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Old 08-25-2016, 08:19 PM   #31
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Windows in, and penthouse well under way. I must admit I thought there would be more to look at by week 5 of 8, but we shall see.
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Old 09-01-2016, 12:56 AM   #32
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My van with 265/17s on Method wheels.
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Old 09-01-2016, 06:15 AM   #33
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So you downsized from 285's to 265's? Why?
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Old 09-01-2016, 07:12 AM   #34
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Nice setup. We are thinking of a very similar layout so I am very very interested to see the final pics. Looks awesome.
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Old 09-01-2016, 12:21 PM   #35
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I actually "upsized" from the stock Continentals which are 235/16 I think.
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Old 09-01-2016, 03:11 PM   #36
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So you downsized from 285's to 265's? Why?
Just for clarification:
Snowy has the 285's, Chris has the 265's.
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Old 09-02-2016, 02:54 PM   #37
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coming along

Lot of progress in the last week! Other things I have learned since last posting:
1. The conversion IS taxed. I bought my van from MB before bringing it to SMB. While I should have known, it hadn't occurred to me, and I was using the numbers from the SMB worksheets for the conversion without allowing for tax. Just thought I'd share my naivetť in case it helps anyone else avoid a ~$5K surprise upon picking up your van.
2. Not sure if I documented anywhere, but I opted for a larger inverter than the default (2800w instead of 2000w). I didn't want to worry about tripping the circuit because I forget the A/C is on and it cycles while I happen to be using the microwave, or I end up using my espresso machine in there with A/C to provide 'cafť services' at various events.
3. "Light Bar" is an overloaded term in these days, so be clear what you mean. It used to mean "a bar onto which you mount lights", but these days it often means the LED light arrays themselves. SMB installs LED light bars, but does not install 'grill guards' (which is what they consider the Aluminess "Light Bar" product), though they may be able to refer you to someone who can do this work.
4. Aluminess has a disclaimer regarding their nerf bars for the 2016 model indicating that they may not mount properly if the factory diesel engine pre-heater option is in place. The reason is that the factory engine preheater and plumbing is located under the van on the driver side in the area where the nerf bars mount. After sending pictures back and forth with Aluminess (Shout out to Justin and others at Aluminess for being so patient and helpful!), I figured it was nothing I couldn't overcome. In reality, SMB was able to do this without issue so I didn't even have to mess with it. Point of the story: don't be dissuaded from getting the Aluminess nerf bars if you have the MB factory engine pre-heater. Also, by the time you go with bigger tires especially, you are really going to want that extra step the nerf bars offer.
5. Really glad I went with the Line-X option. I did it partly for the looks, and partly because I know where all the scratches are on my current vehicle from brush scraping against me on the trails. The guy who did this did a great job, and it really pulls together the look of the MB van. He went over the fender 'flares' and covered the black plastic door-guard strip, so it all pulls together and looks really good.

Some new pics attached.
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Old 09-02-2016, 03:24 PM   #38
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285/70r17 spare

Going with 285/70r17 tires means that the spare won't fit in the factory location under the rear of the vehicle. At least not without modification. Jury is still out if this is going to work, but it is a close enough fit and I want to avoid the after-market tire carriers for now if I can so I am trying to use the factory location and arrangement. For starters, I merely cut some segments out of the factory cage to allow for the larger tire to fit in it. 6 quick cuts with a sawsall and an old pipe as a cheater bar to spread angles out, and it looks like I may be able to fit. I won't know if the whole arrangement fits back under the van properly until SMB is done with it and I bring it home, so I'll update here either way.
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Old 09-02-2016, 10:26 PM   #39
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Snowy

Thanks for posting all the details. We are headed down a similar path so I really appreciate it. The big disappointment for me is the long timeline for these conversions... even if I started now I would miss all next Spring/Summer...

One question, reading your use cases you mention some extreme temps (hot and cold), so I was surprised you went with a low roof Sprinter and a pop top vs a high top. We live in New England and want to use the van in Winter but thought the high top would be easier to keep heated. I have seen several 4x4 SMB's that have the pop top so I am interested in the rationale.
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Old 09-03-2016, 09:55 AM   #40
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Thanks for posting all the details. We are headed down a similar path so I really appreciate it. The big disappointment for me is the long timeline for these conversions... even if I started now I would miss all next Spring/Summer...

One question, reading your use cases you mention some extreme temps (hot and cold), so I was surprised you went with a low roof Sprinter and a pop top vs a high top. We live in New England and want to use the van in Winter but thought the high top would be easier to keep heated. I have seen several 4x4 SMB's that have the pop top so I am interested in the rationale.


Rationale, correct or not, is as follows:
1. I imagine using the penthouse for sleeping in temps down to freezing and well below, but not sub-zero. My layout allows me to sleep down below if need be with the top down. Two things to consider from my perspective:
a. Body heat goes a long way, as does some insulation in the van and good sleeping bags. Just assuming parity with a tent, and adding in the warmth rising from the heater down below, I am imagining this being effective even for pretty cold temps. WARNING: I HAVE NOT EVEN TAKEN POSSESSION OF THE VAN YET, SO THIS IS PURELY SPECULATIVE BASED ONLY ON YEARS OF CAMPING EXPERIENCE.
b. I have no intention of trying to maintain interior house temperatures in sub-zero climates. Even if the bed up top is not toasty warm, the warmth down below is where I need it. From camping, itís not sleeping in really cold temps that is the issue. It is getting out of the bag to make coffee and piss in the morning that I would like to mitigate. J Even if the down-below is only 30 or 40 degrees above ambient temp and the penthouse only 10 degrees better than outside, my problem is solved.

2. I would not have done the Penthouse option without a layout that also allows for sleeping with it down. It is my assumption that the rear 'dining' area can be used as bed for 1 (lengthwise on left side), or 2 (combining into bed and sleeping width-wise with diagonal for me) as needed. I am clearly not going to get any benefit from the A/C up top, but camping in temps so warm that I need A/C at night is not something I intend to do much. Generally, it will be one-offs en route to some place, or to see some attraction and avoid a hotel. In these cases, Iíll just sleep down below with top down.

Other scenarios including periods of time where I will have top up and bed up with it, enjoying the extra head room - whether using window ventilation, A/C, or heat. This may be at camp before bed time, or during events where I am a basecamp during the day for others.

This is all pretty speculative of course!! I am making some assumptions about body heat/vehicle insulation, how well heat rises, durability of the fabric, etc.. No clue how A/C is going to work. Honestly, my biggest concern is not effectiveness of the scenario, but damage to the fabric if it gets ice on it and then has to be collapsed, or just wear and tear on it while brittle due to cold temps (even if dry).

Please take all this grain of salt. The amount of consideration I have given this far exceeds the actual data I have!! LOL I will continue to update this site once I get the van and can offer factual observations.

Snowy
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