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Old 06-19-2022, 09:20 AM   #1
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The Sportsmobile Evolution

Hello Everyone. My wife and I have been in the market for an E-350-based Sportsmobile/Field Van. This is generally what we're looking for:

Low Mileage
Extended Body
Penthouse Pop Top (But not quite sure what this entails. ???)
Gas not diesel
Camper conversion intended for lengthy trips
- Lot's of H2O
- Lot's of storage (Need only two seats)
- Refer
- Toilet
- internal cooking: microwave/propane/induction
Vehicle should come with 5 wooded acres and a lap pool

With this in mind, what "floor plan(s)" most closely meet our needs? I've seen the term RB50 quite a bit. I assume that is a Regular Body, but what does the "50" represent? If there's a 50, that implies there have been other designations. 40? 60? Is there any sort of resource that describes the evolution of Sportsmobile models, at least over the past decade? Field Van? Of course many vehicles were/are custom-built. But there must have been some general configurations that have been the most popular for long-term camping over the years. You tell me.....what should I be watching for?

Looking forward to your comments.

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Old 06-19-2022, 10:00 AM   #2
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The penthouse top comes two ways.......manual and powered.

The "50" plan is the most common, it has a bench seat/couch across the back just behind the side doors and the sink/fridge/microwave are behind the driver's seat.

This plan has lots of plumbing etc located under the rear bench/sofa so it's not a "walk-thru" plan. There are loads of mutations of plans around and some of the other common plans are walk-throughs meaning that you can walk from the front of the van to the back doors.

These typically require that you sleep "upstairs" which requires popping the top unless you have a fold out goucho/couch etc. which is usually located behind the driver's seat with the kitchen along the passenger side wall behind the side doors.

2008 E350 RB passenger 4WD SMB penthouse
2013 KTM 350 EXC
2008 KTM 250 XCF-W
2000 KTM 200 EXC
2003 Honda Element
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Old 06-19-2022, 10:42 AM   #3
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"RB50" is one of the pre-designed layouts offered specifically by Sportsmobile. You can see it and other layouts here:
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Old 06-19-2022, 11:16 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by BotmFedr View Post
You tell me.....what should I be watching for?
Every design is an exercise in compromises, so a good first step is to figure out what is non-negotiable. Your current list of requirements is pretty generic (everyone wants lots of water and storage!), so I'd try to narrow it down by listing out things you absolutely must (or must not) have that are hard to retrofit.

Extra seating for occasional guests, including whether any are street-legal for child seats?
Electrical requirements, including solar?
Hot water?
Indoor/outdoor shower?
Extreme cold weather camping? Most pop-tops don't insulate well, so you'll want sleeping possibilities below.
Air-conditioning? Except for the most robust and modern lithium systems, that means either plugging in or having a generator.
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Old 06-19-2022, 12:14 PM   #5
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Ours is similar to the RB10 - midship facing benches. The nice thing is it is a "walk through" layout, but there is no sleeping upstairs.. the benches come together to make the bed. They are also installed at the widest part of the body instead of in the back, which helps maximize the length of the bed.
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Old 06-19-2022, 01:29 PM   #6
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I would look through the sportsmobile website, you will be able to see example layouts, and get an idea of what you might like. They also give a pretty good description of different systems that they install. Understandably, some systems have evolved over the years,

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Old 06-19-2022, 02:32 PM   #7
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RB denotes regular body
EB denotes extended

The ## denotes floorplan / layout
RB50 is the regular body w a transverse couch and driver side galley
EB50 is the extended body w a transverse couch and driver side galley

Penthouse = pop top typically with upper bed. As boywonder pointed out - it comes manual lift and optional electric lift.

Fixed top = fiberglass raised roof.

You can have an EB## or RB## w pop top or raised fixed roof.

And the designations EB and RB could also be applied to Ford and Chevy and possibly Sprinter?? So, an EB or RB may not be a Ford.

Confused yet??

Moving along from Sportsmobile you have many SMB's which have been modified from original. 4x4 conversions by numerous companies, pop top swaps to Colorado Camper Van pop tops.
Beastie 3: 2002 7.3 EB Cargo: Agile TTB, CCV Mid Top, Custom Walk Through, Lots of stuff added.
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Old 06-19-2022, 03:07 PM   #8
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I have found that the EB50 layout to be very user friendly for two people on long or extended trips. It allows you to leave your bed made on the lower level and still be able to move about the van and access everything. It also allows for a huge amount of storage underneath the bed platform.

I have somewhat patterned my last two home build vans after the EB50 plan with the exception of no rear folding seat.

Both fixed tops
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2003 7.3L EB 4x4
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Old 06-19-2022, 04:51 PM   #9
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In your opinion, which general layout for a 70-pound dog companion....transverse, or longitudinal couch/bed?

I worry about having to exit the van in bad/cold weather, just to access stuff under the transverse bed of an EB50. Your thoughts?
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Old 06-19-2022, 04:57 PM   #10
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Each individual buyer has a preference, so to assume any 'one' interior version is better than the other isn't practical. Personally I prefer the walk-though simply because I have access to everything without having to open the rear doors. I can also load our two e-bikes in the back of the van between the cabinets on both sides, and still have access to most everything in the Van.
Many of the upgrades offered are viewed as essential to some, but may not be considered important to others,
We have a stove in the van supplied by a propane tank mounted under the drivers side frame rail, but never cook in the van. Having the tank comes in handy though, mainly for powering a Honda generator, and our portable BBQ.
We enjoy the gaucho bench right behind the drivers seat for three reasons;
1. Easily deployed for sleeping two without raising the top (quick stops, boondocking without attracting attention, severe weather)
2. You can sit to read or play on the computer, and still look out the opened barn doors with a relatively wide view.
3. With the gaucho as long as it is, and its seat as low as it is, and the seat-back being much thinner than cabinets - when the top is raised the whole interior feels very 'open' and spacious...especially when you swivel the passenger seat.
Again, just our perspective.


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