Above photo taken by Steve Domjan at the Bowl. Thank you Steve, you could have been sailing you

  • Above photo taken by Steve Domjan at the Bowl. Thank you Steve, you could have been sailing yourself instead of taking photos of me.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

This year I decided to buy a New Van.


Yes, I am fully aware that my carbon footprint on this earth could be smaller. But I am comfortable with my choices. I understand that we all balance convenience, personal cost, and Planetary cost against each other. Just as I will never convince some of you that driving a giant 4X4 Van on the beach is a good thing.


For 13 years I drove a 2004’ Ford Extended E350. She had a 6.8 liter V10 engine. She sat on top of a 4” lift and 265/70/16’s. She was large, durable, and a great beach truck. She served me well for over 120,000 miles. 

My van is my daily driver. I need it to go to and from work everyday. I need it to be a reliable 4X4, and I need to be able to carry a lot of windsurfing, surfing, and fishing gear safely inside. Unfortunately, in NY, people tend to steal stuff like that. It took me years to find and put together the right quiver for me. So while I have roof racks; I don’t want to store my gear outside, where it can be damaged, stolen, or create excessive drag. And since I never know what I might do each day; it’s impossible to know what to load every morning.

So this year I decided to buy a new Van. 

I’m sure. Whomever owns the grey beast is happy. I’m still getting used to my new choice. And as usual the folks at Quigley were super helpful in finding me the right van for my needs.

I looked at a lot of 4x4 vans. 

The 2016 Mercedes Sprinter Crew Van: 

A cargo van that was already Parkway legal; has a powerful 6 cylinder diesel; lots of space: Local, the dealership is less than a mile from my house; a 4” lift is standard on factory 4X4’s; but the cockpit was not as luxurious as you would expect: too tall for my needs Parkway overpasses & the steering for all that windage is computer controlled, [electronics and salt water don’t mix too well]: Plus the salesman told me bigger tires, or Airing Down would void my warranty? I did not see those skinny 245/70/16’s as enough surface area for the sand. 
Not a Quigley. 

Next…. 

The 2016 Chevrolet Express Passenger 3500

This looked the best on paper; 6.0L V8: The Regular Wheelbase had tons of cargo room; Quigley has been modifying these for decades; I thought, a great replacement for my old Ford “Breadbox”; I like the front end of Chevy GMC trucks more than Ford’s. Even with the Ford’s Dana 60 solid front axle, The Pitman arm is too short and that front end relies too heavily on a small geared “steering Box”; The Chevy’s from 4X4 was all stock Chevy 4X4 parts from their Pickup’s: I drove all the way to Connecticut to test drive this puppy, and I was ready to buy until I got behind the wheel. 

In order to maximize space, and still meet the safety requirements… The cockpit seats were moved way against the sides of the van. I kept banging my arm on the door every time I turned the wheel. The seats where too upright, and the front overhead, and side airbags made for a claustrophobic ride.; Bummer! 

The 2016 Ford Transit Van:

First off, I heard rave reviews… Unless you have your van modified by U-Joint down in NC, nobody offers lockers any more; After driving 4X4’s on or at the beach since the 80’s…I want a manual engagement of my 4x4. I do not trust vacuum seals, solenoids, or any push button [designed to fail in a salt water environment] 4X4’s. So I liked the idea that when the hub engagement mechanism fails on the Quigley Transit, it defaults to 4X4!; But, the standard 3.7L Ti-VCT V6 engine, even with the Eco boost was too weak for my needs; The 3.2 liter I-5 Power stoke Turbo Diesel would be great… if you could actually find one.; But finally, the van feels like it’s going to topple over when you push it, and damn it’s ugly. 

NEXT! 
Before we get to my current van. Know that I tried to find a Via Motors Electric conversion, or hybrid electric van. http://www.viamotors.com

The biggest problem is that they only convert the Chevy, they cost like $100,000, they only sell to fleets, and the seemed to have fallen of the edge of the earth since 2015. It’s a shame really. 

So I ended up with… 

2016 Nissan NV Passenger NV3500 HD


I downsized to a stock height Nissan NV. [ So much more comfortable ride]. In fact, compared to my Ford, it drives like a sports car. 

And it’s pretty. I like all the chrome. I like the big roomy leather seats in the cockpit. Sitting behind the 317 hp horsepower, 5.6 liter V8 DOHC engine at stock height on 17/245/70’s is nice. I just have to be a little more careful off road since I have less clearance. I have the option of upsizing my tires to 17/265/70’s without ANY wheel well mods. And if I really want, Quigley can add a 2” lift later. It’s a well thought out truck. It even has a separate radiator for the 4X4 transmission. But there is less cargo room. And I can work around that.

racks from the side door
board rack from the rear
















This is the problem…Like all new cars…it has too much electronics, and is not built as tough as my 98 or 04 van was. I had a few fender benders with the E350. I always did damage to the other car, but none to mine.

Now I’m the other car... I had a small slow speed accident with a jeep. They had no damage, but because of the crumple zones I had $8,000 dollars worth of damage! That big tough looking chrome bumper bent like tinfoil.
Ouch!

Plus, I don’t think I will ever get used to the proximity sensors on the truck. I like them when I’m parking, [especially the back up camera], But whenever I’m in bumper to bumper traffic, or if it’s raining…they make so much noise I end up turning them off. That really bothers me. I’ve been to two dealerships since she was repaired since my accident, and they both say I’m fine. I had to travel all the way to York PA to pick this one up; but it's worth it! They are just down the road from Quigley. And I just love the folks at Quigley, Amy, Tiger Larry, Joyce you guys are the best.

After my accident both Quigley Motors and Apple Nissan each spent over a day each making sure everything was back to brand new.

I just don’t think this is a 20 year truck. We’ll see… 



I have looked for, and used, other options in the past. And I will undoubtably use better options in the future. One way I offset, or justify my behavior is by cleaning a lot of beaches. See I truly am the guy that who “Lives in a Van down by the Water”.



2004 E350 Quigley 4X4


1987 Subaru Justy AWD, light enough to go anywhere
1990 Subaru AWD wagon w/ air bag adjustable height
1998 F150 4X4,  still own and drive this one
Pulled this trailer behind a 1995 Ford Explorer and the 98 F150

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