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  1. #2076
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    LV-426
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dtimms View Post
    shredforfun, I don't know about 4wheel campers (other than they are badass!!) but I put blue foam board insulation under the floor in the open spaces of the frame. I will get you pics when I unload the camper. My camper has a wood floor frame that had 2 foot wide openings, just cut blue foam board to size and glued it in there. That helped a bunch. I will say that -15 would be pushing any popup truck camper. I have never camped that cold.
    My Northstar TC800 popup came with rigid foam cut to fit in all the spaces between the floor framing (wood). I haven't gone to the trouble of insulating all the other gaps or openings, like around the propane tank or where there are outside wall penetrations (where the shore power cable connects, where the outside shower connects).

    Coldest we've used it is maybe 15-20* F. The propane furnace keeps it plenty warm -- the problem with winter camping is controlling condensation. In sub-freezing temps, we'll wake up in the morning to a wall of water droplets or even ice, and that's with keeping the roof vent slightly open + a window partly open.

    We've kind of given up on the pop-up camper for winter camping use. Maybe we'll go to a hardside at some point, but most likely we'll just use it as a 3-season camper.
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  2. #2077
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    555
    Quote Originally Posted by doebedoe View Post
    Had a good test-overnight in Bessie the Astro van last weekend. Stayed at Herman Gulch (two exits before Loveland off I70.) Besides for the bit of traffic noise, no-one bothered me. I was the only person in the lot in the evening.

    Setup felt pretty dialed, but it was relatively warm (~10F). I expect it to be a good bit colder when I do my SW Colorado (Monarch/Wolf/Purgatory/Silverton) and JH/Driggs trips later this season.

    Whiskey and books in the evening.


    Coffee, breakfast, and heating liners and gloves in the AM. Little Buddy Heater just out of view by the gloves/liners.


    Skins on. Started snowing ~4am by the time I finished uphill lap #2 ~7:30 there were 5 or 6 inches of fresh.


    Reflectix on windows for a bit of insulation and privacy. Table's legs are sawed off. When I lay the backseat down it matches the height, which--along with another home-built table behind the back seat--makes a full-size sleeping platform with room underneath for skis/gear.


    Pretty good conditions by the end of the day.
    Funny, we have basically the same rig set-up. I have a 2002 Astro w/ Mr. Buddy, Reflectix windows, minimalistic setup. I took out the seats and just have a Colman cot to sleep on and sit in a fold up chair to relax. Gotta love the Astro vans. No doubt I would love to have a pimped out Sportsmobile or fully decked out camper but for around 2 grand (the price I paid for my Astro with 160k) I couldn't be happier with an AWD van that is more than capable for the camping I do. Highly recommended for anyone reading this thread who doesn't have the budget for a dream-machine.

    Curious, what tires are you running? That's my next purchase. Will probably end up going with the tried and true BF good all-terrains...

  3. #2078
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Gaperville, CO
    Posts
    3,364
    Quote Originally Posted by kungpow View Post
    Funny, we have basically the same rig set-up. I have a 2002 Astro w/ Mr. Buddy, Reflectix windows, minimalistic setup. I took out the seats and just have a Colman cot to sleep on and sit in a fold up chair to relax. Gotta love the Astro vans. No doubt I would love to have a pimped out Sportsmobile or fully decked out camper but for around 2 grand (the price I paid for my Astro with 160k) I couldn't be happier with an AWD van that is more than capable for the camping I do. Highly recommended for anyone reading this thread who doesn't have the budget for a dream-machine.

    Curious, what tires are you running? That's my next purchase. Will probably end up going with the tried and true BF good all-terrains...
    Rad -- Astro overnight / skin sometime if you're ever around CO.

    I'm in the same Astro-enthusiast boat as you. No other comparable vans on the market as far as I know: small enough for driving in town/parking, AWD, truck chassis. I like the van format more than the truck for my needs and other vans are either on low-clearance car chassis, or quite big and require 4x4 conversion (via quigley or the like.) The exception is the Chevy Express/GMC Savannah which would make a cool AWD rig for someone who wanted more space.

    Got mine at 140K for $1700. At 165K now and probably have 3k total in it over the past 2 years (new glass, battery, control arms.) Probably get about 30-40 nights in it a year, 1/2 solo and 1/2 with the SO. Makes a great rig for 2 for skiing/climbing/hiking/biking adventures as long as you only need to get up fire roads and nothing to aggressive. But even just stock I made it up to this spot on a 4x4 road outside of Salida.


    I'm currently looking for a lower mileage 2003-05 (I believe 03 is when they got rear discs) to replace this one and act as a build platform. In a dream world: 2 or 4" lift, fresh struts/springs, NP233 transfer case swap (for real 4x4) a la this rad machine: http://www.expeditionportal.com/foru...ture-VAN/page2 . expect my current one will only have another year or two in it before need lots of suspension and tranny work I'll be unwilling to do.

    As for tires: currently rocking some Cooper Discoverer M+S for the snow season. Previous snow year and summer I ran (and have in my basement) some Cooper Discoverer AT/3's. Super recommend them -- you'll find quite favorable reviews around the web, taco guys seem to dig them. Had I not got the snows for a steal, those AT/3s would've been more the adequate for almost any conditions.

  4. #2079
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    27
    That Van on expedition portal is for sale! I don't know how much but he built that thing right!!

  5. #2080
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Gaperville, CO
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    3,364
    Quote Originally Posted by Dtimms View Post
    That Van on expedition portal is for sale! I don't know how much but he built that thing right!!
    I've already PM'd him asking for a price. Really most of the mods aren't super expensive in price, but for those of us who lack the space/tools/expertise to do the labor, that would get pricey quick.

  6. #2081
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Boulder
    Posts
    925
    After a 3.5 month search I finally picked up my van build platform - 08 Chevy Express AWD. Stoked!

    I'll probably post a thread on Expo at some point, and will check in here occasionally. Insulation is going in now, and I'll likely keep it very basic but functional this winter, and then make more permanent additions when the weather warms up and days get longer.

  7. #2082
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Gaperville, CO
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    3,364
    Quote Originally Posted by North View Post
    After a 3.5 month search I finally picked up my van build platform - 08 Chevy Express AWD. Stoked!

    I'll probably post a thread on Expo at some point, and will check in here occasionally. Insulation is going in now, and I'll likely keep it very basic but functional this winter, and then make more permanent additions when the weather warms up and days get longer.
    Nice choice! Did you find it locally here in the Front Range? May I ask price/condition/miles?

  8. #2083
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    555
    doebedoe - right on man couldn't agree more with everything you just said. The Chevy Express will likely be my next rig too, and I'll go a little more off-road with it in terms of mods.

    Here's my Astro on a little camping trip last summer:


    I'll hopefully have some better winter pics to share soon. I bought the van off an old lady who used to it haul flowers, it has some fresh costco budget street tires, which are fine for freeway use but are shit for anything else. I've been too busy with all the snow in Tahoe and driving my Outback to get my new tires dialed for the van. Hopefully in the next week I'll have a set that can drive in the snow and I'll be off for some overnight missions around the basin.

    By the way, do you know if the stock alloy wheels can fit anything larger than the stock tire size (215/75/15)? Can't really find reliable info on that...

  9. #2084
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    1,695
    Quote Originally Posted by Kya View Post
    Buff pass trailhead should be hassle free
    Sorry that isn't true. Winter camping isn't legal at Buffalo Pass trailhead.

  10. #2085
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Gaperville, CO
    Posts
    3,364
    Quote Originally Posted by kungpow View Post
    doebedoe - right on man couldn't agree more with everything you just said. The Chevy Express will likely be my next rig too, and I'll go a little more off-road with it in terms of mods.

    Here's my Astro on a little camping trip last summer:


    I'll hopefully have some better winter pics to share soon. I bought the van off an old lady who used to it haul flowers, it has some fresh costco budget street tires, which are fine for freeway use but are shit for anything else. I've been too busy with all the snow in Tahoe and driving my Outback to get my new tires dialed for the van. Hopefully in the next week I'll have a set that can drive in the snow and I'll be off for some overnight missions around the basin.

    By the way, do you know if the stock alloy wheels can fit anything larger than the stock tire size (215/75/15)? Can't really find reliable info on that...
    Nice looking rig -- probably in good shape too if it was just a flower hauler.

    As for the tires, I've got 235/70/15s on my stock alloys. Front wheels do get a tiny bit of rub when steering is maxed out. Fixing this is just a manner of taking a big hammer to the front wheel wells though and giving them a bit more space -- something I should do sometime but I don't have a work area at my house.

  11. #2086
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Boulder
    Posts
    925
    Quote Originally Posted by doebedoe View Post
    Nice choice! Did you find it locally here in the Front Range? May I ask price/condition/miles?
    Not locally, but I learned quickly that these vans are rare and in demand in CO and the prices reflect that - dealers here buy them at auction, and price 'em $2K+ over KBB. Granted, I'm a picky buyer and wanted the following:

    -AWD Cargo Van (passenger version is harder to insulate and rear HVAC takes up lots of build room)
    -60/40 split side doors with windows
    -Little to no frame or body rust
    -Less than 150K miles
    -Less than $10K

    I ended up finding mine with 133K on the clock for $8K around Thanksgiving. It is fully loaded (in cargo van terms, ie power everything, cruise, and armrests haha), and has a sliding door (this will hinder wheel/tire upsize choices, but whatever). It spent 2 years in Illinois as a plumber van, and the last 5 in NM as a kennel transport for a small dog training business - it's in great shape. Pretty much spotless.

    TLDR - $8K/133Kmiles/Excellent condition. Had to travel to NM to buy it.



    If you are OK with the passenger version, you can likely find one in the same price range or less in-state. If you have any questions, feel free to PM. I have accumulated an embarrassing amount of knowledge about finding and purchasing AWD Express/Savana vans.

  12. #2087
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Summit North
    Posts
    5,677
    Holy shit this is a cool little rig...






    http://portland.craigslist.org/clc/rvd/5382963792.html

    This unique recently imported motorhome is a rare find!

    2.7L DIESEL ENGINE / 4 WHEEL DRIVE / RIGHT HAND STEERING / LOW MILES / REAR DUALLY / 5 SPEED TRANSMISSION / FIBERGLASS CAMPER / TV / BACKUP CAMERA
    OVERHEAD BED / AWNING / SOLAR PANEL / LADDER & ROOF RACK / SPARE TIRE
    STAINLESS SINK / MICROWAVE / REFRIGERATOR / ALL THIS AND MORE!!!

    GENERAL
    Body type Truck
    Drive PART 4WD
    Transmission 5 speed manual
    Displacement, cc 2779
    Frame S-LN106-TRMSS

    ENGINE
    Displacement, cc 2779
    Engine model 3L
    Max.power (Net), kw(PS)/rpm 91 ps (66.93 kw) / 4000 rpm
    Max.torque(Net), N*m(kg*m)/rpm 19.2 kg*m (188.29 N*m) / 2400 rpm
    Power density 17.03
    Engine type Water cooling serial 4 cylinder OHC
    Fuel system Bosch type distribution type (jet pump)
    Fuel type Diesel
    Compression ratio 22.2
    Bore, mm 96
    Stroke, mm 96
    Final gear ratio
    Fuel consumption at 10-15 modes, l/100km
    Fuel consumption at 60 km/h, l/100km


    CHASSIS / TRANSMISSION
    Power steering
    Tires size, front 215R15-6
    Tires size rear 215r15-6
    Braking system, front Disk
    Braking system, rear Drum (leading/trailing)
    Suspension system, front Semi- elliptic leaf spring
    Suspension system, rear Semi- elliptic leaf spring
    Alpental Indigenous

  13. #2088
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    LV-426
    Posts
    15,481
    ^^^ 1991 = just past the 25-year import cutoff.

    If I were closer, I'd go check this out. Looks awesome. Wonder how small it really is inside... and how dog-slow that NA diesel motor is.
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  14. #2089
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Summit North
    Posts
    5,677
    Quote Originally Posted by El Chupacabra View Post
    ^^^ 1991 = just past the 25-year import cutoff.

    If I were closer, I'd go check this out. Looks awesome. Wonder how small it really is inside... and how dog-slow that NA diesel motor is.
    Well with that much frontal area I can't imagine it would be going anywhere too fast, at least up passes or a stiff breeze.
    But, for a dedicated camper rig, sort of a so what?
    Ours has a v8 diesel and we generally drive it between 60 and 65 anyway.
    Alpental Indigenous

  15. #2090
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    north aspect
    Posts
    41,910
    right hand drive would be hilarious
    bF
    Alpental Indigenous

  16. #2091
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Sölden
    Posts
    375
    Got rid of the Dodge W250 and now the new rig. I absolutely love this thing. That 'Yota looks like a good setup except for about $15k you could build a 3/4 ton diesel rig which would out perform this thing on all fronts. $8-10k for a truck + $3-5k for a slide-in.

  17. #2092
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    3,486
    Quote Originally Posted by North View Post
    If you have any questions, feel free to PM. I have accumulated an embarrassing amount of knowledge about finding and purchasing AWD Express/Savana vans.
    Yeah man, on my short list for sure.
    As others have said, torn between better clearance 4wd capabilities of a full size truck with a topper/popup/hardside vs various benefits of a van.
    What are your thoughts on working on the van engine?
    I'd prefer to do my own plugs, but these days the intervals are pretty long. Usually do my own oil changes, air filters, etc.
    If unfortunately needed, radiator, water pump. alternator, etc. Popping the hood of a van looks like a confusing nightmare.
    Let me know if you're rolling through Denver I'll buy beers.

  18. #2093
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Boulder
    Posts
    925
    I got the van because I wanted a hardsided vehicle primarily for winter camping. The van is easy to insulate and efficient to heat. If I already owned a pickup, I would've gone for a truckbed camper purely for the upfront cost savings and ease of acquisition.

    True 4x4 is not important to me. I want to tow sleds and avoid getting stuck or whiteknuckle during the winter. AWD works for that, and should do fine on forest service roads in the summer. I will lift it eventually more because of the long wheelbase than clearance and approach/departure angles.

    I'm biased, as I generally get annoyed bouncing around on rocky off-road terrain that requires low range (ie. Antero approach), but I can't imagine doing so with all of the shit in my "weekend home" rattling around behind me would improve the experience. Steep dirt roads could stress the driveline I suppose (ie. Princeton approach). That type of terrain will likely be a rarity for this vehicle, but a low-range transfer case swap is doable if that changes.

    Anyway, that's my reasoning on van vs. truck: depends on the main purpose. Maintenance-wise I don't have much to add. I've owned the van for ~2months and have yet to pop the hood (did mechanical inspection before I purchased). I imagine anything beyond routine maintenance will be pain, but even my Toyota has some annoying access points.

    I'm in Denver everyday for work - you're welcome to check out the van anytime (uses creepy van-dweller voice).

  19. #2094
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Gaperville, CO
    Posts
    3,364
    I'm in much the same boat as you North -- although I'm the platform I'm on (AWD Astro) has less body length issues. I've currently squeezed in some 235/70/15 snow tires but tire clearance is definitely the weak spot for me vs total travel. Got a good mechanic (or are you one) in the Boulder/Denver area you'd recommend for popping in a 2" lift and some new shocks to replace the sad worn out ones? Probably going with this kit http://www.overlandvans.com/0104_liftkits.html and some Rancho 5/7000 shocks all around to replace the beat to shit ones on there now.

    Blah blah blah, I know frame-spacer kits are lame by 4x4 standards, but they are the way I have to go on the Astro for a short lift without a whole new, custom front suspension. Not doing serious off-roading, just shit forest service roads and big snow drifts.

  20. #2095
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Ottawa
    Posts
    324
    Quote Originally Posted by AlpenChronicHabitual View Post
    Holy shit this is a cool little rig...

    Looks like it wants to do wheelies all day!

  21. #2096
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    55
    Another Denver AWD vanner checking in. Express 8 passenger with a poptop and a minor lift. I've pushed it to its limits on forest roads and the like. With the lift and 265/70/17 tires, it's pretty similar to a stock 4x4 crew cab pickup in dimensions and clearance. Lack of low range is a drawback but as mentioned that could be remedied.

    It may be obvious but having access to the camper portion while on the road is priceless, hell in my van I can grab a road Soda out of the fridge without even unbuckling, can't do that in a pickup/slide in. Yes vans can be insulated but it can be a ton of work to do right- see the home builds on the forums. Can't speak to ease of maintenance but it has been reliable and easy to find mechanics for the scheduled work. (These vans are ubiquitous after all).

    Drop me a pm if I can help with specific questions.

  22. #2097
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Evergreen
    Posts
    293
    If you see the GnaRV out and about (usually in CO), say hi. Chances are I have beer.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  23. #2098
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Gaperville, CO
    Posts
    3,364
    Quote Originally Posted by ACheateaux View Post
    If you see the GnaRV out and about (usually in CO), say hi. Chances are I have beer.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Thats a nice lookin' rig.

    Way classier than my POS Astro that is usually in that lot. I'll bring the whiskey.

  24. #2099
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Evergreen
    Posts
    293
    You, sir, are confusing me w somebody else if you're thinking classy. Drunk by 10, yes. Classy, no.

  25. #2100
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Boulder
    Posts
    925
    Quote Originally Posted by doebedoe View Post
    Got a good mechanic (or are you one) in the Boulder/Denver area you'd recommend for popping in a 2" lift and some new shocks to replace the sad worn out ones?
    Not a mechanic, but I'm a "mechanical" engineer so that's worth something I suppose

    I like wrenching and learn as I go. I don't have a shop rec since I typically do my own work, but I suspect any decent tire shop would be able to help with the lift/shocks.

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