Ram Promaster Forum banner

1 - 20 of 30 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
A few weeks ago, we picked up our new 2016 Ram 2500 gas engine 136WB high roof Promaster Van converted to a Class B motorhome (my custom design) by Sportsmobile Texas. Weighed immediately after driving away: Curb Weight of original van approximately 4900#; Wet Weight of motorhome (full gasoline, propane, fresh water and water heater; empty grey tank and portapotti waste tank; no occupants or cargo) 6900#; front axle 3400#, rear axle 3500#, right side 3500#, left side 3400#. With a GVWR of 8900# that leaves 2000# for occupants and cargo, more than enough for us on a 3 month trip. With 240# of (2) occupants and 60# of luggage on board, weights were: Total 7200#, front axle 3600#, rear axle 3600#, right side 3600#, left side 3600#. Can't get more balanced than that! Since storage areas are distributed pretty evenly throughout the interior, I expect the added weight for a long trip to remain similarly balanced.

So Sportsmobile added approximately 2000# to the base van. Their conversion includes: interior insulated, wired, plumbed for water, drainage and propane systems; wall, ceiling and floor finishes; 16 gal. fresh water tank, 20 gal. grey water tank, dry bath with separate stall shower, sink and portapotti (stores under bed while showering); kitchen with sink, microwave, counterspace for (portable) electric and gas cooktops, 5 cu.ft. 3 way Norcold fridge with separate freezer; 6 gal. propane/electric water heater, 19,000 BTU propane furnace, 13,500 BTU roof AC, 22" TV and antenna, roof rack and rear ladder; swivel cab seats, front side couch seats 3 and convertible to 2 person dinette or 42"x68" bed, rear bed 42"x73" convertible to aisle through to rear doors and seating for 2; storage in overhead cabinets throughout, slide out pantry below counter, storage below front couch and rear bed. Base Van $33K, Conversion $46K.

After pickup, we camped 7 nights and drove 1600 miles from Texas to the East Coast. We broke it in per the owner's manual--kept it under 50 mph for the first 300 miles, then drove it easy and under 60 mph for the next 700 miles, varied speed and braking. Calculated gas mileage varied from 16.2 mpg (2 lane twisting mountain roads 25-55 mph) to 18.9 mpg (steady 70 mph with cruise control on I-85 in the Carolinas) to 20.2 mpg (3 hours steady 50 mph on the Natchez Trace Parkway-no traffic, dry and sunny). Overall average for the trip 18.2 mpg. Our previous 24 foot Winnie Class C with Ford V-10 averaged 9.1 mpg over 12 years and 85,000 miles. Over the years I've had 2 motorhomes, a truck camper, 3 Chrysler minivans (outfitted for camping), and a dozen Fiats, Scions and Toyotas.

Driving impressions so far: I like to drive small cars with small engines and manual transmissions. Our Promaster fits in an 18 foot parking space, does tight U-turns, and drives and handles like a minivan. I like using the manual shifting option, and feel the frequent downshifts indicate the powertrain is adapting efficiently to road conditions. I'm not surprised nor worried by 3000-5000 rpms.

This motorhome has everything we (two modest-sized adults) need to live and travel long-distance for several months in a compact, fuel-efficient, well-handling and amply-powered vehicle. I may add a rear stabilizer bar and less "edgy" tires. There are no problems so far (thanks, Sportsmobile Texas for a great build). We shall see how it does over time and with another 800 to 1000 pounds aboard.

(Some photos attached--I will add more photos in albums on this forum).
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,108 Posts
I'm jealous!

Those mpg numbers are right on the money, right where it should be. You'll lose 2mpg in the coldest of cold winter, but those numbers jive with my 136".

I would worry about the weight. For reasons I dont know, weight doesnt really affect the mileage much in the PM. Tires and brakes can take it no problem.

Were it me, I'd add a bug screen in the front to keep the big stuff from damaging or clogging the radiator fins. Lowe's sells black nylon window screen for $4, and Gorilla tape will hold in on. If you want to be fancy you can put it behind the grille, but mine's in front.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
Congrats on the purchase. From your pics, it looks like a high quality job. Please keep us updated as you put more miles on it.

I'm keeping to a super-cheap solution until I figure out what to do long-term. Your solution (i.e. having Sportsmobile do everything) is near the top of my list of possibilities.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I'm jealous!

Those mpg numbers are right on the money, right where it should be. You'll lose 2mpg in the coldest of cold winter, but those numbers jive with my 136".

I would worry about the weight. For reasons I dont know, weight doesnt really affect the mileage much in the PM. Tires and brakes can take it no problem.

Were it me, I'd add a bug screen in the front to keep the big stuff from damaging or clogging the radiator fins. Lowe's sells black nylon window screen for $4, and Gorilla tape will hold in on. If you want to be fancy you can put it behind the grille, but mine's in front.
Thanks for the good suggestion on protecting the radiator--I will probably want to install a screen. Not sure if you meant you "would worry" about the weight or if that is a typo? When I weighed my Class C motorhomes fully loaded for a long trip, they never exceeded 85% to 90% of GVWR and GAWR ( I like to have at least a 10% margin if possible). I would set tire pressures accordingly and never had a problem. I am planning to keep a similar margin with the Promaster, which would mean holding it under 8000 pounds. Will have to see how it handles at that weight.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Congrats on the purchase. From your pics, it looks like a high quality job. Please keep us updated as you put more miles on it.

I'm keeping to a super-cheap solution until I figure out what to do long-term. Your solution (i.e. having Sportsmobile do everything) is near the top of my list of possibilities.
Yes, I think overall Sportsmobile Texas did an excellent build in both quality of workmanship, and selection of materials and colors that help a small space look and feel larger. And they went all out to find innovative ways to construct some of the non-standard things I wanted to include, even if at times it seemed to be "10 pounds in a 5 pound sack"! And yes, I will update as we use it more.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,047 Posts
Very nice, and thanks for posting. Sportsmobile does great work. We have followed their vans at the Houston RV Show for years, although we haven't seen them there the last couple of years.

I'm curious how you power the electrical stuff? Do you use a generator, inverter, solar, or stay at campgrounds with shore power? I'm also curious about how much battery capacity and type they installed. As I recall Sportsmobile frequently includes an inverter/charger with their designs.

Thanks in advance.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Very nice, and thanks for posting. Sportsmobile does great work. We have followed their vans at the Houston RV Show for years, although we haven't seen them there the last couple of years.

I'm curious how you power the electrical stuff? Do you use a generator, inverter, solar, or stay at campgrounds with shore power? I'm also curious about how much battery capacity and type they installed. As I recall Sportsmobile frequently includes an inverter/charger with their designs.

Thanks in advance.
We have the Sportsmobile standard electrical package: 30 amp 120V AC/12V DC systems, 2000 watt/100 amp inverter/charger, and one large(4D) 200 amp/hour AGM auxiliary battery (under the vehicle). We have never had nor needed a generator. We tend to travel long-distance and move around a lot. We don't do much winter camping. 80% of the time we are hooked up to shore power at (mostly public) campgrounds, or at friends and relatives homes. When we are "off the grid", it is rarely more than 2 or three consecutive nights. And we have propane available for hot water, heat, cooking and refrigerator/freezer. The inverter will be a new option for us.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,047 Posts
We have the Sportsmobile standard electrical package: 30 amp 120V AC/12V DC systems, 2000 watt/100 amp inverter/charger, and one large(4D) 200 amp/hour AGM auxiliary battery (under the vehicle). We have never had nor needed a generator. We tend to travel long-distance and move around a lot. We don't do much winter camping. 80% of the time we are hooked up to shore power at (mostly public) campgrounds, or at friends and relatives homes. When we are "off the grid", it is rarely more than 2 or three consecutive nights. And we have propane available for hot water, heat, cooking and refrigerator/freezer. The inverter will be a new option for us.
Thanks for additional information; your van sounds great. Our travel habits are very similar to yours, hence I would set up a future van a lot like yours. The only thing I'm hoping to get by without is the need for propane system -- would prefer to go all electric. On the other hand I know going all electric limits heat in cold weather and hot water too. It will come down to cost of extra batteries versus cost of propane system.

I'm mostly interested in converting the largest available van. Did you get a sense on how much more Sportsmobile would charge for a 159" wheelbase extended versus yours, assuming same equipment? I guess I could look at their price list which includes options and credits for deletions.

Thanks again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for additional information; your van sounds great. Our travel habits are very similar to yours, hence I would set up a future van a lot like yours. The only thing I'm hoping to get by without is the need for propane system -- would prefer to go all electric. On the other hand I know going all electric limits heat in cold weather and hot water too. It will come down to cost of extra batteries versus cost of propane system.

I'm mostly interested in converting the largest available van. Did you get a sense on how much more Sportsmobile would charge for a 159" wheelbase extended versus yours, assuming same equipment? I guess I could look at their price list which includes options and credits for deletions.

Thanks again.
Didn't specifically discuss that since we were set on having the 136" WB 2500 high roof. According to the Sportsmobile website, they estimate using the Extended Body (longest) Promaster Van (20'-10") instead of the Regular Body (17'-8") would add about $7500 (about 10%) assuming the same conversion layout and equipment. Of that $7500, about $4500 is higher van cost, and about $3000 is extra cost of the conversion.
You don't get as much of a discount off MSRP if you have Sportsmobile order a new van for you (we got about 6%). You (may?) be able to order a new van elsewhere on your own and have it drop shipped to Sportsmobile. If you purchase the new vehicle yourself (to get a better deal?) then you will likely have to register and insure it and get it to a Sportsmobile facility. Going this last route also may complicate re-registering and insuring the completed, converted vehicle as a motorhome--states differ in that regard.
My plan would probably work as well on the 159" (19'-8") body for larger people (we are 5'-7" and 5'-2", 240 lbs. total) or those who just want more room--you could add 1 foot to the rear bed width, and 1 foot to the front couch and bath lengths. Storage space would increase as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,047 Posts
Didn't specifically discuss that since we were set on having the 136" WB 2500 high roof. According to the Sportsmobile website, they estimate using the Extended Body (longest) Promaster Van (20'-10") instead of the Regular Body (17'-8") would add about $7500 (about 10%) assuming the same conversion layout and equipment. Of that $7500, about $4500 is higher van cost, and about $3000 is extra cost of the conversion.
You don't get as much of a discount off MSRP if you have Sportsmobile order a new van for you (we got about 6%). You (may?) be able to order a new van elsewhere on your own and have it drop shipped to Sportsmobile. If you purchase the new vehicle yourself (to get a better deal?) then you will likely have to register and insure it and get it to a Sportsmobile facility. Going this last route also may complicate re-registering and insuring the completed, converted vehicle as a motorhome--states differ in that regard.
My plan would probably work as well on the 159" (19'-8") body for larger people (we are 5'-7" and 5'-2", 240 lbs. total) or those who just want more room--you could add 1 foot to the rear bed width, and 1 foot to the front couch and bath lengths. Storage space would increase as well.
Thanks once more.

We are not much larger than you guys, and also don't need a lot of room. Plus we have been camping in a Ford Econoline for 10 years and are accustomed to much less space. Having said that, we want as much space/volume as we can get in a Class B if that's the way we end up going. The idea of a van nearly twice as large in volume is something I look forward to. The only reason I'd go smaller than "largest-available" would be if it made it possible to park inside my present garage.

As to floorplan, I'm not sure yet what I'd build or have built. A lot of what I want is too hard to fit in a van, so I may optimize for the two of us and let others sleep on the floor on an inflatable pad. Trying to come up with a second bed for guests (even if just small kids) makes all my designs more crowded than we prefer. We like motorhomes that feel open and keep kicking ideas around.
 

·
Registered
2014 136” HR
Joined
·
5,498 Posts
Chance, we faced that decision. We are relatively small, but our occasional third sleeper is >6'. He sleeps just fine on a pad on the floor. Sometimes I contemplate what I would do with the extra 2' if I had it and can't come up with anything compelling. The 136" is adequate if you make every inch count--"tiny house" mentality. With more space you could be sloppier. However, there's a certain satisfaction that comes from being able to put so much in so little, yet keep it open.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
79 Posts
Thanks for additional information; your van sounds great. Our travel habits are very similar to yours, hence I would set up a future van a lot like yours. The only thing I'm hoping to get by without is the need for propane system -- would prefer to go all electric. On the other hand I know going all electric limits heat in cold weather and hot water too. It will come down to cost of extra batteries versus cost of propane system.
.
Chance. Electric heat isn't really an option unless you're on 110v shore power. The amount of batteries required would be massive. Propane, diesel or gasoline heating is a necessary evil for now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
79 Posts
lilbox, the conversion looks great! Could you post a pic of how Sportsmobile mounted the propane tank and what size it is? The options on the Promaster are a bit limited due to the low floor etc, just wondering which option they went with.
 

·
Premium Member
Master Overland Custom Vans Tampa
Joined
·
883 Posts
Chance. Electric heat isn't really an option unless you're on 110v shore power. The amount of batteries required would be massive. Propane, diesel or gasoline heating is a necessary evil for now.
My van is all electric including the heater. It's the DC Thermal SD12-5000 600W. Everything runs on the battery bank.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
428 Posts
Electric heat might work to take the chill off during a cool evening. For serious cold weather most folks need a minimum of 600 watts continuous during an entire night. At 50 (12-volt) amps an hour an 8 hour night would use 400 amp hours. AGM batteries should not be drawn down more than about half way to preserve life span thus a very large 800 amp hour bank would be required. Using Lithium batteries a 500 amp hour bank would be required. Battery capacity also must provide for other loads.

I have a gas powered PM with an Espar D2 heater and a small auxiliary diesel tank. The heater and tank take up little more space than 250 amp hours of battery space and they are lighter in weight.
 

·
Premium Member
Master Overland Custom Vans Tampa
Joined
·
883 Posts
I have 640ah LiFePO4 battery. Originally I was thinking about an Espar but did not want the complexity of an extra diesel tank. I also did not want the noise and exhaust the Espar puts out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,047 Posts
I have 640ah LiFePO4 battery. Originally I was thinking about an Espar but did not want the complexity of an extra diesel tank. I also did not want the noise and exhaust the Espar puts out.
That sounds great. We normally haven't camped all that much in really cold weather, but would make an effort to stay at campgrounds with shore power if needed. In the past we've stayed at campgrounds with power anyway, unless it's a national park, etc.

Part of the reason I'd like to have all-electric is to eliminate the propane exhaust vents so the van looks less like a camper. In my present van the air conditioner isn't even visible, which helped avoid HOA issues.

My Extended Ford window van stays comfortable enough with 1,000 watt heater, so a well insulated ProMaster with limited window area should work about as well with 600 watts. At night an electric blanket for sleeping should require even less power.

I know the feasibility of all electric like I want comes down to lithium battery costs. If you don't mind me asking, how much was the 640 Amp-hour bank? I'm guessing at this time it's still much cheaper to use propane like Sportsmobile installed for lilbox, but I'd like to compare nonetheless. Another issue for me is that I'll probably need the battery bank capacity to run the AC at night anyway.
 

·
Registered
2014 136” HR
Joined
·
5,498 Posts
Good Heavens!! If I had known they could have been gotten that cheap, I would have seriously considered them! That's less than I paid for my Trojan AGM.

QUESTION: how do the LiFePO4 handle cold conditions?
 
1 - 20 of 30 Posts
Top