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Old 12-18-2013, 07:53 PM   #1
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Default Quick SMB visit and the ProMaster...

One thing about Sportsmobile is that they have excellent CS... plus their upfit shop is within pushing distance of where I live, so I went by during lunch. If it were not for the ID theft last year that cost me tens of thousands, I definitely would not have been bad off with their model, especially with everything being diesel. Even with the new 2014 Sprinters, the PowerTech generator is still under the departure angle, and the crash wheels on the tow hitch will protect it on a steep incline.

They have a ProMaster there, in the process of being upfitted to a "B". One interesting note which I never thought previously -- the wheel wells are high compared to the ones in the Sprinter or the Econolines. Since the van has a low ground clearance, the space for the wheels has to be made up somewhere, and that is within the van body itself. This means a rear bed would have to be almost a foot higher off the ground than in a Sprinter chassis. It is wider than a Sprinter, so maybe that makes up for it, but the higher wells are another engineering trade-off for upfitters, especially once the insulation is put into place.

I wonder how one can upfit the PM with tanks, because of the low ground clearance. The Sprinters isn't that big a deal to upfit, especially when 2015 comes around and the US gets the AWD Sprinter (the source of this info being from multiple places including a FL dealer in California.) At least the PM has no driveshaft to get in the way if the tanks are shorter, but wider. I guess I'll leave that engineering question up to the pros.
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Old 12-18-2013, 09:53 PM   #2
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Default Re: Quick SMB visit and the ProMaster...

My Sprinter wheel wells are about 11 inches high. Going to a dually made them protrude in more and I noticed most electric sofa ottoman designed Sprinters lost a lot of storage space under those two ottomans. My tri-fold sofa doesn't have ottomans and the wheel wells essentially make good foot stools.

That foot stool in the side entrance of the Travato houses the water tank. That low floor may explain why. Does the floor height explain the Eko toilet too? What is the design status of black and grey tanks, propane tanks, auxiliary batteries and generators that usually go underneath?

Here is a 4 x 4 Sprinter on the right next to my B. It is a DUO CS Reisemobile from Germany. I didn't see a lot of difference in the height. It is not jacked up high like Sportsmobile does with the Fords.



Here are my wheel wells in my Great West Van Legend Sprinter with the milk cartoons showing some comparative scale.

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Old 12-18-2013, 10:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: Quick SMB visit and the ProMaster...

The ProMaster wheel wells are almost twice that height once insulation is added. I'll grab a picture of to better show what it is like, but just the bare metal is about 14-18 inches off the floor, and if you add insulation (4 inches), it will be even taller. What difference it makes, no clue... but it does mean that ProMaster upfits will have to have higher beds.

Next week or so, I'm going to hit the Winnebago "B" dealer and look at the Travato, see the end results. These niggles about wheel well height may be very minor, but they do intrude substantially into the space inside on the bare PM before it is upfitted.

As for the German DUO, it appears to be about an inch higher... That makes sense and is a good balance of clearance versus affecting handling. If I wanted a 4x4 from Germany for the rough stuff, that's what the M-B G series is for.
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Old 12-19-2013, 03:08 AM   #4
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Default Re: Quick SMB visit and the ProMaster...


This picture should help. It is over a foot tall at the front, and this is without the heavy insulation.
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Old 12-19-2013, 04:25 PM   #5
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Default Re: Quick SMB visit and the ProMaster...

There's unusable space above the lower height wheel well in my van so it wouldn't be problem with the type of layout I have. A power sofa type layout could require some extra planning. The photo looks like a shorter wheelbase model so it would be interesting to see how the wheel well height affects the long wheel base model.
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Old 12-19-2013, 06:19 PM   #6
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Default Re: Quick SMB visit and the ProMaster...

Here is an unfinished cargo van Sprinter before conversion that shows the dually wheel wells for comparison.



I should mention I don't think the Sprinter converters put much if any insulation over the wheel wells so doubt they would do so on ProMasters.

I liked the way Great West Van squared off my wheel wells which made them more convenient, IMO. However, after my B they seem to quit doing that and followed the rounded profile covering them with carpeting. The other tri-fold sofa converter, Advanced RV, was also just following the profile last looked.
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Old 12-19-2013, 08:59 PM   #7
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Default Re: Quick SMB visit and the ProMaster...

SMB puts more than average insulation on the wheel wells, followed up by a layer of Reflectix as a vapor barrier. It was interesting sticking my nose in and seeing how well they get stuff upfitted.

The pictures explain a lot. The Sprinter in Davydd's picture has a lot more usable space for a bathroom and one's choice of bed, be it a sofa or a parallel twin layout like the Winnebago 70A.
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Old 12-19-2013, 10:00 PM   #8
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Default Re: Quick SMB visit and the ProMaster...

In contrast to my squared off wheel wells (previous photo with the milk cartons) I found this photo I took of a newer 2012 Great West Van Legend where it appears the covering was just applied tight to the steel wheel well. There is definitely no insulation on the inside. However, there can be an optional spray insulation on the underneath outside.



It does look as if the ProMaster wheel wells could be about 6" higher. On most Bs the electric sofas slide over the tops of the wheel wells and the sofa height is a tad higher by an inch or two than the sofa you might have in your living room. So much more height would be prohibitive. Maybe that is why we are not simply seeing a knockoff the the Roadtrek Agile design or any convertible electric sofas.
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Old 12-20-2013, 06:29 AM   #9
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Default Re: Quick SMB visit and the ProMaster...

Wow, I hadn't noticed the difference in wheel well height in the pics I've seen of PM vans, but now I see it's considerable.
As high as an unloaded PM sits with those skinny tires that tall wheel well is unneeded for sure....
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Old 01-24-2014, 10:48 PM   #10
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Default Re: Quick SMB visit and the ProMaster...

I know on the SMB website in the DIY online plan area they have a "Platform" bed option. Though i've not seen many SMB conversions using such a bed, that is actually what my wife and i chose for our build because we knew there would need to be space for the gold-prospecting (my wife's hobby when we are at a river) gear. It made sense to build a platform bed in back. We have a measured 19" under our bed and then the froli & mattress adds a total of 8" so the top of the bed actually is level with the lower edge of our rear-door windows (which we plug with reflectix at night). Anyway, this height works for our needs and when i was looking at the PM as a possible rig for Van2 i saw that midline rail and thought that would be a logical place to build up from for the bed platform...and loads of storage for water/batteries/etc under at or just forward of the rear axle.
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Old 01-10-2015, 04:12 AM   #11
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Default Re: Quick SMB visit and the ProMaster...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mlts22
One thing about Sportsmobile is that they have excellent CS... plus their upfit shop is within pushing distance of where I live, so I went by during lunch. If it were not for the ID theft last year that cost me tens of thousands, I definitely would not have been bad off with their model, especially with everything being diesel. Even with the new 2014 Sprinters, the PowerTech generator is still under the departure angle, and the crash wheels on the tow hitch will protect it on a steep incline.

They have a ProMaster there, in the process of being upfitted to a "B". One interesting note which I never thought previously -- the wheel wells are high compared to the ones in the Sprinter or the Econolines. Since the van has a low ground clearance, the space for the wheels has to be made up somewhere, and that is within the van body itself. This means a rear bed would have to be almost a foot higher off the ground than in a Sprinter chassis. It is wider than a Sprinter, so maybe that makes up for it, but the higher wells are another engineering trade-off for upfitters, especially once the insulation is put into place.

I wonder how one can upfit the PM with tanks, because of the low ground clearance. The Sprinters isn't that big a deal to upfit, especially when 2015 comes around and the US gets the AWD Sprinter (the source of this info being from multiple places including a FL dealer in California.) At least the PM has no driveshaft to get in the way if the tanks are shorter, but wider. I guess I'll leave that engineering question up to the pros.
Our Safari Condo 21' PM has a 24 gal. grey (2x12 gal. combined tanks) and 12 gal. black tank tucked away under the bathroom and kitchen midship area (see photo) The fresh 26 gal. tank is inside the van. See my full online album at http://centrelab.smugmug.com/PERSO-GL/X ... m/n-MNSpq/




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Old 01-10-2015, 03:58 PM   #12
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Default Re: Quick SMB visit and the ProMaster...

Is there a reason for two 12 gallon grey tanks since they are side by side?
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Old 01-10-2015, 04:58 PM   #13
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Default Re: Quick SMB visit and the ProMaster...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mlts22
The ProMaster wheel wells are almost twice that height once insulation is added. I'll grab a picture of to better show what it is like, but just the bare metal is about 14-18 inches off the floor, and if you add insulation (4 inches), it will be even taller. What difference it makes, no clue... but it does mean that ProMaster upfits will have to have higher beds.

Next week or so, I'm going to hit the Winnebago "B" dealer and look at the Travato, see the end results. These niggles about wheel well height may be very minor, but they do intrude substantially into the space inside on the bare PM before it is upfitted.

As for the German DUO, it appears to be about an inch higher... That makes sense and is a good balance of clearance versus affecting handling. If I wanted a 4x4 from Germany for the rough stuff, that's what the M-B G series is for.
I wish I was near my van so I could give you the measurements today. My recollection is that the wheel arches are around 12" off the floor at the sidewall, but a few inches (maybe 3) less as they slope down toward the interior. And about 6" protrusion from the sidewall. Some people have noted they store items in their vans on top of this wheel well inside the cabinet. In the bathroom, the bath wall is formed around the well. Is it a problem? I still have plenty of room for my feet.

Frankly, I don't really see this as a problem. What is a bigger problem for up-fitters, I would imagine, is how much of a protrusion into the van that a dual wheel well is into the van, taking up precious floorspace. Those dual wheel wells look to be at least 12" deep. I don't think all vans use the same floorpan whether they have single or dual wheels. If this picture of a Transit is any indication, then I think it's about the same as a PM for the SRW chassis:. So if you are going to get a SRW, or short wheelbase Transit, then you are looking at the same issues you'd have with the PM. If you are doing for a dually, then I imagine its largely the same as a Sprinter.

As far as "skinny tires" goes, I don't think we have ANY facts to back up that statement. They are 16" standard truck tires, same as you'd find on base RAM trucks, and I'm not so sure if they are any less wide than what you'd find on any van regardless of make. They are plenty of tire for the surface and the handling characteristics of the suspension and wheel/tire combo are more than adequate for RV duty. I did think it was odd that the wheel well is so high above the tire. The suspension doesn't compress that much - I think wheel travel is only a couple inches - but I do see under the van, and some people have reported, that lowering the van is possible. So maybe in the 1500 series of the van, that space is needed as the van sits a tad lower, I don't know for certain.

Now I'm certain that Sportsmobile can uplift with a larger wheel and tire combo for you. Especially if you plan on traversing log roads, sandy beaches, deserts and what-not. They do that on most of their vans, especially the 4x4's. But if you can't get 4 wheel drive, upgrading the tires, wheels and even a modest lift kit can make a lot of sense, and is a lot cheaper than 4 wheel drive.

As far as their tank arrangements go, I have no idea really. There is only so much space. More if you forgo the spare tire or the built in generator, then you have more room obviously. I think they follow the same philosophy as others to put the fresh water tank inside the van somewhere, along with the fresh water tubing for freeze protection.

In other ways, I think they follow the same philosophy as the expedition vehicle manufacturers. Most of them use cassette toilets, even here in the states. I think in their minds, you have more flexibility for dumping, including just digging a hole and dumping the contents (gasp!). It also frees up a lot of space, as well as a much simpler installation and the flexibility to put the toilet anywhere inside the van that you choose, no matter how crazy some would find it.

I certainly could see someone wanting a custom promaster with a cassette toilet, 40 gallon fresh water tank, a 40 gallon gray tank, a spare mounted on the rear door, or on a roof rack and setup with portable propane bottles and a portable generator. 3 lipo batteries and a 200w solar panel. Fat tires and a 3" lift kit. That could be a fun package for semi-offroad adventuring.
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Old 01-10-2015, 06:02 PM   #14
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Default Re: Quick SMB visit and the ProMaster...

It doesn't make much difference how tall the wheel wells are inside or the width inbetween them unless you think you are going to haul plywood in a work van. The problem with the wheel wells is they put a limit on plan layout front to back which I highlighted in another thread as to how it caused wasted space in a 16" longer Winnebago ERA 70C slider vs. a Leisure Travel Vans Free Spirit SS (one example). It is the front to back impediment problem and a longer wheel base has an advantage. Otherwise the wheel wells are not different enough to change layout as long as they are not too tall to impede an ottoman design and they will never intrude enough to interfere with the center aisle of a B or affect a twin bed arrangement.

The Promaster floor sits lower than the Sprinter or Transit because it doesn't have to accommodate a drive shaft. Consequently, it has limited depth for under item improvements such as tanks, batteries and equipment. Couple that with a lower GWVR, shorter wheelbase, overall length and they will always be limited in capacities. It is just simple math. The fresh water tank is above the floor because of difficulties to locate it elsewhere and not because of cold weather. Cold weather almost goes hand in hand with boondocking and that is contrary to capacities other than for very short duration use. That's why I see it as an activity van maybe more appealing to a younger market with maybe weekend and work vacation time limitations. For touring long term it would not be as good of a choice. Clearly, with bike racks, roof kayak racks, emphasis of storing bikes in aisles and fire engine red in their presentations the converters have figured this out. The shorter van has an advantage too with the younger crowd because it could be an easier multi-use, everyday van for other than camping. What is missing so far is the 4x4 in all that appeal. That last is another reason the Transit may ultimately be more appealing.
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Old 01-10-2015, 11:40 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Is there a reason for two 12 gallon grey tanks since they are side by side?
Safari Condo tries to standardize some of their equipment for their different vans conversions, saving with bulk purchases. For ex. the short 18' ProMaster and their GM vans have only one 12 gal. grey tank.

Looking forward to see your finished Alvar. It's Advanced RV best interior design. I remenber seeing a video where it was mentioned that the cabinets were designed with the help of a Design or Architecture School. Best,
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Old 01-11-2015, 12:18 AM   #16
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Default Re: Quick SMB visit and the ProMaster...

GeorgeB,

As it turns out 24 total gallons of grey is pretty generous for a Class B. Do they split up which sink, drain, etc. goes to which or do they work in concert some way?

Advanced RV sprung from a 40 year old design firm dealing with the design and testing of very complex particulate filter systems mainly for coal plants among other things for environmental control. They had a high degree of expertise in house with design and 3D CAD systems. They do hire design interns and cooperate with the local schools but I don't remember it turned over out of house. When they started up back in May, 2012 they showed me their in-house design work for the fiberglas skirts before any were built. When I compared their cabinets to the work of Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto, I got the impression they were unaware of Aalto. Their cabinets somewhat sprung for a desire to design soft rounded corners rather than sharp corners and have cleaner depth transitions as much as possible. I think I know where that desire came from. Neundorfer owned a Great West Van Legend. I know, had I had a chance, that I wanted to desperately clean up the Great West cabinetry.
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Old 01-13-2015, 05:08 PM   #17
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Default Re: Quick SMB visit and the ProMaster...

I think it was Airstream that used a Design school in Ohio to redesign some of their trailer interiors.


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Old 01-13-2015, 05:45 PM   #18
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Default Re: Quick SMB visit and the ProMaster...

Airstream hired an architect to design their more contemporary interiors about 10 years ago and prominently promoted his participation. That has since been played down so don't know if the architect is still involved.
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Old 01-14-2015, 06:10 AM   #19
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Airstream tried some different styles of interiors a few years back. One was a contemporary style, the other was the Eddie Bauer style that went with their "toy hauler" trailer (it had a door in the back.) The Interstate hasn't really jumped styles since I occasionally eyeball them, but mainly has evolved (with the price tag going through the roof.) In the past few years, they got solar standard and LED lighting to keep up with the other makers.

Apparently they are selling... I actually saw a black Interstate on my way to work a few days ago, which was almost astounding, since the only place I've seen Interstates was at a local dealership. However, if people knew what they could get from ARV for the same price as an Interstate, Airstream "B" sales would definitely falter.
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Old 01-14-2015, 03:55 PM   #20
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mlts22,

From what I am seeing coming out of ARV just about everyone is going upscale. ARV offers 400ah, 600ah and 800ah lithium ion battery systems as their preferred standards but they would install what you might want such as AGMs. Since they instituted that standard in September, like me, I don't know of anyone that has gone with less than 600ah. If you followed me in Advancing Alvar you will know I first thought 400ah was enough but quickly said to myself, what the heck, and went with 800ah. You reach a point if you buy an ARV in deciding whether you can afford it or desire it and it becomes immaterial then to be penny wise and pound foolish. Heck, I did eliminate the awning at the end. The point of all this is, Airstream is a high flyer RV in cost but they offer nothing like I am getting in that battery system, not even 400ah. Also, when spending that much money it is odd to be limited to a couple of interior color finish schemes and mostly generic exterior colors. If you were building a custom house you certainly would not limit yourself that way. LTV and Pleasure-way is similarly restrained in choices and options. Roadtrek, for the dealer networked Bs, offers the most choices and options, but you can't deviate. Great West Vans has similarly restricted choices but they have been willing to deviate.

I think all those I just mentioned make a quality RV but none go the extra mile in fine tuning that quality as they are all competing with each other through dealers. They have to match and keep their dealer network happy and healthy. ARV is trying to avoid that. So far in a very limited RV market they seem to be finding enough customers and nationwide at that.

SMB seems to be on a different system. They are more commodity oriented in that if you can fit it in they will build it and they will try to give you anything available on the market. But it is still kind of a kit of parts. Kind of like professional DIYers. ARV doesn't compete with that. They only build on two Sprinter platforms and start with a base plan, so you have to like that start, and in meeting the other customers most are pretty much like me - retired or nearly couples.
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