What about a Warranty?
If something breaks on my van, call me or send me an email. I will make it right for you and your bottom line. In most cases, we can come to a resolution right over the phone. Wherever you are in the world. That takes 5 minutes for me. That’s how easy that is. That’s my guarantee.
I am available by email or phone; 7 days a week, from 9am to Midnight.
I will make you whole if something I built breaks or fails. I’m not going to put a time or mileage limit on it. I care about my reputation; I care about your investment. I’ll warranty my stuff for what I consider to be “normal service life” for mechanical or functional failure.
I’m not going to warranty damage, abuse, or misuse. But I know the importance of spending a day or two, and few hundred dollars (or even a few thousand) to make a happy customer that will leave a good review.
How do you handle delivery if I purchase a vehicle?
I’ll do it… I would love to personally deliver your finished vehicle. I’ve driven across the country to deliver customer vehicles/equipment countless times with great success. It gives me a great sense of pride to see things done right.
You can do it… you can fly into Missoula, Montana, and drive your vehicle home. Flights are usually pretty cheap up here. We don’t have sales tax either. Observant buyers will find a substantial financial advantage in registering their vehicles with a Montana based LLC… and avoiding their home-state sales tax.
A third option… would be to hire a vehicle transportation service a.k.a. “car hauler”. I would reserve this option as a last resort. It introduces an uncontrolled element, and conditions that are completely out of my control. This is a high-cost option, with a high probability of vehicle damage, service failures, and communication problems.
(2015) – “A previous van I sold was loaded onto a 3rd party trailer that was ordered by the buyer. I warned against it. The driver that showed up was nice guy, but scheduling and travel delays caused a stressful, anxious experience for my buyer. There wasn’t anything I could do to make the situation better at that point.”
What are your thoughts on 4wd vs 2wd?
4wd seems like a really cool thing to have. I would debate whether or not it’s really needed in a long-wheelbase van. For general off-roading, I would rather have something with the maneuverability of a narrow, short-wheelbase; like a dirt bike or ATV. If the road (or trail) has become so un-level, and traction problems have become so severe; I guess I would ask myself what I was trying to accomplish by driving into those conditions with such a large, expensive vehicle in the first place. Tall, long-wheelbase vehicles in off-road situations will soon present major problems other than loss of traction… like high-centering, turning radius, and overhead clearance issues. Fantasy.
I think in the case of the 170″ Sprinter, it should be thought of as a pavement/gravel vehicle, that gets you down the Interstate and across state lines. Then when it’s time to go off-road, unload the Bikes or ATV’s and head down the trail. 2wd is extremely effective at getting you to the trailhead.
The exception here being ice, deep snow, or deep sand. If you plan to operate on ice, deep snow, or deep sand on a regular basis, then 4wd will make your life easier; but it still might not be a necessity. Consider that 4×4 is a relatively new trend in factory available vans. People have gotten by with Ford E Series Vans for decades; decades where the only option was 2WD/RWD.
It is truly a cost vs. benefit question. My suggestion is to take an honest inventory of your operational needs. Don’t chase a vision that isn’t real. My personal experience from the past 10 years of full-time daily operation in all sizes of trucks, in all kinds of weather conditions, both professional and private, both on and off-road… I’ve never needed 4wd.
“These Sprinters you see in the off-road, rock-crawling photoshots, in Utah, California, Colorado, Oregon… the secret is… they’re not really going anywhere. Nobody is traversing across the Mountain West by use of some primitive trail system. It’s 2017. The Oregon Trail is long gone. End of the Earth Vans is more concerned with on-road performance; because I want my campervans to deliver top performance on the Interstate, from state-to-state, where it really counts. My truck will run down the road faster, and longer, than theirs will; because my truck is lighter, and has less rolling resistance.”
What are your thoughts on wheelbase length (Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 144″ vs. 170″)?
I think the 144″ is too short inside for a comfortable camping situation. It was designed for urban use, tighter turning radius, small parking spaces, etc… This short wheelbase drastically reduces your sleeping area and livable space.
I think the 170″ has the perfect interior dimensions for a camper van. Perfect. It’s the size I dreamed about when I was living in my low-roof Ford E-Series. I also like long wheelbases for their inherent trait of straight-line stability. Long wheelbase vehicles ride straight and smooth down the interstate. They handle broken pavement better and are less likely to spin (oversteer) or become unstable at speed.
Most new Ambulances – designed for high-speed predictable operation, and cargo capability for 3+ people – are being built on the Mercedes Sprinter 170″ chassis. Fed-ex is also running the 170″. Enough said.
What are your thoughts on windows?
Big wrap around windows seem like the best thing in the world… at first. Spend a few nights in the truck and you will discover that the view comes with a price.
Windows can be easily broken and present a security problem; both for personal security and for protection of personal property.
Windows present privacy concerns. Some people then install cheap blinds to fix the problem they created when they put the windows in. It makes sense to me to forgo large windows all together, and just open the huge side or rear doors when you want sunlight.
Windows are cold. Windows let light in and the heat out. If you’re sleeping, you’re trying to stay dark and temperature consistent. The best way to do that is to have the majority of your walls well insulated, and not made of glass.
Windows present a terrible worst case scenario. Imagine you are evacuating a storm with high winds and heavy hail. Maybe you are dealing with vandalism, rioting, or looting. Storm or riot damage could destroy some or all of your windows leaving you wet, cold, and without protective shelter in an emergency. On the other hand, having tall solid steel walls could be your most treasured asset.
Small windows, installed high on the walls or rooftop, alleviate many of these concerns, yet still provide a bright atmospheric feel, and uplifting panoramic views.
What are your thoughts on using wood as a construction material ?
I like wood. It is easy to work with and is low cost. It’s warm, and non-toxic. It has excellent sound and vibration dampening qualities. It’s visually appealing.
The downside to wood in a camper van is moisture absorption. Wood will absorb humidity from your breath and body during the night. It will take on a smell. It literally stinks. Wood can swell, split, grow mold, and rot. Let’s face it, you don’t want your van to smell like an old sailboat. Wood is also heavy.
Wood is susceptible to deterioration, especially around the fastening hardware, or joints that flex. Wood can come loose and rattle or squeak if not properly designed.
End of the Earth Vans will be using decorative chunks of wood in a few strategic areas that don’t trap moisture and don’t make noise. We will not be using wood as a wall paneling or cabinetry material. Wood paneling is neither a high-performance or durable choice for the walls of a truck.
What do you think about carpet?
I hate it.
I can’t stand carpet anywhere in my house or in my truck. It’s gross and hard to clean. I like smooth sterile surfaces. Stone, metal, tile, glass, etc… Carpet is like hair or something. It’s… alive.
On my walls? Ceiling? No thank you. No carpet or carpet glue in my “California King”.
Can you build a custom van for me?
I would love to, but…
My primary focus is building my “California King” 170″ Sprinter model. Which is just a basic; no bullshit; tough as nails; affordable package that can be further customized and field-serviced by the end user (You). I have the capacity to build about 8 of these vehicles/year.
Don’t be surprised if there are some things I won’t do, because ultimately any vehicle I touch represents my brand. I have a basic floor plan and a hand-made paneling technique that I am going to stick with for the time being.
What options do you offer for air conditioning?
Running an air-conditioner requires a lot of energy. They are huge power consumers. You will either need to idle the Mercedes diesel engine and run the factory A/C, or run a separately fueled generator and an aftermarket A/C.
I’m not going to install any type of aftermarket A/C. Again, it just presents too many maintenance, performance, and reliability issues. Just because other people are installing these things, does not mean that they will actually be working 2 years later, or even a few months after purchase. They will fail, they will leak water, and they will drain your batteries. Even Mercedes-Benz had problems with factory installed air conditioners leaking water. I have no reason to assume I can do any better.
If it’s 110 degrees, my suggestion would be to just idle the Mercedes diesel engine. Or, drive somewhere where it’s not 110 degrees. If you need a vehicle to keep you ice cold in Las Vegas, in July, for extended periods of time… a van is just not the tool you are looking for. The beauty of a van is that you can leave those conditions behind and head for better weather.
What are your thoughts on warm weather ventilation?
I think vans do a great job of cooling via convection. Heat rises. As long as you give the warm air sufficient area to exit through the roof vents, cool air will be pulled in through the intake vents.
I don’t think it’s necessary to use any type of fan to force air out of a roof vent. Rather, roof ventilation fans introduce electrical maintenance and reliability issues that make them more of a headache than a benefit. Mixing wet areas with electrical components has never worked well; and never for long.
What options do you offer for heating?
In temperatures down to 55 degrees, I think layered blankets are more than adequate. Something like a “Mr. Heater” indoor-safe ceramic propane heater is a real good cheap option for these conditions too.
Between 55 and 20 degrees, the use of a diesel-electric heater makes a lot of sense. I can install a Webasto or Espar heater with a thermostat. These heaters will turn on when the Mercedes diesel engine is turned off. They use a small amount of electrical current, and a small amount of diesel fuel from the main tank, to create a substantial amount of forced air heat. I highly recommend this option. I have a substantial amount of experience living with these systems from both manufacturers.
At 20 degrees and below, you will want to idle the Mercedes diesel engine. Don’t shut it off. Diesel fuel will begin to gel at these temperatures and if your fuel lines gel, you won’t be able to get that engine started again. A situation like this can quickly become life-threatening. Plan accordingly.
Can I charge my cell phone or laptop?
There is a factory 12V outlet that can provide up to 300W of power. You’ll get in the habit of charging devices to 100% while you’re driving or idling, and using your device’s battery when you’re off grid or shut down.
I don’t see the need for 12V outlets all over the place. A van is a small single room, and it is not that far of a reach to the front 12V outlet (5-10 feet). Extra 12V outlets make more sense in large RV’s and Buses with separate rooms… but in a van, as in most cars and trucks, there is already a nice factory installed outlet in the room. You can also buy a 12V extension cord for like $9 if you need to extend your reach.
I personally use a small 150W inverter to power my laptop. In 400,000 miles of long-haul trucking I’ve never needed anything else. If you’re trying to pull more power than 300W for extended periods of time, there are better options than 12V power… like a fuel-powered generator.
Does your van have 120VAC electrical outlets?
I like keeping trucks running on 12VDC. 120/240VAC systems were designed for residential construction, not for vehicles.
120VAC power demands pull too much current (amperage) from 12VDC systems. Personally, I don’t see the need for it. I recommend powering your 120VAC equipment with a generator. With years on the road and experience, most people come to realize that less power means less maintenance headaches, and less cost.
I was a good electrician. I can install anything. I don’t recommend hardwiring systems with high current draw into your truck’s 12VDC system. It’s not an ideal setup. For high voltage or high current draw needs, a small Honda Generator is more appropriate, and might last a lifetime too. A generator is a relatively low-cost option, that has the added benefit of being portable for multiple applications.
What are your thoughts on solar panels?
I’m not installing solar… or wind generation. It’s a lot of fussing around for a few amps of current. It’s high-cost, and unreliable. It introduces maintenance issues and electrical failure. Solar trickle on a cloud-covered day holds no comparison to the substantial power output of a fuel-powered generator.
There are a number of widely available portable (flexible) solar options for charging computers or phones. Simply lay them up on the dash or outside and plug in. There is no reason to permanently mount this equipment; you don’t need it at all. Keep it modular, keep it simple.
Vehicles are still running on fossil fuels because fossil fuels are the lowest-cost, most powerful option right now. No solar system currently produced will compete with a Honda generator. Until we have entire trucks running down the road on solar power, solar trickle charging is nothing more than a feel-green half-step. And as soon as we have entire trucks running down the road on solar power, it will be a moot point.
Where is the cooktop?
I can’t even imagine cooking inside a truck. It’s such a small space. Do you ever fry up some bacon 2 feet away from your pillow at home? I can’t even imagine the lingering smell… and now you have a greasy mess to clean.
Personally, if I’m traveling and I want hot food, I eat out. That’s part of the experience right? If I’m in the middle of nowhere and want to cook, I will use a campsite grill, a portable charcoal grill, or a portable camp stove. A propane or alcohol fueled portable stove is what you seek. They are inexpensive and easily replaceable too. Keep the mess and the smell outside! There is no reason to have a permanently installed cooktop inside such a small sleeping space.
Where is the TV?
I use my laptop in the truck. Laptops can be charged while driving during the day, and used silently on battery power at night.
I’m happy to install some type of monitor, but long-term, you will need a solution to power it. Power means burning fuel, and making noise. You will either need to run the Mercedes diesel at idle, or run a separately fueled generator, whenever your monitor is turned on.
I haven’t seen a solar system that has the capacity to run a 120VAC TV monitor around the clock, but if it exists, it is probably way more expensive than a gasoline generator. I question the operational and functional capabilites of TV’s that are being powered by auxiliary battery banks… I would suggest that you question them too. Ask yourself, what are you getting and how much does it cost?
Where is the refrigerator?
This is not going to be a beer and football crowd favorite, but I am not going to be installing any refrigeration at this time. Refrigeration consumes too much energy and will drain any battery system quickly. I have also found the overall reliability of these units to be poor.
There are a number of cheap, portable, plug-in type 12V refrigerators that you can purchase yourself for under $100-$200. I left you room to install it. I recommend going that route vs. installing a permanent fixture. This way you can throw it away when it breaks, because it will, soon. I’ve had refrigerators last for 6 months and I’ve had them short-circuit in 6 days. The vibration kills them; and they kill your batteries. I don’t even mess with them anymore.
A simple cooler and a bag of ice from the 7-eleven on the corner works the best IMO. A cooler has the functionality, they are low maintenance, low cost, and low mess.
Where is the toilet?
End of the Earth Vans does not install toilets or plumbing inside our vehicles. Let’s see… where to start… well it’s a disgusting and unhygienic practice.
What did Grandpa say? “Don’t shit where you eat!” You can get real 1800’s Oregon Trail type diseases like Adenovirus; Campylobacter infection; Coxsackievirus; Enteroviruses; E. Coli; Hepatitis A; Pinworms; Polio, Rotavirus Salmonella; Shigella; Tapeworms; and Toxoplasmosis… PASS!
Just get out of the truck and use a proper toilet. If there are no toilets available, if you are that far out in the wilderness (not much left these days), dig a hole!
Where is the sink?
For the time being, I’m not going to be installing any type of sink, water pump, or holding tanks. Installing a sink introduces too many maintenance, performance, and reliability issues. Plumbing will leak, it adds weight, complexity, and it takes up space.
I have a proprietary, simple, reliable design in the prototype phase.
A bottle of water poured over the hands outside the truck works really well. Cleansing wipes are great too.
Where is the shower?
Vans are too small for a comfortable indoor shower. Indoor showering also presents humidity problems. If those two problems aren’t enough, the water pressure of the industry standard RV shower is unsatisfactory. You’re not going to get the good, long, steamy hot shower you’re imagining with any RV shower. You will be cold, and nervously counting remaining gallons.
Most truck stops and fitness centers charge $10.00 for an unlimited length, steamy hot shower. Swimming in hot springs, lakes, creeks, and oceans works pretty good too. Showers can also be found at Campgrounds and RV Parks.
There are also number of widely available 12V external showers; solar heated shower bags; or battery operated portable camp showers.
Where are your holding tanks?
Wastewater holding tanks have no place in my design.
There are many reasons why I don’t like holding tanks or water jugs. They add weight; they take up space; they freeze; split; leak; stink; grow mold; harbor bacteria; and vibrate loose.
I just don’t see any reason to carry fresh, grey, or black water tanks on a small, lightweight truck; and again, the latter of those is a disgusting biohazard. People think they “need” these comforts of home out on the road, but in reality, it’s more weight, more cost, more maintenance, and more time than it’s worth.
How do you carry your drinking water?
I’ll carry a 24-pack (5 gallons) of individually bottled water in the truck. 5 gallons per person per week is a pretty average consumption rate if you include washing hands and brushing teeth.
I don’t recommend drinking from any type of water holding tank or jug. Bacteria, contamination, spills (all your eggs in 1 basket?), finding a place to refill… the list goes on and on.
Dasani 24-pack of water bottles? $4.99 at Walmart.
Do you modify the engine or suspension?
Everything is left completely to Manufacturer’s specifications; so that everything is completely covered under warranty by the manufacturer.
Where can I find pictures of older vehicles you’ve worked on?
On my… history page.
EndOfTheEarthVans.com Coming Soon!
How many employees do you have?
Do you hire subcontractors to perform work for you?
No. I do everything myself.
With the exception of exterior paint and bodywork, on a case by case basis.
What is the best way to contact you?
Email me. Or call and leave a voicemail.