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Old 11-21-2013, 08:34 PM   #11
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Re: Is it worth it (or smart) to convert a high mileage van?

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Originally Posted by calebmogul
I found a 2003 cargo van with a 7.3 that had 70,000 HARD mi. for 6K. After I put 3k into the engine I put 25,000 pain free miles on it before I bit the bullet and brought it to UJOINT for 4x4 (17K). Only time will tell - but I'm banking on the legendary 7.3 going a million miles. My biggest waste of money so far was redoing the brake's, rotors and ball joints, and new tires before 4x4 conversion - but at the same time it was in bad shape and i wanted to drive it for a while before taking the 4x4 leap. (got some nice Michelin's for sale : 245x75x16) I don't have a lot interior modifications yet, but will take my time and do it exactly how I want. All said in done, I don't expect to have saved a ton of money, but I'm enjoying the process and trying to do a lot myself.
I can get behind that kind of thinking. I don't want to take more than a year though. Preferably just this winter and by next spring be ready for surfing in Florida
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Old 11-22-2013, 12:09 AM   #12
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Re: Is it worth it (or smart) to convert a high mileage van?

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Originally Posted by Tapatio
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ocsmb
No better value than buying a used smb that has most of the major components already done (4x4, pop top, interior).
And then finding someone who will help you fix everything in exchange for egg rolls....
Best egg rolls ever however.
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Old 11-22-2013, 04:00 PM   #13
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Re: Is it worth it (or smart) to convert a high mileage van?

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Originally Posted by Tapatio
I did, no regrets. Took a used 2006 6.0 with 80k miles and had Sportsmobile do RB-50 with 4X4. Van cost me $12k vs $35k for a new one. I've slowly added on bumpers, roof rack etc. Worst case scenario I blow the engine and it will cost $10k which is still $18k less than a new one.
And yours ranks up there with one of my favorites on this forum, my BMW-riding friend
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Old 11-23-2013, 11:46 AM   #14
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Re: Is it worth it (or smart) to convert a high mileage van?

I'm trying to work out the same thing. I'm figuring I have a budget of 25,000 to get my family van camping. This will be my daily driver as well. I'm not thrilled about the mpg cost but I'm thinking I could get a used van for around 10,000 and then that leaves me with 20,000 in penthouse and back seat bed/couch, heater (maybe a mr. Buddy) and a roof rack/ and or trailer hitch rack.

Then over the years add what we need as we can afford. I think the price of getting a newer used, already completed SMB would be much less than buying the van and having the mods done myself. As was said before, the owner takes the biggest hit in depreciation and probably most camper features and ad dons are not represented in price as they as sunk costs, particular to the person who bought them rather then the prospective buyer.

But I feel cost isn't just measured in money spent but also time and opportunity. Right now I spend my time reading posts on SMB forum and trying to figure out how to pull off SMB ownership. If I did it piece meal, I may not save money in the end but will have been camping in a SMB longer then if I wait to get a newer and or complete one.
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Old 11-23-2013, 05:25 PM   #15
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Re: Is it worth it (or smart) to convert a high mileage van?

We're converting a van with 115k on the clock, went through the same debate in my head over and over. Think I'll be able to do everything thing we want for 12-13k, pop top, mild 2wd lift, heater, interior build out… I will be doing lots of ebay/craigslist shopping and pulling the trigger when a good deal presents itself, got my exterior shower for 4.99 plus shipping.

I found solace in the fact that we have a few V10 vans with close to 300k on them at work. That and the fact I really couldn't justify spending 40k on used SMB. I say go for it.
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Old 11-23-2013, 09:08 PM   #16
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Re: Is it worth it (or smart) to convert a high mileage van?

Bottom line is if the end result is what you wanted then who cares what you spent!! Just my 2 cents
Buck
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Old 11-23-2013, 09:35 PM   #17
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Re: Is it worth it (or smart) to convert a high mileage van?

Quote:
Originally Posted by buckkiller
Bottom line is if the end result is what you wanted then who cares what you spent!! Just my 2 cents
Buck
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Old 11-23-2013, 11:48 PM   #18
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Re: Is it worth it (or smart) to convert a high mileage van?

I picked up a fresh conversion with 125k on the van and 25k on the (v10 gas) engine and (4r100) transmission. The axles and transfer case seem newer, but are honestly and unknown quantity. I did sort a number of things when I got it (to the tune of less than $2k) to get it to a level that I'm comfortable with (no leaks/drips, nothing I that needs to be paid explicit attention to for 4-5 hour runs). 15k miles later (pure camper; third car) I'm happy with it and my decision. I've pondered other approaches, but the way I use this thing (rough roads, trails, camping), I'm happy with what I have. I'd spend money on a winch bumper way before I'd consider a newer van.

I did explicitly pass on the 6.0, and at the time did not find a turbocharged 7.3 with under 250k under it.

If I had to do it over, I'd find the right van (low mileage, probably already a camper) and convert it. Either UJOR -- I think I'd consider doing this in my driveway at this point, or one of the long travel spring setups.
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Old 12-03-2013, 10:00 PM   #19
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Re: Is it worth it (or smart) to convert a high mileage van?

Quote:
Originally Posted by buckkiller
Bottom line is if the end result is what you wanted then who cares what you spent!!
Um, Mrs. Manitou & starving kiddies might, if any.

100K is not necessarily high mileage in good modern vehicles. Part of your decision should be guided by
- where do you live/how do you plan to use the camper?
- do you really "need" 4wd to go where you want to go/do what you want? Clearance, good tires (and low pressure) and limited slip or ARB locker will get you a long way. Recovery gear will get you out of most stucks (shovel, HL jack, sand ladders, winch) and would be needed anyway with 4wd. And you can add 4wd later if you need it while saving fuel cost in the mean time.
- How handy are you? Can you do an interior build yourself after a SMB penthouse install?

Although it is focused more on expedition campers, Stephen Stewart's excellent article on is worth reading for anyone in the market for an off-pavement camper http://www.xor.org.uk/silkroute/equipment/choosevan.htm Some of the other equipment articles are useful too http://www.xor.org.uk/silkroute/equipment/index.html
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Old 12-05-2013, 03:20 PM   #20
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Re: Is it worth it (or smart) to convert a high mileage van?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kzinti2
Quote:
Originally Posted by buckkiller
Bottom line is if the end result is what you wanted then who cares what you spent!!
Um, Mrs. Manitou & starving kiddies might.
Well then why buy or build one at all? Most of us here are older, and financially stable adults who have a good idea what we can afford. The end result of your purchase or build should only reflect your wants, needs and budget.

So in the end if its what you wanted then who cares what it cost " if its within your budget"
Buck
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