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Old 12-02-2013, 07:57 PM   #1
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Uncle Scotty's Sportsmobile Build - Introduction

Hello Sportsmobile Forum!

Please allow me to introduce myself: I am known as Uncle Scotty.
I speak for my family of 4: Two 40somethings with two daughters (9 and 4) that love the outdoors, live music and new experiences. We call Chicagoland home.

First, I’d like to thank all the contributors to the Sportsmobile Fourm. The information, experience and perspectives shared here have been so important in helping me reach this point...assistance I hope has only just begun. Thank you!! Please don’t stop sharing. Forgive me for the long introduction, I feel the more I share -- the more constructive criticism I can gather.

I am getting prepared to order a Sportsmobile. Hooray! But before I pull the trigger I figured I should share my plans, thoughts, concerns, questions, etcetera and let the forum chew it up and spit it out. I can take it, so please let me know what you really think. I am aware that this process is going to be a balancing act of tradeoffs, risks, rewards and costs. I am asking that all of you help me make well informed decisions.

We plan to camp with the Sportsmobile at mostly state and national parks, bringing bikes and kayaks and plenty of great food to prepare. I also plan to use the Sportsmobile for tailgates and music festivals with 2-3 other guys…and hopefully with the family once in a while. We also hope the Sportsmobile allows us to take many spontaneous overnight/weekend trips close to home. Ready-To-Go is my mantra for this endeavor.

Previously, we’ve car-camped & attended music festivals using our Honda Odyssey. It IS comfortable on the way there but we need to bring tons of stuff to set up when we arrive, then tear it all down and repack it before leaving (somehow taking up more space than before). That used to be fun but has now become a nuisance…especially when things are wet. One time, at band camp, the threat of an approaching tornado encouraged a quick escape…tearing down an elaborate basecamp in a hurry (with kids) is not something I’d like to repeat…especially while hundreds of paranoid hippies are doing the same around me. We’re DONE adventuring with the Odyssey.

We’ve rented RVs for both camping and festivals and have had mostly good experiences. I especially appreciate having a bathroom. (The potties at music festivals can get really nasty after 3 or 4 days in the sun…especially for the wife and kids) The biggest issue with the rented RVs is the fact that my wife isn’t comfortable driving the big & wide rigs. Hauling from Chicago through Minnesota to Itasca State Park last year we passed a sign: “No shoulder, narrow lanes, 50 miles.” I drove all of the 24 hours there and back. However, we love the “ready-upon-arrival” nature of the RVs. We also like the idea of going where big RV’s can’t. I’m leaning away from the 4x4 upgrades (for now) to stay out of trouble and get our feet wet first.

The idea of a Sportsmobile for “Always-Packed-And-Ready-To-Go” car camping, tailgating, music-festival going and short 1-2 night trips is very appealing. It will not as be luxurious or spacious as the rented RVs…but much better than the Minivan. Splitting the driving will allow us to go farther…but will mean less neck massages for me. We will still bring a tent for extended stays…but have the option of just popping the top for a quick overnight along the way. Most of the “essentials” we need to bring for car-camping can be built into the Sportsmobile, making camp set-up and tear-down easier.

I’ve considered waiting for the right pre-owned Sportsmobile to come along, but have determined that building our own will be the most successful and rewarding. I’m not an amateur mechanic, nor do I want to become one. Breakdowns during a family vacation are not “teachable moments” for us…we want to GET THERE. “New with Warranty” is music to my ears. I have 3 tools in my toolbox: A telephone, a checkbook and a bottle opener. (Don’t get me wrong, I CAN take care of business and DO when necessary…it’s just not what I consider FUN).

Business is good. Life is short. I’m customizing my own Sportsmobile!

Well…That’s my introduction, and I’m damn glad to meet ya’ll.
I’ll post details of my plans and ask for your feedback soon.

Cheers!

- Uncle Scotty
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:39 PM   #2
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Re: Uncle Scotty's Sportsmobile Build - Introduction

Quote:
We will still bring a tent for extended stays
Bet you won't after long!
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Old 12-02-2013, 08:42 PM   #3
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Re: Uncle Scotty's Sportsmobile Build - Introduction

Welcome............errr......this is weird...........Scotty, Legos,...........hmmmm

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Old 12-02-2013, 11:51 PM   #4
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Re: Uncle Scotty's Sportsmobile Build - Introduction

Quote:
Originally Posted by jage
Quote:
We will still bring a tent for extended stays
Bet you won't after long!
Tents for the kids!

OK. so you need seating / seatbelts for 4. What floorplan are you leaning towards? Ford, Sprinter, or ?

Unless you know for sure that you want to do lots of major off road or snow travel, I think sticking with 2wd is a good bet. Try to get a limited slip differential to start out with and you'll be in good shape to go down more miles of forest service roads than you could shake a stick at. If you decide that is your gig later down the road, add 4wd at that point. You'll get better MPG for now and have easier access in and out with the lower stance.

Have fun with the build process, and welcome!
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Old 12-03-2013, 07:49 AM   #5
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Re: Uncle Scotty's Sportsmobile Build - Introduction

I'm actually kind of questioning whether a SMB will meet your needs/desires. It is a great "grab and go" sort of vehicle, especially if you have modest camping requirements, but you might be hard pressed to get all the amenities in it that you are looking for (especially a toilet).

The challenge is needing seating for four. You can do this two ways: get a floorplan with a forward-facing bench seat, like a "50" plan, or add a second row of captain's chairs. If you do the latter, it will eat up a lot of room inside. If you do the former, it may not be as comfortable for the passengers on a long drive, and the lack of a window on the driver's side may be annoying to the rear passengers (although you can add a window there if you custom design a floor plan).

In any instance, I'd definitely recommend an EB Ford van or a bigger Sprinter to give you enough elbow room for four people.

For the toilet needs, you can either to with a port-a-pottie, which probably isn't what you are looking for, or an installed marine toilet, but that takes up a fair bit of room in the layout.
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Old 12-03-2013, 08:00 AM   #6
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Re: Uncle Scotty's Sportsmobile Build - Introduction

Welcome to the club, glad you got the checkbook at the ready!

"Always packed and ready to go" has not been my experience. We usually pack to the occasion, unpack and clean on return, leave it unpacked, and then pack for the next occasion all over again. I don't know about others, but we are in this cycle, and due to the variety of uses we have, I expect it will always be like this. Still waaaaaay better than tent camping and it's associated pack.

Keep us in the loop as you move forward so we can drive you crazy with alternate perspectives!
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Old 12-03-2013, 09:59 AM   #7
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Re: Uncle Scotty's Sportsmobile Build - Introduction

Thanks for all of the responses so far. Nothing new, I've been going around and around on all the issues you've raised...and more.

Regarding the tent: Yes, I hope the tent will be left behind at some point. We've found its a good place for the kids to play while we are preparing dinner & such. Better than climbing in, out and all around the van. Also, I've been known to snore after drinking too much fire water on occasion...the tent serves as a refuge for my wife or a place to banish me when that happens.

86Scotty: Pure coincidence on the name and Lego avatar. Weird indeed. I'd love to see a bigger picture of that Lego build...it looks more playable than the fragile VW pop-top that I have. I checked out your van for sale and most of the build thread. Very nice! Well Done! It's clear that lots of love went into that sweetheart.

Here's what I've been thinking:

Van Basics: 2014 Ford E-350 Extended Body, 6.8L V10, 5-Speed Automatic, 3.73 Limited Slip
I the sort of guy that will load up all the bells & whistles that I can...but we can debate those details later.
I'm suggesting the V10 because we have sailboats to tow around and put out in & out of the water each year, We're thinking we might need an ActionTrailer (or similar) for more storage and a rack for the bikes & kayaks, and I'd like the van to be ready for 4x4 in the future. Finally, one RV we rented had a 4 speed V8 and I never felt comfortable merging or passing...sounded like it was going to explode.

Layout: I love the layout in "Sherman"...a modified RB-30? The RV's we've rented all had a gaucho-style layout and the kids loved it when traveling & I like the open feel. Our youngest won't be needing a car seat for much longer, but I'm wondering if Sportsmobile can build in the necessary whatnot to accommodate a forward-facing car seat at the rear of the gaucho or a rear-facing one behind the driver. The shower pan w/ potti in Sherman takes up quite a bit of room, but isn't a deal-breaker if we decide against it. We are sold on a "walk-through" layout with the door pantry.

Penthouse Top. I won't consider anything else.

I'll post my thoughts on the other options later tonight.

Fire away!
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Old 12-03-2013, 10:20 AM   #8
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Re: Uncle Scotty's Sportsmobile Build - Introduction

We just recently got into the SMB game as well. I'm not as lucky as you to build a brand new one, but the used one I bought has definitely fit the bill so far. One thing I have noticed is that finding a spot for everything takes a while. Also, when more than 2 people are on the trip, you quickly run out of storage space. We've been on a couple trips, both with 4-5 people and brought a tent along with us and set it up just to put all the sleeping bags, backpacks, etc. If its just two people, you wouldn't need to do that.

Either way, you won't ever go back to tent camping once you get your SMB. Enjoy your build!
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Old 12-03-2013, 04:50 PM   #9
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Re: Uncle Scotty's Sportsmobile Build - Introduction

Uncle Scotty,

Check this thread for another LEGO camper. Similar to 86Scotty but without the canoe.

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=10322

Mike
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Old 12-03-2013, 07:40 PM   #10
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Re: Uncle Scotty's Sportsmobile Build - Introduction

I recommend thinking about 4.10 gears.

1) It gives you an extra 3,500 pounds of combined weight rating.
2) You can upgrade later to lower gearing without replacing the carrier.
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