Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 10-18-2012, 05:17 PM   #161
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Central Coast, CA
Posts: 192
Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

Tires, the tires man. I got stupid lucky.

I am sitting at the shop now and we have had an interesting afternoon.

The owner took it out for a test drive and felt the balance issue but felt that the pull to the right was a bigger issue. Pull to the right? Okay, I hadn't really noticed it but then I haven't been driving hands free a lot either.

So I have them check the existing tires before before he installs the new ones. He said that these tires and wheels are are hard to balance and he had to get a special three jaw chuck since the Hunter Load (road?) Force balancing machine didn't come with them and it is needed to do the Sprinter wheels properly, at least the 3500 and the dually wheels.

He comes over and tells me they have found the problem with the first tires since it is out by 2.5 ounces which I guess is a lot. So we feel good, until the 2nd wheel is checked. It is almost double the max allowable load force at 78 lbs vs normal worst case of 45 lbs out. He said that it is likely the overlap in the splice on the plies that created the problem. I asked what he could do and he said to take it back to the dealer. I don't think that will work so tell him to dispose of it.

So we know what the problem with the balance is. He said that the front was taking a beating because with the amount of steering wheel shimmy I felt that was dampened by the power steering that it was pretty bad.

So I have the printouts that I will send to SMB West since the front tires were balanced and an alignment was done before delivery. If you have had some vibration issues but thought that it might be something else because the tires were just balanced by SMB let this be a lesson.

So I went with Michelins because I keep hearing that they are the most round, as well as well performing, and had said that I didn't think that Continentals were as good on the SUV and light truck tire side. I was corrected and told that it was a long time ago that I had problems with Continentals and they are everyone's second favorite, after Michelin. So I stand corrected but there was a bad one in the pair here so...

They are still working on the front end and have found that the adjustable concentric bolts used for camber adjustment are not already installed as they had assumed since it was supposedly aligned by a shop specifically dealing with the van conversion. We will do a preliminary check and then order the parts and try to get them installed next week.

A test drive indicates that the front wheels are round again.

Reporting from the front, Chumley.
__________________

__________________
Charlie is the best antidote for a tough week at work. I get to see a different side of this great country and relax in different places on every trip. My vacation home is parked where money can't buy residence. Life is a long journey and my magic carpet is named Charlie.
Chumley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-19-2012, 12:23 AM   #162
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Central Coast, CA
Posts: 192
Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

I would like to finish up the tire and alignment story now that it is all done. I ended up sitting at the alignment shop for about 3 1/2 hours because they really took the time to get it right, they seem to have good resources and do their research. I stayed and waited since it is 40 miles from home and it was slow at the shop so they were more available to talk than usual.

So first thing is that the van drives night and day different. As the kids text it is "OMG" good. Actually I guess it's normal but it was bad enough for the first 1,800 miles that it is a huge contrast. Besides the
tire balance the front end feels much more planted now. They were able to take 0.8 degrees of positive camber out and it is now only .1 degree positive. Just so you know, I don't know how much difference just a single degree makes, or for that matter .8 degrees, but I knew that it had too much positive camber and now it is almost neutral. As the shop owner said the positive camber can make it feel like it is on it's tippy toes.

I was taught a bit about road force balancing. Apparently you can balance a tire that is not round to the point where it makes a basic balancing machine believe that it has done its job. The Hunter Road Force machine essentially also measures how round the tire is and at the same time the wheel too. So even if the previous alignment company got the balance right it would still bounce down the road. Maybe one of you can explain this better than I can.

The tire would be considered defective and if I could go back to the dealership I guess I would but it's just not worth it. I kept the good tire since it is not defective, just not as well balanced out of the mold as it could have been. I guess that this does confirm some of the comments about the stock Continental tires I have read.

I am assuming that the van is so rear heavy that it helped throw off the camber, it was out of factory spec that's for sure. Maybe they are all delivered like that since I do remember it looking kind of knocknee'd when I first met the van.

This is not meant to be another knock on Sportsmobile, they are victims in this too and I will be sending them the report I have. I think that they may want to talk to their front end shop since they should have caught the issues if they had decent equipment. I effectively paid for the balancing and alignment 2x and spent my afternoon getting it redone.

If any of you have what you think might be a tire balance issue but was told that the tires were just balanced I think you may want to have them double checked. It is not a lot of money compare to replacing worn suspension parts over time.

I have the reports scanned in for anyone who might want to send me an e-mail and knows how to read them better than I do.

Thanks.

Chumley
__________________

__________________
Charlie is the best antidote for a tough week at work. I get to see a different side of this great country and relax in different places on every trip. My vacation home is parked where money can't buy residence. Life is a long journey and my magic carpet is named Charlie.
Chumley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-22-2012, 03:44 PM   #163
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Central Coast, CA
Posts: 192
Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

We have named our van. I guess it is something that many do and we usually give a nickname or abbreviate the name of our vehicles.

Our van was always going to be named "Charlie", as in Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley", but decided to change up the spelling. We added Phoenix since Charlie was put on life support for a few weeks while he was gutted and brought back to life by SMB West.

So we now drive around in Charlie Phoenix, commonly known here as just Charlie.

We have been driving around our community and since we about 15-20 miles from another community we have been able to get out on the freeway and enjoy the new ride. The new tires and alignment make a huge difference in driving comfort for the driver. My wife says she feels that it is a little smoother but it was the driver that really felt it the most with the steering wheel shimmying about and the vibration coming up through the pedals. The "tippy toes" feeling of the steering is gone now and it just feels less tiring to drive normally. Overall a huge improvement in driving quality.

We have been working on the van doing things like putting in the safe myself as well as well as cleaning it up and putting on a couple of favorite accessories.

I almost always install a "Wheelskins" leather steering wheel cover on our vehicles to make the steering wheel feel better to the hand and fatten it up a bit. They don't offer a Sprinter model so I had to take measurements and get a custom fit one made. Of course I grab a cloth tape measure (like for garments) and use it like my normal tape measure and the cover comes in way too small. I called and they instantly sadi "did you check to the tape measure to see where the measurement begins?". I guess some of us think that the measurement begins at the end whereas on a lot of cloth tapes they start up to an inch from the end, like mine. They were great and made another one and had it back to me in about a week. The leather cover takes a long time to install and it fits very snugly so it looks a lot like a factory installed one if you take the time. Usually I order a 2 tone but this time I just went with straight black and it is nice. BTW: I put one of these over my leather covered steering wheel on my Toyota Tacoma, which came with a leather covered wheel, becasue it made it thicker and feels good.

We installed a "Pelican Case" box instead of a metal safe since it was available in the right size and is in reality about as tough. The lower end of the safe market, which are the small ones that fit here, can easily be pried open or knocked open. These are really just to stop the amateur thief and make them make a lot of noise and wasted effort to slow them down. It works really well for us and holds a couple lap tops and other valuables easily. Truth be told, the metal safes were actually cheaper but this works for us.

We made a little flap to cover the Kenwood Stereo unti in the dash since it cannot be dimmed enough a night to not be a distraction. The installer offered to put in a switch to turn off the display since he agrees that this can be a problem for some.

I know that I will likely have to go back to SMB West again sometime after our vacation because of a couple of items. One is that the blind without the guide cord is all folded up on itself. I guess the guide cord is there so it folds up properly in a stacked manner. They will have to pull apart the shower stall a bit but I think it will be worth it in the long run. Everything else seems to be holding together with out limited use to date.

We went out to sushi and Vietnamese food in the van last weekend with the dogs in tow and it was very comfortable. We put up the table on the tripod in the back and watched a DVD. This is about as close to trying it out before our trip as we can get with our schedules. This is working just as we had envisioned so far and am loving it.

BTW: you get a lot of looks and stares.

Thanks.

Chumley
__________________
Charlie is the best antidote for a tough week at work. I get to see a different side of this great country and relax in different places on every trip. My vacation home is parked where money can't buy residence. Life is a long journey and my magic carpet is named Charlie.
Chumley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-23-2012, 01:03 AM   #164
Senior Member
 
windguy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: SoCal
Posts: 249
Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

Hey Chumley,

Thanks for the updates.
Sounds like you're starting to get to a happy place with your rig.
BTW - the van looks very nice. I've been going over the pics.
I've got a few build questions for you.

I checked some of the older pics and I'm confused with the galley.
The first build pics show a much larger counter top with lots of space to the right of the sink.
I don't see that now. Did you change the design?
EDIT - I attached the pic that is messing me up. I guess this is of someone else's van.

Regarding the windows, I seem to recall that you said you got windows all around in the van from the factory with the lighter tint. And it appears that the only windows that have ventilation are the ones on the driver's side. Are those awning type windows or sliders?

How is it using the microwave mounted up high. Is it hard to reach and see what's in there or to clean?
I like how it's up and out of the way not taking up valuable below counter space.

What model porta potty did you get?
I didn't see it in any of the pics but I'm assuming you'll store and use it in the shower stall

What size fridge did you put in under the counter?

I'm sure I'll have more questions later.
Thanks
Attached Thumbnails
Week 5 of Build.jpg  
windguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-23-2012, 07:51 AM   #165
Senior Member
 
tonyvoudy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: North Georgia
Posts: 212
Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by windguy
Regarding the windows, I seem to recall that you said you got windows all around in the van from the factory with the lighter tint. And it appears that the only windows that have ventilation are the ones on the driver's side. Are those awing type windows or sliders?
From the pictures they look like awning windows. Would that mean the "other van pic" you posted had slider windows because the the passenger sliding door? I never added a window on the passenger side so did not investigate that as an option.

tv
tonyvoudy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-23-2012, 10:38 AM   #166
Senior Member
 
windguy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: SoCal
Posts: 249
Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonyvoudy
Quote:
Originally Posted by windguy
Regarding the windows, I seem to recall that you said you got windows all around in the van from the factory with the lighter tint. And it appears that the only windows that have ventilation are the ones on the driver's side. Are those awing type windows or sliders?
From the pictures they look like awning windows. Would that mean the "other van pic" you posted had slider windows because the the passenger sliding door? I never added a window on the passenger side so did not investigate that as an option.

tv
that pic I grabbed from Chumley's album and write-up must be from another van because there's an extra window, I think, and they have ventilation. It must be an EB size van too. I was told by SMB that you can have an awning type window on the passenger side but they put a limiter so you can't open it to where the door will hit it. Or use a slider type opening and not worry about the door issues.
windguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-23-2012, 03:44 PM   #167
Senior Member
 
kmessinger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Disguised as a fat guy, deep inside a secret bunker, drinking martinis, playing rock and country.
Posts: 488
Send a message via Yahoo to kmessinger
Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

I have two awning type windows on the right side. One replaced the original glass that was in the door and the other is in the next panel. As far as I know, it does not have a limiter. It would be a good idea.

Regards,

Keith
__________________
2008 2500 Sportsmobile West conversion, badged Mercedes, 22B package, accessory group, adjustable idle control, sway bar upgrade, koni shocks, daily drive.
kmessinger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-24-2012, 12:35 AM   #168
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Central Coast, CA
Posts: 192
Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

Hey Guys,

My van came with factory installed windows for the sliding door and the 2 rear doors. I thought that three remaining windows I added would be operable awning type windows but the window that ends up behind the sliding door was actually fixed. Apparently the longer wheelbase models will support the operable windows with a limiter but the RB will not, even with a opening travel limiter. This is what I was told when I asked why the window didn't open after I was led to believe it would. I was told by the Sales/PM guys that he made a mistake in telling me that. I am okay with that but if someone else got an operable window then I would have liked it.

Windguy,
We have not used the microwave yet but you are right and I think I will be very careful with a full bowl up there. It is not as high as it might look but still a spill is at face level.

We have the Thetford "Curve" portta potti and it looks great and is comfortable to sit on but I have not used it (just tried it on so to speak...). SMB provides a nice upholstered cover so it all looks very nice and is bungied in place, or in our case we asked for a nylon webbing strap since I have a hard time with relying on a bungy cord to hold a vessel full of my processing results.

The refer we ended up with was the Indel Webasto (Isotemp) Cruise 100 which is a 3.5 c.f. refer that fits in the space of the 2.7 c.f. refer. Apparently they have to be special ordered now (or even discontinued) but they are tall and narrow. The key was narrow because the limiting factor was how far out the door swung before it hit the cabinet across the aisle. In our case the 24" deep shower stall was across the aisle so it made made us go with a narrow door so we could open it the whole way and not just partially (I don't even think SMB would install a refer that wouldn't open all of the way). An added feature was that this unit had a fan on top that actively exhausted the area behind the cabinet and blows out the warm air through a grill on the top of the unit. All in all very nice but it was Italian accessory expensive. I would do it again though, so far...

It's been almost 2 weeks without anything new really popping up so I am keeping the fingers crossed and hoping the worst is well behind us. SMB did complete a complex build and when it all works it is very nice.

I spoke with the Customer Service guy and he is happy that everything is going more smoothly. He said that there was a lot to fix and it could have been overwhelming but they took it a bit at a time and got it done. I do have to go back for at least one more thing but I am okay with that now.

I understand that I am supposed to get a call or report card to fill out about my SMB experieince but have not seen anything like that yet. I wonder if I might be an exception to the rule?

The spending is certainly not done yet. I seem to be able to find a specialized product for about everything I can think of and did not want to haul stuff back and forth to the house so the rig will always have its own pots, pans, utinsels, etc... I got a really nice travel bar...

Having fun.

Chumley and Charlie Phoenix
__________________
Charlie is the best antidote for a tough week at work. I get to see a different side of this great country and relax in different places on every trip. My vacation home is parked where money can't buy residence. Life is a long journey and my magic carpet is named Charlie.
Chumley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-24-2012, 08:58 AM   #169
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 111
Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

Chumley -

I finally have to chime in here.

"...relying on a bungy cord to hold a vessel full of my processing results..." made coffee come out of my nose and all over my keyboard.

Thanks man.

Steve W
SteveW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-24-2012, 11:19 AM   #170
Senior Member
 
windguy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: SoCal
Posts: 249
Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmessinger
I have two awning type windows on the right side. One replaced the original glass that was in the door and the other is in the next panel. As far as I know, it does not have a limiter. It would be a good idea.
Regards,
Keith
thanks for the input Keith.
maybe since your build was an early Sprinter conversion SMBW added the limiters later on after some windows got hit when customers didn't close them enough.
If you had to do it again, would you add the awning to the slider window?
__________________

windguy is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:16 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.