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Old 11-11-2012, 04:53 PM   #1
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My project : VivaLaVida !

Hi there !

As said in my introduction post, I plan to travel in and outside the USA. So I'm planning a SMB as my mobile home for several years. I present here my actual project and I would be pleased to read your comments and advices based on your own exprience...
Of corse, it would be easier to find a used SMB with specifications I want but I guess it will not be easy to find... So I'm thinking to build a new SMB.

1) Body
As I will travel for years, I choose a Ford E350 Extended Body. E350 to suit a Sportsmobile 4x4 conversion and EB to have enough place for such a long trip. I know that EB vans have a little less capacity for off road due to the long rear overhang.

2) Top
I still hesitate between Voyager top (my first choice) and Penthouse Top. As I will mostly travel through cold places where I will certainly find temperatures of 5 or less, I guess the Voyager top is more insulating. Does someone have experience on this ?
Of course, Penthouse top is an advantage when driving and for hot weather but I fear to have really cold in North...

3) Engine
As I will travel in South America, Siberia, etc, I definitely have to choose a diesel engine (much easier to find in acceptable quality all over the world...). And as Ford no longer delivers diesel engines in E350 since 2011, I only have to choices:
- to find a pre owned 2008 to 2010 6.0 Powerstrocke Diesel cargo van. Alan from SMB West explained me that they cannot do conversion on vans older than 2008 anymore because Ford as changed lot of parts. And I want a SMB conversion for reliability...
- to find a used E350 EB older than 2008 already SMB 4x4 converted. But I guess it's not very easy to find, espacially with a Voyager top and EB51 or EB50 floor plan...
A question about mileage: what's exactly a "low mileage" E350 ? In other words, what would you consider as an acceptable mileage for the 6.0 diesel engine from 2008 to 2010?
For exemple, I saw this one with 93,000 miles. In your opinion, could such a vehicle be a good base or does he have to high mileage?
And where is the best places to find such used vans ?

4) Floor plan
As I will mostly travel alone, my best choice would be an EB51 standard plan. It seems to be the RB50 plan in an EB body, which leaves a 20'' space behind the plateforme bed, to load whatever you want. Any comments on this EB51 plan?
In case of buying a existing SMB, I could also consider an EB50 standard plan and move the plateforme bed forward...

That's for the van. I will send other posts for 4x4 conversion, options, etc...

Already thank you for reporting your experience and comments... ;-)
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Old 11-11-2012, 07:08 PM   #2
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Re: My project, for advises and comments: 1) Van

I would not go older than an '06 with the Ford diesel. Prior ones had not worked out many of the major mechanical bugs.

That said.... the newer ones are not trouble-free either. Since you will be traveling away from Ford-PowerStroke dealer, I highly recommend some upgrades first:

1) Coolant Filter kit with changeover to CAT/Cummins ELC coolant.
2) BulletProof Engine Oil Cooler and EGR Cooler
3) BulletProof FICM power supply
4) Revised Turbo drain line (Ford)
5) Latest Ford FICM reflash
6) Ford "blue-spring" fuel regulator spring upgrade
7) If anything but a new van, send the turbo to Bell Turbo to rebuild the VGT section with their improved clearancing to prevent sticking (even with all the other upgrades, it can still be fouled by a tank of low quality fuel).
8) Dedicated gauges to monitor supply fuel pressure and FICM voltage.

And carry a spare EGR valve and several sets of Ford MotorCraft Oil and Fuel Filters.

If you do find a nice pre-'08 van without 4x4, you can still have it converted at QuadVan or U-Joint Off-road.
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Old 11-11-2012, 07:10 PM   #3
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Re: My project, for advises and comments: 1) Van

I would not consider 93,000 miles too high for a 2010 van, as long as it were maintained to schedule, and using MotorCraft (or RACOR) filters. The filters used is a big deal, because all aftermarket filters allow some fuel or oil to bypass, causing other problems. The big one being debris accumulating on the HPOP sump screen, causing it to rupture which sends junk into the injection system.
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Old 11-11-2012, 07:48 PM   #4
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Re: My project, for advises and comments: 1) Van

Anyone have a 4x4 GMC 6.6L Duramax Diesel and want to chime in? I see a used 2008 Savana for sale on the Sportsmobile website (Penthouse Top). Scroll down:
http://www.sportsmobile.com/z-PO_calif.html
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Old 11-11-2012, 09:47 PM   #5
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Re: My project, for advises and comments: 1) Van

If you're planning to live in a van (as a single occupant), I'd be thinking about some kind of bathroom/shower arrangement but that will hinge on what kind of travel you plan on doing. In very cold weather frozen water lines and tanks will need to be taken into account. A walk through model would be a better choice for a shower setup. If you plan to make hotel stops maybe you wouldn't need a full bathroom area. Also you would have to be able to fit in a small space (don't know how tall/big you are). I thought this van was a good design but was built to haul 4+ persons. You wouldn't need all the seats.

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=7172

I would think SMB might be able to supply a larger lower area sleeping bunk that's comfortable for 1 and instead of a top bunk maybe something for storage. If you're going to be in hot weather the penthouse gives much better air flow plus with the top down you can get under low hanging trees. I've been as low as 8*F sleeping in the penthouse without any insulation surrounding the canvas but the Voyager top would be an advantage for cold weather.
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Old 11-12-2012, 12:56 AM   #6
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Re: My project, for advises and comments: 1) Van

Thank you all for your comments!

Carringb, do you maybe have some links to upgrade equipments you recommand, espacially for cooler kits and fuel regulator? Thank you !

I already readed that 6.0 Powerstrocke Diesel is not the more reliable engine as it have a heat problem in the E350 and I planned some "less temp upgrades". But if there are already existing cooling kits for this model, it might be easier..
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Old 11-12-2012, 01:20 AM   #7
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Re: My project, for advises and comments: 1) Van

The regulator spring you can just buy at any Ford dealer.

Here is the oil cooler and egr cooler kits:

http://www.bulletproofdiesel.com/

You can buy a pretty coolant filter kit from Sinister, or DIY using a universal coolant filter and mount from NAPA:
http://www.mkmcustoms.com/fordcoolan...werstroke.aspx

They also have a kit with the Ford regulator spring and the updated turbo lines and some other important upgrades:
http://www.mkmcustoms.com/60powerstr...2005-2007.aspx
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Old 11-12-2012, 05:10 AM   #8
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Re: My project, for advises and comments: 1) Van

Thank you very much carringb, it's very helfull for me !
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Old 11-12-2012, 05:23 AM   #9
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Re: My project, for advises and comments: 1) Van

@ daveb. Thanks for your comments. I also thought about a bathroom area but as water capacity is quit low on Sportsmobile, it would only allow one or two showers. And there is other way to wash yourself which are more economical for water.

I'm used to travel in small RV or 4x4 cars since now 40 years. My dad builted with his own hands the very first campingcar in Switzerland more than 45 years ago. At the age of 4 to 16 years, I travelled with him every year, sometimes for more than 8 months a year. We even travelled in ex Soviet Union und until Afganistan. Since I can drive myself, I did a lot of different trips in the US, Africa, Australia and Europe, always with small RV or 4x4 campers. And I never had used a bathroom in it. Anyway, an outdoor shower is very convinient (of course not in winter)...
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Old 11-12-2012, 10:56 AM   #10
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Re: My project, for advises and comments: 1) Van

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pschitt
@ daveb. Thanks for your comments. I also thought about a bathroom area but as water capacity is quit low on Sportsmobile, it would only allow one or two showers. Anyway, an outdoor shower is very convinient (of course not in winter)...
Well I've been able to get 7 or 8 showers per tank and I've seen vehicles built with two water tanks my size. But yeah, just a little warm water and a towell can go a long way. I understand your point, if you're used to showerless travel, a standalone shower is a huge waste of space even if it's used as a closet or storage area.

Any pictures of that vehicle your dad built? Didn't see anything like that on you web site.
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