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brucedog
01-13-2016, 07:16 PM
Last week I returned from a 5500 mile trip to La Ventana and back with my 2015 4x4 170" cargo van. The main purpose of the trip was to deliver furniture and household goods to our new home but I also brought along some toys (2 windsurfers with 3 sails, 3 kiteboards with 5kites, 3 SUP's), 40 gallons of extra fuel, and a puppy. I have a bunch of pictures to download but they all rotated 90 degrees when I posted them so I will put them up when I have the time to figure it out.

The van was very heavy but the driving was easy. I did have to adjust my braking distances quite a bit. I installed a ScanGauge II right before the trip which proved to be an excellent investment. I found that when going uphill the LOD (engine load) would get to 99% before the transmission downshifted on its own. By manually downshifting I was able to keep the same speeds but reduce engine load down to the 80's. I'm sure this will pay dividends in the long run. I also monitored cooling temp and was surprised at how quickly it went from the usual 191 degrees up to 197 or 198 when going up a hill. I did see 205 once going over Siskyou Pass in southern Oregon.

I did find that my fuel economy was severely affected by the wind. The first day I was driving into a pretty big headwind and only got 15 mpg. My usual mileage under normal conditions was about 18 mpg. I never drove over 72mph and usually stuck to about 5 mph over the speed limit in USA. In Baja speeds were between 40-70 mph. If you have ever driven that road you know that there are a lot of curves and hills.

As you may know, I was very worried about the lack of ULSD south of Guerrero Negro (which is about half way down the peninsula). I figured that 40 gallons of extra fuel would be enough as long as I didn't drive too much down there. I ended up putting in about 30 gallons of traditional Mexican diesel in to the tank on the way home (from stations south of Guerrero Negro). I never had any warning lights come on and the van performed just like always. I did have a scare just south of Portland when the "low DEF" light came on. It turns out that I was actually low on DEF. Not sure how much it would have taken to fill it but I added 3.5 gallons and the light went away. There was 6600 miles on the van when I added the DEF.

I used the 4wd several times in Mexico but not in very challenging situations. A couple times it took more than 1 try to engage but it always engaged and disengaged without too much hassle. When I was in Hood River, Oregon there was 3-4 inches of snow on the ground and the side streets were unplowed. I engaged 4wd and drove all over town, up and down hills and never felt it slip. I did put on a set of Goodrich KO2 tires before the trip and I'm sure that helped a lot!

All in all I really loved the ride. I have had 3 Eurovans and a Vanagon and put about 400,000 miles on them. The Sprinter is surprisingly easy to drive. I sit up so high and the visibility is fantastic. I have no rear windows but the side mirrors work very well and the backup camera works perfectly. The blind spot assist works incredibly well and the cross wind assist even kicked in a few times. On the negative side, my van is uninsulated and has no panels on the interior so it was very loud. The droning noise at 2200rpms is also very annoying and I look forward to a fix for that.

I stopped in at Van Specialties on the way home and got on their 12-14 month waiting list for conversion. I want to do a lot myself but my Commanding Officer requires a higher level of finish than what she thinks I am capable of. I've trolled around on this site for other outfitters in the Northwest and would love to hear suggestions from the group.

Thanks for reading and I will try to get those pictures sorted out.

Trawlercap
01-13-2016, 09:52 PM
Great to hear, I was just wondering about you yesterday (no really!) good report!, jibes with my van love also after a bitter cold trip to ,,Utah.

Jmolan
01-20-2016, 01:20 AM
So where are your pics? I lost your phone # call me!

jme3505
01-20-2016, 03:58 AM
[QUOTE=brucedog;427864]I stopped in at Van Specialties on the way home and got on their 12-14 month waiting list for conversion. I want to do a lot myself but my Commanding Officer requires a higher level of finish than what she thinks I am capable of. I've trolled around on this site for other outfitters in the Northwest and would love to hear suggestions from the group.
QUOTE]

I Just picked up my van from VS and I had it done in the fab shop. The wait was only about two months. Talking with Greg the owner he told me they do their less than $20k jobs in the Fab Shop. So, depending on what you want done you might be able to have it sooner.
I have a few picts of their work in the Sprinter RV's & Conversions under 144 4x4 passenger/camper combi.
Good luck,
Jon

brucedog
01-20-2016, 04:37 PM
Thanks John. They never offered up that option to me and I will certainly look into it. I'm also in contact with VanGuys from Bend.

I wish I could figure out why my pictures are rotating 90 degrees but I've just attached them anyway. The one picture that came through properly is the panorama pic of our garage. Yes, we did build the garage so the van would fit inside :smirk:

jostalli
01-20-2016, 04:41 PM
Are you moving to La Ventana permanently? Are you concerned that your new van requires ULSD?

brucedog
01-20-2016, 04:53 PM
We are planning on spending 3-5 months a year down there. At this point we are just going to drive the van very little while down there and get around with an old truck that will stay there permanently. With the 40 gallons that I carried with me I can go over 1000 miles which is enough to never fill up south of Guerrero Negro.

Anybody have a reliable old F 150 with an extra cab they want to sell? :laughing:

GeorgeRa
01-20-2016, 06:12 PM
Thanks John. They never offered up that option to me and I will certainly look into it. I'm also in contact with VanGuys from Bend.

I wish I could figure out why my pictures are rotating 90 degrees but I've just attached them anyway. The one picture that came through properly is the panorama pic of our garage. Yes, we did build the garage so the van would fit inside :smirk:

Most likely you did not save these pictures after rotating them into correct positions. I assume you are using some kind photo software, after rotating photos to a correct position right click and save. Some time you can save them as a group.

Good luck,

George.

Jmolan
01-20-2016, 06:31 PM
Nice pics Bruce, cute passenger too! Man you were loaded!

Kauluwela
01-21-2016, 05:31 AM
We are planning on spending 3-5 months a year down there. At this point we are just going to drive the van very little while down there and get around with an old truck that will stay there permanently. With the 40 gallons that I carried with me I can go over 1000 miles which is enough to never fill up south of Guerrero Negro.

Anybody have a reliable old F 150 with an extra cab they want to sell? :laughing:

I've got a reliable toyota tundra single cab work truck edition with manual windows and vinyl floors that I'm selling, it made the Seattle-Cabo trip in 2014. Selling to make way for the 2016 144 4x4 crew van that arrives in April/May.

misterbond10
01-21-2016, 05:37 AM
Did you race the sprinter in the baja 1000? Where did you get those metal stools, those are nice.

Jmolan
01-21-2016, 02:03 PM
I've got a reliable toyota tundra single cab work truck edition with manual windows and vinyl floors that I'm selling, it made the Seattle-Cabo trip in 2014. Selling to make way for the 2016 144 4x4 crew van that arrives in April/May.

Advertise that truck in craigslist Alaska (I kid you not) that is what everyone wants up there. I bet you sell it...:-)

brucedog
01-21-2016, 02:33 PM
Did you race the sprinter in the baja 1000? Where did you get those metal stools, those are nice.

Haha no I didn't but I was making good time! I bought the stools online, can't remember where but they are very popular. I think they were about $50 each

brucedog
01-21-2016, 02:34 PM
I've got a reliable toyota tundra single cab work truck edition with manual windows and vinyl floors that I'm selling, it made the Seattle-Cabo trip in 2014. Selling to make way for the 2016 144 4x4 crew van that arrives in April/May.

Thanks but we want an extra cab for those airport runs

hein
01-21-2016, 02:40 PM
Anybody have a reliable old F 150 with an extra cab they want to sell? :laughing:

We have 2003 F150 5.4L to pull the boat. Not for sale but 99-03 are decent years for reliability.

MatthewStewart
02-14-2016, 02:39 AM
What is ULSD, and why can't you buy it in Baja?

GaryJ
02-14-2016, 03:37 AM
ULSD is ultra low sulfur diesel mandated in the U S in 2007 and having 15PPM sulfur. This fuel replaced LSD at 500 PPM sulfur. Diesel vehicles sold after 2006 are not designed to burn LSD since all the fuel was supposed to be ULSD before the release of any 2007 vehicles. Mexico has not mandated ULSD and to the best of my knowledge its only available in border areas and possibly Mexico City. While driving on the mainland from 2007 through 2015 I never could find a Pemex pump with a ULSD label on it.

Gary

MatthewStewart
02-14-2016, 02:29 PM
Wow. That is terrible news. I am a windsurfer like yourself, (although without the house in La Ventana, congrats on that). I did a couple of long windsurf safaris in Baja, years ago, and would love to do that again with a Sprinter, to be purchased or ordered in the next month or so...

It sounds like that is basically impossible now? Carrying your own fuel is quite a burden...

What happens if you burn the LSD fuel? Damage to your engine?

Jmolan
02-14-2016, 03:21 PM
Do some searches here. I will post later what I know. I am going into Mexico in a few days (2016 4x4) for a while. Everything I have read from real experience is we should be ok.

brucedog
02-15-2016, 05:19 PM
ULSD is ultra low sulfur diesel mandated in the U S in 2007 and having 15PPM sulfur. This fuel replaced LSD at 500 PPM sulfur. Diesel vehicles sold after 2006 are not designed to burn LSD since all the fuel was supposed to be ULSD before the release of any 2007 vehicles. Mexico has not mandated ULSD and to the best of my knowledge its only available in border areas and possibly Mexico City. While driving on the mainland from 2007 through 2015 I never could find a Pemex pump with a ULSD label on it.

Gary

Gary is correct although from what I have read the Pemex stations in Baja Norte, all the way to Guerrero Negro, get their fuel from the tank farms in Ensenada which comes from US refineries and therefore ULSD

Jbernielh
03-16-2016, 04:16 AM
my wife just returned from 2 months in the Baja with her 2011 navion 24J.. left Victoria BC and went as far as Cabo.. Didn't experience any issues with the the lack of ULSD, took extra DEF and did top it up before returning home.. used about a gallon in 2500 miles so thats about what the book says.. she did get a service engine light in La Paz and then again in Cabo.. there is a mercedes repair place in cabo and they do service trips to the freightliner place in La Paz as well.. they scanned the unit and determined both issues were minor and she had them fixed at german auto in escondido on her way home.. she says great people there and very helpful..they replaced all the glow plugs with an updated part and replaced the fuel heater/water sensor that's installed in the fuel filter..
she did lose one rear wheel liner some where in mexico and after looking closer I think the other will come off permanently as well.. painted bare wheels look just fine.. all I need to do now is find some decent valve extenders to get rid of all the tie wraps..

DesertAdventures
05-08-2016, 04:37 PM
Thanks Bruce for the share! Being a Sprinter driver and one who "loves the wind at your back" do check out PSC. Spent many summers living in the Gorge and OR coast until my first visit to PSC. 6 months was my longest stay camping on the point and frequently riding waves over a mile long, Indian ruins, mountain biking and exploring areas nearby via motorcycle, even built a climbing gym in a few sea caves nearby to cross train. Thankful for all the great adventures had in Baja and look forward to a return someday in the near future! Happy travels.