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Old 04-08-2018, 09:08 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Colorado Springs, CO/Carmel, CA
Posts: 4
Stealing from the Wisdom of Those Who Came Before and New Build

Long time browser of this forum who just received word that our new low roof Sprinter 4x4 is at the factory in the states! It has been a long time coming – ordered it Feb 2017 so it will be 15 months getting to SMB (should be there early May). Thanks to the members of this forum for all your posts and useful information – a special thanks to Fitz (your build thread is packed with incredibly useful information), Snowy (saw your vehicle at SMB Austin last year), and WrinkledPants and BackCountryGuy (your posts and work with SMB on Lithium battery systems was very helpful). We stole a lot of ideas from you and the rest of the forum - you guys all rock!
There are two of us with two dogs and we are based out of Colorado but spend a lot of time in Carmel, CA and some in the SF Bay Area, and plan to enjoy meandering between the two areas frequently. So trips throughout the Southwest and all over the West, up to Canada and Alaska, Great Lakes, perhaps Baja, and all over the States. As part of our traveling with two dogs we need the ability to leave them in the vehicle for a couple of hours so air conditioning and lots of power is critical (thanks again to WrinkledPants for his early pushes of SMB to go Lithium, and to BackCountryGuy for all the posts and paving the way).
We had a couple of hour phone call with Brian at SMB going over our build a couple of days ago – great guy, very knowledgeable and helpful – which is scheduled to complete by late June to early July. (As we were talking through some of the choices, Brian made a comment about just like Fitz – and yup we stole shamelessly – and that SMB works with Fitz all the time. We suggested Fitz should be on their payroll but….). Here is some of the build information. Please feel free to question choices, make recommendations and suggestions!

Ordered From Mercedes

Base Order
Model – Cargo van
Weight = 2500 (8,550GVW)
Wheelbase = 144”
Engine = 4x4
Roof = X30 (4x4)
Packages
C03 Active Safety Plus Package
F01 Swivel Seat Package (Fleet Only)
X07 High Idle Variable Package
X30 Low & High Range 4x4 Package
Paint 1 : 701 Pebble Gray,
Upholstery : VY2 Tunja Black Upholstery, Options/Wood Trims
AR2 Axle Ratio 3.92
CT1 Rear Spring Vibration Absorbers
D93 Deletion of Cargo Partition (Standard)
E40 Trailer Hitch - Wire Harness w/7 Pin Connector
EN7 Audio 15 (Standard)
FJ1 I/P Hinged Lid-Center Stack Bin
FZ9 Keys - Two Additional Masters
H04 Heat Insulation for Front Compartment
H15 Heated Co-Driver Seat
H16 Heated Driver Seat
H22 Defroster - Rear Window
J51 Fuel Gauge Optimized for AUX. Fuel Tap
L16 Fog Lamps
L65 Lamps - Cargo Compartment
LB9 Illuminated Exits
MS1 Cruise Control
N62 Bracket for aux. Alternator
R98 Rims painted Jet Black
T12 Sliding Door - Two Stage Opening
T16 Sliding Door- Right Side (Standard) T74 Assist Handle - Sliding Door
V93 Wood Floor Delete
VA7 Storage Net in Hinged RR Doors
W17 Fixed Window Right Side Front
W61 Windows in Tailgate/Rear Door

SMB Build
1) RB150S
2) Windows: rear doors, over counter on driver side (openable awning), on sliding door, rear passenger side (openable slider)
3) Swivel seats driver and passenger
4) Pop top penthouse electric, painted to match van color. Still deciding on glossy finish to match the vehicle paint or more durable textured Lin x style.
5) Extra insulation (extreme weather)
6) Diesel powered hot water and heat (D5)
7) No propane
8) No built in stove. Will use portable induction stove (inside) and Partner propane (outside).
9) No microwave
10) Refrigerator – either Norcold or Isotherm. Probably Norcold due to more maintenance technicians and larger freezer.
11) Back up camera. Standard for now.
12) Standard shelf/cupboard above driver side counter area
13) Tie downs for extra cargo in open space. Will finalize upon pick up.
14) Removable galley cabinet on passenger side. With flip down counter on outside facing side and flip up counter on side facing passenger seat.
15) Window tint on rear doors, and side windows.
16) Window shades.
17) Window black out shades for back and sides, front window and front driver and passenger windows.
18) Dual USB charging ports throughout, with no indicator light.
19) LED reading lights on all four corners of sofa bed.
20) LED reading lights both back sides of penthouse bed.
21) LED reading lights for both front seats (driver and passenger)
22) Exterior light passenger rear with separate switch
23) Lights in back bumper
24) All lights LED
25) Pre-wiring for portable winch in rear
26) Pre-wiring for winch in front
27) Switch for rear bumper flood lights.
28) Light bar in front with dash switch.
29) Exterior shower driver side back with exterior light above separately switched.
30) Dash board switches for front and back winches, front light bar, rear flood lights, air compressor
31) 110 power outlet passenger side back
32) Wiring heavy duty so if increase battery and wattage no new wire would need to be pulled.
33) Wiring for back speakers but not installing yet. Holding options open for separate install without rewiring.
34) External outlet for plugging in standalone solar panels. Driver side, outside frame.
35) 2 roof mounted solar panels. Still debating flexible 100 watt or 160 watt fixed.
36) 600 watts of Lithium battery
37) Air conditioner rear Danhard (not roof mounted).
38) Internal temperature remote alert system.
39) Built in air compressor. Probably smaller without tank but still deciding.
40) Aluminess Rear tire mount
41) Aluminess Rear galley box. Deluxe box with rails with ability to mount 1 gallon Rotopax to back.
42) Locked storage (XL) where spare tire usually is (under floor) with drain plug
43) 17 Gallon water tank that is easy to fill from inside using portable water containers (e.g., Rotopax)
44) Thule full length rails (with ability to add cross bars back middle and front for canoe/kayak)
45) Loncoin floor.
46) Black LineX rocker panels and fenders. Still deciding on hood cover or not, and if so wrapped or sprayed.
47) Black Trasheroo mounted on spare tire.
48) Porta Potty (under counter storage)

Post-SMB Delivery
1) Aluminess front bumper with winch.
2) Aluminess skid plates
3) Suspension upgrade – Fox

Again thanks to all of you for your help – even though you did not know you were helping, and feel free to suggest and comment. We would love your feedback and wisdom. Really looking forward to becoming proud owners of a Sportsmobile!
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Old 04-08-2018, 10:27 AM   #2
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Thistle,

Looking forward to following along, please keep the updates coming. Lots of good ideas pulled together in one rig, it will be fun to see! A few comments...

#2. Austin has started using a different window on the driver's side over the counter, I'm not sure if Fresno is or not. Be sure you understand this and if there is any impact to the interior layout as a result.
#9. We went along with the microwave idea when we ordered, very glad we did. It is surprising how often we find ourselves using it, if only for hot water for tea. We now tend to pre-cook a variety of items before leaving on a trip, then into the fridge and then to the microwave works well for us.
#17. I don't see a privacy curtain listed, suggest you consider this. We use it whenever we stealth camp, plus we use it to seal off the front of the cab when camping in cold weather.
#20. Good idea to add reading lights in the back, you will use them. Be sure they are switched separately.
#28. I bought a 20" curved Rigid light bar. I sent the wiring harness to SMB Austin and the light itself to Aluminess for them to add the mounting bracket to the front bumper brush guard during fabrication. It all came together really well.
#35. The industry has had issues with the flexible panels. Suggest you investigate more before deciding. I am very happy with standard solid panels.
#36. The lithium battery will be installed inside, where will it be located? Not having the standard 4D battery mounted underneath frees up this space, do you have thoughts about an Aero 20 gallon fuel tank in this location? If so, coordination during the build to allow access for the thru bolts will be required.
#39. Air compressor. You say "probably smaller without (air) tank". ARB makes a single and a dual cylinder unit, Fresno typically doesn't install ARB units. Be specific as to what you want here, including make, model and installation location.
#44. I had Aluminess add tie-downs to each side of the brush guard for the canoe, nice addition and easy to do at this stage.
#46. SMB Fresno typically only applies the Line-X to the painted panels below the plastic. SMB Austin coated both for me and I believe it is a better look.
Post delivery, #2. You mention "Aluminess skid plates", I'm guessing you meant to say Van Compass skid plates.
Post delivery, #3. Will this be by you, Agile, Van Compass, or? Whatever you choose, it is well worth it. Fully built out, these vans are heavy and the suspension upgrade over stock is well worth it.

I didn't see a ladder listed, is that being considered? If so, Van Compass or Aluminess? Both are good, but there are key differences to be considered when choosing.

As I said above, looking forward to following along and ultimately seeing the finished product. Enjoy the process!

Fitz

ps. VERY nice write-up above. It is obvious you have done your home work and that makes reviewing and commenting much easier.
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Old 04-13-2018, 12:41 PM   #3
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Thanks Fitz! As always great feedback and information. We will check into your suggestions, but a couple of quick thoughts/comments:
Our build is being done by Austin so we will check on the different window you mention. We will definitely get the privacy curtain – had not thought through the stealth camping aspect.
I like the look of the flexible panels but will rethink the decision after doing a little more research.
Still working out where the Lithium battery will be located but am assuming under the sofa. I have been on the fence with the auxiliary fuel tank. It seems like a good idea but we have not traveled enough in camper style to make a decision, I will talk to Brian about the interest, where we might locate the tank and what it would take to make provisions for later addition.
Really good idea on the bumper tie downs. Did you do that for both front and back bumpers?
Hah, had to laugh at my “Aluminess” skid plates, whoops yes Van Compass. When we talked to Brian about skid plates he made a very good recommendation to make sure the plates were easy to remove and to be aware that if we don’t remove them ourselves before taking the vehicle in for service, MB will probably charge a high price to do the removal. Good to be aware of and to plan for!
Not sure yet who will do the suspension upgrade as it will be after we take possession, and am not sure if there is someone closer to our homebase in Colorado who might be able to do it. As we get closer to that decision I may reach out from some pointers on differences.
Similarly, we are planning to wait on the ladder until we take possession and determine need and usage a bit better. Then we can look into whose ladder to purchase, but am curious about the differences between the options.
Again thanks for the feedback and for all the up front material we “stole”! We will keep updating the post as more decisions and progress is made.
Thanks Fitz! As always great feedback and information. We will check into your suggestions, but a couple of quick thoughts/comments:
Our build is being done by Austin so we will check on the different window you mention. We will definitely get the privacy curtain – had not thought through the stealth camping aspect.
I like the look of the flexible panels but will rethink the decision after doing a little more research.
Still working out where the Lithium battery will be located but am assuming under the sofa. I have been on the fence with the auxiliary fuel tank. It seems like a good idea but we have not traveled enough in camper style to make a decision, I will talk to Brian about the interest, where we might locate the tank and what it would take to make provisions for later addition.
Really good idea on the bumper tie downs. Did you do that for both front and back bumpers?
Hah, had to laugh at my “Aluminess” skid plates, whoops yes Van Compass. When we talked to Brian about skid plates he made a very good recommendation to make sure the plates were easy to remove and to be aware that if we don’t remove them ourselves before taking the vehicle in for service, MB will probably charge a high price to do the removal. Good to be aware of and to plan for!
Not sure yet who will do the suspension upgrade as it will be after we take possession, and am not sure if there is someone closer to our homebase in Colorado who might be able to do it. As we get closer to that decision I may reach out from some pointers on differences.
Similarly, we are planning to wait on the ladder until we take possession and determine need and usage a bit better. Then we can look into whose ladder to purchase, but am curious about the differences between the options.
Again thanks for the feedback and for all the up front material we “stole”! We will keep updating the post as more decisions and progress is made.
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Old 04-13-2018, 12:42 PM   #4
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Well dang pasted my message in twice...
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Old 04-14-2018, 01:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thistle View Post
Well dang pasted my message in twice...
Thanks for including us in your build!
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Old 04-15-2018, 12:27 AM   #6
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Thistle,

Enjoy the ride! We are edging ever closer. About 5 weeks away now from delivery. I'm very much looking forward to putting a few delivery picture posts in our build thread.

The access to service points with reference to skid plates is a good topic above! I am always learning something from the board posts. That hadn't crossed my mind, but of course it's a concern. I'll be taking a look at the install when complete at Agile to better educate myself on bolt patterns, access points, etc.
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Old 04-15-2018, 07:51 AM   #7
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Thistle,

A couple more thoughts:

I didn’t see a carpet listed in your SMB items listed above. You will want that in the main living area. It is cut and trimmed such that it is easy to remove to clean, ours is always in place.

I had Aluminess install tie downs on the front bumper only (one on each side, on top of the brush guard), none on the rear bumper. I did have them install additional gussets to increase the carrying capacity of the rear bumper, suggest you ask about that (I suspect this is standard now, but worth checking on). Four other points about the front bumper (details and pictures are located in my build thread):
1. Be sure that the front bumper comes with the new air scoop.
2. I was not happy with where Aluminess installed the winch controller under the bumper and I relocated it on top where it is easily accessible.
3. Unless they have changed their policy, Aluminess will not make the final electrical connections, they leave that up to you to either do yourself or to have someone else do. Not a big job and I did it myself, just another post-build task to account for.
4. I am really happy with the front Aluminess bumper and am glad I went that route. Both Van Compass and Agile have kits to install the winch in the existing front bumper and they are both very nice, but I like the look of the Aluminess. Point of personal preference.

Regarding the skid plates and accessibility, Van Compass has thought through this and their design incorporates routine maintenance access points. Is it conceivable that you might have to remove something in the future to allow access for a major repair? Of course, but if that’s the case you will have bigger things to worry about. If you haven’t already, I suggest you go to the Van Compass website and take a good look at the installation instructions for the various components. The instructions are detailed and contain good photos, I have them printed and in my binder so they are readily available if ever needed in the future. BTW, I have had the A service done on the van and there was no mention of any issues from the MB mechanic who did the work. He did however comment on how well built and well thought out the various additional components are.
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Old 09-11-2018, 09:36 PM   #8
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I'm curious about your final decision on rooftop solar. If you went with fixed, how do you feel about the way it is mounted on the penthouse and having the weight up there. Does it whistle when driving at highway speeds?
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Old 09-12-2018, 08:35 AM   #9
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Klompen, we did go with the fixed panels, and have not noticed any significant noise issues. They are mounted to the Thule rails towards the front of the pop top, with about 12-18 inches left on the rails in front and 36-40 inches in back. So far we are very happy with the panels, although we only have two trips under our belts so far, with another coming this weekend - yay!
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