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Old 01-01-2018, 11:34 AM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 12
Build plan for 4x4 EB/LB 110S (modified) w/Lithium

Based on a lot of great info from this forum, we are starting to plan our build. We are aiming to place an order in late-winter 2018. I visited SM in Indiana was was impressed with the quality and thought. Also talking to Austin since they are doing lithium batteries and seem a little more flexible on AV.

I’m hoping to use this thread to document our process and gather insight from the community! Feedback wanted!

What’s important

My wife and I plan to full-time (8-10 months at a time). We may have the occasional passenger or two.
  • Keep passenger side windows as open/visible as possible.
  • Expect 60%+ of our nights in campgrounds and the others boondocking, 2-4 nights at a time. (In legal camping areas, we’re not expecting much stealth camping.) We will go to rough roads and a little adventuring, but no rock crawling.
  • We want it to be winter comfortable and able to overnight at ski areas (and store skis!) (Love that SM puts all the water and lines inside.)
  • We plan to work part time, which requires a comfortable place to work on laptops.

The plan

Modifying from a standard LB110S.

The van
  • We will be in it a lot, so I’m thinking LB since space will count. Though I’m open to EB.
  • Leaning towards 4x4 for winter use. (Not expecting rock crawling, but plan to be in mountains in seasons where snow is possible or likely.)
  • Would prefer single rear wheels (simpler, easier for chains, efficiency etc.)
  • Can we get 4x4 with single rear wheels (I think that limits us to 2500) and be under the GVWR limits and have a decent ride? (Not planning on aftermarket suspension upgrades.)
  • 2nd alternator (and bracket) from factory in place of generator
  • Spare underneath

  • Long dinette/bed. Want sitting/working space in day and comfortable sleeping at night. I’ve heard that the dinettes make a more comfortable bed (and are more efficient with storage space) than a front-facing sofa and side seats.
  • Small lavatory (33 in. if that’s viable) no sink with porta-potti. We only expect to use it at night(!) and when boondocking (When we can’t go outside). Medicine cabinet ?).
  • (—really could use input here!—) Thinking about a cabinet at the rear doors. Full height on one side to store skis (maybe 12-14 inches wide) then door window height. Total 12-inches deep max. Gives storage out the rear door and acts as a headboard for the bed so we’re not sleeping right on the doors.
  • One or two element induction stove. (We have induction at home and love it.) Convection microwave & 4 liter fridge.
  • Awning.
  • No propane.
  • 2nd alternator in place of generator.
  • Espar D-5 for diesel heat and (electric) hot water. (Is that the best choice? Airtronic?)
  • Water filter.
  • 2800 W inverter - don’t want to run out esp. if using the stove (short time) on batteries/alternator.
  • Would prefer lithium batteries (Thinking that reduced weight, ability to draw them further down, quicker charging etc make up for the much higher cost.) Not yet sure on capacity - suggestions?
  • Probably no solar panels. They don’t seem to add a lot over using the 2nd alternator.
  • 20G (?) fresh water. (Do the tanks have baffles to reduce sloshing if we don’t keep it full?)
  • Roof mounted AC. Probably won’t use a ton, but there will be nights (shore power)… (And for resale?)
  • Roof fan
  • Extra insulation package? (Worth it?)
  • Planning aftermarket headunit with CarPlay
  • Aftermarket backup camera (I’ve heard the stock just looks down, not back.)
  • Decent speakers, no need to go crazy, but we value music throughout the van.
  • TV with max screen/minimum bezel to use as computer monitor & TV
It would be great to get input on anything here, esp.
  • The rear storage unit (or any thoughts on transporting skis. Trying to avoid a permanent rack on the back that has to be worried about.)
  • Van itself. Will a 2500 work? Need heavy duty suspension? MB sure has a lot of configurations!
  • is 36 inch lab viable for occasional shower, porta-potti?
  • What am I missing/not thinking of?
Attached Files
File Type: pdf LB Dinette Plan - Explorers 4.pdf (163.5 KB, 32 views)

joelm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-04-2018, 09:27 PM   #2
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 91
It seems like your thought process is pretty well organized. The first and most important question may be which Sprinter model you can even get in the near future. With some of the recent Sprinter delivery issues and with the upcoming new Sprinter redesign, you may be limited in your choices and time frames. It may be that a 4x4 is pretty tough to even get. You may even decide to wait and see what the 2019 model offers.

I started my SMB planning at the nearest Freightliner Dealer. I then waited 6-7 months for delivery (and mine wasn't even a 4x4). SMB didn't care where I got the van. I saved some money buying from Freightliner, got good information on the van options, got exactly the options I wanted, established a local service relationship and maybe improved my nationwide service options a little by having a Freightliner badged van.

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Old 01-05-2018, 11:31 PM   #3
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Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 969
You say “occasional passenger or two”. Think hard about forward facing seats for passengers. Sitting sideways is not something I would want to do for long, and I do not know if all states consider it legal. I do know it is not car seat compatible if that is a consideration for you.

The interior water tanks are plastic and not baffled. We have 20k on our Sprinter, your post made me sit in the back seat (on top of the water tank) on a windy road with Laura driving and I could hear some minor sloshing, the first time in a year plus of ownership!

The four wheel drive is great in the snow, from what you describe I would say you want it. It is an all wheel drive system, thus you can engage it and use it no matter the speed.

Without the 2nd AC, jumping up to the 2800 watt inverter may be a waste of capacity, you will need to do the calcs. 2000 watts is fine for our use.

Love the CarPlay stereo in our van. Simple and effective.

The extra insulation is worth it, both for temperature and sound.

Have them install adequate USB outlets! We added four doubles and they all get used at various times.

“Flint” - 2016 SMB Sprinter 4x4 144" RB 150S w/ PH
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Old 01-07-2018, 07:55 PM   #4
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 12
Thanks. Turns out we don't have Freightliner near us, but there are a few Mercedes dealers that seem to carry the Sprinter line so I'll try them. Is there a specific van model that SM requires? (I know I need to get windows that they can swap out and swivel seats factory installed!)
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Old 01-07-2018, 07:57 PM   #5
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 12
You raise a great point on the sidewise seating. It'll be occasional short trips with our kids. But definitely worth thinking about. Any experience with a front-facing sofa and it's comfort as a bed?
Thanks for testing the water sloshing, that's good to know and thanks for the other suggestions.
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Old 01-07-2018, 08:59 PM   #6
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Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 969
Originally Posted by joelm View Post
Any experience with a front-facing sofa and it's comfort as a bed?
We have a 150S with the forward facing rear seat. We have had the van for 15 months and have logged 81 nights on the bed. A couple of months ago I added a 1-14” thick memory foam topper. I can honestly say Laura and I sleep better in Flint than we do in our big expensive king size bed at home. Chalk it up to the “van life” experience!

“Flint” - 2016 SMB Sprinter 4x4 144" RB 150S w/ PH
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4x4, lithium, sprinter

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