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Old 02-10-2010, 03:25 PM   #1
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Buying a 4x4 SMB

I'm in the process of selling my fully restored and off-road built 1989 Syncro and buying a 2010 Ford E-350 diesel, a pre-EPA diesel that will allow me to travel south of the border. The Sync is cool but...

I was up at "SMB west" offices on Monday and I am planning to build out this van very similar to the 4x4 vans seen throughout the gallery here at SMBF. My initial question is, is there anything on a general level that I should be mindful of as I proceed with the ordering process with SMB west? They seem like a great operation and I don't anticipate any issues but I happened up on Alan's rig with him that was being built and the installers had already put in a wrong color wall panel. Do you ask for weekly visual updates or cross your fingers?

Secondly, I am not a real mechanically oriented guy and so some of the details are unclear to me. For example, the Espar Hydronic and flat plate. I will be running propane in the van can. Can anyone tell me the real advantage of this feature, is it luxury or will it add time to the van's life like I understand the Amsoil double fuel system will?

And finally, I guess I'm looking for any feedback that people on the other side of ordering a van said, damn, I wish I had ordered or not ordered this or that.


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Old 02-10-2010, 03:30 PM   #2
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Re: Buying a 4x4 SMB

Welcome buddy

I bailed on my '84 Westy
sad but true

However couldnt be happier

read alot here, then start to narrow down your build list and then we can help you detail it out


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Old 02-10-2010, 05:21 PM   #3
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Re: Buying a 4x4 SMB

To answer your question on Options, you could probably read every post here on this forum and still not be sure. I think your first homework assignment is to really, really think about how you will realistically use the van. Second homework assignment is to physically look at as many SMB's as you can set your eyes on. Post your general location and see if somebody nearby is willing to show off their van.

FWIW, quite sometime ago, someone started a "10 best options in my SMB" thread, and then a "10 things I could have done without?" thread. You'll have to do some searching to find the actual threads since I can't recall exactly what they're called.

SMB-less as of 02/04/2012. Our savings account is richer, but our adventures are poorer.
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Old 02-10-2010, 07:35 PM   #4
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Re: Buying a 4x4 SMB

Those threads are in the "campfire" section, first two.
2006 EB SMB 4x4 Diesel
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Old 02-10-2010, 11:18 PM   #5
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Re: Buying a 4x4 SMB

I am glad that I visited my SMB every other week that it was being built. I caught them putting in the wrong flooring.

I also arrived one day before delivery to make sure every thing was as I had ordered. They had forgotten something on my solar panel.

I was glad that I was there as issues came up and I was able to make decisions that I did not know ahead of time would need to be made. Lots of details. I love my SMB. It turned out perfect.

2008 SMB E350 EB V10 White with Cruiser Top; EB-17 modified floor plan; Salem Kroger 4X4;
285/75/17E tires; Named: "The Lighthouse"
2000 Isuzu Rodeo V6 4WD
2006 Chalet LTW 15ft. Folding Travel Trailer 14 in. tires
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Old 02-11-2010, 06:53 AM   #6
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Re: Buying a 4x4 SMB

Thanks for the input, especially the Johnny Carson style, "10 best and worst." It seems the Scanguage is a popular addition and the Hella tire monitoring system had mixed reviews.

As I get clearer as to other potential issues, I will be seeking more direction.

Till then, thanks.
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Old 02-11-2010, 01:21 PM   #7
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Re: Buying a 4x4 SMB

I've seen a lot of bad comments about the Hella system too.

Why is it even necessary?

QuadVan maintains the OEM TPS even with upsized wheels and tire packages (at least on the 2010 V10s).
2000 E450 dually V10 wagon
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Old 02-11-2010, 03:48 PM   #8
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Re: Buying a 4x4 SMB

If you have propane, you will not need the Espar systems. Originally, we were going to go the propane route for heat and hot water. However, we soon realized that the propane system took up a lot of precious space and was another fuel we would need to be mindful of. We ended up with the Espar furnace and hot plate (hot water) to allow us to only require a single fuel for everything we needed. We do use a portable, butane stove for cooking, nothing built in.

The Espar system definitely costs more than going with propane. However, it allowed us a lot of extra space for a gray water tank and more storage.

2007 Ford RB Diesel SMB 4x4 Pueblo Gold; Custom configuration (aisle layout); PIAA 580 driving lights; Picked up on Oct 19, 2007.
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