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Author Topic: How much conversion - and DIY alternatives  (Read 9107 times)

Jammer

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How much conversion - and DIY alternatives
« on: December 29, 2009, 06:06:20 PM »
I'm thinking more seriously about an E-350 mainly as a tow vehicle but want to have a little extra space in it so as to be able to get by with a smaller trailer.

I note that Sportsmobile charges around $16,000 for a fairly basic conversion, with additional charges for a high-top, A/C, toilet, and other options.  It appears to me that much of the cost is restyling of the interior, new carpeting, headliner, that kind of thing.

I'm thinking in terms of taking a stock van, replacing rear seating, and adding cabinets with a (12v only) fridge and furnace (with an asme propane tank mounted to the frame).  I don't have this completely priced out but with a dinette and four captain's chairs I'm getting $3000 for the furniture and $2000 for the mechanicals.  Even with hiring out the work to a custom shop this seems like a much cheaper way to go.

A question I have is whether the insulation in a stock van is sufficient and whether the typical conversion results in enough of an improvement to matter.

Also wondering whether the seating is a do-it-yourself project or something that really has to be hired out to people who've done it before.
2004 Suburban 2500 4wd 8.1 / 2010 Airstream Classic 30' /
1997 K2500 regular cab long bed pickup / 1971 Cayo C-11

BruceinFL

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Re: How much conversion - and DIY alternatives
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2009, 11:14:07 AM »
You might be better off getting a bare work van with upgraded front seats and doing the back from scratch. That way you can control the insulation, etc.
Bruce A.
2004 Alpenlite Valhalla 29RK 5W
2005 Ford F-350 SRW 6.0L

Len and Jo

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Re: How much conversion - and DIY alternatives
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2009, 10:36:58 PM »
As long as you get the correct hardware the seats are fairly simple.  Our first try was 10 year old 1979 Ford van (our "prototype").  I bought two junk yard seats and bases from a scrap Ford and had them upholstered to match the front seats and then installed them myself.  I have found that many after market seats are inferior to the OEM seats for durability...but not looks.  When you get up to the Flex-steel class of seats then you are into significantly better products.

If you are going to use it in the north or mountains in the fall or winter then the best and most insulation you can put in would be good and required.  Specially if you are going to stay in it overnight. 

If you want to run the refrig off of 12 volts for an extended period (say 24 hours) with out recharging the house battery bank you probably need at least two house batteries or a very $$$ refrig.  or also have it dual powered...with 12v or propane.

There are other places to get work done other than Sportsmobile.  You are right they charge a premium price (but also have good quality and know what they are doing).

Good Luck
Len & Jo
The Green Tardis
We 'B' RVing   Berkley, Michigan
Van Development:   https://youtu.be/5Xqk_G6k95M
12 Years of Travels:  https://youtu.be/UMIf17CzdZo

MomMikel

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Re: How much conversion - and DIY alternatives
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2010, 08:27:38 PM »
We did the basic E250 cargo van.  Had Sportsmobile put the penthouse top on it, but that was it.  We're doing the rest ourselves.  It's a fun project!!  Good luck with yours!  Please post pix when you can.

dtyrrell

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Re: How much conversion - and DIY alternatives
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2010, 08:25:51 PM »
Hi...I'm new here but I thought I would add my ideas into the conversation. First, I am converting a 25-pass transport bus into an RV. I have done a lot of research into the equipment I want to add and naturally there are still many questions. Since the bus already has interior walls and are insulted, due to the reason the bus was purchased up north here, I do not have that problem. The problems lie elsewhere, which I will get into a little at a time. But I wanted to let everyone know of the project and will post photos as I go along as well as get everyone else's opinion on which way to do things is best. I am going to post a photo of the bus the day I brought it home and go from there.

(http://i997.photobucket.com/albums/af92/dtyrrell855/RV%20stuff/th_BlOWBwCGkKGrHqQH-DYEs-Rl9So5BLZ2ENw.jpg)

(http://i997.photobucket.com/albums/af92/dtyrrell855/RV%20stuff/th_BlOeQmkKGrHqMH-DEEtm2RJGscBLZ2EUM-r.jpg)
« Last Edit: April 19, 2010, 08:57:45 PM by dtyrrell »

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: How much conversion - and DIY alternatives
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2010, 06:38:30 AM »
Ought to be a fun project. Definitely post pictures as you go.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Jammer

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Re: How much conversion - and DIY alternatives
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2010, 09:57:03 PM »
Well, no pics to post.

In short I came to the conclusion that, in Minnesota, it isn't practical to tow a 30' trailer with my use pattern (which includes parking in grassy fields and the like) without four wheel drive.  I ended up buying a Suburban for a tow vehicle.

I may at some point also obtain a B van but will not use it for towing.
2004 Suburban 2500 4wd 8.1 / 2010 Airstream Classic 30' /
1997 K2500 regular cab long bed pickup / 1971 Cayo C-11

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: How much conversion - and DIY alternatives
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2010, 01:03:33 PM »
Having been stuck myself on a wet grassy field in Minnesota cause I only had limited slip instead of 4WD, I can sympathize.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

federer

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Re: How much conversion - and DIY alternatives
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2011, 06:36:55 PM »
If you are going to use it in the north or mountains in the fall or winter then the best and most insulation you can put in would be good and required.  Specially if you are going to stay in it overnight. 
27. Love to spend time on internet forums.

Conquest aka Robert

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Re: How much conversion - and DIY alternatives
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2011, 05:46:34 PM »
I would second the get a work van you will need the heavy duty suspesion you will be adding a lot of weight. Also as siad you can control the amount of insulation. You might want to include some small generator just incase so you can charge you batteries. I would also suggest LED lights expsensive BUT low power draw.
1996 GulfStream Conquest Ultra 102  04-19-2011.
2009 Honda Ruckus
1984 Southwind for 6 years.
1 Wife
6 Children who needs pets

Van Tripper

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Re: How much conversion - and DIY alternatives
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2012, 12:40:13 PM »
Insulation and a vapor barrier, without a barrier you are inviting mold, Prodex or similar insulation will save fuel no matter how you power heat/a.c.  OE insulation if any is mainly for sound deadening, Good luck and have Fun. 
Charles
Life Should be FUN

keith g

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Re: How much conversion - and DIY alternatives
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2012, 06:29:06 PM »
personally if i was going to restyle ours i would combine the toilet AND shower into the same module,like they do on quite a lot of sub 30' sailboats.........a sofa and 2 lazee boys that strap to the wall while travelling,and a centre floor to ceiling pole with the table on it,table would be pinned up against the ceiling while travelling and bought down while stationary.........thats as far as my thoughts have gone EXCEPT.....i'd get rid of the hot water heater and externally fit inn a recessed compartment an on demand propane water heater,you can get them with piezo ignition so no pilot light to worry about............

Mary Wright

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Re: How much conversion - and DIY alternatives
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2014, 08:19:48 AM »
I have found an power strip on Amazon that is also a 150 volt converter with a cigarette plug.  It works great to plug in your frig and tv while traveling.  When you get to your destination you can plug into shore power with another power strip.  Works well and not costly batteries to mess with.   

smept

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Re: How much conversion - and DIY alternatives
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2014, 05:44:51 PM »
I"ve lived many months at a time in an old mini-van, with no electricity at all. No toilet, no shower. Just join the Y or Planet fitness, or use sponge baths in restrooms, or even just baby-wipes in the back of the van.  Remove the passenge seat and set a camping cooler (or 2) there. Get a solar charger and you'll need more ice a lot less often!  :-) Secure some chests of drawers for your stuff, and have some big plastic storage bins. When you need to lie down, set the bins up on the chests. Bungee cords stretched to eye bolts will secure the chests of drawers.  I don't like the normal, tall chests, cause they are too noticable, so I cut off top, shorten the rest of the chest and remount the top.

Alfa38User

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Re: How much conversion - and DIY alternatives
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2014, 07:16:09 PM »
Sempt:

Just a hint: Watch the dates on the posts you are replying to: for example this one was dated  March 8 2014 with the majority dated in 2012 and the chances are poor that the persons you want to inform are no longer watching for responses or their problem had been resolved some time ago!!!
Stu
Montréal, Canada 🍁
Snowbird, Naples Florida
Alfa Gold 38 (2000) 5ver (parked!)

"Of course I talk to myself, sometimes I need expert advise!!!"

 

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