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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, I am getting ready to retire and get a promaster van to travel in. I have several questions that I will ask over time. I talked to Hein about the thinsulate insulation which was one of my big concerns. I am also wondering about the different wheel bases, I am looking at the 159" wheel base but was wondering if it is small enough to park in a regular parking space like at a Wal-Mart, truck stop or rest area or will I have to go for the 136" wheelbase to park in a regular spot?? Thanks in advance for any info.
Ed C.
 

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Greetings ED! I have a 159 ext, and yes it is long. It doesn't really fit in a "regular parking spot too well. But, hey it's a 7ft wide, 9 ft tall and 20 ft long van. People see it so it getting hit is not really an issue. I drove both the 136 and the 159 last year, while i was fiddling with the diesel issues some of us were plagued with, and I have no more difficulty with the 159ext than i did with the 136. Of course I've been driving vans for over 40 years, so I may be a bit more forgiving of it's size than some. I can easily put it into most parking spots, and it handles better than my old Ford E-350 van, BY FAR!!. I used the premise that if it's bigger than I need, I just have extra space, but if it's smaller than I need, I'm out of luck! The ProMaster is the BEST van I have ever driven. I've put 14k on mine in 6 months, and it's easy to drive, and days i have to drive 300 miles are a breeze. Hope this helps.
Chris
 

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Like Chris, I also have a 159 Ext. You should have no real parking problems with the 159. As a comparison check the lengths of pickup trucks. My 159 Ext is only approximately 12" longer than my four door Toyota Tacoma pickup truck, but the PM has a smaller turning radius than the Tacoma.

I would not have bought the Ext version of the 159 if I did not absolutely need the extra length. IMO the 159 is the ideal length for a conversion.

If I had any real advice to give it would be to buy the latest version/year model your schedule will allow. I wish I had waited for the the 2016 or evan the 2017. Its always a risk to buy into a new product launch. The longer you can wait the more bugs get worked out and the quality assurance at the new factory improve. Oh in addition if you are doing a camper version the factory swivels are hands down better than the after market swivel plates and associated elevated seating height problems.

Happy retirement:)

Dave
 

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I've had no more trouble parking my 159wb than any other vehicle I've driven - most often I elect to not use a space because the guy (idiot) in the adjacent space did such a "great job" of parking that what's left is not a "regular" space. Get the 159, you'll like the extra room. Biggest issue (if you haven't driven van/trucks) remember it's NINE feet tall.
 

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Just wanted to support the 159 is not too long advice. I came out of a pickup and the 159 is shorter, and a lot easier to handle in tight spots. I've never passed up a parking spot in the 159 that I could have gotten into with my truck. I pretty much park in any spot that I'd park my wife's Honda in. If it's really tight- I exit the slider.
 

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I have a 159 high roof gasser and it is easy to park almost anyplace. Many crew cab and long bed pickup trucks are just as long and almost as wide and you see them parked everywhere. Extra care is sometimes needed. By the way I have owned 2 Sprinter diesels and my gas PM gets about the same MPG. The front wheel drive PM, in my opinion, handles better and is more fun to drive than the Sprinters.
 

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You folks must have bigger "regular parking spots" than we have here (Toronto area). My 136 is longer than a normal spot here and I wouldn't want a longer one on account of that. I suspect our spots are narrower and the aisles are narrower, too, because it's common to not be able to get into a spot unless the adjacent cars are well back of the lines. The front wheels on the ProMaster turn at a sharp angle, which helps, but the back wheels still follow a track to the inside of the front ones, and there's only so much that can be done.

The situation is not worse than that of a crew cab pickup truck, though ... they have the same problem. (There's a reason that my daily driver is a small car)

Of course, if you need the real estate inside, then it is what it is, you will just have to deal with the parking situation.

The above photo is cheating a wee bit ... the back end is out over the grass! That works if you are at the edge of the parking lot but not in the middle.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the feedback on the 159", it was my first choice. I was only concerned because as I was coming home from a visit to see my daughter last year I pulled into the Tennessee Welcome center at about 2 am and had a trailer so I had to park in the area with the Semi Trucks (which was packed) and listen to the engines run for about 2 hrs while I was trying to get some rest. There were probably 60 - 70 car spots that were unused at the time and were a lot quieter. My thought is that if I can park the Promaster over with the cars my nights would be a lot more pleasant and I also wouldn't have to take a spot that the truckers really need now that they changed the laws, to keep their log books correct.

Thanks for the feedback and the pictures of the 159" in a parking space,
Ed C.

P.S. my plan like Dave suggested is to wait on the new model year to come out towards the end of this year. I plan on working on it over the winter of 2017 and retire in the summer of 2017.
 

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I think you have enough information to decide but here is a prospective. The 136 is a tiny bit shorter than a full sized pickup with a single cab and an 8ft bed or an extra cab truck with a 6 1/2 foot bed. A 159 is about the same length as a double cab full sized truck with a 6 1/2 foot bed.
I parallel park my 136 on city streets when I can find a bit longer than normal space between cars and I get it right up to the curb as it is wider than most vehicles. I don't think the 159 will do that unless there are two empty spaces and you use a bit of the extra one. At store parking lots either one can be parked easily but perhaps a bit farther from the store to find the extra room.
 

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I have no problem parking my 159 anywhere. The bigger thing to be aware of is the width in my opinion. Most parking spots today seem narrower than in the past and if the people on both sides of you don't park in the center of their spot it can get tight. More than once I've gone out or in the rear doors as it was to tight to open the front. You also have to consider the length when turning into a space as the geometry requires a little different mode of thinking. All in all I wouldn't hesitate to but the 159 for camping especially and would probably get the 159 ext if I were to order a new one.
 

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Hi,
My wife and I put quite a bit of thought into the 136 vs 159 issue before our conversion.

We ended up going with the 136 and have been happy with it. It drives and parks just like our car -- don't even really have to think about it.

There are lots of good layouts for 2 people for the 136. It is a challenge to get a dedicated shower into the 136 layouts, so if you really want that, the 159 might be worth the extra hassle and probably somewhat less gas miliage (we get 20 mpg on road trips).

Either length works -- just have to be aware of the tradeoffs.

This is our layout and some alternatives we considered:http://www.buildagreenrv.com/our-conversion/our-promaster-camper-van-conversion-interior-layout/
I really think the full size mockups of the layouts you are considering are worth the efforf -- nothing like a full size layout for making a good decision, and you could mockup up both the 136 and 159.

You also mentioned insulation -- I guess I'd just say that I think that there are alternatives to thinsulate you should consider -- lots on this site about insulation choices.

Gary
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hi Gary, I have visited your site before and was one the sites that got me interested in the Promaster van. Thanks for the info and the site. I have always wondered about the spray foam insulation and if it would be better. I know that it probably has a much higher R value than most of the other insulations on the market and would seal the van better. My main concern and what scares me is causing my van to rust?? just don't know which way to go, I see so many cases and info to justify every choice.
Thanks,
Ed C.
 

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Hi Gary, I have visited your site before and was one the sites that got me interested in the Promaster van. Thanks for the info and the site. I have always wondered about the spray foam insulation and if it would be better. I know that it probably has a much higher R value than most of the other insulations on the market and would seal the van better. My main concern and what scares me is causing my van to rust?? just don't know which way to go, I see so many cases and info to justify every choice.
Thanks,
Ed C.
Hi Ed,
The insulation technique to use is a tough choice.

The main reason I picked the spray foam was that it protected the van sheet metal against condensation and eventually rust. The logic is that the polyurethane spray foam is impermeable to water vapor, so for all those areas covered by the foam the water vapor can't get to the van metal so you can't get condensation or rust. Since the foam is a good insulator, the inside surface of the foam will run pretty warm and will likely be above the dew point most of the time, so you won't normally get condensation on the inside of the foam either.

If I were doing the insulation again, I'd probably go with the technique where you adhere rigid polyiso sheet to the van skin using Great Stuff polyurethane foam in the cans. This gives you essentially the same result as the spray foam method and is cheaper and probably easier (or at least less stressful :)
RD on this forum used this method and posted some info on it. This link has some info on the method: http://www.buildagreenrv.com/design-and-build-information-for-camper-vans/install-insulation/

The other method that a lot of people are using is to use the Thinsulate sheet. Hein makes a case for this method on several posts on the Sprinter Forum. I like a lot of its features and it seems relatively easy to do. The thing that kept me from going that way is that the Thinsulate is very permeable to water vapor, and it seems like there is the likelihood that water vapor from people, cooking etc. will easily pass through the Thinsulate and condense on the van skin.

To be honest, I'm not sure which method is best -- It would be nice if we could get some actual field data on whether vans using the two methods have had any problems.

Gary
 

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GaryBIS has given good advice and fair comparison. I would raise one other caution on spray foam. Some posters have had the panels warp from the foam expansion as it cures. One person had to scrape it all off to restore the panels to straight and true! If you have it foamed it must be applied in several thin layers. Honestly the method I used is the cheapest proper method and solves the large areas quickly. I did inside most of the ribs with the rigid foam too but thinsulate would me much easier for that!
I have camped in rain and cool weather a lot this winter and surprisingly little condensation seems to form. Not at all like a tent. I keep a side window open about an inch or so and the Fantastic Vent open a couple of inches too for ventilation when we are sleeping. I have it closed up in the evenings and have heated it then and in the morning and still no condensation has formed, even on the windows. I can't explain this so I have not posted about it thinking I can't help anyone much but since Gary asked.......
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I had not thought about the warping problem, glad I keep getting feedback but I'm still not sure which way I'll go yet.
Thanks,
Ed C.
 

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I have found my 136" to be easier to park than my wife's mid sized car.
 

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I have found my 136" to be easier to park than my wife's mid sized car.
These vans have well defined corners especially at the rear, mirriors are great, the front is not that far forward of the driver and if you need to learn how far put an old antenna or fiberglas whip down behind the front number plate, it will show you how far forward it is.
 
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