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Old 09-13-2017, 09:50 AM   #461
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Good stuff Fitz. Thanks for sharing!

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Old 09-13-2017, 01:28 PM   #462
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I have been taking notes in my van book on your experiences and add-ons since you started writing. It is your shared experience that has nudged me over the line. I ordered a 2017 Sprinter Sportsmobile in December. Will be ready in May. I have been reading the forum for a year, but signed up to log in to the forum yesterday to be able to print your checklist. I really appreciate your willingness to share the pro and con of the van. I have learned so much. A heart-felt thanks.
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Old 09-13-2017, 11:16 PM   #463
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86Scotty,

Just following your lead, and that of many others here.

salim,

Glad I was able to push you over the edge to join the forum, hopefully others will follow your lead. I'm glad you found some of what I and others have to say useful, soon you will be passing on your learning's also. Consider me (and the rest of the forum) standing by at this end, waiting to share in and learn from your experience.
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Old 09-25-2017, 09:16 PM   #464
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Repeating Myself

I recently posted the message below in a different thread as a response to a question regarding selecting between Texas and Indiana SMB locations for a new build. I thought this was an important one-year-later perspective and wanted my comments to be here in my build thread also:

And here comes a similar story regarding Paul (SMB President) in Austin. I recently had a problem with an electrical component installed as part of the build. I sent Paul an e-mail last Sunday evening and had a response from him Monday morning. We exchanged two more clarifying e-mails and the part went in the mail Wednesday and was delivered to my door Friday. From my experience over the past year in dealing with both Austin and Fresno this has been the norm and not the exception.

To the original question. I have no experience with Indiana, but my Austin experience was first rate through design, build and one year of ownership. Are they busy - yes. I am too and I'd much rather deal with busy than with the opposite extreme. Based on my experience I would gladly work with Austin again were I to do it all over again.
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Old 10-08-2017, 11:41 AM   #465
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Update to Posts #204 and #334

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fitz View Post
How about calling it a Mini-Meet-Up!

What do you call soon-to-be SMB Sprinter owners who have deposits down, build dates (tentatively - it all depends on MB delivery dates...) scheduled, and who are learning all about the patience required to get their new SMB? I'll go with Future SMB'ers until someone comes up with a better name!

Today Laura and I met with velo47 (Albuquerque NM), Mer1039 (Danville CA) and michaelf (Santa Rosa CA) and we went through Flint top to bottom, inside and out. It was a great time with like-minded people all doing something we enjoyed. Here is the group:


Update to Posts #204 and #334

Post #334 showed Mer1039 (Ron and Barb) visiting with their new SMB.



Yesterday michaelf came by and did the same with his beautiful new SMB!




velo47 (Matt and Katie), there is a pattern here! Please provide a build update and let's make a plan to close the loop and provide a final update with a picture of you and your new SMB!
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Old 10-08-2017, 01:37 PM   #466
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We're still van-less! on 7/27 we got word that the van was in reassembly at SC and it should be a month or so 'til it got to SMB-TX. Still waiting, probably delayed due to pesky hurricanes, etc. but no communication from MBZ regarding delivery. It is reassuring to see that Steadijib's 144" 4*4 low top, ordered in Sept 2106, arrived at SMB-West late Sept 2017. We ordered ours in Oct 2016, so are on a similar timetable (we hope).

We went to SMB-TX last week to finalize some details and look at some sprinters in production. They've moved into their new digs and have a lot more room. Still trying to decide on a couple big items like lithium vs AGM battery and Isotherm 130 vs Norcold 4E Fridge. We will return to Austin when the build begins and iron out everything.

We're planning a March trip to the bay area. Hopefully it will be in the van and we'll get together!
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Old 10-14-2017, 11:14 AM   #467
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Paint Penetration Treatment

The quote below is from Post #454, where I offered a one-year-of-ownership look back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fitz View Post
Today is September 8th, 2017. We flew to Austin and picked up Flint one year ago today.

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

Biggest disappointment:
SMBís 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
Forum member rsamco (Rick and Martha from Bend OR) stopped by on their way to SMB Fresno last week. It sounds like it was a very productive trip all around for them, I just wanted to pass on this feed back from Rick:

SMB-West is fully sealing all body cuts now (I saw it with own eyes).

That's great news! How about some first hand feed back regarding Texas and Indiana? Has anyone seen the same improvements at either of the other locations?
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Old 10-14-2017, 11:25 AM   #468
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We were in Austin a couple weeks ago finalizing (kinda) the build details on our van, and Brian Dollar assured us that SMB-TX is now rustproofing all body perforations. Thanks for bringing this issue to their attention.
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Old 10-15-2017, 11:42 AM   #469
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My use of "now" in the above:

SMB-West is fully sealing all body cuts now (I saw it with own eyes).

could be misconstrued: SMB-West told us that they have always fully sealed their body cuts.

To build on that: we were extremely impressed by the quality of workmanship at the Fresno facility. Every phase of build-out (from insulation, to wiring, to cabinetry, to upholstery) exhibited first rate quality.
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Old 10-30-2017, 12:12 PM   #470
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Side Ladder

Post #224 in the thread above describes the addition of the sand ladder recovery ramps/roof top platform that I installed.

Needless to say, a platform on top of the roof without ladder access is almost useless. Also, itís hard to clean the solar panels that are almost 9í off the ground without good access. I thought long and hard about installing an Aluminess ladder, but when I began dealing with Van Compass I also began a conversation with Mark and Rob about their plans to offer a Van Compass side access ladder. A ladder that lands on top of the rocker guard vs. wrapping around it to attach to the pinch seam below just seems like an inherently better off-road design to me, so I waited.

If you follow Van Compassís work you have seen their prototype ladder installed on the side of Robís red Sprinter. I stayed in touch with them as they worked with it; letís call it prototype #1 with what you see on their web site their production model. What you see here is prototype #2 that incorporates a mounting location for a Hi-Lift jack.

If you arenít aware, one of the really nice features of the Van Compass rocker guards is that they are designed to accommodate a Hi-Lift jack, with front and rear lifting points integrated into the design. But with this design feature comes the issue of finding a place to carry the Hi-Lift jack. In my case I wanted to utilize the ladder and the rocker guard as the mounting location. Mark and Rob and I had the conversation, what you see here is the result of them translating the concept into a design.

Overall View without the Hi-Lift jack bracket:



Overall View with the Hi-Lift jack bracket:



View of the bracket attached to the rocker guard where the Hi-Lift base sits and the ladder attaches:



Overall view from the rear:



I have seen comments questioning the closeness of the ladder to the side of the van, something I see as a non-issue. The use of flat rungs allows the ladder to be in tighter to the side of the van, which keeps everything closer and reduces the side protrusion. I find the flat rungs much easier on the feet; you simply step on the ladder with the ball of your foot. See below for pictures showing the standoff distance at the base and at the mid-point:




Because the ladder is solidly mounted to the rocker guard below, it changes the top attachment requirement. In my case with a RB low roof van with a penthouse the method of attachment at the top is simply two pieces of double-backed tape with NO PENETRATIONS through the painted surface of the van. Simple and solid, whatís not to like?




Here are three pictures of the ladder with the Hi-Lift jack installed:





And here is an overall View from the front with the Hi-Lift jack in place:



A couple of additional notes:

1. I added the two little ďkeep-the-honest-people-honestĒ padlocks to the mounting studs. If somebody wants to break them off and walk away with the Hi-Lift thereís not much I can do about it, keep in mind that the entire assembly is a bolted construction, thus locks can only go so far.
2. If you read posts #424 through #428 in the thread above you know that I planned to replace the standard length Hi-Lift jack handle with one that is longer and thus provides a bit more leverage. Hi-Lift supplies a piece of 1Ē schedule 10 pipe for the handle (I was wrong with what I said in post #428, Hi-Lift only supplies one handle length), what you see shown here is a longer piece of 1Ē schedule 40 pipe that I installed.

I particularly like the flat profile of the rung vs. a typical round bar as I find it much easier to climb on. Overall, I am very happy with this addition. Mark and Rob have come up with a really nice product here, one that I expect to be using for many years to come.
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