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Old 08-28-2017, 12:24 PM   #451
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On my trek back from Agile to Oregon, I was amazed at the amount of bugs on the highways in CA. Spoiled Oregonian, we don't have that much up here.

So, not a Sprinter, but on my Ford: I open the door and stand on the inside step, careful to keep the soaked squeegee outside.

Works perfect for me. I can lean on the door and/or hold on to the grab handles.




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Old 08-28-2017, 05:37 PM   #452
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Or just try to stop at truck stops for fueling, as they usually have longer-handled squeegees.
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Old 08-29-2017, 12:21 AM   #453
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Been there, done that with the long handled squeegee, I even carry one with me. In my experience they typically leave lots of streaks and up on the tire I go for the final cleaning. I like a clean windshield, but then I'm the guy who straightens crooked pictures on the wall when I walk by.....
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Old 09-08-2017, 11:15 PM   #454
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One Year Look Back

Today is September 8th, 2017. We flew to Austin and picked up Flint one year ago today, see below for a picture of the happy new owners:




I thought I would take this opportunity to share some general thoughts and reflections:

Statistics:
· 2016 4wd MB Sprinter, RB 144” wheelbase, SMB Texas 150S build with powered penthouse
· 17,320 miles on the odometer
· Just a touch under 16 mpg overall (heavy build with lots of extras)
· 1,400 mpg (DEF)
· 67 nights spent to date

Biggest disappointment:
· SMB’s lack of treating the van body paint penetrations as part of the build, refer to posts #370 and #387 in this thread. This issue has received attention and I sent my specific information to SMB Texas; hopefully enough voices have been heard to cause a change. Overall, SMB was great to work with, I trust they have/will address this Quality Control item

Observations:
· Life is better with Flint
· We have no regrets about spending the money. No regrets
· Everyone associated with this community has been wonderful to work with, communicate with, deal with and get to know. You get the idea, we are glad we are here
· Meeting up with and/or travelling with other Forum members is great fun and should be done at every opportunity. Here is a recent picture of Flint and Gretta Van Grey (owned by VtSoundman) at Seven Devils Campground in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area in Idaho.




In addition, we got together with macmcintire and others at the 2016 Valley of Fire meet-up that Mac organized. Here is a picture of Flint (3rd from the rear) playing (and keeping up with) his bigger-brother Fords.




And here is one of Flint and Kong (owned by Dawghandler) at an event at the Hayward airport. If you have a military background and/or any interest in a fully-operational Vietnam-era Huey helicopter, contact Dawghandler for further details. It’s a great ride and a great cause…




In addition, we joined mkkdven at Pinnacles National Park and have met with several others here at Flint’s home in California. One thing we have found out is that if you like these vans you will like the people who like these vans
· It takes time to get used to a new van, don’t expect to take delivery and immediately know how to use everything. These vehicles are complicated! I put together a Flint User’s Guide for those times when I either forget or am not around, see the attached file for your reading pleasure/humor
· I thought the build would be done after we picked up Flint and then made stops for additions at both Aluminess and Van Compass on the way home – hardly! We are a year into it today and I still have a couple of things to do before I will consider the build “done” and the “maintenance period” begun. Resolve yourself to forever keep a to-do list because every time you learn about something new you will want to investigate doing it also
· We have had zero issues with the MB Sprinter. Flint has been absolutely reliable and dependable
· We had a few issues with the SMB build, all have been taken care of by SMB swiftly and under warranty with no questions asked
· We didn’t really have a concept of stealth camping when we picked up Flint. Now we do and we enjoy it far more than either of us would have guessed. Stealth camping is a paradigm changer as it lets you enjoy the entire day doing whatever you want to do without worrying about where you are going to stay that night, adding hours to the day and practically eliminating the hassle and pressure of finding a “camp” at the end of the day. Having this ability allows you to minimize trip planning ahead of time and removes the need to follow a well-thought-out planned and detailed schedule – not that that’s bad, it’s just nice not to have to
· When you start adding aftermarket items weight becomes an issue – just like an aging waistline. Pay attention to this, understand it, make accommodations for it and embrace it!
· When you think about weight don’t forget about what you put on the roof, remember the old saying about out of sight, out of mind. The powered penthouse is rated for 200 lbs., think about what is going up there and keep track of the total weight (Flint currently carries 109 lbs. on top of the penthouse). I really like the Aluminess rack products, but for me the Thule rails have done everything I have wanted them to do without the added weight of the rack
· Speaking of Aluminess, I am very happy with both the rear bumper with the swing arms and the front winch bumper with the winch installed and I have no regrets about installing either. The added bonus to the front bumper has been its use as a step when washing the windshield, something I do often
· For us, the small fridge has worked out fine and we have no regrets about not installing a larger unit. It takes some up-front planning, but with thoughtful packing everything we need fits just fine and we have gone for a full week without needing to restock
· Ditto the decision to not install an interior cooktop. Either the BBQ or the Partner stove can easily be brought out from their home in the Aluminess box on the back. What we have found is that with proper pre-planning the microwave is far more useful than we ever imagined and it gets used more and more as we transition away from thinking of it as useful only to heat up leftovers
· I have no regrets about not installing a Fiamma awning. I have two extendable tent poles and a sewn and grommeted piece of shade cloth that attaches easily to the penthouse that works fine for the sun; for the rain we will move on! This said, we seldom stay in one place for long and I would most likely have a different perspective if we were campers vs. travelers
· The off-road capability of the 4x4 system is better than I expected and it has always performed for us. Flint is not a rock crawler, but the system is easy to use and it is effective on moderate trails
· Speaking of off road, if there is much of that in your future add Van Compass and their skid plate package and rock sliders to your list. VC produces quality and confidence-inspiring products
· There is a lot to be said about the house battery and the system that supports it. For us, the single 4D AGM battery with two 100 watt solar panels and the high-idle option does everything we want for the way we use the van. We do not have a 2nd air conditioner and we do not travel with kids or pets, if we did a more substantial (possibly lithium) system would be a consideration

Conclusion:
· After one year we are happy SMB owners and we encourage everyone out there to use and enjoy yours. Hopefully we will see you out there on the road!

Laura and Flint on the way up to Skalkaho Pass in western Montana on the second half of our recent 2017 Solar Eclipse trip

Attached Files
File Type: pdf 01 Flint User's Guide 2.pdf (743.3 KB, 33 views)
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Old 09-09-2017, 10:24 PM   #455
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Laura and Flint on the way up to Skalkaho Pass in western Montana on the second half of our recent 2017 Solar Eclipse trip

We were there in June when the runoff was just slowing down. Lot's more water running then!
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Old 09-09-2017, 11:40 PM   #456
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Great picture! Hopefully a few less logging trucks when you were there - beautiful, but busy, road!
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Old 09-10-2017, 10:15 AM   #457
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Hey Fitz. Love reading all this stuff in your thread. Gotta ask what brand is that rear tire bag? Doesn't look like a Trasharoo to me. My Roo is falling apart and I need to replace it. Thanks.
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Old 09-10-2017, 12:36 PM   #458
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That is a dusty one-year- old Trasharoo.

The space it provides is invaluable. I consider it a "consumable" and whatever life I get out of it will be ok by me. I looked at making a tire-mounted support to put under it to take the weight but couldn't come up with anything that justified the lower cost of regular replacement. The top of the straps are the weak point, I watch them and plan to treat the next one with UV resistant spray when I install it.
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:37 AM   #459
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Fitz, If you had it to do over again would you do the pop-top or would you just do a high roof model? Of course, there are multiple trade offs - cost, travel height, garage height, insulation, upper cabinets, stealth, etc..
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Old 09-13-2017, 12:39 AM   #460
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Fitz, If you had it to do over again would you do the pop-top or would you just do a high roof model? Of course, there are multiple trade offs - cost, travel height, garage height, insulation, upper cabinets, stealth, etc..
We have no regrets with choosing the powered penthouse and were we to do it again we would make the same decision.

With that said, there are typically only two of us and we travel without the penthouse bed. In this configuration my 6'-0" frame can easily move around inside the van with only a bit of a slouch, a very real benefit that we didn't consider when making the original decision. We like sleeping down and we love raising the penthouse for the additional room, light and ventilation when it is appropriate. When it is too cold or too windy outside or we are in stealth mode the penthouse stays down. When one of the grandsons wants to come with us it will be a simple matter to put the bed back in and away we will go!

Regarding height, with the penthouse down the top of the Thule load rails are at 8'-10", still high for loading long items but much easier then if Flint were a taller fixed high top. I have carried lumber, ladders, pipe and etc. up top, all very doable and having the ability to do so is very important to me.

We use the van off-road and the height that it is attracts enough pinstripes in the paint along the sides as adjacent trees "reach out to touch". Most brushy trails are trimmed for jeep height vehicles, adding more height with a high top only compounds the problem. In addition, there is the issue of lean angle and center of gravity, when these tall vans lean over you will take notice and the taller the van the more pronounced it will be.

I have mentioned in previous posts that weight will be an issue as you add after-market accessories. Personally, I would rather add the weight in the form of a skid plate protecting the underside of the vehicle then in the form of something put in a cabinet that we don't really need just because we have room for it. Added storage is great, it all depends on where you are going and what you want to carry with you. We honestly have more room than we need/use in Flint and we constantly are asking ourselves the question "do we really need that" when deciding about carrying something else.

You also mentioned garage height. Few garages will handle either the regular body or the high roof and I ended up building a carport configured to allow the penthouse to be raised when under cover. We are fortunate enough to have room for the carport, and only a couple of trees had to be trimmed or removed to make way for it!

We all need to go through this thought process as we make these individual decisions, one of the strengths of this forum is that so much quality information and input is available. If we needed a 2nd air conditioner, if we always stayed on pavement and in developed campgrounds, then our decision might very well be different. But for us and the way we use the van, the penthouse has been the right decision.
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