's side back, install a gaucho that folds out for sleeping with an extension for your height. Then you could sit right across from windows and your galley.

Anyway, good luck! It's a difficult process. And sometimes asking us makes it worse If you need more pics of specific features, give us a holla.

Rob
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Old 06-25-2013, 01:28 PM   #7
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Re: Everything plus the kitchen sink in an RB?

You might look at redesigning something like this to suit your needs.

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=7172

I feel walkthroughs a bit too narrow unless you're physically built for it. Many complain about walking past one another when two are in the van trying to do something like cook although to have a shower, you'll probably need a walk through. I can't see an RB having a head/shower w/o giving up other needed space.
The link to the van I showed was impressive IMO and well thought out. The seats in the rear could be removed when needed for extra space but even with them in, it didn't seem that cramped. Your problem is going to be the bed vs. your height. I saw one van that had the bathroom up front and it was way too large making it difficult to enter the side doors. But anything you can get to work is fine. Maybe a mid section twin gaucho that folds together to form a large bed with the shower towards the rear and a small sink station opposite it. Just a thought
One way or another adding a shower/head = giving up storage space. One thing about the hard tops is they supply a small amount of storage that a PH doesn't. What I don't like about the hard tops is you're confined more and the large screen windows are absent copared to the PH which really helps to cool down things. Of course it's just the opposite in cold weather.

You can take a look at the article I wrote some years back dealing with my build in the link below in my signature. It's has a few pictures of several builds out of Sportsmobile of Fresno. Post if you want specific links...good luck on your build.
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Old 06-25-2013, 02:58 PM   #8
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Re: Everything plus the kitchen sink in an RB?

I'm 6'0" and we have an optional bed in the lower area that goes the width of the van and IT IS TO TIGHT for me to sleep comfortably. I have to sleep on the diagonal when it is use.

Here is our layout:



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Old 06-26-2013, 07:41 AM   #9
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Re: Everything plus the kitchen sink in an RB?

Thank you to everyone for the input...it's extremely valuable!

I've totally dropped the idea of trying this with an SB. I think the EB is the way to go.

As for the roof style: this won't be a Rubicon runner but having 4WD for some not-so-nice roads would be comforting. Yeah, we'll go to Moab I'm sure...okay, we'll MAYBE try the Rubicon with it at some point

Furthermore, I'm not convinced a penthouse top would work for our intended purpose. This van will be our home when we visit "home" over the Christmas and Easter holidays. Home is Saskatchewan, and I can't see the PH top being all that warm when it's -50C outside.

Bathroom arrangements and justification: I'm not sold on the shower. I can make do with a porta potty. I just want my wife to have a nice, clean bathroom and shower so that she'll actually want to go places. She can also use an enclosed bathroom when we're traveling. She's all over that.

Sleeping and bathroom location justification: I had originally configured the sleeping and bathroom areas near the front. My wife didn't like the idea of the bathroom OR bed near the side doors. For the bathroom: she didn't want anyone to see her coming out of the bathroom if we had the side doors open Also, there is NO WAY she will sleep in an overhead bed, hence the sleeping area has got to be at floor level.

Sleeping: she doesn't want to sleep anywhere near the side doors. Reasoning: "if someone wanted to get into the van, you'd have more time to get your gun if we were in the back than if we were right by the side doors." Now, I've got to admit, this sounds a bit odd, but I gotta give the girl credit - being Canadian she's anti-gun. It's just by chance that I'm the PoPo and that makes it okay for me to have firearms

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that van daveb posted (that's my first color choice too!). The rear galley and bath is what I wanted in the first place. I just need to convince Mrs. Lndshark that we can sleep near the front. Street-side gaucho with an extension, maybe? I can ditch some of the closets and/or pantry options if we go with upper cabinets in the top area (without sacrificing some side windows up there).

No need to twist my arm on the V10. Have the issues been worked out? I know that early on there was some exhaust manifold problems (leaking) and whatnot.

Thank you!
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Old 06-26-2013, 07:48 AM   #10
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Re: Everything plus the kitchen sink in an RB?

[quote="lndshark"]...Sleeping: she doesn't want to sleep anywhere near the side doors. Reasoning: "if someone wanted to get into the van, you'd have more time to get your gun if we were in the back than if we were right by the side doors." ...quote]


Shhhhh...don't tell her that there are doors in the back too.
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