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Old 06-18-2017, 12:28 PM   #111
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 76
3rd captain's chair

So I put the 3rd chair back in (behind passenger chair) as I get ready for a 3-person trip (wife, daughter, and myself), and 2 short 5 (yes, five!) person trips coming up by the end of the year (wife, daughter, two college sons and myself).

The seat itself is nice. If I didn't mention this somewhere else in the thread, SMB accidentally leather upholstered this for me and it is a gorgeous match with the front seats. (I did not ask for it, and they did not charge me for this very nice enhancement - which in hindsight I would recommend others do on purpose). The seat is quality, comfortable, tilts, and swivels.

The location.. 'works'. Given my kitchen configuration, one cannot both slide it back all the way and tilt it much at the same time, nor will it swivel much if you push the envelope against the counter behind it. It works, and was an expected compromise. If you tilt the seat back up, and/or slide the seat forward, you can swivel more than 90', but it's never going to 'face the rear couch area' due to the kitchen configuration.

That said, the seat rests uncomfortably LOW to the floor. It seems to be designed to go on top of a box or mount of some kind, but as delivered from SMB it mounts directly on the floor. It worked OK, and there was enough leg room for some, but it gives a feeling of being too low to see out the window or easily converse with those in the front seat.

OK now, I know some engineers out there are going to call me irresponsible for this, but I just ask you be constructive in your criticisms: I raised the seat by installing wood under it and using longer bolts. First test was to stick a strip of 2"x12" stock between the seat and the floor, raising it 1.5". BIG improvement. I ordered some longer bolts and will be raising another 1.5" for a total of 3", which I think will be sufficient. My concern is that I have almost certainly compromised the integrity of the mount to the floor, and in a high speed, head-on collision the forces might be different enough to tear the bolts or rip them out of the floor. The seat does not feel any more flimsy, and given that I will be allowing people to ride in the back sitting sideways with no shoulder straps, I am keeping this in perspective.

So, the useful bit of info is for readers considering seats mounted to the floor behind the passenger (or driver for that matter). Either choose a seat that has a higher base height; deal with feeling like a 3rd class citizen back there; or expect to provide some sort of base/spacer on your own. (I wonder if I could have just chosen a different seat model or something.)

Looking forward to reporting back on 4 adults and a 13 year old sleeping in a 144" wheelbase! LOL


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Old 06-18-2017, 12:54 PM   #112
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 76
Low Range 4x4

When researching CB radio options I found myself responding to a thread elsewhere on the merits of the low range option with 4x4. I saw Fitz make a comment that he has not had issues with 4wd, and I want to make very clear my experiences:

1) I have never had any issue getting into 4wd. Stop, put it in neutral, hit the button, wait for it to stop flashing, and you're done. There have been a few times when things weren't sync'd up and the flashing would stop because it wouldn't go into 4wd, but put in gear, move an inch, and try again and I have never had to try a 3rd time. This is what I expect in a part-time 4wd system and I have ZERO complaints. I have used it often, and it has made the difference between stuck and not stuck on many, many occasions. Some of which surprising because by default, the drive train REALLY favors one rear wheel.

2) Regarding low-range: Everyone seems to advocate this if you are already going with 4wd. I think it would be silly not to get it given the minor cost and weight. To be clear though, while some enjoy this when pulling a boat up a wet ramp, I use it for the improved granularity of speed control. More often than not, if I am in 4wd, I am in low range. Whether sand, mud, loose dirt, or just navigating obstacles like rocks or trees, it is a matter of control at least as much as power.

Just thought I'd toss this note in here while I am online.


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Old 08-03-2017, 12:27 AM   #113
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Let's see some more photos of the finished van. Some exterior shot would be great!
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Old 08-08-2017, 08:20 AM   #114
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excellent thread and extremely informative, thank you so much for all the great insights!

Quick question regarding sleeping arrangements...
I'm 6'-4" tall, and on paper, it appears that I would not be comfortable in the PH bed or in the dinette bed. But you mention that you are good with it, so maybe real world is trampling my calculations.

May I ask, how tall are you?
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Old 08-08-2017, 08:58 AM   #115
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Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 599

SMB also makes short extensions for the PH bed to extend the length. Suggest you explore that option with them.

“Flint” - 2016 SMB Sprinter 4x4 144" RB 150S w/ PH
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4x4, cassette, hydronic, penthouse, sprinter

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