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Old 12-28-2010, 08:34 PM   #1
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SMB for a family of 4 including 2 children

Hello
We are an active family of 4 who like to travel and camp at state/national parks, and looking for an RV with the main focus being a place to sleep for 4 people. I don't see a class B that really meets my requirements today from Roatrek and others, and would like to hear suggestions from folks in a similar situation.

Here is the list of my requirements.
1. Must be shorter than 20ft
2. Must sleep 2 adults + 2 children
3. Must sit at least 4 people
4. Shouldnt look like an RV too much
5. Must be less than 50K (used ones are fine)

I am thinking a Sprinter RB with the PT or Bunkbed may work here. Any thought?
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Old 12-28-2010, 10:06 PM   #2
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Re: SMB for a family of 4 including 2 children

An SMB should be able to meet your needs quite well.

We are a family of 5, and obviously the kids keep on growing. For family transport and exploring, it is ideal. For camping, don't kid yourself.......it is tight in there with 4, let alone 5. Certainly doable for shorter trips, but for anything beyond 2 nights, we bring a tent too.

The SMB is excellent for 1 or 2 on trips of any length.

Good luck with your search.
R
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Old 12-28-2010, 10:43 PM   #3
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Re: SMB for a family of 4 including 2 children

My Ford EB with Aluminess is 21' 8". Not sure what the stock bumper measurements are, but unless your garage is exactly 20' deep, I'm not sure an extra foot or two matters. Nobody at a campsite has ever cared.

Your best option for stealth and sleeping is the PH, but not at the same time (it's the polar opposite of stealth with the top up, so you can only sleep 2 then) The 50 seats 5, or 4 adults, or 2 adults comfortably... I'd go with captain's chairs if the kids are over 8. The bench is functional, but I wouldn't want to spend any time on the road back there.

Fixed tops either aren't great for sleeping or start to get big, depending on which way you go. I think the Sprinters give you a little more vertical space to work with, and I doubt anyone would notice one with an extra tall roof (do they even make voyager tops for Sprinter?)
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Old 12-29-2010, 10:25 AM   #4
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Re: SMB for a family of 4 including 2 children

Thank you both for inputs. The reason I dont want this to look like "RV" is, I plan to park this vehicle outside as my garage is already full of other cars. As such, it doesnt exactly have to be stealthy but I just dont want colors/decals stuff on its body too much.
We've camped alot in a tiny travel trailer which only has a king size bed but now that kids are getting bigger, we are looking for an alternative solution.
We also realized that when we camp, we mostly stay outside, and rarely used other features such as cooking, sink and etc. That's why I am optimizing for the sleeping space this time.

What do you think about getting a used Sprinter, and just have SMB add the top? Would it be cheaper for me to buy an already convered one?
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Old 12-29-2010, 04:09 PM   #5
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Re: SMB for a family of 4 including 2 children

Generally cheaper to buy an already converted one, but SMB has not been offering the PH on the Sprinter long enough for there to be used ones around. Check with SMB Texas as they are the Sprinter specialists.
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Old 12-30-2010, 08:47 AM   #6
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Re: SMB for a family of 4 including 2 children

Our compromise solution was to start with a used 12-passenger E350 RB 2WD (I wanted the seating and windows). I had an electric PH top installed over the summer at SMB West (including the Thule bars) then added a matching cargo box (to hold all those camping chairs and sleeping bags).

On the inside we removed the rearmost bench but kept the other 2 rows. My kids (8, 8, 4) all sit in the frontmost row while traveling while the middle row is used to hold misc stuff and for one butt to sleep on at nite. Two butts sleep "upstairs" and the remaining two butts sleep on the platform (the area behind the middle row all the way back to the rear cargo doors). Underneath the platform are our camping tubs. Its not super comfortable but it works as we can only go camping for 1-2 nites stays. Packing the food and drinks in the cooler is all that's needed and we can be off. Everything else is in the van already. It goes without saying that setting up and breaking camp is really really fast. Previously we had a deluxe Fleetwood Saratoga tent-trailer but it was too time consuming to set up and break down.

An EB would give me a much larger platform (and additional storage) but the additional length makes it more unwieldy to drive around and park so I chose the RB instead. Its also my daily driver. Other than the cargo box the van looks seemingly normal. I replaced the contour bumper with a step bumper, added a ladder and added a class III receiver hitch. When we're ready to go the swing away bike carrier goes on. Once at the campsite the carrier swings away and I can open the cargo doors.

Hope this helps™,
Ray + lovely wife + our 3 kids
06 E350 RB
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Old 12-30-2010, 10:50 AM   #7
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Re: SMB for a family of 4 including 2 children

I started my build with similar thoughts. See: "Large Family Sportsmobile" thread.

A couple of things worth considering:

1. The PH bed is a little on the narrow side for two adults. Not that it can't be done. I would just recommend that the two adults that plan on sharing the space try it out at SMB ahead of time to make sure it will work for you. The Sprinter is a little wider than the Ford, don't know if that translates to a wider PH bed or not.

2. The area behind the benches can have some limitations for bed space as well depending on how tall the people are that plan to sleep there. So, depending on how tall you will dictate on if you are able to utilize the space widthwise or lengthwise. Again, the Sprinter is a little wider than the Ford.

3. I've got the Sprinter seats installed in my Ford. Ultimately, they are too big to get around to access the rear platform bed. The point being to make sure you can crawl over/around to get to the bed.

I like the idea of converting the passenger van to "sleeper" with a PH bed and rear platform. A couple of considerations there:

1. If you can, get one long enough so that you can take out both the first and last rows of benches and still have enough seating. Last row is obviously for the bed. First row is to give the "living" space the "50" plan is so famous for. In my opinion, a little elbow room goes a long way and gives you all kinds of options when configuring for specific trips.

2. In the case of the Ford, adding the PH top means losing the a/c vents over the rear seating. Don't underestimate the significance of this. In the heat of the summer (granted in AZ), it can take 30-45 minutes of driving with the a/c at max both front and rear to get the interior temp down to something reasonable. Not cool. Reasonable. I don't know where the rear a/c vents are located in a passenger configured Sprinter.

Hope that helps.
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Old 12-30-2010, 11:37 AM   #8
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Re: SMB for a family of 4 including 2 children

Thank you all for great ideas. Please keep them coming.
Based on what I read here, something like this http://www.mbsprinterusa.com/files/data ... _Sheet.pdf with Penthouse Top would work greatly but may cost too much for such a basic functionality.
I guess I should be open to other than Sprinter based solutions.. and look for a used SMB based on Ford also.
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