Friday, September 26, 2008

What we wanted

So we were refining what we wanted. We were considering 2 options:
1. A fully converted Class B Van build from a 1994 Dodge or newer with high roof, 21 ft in length or less, (max for LA street parking) must have a 6'3" bed, an electrical system, and added features such as A/C, propane heat, propane stove, solar panels, solar charging system, shower, sink, generator, awning, or water tank. Must have power door locks, power windows, and cruise control. One nice thing about the Class B RV is they almost always have the best stock features like cruise and power windows.
2. A cheap Extended Van (less than $5,000) with high top which we could do a conversion to ourselves.
The real tipping point for me seemed to be a generator. If we had a generator ($3,000 new) we have no power worries which would be sweet.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

1995 Chevy Roadtrek

We went and saw a 1995 Chevy Roadtrek Versatile which it turned out the owner was a friend of Anja's. It had 61,000 miles on it and he as asking $17,000. Anja loved it; I hated it. It was a 90's van just like the 1991 Chevy my father had owned and I'd learned to drive in. It felt really old to me because of that and no way in hell was I spending $17,000 on such an old vehicle. The bed in the back was too small and the used toilet grossed out Anja but she thought it felt like "a home." She also liked that it was finished with little work to be done. I agreed that she was not going to be happy spending 80 hours of weekend converting a van. After some research at home we concluded maybe we could get a 1994 or newer Dodge Roadtrek but in the Popular model which has a 6'4" bed on one side so we started looking for Dodges but still keeping an eye out for Sportsmobiles or other Class B RV's. I could not find pictures of the one we say but the pictures are about right.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Sportsmobile West Visit

We were thinking we would convert our a used extended cargo van and were considering putting the Sportsmobile penthouse top on. So on our way home from a college friend's wedding in Tahoe so we stopped in Fresno at Sportsmobile West to see the manufacturing floor and take a look at vans and see what we might want to do to a van. The staff was really friendly and took us through all the vans on the floor and some in production. Only once did the salesman give me a sales pitch and it was a pretty soft attempt. We loved their vans but at $55,000-100k+ they are just out of our price range. Bad news if we wanted a penthouse top with a roof rack we would need the electronic lift and that is an extra $1,500 so the top would be $7,000. On the way home we talked over the top and concluded that anywhere we would put up the top we could also put up a tent so for $7,000 what were we gaining? It was just too much.
Photos grabbed from:
which has a good article on Sportsmobile
Also see

Monday, September 1, 2008

Looking for a Climbing Van

We decided we wanted a climbing van which we both could live out of on long trips so we started doing research on what we wanted and polling friends and family. On the spring breaks I lead in college I had drive 15 passenger vans and had found them to have good clearance and while big were not too large to manage. Suggestions
-Truck with camper shell; we concluded it was too small for two people to live out of
-Truck with camper; larger and good clearance but we liked the idea of the living area being connected with the cab.
-Euro VW Van; perfect for one person but a small for two
-15 passenger van/Extended Cargo Van - Size is good but would have to do conversion ourself, thought low roof would feel cramped all the time.
-Sportsmobile with Penthouse top - We liked these a lot but were not finding them in our price range.
-Used Cargo Van with Penthouse top- Sportsmobile will install the penthouse top on a van for $5,500. This seemed like a good option.
-Roadtrek - High top 6'1" standing roof, an inch short for me, has a stove, fridge, storage, bed in the back.
Class B RV - Roadtrek and Sportsmobile are both class B RV and there are some other brands but we found these two had the best lines for us.