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Old 12-19-2009, 07:57 AM   #1
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What I learned re: Custom Interiors

On Friday, my wife and I visited SMB West and placed our order. We encountered a couple of surprises and thought others might interested for future builds.

From looking at the Sportsmobile website, I initially had the impression that if I wanted to do something out of the ordinary like upholster my seats with yellow and blue ultraleather or cowhide, that all I had to do was ask (and pay). In reality, SMBw seems unwilling or unable to purchase materials like ultraleather in smaller quantities. I can have blue seats, but I will have to pay for an entire roll of blue ultraleather. The same goes for the cabinets. I showed up with Wilsonart (like Formica) samples thinking that if I supplied them 4x8 sheets of laminate, SMBw could apply them to their own plywood boards. Not so, as SMBw purchases plywood (actually a product called Armor Core) with the paper laminate pre-applied and has no facilities for applying a different laminate material.

All hope is not lost though. By going through my own sources, I may be able to supply SMBw with the upholstery and cabinet materials myself but since I would need to provide more than enough material to do the job, it may be too costly. There is also the DIY option or the option of hiring someone other than SMBw to build the interior. These are not off the table, but they do come with their own sets of challenges.

The bottom line is that our van is going to be freakin' sweet no matter what the inside is made of. It just strikes me as odd that SMBw is so flexible with the design and layout of the interior and so inflexible with what materials can be used to build it.

FWIW, Steve in L.A.
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Old 12-19-2009, 09:40 AM   #2
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Re: What I learned re: Custom Interiors

If you were more familiar with how the manufacturing company world works, and in particular custom work requiring small quantities of non-production materials, you would see that their way makes sense. You are always welcome to find your own leather, and they would likely install it, but they are not set up to laminate formica to plywood in their shop. If they worked that way, SMB's would cost $10K more than they do.
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Old 01-15-2010, 03:50 PM   #3
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Re: What I learned re: Custom Interiors

Well .... Jeffrey is right but so is SteveinLA's impression.

good info
thx
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Old 01-16-2010, 03:08 PM   #4
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Re: What I learned re: Custom Interiors

My partner and I have been putting an SMB West order together with particular attention to the interior look and feel. SMB is very supportive, but they have warned me about materials they don't carry or have any experience working with (or have had bad experience working with). However, if you want to pay for it and you are willing to accept the risk of experimentation, they will do it for you.

SMB Texas seems to do more exotic interior decorating. For example, we've seen lots of photos of vans with laminate flooring, but SMB West wouldn't garauntee their work if we decided to go that route (owing to a lack of experience installing it). Texas site van photos also include leather in any sport fan's favorite colors. We found SMB West's standard choices to be more than adequate, and they sent samples so that we could check out the best mix and match.

I'm curious about the laminate. We're getting cherry over armor core. I got the impression SMB West does the glue job. They also install what looks like plastic edging. I've looked into armor core and it seems like pretty good stuff. SMB warned about exposing the cherry laminate to hot sun; has caused bubbles. Hmmm. Problems with the glue? Or perhaps nothing withstands direct sun in desert heat.
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Old 01-16-2010, 04:21 PM   #5
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Re: What I learned re: Custom Interiors

I'm reasonably sure that SMB west purchases and stocks panels of the laminate boards in white, almond and cherry. They have existing tooling to manufacture the common panel pieces that go into the various floor and cabinet plans. Then they edge route a groove to accept the edge banding. I assume they are using a CNC router, but I've never been upstairs where this work is done.
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Old 01-16-2010, 10:21 PM   #6
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Re: What I learned re: Custom Interiors

What Jeffery says makes a lot of sense- I guess what I don't get is if you don't want the choices available for SMBs interiors, or if it's prohibitively expensive, or they might not do a good job with expensive materials you provide... or all of the above... WHY BUY THERE?

You don't go to a seafood place and demand pizza, then pay for an oven and ingredients for a pie that may not be good because they don't make pizza, just because they are a great seafood place.

They're not tooled or knowledgable in doing truly custom builds (from what I'm reading in this thread), and instead of putting the added expense on top of the already expensive prospect of an SMB, why not go somewhere or to someone that does?
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:52 AM   #7
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Re: What I learned re: Custom Interiors

I really like the EB-50 layout and I have less confidence that I will get a comparable build if I go to someone other than Sportsmobile and say, "Build me an EB-50." I am exploring the options of using another builder too, but Sportsmobile's experience in building this particular type of rv has value to me. My qualms are with the laminate material only. I own a 32-year-old Westfalia with Formica laminate that has some delamination and chips in places, but has overall held up nicely, where as the sample of cherry material that Sportsmobile sent me looks terrible (to me) after rubbing a key over it with light pressure.

Steve in L.A.
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Old 01-17-2010, 05:49 PM   #8
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Re: What I learned re: Custom Interiors

As an added bonus it gets destroyed if wet. I've got a nice bubble in the bottom of my cabinet door.
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:12 PM   #9
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Re: What I learned re: Custom Interiors

Quote:
Originally Posted by jage
As an added bonus it gets destroyed if wet. I've got a nice bubble in the bottom of my cabinet door.
I can attest to that!

Ray
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Old 01-17-2010, 08:44 PM   #10
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Re: What I learned re: Custom Interiors

Check out www.outsidevan.com or www.vanspecialties.com. One in the same, located in Portland. I just got back from checking them out Friday, and they do amazing quality work, and will do whatever you like as far as colors, materials, etc.... However it will cost a little more. Any specific questions, PM me. Thanks
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