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Old 01-03-2013, 06:43 PM   #1
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Advice on a possible SMB purchase

Hi Everyone,

I'm wondering if you all could help me with a decision. I'm new to SMBs-just started looking in the past few months for one so that my husband and I can travel and explore with our 4 dogs.

Ideally we'd like to find one with an open floor plan but floor plans can be modified (fairly) easily enough.

We've found the following vehicle (I think it's a 2005 or 2006) for 38K (it was listed for the high 40's and I think the seller is now desperate because he wants to buy another vehicle).

It has a package similar to the SMB RB #20 http://sportsmobile.com/sections/for.../SFP_RB-14.jpg

The main difference is that instead of rear dinette that can be converted to a sleeping space he has full height cabinets on each side.

Our big concern is what a project it will be to remove everything, finish walls, and install a goucho/sofa/sleeper type thing in the back so that the dogs can actually fit.

But at this price with such low miles I'm thinking it is worthwhile.

My main question, then, is if there are any issues with this particular engine, lift kit, etc.

Someone told me that the 7.3 (oops-I meant 7.2) is a better engine than the 6.0 but I don't know why.

Any advice would be appreciated-I will keep reading the forum threads to see what I can sort out from past posts but thought I'd ask in my own thread in case folks have strong opinions on this vehicle
Thanks so much!
p.s. I do have some pix but having trouble uploading them bc of my slow connection.

* Ford E-350 6 Liter V-8 Powerstroke Diesel with LOW MILES...39,800
* Atlas 4x4 with lift kit
* Interior shower and porta-potty, Norcold fridge, 2 Burner Wedgewood stove
* Closely resembles RB #20 Sportsmobile package
* New Pioneer stereo with Bluetooth, I-Pod connection and Back-Up Camera
* Please provide phone number for additional info
* Custom diamond plate cabinet fronts and rubberized floor throughout cabin
* Electronic pop - top which sleeps 2
* Canvas, screens and zippers in flawless condition
* Furnace works great and new battery runs cabin

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Old 01-04-2013, 12:42 PM   #2
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Re: Advice on a possible SMB purchase

If your dogs are very big and you want a kennel I would recommend an EB van... We all spend at least some time shut inside the van and it is nice to still be able to move around a little and access things.

As far as modifying the cabinets and adding a gaucho or platform bed, it may be hard to find a shop that can do it depending on location.

The 6.0 is the only diesel option in newer vans and many on this forum run them with minimal problems. Gas engines seem to have the least problems...

2009 E250 RB 5.4L "SilVan"
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Old 01-04-2013, 02:38 PM   #3
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Re: Advice on a possible SMB purchase

This is all pretty much what dhally covered.

Yes, the 7.3 (you were right the 1st time) is generally considered a better engine, especially among 7.3 owners.
The early 6.0 was prone to problems, not so much anymore.
Basically they tried to squeeze more power out of a smaller block and some of the earlier components weren't up to the job.
Some of the more mechanically inclined here can give you the details and what to watch out for.

Check to see if it has complete maintenance records and get a checkout from a Ford dealer and not the dealer the current owner uses.

As for size, my wife & I travel with 2 45lb dogs in an EB van. A bit too much dog for my taste but just about right according to the boss. It gets pretty cramped on a rainy day. If you have more than pack of teacup poodles you should consider an EB.

Good luck in finding the right van for you.
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:20 PM   #4
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Re: Advice on a possible SMB purchase

Price seems very reasonable based upon the information provided and not seeing any photos.

I'm not a dog person, so can't comment on that topic - sorry.
2009 Express AWD, CCV Top & 50-ish home build. Daily driver/camper/kid hauler
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:32 PM   #5
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Advice on a possible SMB purchase

I've never heard of 7.3 issues from others. Ive had 3 7.3 vehicles including my smb 7.3 4x4 eb50 and as long as it has fuel and oil its been solid for me. Can't say the same for 6.0. Never had one but hear quite a bit of complaining from owners.

In regards to the interior, smb charges and arm and a leg for retro work. I was set on a rB but after falling upon my EB that my wife, 2yr old and myself use I can't imagine camping in a RB.
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Old 01-05-2013, 12:17 AM   #6
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Re: Advice on a possible SMB purchase

First off - save yourself some potential headache and heartache and pay a qualified diesel mechanic to do a pre-purchase diagnostics. 90-minutes of Dx time will be enough to ID most common issues with the motor.

2nd of all... The 6.0 does have some advantages over the 7.3L. The primary one being is the transmission it comes with, which is the 5R110 TorqueShift. It is a stronger transmission and rarely has problems. The 4R100 behind the 7.3L is nearly consumable (about 100-150,000 miles in stock form when towing). The TorqueShift also has better gear ratios since it is a 5-speed. The other benefits include less noise and more power.

The big problems with the 6.0 have less to do with power vs size, and much more to do with a sensitive high-pressure fuel system combined with an also very sensitive emissions package, and problems with either can wipe out the motor completely.

If you are a patient person (i.e. you can afford to leave it at a dealer or diesel shop for a few days) and you are willing to spend a little cash, it can be made at least as reliable as the 7.3L. It is not a motor for somebody who requires a precise time schedule and cannot have any downtime.

But basically the problems areas boil down to this:

Problem 1) Emissions controls on this van rely on EGR. To cool the exhaust gas before dumping it into the intake manifold, it runs through the EGR-cooler. This cooler can plug up from debris (like casting sand) or with precipitates from improper, mixed, and/or old coolant. Once it plugs up, it cracks. Small cracks allow steam into the intake, which causes fouled up EGR valves, and can rust up the turbo and make it stick. Often time shops will chase symptoms and replace those parts without fixing the cause, and guess what? You get to go back to them in a few months. Part of the bad reputation is some dealers would go around in circles like this 3-4 time before digging deeper.

Even more common than plugging however is restricted coolant flow from a plugged engine oil cooler, which is located upstream from the EGR cooler. This happens because the small passages in the engine oil cooler (for the same reasons). Once flow slows, the EGR cooler overheats, and cracks. Sometimes the oil cooler cracks too, which starts dumping oil into the coolant reservoir.

So what happens when the cracks get worse? You start dumping coolant into the intake. Once enough coolant leaks bad things happen. If the operator recognizes the heavy white exhaust early and shuts it off, internal damage may be avoided. Sometimes however, enough fluid will be ingested to hydrolock the engine, which often results in a damaged head gasket, and can also damage injectors. The last one I saw which lost its EGR cooler also bent a rod. He drive about 3 miles after the cooler blew, and by the time we pulled over at the exit his Excursion's engine was a total loss.

What's the fix for this? Good prevention involves maintaining regular coolant flushes and adding a coolant filter. This may only buy time however. Some folks delete or block the EGR system (not quite legal, and will throw engine codes) or install a BulletProof Diesel Engine oil cooler and EGR cooler (this is EPA/CARB-compliant fix). The other downside of doing an EGR delete is it doesn't address the oil cooler design flaw, so while it won't immediately trash the motor when it plugs, it can cause excess engine oil temps.

Problem 2) Fuel Delivery: These motors use a high pressure oil pump (HPOP) to apply hydraulic power to the injectors. This hydraulic pressure allows the injectors to deliver fuel at even higher pressures through amplification (think bike pump, except the oil is doing the pushing). The injectors have very small passages. Any debris can plug them up. If they plug up, the don't deliver fuel, and can even cause physical damage. Most often this debris comes through the oil system. Most aftermarket filters allow too much oil to bypass. However there is a small screen in the engine valley to protect the HPOP. But if primary oil filtration is poor, debris plugs the HPOP screen. There is no bypass for the screen, so when it plugs, it ruptures. This sends all that debris, along with pieces of the screen, straight into the injectors. This debris can also damage the gear-driven HPOP. Either case case can require replacing all injeptors at $300+ a piece, plus about 7 hours of labor. It can even cause hydrolocking if the injector cracks, or the crush washer is damaged from improper injection timing.

Preventing this though is simple. Change oil on time, and use Motorcraft or Racor filters. But I see that situation a lot, and every time there was an aftermarket filter in place. Debris can also enter through the fuel system if aftermarket fuel filters are used or the filter is crushed during install. A less common problem is water contamination. The water separator isn't very big, and can plug up with dirt and mud if fuel quality is poor. Once it fills up with dirt, there isn't any space to hold water, and it sends the water right on through the fuel system.
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Old 01-05-2013, 12:17 AM   #7
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Re: Advice on a possible SMB purchase

Another common cause of the injector failure is fuel starvation. Usually, this occurs because because the pressure regulator spring fatigues. Easy fix for this. It is called the "Blue-Spring" upgrade. But if the van you are considering shows less than 45 psi under WOT w/load, injector damage may have likely already occurred, so factor that into your purchase price. It can also be caused by a plugged filter, or even a weak lift pump. Check receipts and records, and be sure filter changes were done!

Less common, but still possible, is leaks at the fittings in the motor (this causes the engine to "make" motor oil, but it's really getting diluted by leaking fuel). Some of the high-pressure oil fittings can leak too.

Sometimes however, injectors can stick (i.e. not squirt fuel) even though they aren't damaged. Usually this can be fixed with a combination a good oil detergent (I've had good luck with Mavel Mystery Oil) combined with a computer "Re-flash" which programs the injectors to pre-heat using induction. But many dealers will instead just tell you to replace all the sticking injectors.

Lastly, the other common cause of injector failures is a faulty FICM, or Fuel Injection Control module. This is the brain of the injection system. But this brain is VERY sensitive to low voltage. It also doesn't like heat, so the F-series guys go through these a lot since its mounted on the motor. The E-series kind of lucked out here, except for the low voltage part. You can prevent low voltage problems by making sure BOTH batteries are in good health, you don't jumpstart the van without giving the batteries a good base-charge first, and you periodically clean the battery terminals. You also need to make sure your electrical loads don't exceed alternator output. You can upgrade the FICM power supply with a BulletProof FICM power supply. But I'm not sure its as important in the vans as in the trucks.

Problem 3: Electronics. The FICM can fall in this category too. There's a few other parts which can cause headaches. One is the Turbo regulator solenoid, the other is the injection control pressure solenoid (and sometimes the ICP sensor). These are much less costly parts to fix, but are often mis-diagnosed (usually, expensive parts are replaced when its just a sensor). Do some extra research before authorizing repairs to systems controlled by those items.

So those are kind of the top items I can think of. You may read about weak head gaskets and/or head bolt, but I don't think that really applies to the E-series unless a programmer is being run. Also some guys on here have had "bed-plate" leaks but that's not really a stop you in the middle of the road problem.

Hope that helps? Sorry if that's too much information. I can scale it back if you want.
2000 E450 dually V10 wagon
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Old 01-05-2013, 12:11 PM   #8
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Re: Advice on a possible SMB purchase


Impressive lol looks like you have done your research on the 6.0!! What I can tell you is that as far as the F series goes I can buy a 2-4 yr newer 6.0 with up to 150k miles for what I would have to pay for a 2003 7.3 with the same amount of miles!! I can buy a 2006 F350 crew cab lrt with lets say 115,000 miles for $13,500-$14,500 at the Auction but a clean 2003 7.3 with the same miles I would have to pay $14,000-$16,000!! Last month I was bidding on a 2003 Excursion 7.3 with 49k and was willing to pay top $ for I figured as high as $17,000 bidding started at $13,500 and within sec's it was over $20,000 and sold for $23,400 "WOW" at the auction it was nuts. I know many readers own the 6.0 and will get upset with this comment but as far as dealer's go the 6.0 are way to much headache and are very hard to sell even when I have sold them and included a warranty 90% of the time the purchaser ends up not being very happy. When one pays $40-100,000 you would expect some sort of reliability so my advice RUN...RUN AWAY....FROM THE 6.0 OR HAVE "TRIPLE A" and consider a home build try and find a clean 7.3 or a V-10 would be a better choice in a SMB only thing is 11-12 mpg in a 4wd

I would say most newer SMB owners say they are happy with there 6.0's because what choice do they have.... they already own them if they needed the power they only had 2 choices 6.0 or v10. I have to hand it to Ford they found a home for all the pre built 6.0's that were left over they put them all in Econoline vans, why didnt they put the 6.4 or the 6.7 in any of the E class?

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Old 01-05-2013, 01:12 PM   #9
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Re: Advice on a possible SMB purchase

Impressive write-up carringB! Here's some more info I've found helpful.
http://www.dieselpowermag.com/tech/0907 ... ewall.html

The 6.0 is very susceptible to maintenance neglect so make sure the PO has all the maintenance records to indicate it was well-taken care of. I'm the 3rd owner of a 2005 SMB with the 6.0 and pretty much bought it without knowing much about diesel engines. After the initial trial period I started reading more and getting more and more scared about EGR coolant ruptures and being stranded somewhere by an unreliable rig. I started learning more about the potential problems, etc. I installed a coolant filter and lo and behold after 1000 miles there was absolutely nothing in it. No casting sand or coolant detritus. The PO had flushed the coolant and was just one example of showing the van had been well maintained. Keep in mind that what you read on the internet are mostly the horror stories and not the success stories.
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:41 PM   #10
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Re: Advice on a possible SMB purchase

I would like to point out that our fleet has never had a 6.0 problem. We have had more problems with EGR coolers on the 5.9 Cummins (however, they were also caused by using the wrong coolant!), and many problems with the 6.7L Cummins (those truly are a fuel-guzzling POS and I'd almost take a 6.0 over a 6.7L). The only thing done to our 6.0s was adding the coolant filter, and doing the scheduled PMs using motorcraft filters. If those items are done, they really aren't the end of the world. But the potential is there, and when things go wrong you won't be making a "quick stop" at a shop.

2000 E450 dually V10 wagon
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