Brand Spotlight: Sportsmobile

The #vanlife is a trendy thing to do these days. People jump into this trend headfirst with everything from custom-built homebrews to professionally built adventure-ready rigs. One company that has been at the forefront of providing custom-built, adventure-ready platforms is Sportsmobile.

The company was founded in El Paso, Texas, and now has three different locations located around the United States. If you don’t know, they specialize in customizing vans to fit your travel needs.

Early years found the company customizing VW vans at the port of entry. Later the company was able to the same thing with Ford vans at assembly plants. Sportsmobile shipped their kits to each location where it was installed. Vans were then sent to dealership lots to be sold. A detailed history of what they worked on and what those vans looked like can be found here.

Fast forward to today, and the company deals with any manufacturer or customer with a van from Chevrolets up to the Mercedes Sprinter. The work they end up doing with newer model vans is absolutely amazing.

Photo From The Sportsmobile Website.
The Classic Sportsmobile. Photo From The Sportsmobile Website.

The amount of floor plans and options they offer is almost overwhelming. If something they have to offer doesn’t fit your needs, they will work with you to customize a vehicle to your specifications.

While campervans are primarily what Sportsmobile is known for, they do make vans for other applications. One is for people with disabilities who still want to get out and travel, which is just the tip of the iceberg. As stated, they have customized vans for just about every application.

If the #vanlife is something you are interested in, consider looking into a Sportsmobile built vehicle. The prices might scare some folks away, but you’re getting exactly what you want for the money you spend.

M416 Overland Trailer Build – Part 7

We are now on the home stretch! Bedlining of the trailer went smooth. I used six bottles to get good coverage. I used two to three coats to make sure it would help up for a while.

Taillights and latches installed.

I let it sit for about a week to give the Raptor Liner time to cure fully. Then I got to work remounting the RoadShower and the Rooftop tent. I also installed the key cam locks for the drawers.

I started wiring up the inside of the tongue box which houses the Goal Zero Yeti for off-grid power as well as the ability to be plugged into 110V, for charging the GZ and running all DC electrics.

Now that I had 90% of it done, I started test fitting the fenders, and tack welding on the steps, so I could make templates for the top plates to send to my buddy and have them plasma cut out. I also marked and drilled the holes for the fenders to bolt to the tub.

If you notice in the below pic, I also mounted a Daystar Cam-Can I happened to win in a raffle at a Jeep event, on the tongue of the trailer. I figured it would be better used on the trailer than the Jeep, and it makes a nice, easy-access place for me to store the impact wrench that I use for lowering and raising the jacks. While I was waiting for the step plates to be cut, I couldn’t pass up the chance to pull it out of the garage and test fit it on the Jeep! I also added a little vinyl graphic to the side of it.

I had to do a quick “test-fit” to see how it looked behind the Jeep.

I finally was able to get the step plates from my buddy, get them welded up, test fit one last time, then shoot them with raptor liner. As soon as they were cured, I bolted them up on the trailer.

Here you can see the trailer plugged into 110v charging the goal zero.

Now what I don’t have pictures of, is the electrical. I ran power wires from the tongue box, back through the tub so I could power up the LED lights in the tent. I also have a switch under the lid that lights up an LED light in the bed, and one under the RoadShower so I can see when washing dishes as well as under the tent and ladder since I have it set up to open to this side!

Stay tuned, for the last part of this series, where I show the trailer completely set up, and in use, as well as a first review on what I like and don’t what I would do differently next time!

M416 Overland Trailer Build – Part 6

There comes a time in every man’s life, when he does something so stupid, he can’t help but laugh. This is not one of those times. This time, I cried. While out on the boat with family, I jumped into the lake with my phone in my pocket. My phone decided to swim to the bottom in 20′ deep water. So needless to say, I lose every picture of my build along with with a TON of other pictures and $2000 in cryptocurrency. Live and learn, I guess. Luckily, I had posted some on Facebook, so I was able to get enough to at least finish this series!

Anyways, back to the article!

So my tubing bender from Rogue Fab arrived. It took me a couple of days to put it together; then I started in on bending some of the tubing for my fenders. It took me a few (read: like 20) tries to get the right bends, but it was easy from there on out.

 

 

After getting the bends the way I wanted, I made a template for a mounting plate, converted it to CADD and had the backing plates laser cut. I then tack welded everything together and was able to test fit the fenders. I will be adding steps to them at a later date!

I took a break from the fenders and started fabbing up the racks for the top of the trailer. I made one larger one to hold the rooftop tent, and a smaller one to hold my axe and shovel. Originally  I had planned to make plates and bolt the rack to the top, but I opted for welding the rack on, mostly just because it was easier and it allowed me to have a little wider footprint.

After the rack was done, I test fit my RoadShower 4s to make sure it would fit, and it fit near perfectly!

Next, with the help of my wife and mother-in-law, I fabbed a small awning for over top of the cooking area. It was pretty simple to make from some conduit, and in the end, my cost was about $50 for materials. I made it so the whole thing could roll up and store inside the trailer. It is a really simple design, and hopefully, I can draw up some plans for others to make it in the future.

I did a TON of grinding, welding, grinding, smoothing, seam sealing that I didn’t get pictures of. When I felt it was ready, I primed all the bare metal, any spots that I had ground down, and prepped the trail for Bedliner. I wore a full Tyvek suit, mask, gloves, etc. while I was sanding the trailer down. Guess the paint from the ’60s isn’t quite as healthy as the paint used today. After a few hours of mess, it was ready to be bedlined.

I bedlined the tongue box and fenders separate so I could make sure to get good coverage under and behind them. And technically the fenders weren’t done yet. In the next part of the series, I will begin the final assembly!

M416 Overland Trailer Build – Part 4

The warmer weather is gone, and the cold and snow are back again, but that didn’t stop me from spending a couple of days in the shop. I was able to get quite a bit done over the weekend.

My buddy dropped off some of the brackets I had him cut for me, so I was able to get started on the scissor jack mounts. A bunch of adjusting got them in the best spot I could find where they were accessible but out of the way. I used four, one in each corner that I can run up and down with my impact and a 3/4″ socket. It wasn’t quite as stable as I had expected, but overall it is about 80% sturdier than the old setup of tires and an old pipe jack. I just need to uninstall them for paint, then reinstall with all new bolts.

I decided to spend some time working on the tongue box. The holes and u-bolts that came with it would work, but I either had to re-drill the holes or make supports in the right spot. I decided to use some 1.5″ square I had sitting around and make some braces for underneath the box. The tongue box is just a cheapy from Harbor Freight, but it’s decent quality.

HF Tongue box and brackets to support it.

I decided to start cutting some of the holes for the tongue box electrical. I mounted two 12v cigarette lighters and one two-port USB plug on the side of the box. I will be adding two 110v receptacles with waterproof covers below them.

Two 12V plugs and one USB plug on the side of the box.

My buddy had also dropped off a 4×4′ piece of 16 gauge for me, so I decided why not start on the top for the trailer. Nothing super special yet, but I have the frame about 90% done and started skinning the top and hoping to have the rest of my skin steel next week.

I am still waiting on yet more parts. I have hinges on the way for the top. I am waiting on 4x4x1/4″ plates for the base of the rack on top. I also bought a tubing bender so I can build my own, stronger, tube fenders for the trailer. Stay tuned, should be able to get moving on this soon!

M416 Overland Trailer Build – Part 3

We had some warm weather over the weekend, so I was able to get quite a bit done. I started out cutting the new steel for the new tongue. I got the new 2×3, and 2.5×2.5 welded in, drilled for the new articulating lunette, got the chains welded on, and got it all put in place. I set the tongue box in place as well to try and get an idea of how I plan to mount it.

I started working on the tailgate again. I got the hinges attached (bolted to tailgate, welded to the frame. I made some pieces inside the tub that the tailgate can close against. It is working pretty well now. I am going to use the factory latches for the tailgate, and a lock on the top. This will keep the tailgate locked and make it easier than building a latch system for the tailgate.

Next, I need to cap off the ends of the tub where I cut it. That should clean it up a bit. I will be welding in the 1.5″ square bar that I am using to hold the sides of the bed in place since they keep wanting to bend inwards. When I cut out the tailgate piece, they moved in about an inch. Thinking I want to build a rear bumper for the trailer too instead of the hitch that is there.