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Old 06-12-2011, 12:13 PM   #1
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SMB surf wagon

Hello forum!

I'm interested in building a very simple pop top RB E350 passenger wagon for short camping trips and surf adventures. We have a baby and hope to have at least one more, so two captains chairs with child seats is an absolute must, along with a rear bench that converts into a bed. I'm also considering having an Engel fridge installed so I can swap it in and out when needed.

I think there's a market for this type of "family setup" and hopefully this post will serve as a good source of information, so thanks in advance for any input and guidance.

With that said here are my questions:

Do any of you have the "penthouse G" pop top? Can a rack be added? Any thoughts on this particular option?

Where would you recommend placing the 43qt Engel fridge? I'm not opposed to anchoring it behind the bench but realize we won't be able to get to it until we stop. Is there a better place to put it? Dimensions are 25.5 x 14 x 20.

Any advice on a battery setup? This particular fridge draws 0.7 - 2.5 Amps. Internal halogen lights, music and refrigeration to last for three days is the goal. Would a 4D AGM be overkill? Solar?

I plan on having a passenger chair that swivels, but am undecided on the drivers seat. If it only turns 90 degrees it doesn't seem worth it. Thoughts?

I think I've read through 90% of the forum posts regarding the 4x4 conversion options and have a good sense of the pros and cons of each. I won't be doing any crazy offroading, but I do value having 4x4 and will definitely get some use out of it, but to be honest... it's a "nice to have" feature that I probably could live without. However, I am intending to build my dream machine, so the little devil on my shoulder is telling me to do it. Retaining the factory warranty is an important factor, as is an understated 4x4 appearance (non monster truck), so I'm leaning toward Quigley.

4x4 questions:

Since this van will be relatively light (not a lot of cabinets and appliances), what will the impact on gas mileage be with a Quigley 4x4? They say a standard RB350 gets 15mpg. Any thoughts?

I'd like the ride quality to be as smooth as possible, so are Bilsteins a mandatory addition to this conversion?

Again, any input is a greatly appreciated!

-Sam
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Old 06-12-2011, 02:04 PM   #2
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Re: SMB surf wagon

Welcome on board and enjoy the planning phase.

Here is my input...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eyecre8it

I plan on having a passenger chair that swivels, but am undecided on the drivers seat. If it only turns 90 degrees it doesn't seem worth it. Thoughts?
If you don't have anything behind the driver seat, it will rotate 180į


Quote:
Originally Posted by Eyecre8it
I'd like the ride quality to be as smooth as possible, so are Bilsteins a mandatory addition to this conversion?
Quadvan installs Bilstein with their conversion and it is a great ride quality.
From what I understand, the factory warranty is only affected that the new parts are not covered, the rest is maintained.

My 2 cents,
Andrew
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Old 06-12-2011, 06:56 PM   #3
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Re: SMB surf wagon

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eyecre8it
Hello forum!

I'm interested in building a very simple pop top RB E350 passenger wagon for short camping trips and surf adventures. We have a baby and hope to have at least one more, so two captains chairs with child seats is an absolute must, along with a rear bench that converts into a bed. I'm also considering having an Engel fridge installed so I can swap it in and out when needed.

I think there's a market for this type of "family setup" and hopefully this post will serve as a good source of information, so thanks in advance for any input and guidance.

With that said here are my questions:

Do any of you have the "penthouse G" pop top? Can a rack be added? Any thoughts on this particular option?
Why the G top? Iíd talk with SMB, but would think a Yakima or Thule rack is possible. If youíre planning on the G top so it garage friendly, take into account the 4x4 conversion and tires might add height as well.

Where would you recommend placing the 43qt Engel fridge? I'm not opposed to anchoring it behind the bench but realize we won't be able to get to it until we stop. Is there a better place to put it? Dimensions are 25.5 x 14 x 20.[/quote]

Take a look at this vanÖthere is a lot of room if your van isnít built out like this one. viewtopic.php?f=3&t=7172

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eyecre8it
Any advice on a battery setup? This particular fridge draws 0.7 - 2.5 Amps. Internal halogen lights, music and refrigeration to last for three days is the goal. Would a 4D AGM be overkill? Solar?
A single 4-D would be fine and not overkill IMO. With a 135W solar panel (provided youíre in sun for a few hours each day) youíll probably be self sufficient most of the time. At one time or another you might have to start the vehicle to charge. Add all LED lighting to reduce power consumption. I would add a charge relay to separate the batteries because stereo amps could leave you stranded.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eyecre8it
I plan on having a passenger chair that swivels, but am undecided on the drivers seat. If it only turns 90 degrees it doesn't seem worth it. Thoughts?
If you can do it I would (you canít have any 4x4 levers in the way and most Quigleys donít).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eyecre8it
I think I've read through 90% of the forum posts regarding the 4x4 conversion options and have a good sense of the pros and cons of each. I won't be doing any crazy offroading, but I do value having 4x4 and will definitely get some use out of it, but to be honest... it's a "nice to have" feature that I probably could live without. However, I am intending to build my dream machine, so the little devil on my shoulder is telling me to do it. Retaining the factory warranty is an important factor, as is an understated 4x4 appearance (non monster truck), so I'm leaning toward Quigley.
Why not? Of course you can always add it later through somebody elseÖyour choice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eyecre8it
4x4 questions:

Since this van will be relatively light (not a lot of cabinets and appliances), what will the impact on gas mileage be with a Quigley 4x4? They say a standard RB350 gets 15mpg. Any thoughts?
Wear and tear, slightly reduce mileage and more maintenance is part of it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eyecre8it
I'd like the ride quality to be as smooth as possible, so are Bilsteins a mandatory addition to this conversion?
Whatever the conversion company specs out that can be used with the conversion. Choose whatís best for you. My Bilsteins are so much better than the OME shocks that came with the van.

Good luck on your build.
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Old 06-12-2011, 07:54 PM   #4
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Re: SMB surf wagon

If you want a nice ride, look at QuadVan instead of Quigley. QuadVan has twice as much travel for the same 4" lift setup, which means you won't be on the bumpstops all the time. Also, dual front shocks are optional on QuadVan. I haven't seen a Quigley with dual shocks.

Like Quigley, the Ford warranty is unaffected, and non-Ford conversion items are warrantied by QuadVan.

Why halogen interior lights? Going LED can dramatically lower battery demands, depending on how many lights you use.

Sounds like an EB-52 setup would be ideal your use. But I would try to use a window/passenger van if you will have kids in the back. Visibility is much better.
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Old 06-12-2011, 08:50 PM   #5
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Re: SMB surf wagon

I have a 05 E350 passenger van that has a penthouse top and have Thule racks on top to hold boards and kayaks. No problems at all. Inside it has 4 captains chairs and a bench seat in the back. When we go camping I take out the 2 kid's captains' chairs (they have quick disconnects) and enjoy the space. The Engel fits behind the driver's seat. I built a bed behind the bench seat that is removable. It easily allows my kids to sleep sideways as it is almost 6 feet wide. I'd add window blinds and seat heaters.
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Old 06-12-2011, 09:07 PM   #6
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Re: SMB surf wagon

Shameless, shameless, shameless plug for my SMB that is for sale. Two front Captain's chairs, up to three passenger area Captains chairs (on quick release mounts), a rear bench (on quick release mount), a rear bed platform that can go in place of the rear bench (on quick release mount), and a penthouse bed too.

viewtopic.php?f=7&t=7226

A built-in fridge, sink and fresh water tank, oh and roof rails too.


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Old 06-13-2011, 12:01 AM   #7
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Re: SMB surf wagon

Quote:
Originally Posted by carringb
Like Quigley, the Ford warranty is unaffected, and non-Ford conversion items are warrantied by QuadVan.
Except currently Ford only allows the extended warrantee on SMB 4x4 conversions. That might change in the future but is something to consider.
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Old 06-13-2011, 12:06 AM   #8
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Re: SMB surf wagon

It sounds like Quadvan is the way to go for the 4x4. Most 4x4 posts i've read generally circle back to them, but I wasn't aware that they had such a close relationship with Ford. Good to know.

Regarding the penthouse G top, my interest is saving a little height of course, but the lower profile looks a bit more sleek and integrated don't you think? I like the look of the standard ones too. Since I'll be installing roof racks the height issue is probably a moot point. I will keep you posted.

Did I say halogen lights? I meant LEDs, sorry.

DaveB, thanks for the battery assessment. I'll comb through some posts for some solar panel recommendations and will need to consider the lack of an extended warranty with quadvan.

CarringB, I checked out the EB52 and yes, thats basically the layout I have in mind minus the sink and micro. I'd like to be able to yank things in and out as need be. I looked at a couple transformer vans on the forum that peaked my interest.

Bridges, glad to hear that you're happy with your setup. It's exactly what I have in mind.

Nice rig BroncoHauler!
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Old 06-13-2011, 06:20 AM   #9
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SMB surf wagon

i have a quigley, and you DO have a 4x4 shifter in the way of the swiveling driver's seat. However, you can order what they call a Breakover Shifter that unscrews while you are camped so you can move the seat. Now, due to my EB50 plan I can only turn it about a little over 90 degrees. Waste of money. I have bothered with rotating it once just to see it could do it. Never again. Instead my driver seat gets pushed up close to the steering wheel, bags are thrown on that seat and behind it in the space that is created while camped. IF I had known better, I would have been able to get the electric seat instead of this manual one that I never swivel anyhow.
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Old 06-13-2011, 10:00 AM   #10
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Re: SMB surf wagon

Good point. If you want to swivel the driver seat, you probably want Electronic shift on the fly.
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