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Old 06-15-2009, 11:13 PM   #1
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external options V. clearance around SMB

Hi all - this may sound like a strange topic but I'm looking for comments on the following:
I'm thinking of ordering an SMB RB 4X4 PH and my experience is "very off-road" in desert and forested mountains.
I'm worried about clearance on height and width. With the SMB alrdy tall, I hesitate to add a roof rack and/or solar panels. I don't have any "toys" I need to carry on the roof, but extra cargo carrying capacity is always good. I want to add solar panels too so I'm thinking if I do that then add a roof rack in middle of PH and just deal with potential clearance issues.

The SMB is pretty wide too, and normally I would fold the mirrors in when it gets tight. With the mirrors folded I'm thinking the ladder and awning protrude more than the mirrors. But ......... I think a ladder is almost a necessity if one wants to get on the PH roof, whether or not there is a storage rack up there. I could climb on the spare tire or storage box to the roof but that's not real safe compared to a ladder. I plan to have the spare tire outside on the triojan bumper and a storage box too so I can't put the ladder on the back. And, if I have a rack it would go on the middle of the PH anyway so the ladder should then be on the side. Also, I think an awning would be very useful when there is no or not enough shade around camp.

So .. I could forego the ladder and awning which will minimize the SMB width. I can forego the roof rack too .... but i think solar is important to have installed.

Any thoughts, input, comments are welcome.
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Old 06-16-2009, 06:10 AM   #2
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Re: external options V. clearance around SMB

Your concerns and comments are all valid warholic. I take my van places most folks wouldn't and have the same issues with the size. I didn't put on a ladder (don't have a roof rack either) and don't have an attached awning. (I carry one inside that attaches to the penthouse and requires poles and stakes) I have plenty of pinstripes from branches and brush and don't want to think of what would have happened with a ladder and awning hanging out there. Also, plenty of posts on here re the awnings, washboard and the body cracks from the vibrations. I think your decision is going to have to be based on ease of use and comfort (ladder & awning) versus where you intend to take your rig. I also have solar (wouldn't be without it) and feel you need to get your panels as flat to the roof as possible. I've had branches try and work their way between the panels and the roof. Could be an expensive problem. Also, if you're going to really "use" your rig, I think weight needs to be a concern. These are tough rigs, but when you go over the GVW, you're putting stress on parts that was not meant to be there. I've kept mine simple and under gross and haven't had a problem. Some place you just can't go cause the rig is simply too big. Other places, you need to turn up the stereo if the branch and brush squeeking on the body bothers you and then enjoy being very comfortable in places where your company (if any) are only Jeeps and tents. We love it!!!!
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Old 06-16-2009, 12:10 PM   #3
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Re: external options V. clearance around SMB

The Aluminess side ladder hasn't been an issue, although mine is mounted on the driver's side for easy visiblity and that may have something to do with it. It doesn't stick out that much further than the rails, fender flares and rear bumper, and since it is behind the rear wheels it has been pretty easy to swing the back of the van away from any questionable obsticles.

I personally haven't found anywhere where not having a roof rack has made a bit of difference, although I may have missed a few branches that I didn't even notice. It's already so tall, unless you're dealing with something like 2" of clearance in a garage adding several inches of roof rack probably won't put you in any worse of a way.
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Old 06-16-2009, 01:02 PM   #4
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Re: external options V. clearance around SMB

I also don't have a problem with my ladders. I carry pruners and a saw for the tough stuff. I really trashed my paint job over the last week in the Sierra's but I finally got my newer driver side ladder to look like the passenger side ladder I was more worried about the solar wiring and the awning. I have to give my buddies web site a plug http://autoramblings.com/ where you can read about my rig. The ladders are very heavy duty but narrow rock canyons or cutting down trees might be an issue for some
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Old 06-16-2009, 08:07 PM   #5
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Re: external options V. clearance around SMB

So far other than adding countless desert penstripes I have only been worried about snagging my Fiama awning. I plan on adding a tree guard on the front of it to slide branches away from it.
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Old 06-17-2009, 12:20 AM   #6
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Re: external options V. clearance around SMB

Ditto Saline.

Lots of penstripes....but no other snags. McBeast is tall. Has a ladder. has wide bars on the roof rack. has solar panels. has perimeter lights.

....and so far we have had no problem with snags.

I am amazed at how nimble this big vehicle is.

Even before I was used to the size and handling I drove McBeast between our shed and well-house into the back yard, and then had to back out..... with inches to spare on both sides.

We had similar clearances when in the area abouve Boulder CO.

Really no problems yet.
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Old 06-17-2009, 01:07 PM   #7
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Re: external options V. clearance around SMB

My 2005 SMB has the ladder mounted on the right rear door, so the only things that get brush-whipped are the mirrors. The awning has a guard to keep larger branches from getting between it and the PH top.
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Old 06-18-2009, 10:05 AM   #8
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Re: external options V. clearance around SMB

If you can wheel a Jeep size vehicle and have good trail experiance you will have no problem with your van no matter how high or wide you make it. You learn real fast to wheel the rig you are in. Getting used to the size came to me a lot faster than I thought. After just a few hill climbs I can tell just at what point I drag the reciver. Get the stuff you want and wheel the rig you own. Good use of mirrors becomes second nature in no time. Good luck with your new rig.
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Old 06-18-2009, 10:14 AM   #9
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Re: external options V. clearance around SMB

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stumpalump
If you can wheel a Jeep size vehicle [...] you will have no problem with your van...
I had a bad habit of taking my Cherokee down trails that were too small, such as putting it between two saplings that were close enough to crush both front doors at the same time, and sliding sideways on a hill to wind up spinning all four tires with a tree about a foot back in the center rear and another about a foot forward in the center front.

I haven't yet managed to get trees on all 4 sides at the same time, but maybe I'll have better luck with the SMB!
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Old 06-18-2009, 11:31 AM   #10
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Re: external options V. clearance around SMB

Hey all - all good input. The garage factor is definitely a big consideration regarding height, but I was ignoring that aspect so I could get input on the outdoor usage stuff. I can always add a roof rack in future if needed. Same with awning I would imagine. But solar I'm definitely doing - so that will add some height. I think that needs protection with some kind of form fitting "bug deflector" or whatever.
And I think I need a ladder - driver's rear may be best location for just one. I don't see any other practical way to get on the roof.
Hmm ...... maybe it can go on rear door - in front of cargo box. Maybe Aluminess can do something for me. This I'll have to check out.
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