A newb here; I'm Justin, married with three teenage children from Temecula, Calif. and the proud owner of an E350 4x4. A years-long lust for a Sportsmobile never quite happened due partly to cost (and I'm not saying they're overpriced) but mainly because I wanted a blank canvas to go with and lots of room to move around inside. Well, after watching eBay and Craiglist, we pulled the trigger about a month ago and here's what we got: (some of you might have even seen it on eBay)
Now the first thing I want to tell you is that Competition Orange is probably one of the very last colors I would have picked for such a vehicle. The drabbest grey possible is what I'd choose. That being said, the gawkers who like eye candy have a hard time getting their jaw off the floor on first sight. Anytime we park, there's someone at the door to tell us how awesome our van looks. Not exactly what I'm after.
Here's why I joined the forums: On December 23, we'll be leaving for 11 days in Baja which will be our first real trip in it. The first thing that happens tomorrow morning is it gets dropped off at a fabricator to build an aluminum frame in the rear for sleeping on top and storage underneath. It'll have a plywood deck on hinges with good access to do whatever we want underneath.
I need tons of advice, guys!
1.) We will install a fridge/freezer, LED lighting for reading at night and we'll need to charge small electronic devices and power portable DVD players at night. What type of battery situation should I do? Should I do folding solar panels or is the cost prohibitive?
2.) The 4x4 conversion meant losing some fuel capacity; it now only holds 25.5 gals. which could be a little problematic in Baja since we do get off the track. A good fabricator in town recommended just fabbing up a unit to hang on the rear left door to hold a couple of Geri-cans. What do you think?
I have basically 2-1/2 weeks to get alot of this done. We'll camp on some remote beaches south of Bahia de Los Angeles on the Sea of Cortez coast and go to some remote missions west of San Javier. We really want to be comfortable self-contained.
I wish I had more time but anything I can get done by the 23rd will be a bonus. I have hours of reading to do here and would certainly appreciate the guidance of old pros like you guys.
Edit: Here are some videos.