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Old 06-02-2016, 08:54 PM   #1
Junior Member
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 6
Putting my toes into the Sportsmobile waters...


The idea of owning a SMB has been rattling around in my head for some time now. For various reasons, I havenít been able to sell myself on the idea. The primary factor is that Iím not sure the SMB/Van platform is right for my family. I already have a full-sized 4x4 truck to take my family of 5 (total) wherever we need to go, and Iím not in the market for an RV.

What the wife and I have been thinking about is a vehicle that can carry the family, gear, etc. on long road trips. We don't really want/need an RV. We'll stay in a tent and cook outside.

Weíve got several road trips swirling around in our heads in the coming years. As a family, we were looking for a bit more room to stretch out on extended drives. A full-sized van seems like it would accomplish that job better than my truck, with some compromisesÖ Cue dreaming of the SMB.

Upon looking at SMBs online and lurking here, I mostly see RVs type rigs. I would like seating for at least 5 with highback chairs (for safety). The highback chair part seems to be lacking on most vehicles that I see.

In comes the í96 Dodge B2500 (ĺ or Ĺ converted van? Not sure of the correct lingo). I was not looking to go in this direction, but my dad has asked me on several occasions over the years if I wanted his VERY low mileage van. He was willing to hand over the keys and let me drive away with it. Iíve been begging off, until now.

Here are the particulars.
Primetime Van

Dodge B2500 V6
~50k miles seems to run fine and has a slight leak that I need to diagnose
New tires
Very clean interior
Two rear captainís chairs
3rd row bench/sofa seat (not highback)

The interior, while dated, is very clean. The exterior looks rough in some areas due to 20 years of outdoor parking with relatively little exterior care.

Ok, canít look a gift horse in the mouth. However, I do have some things that Iím definitely upgrading or considering upgrading.

1. 12v electrical charging points
2. Radio
3. Shocks / struts
4. Rear bench seat to single captainís chair
5. Headlights
6. awning

Iíll start off with a few questions.

I have a bench/bed seat in the rear. I really wonít be using it. Any tips for installing a single captainís chair in place of the bench. I need more interior storage. I plan to tie down a few Pelican boxes/fridge or gear in the space created.

Shocks / struts
The van rides like a boat. Even with relatively few miles, I think the shocks need to go. For comparison, my truck is outfitted with 2.5Ē coilovers and aftermarket rear shocks that have stiffened the ride up some, but not harsh. Iím looking for a little more control and not so much bounce.

Iíve been looking at the KYBs KYB MonoMax Truck Shock -

KYB suggests that installing these will stiffen out the ride some. Is this marketing hype or will they deliver on an improved ride?

Headlights / and foglights
I guess Iím getting spoiled with newer technology, but these headlights seem rather dim. Are there legit upgrades that can be installed in the stock locations?

Iím also interested in recommendations for fog lights that can be installed in a relatively simple fashion?

Depending upon how things goÖ the longer-term plan would be to sell the Dodge and purchase a Ford or Chevy van and upgrade to 4x4

Appreciate any suggestions!

Thanks, -dean

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Old 06-03-2016, 07:34 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: GTA, Ontario
Posts: 1,103
It's a 3/4 ton. Not a very heavy one, but it gets slightly heavier springs and higher GVWR than a B1500.

V6 is a bit of a slug with today's highway speeds and mileage won't be much better than the 5.2L V8.

Rip the rear bed/couch out and mimic the mounts for any kind of seat you like.

Put a new set of factory strut mounts bushings in it and then align it.

Shocks are up to you. The rig is supposed to ride like a pillow so standard shocks are fine.

My 1996's always seem to need a fuel pump early.

The rad will be rotten from sitting outside. Buy the best quality new one you can. The cheaper ones will rot if stored outside again because now they're made of aluminum.

Sprinkle a bunch of USB ports/12 volt sockets so the kids have a way to charge up their social lives.

I've tried higher power headlight bulbs and burned a few sockets up. I suggest premium replacements and ensuring the lenses are polished nice and clear.

Change the rear end lube.

New plugs and wires. Route the wires exactly as the factory did it.

And then hit the road. My 1992 had 220k on it when I parked it. Only did so because door latch was jamming. Lowest cost miles ever. 1996 still going strong.

"Talk is cheap. Whiskey costs money."
"Talk is cheap. Whiskey costs money."
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Old 06-03-2016, 08:54 AM   #3
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Join Date: May 2016
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Thanks for the detailed reply!! Really appreciate the tips.

Yes, I'm aware that it is a 3/4 ton. I was under the impression that the van is 1/2 or 3/4 converted by Prime Time because it is not a "full-conversion" van. Perhaps, I'm just getting the terms mixed up?

Yep, the v6 is sluggish. However, looking around it appears to be at least a reliable engine, no? I hope so at least!

Taking the rear seat out will be easy, but the mounting holes were my concern. I'd rather not have to place them under the gas tank. There's not a lot of room to mount a few bolts without being over the gas tank.

Hmm. The radiator suggestions might be timely. I think it is running slightly warm. Gotta see if the radiator has ever been replaced.

I was afraid the headlight issue would be more trouble than it is worth. I'll take your advise and polish those things up as best I can. I'll pick up some premium replacements and go with that.

Will change the rear end lube!

thanks again!
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