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Old 02-01-2015, 02:57 PM   #1
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My new Promaster 3500, High Roof, Long body, Sportsmobile.

I started Rving years ago with a 12 foot pickup camper. Then went to a 30 foot cruising sailboat. In 2000 I went to a Winnebago class A, So I do have some experience with this stuff and I do have some opinions. Sportsmobile is going to build my next toy the way I want it.

I learned from my pickup camper that I don't like LP refrigerators or chemical toilets. I learned from my sailboat that I could get along with an Alcohol stove and no oven. I don't think we ever used the oven in my Pickup Camper or Winnebago.

When I got the Winnebago I had the dealer swap the LP refrigerator for a 12 volt compressor. Later I got recall notices for the gas refrigerator that I no longer had (they had leaks). I also had the dealer swap the hot water heater to one that could also be heated with electric. The third change was to add some handles to help old people get in and out. In later years Winnebago included the handles in all their products and the hot water heaters can be heated with electric as well as LP. They are just getting around to using compressor refrigerators.

I noticed that my Winnebago had a lot of redundancy built in. Really separate systems for each environment. Lots of stuff to give trouble.

I had dash AC/heat, rear engine heat (called "motor aid"), roof AC, LP forced air heater, and a electric space heater.
There was seperate ducting for the dash AC/heat, the Roof AC, and the LP heater.
My hot water was heated with Gas, or Electric, or with engine coolant.
I carried Gasoline, and Propane.
Two engines, the main RV engine and a generator.

All this redundancy bothered me and I did write my concerns to Winnebago engineering. I will say that I do see changes in the right direction but I have run out of patience's waiting for them to get it right. Enter "Sportsmobile".

My plan is to use the vehicles engine a lot. They have improved over the years to the point that I don't think you can ware them out. The frame rusts out first. I like a gas engine over a diesel because I intend to idle it a lot. My wife's Buick V6 idling with the AC on burned 4 tenths of a gallon of gas per hour. I was told my Winnebago Onan burned 5 tenths of a gallon per hour although I have not measured it. I don't think fuel consumption is an issue.

The Sportsmobile will have No Onan Generator and No Propane. All cooking will be done with the Microwave. A large 12 volt compressor refrigerator. Rear Heat/AC from the van engine and engine Auto Start on low battery or Hi/Lo cabin temp. I think that eliminates a lot of headaches.

I have one other desire that I would like to accomplish with my new Sportsmobile and that is "All Season Use" with water. So I need good insulation and some other goodies like "Active Antifreeze System". I will leave that discussion for later.

What do you think..... Am I on the right track??
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Old 02-01-2015, 04:08 PM   #2
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Re: My new Promaster 3500, High Roof, Long body, Sportsmobil

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.....cut......

The Sportsmobile will have No Onin Generator and No Propane. All cooking will be done with the Microwave. A large 12 volt compressor refrigerator. Rear Heat/AC from the van engine and engine Auto Start on low battery or Hi/Lo cabin temp. I think that eliminates a lot of headaches.

......cut.......

What do you think..... Am I no the right track??
I like much of what you stated. My plans are very similar. The only thing I'd question, if I understand you correctly, is the lack of electric air conditioner and heat. What will you do at camp grounds? Many won't let you idle the engine to cool or heat the van.

Heating off a shore connection is no big deal in that a small portable heater can work great, but are you saying no AC other than engine driven?

Many European campers don't have AC, but their weather is cooler than the southern parts of US.
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Old 02-01-2015, 04:19 PM   #3
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My new Promaster 3500, High Roof, Long body, Sportsmobile.

Well you certainly have more experience RVing that myself, and have owned a variety of vehicles, including the boat, to know what you want, and don't want, in an RV. We've owned our 4X4 SMB for almost 9 years that we got used and have had a few power boats over the years. There are certainly things I would do differently if I were to build new, but I've done many upgrades to our SMB over the years and it's pretty dialed in for our uses, we travel quite a bit either by highway or secondary roads to find those out of the way places, the further off road the better, while we do find ourselves in organized campgrounds once in a while, it never includes having the need to plug in or hook up. It sounds like your wants/needs may be different. The one thing that we don't have a need for is idling the engine, it's also illegal in many states, we don't have a hydronic hot water system, I would seriously consider a flat plate heat exchanger or some type of hydronic hot water system, most people will time their need of hot water after a drive as to not have to sit there idling, not passing judgment, but I don't want to be the guy sitting there with the engine running unless I've found myself with charging issues, nor do I want to be camping next to the guy that is, there are other options out there. I also would not want to limit my cooking to only a micro, don't have one, and aside from maybe a few times I find myself wanting to reheat something, don't want one, useless unless you're plugged in or running a geni, I try not to do either. Might be worth looking at a portable propane stove that can be stored when not in use. I also do a lot of campfire cooking. I think there are heating options out there that don't require you to idle or have a propane system, maybe someone else can chime in on those options, as we have propane and have a suburban heater. Also you didn't mention solar, I personally wouldn't do a built without it, we added ours after a few years without, made all the difference in being able to extend our time without having to take a drive or sit idling, I would talk to SMB about options. Hope this helps, good luck!
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Old 02-01-2015, 04:39 PM   #4
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Re: My new Promaster 3500, High Roof, Long body, Sportsmobil

Ref, We do have different requirements. Sorry I didn't mention the roof AC/Heat pump that lets me not run the engine when I can get plugged in. I will be running the van engine when others would be running their generator. I think generators make more noise than V6 gas engines at idle.

My experience with overnight stays in cold weather is that the heater fan runs all the time and the batteries run down during the night. I had AutoStart on my Winnebago generator so it was not a problem but the result was that the propane heater ran and the generator ran most of the night.
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Old 02-01-2015, 07:08 PM   #5
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Re: My new Promaster 3500, High Roof, Long body, Sportsmobil

Chance & Ref,

I should have described what my Sportsmobile will use in the "Plugged In" case.
The water heater, roof air conditioner/heat pump, battery charger, Microwave all use 110 ac.

Fortunately Sportsmobile's 2000 watt inverter can handle the Microwave so it is usable on the road. The inverter should also handle the roof AC on really hot days while going down the road if the dash/rear van AC isn't enough. I'm sure I can't do both Microwave and AC at the same time. I did get the big alternator on the van.

When the Van is parked at my house I will plug it in during the winter. Hot water heater on and Active Antifreeze System on. No other heat.

When I am parked in my kids driveway it will be plugged in and I will use the roof AC/Heat pump, Microwave, and perhaps a space heater. Same for RV parks if I find the need.

Sorry I didn't describe this before.
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Old 02-01-2015, 08:04 PM   #6
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Re: My new Promaster 3500, High Roof, Long body, Sportsmobil

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Originally Posted by DCHitt
Ref, We do have different requirements. Sorry I didn't mention the roof AC/Heat pump that lets me not run the engine when I can get plugged in. I will be running the van engine when others would be running their generator. I think generators make more noise than V6 gas engines at idle.

....cut.....
Permanently mounted generators like an Onan do make a lot of noise. For me the bigger issue is that under a ProMaster it reduces ground clearance to around 6 inches. That's what the Winnebago Travato reportedly has -- about 6 inches under Onan. I measured about that while Travato was unloaded.
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Old 02-02-2015, 10:30 AM   #7
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Re: My new Promaster 3500, High Roof, Long body, Sportsmobil

Chance,
Promaster had a feature code to "Delete Spare Tire" that I was unable to get. I suspect it is part of the "Winnebago" feature and is generally not available. It is on the sales screen but doesn't seem to work when ordering from a Dodge dealer. I guess that is where Travato puts the Onan generator.
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Old 02-02-2015, 10:38 AM   #8
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Re: My new Promaster 3500, High Roof, Long body, Sportsmobil

I would not recommend long-term idling without ordering an Amblance-prep package. If they don't have one available, it might not be a good idea at at all. Some motors tolerate it just fine (like the Triton motors) some are terrible at it (6.0 PSD, Sprinters) to the point engine damage or fires can occur. I had to re-wire a Chevy Express because it idled a lot, and was not equipped with high-temp wiring, which caused the chassis wiring near the exhaust to fuse together and eventually short.
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Old 02-02-2015, 10:56 AM   #9
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Re: My new Promaster 3500, High Roof, Long body, Sportsmobil

Carringb,
Thanks for the warning. I don't know what an "Amblance-prep package" consists of but I will look into it. I did see some talk about a "fast idle" function that was a "Dealer Turns On" feature but I'm not sure they were talking about the gas version? I would like to know more about it.
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Old 02-02-2015, 12:31 PM   #10
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Re: My new Promaster 3500, High Roof, Long body, Sportsmobil

On the Fords the ambulance prep package consists of extra heat shields and larger alternator. On other rigs, it can be a lot more comprehensive (high temp wires, insulated fuel lines, maybe even fuel tank insulation). The owners manual should tell you if extended idling is allowed, and if it is, whether you need high-idle or not. I'm not even sure the ProMaster has an ambulance prep package yet, or will even offer it.
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