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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm researching options for a 1 rig does it all: hauling whatever needs hauled, traveling and camping comfortably with girl friend who has a bad back (no more air mattress on the ground in a tent), towing small trailer, all while getting upper teens to 20mpg. Have to be a member to see pictures so... Howdy y'all!!:nerd:
 

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If I wanted to tow a trailer, I don't think I would have gotten a Promaster but it will work great for the rest of those things and it will tow a small trailer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Well... I pulled the trigger on a new old stock 2015 3500 high roof extended with 220amp Alternator, factory swivel seats, Aluminum rims, tow package, U-connect and upfitter interface, etc. etc. . I think it has everything for the Winnebago package except larger rear sway bar. Need to measure whats on there and compare.

Fuel MPG on the way home towing my car (probably 2900 to 3K pounds) with the van empty was 13.4mpg. Trip computer said 14.3. It accelerated and stopped better than my ole 97 Suburban with the same weight and no trailer brakes. Rear end was a little bit drifty side to side but not much worse than other single rear tire vans I have towed with. There were a pretty good amount of Appalachian Mountain hills to contend with. Suburban with similar weight turned in 11 to 12mpg tops. The shifter kart and trailer will be in the 1500ish pounds. Hoping that returns a little better mpg. Suburban with shifter kart or Formula Ford gave me 12-13 mpg. Edit : I drove with the "tow/haul" button pushed and kept the speeds to 65mph-ish.

Step 1: clean the drenched in armor all cabin. After I signed the papers the dealers cleanup department went crazy with the plastic shine. It's bad. they did the floor and I swear the brake and throttle. You can see runs where its dripping off the plastic. I almost hit a car that dove in front of me to make their exit when my foot slipped off the brake peddle. Girlfriend about slipped and fell out of it because of the applied slime. I was there to support her because I knew it was like trying to walk on ice. I've already discussed my displeasure with the dealer service department. Don't get me wrong, everyone was great to deal with at the dealer, I even apologized to the service guy about him having to listen to me bitch (understatement) when its not his fault and to be sure to pass on my displeasure to the clean up guys. Someone could end up hurt or dead because of how they applied this slick goo. I'm so pissed I'm tempted to call FCA corporate.

Step 2: figure out what running board/step to mount so the girl friend can climb in easier. Ford Transit hurt her worse to get in and out. I guess 7 inches does make a difference... She can climb in the PM ok when not slipping and sliding on the slime. Whole point of this rig is to get her coming out to more car events and out camping in comfort. getting old SUCKS! lol I passed 2 Sprinters on the side of the road on the drive back. :-/

Step 3: figure out best plan for class B camper van build and complete before I retire in 2027. OK, maybe get it some what completed before 2021 and buy another one then. lol
 

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Are you certain that the slick floor is the dealer's fault? When we were looking, we encountered two distinctly different cabin floors. One ( which we ended up with) is sorta mushy foam. The other was as you describe--a #%^* skating rink. We had to hold on for dear life.

Full mat from Eurocampers.com should cure that problem. Welcome to the Pinewood Derby for grownups.
 

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I detailed my day-old vans plastic interior pieces with 91% isopropyl alcohol and almost a full roll of paper towels to chase off whatever factory protectorant AND dealer applied dressings - yes it was slick but mostly the odors were way too strong.... yup, too much of the 'new car' smell can be a bad thing!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
I'm 100% certain. It wasn't a slip n slide when I test drove it earlier in the day. I had to wipe down the drivers door and dash buttons before I left the dealer. There was drops of the slime on them. I took a picture of the floor under the driver's seat and you can see the puddle. After cleaning with general purpose interior cleaner and various concentrations of simple green the floor is somewhat back to how it was before it got "detailed". The tires were so wet with the stuff there are splatter marks on the side of the van. When I stopped a few miles down the road to check the towed car tie down straps, the car out back had enough splatter to make me look under the van for transmission and engine oil leaks. When I say they drenched it, I mean they SOAKED it. :eek:

By the way, thanks MsNomer for your build thread. When I showed the girlfriend the pictures of your thread and the price of the Hymer Aktivs for sale in Cali at $105k, she got receptive to me building one out myself. I think I can make this I one comfortable to us for less than $73k more. ;)

I used up the whole afternoon and a whole roll of bounty towels.
 

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That extended van is going to give you lots of options in your build. I’d suggest you and the girlfriend make a list of what you want to have in the van first before copying any existing van. Also get on the internet and look at the factory layouts for your length so you can see how much room everything uses. MsNomer, I and many others sleep across the van which is very efficient of space and gives a large bed (mine is 54” wide X 74” long) but we all less than 6 feet tall (by a bunch). Then draw it out and try to envision it on a plastic chair in the van, perhaps mark it off on the floor and then mock up with cardboard or cheap sheet goods. Review the build threads here to see how folks have attached stuff, insulate well, get the windows you want and ventilation done, and start the bed and go camp.
My conversion is all modular so the galley just lifts out as does the bed and dinette. Many of us have versions of modular parts so it can be an open van when needed. I pulled mine out last spring to move my daughter into her new Condo. It took just 20 minutes to remove without any help!
 

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Glad I could help. If they offered me an Aktiv, I'd sell it and keep mine, even though I like it the best of the major upfits. The real beauty of DIY is that the result is what you want, not what someone else thinks you should want.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I forgot to mention I drove in Tow/Haul mode in the earlier post. Sales guy said it altered shift points. I figured until I knew for certain what it did to use it. Worst case it would use more fuel. I've known other automatic transmissions that would fry themselves if you towed in regular mode. Will be doing my research learn all the systems on the van before doing much else.

About the build, we are all on the same page. Ive been researching for a while. The thought on how to see the sites around North America has kind of snowballed. We have car camped a bit. I tested camping off a dual sport motorcycle by myself. We have road tripped staying at motels, which are comfortable but you miss the black star filled sky you can see out in the middle of a national park. Tiny teardrop trailer looked promising but the crawling in and out didn't go well with her bad back. Years ago the Ex and I had a little class C. It was ok but a pain in some tight spots with the full width. Also, some of the interesting back roads are posted No RV's. Delivery vans run down those roads fine. I researched floor plans of class B RVs finding the Winnebago Vista Cruiser G24. Waited a while and along came Safari Condo XLFLEX, and just recently Hymer Aktiv. We have been discussing what we would like and debating buy what is close to what we want or build it how we want. Decision made. Lol

With her back and short legs, the PM was easiest to get in and out. The factory swivel seats are more comfortable and lower to the floor than the regular cargo van seats. They seem hard to find. I searched and found 8 vans in North America in stock from 2015 to 2017 models with factory swivel. This was the only high roof, extended with 220 amp alternator and factory tow package. It was special ordered by a local RV builder who went out of business before it was built and delivered.

I have printed out the Sportsmobile DIY floor planner. She was excited "OH we get to play with paper dolls like when I was a kid!" We like the bed set up crosswise out back. Storage space under it for tools and gear for car events or whatever. Dinette up front to have sitting table space in case of rain or hot, unbearable weather. We are in the South. MUST HAVE AIR CONDITIONING. Lol Looking into going without propane. Restrictions at tunnels and bridges. I've heard about some e-track systems for floor and walls that might work well to make modular interior. Might be more work than useful. We plan to do some camping out of the empty van before making the build.

Whew, I need to quit typing while sipping a huge mug o coffee on a lazy Sunday morning.
 

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That coffee will get you typing like crazy, just look at my posts! You sound sane, I like that. Review some posts here for insulation tips. 1” polyisocyanurate board glued in with a pro gun and great stuff is a good choice with automotive thinsulate in the ribs and other hard to glue sections seems best. YMMV.
 
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