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Old 04-04-2008, 11:24 AM   #21
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Honestly, I doubt you can find someone local to do the Penthouse top. It's not a simple installation, not to mention you have find the custom made top section.

With all the cutting, bracing, clamps, top supports, chains, springs, pivots, sliders, insulation and more I would not want to have someone learn how to do a top on my van. The interior - OK, but not the top.

Mike
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Old 04-04-2008, 12:29 PM   #22
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Dave,
I think Sportsmobile makes it's profit on the conversion and aftermarket add ons, but they get the best price for the actual van.
Why not buy the van from them, have them do the PH, since they're the experts, and consult with them about your plans for the interior to make sure your design won't conflict with the systems you want to have?
Or buy used and rearrange the interior to suit your needs.
Joanna
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Old 04-04-2008, 01:01 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ford_6L_E350
Honestly, I doubt you can find someone local to do the Penthouse top. It's not a simple installation, not to mention you have find the custom made top section.

With all the cutting, bracing, clamps, top supports, chains, springs, pivots, sliders, insulation and more I would not want to have someone learn how to do a top on my van. The interior - OK, but not the top.
Mike, good points about the PH top. I guess Sportsmobile has a patent on that particular design they install? I'm not against a Sportsmobile full or partial conversion, I'm just wondering if I could get it all done more locally.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joanna
I think Sportsmobile makes it's profit on the conversion and aftermarket add ons, but they get the best price for the actual van.
Why not buy the van from them, have them do the PH, since they're the experts, and consult with them about your plans for the interior to make sure your design won't conflict with the systems you want to have?
Or buy used and rearrange the interior to suit your needs.
Joanna, more good suggestions! Thank you. I've definitely considered having SMB take a look at my designs, once I actually settle on a van size. I also wouldn't be against taking a road trip out to their Northeastern facility and having them do a PH top on a van I might find used locally. According to Yahoo Maps, their facility is 640 miles away from me (about an 11-hour drive). Road trip!!!

I'm still entertaining ideas and dreaming; nothing is set in stone yet.

Thanks again for all the imput everyone!
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Old 04-04-2008, 08:46 PM   #24
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Dave,
If I had 3 little kids, I'd go for the extended body van. It doesn't sound like you don't have rock crawling in your near future but alot of gear and toys. You'd be surprised how much difference that foot and a half makes.
Joanna
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Old 04-05-2008, 09:32 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joanna
If I had 3 little kids, I'd go for the extended body van. It doesn't sound like you don't have rock crawling in your near future but alot of gear and toys. You'd be surprised how much difference that foot and a half makes.
Joanna
Thanks for that point. Part of me wants to design the SMB for JUST me and my fiancee, and the other part wants to make sure that the kids would have a place to sleep, too.

I *did* go see the local SMB owner's rig this morning. She had a 2004 (IIRC) Ford E250 RB V-8 gas with the PH top (and bed option), short Dinette W in the rear, then high cabinets (frig, microwave, storage) on the driver's side, and the galley on the passenger's side. No heater, no A/C, no water heater. Propane just for cooking. It works perfectly for her.

My initial thoughts on SMB? Read on....

1. Overall stealth is great. Just your basic E-250 type van on the outside (as long as the PH is closed). Looks "normal" LOL... no one in her neighborhood has complained (despite having "RV" tags).

2. The PH top w/ bed is an awesome idea, and I'll most likely be getting it in mine, too! Even w/ the bed hanging inside it, I STILL had a few inches of headroom, and I'm 6'-0" tall! I love that headroom! And she closed it before we left. It took her a few seconds! Put the bed down, grab the handles, pull... Whump! Lock the three latches. Done. How awesome!

3. There's a bit of a "scale" difference in the "feel" of the sizes of things while designing it online (DYO game), and actually being INSIDE one. The online version makes them feel a bit roomier than they truly are in reality. not significantly, but when I first looked inside (through the opened rear doors), I thought "Wow. It is small." But once inside it I thought was certainly possible to live in it, even for a 6-footer.

4. Overall quality seemed to be good. Fit and finish was up to par as I was expecting. The cab seats and dinette seats were comfy. Plenty of storage was around, too. I liked the "wood grain" cabinets much better than the all-white cabinets I've seen in photos.

5. I will NOT get an awning. It looks like a tumor up there, and I probably won't ever use it anyway.

6. After seeing a RB size, I am definitely considering getting the EB, for the extra length (which is basically an additional cabinet's width).

Overall, seeing one in person SOLD ME on the SMB. I will definitely be getting one when the timing and finances allow it! Until then, I have plenty of time to figure out exactly WHAT I want/need.

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Old 04-05-2008, 10:29 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dave_in_delaware
Until then, I have plenty of time to figure out exactly WHAT I want/need.
There is not enough time in the world to figure out what you need. You'll be making decisions right up to order submission, and a few afterwards, and before you take delivery you'll already have changes or additions in mind. And it never ends.

Buying used just short circuits into the changes. I carried my first modification with me when I went to buy my used SMB...
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