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Old 03-30-2017, 04:36 PM   #21
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But as much as I appreciate and embrace the D-I-Y concept, my biggest challenge and obstacle is probably that of finding the free time to devote to much problem solving and maintenance work. ... Iím afraid I simply wouldnít be able to keep up with much added responsibility for something like complex RV maintenance/repair. And that is really whatís behind my focus on the K.I.S.S approach to RV travels.
If you decide you do want a simpler campervan style unit check out Van Specialties in Tualatin, Oregon or VanWorks in Fort Collins, Colorado. Both those upfitters have a lot of experience with conversions that are functional but rather simple and easy to maintain. Costs for a basic conversion generally range from $15k-25k, depending on level of amenities.

Should you go that route you'll still have the benefit of a new vehicle and basic but rugged features. They're not the kind of RV you'll see at shows and dealers but they have a big following among the outdoor climbing, kayaking and mountain biking communities.
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Old 03-30-2017, 05:28 PM   #22
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Great thoughts tenter..
You definitely do not NEED to jump into a luxury RV with all the amenities. I struggle with these same questions for awhile before settling on a Travato.
The suggestions to start with a basic Promaster are good ones. FYI, after a year, here is how I would classify our use and importance of Amenities in OUR rig:

1. The Promaster Van (Nimble, economical, fun to drive, etc)
2. The Bed
3. The Table and a place to sit
4. Lights

(to me, those are the bare bones basics that are used MOST often)

5. Storage cabinets
6. Operable Windows with screens and shades
7. Vent Fan
8. Galley counter space
9. The Toilet
10. Swivel Seats

(more essential for overnight stays)

11. Dual coach batteries, USB and DC outlets (for devices and lights)
12. Alternator, Solar and A/C Charging systems
13. Fridge
14. Awning

(comfort items)

15. Truma Furnace and Hot Water Heater (might depend on where you travel)
16. The Kitchen Sink
17. Stove top
18. Shower (and outside shower)
19. Generator

(items that are nice to have, but can be managed in other ways)

20. Microwave
21. Air Conditioning
22. TV - DVD
23. Stereo

(I wouldn't miss any of these items much. When they break down, I'd consider removing them, or doing without.)

Hope this helps..
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Old 03-31-2017, 06:23 AM   #23
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Thanks, rockymtnb! I have begun thinking about a custom build, and have just contacted Sportsmobile, who are the nearest custom conversion outfit to me that I’m aware of. But it’s great to learn of others, especially of they’re well thought of. And it seems best to have several choices to investigate and shop around.

My next big question is probably regarding the optimum base vehicles I should be considering. My impression is that most of the custom conversion makers offer more or less the same few makes/models. I know very little about them, so far, but I’m pretty sure I’d want to go with a gas engine, and I’ve gathered that the ProMaster seems pretty highly regarded. And ease of driving and economy are high priorities for me.

I asked the Sportsmobile guy I spoke with on the phone about the ProMaster, and his response was yes, they offer them, but their Ford Transits were more popular. He didn’t say why, but I’m wondering, and I welcome any thoughts or advice.

Thanks!!
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Old 03-31-2017, 06:33 AM   #24
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Scottbaldassari - that's a really helpful list for me to keep in mind. Thanks so much!
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Old 03-31-2017, 08:38 AM   #25
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To me, the most obvious differences between Ford and Promaster:

Promaster is front wheel drive giving great traction, handling and turning radius; also allows chassis floor to be lower with no driveshaft running thru the middle of the Van. Best overall visibility, mirror, and camera system. Promaster is lower and wider making sideways sleeping possible. Available with dual swivel seats. Higher HP, Higher Payload, but lower tow rating due to fwd than Ford. Promaster has lowest price. Some people prefer lighter, peppier ride.

Ford has more horsepower and engine/chassis options. Ford tows more and has more ground clearance. Ford has more vehicles on the road; more dealerships, thus more places for service and presumably more/faster parts availability. Ford has tilt wheel, and some say more comfortable or "refined" seats. Lower HP with std 6 cyl, lower payload, but higher tow rating due to rwd than Promaster. Some people prefer heavier, smoother ride.

Both Vans have performed admirably with minimal service issues. The look and feel of course is personal choice, You MUST DRIVE both for a personal comparison, do not trust others opinions.
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Old 03-31-2017, 03:31 PM   #26
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In addition to differences mentioned above there is one which is a key for van conversion, the width. Promaster allows side to side sleeping for 6’ plus folks. For small vans side to side sleeping reduces a needed space. Fiat and its siblings own majority share of the van campers in EU, cost and width are likely the reasons. I wouldn’t be surprise if the ultimate winner for vans conversion will be Promaster in NA. I bought my van in 2013 but my preference was Promaster, just did not want to wait. Ended up with the Sprinter and Westfalia like arrangement with rock@roll bed.

George.
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Old 03-31-2017, 04:55 PM   #27
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I asked the Sportsmobile guy I spoke with on the phone about the ProMaster, and his response was yes, they offer them, but their Ford Transits were more popular. He didnít say why, but Iím wondering, and I welcome any thoughts or advice.
Scottbaldassari and GeorgeRa have provided an excellent summary of the Promaster versus Transit capabilities.

With regards to Sportsmobile I'm guessing you spoke with SMB West in Fresno? They tend to specialize in 4WD vans and since the low roof Transit is available with an aftermarket 4x4 conversion that makes an agile off-road rig when combined with Sportsmobile's pop-top. SMB Texas in Austin tends to do more Promasters, partially because they build rigs for a rental company that prefers the Promaster chassis.

I was assuming you were looking for a more basic conversion than Sportsmobile provides, but if they can meet your needs it's an excellent company. We have a Sportsmobile Sprinter and I can highly recommend the Texas operation and I assume the Fresno facility is similar. With regards to the Sprinter we like the van but would probably choose a simpler gas engine powertrain next time.
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Old 03-31-2017, 07:44 PM   #28
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Default ProMaster vs Ford

The info you've all provided is extremely helpful. I haven't seriously considered 4WD and don't expect to do much rough off-pavement travel, so the lower clearance, wider van, Front WD all sound appealing enough to lean me towards the ProMaster.

Yes, I've spoken with the Fresno branch of Sportsmaster briefly. Hoping to get down there next week to get into more details. They sounded like they'd be willing to do as simple or basic of a build as I might want. But I'm not solidly committed to anything yet until I learn more, which is why this forum is so helpful, thanks to all of you!
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Old 03-31-2017, 07:55 PM   #29
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Default Cassette toilet?

I'd love to hear from anyone with experience with cassette toilets. I've looked at as much as I can find on them online, and I love the simplicity, and ease of maintenance represented. For my wife and myself, it sounds ideal, for one thing because I would rarely use it myself, when in campgrounds with facilities.

Since I first learned about them from a link on the Sportsmaster website, I assume they can install one, if I were to have a rig built by them.

Any info or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 03-31-2017, 08:44 PM   #30
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I'd love to hear from anyone with experience with cassette toilets.
We've had a Thetford 402 cassette toilet in our previous RV (10 years experience ) and our current Promaster RV (3 years experience ) and wouldn't have any other system.

We like the freedom to dump in campground toilets, rest area toilets, forest service campground pit toilets, our home toilet and even normal dump stations.
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