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Old 11-11-2009, 06:07 PM   #1
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Planning to purchase soon. Here come the questions....

Can someone check my logic please? This will be my first off-road vehicle, but not my first camper. It will be replacing a Volkswagen Westfalia that I use currently for surfing 2-3 times a week year-round and occasionally as a mobile office (I write software). My wife and I love camping in the VW, but we want something with more power, more comfort and more power (I like power). I don't plan to do extreme off-roading with this vehicle, but would like something that can get me to places the VW can't and can still be comfortable enough to drive on the highways and L.A.'s canyon roads.

We visited SMB in Fresno a few weeks ago and compared Diesel vs. Gas and saw several examples of floorplans. Since then, I have been soaking up the knowledge from this forum, talking via e-mail with some of you and spending far too much time "researching" on the internet. Now my head is spinning and it's time to get thoroughly confused by asking for your opinions. Let me know what you think of this plan:

1) Start with a new V-10 gas-engined E-350.
2) Sportsmobile installs the penthouse top and does the interior. For now, I can't come up with anything I like better than the EB-50.
3) Once Sportsmobile is done, the van is transported to Quadvan in Portland, OR.
4) Quadvan converts the van to 4WD and installs the Aluminess products, the wheels and the tires.
5) When the van is finished, my wife and I fly to Portland and drive back to LA in style.

Why gas? We didn't like the noise, smell and sluggishness of the diesel. Why Quadvan? I like that they use unmodified Ford assemblies that can be repaired and replaced at Ford dealers across the country. It feels like the Quadvan conversion suits the kind of off-road driving I expect to do and may be less likely to leave me stranded waiting for parts. Discuss.
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Old 11-11-2009, 06:25 PM   #2
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Re: Planning to purchase soon. Here come the questions....

Steve,

Sounds like a fine plan, and very similar to the approach my wife and I were going to take, before we stumbled on a used SMB. We were going to make a few different choices (diesel, floorplan) but the approach was the same.

FYI, when I talked with Quadvan a few years back, they offered Bilstein shocks as an upgrade, and were willing to do a larger exhaust as well.


Herb
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Old 11-11-2009, 06:50 PM   #3
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Re: Planning to purchase soon. Here come the questions....

Yep, sounds like an excellent plan.

You probably already know this, but.........it is a buyer's market for used SMBs. Recently there were a lot of rigs available via the SMB website.

Good luck.
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Old 11-11-2009, 09:55 PM   #4
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Re: Planning to purchase soon. Here come the questions....

Hey SteveInLA,

Good choice to go with Quadvan.
I am very happy with my 4x4 conversion done by them.
Good people with a lot of technical answers!

Diesel engines are great.
Gas engines are great.

Ford is no longer making diesel engines for vans.
There is a thread on this forum about Ford no longer making diesel engines.
EMrider made a good point.
On the SMB-west website, there are many used vans for sale.
You can ask many questions about the used vans as well.

Good luck!

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Old 11-11-2009, 10:04 PM   #5
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Re: Planning to purchase soon. Here come the questions....

Steve-

Sounds well thought-out. I second EMRider's point on the number of excellent used SMB's out there. We were the beneficiaries of a new SMB (bought from a Chevy dealer in AZ) at a used price just two months ago.

Regarding Quadvan's assertion that since they use Ford OEM there will be no delay when getting service at the dealer... If they are anything like Quigley...

We have a Quigley, which seems like is it going to serve our needs adequately, but their warranty service has been like pulling teeth. They claim the same as Quadvan, that they use OEM and we can have the van serviced at any GM dealer, but in reality they still insist on sending parts from their site at least a week's delay unless you want to get soaked with additional expedited charges. Also, in our recent warranty service, it was touch and go as to how much they would reimburse the dealer for charges. I didn't have to cover any differences in the end, but just the mere question of having to do so left me scratching my head. Having owned a shop before, that's unacceptable as there are well-accepted time standards on jobs. Anyway, I imagine that Quadvan has the same policies regarding parts and negotiating repair times, prices, etc. Fine OEM product, just beware that, if they are anything like Quigley, it is probably not going to be a cakewalk for warranty parts and service.

If there is a cost savings (I don't know if there is a cost difference SMB vs. Quadvan, there is with Quigley) not going with the SMB, you might want to rethink and save money in other areas. The nominal cost trade-off (at least vs. Quigley) vs. the quality of components you get for the price is justified, in my opinion.

Best-
Steve
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Old 11-12-2009, 06:20 AM   #6
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Re: Planning to purchase soon. Here come the questions....

LARGER GAS TANKS brother!?!
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Old 11-12-2009, 08:32 AM   #7
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Re: Planning to purchase soon. Here come the questions....

Might it be better to have the 4wd conversion done first? That way SMB knows exactly the space they have to work with when running lines underneath (if any).
Also, I suggest you figure out the tax consequences of when you take title to the vehicle. Perhaps you want to own and register the basic van before improvements?
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Old 11-12-2009, 10:05 AM   #8
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Re: Planning to purchase soon. Here come the questions....

Thank you for all the feedback. This is very encouraging.

Regarding buying used: Since we have decided to go with gas over diesel, the pressure to purchase soon is off. We are going to hold off as long as we can before buying a new van and keep a sharp eye out for a used SMB. So far, nothing I have seen used has met enough of my requirements to be worth the savings, but that's just me.

Regarding Quadvan: I had a long discussion with John, the technical chief of Quadvan. How I understand it is they use 100% unmodified Ford component assemblies and adapt those assemblies for use on the van. That way, there is nothing proprietary about the parts and nothing that needs to be shipped from Quadvan to make a repair. Though I don't have this in writing, John described their warranty policy like this: If a Ford technician determines that the repair would have been covered under warranty if the vehicle was an unmodified F-350 truck, Quadvan covers the cost of the repair.

Regarding Sportsmobile before Quadvan: Quadvan is requesting that the RV conversion be done first so that the suspension can be built and dialed in correctly for the finished weight of the vehicle. I am also concerned about Quadvan running into problems with Sportsmobile-installed items, but Quadvan assures me that they know how to deal with that if it occurs.

Regarding the bigger gas tank: There is so much information about which option is better than another on this board that I didn't feel it necessary to list all my accessory choices at this time, but rest assured that the big tank is on the list. Thanks for watching out for me!
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Old 11-12-2009, 10:30 AM   #9
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Re: Planning to purchase soon. Here come the questions....

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveInLA
Regarding Quadvan: ...Though I don't have this in writing, John described their warranty policy like this: If a Ford technician determines that the repair would have been covered under warranty if the vehicle was an unmodified F-350 truck, Quadvan covers the cost of the repair.
You're not paying peanuts for the 4x4 conversion. I would insist on getting that in writing. Yes, my experience with Quigley has been that bad.
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Old 11-12-2009, 11:05 AM   #10
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Re: Planning to purchase soon. Here come the questions....

Hi Steve,

Are you going to use the van as a Daily driver?

Ray
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