Introducing Big Baby
All: I have been reading on this site for 3 years and thank so many of you for so much info. After studying and anguishing and trying to save enough money for a low-mileage, great shape SMB, I thought that pile of money was taking too long. Since the cash I needed for what I wanted was not happening yet, I decided to go with a new 2011 Ford van E350 v-10 with a quigley 4x4 and GTRV top and insides. Whew! This has taken almost a year and I will post the good, the bad and the so-so.
I decided on new, b/c the new car loans were cheaper than used. I decided on Quigley b/c Ford would ship directly from the factory, include the 4x4 cost in the loan and include the work in the warranty (more on that later)
Here is the Big Baby upon arrival:
I went with GTRV b/c I had read rave reviews on this site and on others about their customization and attention to detail. I would say now, that maybe in the past it was probably true in the Canada operation and even with Ray who used to work there. I believe he has retired and his son Bryan is taking over. However, Mike in California has moved the US-built operations to California. He does the work down there. I think mine was the first or second one they had completely done in california. The good news is that the design of the roof works very well for stealth, can't tell it is an RV...very flush and solid and easy to raise. The design of the interior is very good and solidly built. The interior can be customized however you want, but, of course, the more you vary from their stock plans, the pricier it gets.
I did not want heat b/c I mainly camp where it is warm to hot in the southwest and west coast. I did not want water b/c I come from a hiking/backpacking background and want as little weight as possible, so I can add other stuff. And I didn't want to deal with pipes freezing. I also did not even go with a sink. I will use collapsible water containers, cook outside, and use an awning to step out under. Only got an Engel fridge, front opening, a fantastic fan (for the hot days) and solar with 2 batteries, inverter and controller. I did get the windows installed, a swivel passenger front seat, snap in curtains, lots of storage and some extra tables. All in all, even with the stripped down version, the price for the GTRV stuff was $30k and really about the same price as SMB or so.
There are problems with the GTRV California setup. The customer service is similar to their website. OK, but not superb. Several mistakes in communication about important choices, add-ons and subtractions. Mike does not do all the work himself. He subs some of the work out as well. That may be good or bad news, can't tell yet.
When I first got the van, the air bag light indicated no air bag working. Took it to the Ford dealer the first week it was home and GTRV had punched through the wire for the air bag that ran underneath the drivers seat and that disabled the air bag...ugh...took days to fix and fortunately Ford was willing to fix it all for free and give me a rental, even though it was not their work or under their warranty.
I think this post is limited to 3 pictures, so I will post the quality problems of GTRV and Quigley in the next posts.
I will say that I have gone out a number of times in the past few months, used the 4x4 and everything in and on the van. I love it and it is a dream come true!!!! I don't know how I would have put it all together without all the help of you guys and gals. Wheee!