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Old 04-05-2016, 07:22 PM   #11
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Final MB build sheet w/VIN attached for anyone interested now or in the future researching this thread. Got alloy wheels added before it went final since it sounds like I can run 265/75r16 on these for the first round of tires, and until I can confirm clearance / cutting required for bigger tires (e.g., 285/70r17's). I hope to be able to resell the rims when I have to replace them with 17's later, but will be glad for the longer wheel bolts needed for aluminum wheels regardless.

Expecting delivery from MB in May, at which point I have confirmation from SMB that they can commence build and have it done by end of July.
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File Type: pdf FinalwVIN.pdf (24.8 KB, 119 views)
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Old 06-12-2016, 01:08 PM   #12
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Some updates:
1. Got the van from MB of Georgetown late May as expected. Dave "The Sprinter Guy" was great.
2. MAJOR mistake by SMB, having previously committed to a completion date at end of July (based on delivery of van to them end of May), even after repeated checks because this sounded too good to be true - they are now committed to a start date on July 18 and an 8 week build. Apparently they are now telling people 8-12 weeks, and as much as a 14 month lead time (presumably if you buy van through them too). 6-8 weeks is what they told me first at the end of last year, then 8 weeks, and now 8 with 'overtime and weekends', telling others 8-12 weeks.. They are clearly struggling to keep up with demand, which may be good for folks in the future if they scale to meet that demand, but should put those working with them now on alert.
3. The van is higher off the ground than I realized, even with factory tires. I have ordered the Aluminess nerf bars (~9week lead time!), primarily for the step they offer more than body protection since they are not strong and the body is so high anyway. NOTE: I have the factory engine pre-heater (diesel powered), and there is a caveat on the Aluminess site that the nerf bars are not compatible with this. I talked with Aluminess and we sent some pictures back and forth and I am confident that even if it takes a little extra work on my part, these can be made to work around the hoses going to the pre-heater. I will update this site with what I find. As it stands, these are set to arrive during the SMB build and I may not get a chance to install them until after my first trip since I am leaving almost immediately after they are set to be done.
4. I noticed significant delays (unlimited, actually) in trying to get certain seat swivels. I have tabled this for now to avoid delays in the build from SMB since it is something I can easily do later and it is not critical to trips planned this year.
5. Winch: I've been doing a lot of research on this one and still unsure. I still don't want to do the big Aluminess front bumper, though looking at it recently on some other Sprinters at SMB it is not as bad as I thought. Instead I have been trying to go with something less invasive like the Taubenreuther kit. Having a lot of trouble getting that to US (they won't sell retail to US customers apparently, and re-sellers having trouble getting them in). Chatted with local place about fab'ing one up, and it was going to be too expensive for this application. Options at this point: Aluminess front receiver hitch and see if I can mount winch to the cross-member instead of actually using the receive hitch; OR just go with a multi-mount option. Also, I have torqued a body-on-frame, ARB (steel) bumper with an 8,000 lb winch. It would be crazy to mount something like that to the unibody MB design. This has me looking at a ~4,000lb option (just to get me out of snow in a pinch), which is much more conducive to the multi-mount option.
6. Stereo: Matt at Custom Sounds (the one who SMB usually uses, I gather), seems to know his stuff and is a pleasure to work with. Ended up going with sub mounted under front-passenger seat, and a slightly upgraded set of front component speakers than he recommends by default after spending some time listening to both at their shop (a luxury out-of-towners would have a hard time arranging). We talked a fair amount about sound dampening too. End result is that, since I got the insulation option in front doors, and will be getting carpet options from SMB, it did not make sense to do a bunch of additional dampening. I'll post results of the system when I pick it up Friday. I know the listening environment while driving will not be representative until the SMB build is complete, but I can report initially.
7. Lights: I have added after-market lights to previous off-road vehicles, and learned a couple of things. a) I don't go 100mph through the Baja at night, so I really don't need to see 2 miles ahead of me. Modern day bright headlights do just fine. b) I DO have to contend with wildlife on the side of the road stepping out in front of me at 70mph, so I DO need greater peripheral lighting when driving back roads at night. c) redundancy has served me in the past (losing a headlight on the trails in Copper Canyon). So.. I am thinking a driving light supplement to the front. I have a question I will post elsewhere regarding size of light bars that fit on the Aluminess light bar option if I were to go that route.
Regarding SMB build itself:
1. Realized the 20G water tank would be adding a lot to the weight and sloshing around and more difficult to keep clean since it would cycle less frequently. Decided to go with at 10G option, mounted in such a way as to leave room for other water than can be poured into it. I.e., only have the weight of a 10G and improved cycle time of a 10G under normal circumstances, and when need extra water (festivals, etc.), can drop in a couple of 5-7G ‘cans’ next to it to have on demand.
2. Removed nerf bars, seat swivels, and avoided having them do lights, and avoided having them interact with Custom Sounds on stereo to minimize complexity and associated risk to schedule. The stereo will have options to expand to the rear, but will be sufficient in the front if I never pursue rear entertainment options.

Snowy
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Old 06-12-2016, 01:18 PM   #13
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Oh yeah, wheels and tires. After seriously considering powder-coating the factory aluminum wheels and going with the 265/75r16 KO2's, I decided instead to go with the Method Standard 17's. Reasons were as follows:
1. It was going to be nearly as much to powder-coat the factory alums ($150each) than to buy the Method's (~$200).
2. While I wasn't too worried about being too narrow on the 6.5" factory wheels for the 265's, it was clear I would never go bigger than this with those wheels.
3. Going through Discount Tire here locally, they will test fit some 285/70r17's on these wheels to see how bad the clearance is. I may end up going with the 285's. If rubbing is a threat for now, I at least know where to trim for the next set of tires, and know that the wheels can support them. Also, going with Discount Tires, they'll buy back the factory tires, depending on good a shape they are. This will nearly offset the cost difference in new wheels vs. powder coating. I will be on my own to sell the factory aluminum wheels though, recovering something, I hope.
4. FYI: 4 week back-order on the BLACK Method Standards. Should be installed right before I drop van at SMB for their portion of build.

Trying to get past the 1,000 mile break-in mark before dropping off at SMB since I leave for CO right after they are to be done (the very weekend after a Monday pickup from them - yikes!).

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Old 06-12-2016, 02:38 PM   #14
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Not to rain on your parade. But I wouldn't count on their 8 week build. Having spoken to a couple of people getting builds done currently in Austin, they haven't been able to complete builds within 8 weeks.

I think 12 weeks would be prudent to count on. And I hope I am wrong, and all works out for you in the end! I just wouldn't want to see a long trip ruined by a delay in the delivery.

Good luck, and you will love your van!
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Old 06-12-2016, 02:42 PM   #15
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One other suggestion. I would get the Hellwig helper springs. The van does sag a little in the back, I am installing my springs next week, and will let you all know how it turns out.
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Old 06-12-2016, 03:09 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trailsurfer View Post
One other suggestion. I would get the Hellwig helper springs. The van does sag a little in the back, I am installing my springs next week, and will let you all know how it turns out.
Thanks for the tip. Never heard of these before your note. Are you 2500, or 3500? What GVW are you anticipating? Are you going with the +2500lb, or +3500lb? Are you going with their heavier anti-sway bar as well?

Thanks!
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Old 06-14-2016, 08:35 PM   #17
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Great thread. Will be following closely.
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Old 06-26-2016, 11:36 AM   #18
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Regarding my pursuit of good sound system: The listening environment before conversion is, as expected, ridiculously bad, so it is a bit hard to predict yet how this sound system will sound upon conversion, but, a few comments even now.
1. It is very hard for me to imagine that even after conversion the listening environment is going to be that good, so, while the jury is still out, I would not fuss with the finer decision making points of one set of good speakers vs. another. I think Matt's original recommendation would have been perfectly fine and would have saved me a few bucks. The 'advantage' of being able to go by their shop and side-by-side compare speakers _in their shop_ turns out to not be very relevant.
2. Per Matt, there is a separate volume knob for the subwoofer. The power to the sub goes up and down with the volume control, but the relative significance to the overall sound varies quite a bit from song to song and at different volume levels. I find myself using this adjustment quite often - so - a word to the wise: Put this someplace easy to reach while driving. Matt had suggested at one point possibly placing this inside the closing lid in the middle of the dash and I am SO glad I did not do this. I opted to have it in one of the factory switch locations below and to the left of the ignition. I am very happy with that location.
3. Matt build a sub enclosure that goes under the passenger seat, facing down, AND works around the factory location for some piece of 4x4 electronics. Good job, good location, good sound.
4. Sub is a 10" JL, powered by the Alpine PDR-V75, which also resides below the sub enclosure under the front passenger seat.
5. Matt tapped the aux-in behind the factory head unit so I can run an input to the back for TV/DVD player and easily have movies coming over the sound system (if/when I pursue a TV/DVD player, which is not for sure yet).
6. MB of Georgetown, within a few minutes, and for free, reprogramed the factory head unit to enable the rear fader and associated outputs. I had seen some references to this and counted on them myself, but offer this is yet another first-hand confirmation that this can be done, easily, by MB.
7. Sound quality from factory unit is perfectly fine for me. Integrates fine with daughter and my phones (both androids). Navigating music on an SD card inserted directly into the head unit feels pretty clunky, but we havenít tried that hard yet. So far, for 3 different android phones tested so far, when connecting through the USB port (done to charge them), the audio unit doesnít recognize them as media players. Again, we havenít tried hard yet. We use the blue tooth and just plug in to the USB port for power. (Didnít even know it was going to try and search for music until we saw the error.)
8. Perhaps out of scope for this discussion, but that Becker Maps GPS is totally worthless. Very frustrating. The integration of the factory head unit with steering wheel controls, digital dash, phone/mic, and GPS was why I went with the Audio 15 option. While there is still justification for the other aspects (imho), one should completely dismiss the factory GPS as part of the reason to stick with the factory head unit. Save yourself some money on the GPS too if you don't have to get it. (I think it came with a bundle for me.)
9. Back to the good stuff. Matt knows his stuff and among other things, mounts the tweeters under the factory grills, but right up against them as opposed to at the bottom of a funnel where the factory tweeters are. Sounds really good. Stereo separate is fantastic, and not too bright. I have done some testing just parked with the engine off to get pure test of the stereo itself, but even with the AC on full blast (fan is VERY LOUD, btw, by any standards) and driving down the road the sound is SO much better than factory. Also, he installed the 6.5Ē components in factory locations, and nobody would know there is anything other than factory unless they take off the front passenger seat (or turn on the stereo). Looks completely factory in every way. I am not passing judgment on the look Ė just observing that there is no change to factory look in case anyone was wondering this.
10. The PDR-V75 offers more than ample power, and the Focal and JL speakers handle it just fine. The entire system suffers no degradation in quality up to, and well beyond the point of uncomfortably loud volume. This is what I wanted (to be gated by how loud I choose to have it rather than the point at which point quality starts to degrade.)

In the meantime, I am ready to throw some comforters back there to dampen all the road noise messing with my listening experience until the conversion is done.

Using the van as daily driver now to get past the 1,000 mile break in period, and learn placement of tires and bumpers when parking. VERY happy with maneuverability of the 144" wheel base in town. Parking is a non-issue, and even U-turns are a breeze.
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Old 06-28-2016, 10:07 PM   #19
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My van arrived SMB - Texas June 16th - they've told me it will be done September 27th. So more like 12-13 weeks. And this is after ordering the van in mid August 2015. Some day it just might be be a reality!
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Old 07-02-2016, 08:51 AM   #20
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Another comment on the stereo install. I got the factory aux battery for stereo, lights, winch, etc., and there is indeed a good place to tap into this under the driver' seat. I am just confirming for anyone that was planning on using this that it does indeed suit this purpose. I think the Alpine draws a lot (2 x 40a fuses), and Matt said the location under the seat to draw from aux battery was fine for this.
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