Switching from Ford E-Series to FC/cabover (like Sportsmobile to Earthcruiser 4x4)?

gdaut

Active member
Does "all electric" mean the cabin and water heaters are electric? That seems like it could take a lot of amps in the winter.

I have not driven an AWD Transit, but it seems like it would be a cost effective platform (relative to a 4wd conversion) with the capability to go almost anywhere most people would want to go.
 

Steve_382

Active member
Does "all electric" mean the cabin and water heaters are electric? That seems like it could take a lot of amps in the winter.

I have not driven an AWD Transit, but it seems like it would be a cost effective platform (relative to a 4wd conversion) with the capability to go almost anywhere most people would want to go.
Some are using electric for water heaters, but most are using vehicle fuel to heat the cabin.
 

ScottPC

Active member
Yeah, I wonder if it is a space issue, that the 10 speed just won't fit in an E-350. Seems like they would offer it, otherwise.
Space certainly could be the reason and if by adding the 10 speed plus an aftermarket 4x4 conversion meant reducing the stock 40 gallon tank would not be desirable. I trust the the 7.3gas with 6spd will perform a little better in both off road capability and highway MPGs than the V10 with the 4spd.
 

pugslyyy

Expedition Vehicle Engineer Guy
Space certainly could be the reason and if by adding the 10 speed plus an aftermarket 4x4 conversion meant reducing the stock 40 gallon tank would not be desirable. I trust the the 7.3gas with 6spd will perform a little better in both off road capability and highway MPGs than the V10 with the 4spd.
I need to look up the specs on that 6 speed. The 10 speed has 3 overdrive gears and is a really amazing transmission.

I'm pretty sure the 40 gallon tank is a rear tank (aft of the rear axle) not a midship tank like on the van bodies, so it wouldn't be effected.
 

gregmchugh

Observer
I need to look up the specs on that 6 speed. The 10 speed has 3 overdrive gears and is a really amazing transmission.

I'm pretty sure the 40 gallon tank is a rear tank (aft of the rear axle) not a midship tank like on the van bodies, so it wouldn't be effected.
Fuel tank in rear....

 

yfarm

Observer
The 10 has 2 extra overdrive ratios and a deeper first gear. Ford specs list a 40 and 55 gal tank but can’t find the 55 option on the E350 SRW or DRW.
Found a couple E350SRW with Unicell 10or 12 ft bodies for around 45k, Ujoint conversion for 20-25. All had 40gal tanks. Looked at 2 with steel Knapheide bodies, thought the rattles would make me crazy. Spoke with Unicell, can’t get much information about their construction. What kind of core and where is core located, steel subframe,etc. List a single rear door and side door available but no photos.
Also looking at TC slide in for my F250 but the walk thru from the cab with the E350 is sure appealing.
 

ScottPC

Active member
Another interesting thing with the 7.3L v8 on the e350s is there is a performance version that's standard and an economy version which is an option. The economy version has 50 less HP (300HP) and a little less high end torque (425lb-ft), in favor of better gas mileage presumably (can't find where commercial mpgs numbers are reported.) The only appreciable difference is the performance version tows 5000lbs more for 18,000lbs gcwr. The economy version can still still tow between 3500 and 5000lbs for a 13000 gcwr, great for an off road trailer or flat towing a jeep if towing was an important consideration at all. The economy version specs are about the same as the proven 6.8 v10 and with the 6spd transmission with tow / haul mode you would likely have terrific range and power when you need it.
 

DzlToy

Explorer
yfarm said:
Spoke with Unicell, can’t get much information about their construction. What kind of core and where is core located, steel subframe,etc. List a single rear door and side door available but no photos.

Unicell boxes do not use a 'core' as far as I know. They are moulded, one-piece, fiberglass shells that are finished by the end user, upfitter or body builder. Due to this design, squeaks and rattles are ameliorated, however thick fiberglass is heavy and has damn near zero noise abatement or insulation properties. Thus, a full build-out would be required, just as it would be in a bone stock Sprinter or Transit.

 

Midwestfabs

New member
what is the opinion, experience, recommendations with regards to serviceability b/w an EC EXP/FX vs the new EC Terranova (or similar vehicle on F350, F550, etc ala Nimbl/GXV/Rossmonster)?

we are not that mechanically inclined and curious more so on routine/factory recommended maintenance type of stuff, i.e. oil changes, EC recommended maintenance, general mechanical upkeep one would use a service shop for, etc.

*note: we re in the infancy stages of researching on a vehicle and are very intrigued w/ EC, especially w/ the announcement of the Terranova, Nimbl Evolution, GXV AT, Rossmonster Baja type of vehicle.

**also, the last few thread on EC have been extremely helpful and informative. many thanks and to those that have contributed as well.

*** @ScottPC @pugslyyy
 

pugslyyy

Expedition Vehicle Engineer Guy
It's hard to beat the compact nature of the cabover design (and I own a Fuso FG that I have traveled in extensively) - but for better or worse it is a delivery truck chassis that in my experience drives and rides like a truck, even with extensive cab and suspension work. Cabovers just aren't popular in the US in the same way they are in the rest of the world - Americans love their pickup trucks. I'm a fan of the cabovers and wish they were more broadly popular in the USA, but they aren't.

Pickup trucks are ubiquitous, and can be true "cowboy Cadillacs" meaning you should expect to have access to all the features of a luxury automobile (heat and cooled massage seats, quiet cabs, adaptive cruise control, cross traffic alerts, blind spot alerts, pre-collision alerts and automatic braking, lane departure control, etc., etc.) And because they are so broadly used rurally it is very easy to find service in remote parts of the USA.

At the end of the day it comes down to what you want, and I totally get the appeal of the cabovers regardless of practicality. I'm a big fan of Land Rovers as well, which is probably amongst the least practical choice I could make. :)

For travel outside of the US a wide range of other considerations come into play, my comments here are mainly aimed at North America.
 

gdaut

Active member
I have never owned or used a cab over vehicle based camper, but it seems to me the "compactness" virtue of these campers is overstated. It is true that with a cab over you do not 5+ feet of engine sticking out in front of the driver, but because the cab over is so high, you cannot put the camper bed above the truck cab. On "pickup" based campers, the bed can be placed above the truck cab, effectively extending the length of the camper box by 6 feet. In our Nimbl (an older one built by XP) , the bed over the truck cab functions as a lounge, where we sit and read. Of course you only get this benefit if the bed has enough head room to able to sit comfortably. It looks like the EC Terranova also has an over cab bed with good headroom.
 

gregmchugh

Observer
Two advantages of the cab over vs the pickup are a shorter turning circle and the good view of things out the cab windows. Ours is a little taller and I am sitting a little higher than the semi drivers. Even on the smaller cab forwards the view is very good.
 

ScottPC

Active member
what is the opinion, experience, recommendations with regards to serviceability b/w an EC EXP/FX vs the new EC Terranova (or similar vehicle on F350, F550, etc ala Nimbl/GXV/Rossmonster)?

we are not that mechanically inclined and curious more so on routine/factory recommended maintenance type of stuff, i.e. oil changes, EC recommended maintenance, general mechanical upkeep one would use a service shop for, etc.

*note: we re in the infancy stages of researching on a vehicle and are very intrigued w/ EC, especially w/ the announcement of the Terranova, Nimbl Evolution, GXV AT, Rossmonster Baja type of vehicle.

**also, the last few thread on EC have been extremely helpful and informative. many thanks and to those that have contributed as well.

*** @ScottPC @pugslyyy
Pickup truck platforms, especially the crew cab long bed have a very long wheelbase, which has the benefits of smoother highway travel and a larger fuel tank. They suffer in tight turning situations (parking lots, small towns, offroad mountain switchbacks. And their breakover angles are inferior when means off roading ridges can cause you to get high centered. Larger tires / lifted suspension can help to some extent. With Pickups you also have to deal with the massive hood which is a bigger consideration in steeper terrain by loosing the horizon or not being able to see down and around tight turns. If you go with a shorter pickup truck configuration, you're looking at smaller gas tank and slight but not significant improvement in turning circles and breakover angles. These aren't a big deal in open desert camping but are considerations for mountain and forested terrain, or in some traffic scenarios. The EC EXP is going to be better in all of these scenarios except for highway driving and potentially in sandy conditions where it's a much heavier vehicle but also rated for carrying heavier loads. The EXP also has a 60 gallon tank.

For all these considerations, this where Geoff's original posts looks at the Sportsmobile e350 platform as a better alternative. It performs well on the open road than the EC EXP, though not as well as a pickup based platform. It has a short wheel base, similar to the EXP, shorter overall length, similar turning circle, and other angles (breakover, approach and departure), much lighter and with similar living space, though not as plush. Field Van, which was SMB-West, is producing these with the e350 V8 7.3 gasoline engine which delivers more HP and more low end torque. While the e350 is not a cabover, it does have shortened and sloped hood for excellent visibility. The e350 now comes with a 40 gallon gas tank. The Crew Long bed pickups have 48 gallon tank (Ford platform), but if going with a smaller configuration, it will likely be <34 gallons. Whereas the current EXP and e350 are gasoline engines, pickup trucks come with a diesel option. This adds weight and may not be a good international option due to fuel availability and other challenges with emission controls.

When it comes to 4wd, the pickups typically come with very effective factory 4wd that can be shifted on the fly. Some come with factor lockers and strong axles. Both the EXP and e350 are converted to 4wd. In some e350 those conversions are using readily available Ford Parts and in other cases some propriety parts. The EXP uses an array of aftermarket parts, not Fuso. The e350 conversion does allow on the fly shifting, provided the hubs are locked and the speed is below 55 and the e350 can have lockers or a limited slip differential. The EXP does not allow on the fly 4wd shifting and comes with lockers.

Due to the lighter weight, both the e350 and pickup platforms, have a variety of tire options, including those with the mountain snowflake rating. The EXP tire selection is more limited.

Bottomline: The platforms have different strengths and weaknesses. Pickups are going to be better on highway. The EXP is probably better offroad (but would love to see a comprehensive side by side comparison), and the e350 somewhere in the middle. This is all based on the merits of the respective chassis in this travel/camping/overlanding application.

For the actual living quarters, you going to get more insulation, conveniences and luxury with the EC products. With the Field Van or Sportsmobile, you going to get more practical space that's more integrated with indoor / outdoor living (large side and rear doors). With vans the driving areas does double duty when camping. With the EC's you have crawl through style pass throughs for access but you're generally in one space or the other while driving or while camping. With and e350 you're using the seats while camping that don't require crawling.

Hope you find this useful!
 

DzlToy

Explorer
5th generation Toyota 4Runner has a ~110" wheelbase and ~190" overall length. With the rear seats folded down, you MIGHT have 5-6 feet of cargo space.

A SWB Isuzu NPR has a ~109" wheelbase and the factory frame rails are cut for a 10 foot box, without a chamfer or big overhang in the rear. Overall length is ~200". The front overhang is longer than that of the 4Runner and we do not get an NPS (4WD) in the US. However, for use of available space, the cabover is THE way to travel.

The overall dimension, when compared like for like, e.g. roof rack, lift, bumpers and spare tire on the rear of the 4Runner : high-low top on the NPR camper, even with the factory cab, both have 33" tires, etc., the two are astonishingly similar overall.
 

waveslider

Outdoorsman
^^^^ Those were the kinds of calculations that led us to a cab over.
It helped to sit my F250 next to a marked up section in our shop.

the major downside was in height, the least critical, and most important dimension for our travel.

easy decision for us
 

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