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Old 05-30-2017, 03:36 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Wrinkledpants View Post
SMB doesn't up charge for the vans. What they invoice you for is what you'd pay if you walked into a Mercedes dealer.

They charge for the conversions.....(edited out end of quote to save space).
Thank you sir for the info.

Looking back at your thread I see the batteries (it looks like at least) will be under the seat in the rear. How big will they be including all the required stuff like the invertor and I am guessing some sort of fuse panel?

That will be my challenge as I want my setup to be as flexible as possible for varied scenarios. I want as little "fixed" in place as possible. I realize there will be trade-offs one way or the other .
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Old 05-30-2017, 09:22 AM   #32
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Our width wise dinette in the rear will have both benches filled with various utility bits (inverter, heaters, water tanks, battery, etc).

I don't think you can be that modular with the utilities. If you need the ability to move around inverters, batteries, and water tanks, you might be better off going with a different up fitter. Outside van, RB Components, et al - they are a bit more modular in design.
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Old 07-21-2017, 03:03 PM   #33
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Just to update this thread, our van has arrived at SMB! We're in track to start the build in about 3-weeks, and should be done by mid november.

A few options we added to the van at the last minute:

Park sensors - since we're not doing front or rear bumpers, it would be nice to have the park sensors for navigating tight ski lots when our backup cam is crusted over with winter road grime.

Overhead storage slot - this is the small cubby above the dome light that you would normally put a CB radio. It's wired for power and a single DIN mount. We may use it for lighting switches, tank gauges, or any number of things. Just another spot with OEM power if we elect to use it, and it was only $90.

Leather wrapped steering wheel - because you know..... Mercedes.

Remote for block heater - I could see using as a convenience item. And, when spending 120K on an RV, what'a another $300 bucks for a bit of convenience. There will be a number of times where we're not in the van when traveling for the winter, so firing up the block heater while wearing slippers in a house sounds nice.

SMB has now done 4 or 5 lithium installs this year, and have a pretty good handle on the process. They're using Smart Batteries which come with various cutoffs in place to protect them. However, low temp cutoff isn't something they're controlling for. You can discharge lithiums below 32 degrees, but you can't charge them or they'll get damaged. All the other big lithium battery makes do a low-temp cutoff to prevent charging below 32 degrees. Nations alternators (supplier of the aux alternator) is a reseller for Lithionics, and that's who we're going with for the battery. The battery management system is internal and controls for low/high voltage, low temp, and does all the cell balancing. They're fairly proven in the RV world, at least in regards to the folks with active blogs, and it's who some of the other more expensive upfitters are using. The 2nd alternator has a regulator for the lithium profile, Magnum makes a lithium profile for the inverter, and Blue Sea will be used for solar as they have a lithium profile. We haven't decided which amp hour will go with, but will be shooting for 300-500 AH, and will likely be dictated by space.

We've decided to go with solar, but will either have a single small panel, or a connection for a portable panel. It'll only be used for powering the fridge when gone for 7+ days at a time. Even if the panel can't maintain charge, the net reduction in amp hours means our battery should be able to support it. Our goal is 10 days of fridge use as that's the longest we'll ever be away from the van on a trip. We're considering doing a solar panel on slides below the rack, so we can still have max real estate up there for gear (which we'll need frequently).

I like Roam Built's racks, but they've been extremely difficult to get on ahold of through email. I had good correspondence with Cec for awhile, but the last 3 emails have not been responded to. I'll give him one more shot, otherwise we'll tap Aluminess or RB Components.

Our layout is still roughly the same, but we've decided to scrap the enclosed shower facility behind the driver, and replace it with a shower pan. The porta potty will sit in the pan, and we'll either keep a shower curtain on a rail in the ceiling, with it stowed in the corner behind the driver, or we'll keep it in the shower pan and put a lid on it. If we go with the ceiling track, we could pull the curtain around the shower pan to the wall to have privacy while going to the bathroom. Keep pulling around to the driver seat to close it off for showering. We haven't decided if we'll do a quick disconnect hose from the sink area to the shower, or install a permanent shower head in the corner. Pros and cons to each.

The shower pan will be 30-35" wide, and it's going to be a combination shower, gear storage, ski storage, and bike storage. The pan will be powder coated steel with 4 different L-tracks on the walls surrounding it. We can hang bags, climbing gear, rig up ski holders, and attach fork mounts near the ceiling so we store our bikes inside for certain situations. For the most part, bikes will be on a hitch rack, though. We can swivel the driver seat around and use the potty as a foot stool, and gives us the option of moving the potty into the hallway when showering. Should be 1-2 ft of space between the potty and fridge so we can rig up a ski holder to keep our skis vertical in the shower. This way, they can drain into the gray tank and we don't need to screw around with skis on the roof. In the summer, we'll attach various bags, ropes, etc to the L-track. And with the fork mounts near the ceiling, we can fit 2 bikes side by side in this space. They'll intrude into the hallway about halfway, but it gives us another option if we can't use the hitch, or don't want to for security reasons.

The rest of the layout will be roughly the same as originally planned, except we'll have the overhead storage in the front be just a shelf with a lip, rather than walled off with a door. This way, we can fit bulkier items up there. Hooks will be places in the walls and ceiling to put a bungie or cargo net so things don't fall out.

Our city water connection will be on the backside of the dinette to avoid holes in the van. We only use it for filling the water tanks - we'll never plug into an actual city connection for extended periods.

We wanted to do the shore power somewhere else than the side of the van (under hood or rear bumper), but it may not be practical.

We're doing a Dometic digital thermostat for the AC unit and the heating system. This way we can set the AC temp and it'll cycle the fan and compressor as needed. Rather, than just having the fan run all the time. We're also hoping that if we set the AC temp to something just tolerable (upper low 80s), that the duty cycle might be pretty low (30-40%), and then it would tapper off to zero once the sun sets. Meaning, we could turn the AC on when going to bed, and the lithium battery could provide enough power that we'll fall asleep comfortably and wakeup without having a dead battery. We'll see if that actually works in practice, but the bbulk of the AC usage will be while driving or when at a campground with shower power. Using it off the battery would simply be a bonus.

We're also going with the Maxxair fan with the larger hood and automatic lid. Substantially reduced risk of rain getting in, and it'll help keep the spindrift out in the winter if we're cooking and need to vent some air.

We've decided to do the Rixen D5 heating system rather than dual D2's. The benefit here is that our van will be stored in an unheated indoor RV bay with a plugin. The D5 setup has a 110v heating option, which means we can set the temp to something low, and the electric heater in the glycol reservoir will provide heat, and keep our water from freezing or the lithium battery from getting cold. We don't plan on winterizing the van as we'll use it weekly in the winter and want access to fresh water.

And because we have the factory coolant line extension, we can connect the engine coolant to the glycol coolant with a flat plate exchanger (fluids not mixing). This allows us to heat the rear glycol loop with the engine when we're driving, and provide heat to the rear. This is much preferred over running the D5 and sucking up road debris or dust. SMB hasn't figured out if this is legal or not from the MB Upfitter regs, but we'll do it after market if needed as it's not much to run a bit of hose for the flat plate exchanger.

We're not doing any external lights drilled through the van. All camp lighting will hang off the roof rack. Likely bar for forward lighting, two cubes for corner lighting, and then 2 slim lines on each side, and the rear for camp lighting. Rear lights will also be wired in with the backup lights so we get good lighting for backing up.

Attached is our latest build layout and final van build list. We're pretty stoked - it's been a long time coming, and this forum has been a big help for bouncing ideas off of.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Build.pdf (133.9 KB, 70 views)
File Type: pdf active Build copy.pdf (1.47 MB, 53 views)
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Old 07-21-2017, 04:10 PM   #34
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REALLY looking forward to following your build!
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Old 07-22-2017, 12:09 PM   #35
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Heating options

If I didn't order my van with the ore heater or block heater can I add anything now to help with cold weather starting. I live in New Mexico so that seems important.
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Old 07-24-2017, 06:57 AM   #36
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If I didn't order my van with the ore heater or block heater can I add anything now to help with cold weather starting. I live in New Mexico so that seems important.
I'd wait and see if you need one. You could always add an oil pan heater, but you need to be plugged in somewhere to use it.

It would be expensive to add a D5 aftermarket, and could run into warranty issues depending on how you do it (cutting into the engine cooling loop at the engine). If you really wanted to, I'd retrofit the H88 option and attach a flat plate heater to that with a small electric pump on the engine side and an Espar D5 on the coach side. Won't be a cheap install, but should fine on the warranty side and you'd essentially get the same block heating function as the factory option. It'll just be plumbed and wired in a bit differently.
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Old 07-24-2017, 11:10 AM   #37
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I have been following this build and many others. Pretty similar Mercedes options minus a few "bucks." I am in the queue behind you. Supposed to be October 2017 SMB production date. Trying to keep it simple, but functional, with all the essentials for myself, wife, and dog. Since this site is so informative and helpful, and y'all insist on pictures and updates, I'll do what I can to oblige, and reciprocate.
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Old 07-24-2017, 05:59 PM   #38
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If I didn't order my van with the ore heater or block heater can I add anything now to help with cold weather starting. I live in New Mexico so that seems important.
I added aftermarket block heaters to the diesel engines on my VW pickup and my Kubota tractor. Both were small U-shaped electrical resistors that fit into a small circular knockout plug in the side of the block and into a coolant passage. They were mainly designed for use with shore power. SMB tells me that can't be done on the Sprinter as it would void the warranty. I have no idea whether it is physically possible or not as the block would need to have the knockout plug. It seems like MB is far more strict about things that void warranties than other manufacturers. I suppose that if it's physically possible, doing it after the engine warranty expires would make no difference. Of course if you are boondocked and don't have a large battery reserve the thing would be of little use.
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Old 07-25-2017, 09:03 AM   #39
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Pants - When I come up to Denver in December, I'd love to see your new van. Awesome build! Almost makes me want to get in line for a Sprinter. Need to check my Powerball tickets first.
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Old 07-25-2017, 03:40 PM   #40
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Killer build. Have followed it, and many of your other posts. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to seeing pics of the final build and you sharing as you use this rig and discuss the likes and dislikes of the choices you have made!
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