Another two Sportsmobile design failures.

vintageracer

To Infinity and Beyond!
I am absolutely AMAZED that the good folks at Sportmobile would install an exterior awning useing "Rubber" cage nut inserts. The awning is wobbling every time you go down the road. No wonder it cracked the sheetmetal! You would have thought at a minimum they might have used real steel or aluminum "Nutsert's" for awning attachment.

There are certainly better alternatives than "Rubber" cage nut inserts for attaching a large heavy item to the exterior of their vans.
 

stormlover

Adventurer
I am absolutely AMAZED that the good folks at Sportmobile would install an exterior awning useing "Rubber" cage nut inserts. The awning is wobbling every time you go down the road. No wonder it cracked the sheetmetal! You would have thought at a minimum they might have used real steel or aluminum "Nutsert's" for awning attachment.

There are certainly better alternatives than "Rubber" cage nut inserts for attaching a large heavy item to the exterior of their vans.
I'm not that surprised. Look at how they mounted a LED light bar on the van they had at the Overland Expo awhile back. Bolted straight into the sheet metal roof. Looked like it was already cracking.
 

Attachments

Ozrockrat

Expedition Leader
That support is a totally crap design. Why would they put a solid brace across between 2 rubber mounted objects. The van body is still isolated from the chassis by rubber body mounts on a SMB I believe. By running that brace from the bumper (direct chassis mount) to the hinge (body mount) they are effectively trying to control any movement between the two. This would increase the stress especially in the situation where the body is flexed away from the frame.
 

ab1985

Explorer
Last summer we rented a SMB for a week and drove all around CO as a test drive to see if the van was a good fit for our family. The rental company was great, but I was not impressed with the overall quality of the SMB. For completely unrelated issues we decided it wasn't great for more than 2, but if I was going to go the van route I would buy something stock, have a company do the pop-top, then have the interior built myself. For what they're charging it seems like fit/finish should be higher quality.
 

Factoid

Three criminal heroes
When you shop for a bargain and compare prices looking for the best deal (as we are taught to do), we pit companies against each other and their operating margin. This promotes a series of compromises. These compromises show up as under engineered solutions (poor design choices), unsuitable materials (weak or overly heavy products), and poor craftsmanship (unskilled labor). All of these have been identified in this thread as have some solutions (custom welded solution, replacing mdf cabinets, etc.).

The solution? Be honest about your intended use and be willing to pay for what it takes to achieve it. This will drive you to either pay more, do more diy, or rethink your intended use.
 
When you shop for a bargain and compare prices looking for the best deal (as we are taught to do), we pit companies against each other and their operating margin. This promotes a series of compromises. These compromises show up as under engineered solutions (poor design choices), unsuitable materials (weak or overly heavy products), and poor craftsmanship (unskilled labor). All of these have been identified in this thread as have some solutions (custom welded solution, replacing mdf cabinets, etc.).

The solution? Be honest about your intended use and be willing to pay for what it takes to achieve it. This will drive you to either pay more, do more diy, or rethink your intended use.
Very true and perceptive of you. That is why I ended up with Unicat. To me the US RV market is synonymous with cheap poor quality products and sloppy labor with only a few exceptions.
Spend some time lurking on RV fora. The vast majority of posters only care about the cheapest prices and deride anything more expensive.
 
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yfarm

Observer
I owned a 2002 Sportsmobile and was surprised at the use of MDF and its propensity to swell in high humidity environments. I currently own a lifted and sprung Casita and have thought about another van build using the fiberglass interior components of the Casita. The design and mounting of those components would lend itself to a van installation. The glass components must be lighter than MDF and structurally are far stronger. The interior dimensions of the trailer are close to a van.Company indicated they would sell individual components. My Trailer has been on some pretty rough washboard roads and aside from cushions on the floor has no cracks in a 16 year old trailer.
 

Zybane

Member
A few years ago when I found out SMB used MDF I scratched them off my list. That is literally like the worst material you could use.
 

EMrider

Explorer
Agreed,

I too removed the suspension that SMB placed on the vehicle. They used the standard "truck" rear leafs and then had someone make leafs that were also too stiff for the front. I had Deavers make a custom 15 leaf pack which allowed for more articulation and a much smoother ride over the washboard type surfaces. We relocated the leaf perches and changed out to a Bilstein shocks.

So there is no confusion, my complaint isn't that the vehicle won't make it on the intermediate and occasional difficult trails, it's what condition it ends up being, when finished.

I found a couple of pictures of the rear storage tray and spare tire arm.







Thanks,
Fred
Explorer 1
Just catching up with this thread. We have a lot in common with SMB issues. My Aluminess tire carrier has cracked repeatedly at the same joint. This annoyed me a lot more than any of the other "little" issues because of the potential liability should it fail while on the highway. I had a local fabricator reweld and provide substantial reinforcement material around the joints. That said, I still inspect it before every road trip.

All in all, I have been very happy with our SMB and it has given us years of trouble free fun. The QC issues are real, but they are not huge and all fixable with minimal effort. For 1-2 people, it is a great platform.

R
 

Explorer 1

Explorer
Today that is not true.

Sportsmobile does not use MDF. They use 8 ply Russian Birch.
I don't know when "Today" happened but when mine was built it was MDF. Perhaps there was so many complaints or failures that they upgraded their material. It's a heck of a way to do R & D.





I wish these were my only issues with quality of the SMB build. For those who use there SMB as a camping vehicle and stay on the tarmac most the time, the build should perform fine. It's the "off road" use that exposes the weaknesses.

Thanks,
Fred
Explorer 1
 

chmura

Adventurer
I don't know when "Today" happened but when mine was built it was MDF. Perhaps there was so many complaints or failures that they upgraded their material. It's a heck of a way to do R & D.





I wish these were my only issues with quality of the SMB build. For those who use there SMB as a camping vehicle and stay on the tarmac most the time, the build should perform fine. It's the "off road" use that exposes the weaknesses.

Thanks,
Fred
Explorer 1
Yes I understand in the past they probably have used it.

But as of lately (not sure when the change was) They DO NOT use MDF anymore
 

chmura

Adventurer
I don't know when "Today" happened but when mine was built it was MDF. Perhaps there was so many complaints or failures that they upgraded their material. It's a heck of a way to do R & D.





I wish these were my only issues with quality of the SMB build. For those who use there SMB as a camping vehicle and stay on the tarmac most the time, the build should perform fine. It's the "off road" use that exposes the weaknesses.

Thanks,
Fred
Explorer 1
Yes I understand in the past they probably have used it.

But as of lately (not sure when the change was) They DO NOT use MDF anymore they use 8 ply Russian Birch.

Just want to let people know this. The problem has been supposedly corrected.
 
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