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Old 01-20-2019, 10:02 PM   #1
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2003 dodge with smb pop top build

After passing on a ford SMB econoline that needed a full gut I found this gem.

One owner 2003 Dodge B1500
5.2 engine with 70k on the ticker
Sportsmobile pop top installed by SMB Austin and then the interior was done by Vantastic Vans in Albuquerque, New Mexico from what the owner said.
Window unit A/C in rear door, 12volt/110 fridge, microwave, rear hand pump sink and 10 gallon freshwater tank
split bed rear couch/bed that allows sleeping lengthwise or width wise
super clean rust free frame, and doesn't appear to have any engine leaks, steering is also nice and tight
9.25 disc brake rear end

Short term plans:
remove all extra reflective tape/stickers
remove running boards for more clearance
removable kitchen table build
possibly paint wheels black
new interior black out curtains
rear backup camera
simple roof rack

Current plans over the next year or so:
Passenger and possible driver swivel seat
Rear bumper build and swingout with generator box and maybe a spare camp box
Add a rear house body and inverter to be able to use honda eu2000 genny
Awning
Rework interior slightly to move sink to another location
Swap lights to LED
Install lockright rear locker

So far she is working good and we camped in her the first night we had it on the way home.
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Old 01-20-2019, 10:08 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stx4wheeler View Post
After passing on a ford SMB econoline that needed a full gut I found this gem.

One owner 2003 Dodge B1500
5.2 engine with 70k on the ticker
Sportsmobile pop top installed by SMB Austin and then the interior was done by Vantastic Vans in Albuquerque, New Mexico from what the owner said.
Window unit A/C in rear door, 12volt/110 fridge, microwave, rear hand pump sink and 10 gallon freshwater tank
split bed rear couch/bed that allows sleeping lengthwise or width wise
super clean rust free frame, and doesn't appear to have any engine leaks, steering is also nice and tight
9.25 disc brake rear end

Short term plans:
remove all extra reflective tape/stickers
remove running boards for more clearance
removable kitchen table build
possibly paint wheels black
new interior black out curtains
rear backup camera

Current plans over the next year or so:
Passenger and possible driver swivel seat
Rear bumper build and swingout with generator box and maybe a spare camp box
Add a rear house body and inverter to be able to use honda eu2000 genny
Awning
Rework interior slightly to move sink to another location
Swap lights to LED
Install lockright rear locker

So far she is working good and we camped in her the first night we had it on the way home.
Love it. Last year of a 25 year run for an icon.

Change the strut rod bushings...
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Old 01-20-2019, 10:11 PM   #3
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As soon as we got it home we got to work removing the van name off the side that we didn't like, and cleaned out emptied the van of all contents to give it a good cleaning and looks for any items that needed addressing.

The previous owner had built the middle bed extension weird and it didn't let you sleep width wise due to an odd 2x4 placement so we removed it to allow that option.
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Old 01-20-2019, 10:19 PM   #4
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Ok I will look into the strut rod bushings, is this usually due to age or wear as right now it steers tight, no bump steer and is steering straight?

Also I has seem a few companies that make a crossmember similar to this to help protect the frame from cracks.
Dodge Ram Steering Gear Box Stabilizer

Does anyone know of the best swivel seat bracket for the dodge vans? I am ok with a full base replacement if I have to and I can do some modifications if necessary but would pay a few more bucks for a bolt in replacement.
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Old 01-21-2019, 03:51 PM   #5
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Strut rod bushings have a limited life span. Creaking and groaning as the van body angle changes is the common sign. As when entering a parking lot from the road or hitting a speed bump off square.

I've never had cracking frame issues with any of my vans. Keep an eye on it. I believe the factory completely stopped any kind of rust preventative coatings as the end was in sight with the last vans being built in 2003.

I've seen front frame stubs for the 98-03s in wrecking yards with old repairs and some with nothing more than dust and flakes. Those were northern vans though. Your low mileage and location shouldn't be an issue.

Swivel bases are out there for aftermarket seats. Factory seats and aftermarket seats use different base heights. I found mine under aftermarket seats in a Dodge Sporty I dragged home for parts.

The factory swivels, "command" seats were only around in the 70s- early 80's. Never seen them in person only in my factory 79-82 parts book.

Enjoy it!

G.
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Old 01-21-2019, 04:02 PM   #6
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Good to see you found something that worked for you. And glad you passed on that water-logged van, especially as your first one. A project like that should only be taken on by someone who knows what they are getting themselves into.
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Old 06-04-2019, 08:49 AM   #7
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Short update on the van. We have used it 6-8 times and are still getting comfortable and seeing what works and doesn't before we make any major changes.

A roof rack (which I will probably start a thread in the general mod section with my questions), and probably some air helper bags for the rear suspension.

Only two issues we have had are some popping and creaking at tight turns or hitting a bump while turning which is assume is the strut arm bushing pntyrmvr mentioned.

Only other issue is that if you start it and hop in immediately to start driving sometime in the first 5 miles it will bog down under acceleration and then back fire a few times. then after that it is fine. If I start it and let it idle for 5-10 mins ahead of time there is no issue. Once warm and shutoff then restarted again no issue. I am betting it is a dirty Oxygen sensor or some sort of vacuum leak, it is not throwing check engine codes.
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Old 06-04-2019, 08:56 PM   #8
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2003 dodge with smb pop top build

The O2 sensor is out of the loop until the coolant reaches about 135* F.

At this age Id swap them out for new quality units either way.

Cold engine stumble could be a million things, but Id look at intake plenum leaking or a vacuum leak. That said if it only happens when the tank is fairly empty I move right to fuel pump.

Rockauto.com is your friend... for strut rod bushings too.
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Old 06-09-2019, 08:25 PM   #9
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Thanks for the info pntyrmvr.

Installed a modified roof rack(swagman) this weekend. I welded a boat trailer 12" keel roller onto the rack so I can load and un load our watercraft with ease and by myself. Also does great protecting the roof from the watercraft keels.
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Old 06-09-2019, 09:01 PM   #10
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Glad to see another Dodge out there. I'll keep an eye on this thread for ideas to consider for my '94.
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