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Old 10-31-2018, 10:28 AM   #111
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Originally Posted by Fitz View Post
Now that’s using the van! We have had Flint for two years last month and we are at 117 nights. I agree with everything Alex said, but I will add that I am still very glad that we have the exterior shower. I can wash my hair inside in the sink, and have done so often, but one of these days that won’t be enough and outside I’ll go. We do not travel with dogs, but I can see that the outside shower would be a must for them. And as for the privacy, not important to me but could be for others.

We wouldn’t use the awning shown, but we seldom open up the back doors. That’s one of the reasons we went with a pop top, up it goes if we want to bring the outside in!

I forgot to add to that post that both Alison and I are swimmers from way back (we met swimming the Maui Channel Swim), and we swim open water swims in the summer with our Master's team. We still swim in order to keep some semblance of swimming shape when we're on the road, finding the occasional pool. That is another facet of not using the outdoor shower on the van.


One year we want to do a "swim across America" tour in the van, where we pick an arbitrary number of swimming pools (call it 100 for now) across any number of states and swim in each while finding a state park or campground near the city/pool of choice.
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Old 11-01-2018, 03:20 AM   #112
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Technical Expertise

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Originally Posted by TomH View Post
Wow, this flow of great information is putting you up there with Fitz as a SMB-Sprinter guru! Thanks for sharing with the community!

Tom, thanks for the vote of confidence but I am well below both you guys in terms of actual hands on engineering technical expertise. I'm pretty much a follow the leader guy when it comes to that! Tim's build thread has so much going for it in terms of extensive technical detail. I think mine is OK for what my experience has been, but definitely not the technical level you guys are. Pretty much all that I've added to our build or requested from the start is due to multiple inputs from board members and mostly from you and Tim.


The forum is such a wonderful venue for heading off possible issues before they arise, or at least to be prepared for them when they do arise. An example of this is the recent thread on 2017 Sprinter died on us. I promptly ordered a couple Blue Seas 150amp fuses based on Tim's great attached thumbnail, as well as the diagnostics tool outlined later in the thread!
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Old 11-01-2018, 09:54 AM   #113
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Alex,

One of the unique things about your experience is the amount of time you spent using the van immediately upon delivery. Most of us get weekends and blocks of a week or two, your experience is based on months at a time. That, coupled with what you do for a living, makes me believe that you are uniquely qualified to comment on design aspects of “what’s works” and “what doesn’t”, plus I’m very interested in knowing what you consider important to carry with you and why. I have my list based on our use case and you have yours, I’m really interested in comparing the two, ideally with an an adult beverage or two on the table with us!

Tim
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Old 11-04-2018, 02:22 AM   #114
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Lithionics/Xantrex Lithium Electrical System - Further Detail

More detail on our lithium set-up.


I believe our van was the first lithium set-up that SMB West did, so perhaps it has evolved greatly since. There is also an interesting thread by Kate (forum handle iradikate) on Volta Power Sustems. Those systems look cutting edge to me.


I've attached a few items to start:
  1. Initial spec sheet from Brian @ SMB Fresno, rcvd March 2018: I cut/pasted into a word document and hence PDF, which Brian sent me as an email once they ironed out the lithium set-up to comply with RIVA. It shows three options which I could choose from. I chose the Lithionics package, which was option two. My system is Lithionics/Xantrex. I chose this due to my familiarity with Xantrex (boat systems), my research into Lithionics, and the multiple protection/battery monitoring components of the Lithionics/Xantrex system. It seemed a step above. Any extra steps/components to protect the battery investment seemed well worth it.
  2. Lithionics PDF documents which will partially show what is incorporated into my system.
  3. Nations alternator wiring diagram, which I think is the best one I've found. My system is pretty much as this shows, with some minor variations. The alternator is Nations and the system has a BALMAR MAX CHARGE regulator (located in engine compartment).
  4. A few pictures to show where the items in my system are located.
  5. The electrical system in it's entirety takes up the space underneath the passenger side settee/couch. We are currently getting a flarepod mod. The system will stay as it is, but the couch/settee will basically be turned into an enclosure with multiple access panels/hatches. I can show this once SMB West get's going on the flarepod mod.
The lithium batteries do not require a traditional battery box due to the BMS system, etc. The battery is it's own box. There is no venting to the outside, nor is there a need for that.


Temperature control, which has been discussed: First of all, I'm not an Electrician or Electrical Engineer. There are forum members who can give a MUCH BETTER explanation than I can. The aft end of the system, where the invertor/charger is, has a vent into the van. The invertor/charger generates a bit of heat and there is a fan when it's charging. The system is "smart" as well, so it will occasionally equalize the batteries, although it is my understanding this isn't the type of equalization you'd see in a typical lead/acid battery. It involves equalizing the individual cells of the battery and is different. What I do know about it is the system will occasionally decide to do this, based on the computer and whatever algorithm is driving the brains of the system.


The charger/invertor heats up a bit, but not excessively so in my opinion, and then you can hear the fan kick on. I've put my hand on the batteries when being brought to capacity and the voltage @ 14.0 on the monitor and while they feel warm, they have never felt hot to me.


Wintertime is going to be interesting, as it is my understanding we can't charge the batteries when the temp is below freezing. While stored and not in use, I'll have an oil-filled radiator type heater in the van (I use these on boats, they are much simpler and not prone to failure like an electrical fan/coil type heater). When we are at ski areas the idea is to use the D5 heater while we're out skiing and away from the van at a very low setting, say 40-45 degrees, with the only purpose to keep the interior of the van above freezing. This is untested as of yet.
Attached Thumbnails
GTR12V300A-5D-CTRL400-Rev1-lithium-ion-battery.jpg   Generator-free-rv-diagram.jpg   IMG_20180709_121226349_BURST000_COVER_TOP.jpg   IMG_20180709_121214252_BURST001.jpg   IMG_20180709_121155709_BURST000_COVER_TOP.jpg  

IMG_20180709_122020349_HDR.jpg  
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Lithium Options SMB as of 20180301.pdf (33.8 KB, 12 views)
File Type: pdf External BMS.pdf (215.0 KB, 8 views)
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Old 11-07-2018, 10:17 AM   #115
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Flarepod Modification

After initial use, we decided to do a flarepod modificationto the van. We are bringing our van back in to SMB West for the modification.
Below is what we ordered for pods and what we anticipate forthe bed area:
  • 5”extended pod on drivers side, 10”X 33” sliderwindow.
  • 3”pod on passengers side, 10”X33” slider window.
  • The sliders will take away approximately ¾”-1”of usable space for each pod, this according to both Sonya and SMB West.
  • We would like the bed platform to be 55” in width. This allows for two 20” bench seats forward (replaces the current bedwhich is 75" in length longitudinally).
  • The bed platform will be built to take advantage of as much space as possible, as I understand the van and the pods angle inward as we go further up the sides.
  • I anticipate usable lengths for the bed of:
    • 78”on back part of pods
    • 76" on front part of pods
Our bed platform height is as yet undefined. I believe it is going to be about 4-5" below the lowest level of the flare pod level, but unsure as yet. I'm going to let SMB West decide that, based on sitting height and access to the storage underneath.
A large factor will be access to the (former) couch/settee areas, which will now be enclosures for all the systems.
  • Drivers side has water tank/pump and D5 heatingsystem
  • Passenger side has electrical, including the two large 300Ah lithium batteries.
There are several reasons we are doing this after our initial use of the van:
  • We never use the couch/settee as it was designed. It's always made up as a bed. In addition, during the day it becomesa catch-all for cloths, packs, etc.
  • With the bed made up permanently, we do not have easy access to the systems underneath
  • We do not have any bench or couch seating with the bed made up permanently
In addition, since the bed is permanent, why not have a very comfortable mattress going forward? We've slept on sleeping pads, includingultra-light thin pads for climbing, for years. And really this is my wife Alison first driving this when we started out in the van. It took a while forthe light bulb to come on for me…
The standard SMB cushions for the couch and bed are pretty hard, which I was initially OK with (It's camping, right?). But we then, at Alison's insistence, put a 4" memory foam medium-soft mattress topper on that, and since then it's been the best sleep we've ever had while out camping. More equivalent to sleeping on our temperpedic mattress at home. Don't get me wrong, we still backpack and climb using a very light sleeping pad, but having a sleep system that is equable to what we have at home in the van is just wonderful. Van sleeping is VERY comfortable for us right now. It's difficult to get out of bed in the AM...


That's the lead-up to the below.


The new permanent mattress is going to be a custom mattress,exact fit to the space, exact depth as we need. Either a custom temperpedic mattress or a memory foam mattress with the FROLI spring set underneath. We're not sure yet what it will be, it's going to be based on the bed platform height.
If the bed platform height is set underneath the flarepod height, we'll have a custom mattress fit to that space up to the flarepod height, followed by a memory foam pad and topper of 2-3" above that. According to Sonya at Flarespace, we can't put a 7-8" mattress on the platform as it will then be up to the window height, or at least close to it where it would impede the windows.
We are also modifying our overhead storage so we can then sit-up in the bed on one side without knocking our heads. Probably the drivers side.


The cost of flarepods install during the initial build is about $5500. The cost of our modification will be about $15,000. There is more than a bit of interior removal that has to take place for this to happen.


The work is well worth it to us.


We anticipate that once I’m retired we’ll spend about 6 months out of the year in the van. Just this past first five months of ownership alone we were well north of 90 days total in the van. I was closer to 4 months total.
Attached Thumbnails
RYAN, Alex Flare Pod Dimensions.jpg   RYAN Couch access and design.jpg   IMG_20181006_094744087.jpg  
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Old 11-09-2018, 12:00 AM   #116
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Flarepod Update

The new flare pods are in @ Sportsmobile Fresno! They look fantastic. Brian Furrow sent me the progress pictures attached.


I was somewhat concerned that the 5" extended pod on the drivers side would be obtrusive. It looks great!
Attached Thumbnails
IMG_7382.jpg   IMG_7383.JPG   IMG_7384.JPG   IMG_7385.JPG  
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Old 11-09-2018, 06:21 AM   #117
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Agree, looks great. Those pods seem like the way to go with a Sprinter.
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Old 11-09-2018, 08:08 AM   #118
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Very nice!
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