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Old 11-07-2011, 11:45 PM   #1
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How to buy my 1st

Ok.... So I don't have a SMB, and can't afford one that I want--- and am worried that a used, higher mileage SMB will cost me a fortune. I am considering buying a new van from a Ford dealership, and then just making (by making, I mostly mean paying someone for the complicated stuff) the conversions I want over time. Anyone out there have experience with this? Is it a let down to not have what you want, or an opportunity to figure out what you really need?

Thinking about just starting with a blank van, and quickly going to 4WD. I see SMB's conversion is about 17k. I've read a little about Quigley and Quadvan conversions. Are any more affordable than another? Not looking to go 'wheelin, but just enough to get to the mountains in winter and over crappy roads to trail heads.

What do you all think?
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Old 11-08-2011, 09:15 AM   #2
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Re: How to buy my 1st

I think you should try the search feature at the top of the page. There are about a gazillion threads that address the very topic about which you're inquiring. The bottom department about home-builds will probably give you all the information you could want, as well as giving you an idea of how LOTS of other guys have gone about doing just what what you want to do.
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Old 11-08-2011, 09:53 AM   #3
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Re: How to buy my 1st

You don't say where you live but SMB can buy a new van cheaper than you can since they pay fleet prices. So, if you want an SMB 4WD conversion, it can be cheaper to have them buy the van and do that conversion first. They will also do piecemeal conversions over time. But you would need to figure out what you ultimately want or the piecemeal route could be more expensive in the long run. Note too what you get with the SMB 4WD conversion vs. cheaper ones (we have a Quigley system but the SMB one wasn't available when we bought our Sportsmobile). We ordered the second fuel tank as part of our conversion (a larger one is part of the SMB package I think) and later added an extra leaf springs in the rear and upgraded the shocks. So...make sure you are comparing oranges to oranges...
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Old 11-08-2011, 11:47 AM   #4
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Re: How to buy my 1st

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2horsegarage
Ok.... can't afford one that I want--- quickly going to 4WD. --- Not looking to go 'wheelin, but just enough to get to the mountains in winter and over crappy roads to trail heads.

What do you all think?
First thing is if you don't have a lot of money, consider a used base van. We saved probably $8,000 off of new, and got a 2-year old van with 200 miles on the odo. It took a lot of searching and patience.

Second thing is, if you don't have a lot of money, maybe don't get 4x4 first. The 4x4 conversion will cost as much as a partial interior conversion, and probably wouldn't be used very much. Better to do it the other way around, and get the interior converted so you can use it. Then you will find out how much you really need 4x4.
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Old 11-08-2011, 11:59 AM   #5
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Re: How to buy my 1st

Thanks... All great thoughts.

I kind of assumed it might be cheaper to go to SMB direct, but I have a car I want to trade in if it doesn't sell quickly.

My wife wants the PH conversion first, so that might be a better idea, although I want to be able to drive up to the ski resorts and camp---hence the 4WD desire.

I suppose patience is a virtue. Thanks for the thoughts.

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Old 11-08-2011, 01:38 PM   #6
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Re: How to buy my 1st

My two cents?
Next time around I would seriously consider getting a Chevy AWD based van and putting a penthouse on it. However, if you desire a heavy build or want to tow a lot then the 1/2 ton based AWD van probably won't work for you.

Do some reading and figure out what systems you NEED vs. WANT.
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Old 11-08-2011, 05:29 PM   #7
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Re: How to buy my 1st

There are a lot of nice vans out there for sale but if you want to do a slow build and add to it as you go, outside contractors might be the way to go. An aftermarket design might be wise if the van is going to be parked in sub freezing weather. Go all out in insulation as well as routing water lines inside the cab. Insulate the house batteries so they are not as exposed to the cold as most SMB builds are made. If you go with a flat plate heat exchanger it might be a good idea to have it installed inside rather than outside like SMB does. You should look into the hard tops for cold weather unless you have a specific reason for having the PH top. I'd also ask members that deal with these cold temps on a regular basis and get their ideas.

Good luck on your build.
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Old 11-09-2011, 11:08 PM   #8
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Re: How to buy my 1st

We've never needed 4x4 to go skiing. It's nice, but snow tires, LSD, and chains work fine.
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Old 11-10-2011, 09:11 AM   #9
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Re: How to buy my 1st

I have driven a 2X4, 2001 Dodge RB SMB w/LSD for the past 11 years all over the Mountain West. Unless you plan on doing some serious rock crawling I believe that 4X4 is unnecessary. It cost more initially, more to insure, and more to opperate. I think that 4X4 has become a status symbol and many people have it but never really need it or use it.
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Old 11-10-2011, 02:20 PM   #10
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Re: How to buy my 1st

Forgive me for not knowing, but what does LSD stand for?
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