For 8 days, Sept 19-27 my wife and I rented a 2007 Sprinter Great West Legend
from Good To U Auto Center
in Akron, PA. This was a great experience for helping us decide on details for Vanessa, our SMB Indiana EB Sprinter build starting next month. Here I relate the good, the bad, and the ugly with hopes that it will help others avoid mistakes. Note that many of the problems are particular to this unit and others have been corrected in later models by GW Van. Nevertheless I document them here as things to look out for. This is a good opportunity for me to be critical about a van that does not belong to you or me.
I strongly recommend that others considering a Sprinter conversion rent a Roadtrek or Great West (or SMB but I don’t know of any rentals available). See photos below.
. This van, the only RV rental by Good To U, was purchased at an auction a couple of years ago by the owner of Good To U for his personal use, but his wife didn't like camping so he recently decided to rent it. It was new when he purchased it and he used it very little. It had only 6000 miles on it and problems mentioned below were probably manufacturing defects never fixed from day one. Rental was $135 per day, much less than a Roadtrek RS Adventurous that usually rents for $300 per day.
. Cabinet doors and drawers are framed with solid wood and looked very nice. The front and rear overhead cabinets angled in from the corners (see photos). The screen door was great (except for a broken latch, described below), so good that we plan to copy it (SMB Indiana will not do this for us); the screen is made by Seiki Screen Systems
and seems to be a straightforward handyman install. The tables have no lip around the edge making them easy to clean. The bathroom had a skylight which gave more standing room so I could stand up straight (I am 6’2”). The van had airbags in back with a control to run the compressor by the driver seat. The Winegard crank-up TV antenna worked well. A counter behind the driver seat was very convenient (we changed our plans to include this).
. Swivel seats are too high; we had to place something under our feet to feel comfortable, but my wife was able to reach the pedals to drive. A large force was required to rotate seats. Drawers were hard to pull and were easily jammed. The awning windows rattled loudly. Main light switch was outside the screen door; had to open the door to turn off the lights. Flip-up covers over the sink and cooktop made a nice counter when down, but blocked the windows when up and were generally a pain to deal with (GW Van no longer does this). Access doors for dumping required a key that turned very hard and the supports to hold them up were rusted out and broken. Screen door latch handle was missing; we were able to make it work by tying a string onto the latch (weather was hot with lots of bugs, so we really needed it to work). To start the generator you had to first start the Sprinter engine (probably a wiring problem as the GW Van manual and Onan generator manual did not mention this was needed). There was no 110V outlet on the counter behind the driver seat; to plug in our toaster we had to open the van door and use the outlet behind the kitchen counter after feeding the cord through the screen. The motorized rear couch to bed system operated ok, but it was a pain to re-organize everything stored under the bed each time we wanted to use it as a seat. My wife and grandkids reported a very rough ride back there on some back roads (so it seems the air suspension did not help). The Fiamma awning worked well but had several broken parts in spite of the fact that the van had hardly ever been used.
. The van fresh water tank had a gallon or more of pink liquid antifreeze in it as provided by the rental agency (proof that the water system had not been used in over a year). We spent a couple of hours draining the fresh water tank and hot water tank and refilling several times to get the smell of the pink liquid out of the system (its good the dump station at the state park was not too busy). I think it is a big mistake that SMB also expects you to put pink liquid in the fresh water tank when winterizing; I plan to have a separate reservoir for pink liquid with a valve to switch between that and the water tank, since we may use Vanessa several times each winter.
The owner had used the hot water heater bypass, and of course left it bypassed when renting to us. When there was no hot water, I opened the valves and filled the tank. It was good to find out that running the hot water heater empty did not break anything!
There was a constant faint smell of propane outside the van. This might explain why the tank was only 1/4 full after 8 days of only refrigerator, stove, water heater, and 2-3 hours of generator use.
The bathroom sink in a drawer (see photo) seemed like a good idea, but it pushed back over the bed and leaked on the bed every time we used it. Also the pipes under the sink got in the way of your feet in bed. The bathroom folding double door was very hard to open and close. With no window or vent in the bathroom, the door had to be left open to dry the shower, but the door stuck out in the room when open. The shower curtain did not protect the wood frame at the bottom of the door. The shower floor did not slope to the drain so a puddle on the floor had to be cleaned every time we used the shower.
The Atwood propane furnace did not work. When turned on we heard clicking as the unit tried to start but I did not smell gas in the outside exhaust. I removed the furnace and left it with an RV dealer who later said it worked fine on the bench (he didn't fix anything). He re-installed it and it worked fine until that night when we really needed it (overnight low of 32). The fan revved up and down a few times before it completely failed. I suspect another van wiring problem.
The A/C worked ok, but after running a few hours it continued to make noise (not sure what it was, but not a fan) so we had to turn off the breaker. Another wiring problem?
This is the Great West Van Legend that we rented Sept 2012
We like the open shelf at the left end and will do something like that in our SMB.
The sink below slides into the wall like a drawer. It goes over the bed and leaks!
The bathroom door blocks the isle when left open to dry out the shower.
The screen shown below works great (except the door knob was missing).
Note the Good To U ad below -- the main image is a Roadtrek van!
. In spite of all the problems, we had a great vacation and learned a lot in our first Class-B camping experience. When we got home I made about 10 changes to my layout diagrams for Vanessa. My web site shows the revised drawings
. You may need to reload the page on my site to get the latest drawings.