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Old 02-12-2017, 06:55 PM   #281
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Tim, I'm surprised that we didn't bump into each other at SMB Fresno. I was there last week too, checking on the progress of my build (they're about 3 weeks into it). SMB gave me an ETA of EMO March.

While I was at SMB, they told me that they were talking with MB regarding how to address the water seep issue at the side trim clips. So it's good that you took care of this.

As for El Charro, been going to the one in Lafayette for 30+ years. If you ever plan a SMB meetup there, I'm in.
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Old 02-12-2017, 09:11 PM   #282
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The mechanic I dealt with was well aware of the clip leak issue, it is a matter of what MB will let them do.

Sorry I forgot your build schedule. I was there Friday and would have looked in on things for you. Sounds like you were just there, so that is good.

Michael is thinking he will be in the area next month, I will coordinate with him and we will see about getting a group together at El Charro. MICHAEL, NO PRESSURE, BUT GIVE US SOME DATES TO WORK WITH!!!!
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Old 02-12-2017, 10:44 PM   #283
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DEF Update

For those of you paying attention to such things, here is an update on DEF consumption of a 2016 Sprinter.

Picked up on September 8th last year, Flint now has 8,162 miles on the odometer. I have added DEF three times:
1. @ 3,400 miles, 1,417 mpg (DEF)
2. @ 4,966 miles, 1,410 mpg (DEF)
3. @ 8,162 miles, 1,461 mpg (DEF)

Consistent usage. From what I have read elsewhere, DEF is no big deal in a modern Sprinter engine as long as you never let it get low. It is easy to find, easy to buy, and easy to add. I plan to top off about every 2,500 miles, easy to remember and represents about 3/4 full on the hard-to-find electronic output found on one of the settings of the steering wheel buttons.

BTW, fully loaded and driving at whatever speed seems appropriate, mileage on our most recent trip was 16.0 mpg.

See anything here as obvious as "DEF Level?" Gotta love German graphics...

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Old 02-13-2017, 10:57 AM   #284
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Saw you guys at Pinnacles this weekend. Weather was gorgeous just like that rig. Hope you guys enjoyed yourselves.
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Old 02-13-2017, 11:28 AM   #285
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Originally Posted by Fitz View Post

Michael is thinking he will be in the area next month, I will coordinate with him and we will see about getting a group together at El Charro. MICHAEL, NO PRESSURE, BUT GIVE US SOME DATES TO WORK WITH!!!!
It all depends on the build schedule. Supposed to start 2nd week of March. Planning on taking a few extra days to travel to Fresno to meet with Nick to sign off on final build specs. I should know more in the next week or so.
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Old 02-13-2017, 12:15 PM   #286
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Saw you guys at Pinnacles this weekend. Weather was gorgeous just like that rig. Hope you guys enjoyed yourselves.
You are right, it was a gorgeous day to be out and about and the Condors were flying at Pinnacles. Great day for a hike!

Sorry we missed you, would have enjoyed getting together to chat. Any chance your rig was the Falcon we parked by in the parking lot?
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Old 02-13-2017, 06:09 PM   #287
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Unfortunately no, that thing was pretty sweet. We were in a slightly built silver Taco. Made our way over to Mercey Hot Springs for some soak action afterwards. I normally prefer natural springs, but for a resort it's a pretty neat little spot.
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Old 02-16-2017, 11:13 PM   #288
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Penthouse Actuators

We picked up Flint in Austin on September 8th, 2016. The electric penthouse lifting mechanism worked fine (the PH went up even on the way up, and it came down even on the way down) for the first several months, but then we noticed a problem. The penthouse would go up evenly, but on the down cycle the actuators would get out of sync and by the time the PH bottomed out on the down cycle the driver’s side would be 4” to 6” lower than the passenger’s side.

I played with it a bit and discovered that if I put 84 lbs. (two 42 lb. bags of cat litter – the bags make a great dead weight!) directly above the crossbars on the passenger’s side the PH would come down evenly. I also pulled up the covering over the actuators & springs and determined the best places to apply spray lubricant to ensure that there was no binding, which was not an issue in my case.

This called for a deeper dive into the issue. Without going into a lot of detail, suffice it to say that I learned:

1. All actuators are not created equal, they all travel at speeds that vary a bit and SMB tests a batch of them to find a matched pair before installation
2. The actuators push on the up stroke, but actively brake on the down stroke. In other words, gravity is your friend and friction your enemy as the PH comes down
3. The speed of the motor/brake varies with the load, thus having any loads on top of the PH spread out evenly across the two sides is a good thing

I took a video of what was happening and sent it to Peter and Brian in Austin. They had me try a few things and they quickly determined that a warranty service call was necessary. They had me contact Peter in Fresno, I told him I wanted to come in on a Friday, and we scheduled a date four weeks out. I took the van in at the appointed time and they took it in the back and performed their diagnostics. They determined that the passenger’s side actuator was the problem in that it was coming down much slower than the actuator on the driver’s side. They measured the speed of the good actuator; they matched it to a new actuator that cycled at the same speed then they replaced the bad actuator with the new actuator. Problem solved!

I have seen several comments about the availability of service and the quality of the work at SMB facilities. I just wanted to take the opportunity to state here that my experience was nothing but positive. Paul and Brian and Cody in Austin paid attention to what my issue was and went out of their way to diagnose it via phone, pictures, video and e-mail. Once it was determined that action was warranted they put me in touch with Peter in Fresno. He and I communicated and we found a date that worked for both of us. I arrived at the appointed time and John was standing by ready to take care of me. Everyone was friendly and attentive, the quality of John’s work was top-notch, and I drove away a happy and satisfied customer. Do I wish there hadn’t been an issue – of course. Do I understand that these are complex machines with lots of moving parts that need to settle in and that there will be issues – yes.

For those of you who want to learn more about the actuators that power our PH tops, here is the link: http://www.linak-us.com/products/linear-actuators.aspx?product=LA31+HOMELINE

For those of you who want to go directly to the pertinent information, here it is:


Actuators lined up and ready to be cycled


The label on an actuator installed in a Sprinter


A look at what the information on the label is telling you


A general description of the actuator


Speed of travel loaded vs. unloaded



General information

Time will tell as I service test the repair by using it. I do know that I now know a lot more about how this particular system works!
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Old 02-19-2017, 11:27 AM   #289
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Penthouse Rooftop Use

Isn't it great when a plan comes together?

I have had a pickup with a rack of some sort and thus the ability to carry long items for as long as I can remember. When Flint came along one of the changes that came about was that the truck had to go.

I no longer need the ability to carry lumber, ladders, pipe and etc. nearly as often, but the need is still there, thus I went through the various roof-top options as we began the build process.

There is no denying that the Aluminess roof racks have a lot of appeal, but for me I decided having a load bar front and back was what I wanted, thus my design case was to keep everything low enough that I can still carry long items over the top of whatever I install permanently on the roof.

The down-side to all this is the height of our vans. My crossbars are 8'-10" from the ground, as I'm sure you all can appreciate that's a bit high for ease of loading/unloading.

The solution in my case came from Thule in the form of the Outrigger II, designed to help with loading Kayaks and canoes. I have yet to try it with my canoe, I'm saving that for another day, but I suspect that it will not work well for that simply due to the size of the canoe and the difficulty in getting the stern of the canoe up and over the side. I'm looking at the Yakima Rack and Roll Trailer for that, or possibly the Grumman canoe will need to find a new home.

Here is what the top of the van looks like with several pieces of 16' lumber on top. This isn't much of a load, but it proves the case.



I simply took a 6' step ladder along and used it to assist with the loading in the parking lot. The key to this was the Thule Outrigger II installed in the front load bar. The Outrigger fits inside the load bar and it provides a retractable extension that really makes this a simple process.




Once the load is positioned it's a simple matter to set the step ladder to the rear and to lift the load up and onto the rear load bar. Then to the front to slide it off the Outrigger and onto the load bar. Repeat as many times as required, push the Outrigger into the load bar in the retracted position, tie the load down, and off you go.

This will never replace a rack set up for forklift loading, but for what I need now it is perfectly adequate.

Here is the link to the Thule Outrigger II if you want to look closer. For me it has proven to be a simple and effective addition to the van.

https://www.thule.com/en-us/us/sport...ii-847-_-16192
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Old 02-19-2017, 12:41 PM   #290
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Fitz,
Regarding your post on actuators: I'd be curious to learn how SMB tests the actuators to find a matching pair. I would think that even the slightest variation in motor speeds would eventually result in uneven lowering (over many uses anyway). My top definitely doesn't come down evenly. Its usually the passenger side that lowers a bit more slowly. I read somewhere where raising/lowering the top 5x in quick succession helps reset the actuators. Sounds like that might have worked for someone out there. I'd also be curious how many other folks have experienced actuator differences and uneven top lowering. Thanks for the many posts.
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