I own this Sportsmobile? Someone Pinch me quick!

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by Super Suz, Jun 15, 2009.

  1. Super Suz

    Super Suz N00b with B00b

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    I’ve been jonesing for a camper van for about three years now. Looking at the different models out there, I finally, I found one in San Diego for a great price from a family who needed a bigger RV. Not only was it a great price, but it was oine of those Sportsmobile types that I have been dreaming about but thought I could not presently afford one. I was wrong about that. I found this deal and I acted quickly. I live in the Bay Area and the van was bought in the San Diego area with the help of a good friend, River Rat, who lives in the seller’s area. In one of his past lives, he was a mechanic and I could not have done this so well (possibly not at all) without his help. You’ll want to know the basics about this van. It’s a 1994 Dodge Ram 250 and it needed some work to get it reliable.

    The van was in pretty good condition when I bought it. This is what we had to work with:
    • 77,000 miles
    • Power doors/locks
    • Cruise control
    • 5.2L V8
    • Oversized All Terrain tires
    • Sportsmobile pantry, long cabinet, porta-potty cabinet with porta-potty, sink and counter with underneath cabinet, two pull-out couches that face each other and make out to be a van-wide bed when fully extended, the pop-up canvas top with the three-pad bunk-bed assembly, degraded water tank and grey water system, two-wheel drive (not the 4-wheel), and a crappy stereo.

    Stand by for pics....
    #1
  2. Barnstormer

    Barnstormer Logistique

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    Nice.
    I lust after a good SMB.
    #2
  3. Super Suz

    Super Suz N00b with B00b

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  4. Human Ills

    Human Ills Useful Idiom

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    The really cool part about it is that you don't live that far from me. :norton
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  5. Super Suz

    Super Suz N00b with B00b

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    River Rat likes to camp as much as I do and he just wanted to help me out. So after it was bought and sitting in his garage, he made some changes to the van that ended up totaling about 60 hours of work. I am so happy with this van and the modifications that I thought others would benefit from knowing about the upgrades. First, River Rat and I talked about the kinds of modifications that I would like and any others he suggested as an experienced camper.

    Here’s the list that we came up with:
    • Efficient refrigeration for food
    • Killer tunes- it’s got to rock and roll
    • Efficient battery life
    • Generator for extended camping time if not “hooked in”
    • Good lighting both inside and out
    • Safe water system

    Less necessary and expensive upgrades to be added later:
    • New metal plate for the engine battery to replace the rusty one
    • Festive flagpole and disco ball or LED party lights
    • Rear locker, lift
    • Solar Panels
    • Additional stereo speakers because you can never have enough sound if your camping neighbors don’t mind music.

    He then started out checking out with an engine inspection as any good mechanic would. He changed the engine oil and filter, transmission fluid and filter, air filter, pcv, distributor camp and rotor, power steering fluid, and brake fluid. More complex maintenance included the rear differential fluid.
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    #5
  6. Super Suz

    Super Suz N00b with B00b

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    inspected, front wheel bearings, brake linings, transmission, spark plugs and wires, cooling system condition, brakes and brake lines, rotated the tires, inspected the house and engine batteries, and some other general stuff. He then installed a rear hitch for phase two of the campervan upgrades- a motorcycle hauler / tote and a street-legal dirt bike!

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    #6
  7. Super Suz

    Super Suz N00b with B00b

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    Battery replacement in the house compartment was a little tricky also since it’s underneath the portapotty.

    He almost changed the water pump hoses but decided against this since the system had no visible cracks or leaks.

    The stereo system installation had a few extra details. The stereo has two inlets for mp3 devices and a plug for to use for any device that has a headphone jack. These come out of the side dash via a 12-volt plug cap. The stereo has a remote control and that was placed in the back with its holder attached to the sidewall of the kitchen counter. The stereo has its own power switch installed next to it that accesses the house battery instead of the engine battery. Two infinity 6x9 inch speakers were installed in the doors and sound deadening material on panels

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    #7
  8. Super Suz

    Super Suz N00b with B00b

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    River Rat added 12v and 110V power receptacles throughout the van and added a shore power connector.

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    #8
  9. Super Suz

    Super Suz N00b with B00b

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    He also added led porch light that he designed himself using powerful LED lights, (three to a line, two lines).
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    Added circuits to the fuse box in the back of the van. Here’s a picture of it located on the inside wall of the storage box located under one of the rear couches. It’s labeled and gives access to a 12-volt plug (ready for flagpole lights).
    <a href="http://s183.photobucket.com/albums/x83/squareglow/July%204th%20Weekend/ADVan/?action=view&current=addv496.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/advrider-photobucket-images/images/s/squareglow_July%25204th%2520Weekend_ADVan_addv496.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>
    #9
  10. spagthorpe

    spagthorpe Long timer

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    I notice you mention going with a generator instead of solar. Seems like that would be the best choice for boondocking for days away from a cord. You can even get nice setups that trickle charge the starter battery in addition to the house batteries.
    #10
  11. Super Suz

    Super Suz N00b with B00b

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    Next, he replaced the ten-gallon water tank under the rear seat and added a 2 way grey water system. It sounds easy, but it wasn&#8217;t, really. He upgraded that water system to include an outside freshwater inlet that locks, a new drainage hole under the van for grey water bucket stored outside on the ground for longer stays. Then, he added an internal grey water tank (a common drinking water jug) that sits next to the 10-gallon water tank. River Rat added a new set of valves and water lines to connect everything together, including the kitchen sink. Here are some pics to show the work.
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    #11
  12. Super Suz

    Super Suz N00b with B00b

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    Yeah. Solar would be the way to go when the budget allows for it.
    #12
  13. Super Suz

    Super Suz N00b with B00b

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  14. Super Suz

    Super Suz N00b with B00b

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    The van did not have an inverter or converter or house battery charging system. For those who don’t know what these are, an inverter is converts 12V DC to 115 AC and a converter/charger is for AC to DC and house battery charging. These new units were installed behind the driver’s seat on the wall of the portapotty cabinet.

    To keep the project simple and reliable, an internal shore power outlet was installed. You’ll also notice in the pictures a smaller, grey box which is for the converter and when the van is connected to shore power (house A/C electrical receptacles plug in here)
    #14
  15. Super Suz

    Super Suz N00b with B00b

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  16. Super Suz

    Super Suz N00b with B00b

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    River Rat was a little concerned that I would not use it that often, like many RV folks do. He finally realized that all his hard work will not be taken for granted and that this van will be used well. He's glad to know that I&#8217;ve taken it out on many trips since I received delivery of the renovated van back in March. So far, it&#8217;s been to Bodega Bay, Harbin Hot Springs, Sierra Hot Springs nearby Truckee, Lake Del Valle in the Hayward hills, Stoneyford off of the 5 FWY nearby Williams, Benton Hot Springs, and Markleeville in the Sierras, Panamint Springs and Saline Hot Springs in Death Valley. Just recently, it was at Cache Creek and it&#8217;s scheduled to go to Loon Lake in the Desolation Wilderness area and to Colorado and Utah for a month. I think that&#8217;s a pretty good list for starters with this van. I had no trouble with the engine or any other part of the van except for a dead battery after about one week of sitting and that may very well have been operator error.

    The exterior of the van was dialed down a couple of notches to a lower profile by removing all the faded pin striping and the fancy side floorboard trim. The paint received a clay bar and wax job and the rusty but good spare was covered with a simple tire cover. River Rat emailed Sportsmobile for a new graphic design and gave them the make, year, and model number of the van. They sent back the correct &#8220;era&#8221; Sportsmobile graphic and that was posted to the sides of the van. Here are the before and after shots to show you the difference.
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    #16
  17. Super Suz

    Super Suz N00b with B00b

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    I'm going to post some more tomorrow. Stay tuned...
    #17
  18. RedRocket

    RedRocket Yeah! I want Cheesy Poofs Supporter

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    Looks like you owe RiverRat a big, wet something.
    #18
  19. dirtypumpkin

    dirtypumpkin "Monster Truck Bike"

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    Nice van, congrats on getting some use out of it.
    I might have to get River Rat to do some work on my ambulance.:freaky

    85 Ford E350 4wd:

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    #19
  20. Super Suz

    Super Suz N00b with B00b

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    I told RR this could be a new side job for him- van conversion/upgrades. He did a fantastic job on mine.

    More pics later, including the new (to me) Super Sherpa that I bought to haul on the back.
    #20