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Bakes 02-27-2008 01:20 PM

Phased SMB plan

First post but have been looking at SMB's for the past couple of years. I plan on springing for one this spring. Basic plan is to get me a slightly used (06 or 07) E-350 (RB) and have the penthouse top put on with the bed. I will do the interior myself. While I would like 4x4 as well, I think that might be too much $$ at this time. Anybody out there do the pre-runner thing where they but a mild lift on and slap some 33" tires on? Maybe later I will do the 4x4 conversion.

The goal is to have a a daily driver that I can take the kids (I have 4) camping in as well as tow a 22' ski boat. Not looking to do any hard core 4x4ing with it but will definitely take it camping on reasonable fire and logging roads.

Anyway, anybody else done it this way and have any tips/recommendations on van selection, mods, etc?



daveb 02-27-2008 02:37 PM

Hi Bakes. Have you talked with SMB? In the past they were reluctant to add tops to used vehicles. Maybe they do now, but I would call them to find out. I also would like to know their stance.

BroncoHauler 02-27-2008 02:47 PM

I have the SMB 4x4 system so no firsthand knowledge or experience, but I know Camburg does E-series lifts if you want to buy a lift for your van.


BroncoHauler 02-27-2008 02:49 PM


Originally Posted by daveb
Hi Bakes. Have you talked with SMB? In the past they were reluctant to add tops to used vehicles. Maybe they do now, but I would call them to find out. I also would like to know their stance.

When I was exploring conversions, SMBw told me their position was they modify vans within the last 2-3 model years.


Bakes 02-27-2008 02:53 PM

Thanks for the suspension link.

SMB replied they have no problem doing an 05 or 06 van. Sounds like they will do anything as long as it is not an older body style.

They said bring it by at 0700 and it would be done by 330 or so in the afternoon.



smb4me 02-27-2008 07:48 PM

may i ask when smb told you this?
i ask b/c i have been told different things by west/texas/indianapolis smb facilities.

jage 02-27-2008 08:55 PM

And probably by different people. And it probably varies by their build schedule. Texas would be my choice if they have the right answer...

I would look for a used with the 4x system that you want in the model year (something that was a work truck or passenger van) and get the top added.

Alternatively look for an older used 2wd that a 4x shop or one of the big names would be more willing to add 4x too than SMB would a top. Then it's also less dependant on SMBs mood as to wether you get your top.

Bakes 02-28-2008 06:42 AM

I am in contact with SMB indy. They responded yesterday. They have been very friendly and professional thus other words a good vibe. Below is the e-mail string I had between them.

Also, the more I thing about it, the more I like just having a 2WD "baja" type lift installed. Lets face it, as a daily driver I am really not going to take it places I would take a jeep or a built Samurai.

Anyways, here is the e-mail string from yesterday

If you do purchase a window van and it has rear A/C ducts through the ceiling, this does take us a little longer to work on because of tearing out the ceiling and shoulder
seat belts. If you would want
to take out the ceiling before you arrive it would help us on the time.

I realize that you will be on a trip and possibly wouldn't be able to take out the ceiling, so we would charge an extra $65.00 to do this.

Just let us know what day would be good for you and we will be glad to install the top.

----- Original Message -----

Thanks for the prompt reply. I am still in the van shopping phase of
this project. Most likely plan is to get a passenger E-350 RB van. It
will have the normal ceiling padding I am sure. Is there anything I
should be looking for in the ceiling to avoid (like air ducts)?

We are moving cross country (DC to Seattle) this spring so I would
want to get the conversion done as part of the road trip. We will be
stopping a couple of days in Iowa so diverting a little to get it done
should not be a problem.

Thanks again.


-----Original Message-----

Dear Troy:

Thank you for your interest in Sportsmobile.

I wanted to get back with you on your questions.

1. I can put the penthouse top on the Ford E-250 or E-350. The model
2005 or 2006 wouldn't
make a difference because they are the same body style. I just need to

make sure that there isn't
anything in the ceiling to interfere with us installing the top. What
in the ceiling of the van?

2. The length of the mattress for the penthouse is 69 inches but when
put at either end in the top, it will be next to a pad that becomes part
of the bed which is 72 inches.
The width from canvas
to canvas is 54 inches wide when the bed is in place. If you have the
pushed to the back,
you would still have approximately 30 inches of open space.

3. The penthouse top is $4,890.00 installed. The penthouse bed is
$375.00. The other option we
have is the top normally comes white - unless you would want the top
painted to match your van
which would be $651.00 if you van was other than white. Which you
also leave the top white.
We can talk about this. Also, the canvas comes with 5 windows that
permanent screens. Another option be to double zip the screens if you

would want to take a picture from inside and not look through
a screen. This would be an additional $68.00 and the most we can do is

three windows. We can
talk on this. On the penthouse bed, I will get with you on the
you would prefer on the bed.

4. It takes us one day to install the top. We start at 7:00 AM and
be finished around 3:30
that day. We would have you come in the day before and pay for a
for you. You could drop
off your van in the afternoon before appointment or come the day of your
appointment at 7:00 AM.
We can talk about this.

That will be fine for the end of May. Just let us know about 3-4 weeks

ahead so we can set up a
date or let me know anytime which day in May you would like to do this.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

----- Original Message -----


I am looking to get one of your tops put onto a van. All I really
want to do is bring a van in and have you install the penthouse top and
the bed. I have my own ideas for the interior.

Couple of questions:

1) Which vans are they compatible with? I am currently looking at a
regular length Ford E-350 (2005 or 2006).
2) How big (length and width) is the bed the the regular body? How
much space is there at the foot of the bed to climb up in it with the
regular body?
3) How much should I expect to spend to have the top and the bed
4) It takes 1 day correct?

Timeline is that I would like to bring it in around the end of may.
Think I would be able to work that?



jage 02-28-2008 06:54 AM

OK, "baja" to me is a stance- front higher than rear, usually with a tube bumper that improves the approach angle:

Or should I say, ostensibly improves the approach angle. I usually assume this also means 4x4. I've heard it refered to as a Cali lift before too.

Bakes 02-28-2008 06:58 AM

Baja to me means 2WD, bigger tires, more travel, more speed, ruggedized suspension components, better shocks.

Better for cruising back roads than for rock climbing or mudding.



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