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Sprinter build thread

  1. #1051
    Fast is contagious JettaJayGLS's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread


    Quote Originally Posted by nhbubba View Post
    Swank.

    So you are running AC lighting with dimmers? These are wired ahead of the inverter, correct? I would think DC straight from the battery bank would be more efficient for you.
    Or do you plan to be docked with shore power a lot.

    When you say "modular". Does that mean you can remove components (ie the kitchen, bed, etc) from the rig piece meal. To my eye having the wiring and components in that bulkhead and bench would make that impossible. Howdudoeit?!

    Hope I can see this setup in person someday. Still dreaming about building one.
    1) the lights are all 12v. The dimmer switch was unobtanium that I was able to obtain: DC, SPDT (I also have a switch next to the steering wheel that also operates the lights), and fits into your household housings. The switch next to the kitchen is actually an AC switch I am using for DC power. It isn't recommended, but its one of those things that everyone does. Top switch is for the fridge, middle switch is for the water pump, bottom switch is unused right now. The kitchen outlet is AC.

    2) Exactly. How did I do it, you ask? That is why I said it added 1-2 months of time to the build.

    For the main power column, I added in T nuts and bolted the side piece in. Take out those screws and you have full access to the wires.
    https://i.imgur.com/d0n6cPj.jpg

    For the bench, the top three pieces all drop in and are held in place with the same t-nut/bolts combo. The back of the bench is not attached at all, it slides in and then bolts in place by the three top sections. It is sneaky, but it is also not the full width of the van. So once you remove the top three pieces, the back of the bench slides to the right and then slides up to remove it. I made this time lapse, imagine it in reverse.
    https://imgur.com/fo8pfeE

    The bench is stuck there. However, the electronics are mounted to a drop in board on top of the batteries. Remove some wires and you can pop up that board and access the batteries. It isn't perfect, but it also isn't sealed shut and that is kind of all that matters.

    Technically, the kitchen can be removed, but you need to lift it up and it is NOT easy. Thankfully, it is SUPER easy to pull all the drawers out and then you can access everything. I purposely did not put a back on it, attached all the wires to the wall of the van, and ran notches in the uprights to go around the wires. This image kinda shows it, that middle drawer and top right drawers comes out like the rest.
    https://imgur.com/wNM67wN

    The bed is pretty straight forward. The horizontal supports rest on the walls. The front-back supports sit on the horizontal supports. The angle iron allowed me to have very good lateral strength (would have needed a 2x6 on its side to match). Mounting it to the wood helps lock everything in place and looks great. I originally panned to just have the horizontal supports. However, because the van gets narrower quickly as you go up, it was nearly impossible to get them in and out. So I chopped it into 4 pieces. A HUGE perk of this is that its pretty easy to lift one up and access the garage. Added bonus.

    Just realized I never posted any of these photos or explained the bed.



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    Last edited by JettaJayGLS; 02-10-21 at 05:18 PM.
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  2. #1052
    Fast is contagious JettaJayGLS's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread

    Seriously. The mental gymnastics I went through on this is absolutely insane. 1-2 months added time is not an exaggeration (granted, I did NOT work full time and used up just about every weekend I had available).

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  3. #1053
    Fast is contagious JettaJayGLS's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread

    Report from the road: it’s much quieter than my old van. Much quieter. A static setup is way better then having to move things. It drives excellent. Top speed governed at 82, will sit there all day on cruise control. The old van didn’t feel great to sit above 75. Not cause of the motor, but winds/noise. Mileage is not great at 82. If it’s crosswinds (which it has been the whole time, except Nebraska and CO) it’s about 15mpg from the 2.1l 4cyl diesel. If it isn’t windy, it’s over 16 pretty easily. I’ve worked out It’s $75 / 4 hour drive time. Honestly, it’s just a very nice place to be while driving. It wins over the old van in the slogs. No question about it.

    Probably jinxing it, bet every thing is working well so far, but haven’t hit the mountains yet.

    Currently in Boulder. Photo from a very nice stop in Nebraska.


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    Last edited by JettaJayGLS; 03-02-21 at 10:31 AM.
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  4. #1054
    Lifer typeone's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread

    awesome work, Jay. love it

    ----

    wife has been sending Class B AWD/4x4 links daily for past month ... boy do i love the Winnie Revel + Storyteller Overland + Sportsmobile Classic ... wouldn't have time or desire to build our own ... the Winnie Solis is nice with pop-top and seat config but not AWD and front end makes me sad.

    dilemma is 2 adult / 2 childs but want fairly compact rig. if the VW California was avail state-side, we'd have one ... so far the Solis checks the most boxes for us. have not looked at anything in person yet.

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  5. #1055
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread-(Pictures are back!)

    Awesome news! Yeah. The t1n was noisy on the road. Our new van has all the rv rattles, but is soooo much quieter. Makes long haul drives much more doable.

    Sent from my SM-G991U using Tapatalk

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  6. #1056
    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread

    https://www.winnebago.com/models/pro...torhomes/solis

    That really does look like a winner.
    Cool to see real belted passenger seats. Such an afterthought in so many campers.

    I think I'm resigned to a 3/4 ton, quad cab pick-up + "bunk" style camper for my brood. Someday.

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  7. #1057
    Fast is contagious JettaJayGLS's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread

    Quote Originally Posted by nhbubba View Post
    https://www.winnebago.com/models/pro...torhomes/solis

    That really does look like a winner.
    Cool to see real belted passenger seats. Such an afterthought in so many campers.

    I think I'm resigned to a 3/4 ton, quad cab pick-up + "bunk" style camper for my brood. Someday.
    That layout is dope.

    I personally don't love the Promy's. My experience is nowhere near as deep as Paul's, but my friend built one along side my sprinter. Ground clearance sucks. The motor is a dog. Its FWD with a rear torsion beam that looks like it was from my mk4 Jetta.
    The flip side is....they're cheap (at least compared to the Benz). Because of the drivetrain and low clearance, you get a HUGE interior height. Its super wide too. Its shape is a box. All those things mean its super easy to build. But the character and drivability make it lose out for me vs the Benz.

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  8. #1058
    Lifer typeone's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread

    ^ helpful info. another mark against then.

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  9. #1059
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread-(Pictures are back!)

    I was worried about buying a promaster, but so far all of those issues have proven to be non factors. The interior space gained trumps the clearance issue.

    The motor is weird for the platform, but it cruises super smooth and quiet despite having to Rev high when you need power.

    Fwd makes it turn tighter than a rwd van of equal wheelbase.

    It lacks the soul of the sprinter, but when I drive it I think, damn, this thing drives nice.

    Sent from my SM-G991U using Tapatalk

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  10. #1060
    Fast is contagious JettaJayGLS's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread-(Pictures are back!)

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_E_D View Post
    I was worried about buying a promaster, but so far all of those issues have proven to be non factors. The interior space gained trumps the clearance issue.

    The motor is weird for the platform, but it cruises super smooth and quiet despite having to Rev high when you need power.

    Fwd makes it turn tighter than a rwd van of equal wheelbase.

    It lacks the soul of the sprinter, but when I drive it I think, damn, this thing drives nice.

    Sent from my SM-G991U using Tapatalk
    Have you driven in the snow yet? I'm assuming a loaded FWD van would go nowhere? I guess if you get the weight between the wheels it should to okay.

    You were never going to get the soul of the 118, so it was going to be a downgrade in that department no matter what.

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  11. #1061
    Lifer gixxer72's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread

    Quote Originally Posted by JettaJayGLS View Post
    Seriously. The mental gymnastics I went through on this is absolutely insane. 1-2 months added time is not an exaggeration (granted, I did NOT work full time and used up just about every weekend I had available).
    Worth the effort judging by your photos. Very nice work!!

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  12. #1062
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread-(Pictures are back!)

    Quote Originally Posted by JettaJayGLS View Post
    Have you driven in the snow yet? I'm assuming a loaded FWD van would go nowhere? I guess if you get the weight between the wheels it should to okay.

    You were never going to get the soul of the 118, so it was going to be a downgrade in that department no matter what.
    It's not good in the snow. The weight of the build is biased to the rear. I'm about to replace the stock tires with something much more aggressive. It should help, but it won't make it a beast or anything.

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  13. #1063
    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread-(Pictures are back!)

    Quote Originally Posted by JettaJayGLS View Post
    Have you driven in the snow yet? I'm assuming a loaded FWD van would go nowhere? I guess if you get the weight between the wheels it should to okay.
    Somewhere on this site someone once mentioned that they worked for some sort of delivery outfit that had switched to the Promaster because of the FWD snow handling. At least that's how I read it.
    I just tried to find the discussion and can't. Maybe I imagined it. The comment stuck with me enough to sway my opinion off of "hell no, never" over to "yeah, maybe, I guess".

    Then we went to Utah on family vaca a couple years ago to hit National Parks. Every single place we looked there were "adventure" vans. The promaster was very well represented. In the parking lot outside of Zion after a full day of hiking with the kiddo a young 20-something couple gave us a brief tour of their promaster conversion. Their floorplan was unique as they put their "kitchen" up against the back of the cockpit and there was no pass through. But I was blown away at how much space there was. To my eye there is substantially more space. And that ain't nothin'.

    Depends on what you are prioritizing I guess.

    At the time we were driving a Dodge Caravan rental. Which, I believe, has the same motor. I hated it at first but it really grew on me.

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  14. #1064
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread

    The space gained over the egg shaped sprinter is significant. The bathroom in our van is really roomy. Almost too big actually! The boxier shape allows a lot more storage capacity in cabinets too.

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  15. #1065
    Fast is contagious JettaJayGLS's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread

    Quote Originally Posted by nhbubba View Post
    Somewhere on this site someone once mentioned that they worked for some sort of delivery outfit that had switched to the Promaster because of the FWD snow handling. At least that's how I read it.
    I just tried to find the discussion and can't. Maybe I imagined it. The comment stuck with me enough to sway my opinion off of "hell no, never" over to "yeah, maybe, I guess".

    Then we went to Utah on family vaca a couple years ago to hit National Parks. Every single place we looked there were "adventure" vans. The promaster was very well represented. In the parking lot outside of Zion after a full day of hiking with the kiddo a young 20-something couple gave us a brief tour of their promaster conversion. Their floorplan was unique as they put their "kitchen" up against the back of the cockpit and there was no pass through. But I was blown away at how much space there was. To my eye there is substantially more space. And that ain't nothin'.

    Depends on what you are prioritizing I guess.

    At the time we were driving a Dodge Caravan rental. Which, I believe, has the same motor. I hated it at first but it really grew on me.
    Unloaded, I'm sure its better in the snow. Once you had a few thousand pounds...well...I think that is the differentiator.

    Price, availability, and the build potential. That is why my friend went with a promy. He got a 2019 with 30k miles in the bay area from a dealer for ~ $27k, I got a 2016 with 35k miles for $28.5k in New England from a private party. A more budget build could be done in the price difference alone.

    I also can't overstate enough how much of a pain it was to try to squeeze every inch of interior space. My friend literally just put strapping on the wall and had a perfect box.

    His Van, for reference, is pretty darn sweet.:
    https://www.instagram.com/pammyvanderson/

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_E_D View Post
    The space gained over the egg shaped sprinter is significant. The bathroom in our van is really roomy. Almost too big actually! The boxier shape allows a lot more storage capacity in cabinets too.
    Yup, all of the above.


    Sprinter vs Promy.


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  16. #1066
    Fast is contagious JettaJayGLS's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread

    At some point, I probably will tub the rear windows. I bet if I put my name on a list now, that will probably line up with when I'm ready to do it. I've seen people rivet them in, but, meh.

    https://flarespace.com/collections/f...37727464718534

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  17. #1067
    Fast is contagious JettaJayGLS's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread

    I dunno why I'm going down this path so much...but this photo right here is what I'm talking about. The Promy rear end just reminds me of my old Jetta that notoriously has one of the worst rear suspension setups ever. Its really well hidden from most photos taken at eye level, or its just in the shadows, but in real life you can't miss it.


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  18. #1068
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread

    Hahaa, it is sincerely awful that they did this, but really, it would only hit on a bouldery road. The van could not go forward in snow that deep, so it's a non issue there. I don't think it's the van for you, but it's surprisingly good at "almost" everything one would do with a camp van.

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  19. #1069
    Fast is contagious JettaJayGLS's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul_E_D View Post
    Hahaa, it is sincerely awful that they did this, but really, it would only hit on a bouldery road. The van could not go forward in snow that deep, so it's a non issue there. I don't think it's the van for you, but it's surprisingly good at "almost" everything one would do with a camp van.
    I'm just trying to rationalize my expensive purchase.
    I do agree that this would not limit anything I will do with the van. I'm just shallow and want it to look good and feel good.

    But WHY did they use this design, haha. My guess is cost. It is such a turn-off.

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    Last edited by JettaJayGLS; 03-03-21 at 12:12 PM.
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  20. #1070
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread

    There are guys who have cut and welded it. Looks much better, but I think the low spot on my van is the gennie anyway, so it really doesn't add meaningful clearance in my case.

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  21. #1071
    Fast is contagious JettaJayGLS's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread

    Spent a couple days in Boulder to work. Made my way to the Teton's last night around 2am. Breakfast in Jackson in the AM. Now currently working for a bit from Teton pass (last two photos). I don't have my splitboard with me (left one on each coast) but hopefully getting in a boot pack after my calls. Finally getting some time off this weekend to hang with Marco. Teton pass was the first steep thing I've done. Does great. Won't do 70 up it, but 50mph around 3k RPMs is fine.

    And don't take this as a glorified "look at me" post. I fucking hate working from the van. I hate it. It is very very stressful. My dog is super anxious in cars and I need to stop every 2 hours. I swear "van-lifers" are full of shit or trust funders.








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    Last edited by JettaJayGLS; 03-04-21 at 01:37 PM.
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  22. #1072
    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread

    Quote Originally Posted by JettaJayGLS View Post
    I fucking hate working from the van. I hate it. It is very very stressful.
    It looks unbearable. Please elaborate. My dreams need crushing.

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  23. #1073
    Fast is contagious JettaJayGLS's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread

    Because bouncing around on zoom calls, finding reasonable internet, dealing with the dog, not having a bathroom, all just kinda sucks to manage. And it takes the fun away from vanning. Ideally, I keep them completely separate. Just never seems to be the case, which is why I'm definitely in the weekend warrior camp.

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  24. #1074
    Lifer jimmycapp's Avatar
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    Re: Sprinter build thread

    Starlink is going to be great for this.

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  25. #1075

    Re: Sprinter build thread

    Quote Originally Posted by JettaJayGLS View Post
    And don't take this as a glorified "look at me" post. I fucking hate working from the van. I hate it. It is very very stressful. My dog is super anxious in cars and I need to stop every 2 hours. I swear "van-lifers" are full of shit or trust funders.
    I really haven't looked into it too much myself, but do many people really do it with dogs? Other than like instagram influencers for cloud?

    It's like trying to do it with a wife and kids, just makes it un-necessary more complicated (not talking about your situation but people who life that life)

    But you're probably right on your last two points. Lots are either lying (to themselves and others) or are the ones without a job or a need to earn a living.


    I have enough vacation time to take multiple months off work and always day dreaming about riding/driving something across county. Doubt I'd do it on a bike anymore (done my long trips in the past). Doubt I'd do it in a Caterham even though the experience would be cool. Likely in some sort of offroad capable SUV to take advantage of exploring when in middle of nowhere lands. Overlanding or whatever it's called?

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