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Old 07-17-2017, 11:30 PM   #401
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XL Storage Box Protection

The XL Storage option is a great addition to have if you are moving the spare tire from under the van to the rear bumper. In our van, this is where all of the essential “stuff” goes that needs to be onboard but that doesn’t require ready access. In our case, this is where a bow saw, winch equipment, tool boxes, jumper cables, tires chains, blue tarps, a spare water pump, a water purifier and etc. are to be found.

It wasn’t long after beginning to take the van off road that we discovered just how low the XL box hangs on the underside of our van. The storage is wonderful, but it comes with a price…

The box has accumulated its share of dents along the way, but at some point an immovable object met with a backing van and the result was not pretty.





This is about when we discovered that the box construction is not as robust as one might hope. This led to a conversation with Austin and their (easily obtained, Paul and Brian were a pleasure to deal with) direction to take the van to Fresno for warranty service. I got in touch with Peter in Fresno, we set a date, and the XL storage box was reattached.

SMB’s response and service was great, but once was enough and thus I began exploring options to prevent this from happening again. Everything Van Compass has done for me has been top quality, thus when I was there having them install the rear shocks and leaf springs we had a conversation, the results of which can be seen in the following pictures:






Rob does nice work, doesn’t he?

michaelelf from Santa Rosa just picked up his new Sprinter in Fresno (Congratulations!) and he took it down to Van Compass for some of their products, thus Rob had just seen a recently built Fresno XL Storage Box when he worked on my van. His comment: Mine is deeper and bigger than Michael’s. I don’t know if this is a difference between the two build locations or if seeing my damaged box resulted in a design change, but Michael’s 2017 Fresno build is 12” deep x 25” wide x 14” long while my 2016 Austin build is 17” deep x 26” wide x 26” long. This is definitely something to consider if you are in the new build process.

Were I to do it again, this is most likely a case where less is better and given the choice I would discuss having a shallower box installed as part of the build of a 4wd Sprinter. But I am down the road on that decision and I am very happy with the skid plate you see here and the ample and secure storage that is now protected by it.

Here is the finished product in perspective:

From the back:


And from the side:



Our recent trip up to Coyote Flat proved the effectiveness of the design and installation, with several well-earned scratches and scrapes on the bottom of the plate with no resulting damage.
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Old 07-17-2017, 11:57 PM   #402
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Fitz, I'm not 100% sure on this, but ISTR that the box can be ordered in a shallower depth for better clearance. Do you know if that is the case? Did you consider making it shallower?
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Old 07-18-2017, 12:10 AM   #403
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I did not do my homework when I ordered the XL Storage. I knew what it was and I ordered it, I didn't know enough at the time to ask about the dimensions. Hopefully this post will keep someone from doing the same. Very happy with what I ended up with, but I would have preferred to have gone into it with my eyes wide open.
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Old 07-18-2017, 02:16 AM   #404
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Thanks, friend. And thanks for all the hard work you have put into this thread. It is really valuable to those of us whose builds are coming behind yours.
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Old 07-18-2017, 07:17 AM   #405
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Wow thanks for that! We didn't order that option simply because we wanted to keep the spare down there.

Fitz - are you using anything special to level the van when offroad? Or are you just finding rocks and other nearby items to place under tires?
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Old 07-18-2017, 08:03 AM   #406
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Wrinkledpants,

I carry some of the plastic snap-together leveling blocks, plus a couple of pieces of 3/4" plywood cut to the same size. They are a bit bulky but they are lightweight and can be stacked in a ramp configuration to adjust the height. Simpler than looking for rocks or firewood, although I will use either if they are ready to hand. See the picture below to see where they are stored.

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Old 07-18-2017, 03:37 PM   #407
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Tim, this thread is amazing...40+ pages of serious knowledge (and growing). VC does do some amazing work. I'll be having them ship down some leaf springs, front shocks, and bump stops at some point this fall/winter. Looks like a trip to SLO is in order to have one of their trusted friends do the install. Might have to see is Mark can fab a skid plate for my aux A/C...but that'd require at 20 hour drive to ID instead of a 5 hour trip south. Long term goals I guess.

Question about items in the Aluminess box for you or any others to chime in: Any issues with heat build-up in what seems to be a sealed, black pressure cooker? I don't carry propane, but have some reservations about putting plastic leveling blocks and my Cleanwaste porta-potty in there. Any issues with warping or getting brittle especially in 100+ temps?
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Old 07-18-2017, 04:21 PM   #408
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelf View Post

Question about items in the Aluminess box for you or any others to chime in: Any issues with heat build-up in what seems to be a sealed, black pressure cooker? I don't carry propane, but have some reservations about putting plastic leveling blocks and my Cleanwaste porta-potty in there. Any issues with warping or getting brittle especially in 100+ temps?
Michael,

I have had no issues with heat build up in the box. This past weekend we experienced elevation changes from 300 ft to 10,000 ft and temperatures from the mid 40's to hours at 107 degrees driving across the Central Valley.(GREAT TRIP!). I made a point of checking items in the box and there were no issues. The lighter fluid container expanded a bit and there was no propane canister venting.

Chris is an advocate for installing vents and he did a nice job of doing so in his box, I just haven't been convinced of it yet. That may be the result of me working in a refinery....

As far as the plastic items are concerned, I consider them expendable and if they get brittle and have a shorter lifespan as a result, then so be it. Putting the weight of a fully built Sprinter on the leveling pads provides a good service test and I often find them bent after use, but they seem to come back to form after sitting in the box for a while. Maybe in this case the heat is good!
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Old 07-19-2017, 12:29 AM   #409
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Skid Plate Scratches

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fitz View Post
Our recent trip up to Coyote Flat proved the effectiveness of the design and installation, with several well-earned scratches and scrapes on the bottom of the plate with no resulting damage.
I thought I'd follow up on the above statement with a couple of pictures of the installed, and used, skid plates. I'm not sure how well details will show up in the pictures, but here goes!

The point is that they work. Sprinters have limited articulation and clearance, thus if you want to venture out where the rocks are the added protection is well worth consideration.

Here is the engine skid plate. We typically do a good enough job of wheel placement to avoid contact here, but sometimes it can't be avoided. The small mark in the center is actually an indentation, glad it is here on the plate vs. on what is protected behind the plate. I wouldn't be without this if I had a second alternator and went some of the places we have gone.



Here is the fuel tank skid plate, protecting the plastic fuel tank above it. The scrape mark down the length of it speaks for itself.



And here is the latest addition, seen at the rear in the above two pictures, the skid plate protecting the XL Storage Box. This was its first time on the trail, as you can see it did its job. Considering its location down low in the rear, I expect this plate to get the most use.



This added protection gives us the confidence we need to take the van to some places we would otherwise not go. If we always stayed on maintained roads they would not be needed, but for my "Geologist On Board - We Stop For Rocks" wife that simply isn't an option!
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Old 07-19-2017, 07:44 AM   #410
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Like the skid plates but I would have some concern about reducing airflow especially around the 2nd alternator. Advanced RV changed to a bigger Delco-Remy alternator with a cooling fan because the Nations Starter alternators were apparently failing some from overheating. I have no idea what the failure rate was but it would make me a little nervous to then reduce or eliminate the air flow around it. I wonder if you could say the same thing about the transmission???
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