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Old 02-21-2016, 03:32 PM   #1
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Snowy's MB 144" 4x4 Sprinter 2500 build thread

Hello all. Been reading this forum on and off for about a year I guess. First off, THANK YOU ALL for the time and effort you put in to help the rest of us newcomers make decisions and get along. This, in combination with the Sprinter-source forums have been enormously helpful.

Secondly, let me apologize in advance for my novice level proficiency with the forum tools themselves. I am not a frequent blogger, social media person, instagramer, photobucket(er), or youtuber. I hope it was not inappropriate for me to start a thread to document my upcoming build plans, progress, and results. My intent is ultimately to contribute to the data here for others to benefit from.

Thanks!
Snowy
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Old 02-21-2016, 03:39 PM   #2
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Snowy's current use cases

Use case 1: Solo trips, including 4wd trails, usually in cold weather/climate, 1-2 weeks at a time.Sometimes very cold (-10’F).Usually snow.Back country nights, though civilization on drives in between.Occasional hot shower (sit-down, navy style) needed to warm the flesh if out too long.I am not above confessing an appreciation for the porcelain thrown at times, but this is especially vital if you literally have to worry about freezing you’re a@# off.-10 not so bad if no wind, but with a breeze, it is no joking matter.Need to be able to cook inside as well (coffee, soups, etc.) – nothing fancy on cooking front.Never had microwave around before, so this might work for most cooking needs.Need quality audio too to crank it up when nobody else to be concerned with on those long drives between anyplace and someplace.
I am concerned about cassette toilet freezing, diesel gelling (even if obtained local blend), and other side-effects of extreme cold. I expect to maintain interior well above freezing at all times with the diesel hydronic unit, but a bit worried about engine compartment, fuel tank, and plumbing that may route to close to outer wall. I will try to post specific questions in existing topic-appropriate threads, and don't mind pointers if I am missing something.

Use case 2: 2 people trips, including 4wd trails, usually in cool weather/climate, 1-2 weeks at a time.Frequently wet, sometimes constantly so, but rarely snow.Back country nights with occasional motels sprinkled in depending on location and draw to other attraction.Occasional hot shower (sit-down, navy style) needed to clean up after runs and provide improved hygiene when others around (such as the wife or daughter wanting a shower).Toilet especially appreciated by the ladies.Interior heat also hoped to help with that ‘cold damp’ feeling.
I am concerned about water leaks, condensation from breath (and damp air to begin with), cassette and grey water capacity. No issue dumping grey water in back country, but don’t know now much ‘extra’ water comes with flushes on the cassette for black water.Cooking likely to be a bit more done up than solo trips, but not likely to include baking and two ‘burner’ induction should be adequate capacity (though I have no experience with induction cooking or this stove in particular and have no idea if it is going to cook like it says it does).Some concern about property theft in urban environments.

Use case 3: 3 people trips, including 4wd trails, usually in cool to warm weather/climate, 1-2 weeks at a time.Climate may range from a bit below freezing at night to 90’s in day.Back country nights with access to civilization in between.Occasional showers expected, outside by default.Hot water supply expected to make showering outside reasonable even if ambient temperature is a bit cool than desired.
I am concerned about condensation, cassette and grey water capacity, mosquitos (due to more temperate climate and number of people opening doors). Starting with the 20G fresh water tank, we may augment with 5G flexible tanks filled up if we are not going to be in a position to refill in the course of the week, but our pattern is typically 1-3 nights per place, with travel in between where we could refill with water if we had to.

Use case 4: 2-4 people weekend trips in HOT climate, enjoying activities during the day but requiring A/C at night (no hookups).No off-road to speak of, and bathrooms often times available (e.g., State Parks and such).Sometimes very hot (90’ at night, 105’ day).Showers not relevant, but toilet may be used as convenience at night, for example, depending on company involved (e.g., girl scouts 'camping' for first time).
I am concerned about cooling, using A/C all afternoon, evening and night to ensure comfortably cool retreat after a hard day in the heat and comfortably cool sleeping conditions. Using 2nd alternator to drive house batteries, which in turn drive inverter, which in turn drives A/C (unless A/C is DC?).

Use case 5: 5 people road trips, 1-2 weeks at a time, motels every night.Fridge handy for on-the-road convenience, but cooking not likely.Entertainment in back for 2+ people watching movie, reading, or napping, while up to 3 up front in captains chairs.Toilet handy for emergencies, but most of the time ‘hold until the next gas stop!’.Some of these will be summer trips (hot weather, requiring the use of Danhard A/C while under way, and others are in winter, requiring use of the heater while under way.Audio/video of particular interest.
I am concerned about diesel heat under way, A/C under way, and property crime when parked overnight at motels.

Use case 6: 2 people extended trips (1-3 months), including a lot of miles on pavement and a lot of nights in back country.Typical trip would be from TX to AK and back, through BC, or Canadian Rockies. May include work (technology), which translates to desk/table/seating for laptop, and potentially leaving in airport parking lot for a week at a time if need to go on site.
Concerned about storage (food, clothing – it’s a 144” low-roof packed full of infrastructure!), break-downs (need MB parts or service, hydronic service, A/C service), changes in fuel quality (ultra-low sulfur requirement). Also windshield and headlights from 55mph gravel roads (undecided on front bumper solution which is what protects my lights now with wire mesh in front).Will pre-pack common fuses, belts, fluids, etc., but curious what sorts of things actually fail on an MB sprinter/3L turbo-diesel?
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Old 02-21-2016, 03:45 PM   #3
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Snowy's current build plans

Summary of build from Mercedes (goes into production in March):
144” 4x4 low roof Sprinter w/3L turbo-diesel, alternator bracket, factory aux battery kit, audio 15. Some creature comforts, but avoided fancy light system (want to be able to idle at night to run AC and not have headlights on) and avoided advanced safety stuff like parking assist and collision detection (open to discussion on the merit of these, btw).
Will attach actual build sheet from MB when I figure out how to do this.

Summary of build from Sportsmobile:
Small shower w/cassette toilet (external door for cassette), Danhard A/C, Espar(?) hydronic for hot air and hot water, 20G fresh water tank, 2 burner induction cook top, small microwave, small fridge, extra captain’s chair (3 total), penthouse top w/bed and electric open/close, rear long benches (different lengths on each side).
Ditto attachment of detailed sheet when I figure out how.

Summary of other items:
Regarding electronics, I ordered the 2nd battery from factory for redundancy in the main engine, and to support external heavy loads (see below).My reasoning was that, given that I am sometimes in pretty extreme temperatures (increased risk of battery failure), AND far enough away from civilization with no cell coverage or other traffic (increased consequence of battery failure) – I wanted the redundancy.I am getting the 2nd alternator as well, which will be used exclusively to supply ANOTHER house battery installed by SMB to run interior stuff like inverter, hydronic, fridge, A/C, induction stove.The 2nd factory battery purchased primarily for redundancy, will be opportunistically be used for external stuff that SMB may or may not be involved with (e.g., winch, exterior lights, compressor).Clear as mud?
1. I am leaning towards winch (used mine enough to know it gets used).Not crazy about Aluminess front bumper, but looks like only game in town.This would draw from 2nd factory batter rather than house battery.
2. I expect to provision exterior LED flood lights in all 4 corners of room (for finding spot at night, checking out visiting animals, etc.). These would draw from 2nd factory battery. Curious about option for internal switch?
3. Considering front LED flood bar primarily to detect animals threatening to get hit at highway speed on side of road. Experience w/previous off-road lighting is that modern factory headlights are pretty good, and I don’t need to see 3 miles in front of me. I may need backup in the event of a light failure, and wider beam pattern for turns and animals lurking on side of road. Such lighting would route to the 2nd factory battery.
4. I expect to use existing portable Viair compressor I already have rather than purchase an on-board tank setup. I may evolve to that if airing tires up/down a lot and there is room for a tank under body though. It would route to the 2nd factory battery.
5. Not finished researching wheels, but assuming for now that I will be going after-market (e.g., Method 17”x7.5”) wheels to support larger tires (love my Duratracs for their wet road and snow performance) – probably 265/70r17 to start with, though it looks like as much as 285/70r17 may fit in there with a little cutting. Can wait to wear out the 265’s and find out more precisely once I get the vehicle in hand and test motion under load (turning, up a hill, for example), and see what might have to be cut.

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Old 02-21-2016, 03:59 PM   #4
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Pic/diagram of proposed build attached. The stereo stuff is a WIP, but the pic shows most of the other essentials.

Snowy
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Old 02-21-2016, 04:15 PM   #5
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Mercedes build doc
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File Type: pdf M2CA144 4x4 final build as of 2-15-16.pdf (24.8 KB, 161 views)
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Old 02-21-2016, 04:25 PM   #6
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Use case 7: Festivals. Multiple days, 1-3 people, no hookups, people all around, some times of year need A/C, others might benefit from heat but never really need it beyond good sleeping bags. Private cassette toilet nicer than public port-a-poti, especially by about day 3 or 4, and can be dumped into port-a-poti as needed.
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Old 02-21-2016, 10:55 PM   #7
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Lots to absorb.

Have you sat down with SMB yet? A tour and a conversation will go a long way.

You don't say, but are you planning on a PH? I assume so.

You mention a cassette toilet, as I recall from my visit to Fresno that is not an installation they do. All three locations are a bit different, you will just have to ask.

I believe you will want to consider a generator if you are planning on running an air conditioner all night. There are several builds documented here where the need for power for the A/C unit was solved by the installation of an on-board generator. The second alternator will provide a lot of power (at the cost of fuel consumption), but I doubt that you can install enough batteries to run the A/C all night.

Looking forward to following along!
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Old 02-21-2016, 11:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fitz View Post
Lots to absorb.

Have you sat down with SMB yet? A tour and a conversation will go a long way.

You don't say, but are you planning on a PH? I assume so.

You mention a cassette toilet, as I recall from my visit to Fresno that is not an installation they do. All three locations are a bit different, you will just have to ask.

I believe you will want to consider a generator if you are planning on running an air conditioner all night. There are several builds documented here where the need for power for the A/C unit was solved by the installation of an on-board generator. The second alternator will provide a lot of power (at the cost of fuel consumption), but I doubt that you can install enough batteries to run the A/C all night.

Looking forward to following along!
Yep, visited with SMB in Austin. Very helpful, but as an example of why I am here, they seemed to think the 2nd alternator and engine running would suffice to power the A/C. I just posted a question on this specific topic elsewhere on here to try and keep discussions where they belong. Sounds like there may be some practical concerns about impact to emissions control and heat build-up.

Yes, penthouse, with electric, screens, and bed options.

Confirmed Austin does the cassette toilet. It's a permanent mount commode with access to the cassette from outside the vehicle via a door panel they cut for it.

Thanks for taking the time to read through it. I will be sure to update as more data becomes available.

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Old 02-22-2016, 10:26 AM   #9
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Welcome. Looks like fun.

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Old 04-03-2016, 03:59 PM   #10
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Snowy,

Interesting read. You're way ahead of me but it appears we are on the same page when it comes to designing our SMB. I'm curious to follow your project so please keep posting updates and images!
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