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Old 06-04-2016, 02:30 PM   #11
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Surfmore, You're right about lack of maneuverability with a trailer. I had one before I got my van. I took it down a road to check out a lighthouse and discovered there wasn't really room to turn around. It was a real pain to jockey around enough to get it out of there. It made me very reluctant to check out any of the coastal towns in Maine. It kept me from checking out some forest service roads for boondocking, too. The van is soooo much nicer for that sort of camping!
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Old 06-04-2016, 02:36 PM   #12
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Ok ok back down to Earth So more likely a standard touring conversion van (no camping type stuff) with the ugly TV, 4 captains chairs, and "upgraded" stereo.
Do these convert easy? Meaning... Does the trim and panels unbolt or are they all those stupid plastic trim fasteners? Add propane cooktop (vented yank of course) , solar, house battery system and water? Would probably ditch the oem bed and do a pull out/couch design for more storage as well. All basic but kinda fancy.
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Old 06-04-2016, 02:49 PM   #13
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I dunno, the deals are out there. Larrie Sold his SMB at a great price, And I saw a 1997 2wd SMB on portland CL the other day for $5800.
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Old 06-07-2016, 11:21 AM   #14
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Well my wife and I did this back in 2010. We got an used rig already converted. Glad I did I would have wasted too much time off working on converting a rig instead of traveling. Plus once I looked at the prices of all the potential components it made more sense to buy used. However, we had 6 months to search out a rig and bought plane tickets to go buy it. This is not likely a feasible option for you. Also you're striking at a poor time. Vandwelling is a hot trend right now and used rigs are at a premium. So that all said and your price point I think you'll end up converting a conversion van to a camper.

Note you may need to educate yourself some on van if you are not. Most of our campervans are build on 3500/350/1 ton chassis. These are really commercial rigs with commercial quality and commercial repair prices. Many conversion vans will be built on a 1500/150/half ton chassis; this may not be what you want depending on how much weight you plan to put in it. I'd probably recommend looking for a 2500/250/three quarter ton chassis. You can look up the curb weights and gross vehicle weights easy.

Things I would look for beyond a good looking rig would be windows which open. Many stock passenger vans will have solid sealed windows. Personally, I love my slider windows for ventilation. You could look at cargo vans but just to get the windows in you'd likely want could put you back $1,000.

The big question to list out are what are needs, wants, likes, and I don't need that. Somethings will swing this; if you need a microwave or heater or auxiliary ac these are tough to do without serious work. If all you need is a camp stove to cook outside, a water jug, and a cooler; well that is pretty simple. My guess is you're somewhere in the middle.

Also you have not said where in the country you'll be traveling? The West verse the South verse the Southeast may all have different comments to you.
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Old 06-07-2016, 12:14 PM   #15
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As it stands... I know a little about the vans. But am learning a lot! I am a diy mechanic / everything so I should be able to pick out a good vehicle if I learn the trouble spots (mainly rust under carpets and speed wobble it would seem). Makes sense that most of the conversion vans are half ton. They are also way cheaper! Would love an awd one.

For amenities I've talked it over with the wife
A stove on inside, windows, and large bed is key.
She didn't say it but I think she'll also need a shower and I was thinking about putting a water pump on board anyway for the complete galley. So probably a hose off of the sink type outdoor shower. Maybe ~20 gallon tank.
And we'll definitely need a fan.
I am really trying to figure out refrigeration right now... I was leaning towards small house type (~3cubic ft) chest freezer converted to fridge run on 120ac (to save money which we could use to upgrade solar) but am unsure now. I wish I could find some first hand experience running one. Don't know if the 20 percent loss from converter can be made up. Dropping 6-700 bucks on DC fridge is a scary thought.
A single solar panel and decent house battery setup with option to charge while driving to run these. We have an option to borrow a small Honda generator as well but it's not exactly "van small". Don't think we'll need house air conditioning or built in heater (little buddy should do).
The trip will be in 2 parts East and west. With stops at parents and friends separating the two. Mainly North West and east coast but some time in the south during both. Trip will start early may so we thought West first and then East late summer and fall.
I think we could live off less but... If we get a deal on a conversion van then we have the wiggle room (as long as the vehicle can handle the load... Can it?)
Thank you all for helping with this!!
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Old 06-07-2016, 03:03 PM   #16
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Heres the van i mentioned in an earlier post. Seems like a decent deal!

https://portland.craigslist.org/yam/rvs/5613395565.html
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Old 06-07-2016, 03:17 PM   #17
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Here is an interesting post made by LenS about a store bought type fridge:
http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...tor-15187.html

Just a couple of thoughts. I used to be a "backpacking only" dude and really didn't enjoy camping like the typical RVer. If I did, I'd have probably been after a more traditional mid sized RV. Over the years of injury to my knees and back forced me to sell the pack but I still wanted to get into the backcountry away from the masses. I did find with a 4x4 pickup & tent I was satisfied. It was the set up and tear down that I hated. The Sportsmobile made travel much more pleasant, especially when moving every day to a new location. What you want to pay for luxury is a factor but resale value is something to think about. It's nice to push a button to raise the top and be basically ready to crash out for the night. Some of my favorite items may not fit yours but this is what has been my most important things. The refrigerator along with enough battery reserves to run it a few days is almost mandatory. The cab heater si another. If there is one item that has been worth having is a place to get in out of the cold. Espar is a fine product but I'm sure something like a nice propane heater like a Wave-3 can do in a pinch & on the cheap too.
Some of the things I have and rarely use is the water system & shower. I could get by with a Sun Shower bag. In fact I hardly ever use the sink and a water tank can be as easy as a large water bottle or water can. The porta pottie is another thing I never use. If you plan to hit campgrounds most all have some sort of facilities to offer and in the backcountry waste bags are an option or just do what I did packing. An inside stove is nice but you can set something up that can be used inside and out. Four wheel drive is another option some people don't need. Chain up if you need to. A good limited slip rear end can get you to many places w/o too many issues. I also avoid hot weather and having a pop top is a wonderful thing IMO. Yes, an expensive investment but the CCV tops are looking better and better these days and offer a larger footprint than what SMB offers. Storage is an issue and being able to bunk up top is sure nice. The CCV tops have more room & sleep two better. Other than how hard they've been used, an old ambulance would make for a cheap conversion if you wanted some type of hard top.
More power to you if you can build something that suits you for pennies on the dollar. It's definitely possible. The Sprinters have been out long enough and you might find a good deal on a bare bone van. Having more storage space is a huge factor for some folks. As much as I hate to mention this on a Van site, another option is a used pickup and pop top camper
If you're lucky you might find a older van that has already been converted by SMB. Take good care of it, resale value might take the sting out of the purchase once you're done with it. Here are a couple links that might be helpful:
http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...-van-2126.html
http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...-smb-2121.html

Good luck on your quest.
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Old 06-07-2016, 03:18 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by expeditionnw View Post
Heres the van i mentioned in an earlier post. Seems like a decent deal!

https://portland.craigslist.org/yam/rvs/5613395565.html
A clean looker for sure.
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Old 06-07-2016, 03:25 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by expeditionnw View Post
Heres the van i mentioned in an earlier post. Seems like a decent deal!

https://portland.craigslist.org/yam/rvs/5613395565.html
That does seem pretty good! Turn key deal! I will have to get pretty lucky to find something similar when we move. Don't feel too confident having family check one out before we land. But I may be able to fly over to check a killer deal a month before I actually move from Hawaii to mainland.
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Old 06-07-2016, 04:11 PM   #20
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Here is an interesting post made by LenS about a store bought type fridge:
http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...tor-15187.html
Daveb great info and resources! Especially the 110v fridge and lists of things people don't like. I would imagine a energy star chest freezer would be even better as they seem to be better insulated from the start AND don't dump the cold air when open.

Having never been rving I am trying to figure out what we'll need to keep us both happy for this extended period of time are we likely to find boondocking spots on rivers or streamd out west?
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