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

geoffff

Observer
Have you switched from a Ford E-Series van (like Sportsmobile's 4x4 conversion) to a cabover/FC platform (like Earthcruiser's Fuso 4x4 setup)? If so, I'd be very curious to hear about your experience with these two platforms!

I'm especially interested in ride quality on rocky, and (especially) washboard/corrugated roads.

Also, cab noise on the highway...?

 

draaronr

Adventurer
if you're in a hurry, or worried about fuel economy, the e series is the route, if you prefer to be gone a long time and super comfortable living and sleeping then the fuso is the route to go. I've had both and will never go back to an eseries.
 

pugslyyy

Expedition Vehicle Engineer Guy
I own Fuso platform and E-350 expedition vehicles.

The diesel 4x4 2010 E-350 RB is my main daily driver and I have maybe $50k in it. We live 45 miles from the closest grocery store, so it is great for supply runs to town with the cruise control comfortably set at highway speeds. I have a massive Dometic fridge-freezer, diesel heater, a full roof of solar, etc. If I get stuck on Donner Pass in the winter I can turn on the heat, have some food, get into bed, and wait it out until the plows get everything back under control. It's a big beast, but with 4x4, 35s, and front/rear ARB lockers the only thing that holds me back on the trail is my size. If I can fit, I can get. I love having the towing capacity and storage capacity. I can either travel in it or use it to trailer one of my toys to Moab, etc.

However, an E-350 is not what I would choose for a months-long trip. That's where the Fuso reigns supreme.

The living space and creature comforts of my Fuso-based camper are hard to beat when you seriously hit the road - but it is $250,000 plus a year of labor if you DIY. Full queen size bed, real shower, 85 gallons of water, real kitchen, comfy seating, huge amounts of solar, battery storage, supply storage, and a 1000+ mile range before refueling. I won't be going fast, but who cares - this is leisure. Folks like to talk about the "rule of 2s" - no more than 2 hundred miles each day, off the road by 2 pm each day, and stop for at least 2 days before moving on. I found that 62 miles an hour was a my sweet spot reasonable cruising speed. Of course up hill and into headwinds you will go considerably slower. Remember that a Fuso is designed for in-town delivery, not the interstate.
 

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gregmchugh

Observer
The 2020 V-8 petrol Fuso with the Earthcruiser 4wd conversion seems to be capable of 70+ mph and handles hills without much trouble, so a big improvement in that area...
 
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geoffff

Observer
Thank you! Any thoughts specifically on off-pavement ride?

My Sportsmobile 4x4 is pretty rough riding on the bumps, even aired down. And it's easy to accidentally bottom out the front suspension.

I'm wondering if the FC Fuso would be even worse, with sitting on the front axle...? Though the Earthcruiser looks like it has more front suspension travel, so maybe it wouldn't hit the bump stops as often.
 

Michelle@EarthCruiser

Supporting Sponsor
We look for both on and off road comfort and performance when we create our suspension system (we have a proprietary system designed for our weights and our ride). On corrugations 35-45 mph is very comfortable even aired up (but airing down a bit makes it even better of course). We don't bottom out. For more technical and difficult off road situations you cannot beat our new Fusos. We're going to be having another drive day soon (once we can have two people in a cab safely) so plan to come for a test drive.

As for interior space and comfort, well, that is another story. The new ECs have by far the best use of space and just get better and better. We're offering some new interior design features as well. Come see us to find out.
 

waveslider

Outdoorsman
draaron nails it regarding the drivability of the e-series vs. the cabovers (and in this case I'm referring to Diesel Fuso or Kenworth cab over). You are in for a pretty jarring reset of what you consider a hill and how quickly you climb them.

The Fuso and KW quite literally drop anchor to go up hills at sometimes frustratingly slow speeds. Especially so if your frame of reference is an E350 diesel SMB. I would say it adds roughly 20% travel time to your trip. So, for example the trip we took last week is normally a 5 hour drive - it took 6.

However, to puggslys point, we wouldn't go back for anything because all the gains in other areas far outweigh that - sometimes highly annoying - reality. We already appreciate our cab over (in our case a KW GXV) sooo much more than our SMB it's not really even a fair comparison.
 
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geoffff

Observer
Here is a super geeky document I made to help me gather a feeling for the size of the EarthCruiser EXP/FX compared to my Sportsmobile, and some other Expedition vehicle ideas out there. The larger vehicles help comfort me with the idea of increased size with the EarthCruiser over my Ford E-Series. And, as a ringer, I put an M35 Deuce & ½ in there just because a friend drives one.



-- Geoff
 
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waveslider

Outdoorsman
Cool comparison Geofff. I remember you from the SMB Forum. Like you, I wanted my search for our SMB replacement to be based in facts, figures, comparisons and reality - not emotional and fluff stuff like cool factor and/or granite countertops and such. Those were totally meaningless to my wife and I in our search.

Which was great, but comparisons really only matter if you know what you want to do. What your usage is going to look like and what kinds of adventures you want to go on. Since you have an SMB you at least have a frame of reference for what you like (and perhaps don't like) about your current vehicle so use that as much as possible but there are always trade offs.

Point blank, a FUSO or KW (or MAN/M35) is going to be slower than what you have. That's just reality. If your idea of an overland vehicle is one that can bomb down the freeway at lightning speed and pull hills fast, then you're going to be disappointed. I liked that aspect of our SMB, but have since simply come to terms with the fact that I like the other stuff better. Although it is frustrating at times, I won't lie. I know this for a fact because we now own a KW and before we owned it, we purposefully raced a EC up one of the steepest grades in the PNW against our SMB and it wasn't even close. We dropped them in the first 1/4 mile.

But! We went from 10 gallons of water to 100 gallons. We went from maybe making it a day or two on a battery charge to an endless supply of (solar) power. We went from having to move stuff around just to go to bed, to just....going to bed. And in truth, the one thing we traded was needing a lot more hieght/headroom in the places we travel - which we found out wasn't that big of a deal for the things we do and the places we like. As a bonus, we no longer find ourselves legitimately pissed at SMB for the awful quality product we bought and the hours of work required to fix their silly issues. Moving away from that was glorious, but I digress.
Its hard to quantify a lot of that stuff with figures and comparisons. We spent a lot of time comparing and are really happy with the rig we ended up with due to our research, input from experienced builders (in our case GXV but I know Lance and Michelle are good too) and most importantly spending a lot of time talking about what we wanted to do and how we wanted to use it.

I wish I had your little diagram when we were trying to decide our dimensions for the GXV. It would have been helpful.
 
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mog

Kodiak Wrangler
Here is a super geeky document I made to help me gather a feeling for the size of the EarthCruiser EXP/FX compared to my Sportsmobile, and some other Expedition vehicle ideas out there. The larger vehicles help comfort me with the idea of increased size with the EarthCruiser over my Ford E-Series. And, as a ringer, I put an M35 Deuce & ½ in there just because a friend drives one.
Here is one I made of a stock LR110 overlaid on my Fuso (on 37"s with a 12' camper+2.5' box) and my MB1017 triple cab (on 46"s with a 12' camper)
1017-FG-110-compare.jpg
 

gdaut

Active member
Very nice document; well done.

Another option is a Nimbl camper, or the EC model based on a one ton US truck (I do not recall the model designation). These are larger than a Sportsmobile van (more living space, more water capacities, etc) but smaller outside than an ER, or a KW based GXV (and of course, smaller on the inside as well). They have the speed/power benefits of the 350/3500 platform.

I have an XP (predecessor to the newer and nicer Nimbl). For me I would not want anything larger, but I am not full-timing in it.
 

Michelle@EarthCruiser

Supporting Sponsor
A 3L diesel Fuso is going to be very different to a V8 Gas Fuso with a Chevy engine. But we're talking mainly speed up hills and on the highway. What I think you, Geoff, are talking about is driveability which is very different and the only way that it has any meaning is if you can compare on like for like tracks with both.
 

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pugslyyy

Expedition Vehicle Engineer Guy
I have a 4x4 Fuso, a UJOR E-350, and of course a Nimbl or three. :)

They all have their places.

I love the room we have in our Fuso, but you absolutely can not be in a hurry to get anywhere with it.

The E-350 is great and is my daily driver with a queen bed platform, diesel heater, and huge fridge/freezer - but not really set up for more than a weekend outing.

The Nimbl Evolution was designed to be an overland camper, and I like that I can still tow 15,000 pounds with it if I want to. I love the modern safety and comfort features that you can get on it - pickup trucks today truly can be luxury vehicles, and the reality is that most US travel involves a lot of main roads where it is nice to be able to drive at 80 mph with lane control, adaptive cruise, heated and cooled seats, etc. I know, going soft in my old age, right? And in fairness these comments also apply to the EarthCruiser EXD.

[ I also still have my Suzuki Samurai and Range Rover for "real" offroading.]
 

geoffff

Observer
waveslider, I did some reading of your posts here on EP. You say your box is 18.5' - so I am going to guess you have the 170" wheelbase K370 (?) I made a little mockup to see what your vehicle would look like in comparison. (Yes, that's from one of your photos!) Seems similar in size to the Actionmobil Atacama 5300 MAN truck I put in my earlier diagram. However, I can't find any hard data on your vehicle's height or width, so the 2nd image below is only an estimate:



 
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