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Old 09-30-2017, 01:09 PM   #1
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New GTRV Owner: Smog, Solar, Insurance Agent, Specs

Hello Sportsmobile Forum!

FINALLY, I'm proud to say that after 5-6 months of actively looking for a van, I'm now the owner of a 2004 Ford E350 Super Duty GTRV Westy RWD V8 Conversion. I'm planning on living and traveling in the van starting March of next year.

The van is epic. I live in Los Angeles, CA but the van currently has OR plates. I've got a few questions, as I'm new to van ownership and I'm not handy with cars.

1) Solar What kind of company would I go to to install solar on the van? Would I reach out to an RV company? An electrician? What are my best options here? I don't feel comfortable with wiring/drilling myself. Should I order parts and bring them to a specialist? Or should I go to the specialist and buy everything from them? I'm also wondering - the Microwave in the van runs only on shore power. Would this same person be able to rewire the microwave to run off the AUX battery?

2) Smog The car passes all smog tests except for the OBDII Monitor Readiness test. 1 of the monitors is not working. The smog tech (who seemed a bit sketchy) said to just keep driving the car, however I just drove it almost 300 miles. Has anyone else run into this? Any tips?

3) Insurance I read through the sticky on this forum, but I wanted to ask specifically about insuring a GTRV with an "Agreed or Stated Value" policy. Unlike Sportsmobile, GTRV is not a recognized brand with Progressive and they can't do an agreed value policy. Does anyone in California have a good insurance agent I could reach out to? Anyone with a GTRV run into this problem?

4) Specs & Dimensions I'm having a hard time finding out my vehicle's wheel base, width, length, height, etc. Aside from me measuring this myself, is there a way to look up the specs of the van with the VIN?

5) Gas Mileage This is probably something I'm going to have to live with but are there any tips to improving MPG with simple modifications? Anywhere that's common to shed some weight?

6) Pop-top The van has T top which I love. I noticed that the seal around the top seems to be pretty well intact, but there are a few areas where it 'bubbles out' away from the paint. Is this something I should be worried about? There's no stains, mold or mildew in the van. Is there a good way to repair this without removing the whole seal?

Thanks for all your help!
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Old 09-30-2017, 03:37 PM   #2
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Welcome, we GTRV owners are in the minority here, but they are very capable vehicles. I'll do my best to answer your questions below.


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Originally Posted by MilkAndRelish1) [B
Solar[/B] What kind of company would I go to to install solar on the van? Would I reach out to an RV company?

This site is an excellent reference source. The search function will be your best friend for van related questions. As for you solar question, the options are pretty much limitless. Solar panels are improving all the time. Once you decide how many you want (there's room for at least three 100W panels, possibly four on the roof) and a brand, you need to find an installer. It's pretty simple, so I would call around to different fabricatiors, such as off road shops, RV repair shops, or other independant shops. I'm sure many will be willing to install them for you.

2) Smog

Sorry, I have no idea here.


3) Insurance I read through the sticky on this forum, but I wanted to ask specifically about insuring a GTRV with an "Agreed or Stated Value" policy.

GTRV's are normally registered as RV's with the appropriate stickers on the door jams. I ended up with State Farm for several reasons, but I've never found a company that will provide a "stated value policy". Rally Panam's State Farm agent is very knowledgeable about SMB's and GTRV's and provided guideance to my agent as to how to rate them. Perhaps Rally can provide you with his agent's contact info


4) Specs & Dimensions I'm having a hard time finding out my vehicle's wheel base, width, length, height, etc. Aside from me measuring this myself, is there a way to look up the specs of the van with the VIN?

This might help: https://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/vindecoder.php

5) Gas Mileage This is probably something I'm going to have to live with but are there any tips to improving MPG with simple modifications? Anywhere that's common to shed some weight?

How you drive makes a huge difference, your pushing a barn door through the air and that takes fuel. The faster you go, the more fuel you burn. Loosing weight is hard, but keep the grey water tank empty, only pack what you need for each trip and leave the other stuff home. Still, even if you drive all day and burn a couple tanks of fuel, the cost of that fuel will be less than most hotel rooms for one night.

6) Pop-top The van has T top which I love. I noticed that the seal around the top seems to be pretty well intact, but there are a few areas where it 'bubbles out' away from the paint.
The seal on mine is in pretty poor shape and wants to fall off. I've put self tapping screws through it, and into the fiberglass in several places to hold it on. It looks kinda funky, but it doesn't bother me. Even though it's in poor shape, it's never leaked with one exception when I parked on a very steep hill in Ketchikan, the rain capital of the world. When I drove away, a waterfall of ice water started pooring down my back. I stopped immediately and used cardboard to deflect it into the sink drain. After that I never parked on that steep hill again and havent had any further problems.

Cheers................
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Old 09-30-2017, 04:00 PM   #3
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Thanks ArcticTraveler for the warm welcome and the answers to my questions.

This is really helpful. I just spent 4-5 hours calling various insurance companies. I finally spoke with someone at Good Sam and they hooked me up with Safeco. I can't get ahold of Safeco right now, but the policy seems a little sketchy.

It's an Auto policy, but the model name has MHOM 17ft in it. It is an 'agreed value' policy, but I need to speak with a Safeco rep to confirm this is all legit.

Are there any GTRV-specific resources you've found useful?
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Old 10-01-2017, 01:34 AM   #4
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Welcome! Gtrvs are great...I recently had to sell my 1999 e350 just like yours except with a thirsty v10. My seal was falling off too...buy some 3M black exterior trim your local PEp boys and it will stay put. I've used Safeco for years...they are very legit.

For a gtrv specific resource it's hard to beat the GTRV yahoo group. It an old school kind of place but has a super archive of information.

Let's see some pics! I miss mine already. Good luck with your new adventures!
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Old 10-01-2017, 09:12 AM   #5
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Solar-there are loads of choices here.....the more panels the better....

In your case, you will be lifting the panels every time you raise the roof....I'm not familiar with the GTRV roofs but on SMBs we typically adjust the springs that lift the roof when adding weight up there.

Lots of solar watts have limited value when your house battery is small..they sort of scale together.

To run the microwave off of the house battery you need an inverter. These days they are quite inexpensive depending on the wattage required. You'll need one rated for at least the INPUT wattage of the microwave. That information is on a sticker in the back of the microwave. If it's a typical small 700W microwave, you will need at least a 1000W inverter...maybe 1500W. Same rule of thumb goes here...bigger inverter requires more/bigger house battery.

For your smog readiness codes, here is what's happening:

At least one of the emissions related sensors (like O2 sensors, etc) is not in a "ready" state to pass a smog check. This typically happens after the starting battery is replaced or disconnected, or if a sensor is bad.

Most vehicles have a specific drive cycle that you can go through (do a google search for ford E350 drive cycle) that will get all sensors in a ready state, assuming none are kaput. For example start the vehicle, let it idle for 30 seconds, drive 30 mph for 5 minutes, then 55 mph for....etc.

Many times just driving the vehicle for a few hours gets all the emissions stuff ready, although sometimes not. A $14 OBDII scanner from amazon will usually tell you which sensor is not ready. That fact that you drove the van for 300 miles sort of indicates that you may have a bad sensor, typically an O2 sensor, but there are other things that can be dead as well. I just had to do the Honda drive cycle on my element after replacing the battery a few days before smogging it.

These days since CA has "test only" smog stations they usually don't tell you very much.
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Old 10-01-2017, 09:46 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MilkAndRelish View Post
...1) Solar What kind of company would I go to to install solar on the van? Would I reach out to an RV company? An electrician? What are my best options here? I don't feel comfortable with wiring/drilling myself. Should I order parts and bring them to a specialist? Or should I go to the specialist and buy everything from them? I'm also wondering - the Microwave in the van runs only on shore power. Would this same person be able to rewire the microwave to run off the AUX battery?...
I think the biggest challenge of adding solar to a GTRV top will be aligning the panels to take advantage of the sun. Unless you're always going to boondock camp (where you can align the back of your rig toward the sun) there would always be a decent chance your angled pop-top will be angled where your solar panels won't get much sun. You may be better off going with portable solar panels feeding a built-in solar controller.


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Old 10-01-2017, 10:12 AM   #7
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As far as gas mileage keep your tires filled with correct psi,keep your van tuned and don't haul a bunch of extra crap you really don't need.you can always draft behind big rig tractor trailers on long stretches of highway when it's night or view of surrounding area isn't that important
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Old 10-01-2017, 11:38 AM   #8
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Wow, thanks everyone for the replies!

I don't have many photos yet, but here's a teaser



Regarding the fuel cycle reset, this is great information. I'm going to order an OBDII tool and see what codes are being thrown. I live in Los Angeles, so hitting these exact speeds for the exact time is going to be difficult but hopefully I'll have some time in the next few weeks to get out and go for a leisurely drive.

For solar, I have the T-Top so I'm guessing this isn't as much of a concern for sunlight. I am planning to be boondocking much of the time. I also realized I don't have a battery monitor installed anywhere. I would like to look into doing this, as the battery seems to drain pretty quickly. Am I maybe missing where a battery monitor would be?

The Microwave: I was under the impression that it was on a different circuit (or something similar - I have no knowledge of electrical wiring) and that it would need to be rewired to be on the battery's circuit, not the shore power circuit. Is this not the case?

I'm going to join the GTRV Westy group on Yahoo now. I hope I can find someone who has a wiring and or plumbing diagram of the Westy!

For MPG, yes great call on drafting, driving smoothly, and making sure tires have appropriate fills.
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Old 10-01-2017, 01:43 PM   #9
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You may not have the sensor they are looking for.. like it didn't come from the factory with it. I've run into that here in CA. Try a STAR smog center, or you may have to go to the referee.
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Old 10-01-2017, 02:00 PM   #10
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[QUOTE The Microwave: I was under the impression that it was on a different circuit (or something similar - I have no knowledge of electrical wiring) and that it would need to be rewired to be on the battery's circuit, not the shore power circuit. Is this not the case?

I'm going to join the GTRV Westy group on Yahoo now. I hope I can find someone who has a wiring and or plumbing diagram of the Westy!

For MPG, yes great call on drafting, driving smoothly, and making sure tires have appropriate fills.[/QUOTE]

The microwave requires 110Vac input, either from shore power or an inverter. Use of the microwave will be limited to short periods when using the inverter / batteries due to the very high current draw, which will quickly drain the batteries unless you upgrade to more / bigger ones. That's why they are often times only wired to work on shore power.

As for drafting, that's a sure way to piss off the vehicle in front of you, it's also called tailgaiting. Big trucks can't see you when your tailgating, and you can't see the road ahead. Should there be a need to stop quickly, you may not be able to avoid rear-ending the one in front.

The attached wiring diagram may or may not be exactly the same as your van, depending on what accessories you have. My van's plumbing could not be any more simple. The sink drains to a grey water tank, and the fresh water tank has a pump, with a plastic pipe that goes to the sink, that's it for mine. ................Cheers
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