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Old 12-11-2015, 10:20 PM   #11
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Sleeping in the penthouse for me is all about the outside temp. In my Ford SMB I would sleep up top if the night low temp was 40 or above. The only exceptions was a night in Wyoming with 50 plus mph winds. I'll continue that plan in the Sprinter. I do sleep in a pretty warm bag when it's cold.
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Old 12-20-2015, 01:14 PM   #12
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I have had a Sprinter RB with the penthouse and a walk through layout for 3 years and have taken it on many long trips: Alaska for 2 months, all of the western Canadian provinces, Florida twice on multi-week trips, 6 weeks in the Maritime provinces, New England, Yellowstone, Glacier, and multiple canoe trips of a week or longer in MN, IA, MO, WI, FL, ME, etc. So you can see I have had opportunity to see some of what works and what does not.

First, even the low roof is very high and slippery on a Sprinter, particularly with the penthouse. I canoe a lot and had full length tracks and four crossbars on top of the penthouse roof with a ladder on the rear. I used it for about a year to carry a 60 lb royalex canoe and a rocket box for paddles and other gear. It was nerve-racking to get up on the roof and load the canoe and the box, slippery and treacherous when wet. I mostly kept the canoe and box on when the PH was raised. In gusty cross-winds the canoe felt like it was too much for the raised penthouse structure. I finally decided that carrying big stuff on the roof was a poor choice and removed the racks. Instead I got the very lightweight Yakima "Rack and Roll" trailer for canoe and box as well as bicycles. I am very happy to not have to mess with the roof racks anymore.

If I had it to do again I would probably have opted for solar panels or nothing. We have the high idle control and the 5 or 6 times the batteries have gotten too low I ran the engine for an hour at 1600 rpm. (We usually do not go for extended periods without driving somewhere.) We can go about three days without a battery charge if we are careful on power use. The standard 3 CF fridge is pretty efficient and it is always on. All lights have been switched to LEDs. We have a microwave that runs for short periods off the inverter. When we have shore power we can use the 110V hot water heater and a portable electric heater. Opted for propane stove and furnace. We seem to use very little propane, mostly for the stove since the furnace does not get much use except in the morning and damp chilly days. I have had some propane system problems at temperatures below freezing.

We have two MB swivel seats but have not had much use for the driver side. The passenger seat is swiveled as soon as we stop for the evening and is handy to the fold up counter. I prefer the walk through layout with the curve portapotti in the back behind a full height cabinet. (Layout in one of my earlier posts.) The curve PP has seen a lot of use and is way better than a marine toilet with black water tank since in the RB the tank would necessarily be small anyways. Easy to empty at dump stations or toilet. We have the outside shower just inside the rear door and its used mostly for cleaning gear and dog.

I love the PH. It provides good ventilation and a great place to sleep. In colder temperatures we pull the gaucho to its double size and leave the top down, a nice option. In the hundreds of nights spent sleeping in it we have done this maybe ten times.

The van has been perfectly reliable. Used the original tires for 40,000 miles and then got new Michelins and a four wheel alignment. We have driven on some poor roads in Alaska and Canada, gotten real muddy and dusty, and the van is running as well today as 3 years ago when I picked it up. Regards.
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Old 12-20-2015, 10:59 PM   #13
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Wsgraham,

It sounds like your rig is well used, I hope I will be able to say the same!

I agree, climbing up on top of the PH is not for me. I currently use a canoe roller to load the canoe on my truck (by myself) with a topper and Thule rack system and I hope to be able to do the same with the SMB. Getting the crossbar placement is key but I simply won't know until I try if the added height of the Sprinter will keep me from being able to load it by myself. My current plan is to get a collapsible ladder and use it leaned up against the van to work the tie-downs, time will tell if that plan will work. If it doesn't, the canoe will turn into something shorter loaded on a trailer pulled behind the van, something I am trying to avoid as the original appeal of the canoe was to put it on top and maintain mobility off road.

Our original thought was that a layout with the goucho would work best for us, but we have decided to go with the convertible sofa in the back so we have the option of front-facing passenger seating for the (rare) times we will have someone with us. Grandchildren and a car-seat may be in the future, got to plan for the best!

I am currently planning on the shower on the driver's side rear of the van vs. inside the rear door. I don't expect it to get much use but when it does I don't want to worry about any water getting in the back of the van.

Have you been happy with the stove mounted inside the van? I do a lot of cooking with dutch ovens and the current plan is to have a small propane or butane stove that can be used either inside or outside along with one or two dutch ovens and a small BBQ. If we are in a hurry or it is raining, then simple meals prepared inside will suffice. We are also getting the microwave, I don't see that preparing meals will be much of a problem.

We are looking forward to getting to know the van and the SMB community. Thanks for the great input!
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Old 12-22-2015, 10:38 PM   #14
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Fog light question

My van has fog lights on it. My plan is to replace the front bumper with an Aluminess winch bumper, thus making the factory fog lights useless. I will want to replace them with fog lights in the Aluminess bumper, the issues are:
1. The van is in Texas, I am in California, thus I can't just run over to it and look
2. Aluminess recommends round Hella 500's for their front bumper. The bulb is a halogen that pulls 55 watts, 55/12 = 4.58 amps
3. LED's are typically square. When I asked, Aluminess told me that they can build the bumper with square vs. round cutouts for the lights and that while not shown on their website, they do sell a square LED for this application, the Rigid Dually flood that is listed at 1,568 lumens and 1.45 amps
My questions:
1. Can someone tell me what the diameter is and what the configuration of the factory Sprinter fog lights looks like? I need to convince myself if relocating the existing lights from the factory bumper to the Aluminess bumper is a good or a bad idea.
2. Can someone tell me either what the factory fog lights draw or what the switch and wiring for the factory fog lights is rated at? The real question here is, can the circuit handle 4.58 x 2 = 9.16 amps for the Hella 500's vs. 1.45 x 2 = 2.9 amps for the Rigid Dually's vs. whatever the factory lights draw?
3. And finally, is the factory fog light switch a "simple" switch that can be turned on and off at will, or is it wired in some "smart" way that will prevent me from sometimes doing what I want to do? Turning the fog lights off when the high beams are switched on is ok, anything else I want to know about. If the switch is too smart for me or if the circuit is not rated for the amperage of the new lights I will want to run a new circuit and switch as part of the build, thus the reason for me wanting to know now.
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Old 01-03-2016, 11:53 AM   #15
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Thank you for all of the great information. It's really nice to speak to someone with essentially the same build (other than you with propane, me with diesel) and with plans to use the van in many of the same ways. Your comments have reinforced the direction we are heading and I look forward to comparing notes, pictures and etc. in the future.
I have the canoe "roller loader" from Old Orchard Canoe Kayak Experts (oakorchardcanoe.com) that works great for loading the canoe on my truck with a topper. Once I get the Sprinter I will see how it works on the much taller van, but I think it will be ok. As a suggestion, you might want to consider the narrower kayak version for one-man kayak loading.
I am not sure if Thule Hulivator's work for canoes, but we use ours for our two SUP boards on a high roof sprinter. Get a good folding ladder to help with the loading.

http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...nyvoudy&page=5
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Old 01-09-2016, 03:05 AM   #16
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Further information on my fog light question:
The van has factory fog lights with 55 watt Halogen bulbs (55/12 = 4.58 amps). As it was explained to me, the van’s EMC reads the resistance and when the lights are burned out, removed or replaced with something different a fault code will be generated.
It is fairly common to change out Halogen headlights with LED’s that pull much less current. When doing so, a “cancellor” is typically installed to fool the on-board computer by adding back the resistance. “LED Headlights Pro” offers cancellers when buying their LED conversion lights, unfortunately their sizing is available based on vehicle make and model and not a third-party supplied unit such as Rigid.(BTW, “LED Headlights Pro” was very helpful, so much so that one of their conversion kits is ordered and on the way for my daily driver.)
Rigid Dually square LED Fog Lights pull just over 17 watts (1.45 amps), enough of a difference to generate the fault code. Aluminess (very responsive and helpful to deal with BTW) can easily change the standard round fog light cutout to square to accommodate the LED fixture, but that leaves you with needing to reprogram the van’s computer, finding a cancellor (Rigid totally non-responsive when asked this question), or living with a fault code display.
The simple answer: Change out the stock 55 watt halogen fog lights with Aluminess’ standard Hella 500’s which also run 55 watt halogen bulbs.To quote the Mercedes Benz service technician (MB of Pleasanton CA, very helpful and responsive): Your vehicle has halogen fog lamps. 12v 55 watt. We have no listings nor does MB offer any other choices for lights. We are not authorized to deviate from factory approved lighting. We have no information on what would be required if aftermarket kits are applied. The consensus is that halogen to halogen is fine, but no info at all for LED.”
So as it stands now I plan to have Aluminess build the bumper in their standard configuration, change out the factory fog lights to Hella 500’s utilizing the van’s existing dash switch and wiring, and have SMB Texas add a new switch and wiring to run a 10” LED light bar that will be mounted to the front crossbar of the winch bumper.
One of the other things I learned in this process is that very little service information is available for the new MB vans (just try to find a wiring diagram for the current year!) and that there is enough variety in the base vans that MB needs your VIN anytime they look up anything. Another number to remember!
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Old 01-09-2016, 09:26 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Fitz View Post
Further information on my fog light question:
The van has factory fog lights with 55 watt Halogen bulbs (55/12 = 4.58 amps). As it was explained to me, the van’s EMC reads the resistance and when the lights are burned out, removed or replaced with something different a fault code will be generated.
It is fairly common to change out Halogen headlights with LED’s that pull much less current. When doing so, a “cancellor” is typically installed to fool the on-board computer by adding back the resistance. “LED Headlights Pro” offers cancellers when buying their LED conversion lights, unfortunately their sizing is available based on vehicle make and model and not a third-party supplied unit such as Rigid.(BTW, “LED Headlights Pro” was very helpful, so much so that one of their conversion kits is ordered and on the way for my daily driver.)
Rigid Dually square LED Fog Lights pull just over 17 watts (1.45 amps), enough of a difference to generate the fault code. Aluminess (very responsive and helpful to deal with BTW) can easily change the standard round fog light cutout to square to accommodate the LED fixture, but that leaves you with needing to reprogram the van’s computer, finding a cancellor (Rigid totally non-responsive when asked this question), or living with a fault code display.
The simple answer: Change out the stock 55 watt halogen fog lights with Aluminess’ standard Hella 500’s which also run 55 watt halogen bulbs.To quote the Mercedes Benz service technician (MB of Pleasanton CA, very helpful and responsive): Your vehicle has halogen fog lamps. 12v 55 watt. We have no listings nor does MB offer any other choices for lights. We are not authorized to deviate from factory approved lighting. We have no information on what would be required if aftermarket kits are applied. The consensus is that halogen to halogen is fine, but no info at all for LED.”
So as it stands now I plan to have Aluminess build the bumper in their standard configuration, change out the factory fog lights to Hella 500’s utilizing the van’s existing dash switch and wiring, and have SMB Texas add a new switch and wiring to run a 10” LED light bar that will be mounted to the front crossbar of the winch bumper.
One of the other things I learned in this process is that very little service information is available for the new MB vans (just try to find a wiring diagram for the current year!) and that there is enough variety in the base vans that MB needs your VIN anytime they look up anything. Another number to remember!


As far as the lights go, I am using the stock fog lights, which are adequate, and I have the 10 inch Rigid Industiries led light bar integrated in my stock front bumper. For simplicity I kept the stock lights. I have found that trying to replace any electronic item on my current and previous trucks can quickly become a gremlin nightmare. And the light bar will overwhelm any halogen replacement you will find.

I elected not to put on the Aluminess front bumper at this time. I did a ton of off roading with my previous vehicles (E350 SMB, and a EarthRoamer) in Utah, CO, NM, AZ, AK, Canada, and Baja. I only used my winches on those vehicles twice, and it was to pull out a Jeep and a Landcruiser. I have a large full length Aluminess roof rack as well as the rear box, bumper and tire carrier.
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Old 01-09-2016, 10:10 AM   #18
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trailsurfer,

We purchased the van in Texas due to a deal that had fallen through. Very happy with the improvement in the build timing as a result, but ended up with a few things different than if we had ordered ourselves, the front fog lights being one, thus I need to work with what I have.

My wife and I found ourselves off the road and stuck in Washington snow a couple of years ago, without the winch on the truck we would have been there for a LONG time. I can see ourselves easily in the same position again and I consider equipping the van with a winch now an insurance policy for the future. Over the years I have used winches for a lot of things other than self-recovery, but when you have it when you need it, especially if your wife is there, you'll vow to never be without!

Thanks for the feedback on the lights, it's nice to know that the 10" light bar up front will do all that I need. As for the fog lights, changing the bumper leaves me with few alternatives so I will proceed and let the forum know how it works out.

BTW, love the Durango area. We have a couple of friends out that way and a visit there will be in our future.
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Old 03-02-2016, 11:45 PM   #19
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Several months ago I posted my thoughts on the build and asked several questions. Thank you to all who responded here in the forum and via calls, e-mails and texts.What a resource we all have in each other!

One thing I have learned is how different we all are in what we want and how we go about determining it. Some want the comfort of a high quality RV, others Spartan comfort able to go almost anywhere and carry almost anything.Features important to some are seen as trivial by others, but everyone is willing to provide input without judgement.It’s been an interesting and educational process.

I have just been notified that due to delays in the construction of Austin’s expanded facility and the loss of several employees the build completion will be pushed out to July. I see a couple of months of delay now as a small price to pay to get it done right so I will use the time to continue to finalize details.

Build details that have changed since my original post:
· The single flex solar panel will be two traditional tempered glass rigid panels located to the rear of the PH, located to accommodate loading the canoe over the top of them.(Yes, I understand the power trade-off; the canoe will not be up there much of the time.)
· Wiring and an external plug will be installed to easily connect a future ground-mounted portable solar panel.
· Aluminess is now building a new-style front winch bumper to provide extra protection for the Sprinter DEF tank.The bumper will ordered and will be equipped with a new Warn winch, brush guards, tie-downs (to accommodate the bow of the canoe), a 10” LED light bar mounted under the crossbar, a 2” receiver hitch and Hella 500 halogen lights to replace the stock sprinter halogen fog lights.
· Power will be run to the back bumper to allow for quick connection of a portable winch that can be installed in the rear receiver.
· The original smaller Galley Box on the rear bumper has been upsized to the larger Deluxe Box with rails and an internal shelf set at Honda 2000 height.
· A Rotopax fuel or water container will be mounted on the back of the Deluxe Box.Two Rotopax will be ordered depending on the need at the time, one for water (I’m wondering if Jack Daniels can ride along in here…), and another for gasoline for the generator.With the Sprinter configuration the space available is 10”x20”x3.25”, only large enough to accommodate the 1 gallon Rotopax which are only available in white and red in this size.
· An exterior light will be installed over the exterior drivers-side-rear shower controls.
· Front fenders and rocker panels will be coated with Line X.
· There will be no built-in interior cooktop; rather a Partner Steel 2 burner break-apart hinge all aluminum propane stove will fill the need both inside and out.
· The small cabinet typically mounted at the sliding door opening in the 150S build has been eliminated and tie-downs will be strategically located inside to enable cargo of all sizes to be secured.(After all, it is a cargo van at heart and I will need the ability to use it as such on occasion.Not saying it will go there, but my 1974 Honda CT70 Mini Trail will just fit…)
· On board air will be provided by an ARB CKMTA12 air compressor installed in the engine compartment.
· All interior finishes have been selected and agreed to by both partners in this marriage.(You can determine for yourself how big of an item that can be!)

I am still looking at the Aluminess vs. Whitefeather Nerf Bars. I am undecided but I’m thinking the future will hold a road trip to Red Bluff CA for the (much stronger) Whitefeather product once we bring the van home.I am also still looking at awning options, for various reasons I would like to avoid the popular Fiamma and would prefer something separate that I can attach and deploy only when needed.I have seen a few thoughts on the forum, any suggestions?

I will do my best to provide pertinent comments as we go through the build process.BTW, the van has been named “Flint”, (remember my wife is a Geologist), for any of you Geologists, Rock Hounds or otherwise just interested in all-things Geological, you can check out her feed on Instagram at geoannalaurafitz.As I’m sure you’ll agree, she puts up some very interesting items.

Any and all comments are and will be appreciated!
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Old 04-17-2016, 12:06 PM   #20
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As I have stated before, the original build date was pushed out a bit, with the current target delivery in July, more on that when the dates get finalized.

In the meantime I have been busy working through the details and I thought it was time to provide an update.

Additional build details:
· The sound/electronics package has been finalized.Custom Sounds of Austin will be installing the back-up camera connected to a Kenwood head unit equipped with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and dual USB connections, replacement Alpine speakers up front for those supplied by MBZ and a pair of Rockford Fosgate speakers in the rear of the van.In addition, a straight-forward Viper security system will be installed, equipped with glass break and tilt/motion sensors.
· Gunvault Speedvault SV 500 and ShotLock CCW Solo Vault, draw your own conclusions.
· A few new security features from the UK are on order; we will see how they work out.See the Sprinter Security thread for details/updates on the following as I learn more:
o ECU Shieldhttp://www.tvl-ltd.co.uk/content/mercedes-sprinter-ecu-shield
o OBD Port Protectorhttp://www.tvl-ltd.co.uk/content/ecuobd-protection-device
o PedalBoxhttp://www.tvl-ltd.co.uk/content/auto-pedalbox

Pending decisions:
· I am still looking at Nerf Bars, with Aluminess and Whitefeather the two readily available options.In addition, Overland Sprinters tells me they are working on a true Slider, I plan to wait and see what they come up with before deciding.
· I am still undecided as to an awning, but for various reasons I like the Bus Depot version that does not mount permanently to the roof of the van.Any simple suggestions/experience on this topic would be appreciated; specifically I do not want to install a standard Fiamma style hard-sided awning.Why?I know the Fiamma works well; I just don’t want to look at it up there all the time.
· If you are looking into skid plates and underbody protection, here are two places to look:
o https://vancompass.com/
o http://www.overlandsprinters.com/

Details on the home front:
· These vans are tall!Per SMB:With the top raised and the Thule rack installed it would measure 11'. With the top lowered and the Thule rack installed it would measure 8'-10".One low-hanging oak limb has been removed and the chain saw is at the ready if more trimming is required to gain access to the back yard parking.
· A carport shelter has been sourced from Pacific Metal Buildings.Local Building Department issues have been identified and made part of the plan; site work modifications are underway to install a covered gravel parking area.
· There are several threads dealing with vehicle insurance on the thread, I would advise anyone looking into this topic to start there.We have long been customers of State Farm and I was relatively pleased with their response (keep in mind we live in the San Francisco Bay Area and rates are reflective of location.)For a new vehicle valued at $120,000 with a $500 comprehensive deductible and a $1,000 collision deductible and a “we don’t care if you take the vehicle off-road, we will come and get you wherever you are” emergency road service plan, the rate is $122 per month.This for an Actual Cash Value policy where the requirement to establish value is to be able to produce records of purchase and any modification costs made over time.I am still looking, but this will serve as the basis for comparison.
· I have gone to our local DMV office and have looked into the requirements for CA registration.Because it’s a Texas vehicle I will need to obtain and bring a current CA smog certificate with me plus DMV will need to “inspect” the vehicle prior to them issuing a Certificate of Compliance, all required prior to registering the vehicle.And of course there is the tax.CA credits the amount of tax paid in Texas (8.25%), but they do require payment of the difference (in my case another (0.25%). FYI, the CA DMV form asks specifically if the vehicle is being brought into the state within 1 year of purchase.I know there are other ways to handle the registration process involving taking delivery in other states, look to other threads here on the forum for more information on that topic if you are interested. Also, the form asks: “Since purchasing or acquiring this vehicle, were any body type modifications, additions and/or alterations (e.g., changing from pickup to utility, etc. made to this vehicle?”In my opinion, an interior build-out and the replacement of bumpers, tires and wheels does not qualify as “body type modifications”, thus I consider the purchase price of the base vehicle, invoiced and paid for separately, as the basis of value for DMV.
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