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Old 07-28-2014, 04:04 PM   #1
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100% SMB West 4x4 build in last year or two? knowledge of??

Hi Everyone!

I have posted a couple of different topics on here and am learning a lot from everyone, so than you all very much!
I apologize in advance if this post is lengthy and ALL over the place. And I am sure a lot of these are questions I should be asking SMB West directly, and I will. But of course, real life, in practice, and used by all of you, I will get better info.
I have been reading post after post on here and while I have learned a lot, I have also walked away with a lot more questions. Mainly because it seems like a lot of the vans in here are either conversion vans that were brought to SMB after or they are “older” vans. I am planning on getting up to SMB West and ordering form the ground up a full 4x4 EB50ish all coming from SMB west. I know they are migrating in to the “cutaway” model as well so I will have to see that in person and question them as much as I can.
My biggest questions revolve around a lot of the “issues”, dilemmas, and choices that are made on this forum, do they STILL apply, or has SMB West heard of and fixed a lot of these?
- Suspension, seems like a lot of people complain about the springs and the ride being too hard. Some people buy some aftermarket shocks from Agile Off Road and some people talk about “Deaver” springs. Does SMB West still not offer anything like this up front?
- Bug Screens – Seems like the Velcro has been an issue and people abandon them. Still? Or has anyone bought these or used these in the last year or so and they are better?
- Gears… Do they only offer 4:10 or can you get 4:56?
- I am assuming you can do your build with LED lights now?
- The Aluminess spare tire and rear bumper boxes, everyone seems to want to upgrade/re-enforce the hinges. Aluminess addressed this or still an issue?
- Fiamma Awnings, a lot of complaints about the mounting system and other. But I have seen a few posts that this has been addressed and is much better now. Yet some people still seem to be going away from them?
- 4CF fridge, if using the SMB options and build, does this rattle and make too much noise. Or is this only in the DIY and home builds?
- Roof top, sounds/looks like a lot of you use a “rhino lining” type of product with color match to protect the top. Is this something SMB offers factory now?
Again, I know it is a lot, just want to get some input from current builds, recent new owners, or the lot of you that have a lot of experience with SMB west. Thank you again for everything! Chime in on some or all. Whatever you got, I’ll take it!
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Old 07-28-2014, 04:17 PM   #2
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Re: 100% SMB West 4x4 build in last year or two? knowledge

In regards to the suspension, I dont think its the springs that are giving it a harsh ride. From what I've read on BajaSportsmobile's (Agile Offroad) RIP thread, the harsh ride is due to the lack of suspension travel and the fact that you're basically riding on the bumpstops the entire time. If I had the opportunity to build a new SMB or 4x4 van, I think I would have either UJOINT or Agile Offroad take care of the 4x4 conversion. They are two very different systems, but they both have refined their respected methods. There is a forum member who bought a brand new van and had someone else do the 4x4 conversion, then took it to SMB and had them do the interior buildout. Its not uncommon for people to do that.
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Old 07-28-2014, 07:18 PM   #3
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Re: 100% SMB West 4x4 build in last year or two? knowledge

If you are on the West Coast then seek guidance from Agile off road.

Well versed in all the systems and objective when it comes to advice.
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Old 07-28-2014, 09:19 PM   #4
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Re: 100% SMB West 4x4 build in last year or two? knowledge

My opinion only:

Suspension, seems like a lot of people complain about the springs and the ride being too hard. Some people buy some aftermarket shocks from Agile Off Road and some people talk about “Deaver” springs. Does SMB West still not offer anything like this up front?
Depends on what conversion is done. My "older" SMB springs were harsh but I've been told the newer spring packs/shocks are better. Best for a member of a newer van to answer that. I love my Deaver Springs as do the upgrades of Quigley owners that have had the Agile upgrade. I also have only heard good from Ujoint owners as well.

Bug Screens – Seems like the Velcro has been an issue and people abandon them. Still? Or has anyone bought these or used these in the last year or so and they are better?
Yep, it pulls off. But is you get some good glue, the world is better with the screens. I never used the screens since 2005 until a few months ago. It is nice to keep the side doors open but I did it for the music not ventilation...go figure. Screens are screens. Bugs still get in and a PH top allows good air flow so it's a decision you'll have to make. They are expensive but I don't mind having to glue down the Velcro if it comes off. YMMV

Gears… Do they only offer 4:10 or can you get 4:56?
SMB can put whatever you want. 4:56 might be better for taller tires larger than 3.15's.

The Aluminess spare tire and rear bumper boxes, everyone seems to want to upgrade/re-enforce the hinges. Aluminess addressed this or still an issue?
They have improved the hinges. I'd discuss it with them. Beefier is better no matter what!

4CF fridge, if using the SMB options and build, does this rattle and make too much noise. Or is this only in the DIY and home builds?
Big issue. Some have gone with a better built fridge. If I were to do it all over I'd look into it. The issues is more around how well they preform energy wise as how noisy they are. Yes mine makes noise but it can be dealt with. Some units just don't make as much vibration as other manufactures. I'd be more worried about usage over noise but that "buzz" has never bothered me. Some think differently.

Roof top, sounds/looks like a lot of you use a “rhino lining” type of product with color match to protect the top. Is this something SMB offers factory now?
What SMB has used is fine with me. No problems to date and well worth the cost. It can be done on the cheap if you do it yourself.
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Old 07-28-2014, 10:16 PM   #5
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Re: 100% SMB West 4x4 build in last year or two? knowledge

Seriously, you guys are awesome!!! Keep it coming, please!
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Old 07-29-2014, 06:36 AM   #6
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Re: 100% SMB West 4x4 build in last year or two? knowledge

Does anyone know if SMB will install a Truckfridge? I'm curious about this for the OP's sake. This is a shameless plug for a Truckfridge and no I don't have any affiliation with them. I'm referring to the front load, front door models as I have no experience with the top loading chest type.

They are cheap but well made
They sip power
Mine is silent and it is mounted right behind the driver's seat

the only con I can think of is that it has folding shelves for taller items and they rattle only if it is empty. A towel thrown inside when empty solves this.

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Old 07-29-2014, 02:01 PM   #7
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Re: 100% SMB West 4x4 build in last year or two? knowledge

I don't know why they wouldn't. The only issue is if they are not familiar with the installation and in that situation you'll be a beta tester. But a refrigerator install is fairly basic.
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Old 08-03-2014, 08:32 AM   #8
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Re: 100% SMB West 4x4 build in last year or two? knowledge

We've had several vans go from us to SMB for interiors. Some built here at our shop and then to SMB IN & TX, some customers have used our kit and done their own 4x4 swap and then sent to SMB, you have many many options!

All of the 4x4 conversion guys have slightly different styles. When guys talk about limited wheel travel the van is usually a Quigley or Quadvan. SMB West and I use leaf springs which are better for long term durability & simplicity. Ride quality is always subjective, my springs are 4" longer and we have more shock options. They use a Dynatrac front axle, we have several options there too. Our top of the line axle uses Dynatrac parts from the knuckles out, same as SMB. They use the Altas II transfer case which is great but I feel a bit overkill for a rig like this. I understand why they use it but 99% of my customers can't justify 4x the cost of the reliable & strong NV271.
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