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Old 03-10-2017, 02:35 AM   #11
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I have had several emails in to Brian for almost 2 weeks. He acknowledged receipt and said he would reply when possible as he is very swamped. Since we saw him last, I think we have decided to go all out on the build.

The use scenarios are quite varied. We are retired and can travel at will. The vehicle will be used in all seasons, both on road and off road, long trips and short trips. We are going with 144" WB due to turn radius and ability to do metered parallel parking in urban areas.

I have a longhand spec sheet of the SMB portion, but haven't typed it up yet. We are going with a D5, roof AC, no propane, induction cooking, massive Lithium batteries like WrinkledPants, Aluminess bumpers with winches front and rear. I will post again with a full list and description as soon as I have it ready. The (tentative) build date is 1-17-18, but we have to order the vehicle soon. I have to find out if Brian is ordering a 2017 or 2018 model.

Below is a revised MB options list I will send to Brian soon. Please feel free comment on anything and ask questions. The more input the better. We are going to see Fitz (Tim) and his wife Saturday and I know we will get some great feedback. Here's the MB spec list (pls. excuse formatting; it didn't copy/paste well from Apple Pages WP app.):

(Names Deleted) SMB Build

144’ WB (M2CA144) Tall Roof (DO3) Sprinter Cargo Van

X30 Low and High Range 4x4 With 6 cylinder Diesel Engine

Exterior Color: Blue/Grey; Interior Color: Tunja Black Upholstery

AR3 4.182:1 Axle Ratio

CO1 Driver Comfort Package
F29 2 additional keys
SB2 Luxury Passenger Seat
SB1 Luxury Driver Seat
FJ1 Instrument Panel Storage Bin With Hinged Lid (What was the reason for deleting this?)
E46 12V Power Outlet @ Driver’s Seat Base

CO2 Driver Efficiency Package
MS1 Cruise Control
FR8 Rear View Camera
E1N Becker Map Pilot Navigation System
L16 Fog Lamps

CO4 Active Safety Plus Package With Active Parking Assist
LA1 High Beam Assist
Y45 Road Hazard Light/Emergency Flash Light
H21 Windshield Glass With Shade Band
EZ8 Park Aid System FRT & RR
JA7 Blind Spot Monitoring
JK3 I/P Cluster Pixel Matrix
Y10 First Aid Kit
JA6 Collision Prevention Assist
CL4 Multi-Function Steering Wheel
JA5 Light & Rain Sensor
F68 Exterior Mirrors Power Heated
JW5 Lane Keeping Assist
LDO Overhead Control Panel With Reading Lights

CL1 Adjustable Steering Wheel (Is Multi-Fn Steering Wheel Already Adjustable? If yes, ignore this.)
JA8 Crosswind Assist
ZH4 Downhill Speed Regulation
FY1 Security Alarm
L16 Fog Lamps
J65 Outside Temperature Gauge
D13 Roof Rails
HO4 Insulation Front
H20 or F49 Windshield Heated
W70 Privacy Glass
E30 Start Battery Disconnect
ESO Jump Start Terminal
E07 Start-Off Assist (Is this only for manual transmission?)
E40 Trailer Hitch Wiring Prep
F66 Lock on Glove Compartment
T12 Two-Stage Slide Door Passenger Side
X90 & X93 Delete Badges
LGO Bi-Xenon Headlamps (Daytime Driving Lights Set to Off)
VA7 Storage Compartment With Net Rear Doors
KL1 Auxiliary Fuel Sending Unit With Fuel Tap
I51 Fuel Gauge Optimized for Auxiliary Fuel Tap
LB9 Illuminated Exits
N62 PTO @ Front With Additional Alternator Bracket
SR8 Driver’s Seat Swivel (FO1 Swivel Seat Package Includes low seat frames, comfort seats, delete seat belt mounts, swivel bases.)

SR9 Passenger Seat Swivel (see above)
H16 Heated Driver’s Seat
H15 Heated Passenger Seat
S22 Driver’s Seat Armrest (Is This Removable?)
S25 Passenger Seat Armrest (Is This Removable?)
SO4 Adjustable Front Passenger Seat (Is This Compatible With Swivel? With Comfort Seat?)
S27 Storage Net Driver’s Seat Back
S28 Storage Net Passenger Seat Back
T74 Assist Handle Slide Door (T75 Front Door Assist Handles Are Part of X30 Package.)
X26 or R91 and R92 Delete Spare Tire And Bracket
MT4 High Idle Control Driver Adjustable
RM9+RF1, Mfg. Code 10, Tire Brand Continental (KO2 285/70/R17 on Method Standard black Beadlock Rims)
RY2 Tire Pressure Monitor Lamp
CT1 Vibration Absorbers with DRS
V93 Wood Floor, Delete
Would like to discuss optimum start battery.

Can a single Espar D5 provide cabin hot air, cabin hot water, and engine pre-heat? I have heard from SMB forum that there is a kit which will allow this. Would it be better (even possible) to use D5 for water/air and separate factory Espar (Option H12) for engine pre-heat? I prefer one single unit to do all if possible.

Cargo van to have Flarespace with sliding window on driver’s rear side. Sliding passenger door to have venting “Flipper” window from (or similar from elsewhere). Rear panel of passenger side to have Universal Venting Window from same manufacturer (or similar from elsewhere). Note: above referenced windows are full size.

Is it possible to reverse sides of tall storage box and spare tire carrier on Aluminess rear bumper, then to have no glass in driver’s side rear door (to be insulated as it abuts head or foot of bed), but to have glass (preferably OEM Code W61) on passenger’s side rear door (also with H22 Rear Window Defroster)?

How do SB3 and SB4 Suspension Comfort Seats differ from standard comfort seats?

Are any of the following already included in build? If not, can I get them?
C47 Shock Absorbers Reinforced
CE8 Raised Rear Body Mounts (RV Only)
X21 Heavy Duty Front Axle Package
KL5 Fuel Filter With Water Separator

Which suspension package is used for the build:
X17 Suspension Package I
X18 Suspension Package II
X19 Suspension Package III
X20 Suspension Package IV

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Old 03-10-2017, 08:34 AM   #12
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We're right behind you in the proposed build cue TomH (Feb.'18). We're heading to Fresno on the 24th of March to met up with Brian and hopefully Rob to discuss interior layout and audio gear. We're planning to hit the lower elevations of the sierras and get some climbing in on the return trip. We've got a four day weekend break.Cheers.

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Old 03-10-2017, 10:07 AM   #13
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TomH ,

Very much looking forward to meeting you tomorrow and going through your list one-by-one.

We have many of the same features on the van that you have listed. When we bought I didn't have access to a van with them, thus most were purchased sight unseen. Looks like that will not be the case for you!

Just some general comments after a quick scan, more for others than for you:

I haven't see anything good written about the Becker Map Pilot, but I have seen comments from several owners expressing disappointment. We have found that the Apple CarPlay system works well for us.

When you replace the front bumper you will loose the factory fog lamps. If you order them now you will gain the benefit of having the wiring in place, you will just have to throw them away with the front bumper without ever getting to use them (what I did).

We do not have the Park Aid System and I have seen no need for it. If I was a delivery driver in San Francisco, yes, but that's not how the van gets used. This system requires additional integration with the front and rear bumpers, which can be done, just be sure to do your homework on this aspect of it.

The new front bumper will require a plastic window for the Collision Prevention Assist system, no big deal. There are pictures in my build thread. Also, remember that due to MB constraints SMB can install the back bumper but not the front, I went directly to Aluminess and had them install the front bumper.

Regarding a winch on the rear bumper, are you going all out and having Aluminess design a rear bumper with an integrated winch (Kenny gave me a price to due this but I decided to stay with the standard rear bumper), or are you looking at an option utilizing the rear receiver? I have been playing with this a bit, we can discuss details tomorrow.

Yes to your question regarding reversing the box and spare tire on the rear swings, you can pretty much do what you want here. Common practice on this one is that when camped it is nice to have the box swung around to access on the side with the sliding side door.

Regarding the rear door glass options, I see no problem with getting what you want. In my case there was no glass in the sliding side door and I had SMB install it, I suspect in your case you would order back doors without glass and then have SMB install what you want on the passenger's door. Wanting the rear window defroster (don't forget the wiper also) there might complicate things, more homework for you to do! My guess is that when you see the magnetic window covers we have you will simply order factory glass for both doors and then install the insulated window covers when using the bed.

See you tomorrow!
“Flint” - 2016 SMB Sprinter 4x4 144" RB 150S w/ PH
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Old 03-10-2017, 01:30 PM   #14
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You have a lot of options listed that are standard features, and you have some options listed that aren't available with your configuration. FWIW, we got nearly every option you can. I attached our build list with options codes. Some of the options are standard from SMB. You don't get a choice on suspension, for example. And I don't believe you can get that gearing with the 4x4 option.

Also, looking at your build and usage options, I think you're going to have a hard time doing all that without having the van be overloaded. Offroad bumpers are one of those things where the opinions run the gamut. Personally, I prefer to have those crumple zones in place. I don't plan on smashing into rocks or trees with the van as it's just not that capable offroad. If we hit a dear, there's going to be body damage somewhere (even if it's the grill or headlights). If we hit a car, I want the least amount of force being transmitted into our bodies. Since the front bumper is not painted, I'll take the risk of having to spend a few hundred on replacing it if I hit something while offroad.

We also ended up doing the parktronic option because of the amount of time our backup cam is covered in grime from winter conditions. Backing out of a ski lot with tightly packed cars, it's nice to have those acoustic sensors if you can't see out of the backup cam. We're doing a winch, but it's going to be embedded in the factory bumper so it's flush in the front.

We're doing a full roof rack, so recovery gear, and other hard items will be stored up there rather than out back in utility boxes. We want to be able to open the doors to the magnetic stops.

See the link below for the D5 heater/hot water option that SMB uses.
Sprinter and Class B & C RV System Information
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Build1.pdf (122.3 KB, 37 views)
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Old 03-10-2017, 05:11 PM   #15
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Built-Out Sprinter Weight

Originally Posted by Wrinkledpants View Post

Also, looking at your build and usage options, I think you're going to have a hard time doing all that without having the van be overloaded.
Wrinkledpants is correct, weight will be an issue. I documented Flint's weight in my build thread, noting that when fully loaded the van tips the scale a bit on the heavy side. HOWEVER, the good news is that the van handles being right at or a bit above GVWR wonderfully well and for me the trade offs in braking distance, mileage and general wear and tear are acceptable. But this is definitely something to be aware of. BTW, soon I will be able to report on the difference in handling that results from a installing a set of tuned Van Compass Fox shocks....
“Flint” - 2016 SMB Sprinter 4x4 144" RB 150S w/ PH
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Old 03-10-2017, 05:15 PM   #16
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Thanks Tim and WP. I will save most of my questions for Tim until I see him in person tomorrow. WrinkledPants, can you give me some more specific feedback, please?

I took the option codes from this 384 page document:

For some entries there are qualifiers such as:
This option is standard on........
This option is part of package........
This option is not available on.........

But for many of the options there is no qualifier, leaving the reader unsure about the kind of thing. Can you tell me which of the options I listed are standard and which are not available?

Your comments about bumper crumple zone make a lot of sense. When I was at Van Compass, they had a lot of concern about front winches and stated that front winches and Aluminess bumpers were difficult to attach correctly on the unibody. They said they had seen quite a few winches and bumpers torn off the front of Sprinters. If you have more details on how you plan to submerge the winch into the bumper and secure it to the unibody, I would be really interested in seeing them. Does having the winch in the bumper interfere with the ability of the crumple material to absorb energy?

My roof will have AC, Maxfan, and 2 solar panels. We are in our 60s and don't want to be crawling up on the roof to access storage, we will use the rear box and access under the bed via the rear doors.

Aluminess assures me that all Sprinter items, like Parktronic, are fine with their bumper, front and rear. I had already read about the fog light situation from Tim's thread and replacing the lamps with equal amp bulbs is what we will do. (I have known from reading the Sprinter Source site for years that Sprinter electronics is something you don't want to mess up.) We will not only go off road, but will also stop at museums and "cultural stuff" in urban locations. The Parktronic and side and rear cameras are something we think will help when parallel parking in cities.

You are right about the weight. I plan to have Van Compass beef up the suspension with extra leaf springs. I had Firestone air bags for my Tiger. Brian tells me there is something similar that doesn't have the air cavities and won't rupture, but that does absorb the shock from extra weight. We will save weight by eliminating propane, no black tank, using lithium batteries, D5 rather than hot water tank and std. heater, and possibly doing like Tim with only 10 gal. of fresh water. I think that will cut a fair amount of weight.

All feedback anyone can give is welcome.
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Old 03-10-2017, 05:51 PM   #17
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I would use that options guide as a reference for details related to the specific option. Use MB's builder site to see what you can actually add. For convenience items or luxury items, we got all of them, I think. The only things we didn't get were side windows. We wanted to have the passenger side rear window from the factory, but MB won't install just one window. SMB will install that all-glass factory window themselves as we want all-glass T-awnings on the driver rear and slider door.

Agile does a recessed winch install, but as you said, none of them are likely to be strong enough to do a full rescue if you're buried to the doors in mud. We only want the winch for those times we're stuck in snow, need to pull a tree out of the way, or stuck in some light mud on a clay trail that was once dry - but turns wet after a heavy deluge. We'll do a lot of remote driving, but not a lot of super technical off-roading. It's a zeon 10s that Agile uses (just got off the phone with them about it, actually). The winch will add some stiffness to the front end, but won't impact off-center collisions.

We want the ability to swing the rear doors all the way open to the magnetic stops, so that's why we're electing to put things on the roof. Granted, most of the stuff on the roof will be things we don't use much.

I would consider whether you need solar at all. If you're not spending days on end without driving, solar isn't going to do much for you given how fast those lithiums charge from the 2nd alternator. We're skipping solar, FWIW. 1-2 hours of driving will fully recharge the lithium bank (230 amps while driving, 150 amps at idle). If you do plan on spending 5+ days in the forest without starting the van (and don't want to start the van), solar would make sense at that point.

I don't believe parktronic will work with boxes on the rear. There's no way to recalibrate the sensors, so they'll always think you're about to hit something. Views from the front of the van are so good you'll have no problem getting in close for parallel parking. It's a nice feature to have, but if you're doing bumpers on the rear with storage boxes, I wouldn't get it.

Correct on the fogs. It's a nice option to do since you can wire up a different light if you're doing a bumper. The switch and wiring are already there, you just splice into the harness. If you elect to keep the OEM bumper, then the fogs are there and you don't have to go through the hassle of retrofitting them if you want them.

The reason I called Agile was to ask about their aux fuel tank they're starting to do. It's 20 gallons, fits next to the main tank on the driver side, and the fill is somewhere in the wheel well. It's a transfer system, so when you get the fuel light on, you flip the switch and 20 minutes later you're topped up. It's about 40 lbs for the tank, and figure about 140 lbs of extra fuel. This should about double the range for driving. Not sure if this is something you're interested in, but if it is, it may........ weight....... on your decision for a heavy van

I would go for as much water as you can get. That's something that isn't always easy to source on a road trip, and you don't want to have to muscle around 5-gallon water jugs all the time.
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Old 03-10-2017, 05:57 PM   #18
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Photo of Agile's winch install. This is from their instagram feed.
Attached Thumbnails
Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 4.35.24 PM.jpg  
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Old 03-10-2017, 07:34 PM   #19
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Hmmm, I will have to consider doing the front bumper like yours. I do want to spend multiple days parked in the backcountry, just sitting and enjoying nature. I used to be a wilderness guide and my back hurts too much to carry a pack and then sleep on the ground now. Even though my wife backpacked with me when we were young, she is very nervous about getting off pavement at all, even on a graded gravel road, so we differ greatly on the van's use. I wanted a rock-crawling Classic, but she also doesn't like having to bend over under any circumstances, so we went with the tall roof Sprinter. I want to push it to its limits but probably won't be able to convince her to go higher than Class 2. I want to have the ability to do more than that if I can convince her, though.

I will have to talk to Aluminess some more about the Parktronic. Both of us do want to go into urban areas to see art galleries, theatre, etc. when we visit cities. I will have a rear camera and probably a side camera though, so maybe the Parktronic would be redundant.

The alarm is something I feel I have to think about more. I hate the way those things go off in parking lots. OTOH, we have always had low value vehicles that no one would want to steal and I am sure the parts out of this vehicle would fetch a lot on the black market. Tim has the alarm and, I believe, three extra supplemental anti-theft devices on top of that, so I am looking forward to his take on this tomorrow.

You mentioned weight limits. You also suggest going max water (I think 20 gal?) and you are adding 20 gal extra fuel. That's 8.8 lb/gal x 10 gal. = 88 extra lb water not including larger tank (maybe 10 lb?). Diesel averages 7.1 lb/gal x 20 gal = 142 lb. + 40 lb tank. So that would be about 280 lb. extra in liquids and tanks on my build. I would like to have that, but as you said, I may already be quite heavy. Using a porta-potty inside the shower enclosure will mean no black tank and I am not too worried about dumping grey water in places other than a dump. How close are you to GVWR?

If you could just copy my options list and add an s after anything already standard and an n after everything not available, that would be a big help to me and would be quick for you. If you can do that, I appreciate it. Anyone else feel free to do the same.

Agile offers a RIP (Ride Improvement Package) for the Sprinter. It isn't on their site, but Baja Sportsmobile posted about in here on the forum. He also put some pics showing a fork lift able to give the Sprinter about 5" more axle articulation. Van Compass guys said they believe their lift gives a comparable degree of extra float. Did you have Agile install the RIP on your rig? If yes, do you notice more articulation without tripodding? I think tripodding would really freak my wife out. The axle articulation and lockers on the Classic were the main things I will miss on the Sprinter.

Thanks for the feedback.
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Old 03-10-2017, 08:26 PM   #20
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Parktronic will work with the bumper, but not the boxes. That's probably what they meant when they said it's compatible.

If you want to go multiple days, then maybe a smaller lithium with solar panels would be your ticket. We're planning on somewhere around 3-400 AH for our lithium bank and that should get us around 4 days of use without any type of incoming charge. We don't ever sit that long, and even then, I'm fine just starting the van, switching on high-idle for an hour or so, and calling it good.

I can't imagine not having the alarm. I've owned a fair number of Porsches and Audi's, and none had an errant alarm go off. Not only does the alarm arm itself automatically when you lock the door, you can turn off tilt control or interior sensors if your wife stays in the van, but you want to lock it to run into a store or something. If you go with an aftermarket alarm, you'll need to carry two big fobs. Lock the door with the MB fob, then arm the alarm with the other. I know some people have gone as far as putting in defeat switches, but it's almost impossible to steal these vans without the keys since you need the IR code embedded in the key to start it. If someone wants your van that bad, they'll tow it.

I'm not sure what our van will be at for weight. We tend to pack pretty light, so we don't need a full cabinet of dishes or pans. I would guess that in the winter with a full ski kit, full water, and full aux tanks, we may be just over gross. I don't think it's bad to be at or just over gross, but if you're pretty far over gross - that would be something I'd want to avoid. I don't think you'd be able to do the aux tank with the kit you're talking about (bumpers, boxes, winch, etc). I'm just throwing it out there for consideration if you needed to cut a few options. Water and fuel can be scaled up or down as needed. If we have a particularly heavy gear spec for one trip, we may leave the aux tank empty and take half the water, for example.

Our build date is Aug of this year, so we don't have it yet. At some point shortly after getting the van, we'll do the RIP kit. I'm not so much fearful of the tripoding since we do that quite a bit in our Cayenne when offroad, but the comfort that comes from long drives over really rough roads will be what I'm after. It's tiring getting rocked side to side constantly, and we're young!

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