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Old 07-29-2014, 02:22 PM   #231
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Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

Chumley,
I have to ask how you feel about the van now?
Was it all worth it?
Do you enjoy the van?
Bitter taste gone, etc?
Maybe you have posted somewhere else, and I missed?
We are having some "issues" with sportsmobile west and I am trying to determine how much fight and effort I am willing to put in.
Other option is to simply sell and start again with someone else.
I will start a thread regarding my experiences as soon as I have all the information and options to do so.
Thanks Dave
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Old 08-04-2014, 02:54 PM   #232
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Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

Hello Dave,

I have been trying to finish a multi-part post on what has worked for us and what didn't in our build. I am just so busy that I can't seem to get any traction but do drop in here from time to time to see what's going on these days with everyone. This place has a great bunch of people and really became a second home (cyberly speaking...) during my build since members here could relate to what I dealt with. I still chuckle at time times when I think about it starting out as a short build diary...

I am sorry to hear that you might be having problems. I hope you can work them out because I know that SMB west does want you to be happy, unfortunately it appeared in my build that the shop ran a bit renegade and the office had a lot of work to do to keep up with it or something like that... I heard that Jonathan is now top dog but I am not sure what that means. I hope it is the same if not better since my future comfort in Charlie relies heavily on SMB West standing behind their product since some issues I currently have may present themselves past the normal warranty period.

Anyway, maybe you could get that thread going and let us know where the problems lie. Whether they were issues in understanding the build, proper execution by the shop or quality. I know that SMB will check on this site and they are have made some changes to improve things, just wonder how those improvements are working out for everyone.

I will try to get in here and update some things, I am sorry I have been lax in responses. I write a bi-weekly column for the local paper, helping on some political campaigns, working on a plan to improve tourism in our community and bring attention to our local wine region. A lot of writing so sometimes I just don't feel like doing more but I feel that this site has a lot to offer and again there are those great people here - and at SMB West.

Thanks.


Chumley
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Old 08-26-2014, 08:07 PM   #233
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Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

Chumley

What an absolutely profound and useful thread. I find your honesty and willingness to share your experiences very noble on your part. You include introspection of your own value system and qualify your responses when you identify that you are ticked off and your emotions are in play. I highly recommend that anyone interested in purchasing from SMB roll back to page one and read this thread in its entirety. My most important take-away is that SMB is willing to work on problems even as severe as the ones you encountered, which were extreme.

Myself I am working with Brian at SMBW to take my $2000 deposit on a RB 4x4 sprinter built that will be similar to yours - I am looking at a floorplan inspired by the RT Agile, but I want it substantially enhanced - propane delete, all electric, no generator. As I am an electrical engineer this is my strong area so I know I can make it work even if I need to do all the design myself though I bet the SMB folks will handle most of the details.

Again, thanks for the service you have rendered to us all by your documentation.
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Old 08-27-2014, 09:38 AM   #234
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Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sprinter4WD
Chumley

What an absolutely profound and useful thread. I find your honesty and willingness to share your experiences very noble on your part. You include introspection of your own value system and qualify your responses when you identify that you are ticked off and your emotions are in play. I highly recommend that anyone interested in purchasing from SMB roll back to page one and read this thread in its entirety. My most important take-away is that SMB is willing to work on problems even as severe as the ones you encountered, which were extreme.

Myself I am working with Brian at SMBW to take my $2000 deposit on a RB 4x4 sprinter built that will be similar to yours - I am looking at a floorplan inspired by the RT Agile, but I want it substantially enhanced - propane delete, all electric, no generator. As I am an electrical engineer this is my strong area so I know I can make it work even if I need to do all the design myself though I bet the SMB folks will handle most of the details.

Again, thanks for the service you have rendered to us all by your documentation.
Hi Sprinter4WD,

Would love it if you created a thread to capture the build process.

tv
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Old 08-15-2015, 03:41 PM   #235
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Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

Hello everyone, I thought that I'd drop in and try writing a little bit here and maybe it will prompt me to write some more about what I think of Charlie almost 3 years later.

Well we are still in love with the big beast and enjoy it whenever possible, which is not as often as we should. We have had some issues but can't blame the build although I can blame a part or two and a substantial piece of equipment.

I can't say that I have done much in the way of adding or modifying anything because we like our original build so much. I still would not change a thing, well kind of (more on that later).

One thing that we did change were the shocks. It's foremost on my mind because I just did some more work on that subject just yesterday. The original set of adjustable Koni's proved to be too stiff on the settings we put them on and I decided that I would try something new, even with the availability of more adjustments on the ones I had. I went with the new FSD Koni's available through Upscale Auto and I already love them. The new FSDs have really smoothed out the ride and I don't seem to have lost any handling edge.

I would recommend installing the Koni shocks to anyone who enjoys driving winding roads or has issues with porposing. I really feel that SMB should consider adding these shocks or other good quality shocks to their options list along with checking the front end alignment after a heavy build. Just my $.02 worth.

I am heading back to Sportsmobile for repairs on Monday and will leave Charlie in their hands for the week.

The reason for the visit is that we noticed a leak in the roof fan after one of the few days of rain we had last winter. I took it in and they said that they used the factory supplied installation kit which included seals which they said could be a problem. When they pulled off the fan they also found some rust in the area. They cleaned it up and put in a better seal and asked me to come back later and they would send Charlie to a painter and they would take care of the rust permanently. This trip will take care of the paint and another minor issue.

The other issue is that the upholstery on several different panels is coming loose. Peter said that this was from a bad batch of adhesive so they will take care of that too.

While Charlie is in the shop we will add another sub-woofer and a control to move more sound forward. Right now we can't turn up the stereo too loud on trips because we don't want to blast the dogs in back sitting right over the existing sub-woofer along with the bigger killer speakers.

We are also having the boys at SMB West do a thorough once over since we are about to head out to Alaska. We plan on putting on up to 7,000 miles on Charlie in a couple weeks so are getting everything ready now.

One of the few regrets I have is the diesel generator and might not do it again if given another chance. I just don't think there is another solution for that piece that offers the final measure of independence so still not sure. It has not worked for several months and we will be taking it in for another try, it was fixed once earlier this year. The sad thing is that I can't take it to a factory authorized repair shop because I went to the local shop and I wouldn't let that guy work on my lawn mower so we take it to a local shop that seems competent. This has nothing to do with SMB and they even cautioned me about the diesel generators.

I hope to have some more time soon to give you all a complete rundown on where I am as far as what I like, and possibly don't, about our build. I'll tell you now there is very little that I don't like.

Charlie is still the best place for my wife and I to go and hang out if we want to relax or take a nap after a tough week (sometimes it can be a challenge to get a full night's sleep.

Sportsmobile continues to back and support their product and they have been great to deal with.

Look forward to getting back to writing to you all again here.

Chumley
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Old 08-17-2015, 05:52 AM   #236
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Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

Hi Chumley! Great to see you posting again. We have not changed much on our van either. Just added a new set of tires after the factory ones crapped out before hitting 25k miles.

I hope you have a great time in Alaska!

tv
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Old 08-18-2015, 12:05 AM   #237
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Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

Hey Tony,

My guess is that most people really like their individual build and would defend it vigorously, you know I do. I was at SMB West today dropping off Charlie for the warranty work and told Peter DelToro that I wouldn't change a thing and I wonder why they don't offer a build like mine as a standard plan (we all think our's is the best...). Of course then I remembered how much some of my personal requests made them uncomfortable but seem so practical to me, to each their own and that is what makes SMB so perfect for folks like us.

I don't think that anyone takes their build lightly and has probably spent endless hours dreaming and planning, I know I sure did. There are great resources like this website that really helped a lot when I needed that practical voice based on end user experience which is hard to beat.

I owe a lot to this forum. It provided me with great information and a place to "express" myself during what ended up being a tough but very rewarding build.

Happy travels.

Chumley
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Old 08-23-2015, 03:35 PM   #238
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Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

Hmmm...

Well maybe Charlie is jinxed. Some of the SMB crew had said that before...

I need some help real quick.

During my warranty repair work I asked SMB West to do a full inspection to make sure Charlie was in good shape. Their comment was that he is in better shape than some that come back in brand new. Interior is flawless, the exterior has not a scratch or dent, and all systems were working perfectly (except for the generator...). We do take care of Charlie.

Well I got home and noticed that the battery was down to about 12.4 volts when I figured it should have been topped out at about 12.7 volts since I just drove 140 miles, most of it highway. Strange.

I went out this morning to wax and put some 303 Protectant on Charlie to pretty him up and prepare him fro our trek to Alaska.

I start him up and notice the radio is cycling on and off!?! I look at the battery charge level and it is at 9.6 volts! I don't think I have ever seen it this low and was always warned that if you do this a few times you'll kill the batteries. Note: We religiously put him on shore power every week to top off the batteries.

I check around and see that the water pump was on and they also left the refer on! Crap!

Okay so I figure I'll drive a few miles and put some charge back into the batteries since I needed to go into town and needed to fuel up anyway.

I stop after about 30 miles and now the battery charge is at 8.9 - 9.0!

For some reason the batteries are not charging! Crap!

One of the things I asked SMB West to do was check my batteries since I recently had them replaced and the shop that performed the work said that the old ones were lead acid and asked if I wanted to go to AGM. Of course I said AGM so in went a new set of batteries as the old ones had a couple of dead cells. I asked SMB to cehck the batteries because I just didn't feel that they were holding a charge as well as the old batteries and was considering going back to lead acid.

SMB checks the batteries and said that they are Optima AGMs so I am happy since the other shop that did the work never told me what brand they were and I kept on forgetting to get the warranty info (however I do know Optima to be a very good brand). Please note: SMB West said that the batteries originally installed were AGM - but my local shop said that since they were changing over to AGM they had to make some changes in the charging system settings to accommodate the different batteries (could that have been why the first set died in 2 years? Or is that normal?).

So I am going to try charging the batteries with shore power but if that doesn't work can someone tell me how to disconnect the batteries so the drain will stop killing them until SMB can help figure out what the issue is?

Man, just as I was feeling good about this...

There is more to report on the new subwoofer and controls I installed (which work great), some good stuff SMB did for me, but also another issue that just makes me shake my head and wonder...

Thank you for any help.


Chumley
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Old 08-23-2015, 04:09 PM   #239
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Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

I just tried hooking Charlie up to shore power and there is no power to the batteries or coach at all!?!?

Seems that something is not connected on the charging side but is still draining the batteries on the supply side.

Charge is down to 8.7 volts so in just about 1/2 hour it dropped .2 volts. At this rate these batteries will be completely dead soon.

Man, what just happened?


Chumley
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Old 08-23-2015, 04:29 PM   #240
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Re: My SMB Sprinter Van conversion building experience

Chumley, I would turn off your main battery power switch, disconnect one of the battery terminals, then if you have a car charger, you can charge it for a few hours. Then call SMB in the morning.

David
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