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Old 09-13-2011, 02:39 PM   #1
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Why a van?

I already had the van with the right engine (7.3 psd) so I had a SMB conversion done. But it has some significant drawbacks for me that now seem to be better satisfied by a HD truck and a camper with many of the same features as a Class B or C.

So I wondered if any of the forum readers ever considered an up market camper on a decent truck base. Its advantages seem to out weigh most of the SMB features except possibly quality as most camper builders have a bad rap for their finish, after sales service and quality. However on price, load, safety, size, accommodation space, features, 4X4 capabilities, options, flexibility, and comfort - the camper would seem to be superior. And yes on price too.

I do think its easier to build out a van interior than it is to fabricate a camper from scratch as many lurkers on this forum have done. So the question is directed at SMB owners only.
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Old 09-13-2011, 03:20 PM   #2
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Re: Why a van?

I've had both and won't go back to the pickup camper.

With a pickup camper you:

- lose floorspace. The cab is for driving only.
- have to get out to get in. Not good in some mosquito infested areas.
- be careful where you go. Taller. Wider (if you get a dually for a heavy camper)
- wind bothers the pu camper much more
- no MAGNIFICENT website for support

A Sportsmobile van is not perfect, but it is better than anything else out there.

Mike
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Old 09-13-2011, 03:44 PM   #3
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Re: Why a van?

You get to have one of these: http://tinyurl.com/69l2rnj

If you had one on a PU, that would be silly.

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Old 09-13-2011, 04:39 PM   #4
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Re: Why a van?

- lose floorspace. The cab is for driving only.
But you get a bed space over the cab which allows the use of the floor space when its bed time. Something hardly possible in most SMB lay outs

- have to get out to get in. Not good in some mosquito infested areas.
I agree with this. Also with slide outs on the campers you cannot get in the door without operating the slide out. Big van advantage. Added to which is while in motion van occupants can access van facilities making long distances more feasible BUT - truck interiors arre way quieter and mor comfortable seating wise than vans' and way safer for more than 2 occupants.

- be careful where you go. Taller. Wider (if you get a dually for a heavy camper)
True. But since I am towing a travel trailer this is less of a concern. Also the problem is really an off road one as carelessness applies no matter how wide - to me at least.

- wind bothers the pu camper much more
On older trucks perhaps but the newer ones seem to be very much better.

- no MAGNIFICENT website for support
Surely a very valuable resource but I wonder how many owners actually lurk here.
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Old 09-13-2011, 04:46 PM   #5
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Re: Why a van?

I don't know if it's possible but a truck camper with a service body would provide a lot of good storage. A place outside for the dirty things like chains, tow ropes, shovel. And a good place for a generator, air compressor, welder, fuel, tools, etc.
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Old 09-13-2011, 05:09 PM   #6
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Re: Why a van?

Our journey is from a Westpahlia to an 11' 3" lance Squire on a 4WD Chevy 2500 7.4L V-8 to a Ford RB350 due later this year. The Westy had a lowered axle ratio and bored engine so it was pretty close to a tank. A slow one, with no heating or A/C. (So, we're in Prince George, BC, trying to explain to the guys at the VW dealership's service dept. that nothing's wrong with the van, it just didn't come with a heater. It didn't compute.)

The Lance was luxury. Heater, oven, wet bathroom, hot water. The space in front of the (double) sink was as large as the open space in the Westy. The bed was king-sized. And, we never really liked it. For starters, you weren't outside while the Westy was basically a lean-to as soon as you opened the side door. With a center of gravity about 10' off the pavement, wind was a highway problem, though not as bad as I feared. It was a a decent high-clearance, rough road vehicle but the height stopped us in washes in SW Arizona where the palos verdes hung over the road. Slippery roads could be less than fun. (If you look at the Imogene Pass pictures recently posted, imagine driving below the rock overhang in an early snow storm quickly melting to mud and a healthy drop-off waiting to your left. Or wet caliche on a Navajo Reservation back country road. The high center of gravity meant you didn't want to break it loose. Ever.) Taking it off and putting it on the truck was always a heart stopper as it swayed on its supports. So, once you got somewhere, you stayed there since you weren't going to take it off the truck so you could go for a jaunt.

The SMB will give us a van w/an engine, heater and A/C. We'll go the 4WD route though SMB's package is probably more than we need. It will be slightly incognito, at least compared to the Lance. It should be a nice mix of the two previous incarnations. Now, if Ford will just deliver the van on time.
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Old 09-13-2011, 05:48 PM   #7
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Re: Why a van?

It might be a good choice for some but probably not for me. The only camper I would like would be one that pops up and could handle very rough trails. I feel my van is almost too tall for some of the areas I travel. But with that style camper, trying to move in and out of those seems like a PITA when the top is down compared to a van. I can still be somewhat comfortable in my van with the top down. A composite utility style cutaway with a pop top would be more of what I’d want if the vans go by the wayside. Earthroamer produced nice vehicles but those things are huge not to mention their cost. The Chinook Baja sure turned my head though.
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Old 09-13-2011, 06:03 PM   #8
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Re: Why a van?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vlamgat
..
So I wondered if any of the forum readers ever considered an up market camper on a decent truck base. ....
We already own a Ford F250 and could have put a nice camper on it for a fraction of what our camper van is costing. We have had camper vans, passenger vans, travel trailer, and Class C motorhome and the van is best for us. We have talked about it a lot and here are the reasons-

1. The "feel" of being self contained. As others have said, we like stopping and already being in the camper. Sort of like hanging out in the car.

2. Open the side door and you're outside. With other types of RV's you crawl inside and then you're ---- inside. Our travel trailer did have a big picture window and woodgrain paneling. At least when we were inside, it felt like a cabin in the woods.

3. Compact - takes up less room on the road, in a parking lot, or on the trail. Can and will be used for daily driver.

4. Light weight/fuel economy/maintenance cost - Van should be (a little) lower operating cost and easier on the environment due to it's smaller size and weight.

5. We also like the custom interior appearance, instead of getting whatever "home decorating" ideas the RV mfg. is selling.
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Old 09-13-2011, 08:03 PM   #9
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Re: Why a van?

I think a big benefit of a van is it is always ready to go. No loading a slide-in into the p/u when you want a quick weekend away. And a related item is the need to store the camper when off the p/u. This would be near impossible at my house.

Of course, to each their own. I don't have a great need to haul a bunch of gear or materials, so the main benefit of a p/u is lost on my situation. And I have a brother with an F250 if needed.

Brent
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Old 09-13-2011, 08:39 PM   #10
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Re: Why a van?

There are places that I have taken my SMB off road that I would never take a slide in camper on.
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