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  #1  
Old 01-29-2020
Tennisjohn Tennisjohn is offline
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Default Converted Sprinter $60k vs BMC $60k - Newbie Has Questions

I've been a long-time lurker on this form and now that I am ready to purchase it's time to ask a question that only you great knowledgeable people with experience USING these rigs can answer.

I see converted Sprinter vans and transits Etc going for prices within my budget of 50k to 60k. I see used bluebirds such as the BMC going for similar prices.

I'm aware that one is built like a BATTLESHIP and the other is much lighter duty although still a commercial chasis. I'm aware of the MPG and the typical yearly maintenance costs of a BMC.

My question is: what would i be gaining by going small. Is it just "my options for parking overnight are huge."

Let's say I want to go from home base in So Cal to Vail next week; i want to overnight in a national park then visit my aunt in town then continue on to Omaha for a few days visiting friends. If I take a 37-foot BMC what are my parking options for overnighters in these real world scenarios? What would my parking options be if I do the same journey in a converted Sprinter?

The sprinters Etc are selling like hotcakes in So Cal. In California everyone from surfers to rock climbers to weekend dirt-bike motorcycle riders, from mountain bikers and nature lovers to skiers and snowboarders rave about these things. I'm wondering why people are purchasing these when they could be purchasing a luxury palace by comparison, in the form of a BMC or a PT for the exact same price! And I'm wondering which direction I should take.

Why is the Sprinter conversion crowd willing to give up so much comfort when (other than mpg, tires and maintenance costs) the prices are the same?
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  #2  
Old 01-29-2020
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susanmarycamilleri susanmarycamilleri is offline
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We did a 3.5 month trip starting last Sept. Roughly 100 nights. Including the WOG rally, I paid to "camp", maybe 25 nights. I believe about 9 of those were at WOG.
We have stayed just about anywhere you can park. Friends driveways, Walmarts, rest areas, side of the road, on the street in the city, Targets, country maintenance yards, Casinos, truck stops, etc.

We have had a Wanderlodge for 22 years. It is a nice way to travel.
The large holding and water tanks allow us to go 2 weeks between dump and fills, if our daughter comes with us that is reduced to about 5 days, lol.
Hope this helps.
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  #3  
Old 01-29-2020
Harold,Cat&Sam Harold,Cat&Sam is online now
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I believe it basically comes down to whether or not one is willing to give up comfort for convenience .

The Sprinter will get you into more places , be easier to drive and maintain . On the other hand , if you don't have a toad with you , you must drive the Sprinter everywhere you want to go .

The BMC will give you much more comforts and security like home . It does require more pre-trip planning , as in where not to go. Having a run about toad is very convenient .

After 5 years of owning and traveling in a 37 BMC , we sold ours a year ago . We wanted to get something to get us further off road for wilderness camping. At first we were going to buy a small camper to tow behind the Jeep . After much research , we finally decided that we didn't want to give up that much comfort . Next we looked at Born Free class B+ rv's . A Class C or B+ would certainly get us back in the woods , but still didn't seem to fit the comfort level we want . Now we were scratching our heads and getting a clearer picture of what we wanted .
A well built rv that met a few basic comforts we decided that were important .
1. A separate bedroom
2. A couch to relax on
3. A toilet "closet" = separate from the shower
4. A decent kitchen = I like to cook
5. Able to tow our Jeep
6. Diesel engine
7. No longer than about 30 ft and decent ground clearance.
8. Last , but very important , I need to be able to work on it .

Based on hours of research , we believe a Barth Breakaway will fit our needs . It's 30 ft long , only weighs about 15,000 lbs , is a 5.9 Cummins Pusher and has the layout we are looking for.

Ultimately you will have to way your options with your lifestyle and expectations and make your decision.
If you purchase one and it doesn't work out , sell it and try again .

Good Luck with your search.
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Sam 11 year old min schnauzer
Mooringsport, Louisiana
318-553-4186
1994 BMC 37' "Sold"
2004 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
1986 F150
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  #4  
Old 01-29-2020
ChrisRasman ChrisRasman is offline
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Lots of apps out there to steer you to places to boondock. Then if you want to buy into Harvest Host or buy a membership at Planet Fitness you got more places to boondock.
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Fort Myers, FLORIDA
2003 Wanderlodge 40LX
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  #5  
Old 01-29-2020
DW SD DW SD is offline
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A huge difference is driving. The BB is comfortable to drive, but still massive by comparison. I cruise @ 63 or 65 on the highway. Were I driving a Sprinter, probably 75.
Don't have to think twice about parking or navigating in lots or any sort of route planning like you do with such a large vehicle.
Getting fuel requires planning, too, and time. A normal gas station will work in a pinch, but it takes a very long time to fill.

I've found my travel time is +20% to 35% compared to a car. I don't consider it a race, but depending upon your priorities this might make a difference.

I HUGELY prefer the amenities, space and comfort of the BB (M380), but if I prioritized driving and convenience I'd own and use a sprinter.

I also have 2 kids, so the 4 of us really wouldn't fit a sprinter. They are too young to sleep in a tent. (8 and 12).

I think long term the BB will hold its value better, given it is further down the depreciation curve. The Sprinter brand new is up to $150k. Modern BBs started out @$400k to $1M.
@$60k you might not lose much in price if you buy and sell right.

For not much more you could buy a bottom end M380. They drive extremely nicely. And have at least one slide. Independent suspension, disk brakes, great turning radius. Similar footprint (without slide) to BMC.

Doug
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  #6  
Old 01-29-2020
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badandy badandy is offline
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The 'lodge is long, tall, and HEAVY. The Sprinter will go almost anywhere without planning, and it's a lot easier to turn around if you need to. But, as long as you can get there in the 'bird you'll be able to stay much longer.

Mileage is not to be understated. I get like 5-6 maybe, a BMC would do better though. A Sprinter uses half as much, maybe even less. This is the largest expense if you actually travel a lot.

Wanderlodge is like a cabin in the woods if you can get it there. It's a comfy, happy place. To me, since you asked, a Sprinter is not a comfy happy place, it's a place to cook some hot pockets and sleep until you get up for the next day. I know it isn't a "van", but it's a van. Think about that day it's raining and you just don't want go do your typical southern California outdoor activity. That day you want the Wanderlodge with all those big windows, comfy chair, coffee, big TV, and poop storage for weeks.
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  #7  
Old 01-29-2020
Tennisjohn Tennisjohn is offline
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I appreciate the responses. I'm enjoying reading this wisdom and experience! There's no substitute for experience in this arena.

As far as the toad is concerned, that's a very good point. I'm 1 of those weirdos who is very into motorcycles I've got a BMW R1200 GS that would happily ride along attached to the back of a Bird but at over 500 pounds it wouldn't be an option with the converted sprinter unless it's on a motorcycle trailer… and that would add approximately 7 feet and defeats the sprinters small footprint and would erase whatever "stealth" the sprinter has.

Motorcycle toad option goes to the Bird.
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  #8  
Old 01-29-2020
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Randy Dupree Randy Dupree is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badandy View Post
The 'lodge is long, tall, and HEAVY. The Sprinter will go almost anywhere without planning, and it's a lot easier to turn around if you need to. But, as long as you can get there in the 'bird you'll be able to stay much longer.

Mileage is not to be understated. I get like 5-6 maybe, a BMC would do better though. A Sprinter uses half as much, maybe even less. This is the largest expense if you actually travel a lot.

Wanderlodge is like a cabin in the woods if you can get it there. It's a comfy, happy place. To me, since you asked, a Sprinter is not a comfy happy place, it's a place to cook some hot pockets and sleep until you get up for the next day. I know it isn't a "van", but it's a van. Think about that day it's raining and you just don't want go do your typical southern California outdoor activity. That day you want the Wanderlodge with all those big windows, comfy chair, coffee, big TV, and poop storage for weeks.

I'm in! where do i buy a wanderlodge?
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  #9  
Old 01-29-2020
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Bill Pape Bill Pape is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tennisjohn View Post
I've been a long-time lurker on this form and now that I am ready to purchase it's time to ask a question that only you great knowledgeable people with experience USING these rigs can answer.

I see converted Sprinter vans and transits Etc going for prices within my budget of 50k to 60k. I see used bluebirds such as the BMC going for similar prices.

I'm aware that one is built like a BATTLESHIP and the other is much lighter duty although still a commercial chasis. I'm aware of the MPG and the typical yearly maintenance costs of a BMC.

My question is: what would i be gaining by going small. Is it just "my options for parking overnight are huge."

Let's say I want to go from home base in So Cal to Vail next week; i want to overnight in a national park then visit my aunt in town then continue on to Omaha for a few days visiting friends. If I take a 37-foot BMC what are my parking options for overnighters in these real world scenarios? What would my parking options be if I do the same journey in a converted Sprinter?

The sprinters Etc are selling like hotcakes in So Cal. In California everyone from surfers to rock climbers to weekend dirt-bike motorcycle riders, from mountain bikers and nature lovers to skiers and snowboarders rave about these things. I'm wondering why people are purchasing these when they could be purchasing a luxury palace by comparison, in the form of a BMC or a PT for the exact same price! And I'm wondering which direction I should take.

Why is the Sprinter conversion crowd willing to give up so much comfort when (other than mpg, tires and maintenance costs) the prices are the same?
John may be making this too difficult.
How are you going to use this vehicle?
How many days or weeks or months per year?
Are you on a schedule to arrive, depart or return?

We have an FC and a Roadtrek, each for a different purpose.
Day trips, week ends, and up to maybe 10 days, (two weeks ),
We use the Roadtrek. Longer trips the FC,.
The RT is small, not a comfortable bed, shower and toilet is barely adequate.
The FC is very comfortable, Just better all around, real queen bed, good home cooked food, Huge tankage, fuel,propane, water, sewage. So the time invested in fueling & dumping eventually is about equal.
I would guess the that maybe the Sprinter crowd you mention are week-enders.
We camp in many National, State, County, City Parks, BLM, and Forest lands in our FC, Both of our RV's do stay on paved or hard packed roads & camp sites.
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  #10  
Old 01-29-2020
Tennisjohn Tennisjohn is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Palos Verdes
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Very interesting. I appreciate your response. I've looked at a Bird up close and I've looked at converted sprinters up close. Including professionally converted ones by some of the big houses. Unfortunately the build quality of cabinetry etc is not even in the same stratosphere as the Bird, and that makes me concerned about plumbing, wiring and mechanicals hiding. Which is another reason for my question. Spending the same kind of money there needs to be some very very compelling reasons to give up the Bird size and component quality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harold,Cat&Sam View Post
I believe it basically comes down to whether or not one is willing to give up comfort for convenience .

The Sprinter will get you into more places , be easier to drive and maintain . On the other hand , if you don't have a toad with you , you must drive the Sprinter everywhere you want to go .

The BMC will give you much more comforts and security like home . It does require more pre-trip planning , as in where not to go. Having a run about toad is very convenient .

After 5 years of owning and traveling in a 37 BMC , we sold ours a year ago . We wanted to get something to get us further off road for wilderness camping. At first we were going to buy a small camper to tow behind the Jeep . After much research , we finally decided that we didn't want to give up that much comfort . Next we looked at Born Free class B+ rv's . A Class C or B+ would certainly get us back in the woods , but still didn't seem to fit the comfort level we want . Now we were scratching our heads and getting a clearer picture of what we wanted .
A well built rv that met a few basic comforts we decided that were important .
1. A separate bedroom
2. A couch to relax on
3. A toilet "closet" = separate from the shower
4. A decent kitchen = I like to cook
5. Able to tow our Jeep
6. Diesel engine
7. No longer than about 30 ft and decent ground clearance.
8. Last , but very important , I need to be able to work on it .

Based on hours of research , we believe a Barth Breakaway will fit our needs . It's 30 ft long , only weighs about 15,000 lbs , is a 5.9 Cummins Pusher and has the layout we are looking for.

Ultimately you will have to way your options with your lifestyle and expectations and make your decision.
If you purchase one and it doesn't work out , sell it and try again .

Good Luck with your search.
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John Field
Palos Verdes, CA
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