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Old 10-09-2012, 06:54 AM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 65
My SMB-S Build

Hiya folks,

Long-time lurker and follower of the great Chumley. I am about to throw down on my RB PH sprinter and wanted to see if anyone had some constructive ideas to help me finalize my plans. I am limited to a RB due to parking restrictions and need to seat at least 6 for child hauling duties. It will function as a daily driver with the goal of improving our monthly road trip experiences. It will also tow my race car maybe 20 days a year. Look at this plan and help me avoid mistakes. Thanks in advance.

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Old 10-09-2012, 08:22 AM   #2
Join Date: Jul 2012
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My SMB-S Build

So here is what I am planning to include on this unicorn:

Alcoa wheels
3 zamp 140w solar panels
6 smart lithium 100ah batteries
N62 bracket with 270 amp alternator
Rigid e-series 50 inch 19k lumen light bar
Powered f45 awning
Spare tire delete
Larger fresh and gray water tanks
Led lights throughout
Smartkey iphone autostart, security, temp monitor
Kenwood dvd/nav/sirius
Thetford curve
4g mobile booster
Danhard AC

This will be built on an oddball low top 144" 3500 chassis with PH. I was concerned about the gvwr leaving me 1000 lbs of occc. I can build it on the 2500 chassis but then i am near gvwr dry and fully loaded I would likely be more than 1000 lbs over with 8 souls on board.

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Old 10-09-2012, 08:37 AM   #3
Join Date: Jul 2012
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My SMB-S Build

Other gizmos to include:

Tow package and trailer brake controller
3m clear bra
Escort 9500ci
Live traffic antennae
Diesel heat, flat plate, stove
6/0 wiring for solar panels
4/0 wiring for controller and inverter

This 3500 low top has factory headlights lights without high center of gravity package but smb-s thinks they can retrofit factory bixenon lights but without the washers so this may be a consideration. This chassis is a fleet leftover and has no options so just adding cruise control is a major headache but mandatory.

Ordering a custom 2500 chassis would add 3 months to the build but allow a second 2 stage driver door, oem bixenons with washers, and different color other than white but then bumps up against the gvwr as noted. The 144" low top 3500 cannot be ordered from factory.
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Old 10-09-2012, 09:01 AM   #4
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Re: My SMB-S Build

Do you plan a lot of remote, extended camping? You have a lot of battery power there (heavy), and a lot of solar. If you're moving the van every couple of days, you might have overkill with the battery setup you have. I like overkill to some extent, but it's a fine line. A lot of the solar/battery setup also depends where you are located, and where you will be camping?

Lots of sun?
Lots of tree cover?
Northern latitudes that limit the incident angle of sunlight on the solar panel?

At a minimum, you might want to consider 1-2 fixed solar panels, and 1 portable solar panel that can be connected in parallel. This also gives you some power if you want to camp in the shade, and can position the portable panel in the sun.

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Old 10-09-2012, 10:02 AM   #5
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Re: My SMB-S Build

I would probably take a real hard look at the optional lower diff gearing. I'm not sure how heavy your race car trailer is but you are going to be adding a lot of weight in the build. Hauling a trailer with the already heavy Sprinter you will need all the low end grunt you can get. Your gas mileage will probably suffer a little but your engine and trans will last longer because they won't have to work as hard.

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Old 10-09-2012, 10:45 AM   #6
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Re: My SMB-S Build

Not sure what part of the country you are in. The remote start, is that primarily for advance cooling or winter heat? I would spec the CL Lawrence t-vent side windows with screens for ventilation with that many folk siting in the back and for parking in sunny weather.

Are you planning for camping or primarily use this for event (racing, skiing, kids sports activities etc) "camping"? The following comments relate to this question.

How much on board water and grey water capacity? Will there be a back shower - thats a lot of people, also consider refer size for beverages.

will you have enough food and cutlery storage for that many people? Look at providing room for a kitchen box to haul everything out at once for meals. We integrated the pricey but really nice and light Kanz kitchen box in our cooking gear storage plan and love it. we have everything but food in it so no need to keep getting into drawers etc and freed up storage for other things. Ours kitchen box is equiped with enough gear for 6 people (see our gallery)

Propane stove or diesel? consider deleting this to eliminate propane system and for some counter space if you don't think you will be cooking indoors much. Use portable 2 burner outdoors.

We had them enlarge the flip down doors on the rear door cubbies to max size so they were useful for putting gear etc on while getting organized for some activity. With your rear galley it looks like the back doors will be utilized a lot so think about what you are going to put on the back. And where will all the sleeping gear and tent(s) go? PH roof rack?

For added gear storage you may want the move the spare to the back for a storage well.

With that many people think about organizing storage dedicated for each persons gear.

Add the rear back up camera - have it mounted high, not at plate location to observe your tow.

Add maybe a front hitch for a bike rack if you are towing a race car unless the trailer has room for them.

ps: wished we had put black aluminum wheels on ours instead of conventional aluminum finish. It would look better with the black fender trim and side guards. See OutsideVans website for sleek exterior look ideas.

We also put a key pad entry on the passenger door instead of the driver door so passengers can get in and out without needing your key fob. If your the driver you will have the fob so do not need the pad on that side.
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Old 10-09-2012, 01:17 PM   #7
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 65
My SMB-S Build

It has 4.18 ratio already.

I have looked into front push bar with front hitch mount for prerunner accessories.

I am planning 33.5 g fresh, 25g gray, 600ah batteries, and 420w solar.

I plan tinted t-windows for both driver side windows and slide door with fixed glass for rear passenger side so ventilation esp with PH should be good.

I like overkill. The 3500 gvwr is more than 11k. I plan to use this as a DD to shuttle kids, commute to work, road trip, car camp, and be home base for race days.

I am based in metro DC and street restrictions mandate less than 20ft and no roof ac shroud. I plan to get at least a rear upper camera for lining up tow hitch and backing up.
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Old 10-09-2012, 01:37 PM   #8
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Re: My SMB-S Build

6/0 wiring for the solar panel?

I've never seen 6/0, usually the wire gauge goes from 4/0 to 250 and that is good for over 200 amps.

So, I guess you mean 6 gauge for the solar. Still overkill. 10 ga will work well in that application. 420W of solar is a max of 35A and realistically closer to 20-25A. Since it is fairly short run, I would go with 10 ga., easier to work with and less money than 8 (or 6) ga.

4/0 is very difficult to work with. And probably more than you need also. The runs are so short that you really don't have to worry about voltage loss. And you are not running in conduit, so heat buildup is not a big issue. You will be able to support the same with 2 parallel 2 ga wires and not have to fight with the 4/0.

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Old 10-09-2012, 05:47 PM   #9
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Re: My SMB-S Build


I would love to see pics of a 3500 low top. I think that right now you can only get them in the high top version.

As a racer I think you will love the handling of a Sprinter. I guess it's a German thing but it's pretty impressive. BTW: what do you race? I spent some cockpit time behind the wheel of a Formula Ford back in the 80s and dream of a car for some fun hobby racing in the future. Maybe a spec racer of some sort.

GT100, is that kind of like a GT1000 Duc? I had one for a while and it was fun but maybe I am way off base here.

You sure look like you are on the right track and will love the 3500, I sure do. I like your options list.

Good luck.

Charlie is the best antidote for a tough week at work. I get to see a different side of this great country and relax in different places on every trip. My vacation home is parked where money can't buy residence. Life is a long journey and my magic carpet is named Charlie.
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Old 10-09-2012, 06:47 PM   #10
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 65
My SMB-S Build

Thanks Chumley,

I was wondering if you would still monitor the forum amidst the chaos of your shakedown trip. Your opinions are highly valued.

I live in northern virginia but am getting the build done in austin despite a loooong drive. Huntington is closer and they are really nice but only build custom anything as long as it is exactly what they want- like henry ford, any color as long as you want black.

I tow a 1987 911 cabriolet mostly with the porsche club. I used to flog a 2003 heavily modified audi rs6 that 600 hp on sunoco gt100 hence the name. Most people just call me Benji.

I like the option list but still open to interior changes. Exterior wise I am torn about the bixenons. As this is a stripped fleet vehicle, it does not have any options as mentioned. I am having cruise control retrofitted definately but smb is willing to retrofit the oem bixenons for 2k but they do not include the cornering lights or washers. Regardless, I am mounting a 50 inch led light bar on the ph thule rails like on the outside van gnar show vehicle. I have posted here and sprinter forum but haven't been able to gather a census of whether or not the bixenons are worth the money in this case.


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