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Old 11-05-2019, 09:10 PM   #1
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Newbee Needs Advice on New Rig

This is my first post here, but have been lurking on the forum for a while now. I have finally found a Sportsmobile that works for our family, but I am needing your expert advice to help ensure this is a good purchase.

Rig Details:
2001 E350 with V10 gas engine and 87k miles
Quigley 4x4 conversion done by Sportsmobile(back when they used Quigley)
Penthouse pop top with RB 50 floor plan
Rear heat and AC with built-in propane underneath. Seller said that both heat and AC come on automatically with thermostat so he could leave his pets in the van while away.
Heavy duty steel bumpers front w/15k lb. Warn winch and back w/spare tire and cargo box.
Awning
CB radio and nice aftermarket stereo.
Summer tires (fair condition) and studded winter tires on separate rims.

He is the original owner and has done regular maintenance and brakes but no other major work has been done. No accidents. The van is in mostly original condition and the owner did not make any major improvements or add-ons over the past 18 years.

I am bringing it to a mechanic to have it looked at, but would like to know if there is a list of things that are problem areas or should be checked. Is there any major work that I should expect in the near future based on the age, model or mileage?

Any opinions on a price range on this rig based on the info above and assuming all the systems are in working order? The body and paint are remarkably good condition and the interior is in good condition as well.

Thank you in advance for any help you can offer. I am hoping to avoid any pitfalls in buying a Sportsmobile for our family.
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Old 11-05-2019, 10:09 PM   #2
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I'd ball park it around 60-80K depending on what else it has (you didn't mention a fridge, house battery or solar) and given it has very low mileage.

I'd check the rain gutters to see if they are cracking, this is a big issue for leaks particularly the rear top corners. What condition is the pop top canvas? Where geographically has the van lived? Lots of sun? Lots of harsh winters with salt? Might be time to to re-paint the top.

I'd also look up what pre-owned ones sold for on the sportsmobile website to find something comparable.
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Old 11-05-2019, 11:14 PM   #3
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Yes there is a fridge (sorry thought that was standard with the RB 50 floor plan. There are 2 house batteries but no solar. The van lived in the pacific northwest so definitely winters and there is rust on the undercarriage but no body rust. The propane container is the most heavily rusted part. It was originally undercoated but that has worn off is seems.

Gutters look good and the canvas is in good shape as well. No signs of leaks. It was stored in a garage when not in use.

I am particularly concerned with the tranny. I have seen many postings about repair or replacement. Are there typical signs of a failing tranny in these other than burnt tranny fluid, rough shifting, delayed shifting or revving on acceleration?

Thank you for the reply!
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Old 11-06-2019, 12:15 AM   #4
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Welcome!! Disclaimer: Below is most of what I look for when evaluating a SMB. It helps to go in with knowledge. The list below is meant to HELP you buy the rig and arrive at a fair price so there is a wonderful foundation to start with. The desire for most is to have a platform to create life long cherished memories. There will be some hiccups just because, right? But starting with something that is sound will make for a smoother start along this special journey with your family. This forum is a great resource and community.

Here is my opinion on what to look for -
$42k to $55k is the range for that rig, imho if everything is solid and paint is in really good condition. Depends on options. Steel bumpers are not worth much. An aluminess suite adds $5k to the value of a van. Member KTMRider sold his 2006 v10 EB50 w Agile 4x4 for around $60k and it was newer and nicer, had Aluminess vs steel bumpers, Solar, etc. It was a really nice van and it took a bit of time to sell.

Here are the things to look for on this rig:

Quigley: Bushing, Tie Rods and Brakes - some of these are Quigley only items. Are the trailing arms squarish channels or are they round. The squarish channel arms are prone to cracking and most rigs have paid for the update to the round tube arms and new bushings.

Steering - tight? Not going to be sportscar but should be positive without slop.

Trans - fluid looks good, no wrong smells, shifts are smooth? Should be fine. A new tranny from John Woods or BTS was around $3.5k for the tranny last time I checked.

v10 - have the plugs and coils been changed? That needs to be done, if not. Cost will be around $800 (maybe higher?) and will be good for another 100k miles. Should be no leaks, idle should be near silky smooth.

Check the cabinets for swelling from humidity or spills. if lights are incandescent bulbs, you will want to consider mods to LED.

AC / Heater- There is no way the AC was running for the pets unless the rig was plugged in. It will not run on the batteries. Heat - no problems, runs on Propane. Make sure you listen to that heater (Suburban??) running to make sure you will be happy sleeping with it on. The CO sensor should be no more than 5 yrs old. They have 7 yr life.

If there is a water heater, pretty much expect that will have to be replaced since it is near 20 yrs old.

Battery- House - check condition. Age does not really matter under 5 yrs but the way it was used and charged does. A 6 month old battery can be easily destroyed if regularly drawn down, left under charged, not maintained on a charger. The battery separator will likely be blue and under the hood on the drivers side fender. That will probably be nice to update.

Any solar? You will want to add if not. Budget $1 to$ 2k

Pop Top - raises and lowers smoothly? Check the lifting bars for bends and cracks. The bends will be visible looking at the bars form the side, the cracks will be around the pivot bolts.

Check the van roof for rubbed paint where the bulb seal rests against the roof and around the gutters. Sand gets between the bulb seal and paint and the road vibration turns into a sanding strip. If it has thick black protection tape all around the roof where the bulb seal contacts, that is good! Check the Pop Top bolts on the outer surface. They should be plastic capped and not rusty.

Under carriage rust - undercoating can trap moisture in between the under coating and the metal. if the frame look structurally sound you should be good. May require some attention. Any body metal rust should be looked at very, very closely. check under the floor mats up front, Some rigs have leaks that will rot out the floor from the inside.

Rear axle - check to see if it is a full floater or if it is a semi floater ( you can search for how to tell, just have to pull the rear wheel) Full floater is much more desirable - worth extra $2k

Make sure the AC in dash blows cold. That can be $300 to $2k to fix.

Gas tank - I would expect (hope?) it has a Transfer Flow (TF) 46Gal tank. You can tell by looking at the build sheet from SMB or by looking at the tank - it is flat bottomed an has lettering on th e side. There should also be a sticker on the door. IF it has the separate auxiliary rear tank (usually listed as 52 or 55 gal total capacity) ther will be a Transfer Flow display around the dash. Make sure this really works and transfers fuel from the rear tank to the front. If it does not you are looking at $1 to 2k to fix this at TF in Chico CA, or you are going to have to find a shop that will adapt a fuel transfer pump and bypass the TF system. IF it does not have a replacement longer range tank you will be limited to about 260 to 300 mile range with the V10 since the tank would be cut down to about 28 to 30 gals. Thus the reason many rigs opted for the TF 46 gal tanks (which really only hold 41 usable).

Probably enough for you to chew on above.

PM me if you have questions. Good Luck! I hope it checks out okay and the owner is a good guy. Cheers!
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Old 11-06-2019, 12:27 AM   #5
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Not sure if this is still available but at least as a comparison. It would also have the 5 spd 5R110 transmission PLUS it has the SMB Atlas 4x4 conversion.

http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...v10-25049.html
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Old 11-06-2019, 10:41 AM   #6
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Thank you for the feedback 1der! This is exactly the insight I was hoping for. The only question I can answer on your list at the moment is that there is no solar. I will be looking at every item you listed closely and determine the answer. Also, it is going to a mechanic next week for evaluation.

Thank you for the lead on the van in Arizona. It looks like a nice rig.
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Old Yesterday, 11:09 PM   #7
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I was able to go through the van today. It will go to a mechanic tomorrow to have the mechanical systems assessed.

I have answers to the questions posted. Here is what I discovered. Given the info below any thoughts on value for this van. I have linked to a album of pictures.

Photos: https://photos.google.com/share/AF1Q...RhR29fbWN4b253

Quigley: Bushing, Tie Rods and Brakes - some of these are Quigley only items. Are the trailing arms squarish channels or are they round. The squarish channel arms are prone to cracking and most rigs have paid for the update to the round tube arms and new bushings.
A: The channel arms are square. No cracks but will call Quigley tomorrow to get a price to replace. Bushings appear to be ok.

Steering - tight? Not going to be sportscar but should be positive without slop.
A: Steering seems pretty good. Not super sloppy but not tight. Felt comfortable test driving at highway speed.

Trans - fluid looks good, no wrong smells, shifts are smooth? Should be fine. A new tranny from John Woods or BTS was around $3.5k for the tranny last time I checked.
A: tranny was replace with new Ford unit at 50k miles

v10 - have the plugs and coils been changed? That needs to be done, if not. Cost will be around $800 (maybe higher?) and will be good for another 100k miles. Should be no leaks, idle should be near silky smooth.
A: plugs and coils not replaced but the engine idles perfectly. Will get cost to replace and budget for this some time soon.

Check the cabinets for swelling from humidity or spills. if lights are incandescent bulbs, you will want to consider mods to LED.
A: No water damage or signs of water anywhere.

AC / Heater- There is no way the AC was running for the pets unless the rig was plugged in. It will not run on the batteries. Heat - no problems, runs on Propane. Make sure you listen to that heater (Suburban??) running to make sure you will be happy sleeping with it on. The CO sensor should be no more than 5 yrs old. They have 7 yr life.
A: It's a suburban heater. Turned on and off ok with thermostat but the heater makes a noise like something is stuck tumbling around in the blower. Is it a hard job to access the blower? I was able to find the unit at the bottom of the side closet but it's enclosed in metal and not an obvious way to get at the blower.

Video of sound: https://photos.app.goo.gl/kDgvaSnS5s6zkfg48

If there is a water heater, pretty much expect that will have to be replaced since it is near 20 yrs old.
A: The water heater is the original but the owner pretty well never used it. The pressure release valve is frozen and the threads where the anode rod goes is very rusty. The anode was not in place so I was able to peer a bit into the tank. I am guessing you are correct that it needs replacement.

Battery- House - check condition. Age does not really matter under 5 yrs but the way it was used and charged does. A 6 month old battery can be easily destroyed if regularly drawn down, left under charged, not maintained on a charger. The battery separator will likely be blue and under the hood on the drivers side fender. That will probably be nice to update.
A: There are 2 huge house batteries under the van. One is under the side double doors and the other is toward the back of the van between the gas tank and the under floor storage. The are completely dead and need replacement. The are Lifeline batteries and cost $600 each to replace. Ouch

Any solar? You will want to add if not. Budget $1 to$ 2k
A: no solar
Pop Top - raises and lowers smoothly? Check the lifting bars for bends and cracks. The bends will be visible looking at the bars form the side, the cracks will be around the pivot bolts.
A:Top was in good shape and frame was good with no cracks or bends.

Check the van roof for rubbed paint where the bulb seal rests against the roof and around the gutters. Sand gets between the bulb seal and paint and the road vibration turns into a sanding strip. If it has thick black protection tape all around the roof where the bulb seal contacts, that is good! Check the Pop Top bolts on the outer surface. They should be plastic capped and not rusty.
A: there was paint rubbed off in this area but no rust at all. Top bolt covers where there but the washers were a bit rusty.


Under carriage rust - undercoating can trap moisture in between the under coating and the metal. if the frame look structurally sound you should be good. May require some attention. Any body metal rust should be looked at very, very closely. check under the floor mats up front, Some rigs have leaks that will rot out the floor from the inside.
A: There is a lot of rust under the van. Most looks to be surface rust other than the propane tank has scaling rust and the battery holders have scale. Rust is pretty well all over and I feel like it would need to be treated to keep it from turning into a problem. Surprisingly there is no rust on the body at all. I have pictures and would like to hear feedback on how big of a problem this is. See pictures.


Rear axle - check to see if it is a full floater or if it is a semi floater ( you can search for how to tell, just have to pull the rear wheel) Full floater is much more desirable - worth extra $2k
A: Not sure but I think it's a full floater. See pictures.

Make sure the AC in dash blows cold. That can be $300 to $2k to fix.
A: AC was good

Gas tank - I would expect (hope?) it has a Transfer Flow (TF) 46Gal tank. You can tell by looking at the build sheet from SMB or by looking at the tank - it is flat bottomed an has lettering on th e side. There should also be a sticker on the door. IF it has the separate auxiliary rear tank (usually listed as 52 or 55 gal total capacity) ther will be a Transfer Flow display around the dash. Make sure this really works and transfers fuel from the rear tank to the front. If it does not you are looking at $1 to 2k to fix this at TF in Chico CA, or you are going to have to find a shop that will adapt a fuel transfer pump and bypass the TF system. IF it does not have a replacement longer range tank you will be limited to about 260 to 300 mile range with the V10 since the tank would be cut down to about 28 to 30 gals. Thus the reason many rigs opted for the TF 46 gal tanks (which really only hold 41 usable).
A: Seller said it's a 40 gallon tank but could not find any info on a transfer system. There is a big square box under with lettering that I assume is the gas tank but there is no transfer system to worry about? See pictures
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Old Today, 12:09 AM   #8
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Dang!!! Someone took my advice, lol!! Hope it helped.

Gas Tank is Transfer Flow 46, that is good.
Rear axle is full floater, that is good.
No water damage - good.

Suburban heater - figure replace. Pain to work on, sounds like a bearingnor Brent blades. It will be hard to fix.

The biggest and very concerning drawback is the rust underneath. That is not structural but it will make any work around the frame, shocks, etc. very difficult and messy. Lots of broken nuts, bolts in store.

Getting under there and cleaning off the rust will be a very laborious effort.

I am getting on a flight now. I will chew on the value question. Definitely on the low end of the scale maybe even lower than I was originally thinking.

Any response on the other unit I suggested?
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Old Today, 12:14 PM   #9
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I agree that about the rust. This makes me nervous more than anything else. I have estimates for most of what need to be done.

Needed work and cost:
-Replace water heater: $500 plus labor total of $900?
-Replace suburban heater: $500 plus labor total of $800
-Tune up with coils and plugs: $700 parts and labor
-Agile RIP kit: $3800 parts and labor
-Quigley replacement arms: TBD
-House batteries: $600 ea x2 total $1200
-CO detector $50 plus labor?
-Airbag light is on in the dash. Not sure what to do with this.
-Rust Treatment probably less that $300 in parts and materials and probably 20 hours labor if I do it myself.
-interior lights when opening the door do not work. Maybe just abulb?
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Old Today, 12:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CDACamper View Post
Airbag light is on in the dash. Not sure what to do with this.

Check that the yellow connectors under the seats are still connected. They are for the seatbelt pyros..part of the SRS system. If the van has swivel seats the wires can be ripped apart if they catch on something when swiveling the seat.....don't ask me how I know this.....
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