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Old 07-28-2016, 08:28 PM   #31
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Waiting for a new SMB build can take a long time, make that a REALLY long time.
There have been several postings lately from (like me, mostly new) forum members who have decided to take the plunge – to them I can only say Congratulations!
With my build just now underway it got me to thinking about the process we have gone through over the last year while waiting. Some thoughts/reflections/recommendations I thought I would share regarding use of the time during the waiting process:
· Read all you can on the forum, no matter the topic or the vehicle.Find things that interest you and let the ideas and experiences expressed here influence your decisions.The idea you want to research is not always easy to search for by topic – read everything you can make time for and you will be surprised what will come to you along the way.
· Contact forum members with related interests and ask questions, you will be amazed at the quality of responses, suggestions and experiences-based information you will get.
· Get organized and record your decisions.I used e-mail for most of my discussions with SMB, that worked well for me but we are all different.I tried to follow the philosophy of one e-mail string per topic and once a decision was made and a cost agreed to I entered it into a spreadsheet I built that kept track of decisions and calculated a running total cost.(Remember the advice you consistently see throughout the pages of the forum – this is an expensive hobby/way of life, do your homework and bring your checkbook!)When you make a decision you will think you will never forget the detail, but nine months later you will be glad you wrote it down and saved the information.You might think you have it all decided when you first place your order, but my experiences says that the original order only serves as a starting point and after that you really get serious.
· The electronic/entertainment/communication/sound package can range from nothing to extremely complicated and the various SMB locations provide varying levels of support.Do your homework and understand what you want, who is going to install it and when in the process it will be done.
· Run down the related “must do” issues that can burn up a lot of your time.Items such as financing, your home state DMV rules and the registration process, sourcing insurance for your private/commercial/van/RV or whatever you decide to identify it as, and etc.These sorts of items need to be dealt with before or immediately after you take possession, don’t brush them off as they can take a lot of time and a bad/wrong decision can have a big impact, financial or otherwise.
· Research future aftermarket additions, either to set aside the $’s in your budget or to ensure that the build will accommodate them down the road.Think hard about what additions you may ultimately want and then determine if you want to make accommodations during the build.For example, I am taking the van to Aluminess to have a front winch bumper installed after I pick it up from SMB.The build at SMB includes pre wiring for both the winch and the light bar that will be mounted on the bumper brush guard.In my case I purchased the light bar myself and then I sent the wiring harness that came with it to SMB for them to install and the light bar to Aluminess for them to fabricate custom mounts.
· Make a plan on what you are going to do immediately after you pick up your new rig.Are you going to trust that everything is perfect and hit the road immediately or will you stick around in the area for a day or two so you can try out everything and have minor items fixed?Items such as near-by campgrounds and stores such as Camping World, Walmart and etc. are easier to locate when you are home planning your trip than when you are in a strange city worrying about your new van.Think about what you have and what you need and how to assemble it all for that first trip home.Want to know what your new ride weighs, most likely per axle?Knowing where a nearby public scale is located would be useful information to have.
· Understand where you are ultimately going to park your new rig.In my case it will be under an adult deodar cedar tree that has to be one of the dirtiest trees I have ever had experience with.To accommodate this I have evicted the Nissan Frontier, cut several limbs off an adjacent oak tree, moved a sprinkler line, re-graded the site, installed a RR Tie border, stapled down a sheet of Mirafi geotextile fabric and then topped that with a 4” layer of compacted 3/8(-) brown rock.I am currently going through the Building Department plan check process with plans to install a 10’ high open-sided 12’ x 21’ metal carport, more on that when I have something to show.Some progress pictures:
Pre-SMB days, before I cared so much about the vehicle that will be parked here:

Current condition, waiting on the building permit for the carport:

In summary, it’s a great and time-consuming process. The other day my wife asked me if I was getting anxious now that the build was finally starting and I can honestly say my answer was no.I’ve learned over time that the old saying “plan the work and work the plan” really does work – now it’s time to see as it is put it to the test!
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Old 07-30-2016, 09:41 AM   #32
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A little further information regarding the Fog Light question raised in #'s 14, 16 & 17 above:

From sprintguy over on the Sprinter-Forum: "I put on a stock unit (Aluminess front bumper) and it does take the place of the front impact bar, I was also able to wire the fog lights to the factory system (same wattage). Pretty easy to install...lost the headlamp washers...the collision sensor just needs to be aligned properly behind the plastic panel."

I won't know for sure until I do it, but it looks like all will be well with the fog light wiring up front.
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Old 07-31-2016, 12:37 AM   #33
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Thanks for posting all this. I am considering moving in a similar direction so your insights have been helpful. Look forward to seeing your finished ride.
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Old 08-04-2016, 11:01 PM   #34
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The delivery date is set, this is starting to get real!

I think it could have been done a bit sooner, but we decided that travel from Austin would be better the week after the Labor Day weekend than if we picked up just before the weekend and then headed out for San Diego.

Official start date: July 25th (Custom Sounds installed the stereo, back-up camera and alarm the week before)
Pick up the week of September 5th, me to decide based on travel plans, most likely 9/8. That's my mother's birthday (she is gone), so it somehow seems like a good day to start this new chapter in our lives.

Because we agreed we could pick up anytime that week I'll call it 6 weeks for the build.

I'm still going to wait a bit and follow the progress before making airline reservations....
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Old 08-06-2016, 10:57 PM   #35
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End of week 2 build pictures, or, what it looks like to take a perfectly good (brand new) van and cut four big holes in it! The three windows are in (there was no window in the sliding door), the penthouse is under way, and the new stereo has been installed and is comfortably resting squarely in the center of the dash waiting to be put to good use.

Looking out the back of the penthouse opening.



Looking out the front of the penthouse opening.



The view from the front - new stereo with integrated back-up camera and Apple CarPlay.

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Old 08-09-2016, 03:18 AM   #36
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sweet. You must be stoked. Following along on this one because I have some similar intentions.
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Old 08-09-2016, 11:13 PM   #37
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Yesterday Wrinkledpants brought it to the Forum's attention that SMB is now offering a lithium battery upgrade for Sprinter builds. (Thank you!) I am a month away from picking up my Sprinter, but the idea needed to be explored so I sent the following message to Brian in Austin:

See below (I had pasted in a screen print from the SMB website describing the lithium option) for something just called to my attention on the SMB website.

What can you tell me about lithium batteries and my build?
My van does have the additional alternator bracket, so that part is covered.
I might be interested at this time if the delivery date is not impacted. Chances are delivery would be impacted and thus the realistic question is this: What, if anything, can be done now as part of the build to accommodate conversion to lithium batteries in the future?

Brian's same day response:

This means a second alternator added, an external regulator and a different configuration of the charging system. We don't carry the batteries in stock and would have to pull out of production, this will delay at least a month. All an estimation based on when we could have the batteries delivered to us. Obviously you're going to keep the van well over ten years so our question back is it worth it to you to delay over a month to get the upgraded lithium system? The cost would be roughly $6,000.

In regards to future planning it can still be done but the cost will be higher because you won't be receiving a credit for the existing batteries. The price on the website is the assumption we would be crediting you back for the AGM batteries. Please let me know any additional questions Paul and I can address.

And my response in turn:

Thank you for the information, please proceed with no change. Five or six years down the road when the existing battery is in need of replacement will be the time to ask this question again, it sounds like there is nothing to incorporate into the build now to facilitate a change then.

If I were still in the planning stages my response might be different, but there is a time in every project to stop making changes and get it built and for me that time is now. I'll be following along and learning more on the lithium subject in the future, in the meantime we will be spending the referenced $6k putting diesel in the van and having it take us places!
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Old 08-10-2016, 11:13 AM   #38
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Sounds like for your needs you made the smart choice. I think the value of lithium really comes from the weight savings or a need for lots of Ah for one reason or another. We'll need the Ah for the induction stove and prolonged periods in cold weather without any solar. Plus, I have to believe that if you wait until you either need lithium, or your AGM's die, the technology will likely be much better and cheaper.

You must be stoked to be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!
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Old 08-10-2016, 10:23 PM   #39
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wow looking at your photos I wonder if that's my van in front of yours - mine is a pebble grey, 144, low top 4x4 - scheduled to be finished towards the end of September - sure hope so - I ordered it in August of 2015
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Old 08-11-2016, 12:13 AM   #40
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Wrinkledpants,

Thanks for your thoughts. From the little I've read it's obvious you know more about this topic than I, thus I appreciate your input.

"prolonged periods in cold weather" THAT statement reminds me of growing up in Iowa. Here in the Bay Area I go to the snow to visit, but I don't overstay my welcome!

And yes, we are stoked. As any of us who have or who are going through this process know, it's a long time coming!

Davidboco,

What a coincidence! I checked to see if I had any other pictures with your van in them, but what you see is all I have. Keep the rest of us posted on your progress.
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