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Old 09-07-2018, 12:25 PM   #1
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Potential New Buyer Questions

I am looking at buying a SMB in the future, maybe placing an order in 2021 so I am trying to learn as much as I can. I know that things could change between now and then, but I am trying to think as if I were buying tomorrow. So far, these are my thoughts about the general build. Please comment if my thinking could be improved!

Van: Ford Transit, extended body (for shelving space), High top (would like a pop-top in theory but I am concerned about complaints/issues, something else to go wrong, etc. Instead, would settle for a platform bed in the rear (2 person sleep). I like Sprinter vans but think Ford would be easier to service and less expensive for routine maintenance.

Drivetrain: 4x4 conversion. Not sure if I need 4x4. I plan to go on forest service roads, gravel roads, mountain roads, but not boulders and rugged four wheel drive routes. I will be in snow at times. I might tow a trailer occasionally but it would be a small utility trailer or a canoe trailer, nothing huge. Could imagine driving Alaska to Baja.

Engine: Diesel. I have never had a diesel engine and don't like the higher maintenance costs but it seems like the thing to do. I need some advice about the wisdom of this. The van would sit for idle periods of a few months when I am traveling elsewhere if that matters. I am concerned about a regular gas engine in terms of poor mileage and poor performance climbing steep inclines.
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Old 09-07-2018, 12:55 PM   #2
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Potential New Buyer Questions

Plenty of time to browse through the forum to get answers to most of your questions. Plus things may and most likely will change in that period of time, not only with factory Transit options including 4X4 options, but buildout options and conversion companies available at that time, plus your needs will most likely evolve and change by then. As far as engine options, I donít think youíll find many if any SMB Transit owners with the Diesel engine, most of not all have gone with the ecoboost and have been quite impressed with its power and capabilities (is the diesel even available as a consumer option vs. commercial use?) The Transit frame is also not rated for towing heavy loads.
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Old 09-07-2018, 01:14 PM   #3
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The Transit Diesel has the least power of it's 3 engine options, although it doesn't have to spin very fast to make that power, and the torque curve is more of table.

But... The EcoBoost makes more torque, also has a flat torque curve (not quite table-top flat however) and WAY more power. 120 more in fact, and even more with a mild tune. Yes, it can use a little more fuel under normal conditions, up to a lot more fuel under extreme conditions like towing heavy, but that's because it can pull a trailer at double the speed in the mountains compared to the diesel.And, you'd have to drive a LOT of miles for the Diesel to pay-back. Probably well over 150,000. BTW - Even the regular gas motor will out-pull the diesel, it'll just make a lot of fuss doing it. The 3.7L works kinda like an on-off switch... It's got nothing until it downshifts a few gears, then takes off sounding like a kid racing their Honda.

4x4 - Yes. Do it. Even if you don't need it. Even if just from a re-sale perspective.
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Old 09-09-2018, 12:04 PM   #4
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I have yet to meet anyone who likes their transit. These are mostly guys working out of them or company trucks, and it's only personal exposure but I would worry way more about if you like the vehicle than some hypothetical service issue down the line. The truth is you're going to get screwed no matter what breaks on which brand- the little country Ford dealer isn't going to have the part, doesn't have time to squeeze you in and you'll wind up limping into the next city and camping next to the Mercedes dealer to shave two days off of being down for a week. You might as well be stranded in a van you like.
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Old 09-13-2018, 02:55 PM   #5
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I would get 4x4 if you think you may be heading to Baja. We do a lot of mountains in the winter so 4x4 beats chaining up all of the time.

Our van is gas and it sits for months without being used. No problems but we do have solar which keeps the batteries charged up.
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Old 09-16-2018, 10:12 AM   #6
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@jeroldharter I did almost everything that you outlined, except that I chose the EcoBoost gas engine.

SMB Fresno starts my conversion next week on a new, fully optioned 2018 Ford Transit 350 Cargo Van, High-Roof, Extended-Length. I went with the 3.73 Limited Slip Axle and chose to have QuadVan, instead of Quigley, do my 4x4 conversion.

Your time frame is 2021 so you're about on schedule because these things have a long lead time. If you gave SMB your deposit today then your build wouldn't start for about 12-18 months.

My Transit SMB will be for full-time off-grid remote boondocking, exploration and travel. This is not a work or company van. I could have chosen any van manufacturer I wanted and I chose Ford.
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