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Old 11-21-2020, 02:20 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Boise, ID
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Idaho Peeps Here

Hey Everyone,
Guess I should have made this post awhile back.

Located in Boise, ID. I am the father of two wicked smart girls that love to rip on wheels and sticks. They are 6 and 8 and their biggest goal in winter is to steal my powder turns. We have been into Int. Scouts and Toyo Landcruisers...well since I was 16. Now we are looking for our first van. We love to ski, want to sleep at/near resorts and limit our lodge interactions. One b/c lodge food is usually expensive and crappy, and two, I work with COVID-19 patients and would just rather keep my interactions with the public low to keep everyone safe as possible. I'm not reckless and take extra precautions at work, I just feel like a ticking time bomb at times.

As the girls will likely join ski and mountain bike teams, we need a mobile base. Especially to chill and drink the beer my brother and I brew at Broke Brothers Brewing LLC. (Neighborhood nano-brewery) while the kids finish up their day.

-4x4 is required, lockers are nice, but not nec.
-I love the EB - since I will be rolling with my wife and 2 -girls (think lots of crap to bring) - but I'm open to RB. prefer more of an open plan.
- prefer forward facing seats for the kids
- not looking at DRW - driven too many ambulances on the snow
-Needs to have Thule/Yakima rack capabilities for ski box or other capable mode of ski transport. Not opposed to installing this myself.
-Rear furnace a big deal, not opposed to installing an ESPAR/furnace for the right van ($$).
- I'm hesitant on 6.0L, but that is b/c my best friend's SMB has one and he just keeps pouring money into the engine. Bulletproofing is helpful. The wife is worried about the economy of the V10 so I don't know what is best at this point.
- I'm only considering pop-tops at this point.
-tow hitch rq, but also not opposed to installing it for the right van
-Other features we love: hot water, ext. shower, solar, microwave, stovetop, fridge, swing-out spare, gen box, winch bumper. Lower mileage will get the head nod from the wife real quick.

Over the past several months I have looked at over 100 vans and driven a few. This market is crazy! Asking prices tend to be all over the place, esp in the $50-75k range. Anyway, Cheers all!

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Old 11-22-2020, 02:02 AM   #2
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Well, you could tell your wife v-8, v-10 whatever it all gets under 12mpg so it really doesn't matter eh? The REAL question is inventory...there are so many folks plopping down cash for vans so fast I always apply the "money talks, BS walks" attitude if it is really something you buying a house...whats $5-10K more if you really want it? If you plan to use it 5-10 years, will it be worth that over that time? Will the van craze still be out there? Will SMB's still be holding their value b/c they just become more and more "classic" (and) as there will be parts for E series YEARS to come? I don't know...just look for something close and buy it! You'll never look back...well probably...
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Old 11-22-2020, 08:31 AM   #3
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Location: West Central Mountains, Idaho
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From what you've described as the intended use for your van (primarily winter camping with four people and lots of gear) I'm actually thinking an E-350 may not be the ideal rig. For starters, it will be tight to squeeze you all in. Then you're planning on preparing meals and using the "bathroom" facilities with a family of four? I've got a 2001 and find it more of a three season rig when it comes to the water system(s). When planning to camp in freezing temperatures, I do not use either the fresh water or grey water systems (have had plumbing issues with both due to freezing and broken parts).

It's great that you have a friend with a SMB to get a feel for the size and fitment of a family of four. I personally think that you'll find it too small for comfortable winter excursions and if your wife isn't comfortable......???

Best of luck with your search and with the list of wants/needs you've listed a van in the 65K+ range seems inevitable.

2001 Sportsmobile RB50 7.3
West Central Mountains, Idaho
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Old 11-22-2020, 08:34 AM   #4
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Glad you're ok. I doubt you'll get the bumper back good enough to suit you. Probably just replace or totally rebuild.

Prepare to get sued. It's just the norm these days. How many people in the other vehicle? Were they totally and completely fine, because a few days later they'll decide they aren't. I've had it happen. It's infuriating.
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Old 11-22-2020, 04:02 PM   #5
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We definitely plan on four season camping. We currently sleep all four in the back of my first gen Tundra, sleeping platform over the wheel wells. I fully understand winterizing plumbing, etc. I have come a long way from sleeping under a tarp in the back of my Tacoma in a snow storm just to get the goods. We are an adventuring family, kids started skiing at 16 months, backpacking at 2 yrs, full on mtn biking now at 6 and 8. I foresee trips to Moab, white rim, Whistler, big sky, you name it, spring summer, fall winter. We also live to explore the backcountry roads. I’d put my wife’s ability to rough it up against anyone. We have done numerous self-guided raft trips, hunting camps, winter yurts. I guess the point I was making is that if I’m looking at spending $60-80k on a vehicle, does it make sense that I would get something I would have to use our buddy heater before spending a few more grand on a furnace?
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Old 11-22-2020, 09:39 PM   #6
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Your plans with your kids sound like a blast. And not too different from mine, with all the skiing, four season fun and all. A couple of thoughts:

- def go for an EB if you can find it. I have the RB and the extra length inside really gives you options. If parking is an issue - as it was for me - then the RB is great.

- avoid the 6.0 unless you’re interested in and skillful at engines/bulletproofing. It’s just a hassle.

- If your budget is $50-75K, you’re looking at an older model, for sure. Mine is a 2014 and I already have $75K+ into the van+build. If you’ve looked at !00 vans, you probably already know this. I wanted a “newer” van that would give me fewer problems, so I paid the price for the base unit. If you’re okay with age = potential problems, and the ability to fix them/pay for fixing them, you’re in the ballpark.

- a current quote for a Webasto house heater is $3500. Don’t worry too much about adding it. It’ll save you from holding out for one that has it. Propane is ok, as long as the system is good. Be prepared for moisture inside. But you’re also looking for hot water. That will mean that you’ll be mostly built out inside, so you’ll need to be careful about room for 4 sleeping. If you forego the hot water, your choices of floor plans may be expanded i.e., not limited to the full build-out of a Sportsmobile plan.

- tow hitch receivers, racks, gen boxes, swing out tire carriers, are all relatively easy/cheap to add. Bumpers with winches, not so much.

- I wouldn’t make fuel economy a consideration. If it is, you probably need to go with a Sprinter and forego the Econoline. The V10 vs the 8 isn’t really all that much difference We all hover around 10-12 mpg when all the extras are added on.

- in all, I would say, the older you go, the more likely you’ll find all/most of the things you want. Pay more for a newer model.

Good luck with your search! You guys will have a blast!
"PhoTo" - 2014 Ford E350 5.4L RB - Agile 4x4 - CCV Poptop
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Old 11-23-2020, 09:20 PM   #7
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Welcome bud,you might want to consider a small tear drop trailer with snow chains haha for the kids so in between feedings you and wifey can relax and move around a little as well? Plus no offense but kids want their own space these says so they can be all secretive on the web
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Old 11-26-2020, 12:16 PM   #8
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Welcome from Hailey. As a fire/medic I feel your desire to hunker down and hide out... getting mighty tired of taking my clothes off in the garage after every shift!

A few random thoughts on the above:

1) Consider what kind of mileage and driving you plan on doing with your rig. We do the occassional longer drive in ours (drove it back east once long time ago) but in reality we mostly cruise around our great state of Idaho, so we don't end up putting that many miles on the van. My point being, we have a much older, high mileage van because that's what we could afford... if we wanted to do 30,000 mile road trips every summer this wouldn't have been the best choice, but we're mostly going 50-150 miles and then spending a few days in the "base camp" that is the van, so we don't mind that this one is a gas hog and doesn't handle that well on the highway. So consider that... ours is a 1994 and we still love it 17 years later. Same mileage answer could speak to gas vs diesel. Mileage is always going to be lousy, but you're not paying for lodging or eating out all the time or doing all the other things you'd have to do if you rolled up in a Prius.

2) Especially for winter / skiing (where you'll be generating a lot of moisture inside anyway), consider a buddy heater temporary heat at best, they generate a huge amount of moisture interior, running the risk of saturating the pop-top canvas and that can be very hard to get dry again, especially in winter if you don't have a high interior garage.

3) Once you get one, take a cynical eye to the plumbing and water routing... our van will freeze the water lines if it's cold enough even while it's warm inside because of the way the water lines are routed from our water tank (left side under gaucho) to our sink (right side... the lines under the floor freeze)... be prepared to poke around and find just where your lines run so you can insulate properly.

4) You'll want to consider a generator, even nice Websato (although check out Wallas as well, we have one on a boat and love it) uses electrical power for fans, same with the propane furnaces. A built in propane furnace exhausts to the outside and you won't have moisture problems like with the buddy heater. Bonus to the propane heaters is they work at all altitudes, the diesel heaters can be finicky when you change altitude (not even sure Wallas has an altitude kit), and as you know you can get some pretty varied altitudes in Idaho. You can save a lot of money by going with an EU2200 (or even EU1000i which is what we use) versus a built in, but we just use our gen to charge batteries on colder / cloudier days, we don't use it push button for a microwave etc.

5) Also, unless you have power top, you have to be very careful what you put on the roof or it's really hard to raise. So consider that re> rocket boxes / skis / solar panels / light bars etc. Not sure about how the power tops work, but with our manual top two cut off dowels are mandatory on snowy nights or the top can accumulate enough snow to slowly start to sag.

6) Have you considered a small enclosed trailer? With a family of four (including safe travel seating for four), and lots of ski gear, space in the living quarters is going to be at a premium, it might be a great addition... that's your garage, that's where the snowy skis go, storage, generator, gas etc. etc., and you just "live" in the van. We find even with the two of us, it's much easier to store our stuff outside the van while we're "living" in the van. You could even put a composting toilet in the trailer and there's your "bathroom". Put a few big solar panels on the trailer and you can connect it to the van as your charging station.

7) These are not great 4x4 for rough stuff IMO (others would disagree)... they can do it, I've done it, but it's nervewracking and loud. IMO if you want to do serious wheeling use the Taco, you don't want to roll your "cabin"... in which case lockers become less of an issue. If you do go lockers, from experience on another vehicle I would spring for selectable, my rear locker on my '85 4Runner makes for interesting commutes in the snow and ice... you could combine air lockers with a compressor that you can use to air up after long dirt road drives.

8) Bit of an aside, seems like lots of resorts these days are not allowing camping in their parking lots anymore, quite a shame.

9) Can you garage it? Our 1994 4x4 with a roof rack JUST barely fits in our 8' garage, but having it garaged all these years has made all the difference... after wet trips I can even (if I manouver it just right) pop the top inside the garage and let everything dry out. We have new canvas (~3 years old) the old canvas did eventually sucumb to some mold issues.

Hope you can find one that works for you and get it before someone else does.

Stay safe.

-- Bass
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Old 11-26-2020, 01:58 PM   #9
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Location: Boise, ID
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Thanks for the welcome and thoughts/wise words. @Bass how long have you medic in Blaine. We may have worked together. I used to fly for LFN and Luke’s.
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Old 11-26-2020, 02:53 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by El2thewood View Post
Thanks for the welcome and thoughts/wise words. @Bass how long have you medic in Blaine. We may have worked together. I used to fly for LFN and Luke’s.

With Wood River Fire & Rescue since 2003, full time fire/medic since 2006. My paramedic preceptor Kathy flew with ASL out of Twin for a few years after she got her RN. If you're flying out of Boise we probably didn't see each other as much, we mostly get the Twin Falls bird but wherever it comes from we're always REALLY happy to see it
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