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Old 07-22-2017, 01:59 AM   #31
thebitmaster
 
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Default Re: 2007 Short Wheelbase High Top Urban Stealth Camper

Cargo Bed Alpha:

By modifying my successful cargo bed design from the my 12' yurt I live in full time, I was able to make the first bed for the van in a single extremely hot day.

Here's a shot of the Sketchup diagram I used to pull my cut list:

BedOverWheelWell.jpg

Here are the frame pieces that go over the wheel wells in the middle.

20170719_134852.jpg

Here's the finished frame before I loaded it into Junior:

20170719_192324.jpg

And here it is in the van:

20170719_194306.jpg

...and with the 11 inch custom-cut memory foam mattress installed.

I hate pretty much everything about this bed, but it's done and it works. Without the wheel wells it stores twelve 48 quart tubs.
20170719_194232.jpg

This was the last Must Be Done before leaving on my trip, so I stuffed the van to the gills with the rest of my conversion stuff and headed out on the first leg of my trip to visit my Mom in the D/FW area.

20170720_125739.jpg

I elected *not* to bring any propane gear or my convection microwave, so I'll only have my induction cooktop for cooking. It would have been smarter to bring at least my propane camp stove for a backup, but it would have taken too much time to retrieve it and I was already a day late.

I wish I were a bit shorter, because at 6' 2" I can't run my bed across the van and stretch out. I've investigated some of the flare options, but I can't afford them yet. The mattress has been custom sized to be as small as possible and still sort-of fit me, though my feet still hang off the end when I'm fully stretched out.

It's always been my intention to make everything in the van moveable so I can try some Tetris in the field before settling on a final design, doing insulation, final interior, etc. I'm pretty horrified at the moment at how little space is left after putting in the bed, but it does store a huge amount and would be easy to modify while I'm on the road. At this point the van is so full that I'm going to have to move a bunch of stuff every time I want to lie down, but that's temporary. Once I get to Portland and have some friends with garage space I'll be able to start shoving things around and finding a less chaotic arrangement.
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Old 07-26-2017, 07:46 PM   #32
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Default Re: 2007 Short Wheelbase High Top Urban Stealth Camper

CCA Stranded with Blown Serpentine in Abilene:

Three hundred miles from Hurst and two hundred from my first stop, I heard Bad Noises coming from under the hood during a gas stop in Abilene. The top idler pulley had decided it had somewhere else important to be. Its departure causes both bad feelings and the total shredding of my serpentine belt by the motor, strips of which jammed deeply into the crankshaft pulley.

Thanks to an ex-girlfriend who evidently wasn't wrong about everything, I had a spare serpentine belt. However, nowhere in Abilene had a compatible, or even close, pulley, so I ended up having to order a new kit from SD Euro Parts. The people here taken The Story of the Good Samaritan to heart, and have bent over backwards to help me. One of them let me use his address to ship the parts. Because I'm cheap, I accepted Priority Mail instead of overnighting them by FedEx. This mean no parts for several days.

In the meantime I have no AC in 100 o F heat, no power steering, and am living in a 1/4 finished RV. But, it's an RV with a fully functional 400 watt solar system! I wasn't able to install the Mercedes relay for connecting the car battery to the house pack before I left, but now seemed like a good time.

First I spent about four hours bouncing back and forth from the top and bottom of the engine painstakingly pulling out all the shreds of the old belt, beaning myself in the eye with vice grips in the process. Ouch! At least the scar will probably look cool.

While I was researching the serpentine repair and the relay install, I used my inverter and Dewalt 120V->12VDC charger to top off the batteries. Super inefficient, but I had power to burn.

In the meantime, I installed a Costco Winplus Flex Mount Backup Camera. Probably because I'm hot, exhausted, and sleep depped, I actually took the time to tie it into the backup wire, which worked. However, this was dumb, because I have no rear windshield, so I pretty much want it on any time the accessory circuit is on. Originally I mounted it on the black plastic cover over the license plate, as close to center as possible. However, the angle was too low, and it would routinely fall off when I slammed the door shut (it's held on to the bracket by a magnet.) Today I tried using just the magnet to mount it high pointing down like a security camera, and that's much better. I basically want it as a full-time rear-view mirror replacement, so I'm going to use it on battery for now and re-wire both ends into the accessor circuit once I have time. The major problem with this camera so far is that it randomly cuts out, which I believe, based on other reading here, to be a problem with the light sensor that's supposed to know when it's dark outside. I think it's getting spoofed by my brake lights and glares while driving. If I can't find a solution to this problem, I'm taking it back.

https://www.costco.com/Winplus-Flex-...100323832.html

I pretty much used the factory document for installing the relay:

http://www.sprinter-rv.com/wp-conten...eline-NCV3.pdf

Normally I'd want to use 2-gauge welding cable for this kind of heavy power wiring, but since I was basically stranded at Autozone, I decided to vandalize a set of heavy jumper cables instead. They were $50 for 40 feet of 2 gauge cable that *claims* to be able to handle 350 amps. I will probably never put more than 20 or 30 amps through it for more than a few minutes, so it will do, even though they're copper-clad-aluminum. I had my super-expensive crimpers with me, and AZ had the lugs and shrink wrap, so I got to hacking! I bough solid copper lugs and shrink wrap at AZ and used my super-expensive heavy crimper from Waytek and butane soldering iron to put them on.

I disconnected my master ground wire under the steering wheel and only reconnected it when I wanted to test something.

Under the driver's seat was super dirty, so I spent some time cleaning it up.

Next I pulled the positive bus and installed the tiny 150A fuse. I'm still finding random power-wire incompatible !*@*$ under here. :) Once I got one end on, I routed it through the little tunnel that goes from the battery box to the driver's seat, measured the distance to the place the relay is supposed to live, and cut and lugged the other end.

I'm doing all this in 90-100 F heat with the van and portable fan, going into AZ every hour or two for little parts. I got blade connectors for the relay and put them on some wires, but when I went to push the second connector onto the activation tab, it pushed the tab back into the body of the relay! This might be my fault, because I clamped the connector down a bit before putting it on to make sure it was tight. Taking the relay apart, however, revealed that only the tiniest daub of plastic resists this breakage. Bad show Mercedes! Why am I paying for genuine parts, especially ones that carry 50 amps, if they're not better than after market? It was also a total pain to get apart, I had to drill out the rivet, then put four separate blades under the clips to get the cover off.

I was installing it on the blue-yellow engine-on circuit, which I had already tested. This was dangerous, because without an alternator, I was blowing precious battery power every time I started the engine. I also wanted a manual override, for exactly the kind of alternator-free situation I was currently in. I vaguely realized that making a switch that directly connected the 12V to the relay through a switch would also energize the blue-yellow circuit.The word "diode" bounced around in my head in search of something to connect with, but I was too tired to care, so I just wired it all together. So I installed it to test, and it didn't work. I should have know there was an activation polarity when I saw the diode inside the relay, but I was tired. Worse, the wires I used to hook it up were now incorrectly colored, and I was pretty sure that if I tried to switch them back, it would probably push the blade back into the housing again! !*@*!@!@! Luckily, I was able to switch the wires without much trouble, and after that the relay worked when connected to power. I can't live with myself with incorrectly colored wires in my van. I marked the polarity on the relay for future reference.

I then realized the switch I was using was backward. It connects the two poles on the opposite side of from the switch instead of the same side. I went back and forth on this a few times before I convinced myself I was right. Once I got everything wired up, the relay still wouldn't fire. Also, the blue-yellow circuit no longer seemed to come on. I think maybe energizing it with the override switch blew a fuse somewhere. I was definitely too wiped to track that down, and every minute I delayed the project was precious power that wasn't going into my tired car battery. I decided to call it a day and disconnect the blue-yellow wire and just use the manual override. What I really needed Right Now was the solar panels charging the car battery as well as the house batteries. At that point the relay worked, and I was ready to add the rest of the heavy cabling.

Because I'm not 100% sure where my house pack is going to go, I used the entire cable for both colors so they reach the back of the van. I will trim and re-lug them once I know their final destination. In the meantime I tied them into my 408 Ah battery pack, flipped the relay, and saw the combined voltage on my meter! Power was flowing from the house pack into my tired car battery, and when the sun came up, the solar panels would charge them both.

This also turned out to be Using Murphy to Defeat Murphy moment, because by eliminating the need for an alternator I caused my serpentine belt to arrive a day early! I have it in my hot little hands right now, and will install it once I can convince myself to leave the air conditioned comfort of Monk's Coffee and head back out into The Oven. Autozone has the 36 MM wrench and spline for the tensioner, although I think I won't need the latter because I ordered the whole kit, and the new tensioner has is pinned in the open position. Hopefully by the time I got to bed tonight I'll have three new pulleys and two new belts installed.

Last edited by thebitmaster; 07-26-2017 at 07:50 PM.
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Old 08-03-2017, 08:20 PM   #33
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Default Re: 2007 Short Wheelbase High Top Urban Stealth Camper

Quote:
Originally Posted by thebitmaster View Post
SOLAR:




I called Maxxair about replacing my white Deluxe cover with a Smoke one. At first there was some confusion, but once I made it clear I just wanted the cover and not the whole fan, not only did things improve, but they claim they shipped me the new cover *for free*. I was super happy to hear that, as the cover is $65, and that's about the same as the difference between the 7000 (white) and the 7500 (smoke.) Now I'll have both to try!

who did you talk to at maxxair? I've got a smoke one on my white van and would love to switch it out for white. Details please on how you got a free cover :)

If your west coast trip rolls thru Northern California come stop by Tahoe to talk conversions :)

Last edited by tahoebear; 08-03-2017 at 08:25 PM.
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Old 08-03-2017, 09:27 PM   #34
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Default Re: 2007 Short Wheelbase High Top Urban Stealth Camper

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Originally Posted by tahoebear View Post
who did you talk to at maxxair? I've got a smoke one on my white van and would love to switch it out for white. Details please on how you got a free cover :)

If your west coast trip rolls thru Northern California come stop by Tahoe to talk conversions :)
I wrote to their sales department and got the following e-mail:

Quote:
The smoke lid would be the only part you need. It would be part number 05-30520, and would run 66.96 if you purchased it from us. IF you want to place an order, please call in at the number below and anyone who answers the phone can help you place an order.

Mike Dickey
Technical Assistance Coordinator
RV PRODUCTS, a division of Airxcel, Inc.
3050 North St. Francis
Wichita, KS, 67219
Office: 316.832.4357
Fax: 316.832.3417
...so I was prepared to pay for it. When I called the number, at first they thought I wanted a whole new fan, and tried to explain to me that they didn't do whole-unit sales. Once I explained that I had purchased a white fan but wanted a smoke lid, they asked for my serial number. Once they verified it was still in warranty, they took my address info. Instead of asking me to pay for it, they just said "have a nice day" and hung up. A few days later the cover arrived.

I took some pretty careful pictures using the same exposure settings in full sun of the white cover vs. the smoke cover and I'm still not sure I can tell a difference. I meant to bring both with me on the trip, but I ended up only with the white for now.
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Old 08-05-2017, 03:18 AM   #35
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Default Re: 2007 Short Wheelbase High Top Urban Stealth Camper

Mom is regaining some use of her left hand after the car wreck, and we were able to get her a great deal on a new Camry so she's got wheels again. She still needs my help, but the situation is way better than last year when she broke her right wrist, requiring me to be here all summer.

I'm taking advantage of my Mom's garage to re-build Junior's cargo bed. I updated my Sketchup diagram and I think it will feel a lot more open and uncluttered with the bed side-to-side. I'm longer than the van is wide, so I'm not sure if it will work. Maybe diagonally. There is an a sweet $1500 upgrade available called Flarespace that would make the van 4-6 inches wider that could break the tie if necessary. But instead of paying for that, I'd probably try to make one out of fiberglass myself instead.

Here's my latest Sketchup design. I modeled the curvy, egg-shaped walls to make sure things would fit, and imported and modded several existing models from Sketchup's huge library, which save a lot of time. I *am* concerned that my tubs won't fit as perfectly, but I can probably make it work.

SprinterInteriorWideNotLongBack.jpg

SprinterInterior_WideVsLong.jpg

I've found combining 3D computer work and in-place carpentry to be a fast and effective design method. I can try a bunch of ideas on the computer, then nail down the curvy, non-square details in real life. I was able to figure out quickly which parts of the bed will change (has to be narrower, fits over the wheel wells completely differently) and which parts stay the same (still the same height, etc.)

Here you can see how I changed the frame to fit over the wheel wells. I did all of this in just a few hours with 18V Ryobi tools.

20170803_193035

Even from this one view, you can see how much more open the side-to-side bed makes the rest of the space! I may try sleeping in there tonight if I can get the rest of the frame together.
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Old 08-05-2017, 03:28 AM   #36
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Default Re: 2007 Short Wheelbase High Top Urban Stealth Camper

Wow, you seem pretty daring (building your own FlareSpace pieces). I am just beginning my second urban, stealth Sprinter home. This time with a 2007 SH 144". Will try to keep in touch as that may benefit us both.
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Old 08-05-2017, 06:28 AM   #37
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Default Re: 2007 Short Wheelbase High Top Urban Stealth Camper

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Wow, you seem pretty daring (building your own FlareSpace pieces). I am just beginning my second urban, stealth Sprinter home. This time with a 2007 SH 144". Will try to keep in touch as that may benefit us both.
Thanks! I've never worked with fiberglass, but have with Bondo, etc. It would probably be a lot of work, and way less professional than getting the pre-manufactured ones, but it would also be a lot cheaper.

Portland is the intended destination of my trip this summer. If I can get my Mom safe to live alone again, I should be leaving for there in a week or so. Ya'll temps have been higher than ours here in Texas over the past few days! Please fix that before I arrive. Better weather is a major feature of the trip!

PM for contact info and I'll let you know when I'm in town.
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Old 08-05-2017, 01:39 PM   #38
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Default Re: 2007 Short Wheelbase High Top Urban Stealth Camper

There might be some helpful diy flare info here. https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=36124
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Old 08-06-2017, 02:49 AM   #39
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Default Re: 2007 Short Wheelbase High Top Urban Stealth Camper

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those experiences have included attemping to find urban "camping" spots. I put it in quotes because I would hardly call being stuck inside a van "camping". Those experiences (along with those of several other people on these forums) make it fairly clear to me that the idea is a fantasy that isn't really grounded in any easily encountered reality. I keep speaking out about it because I don't want to see people (particularly young folk who are often staking an awful lot on this idea) burned when they find out that (a) it isn't as easy as they thought (b) it really isn't dependent on their build (c) it isn't actually much fun any way.
I dunno, man .. I've lived in a van for a year. When I'm back in my city I park in the exact same spot every night. It's a piece of cake and it's super fun. There are many Sprinters here, we even hang out at the beach together. There are even "mobile offices"and a few "mobile gyms" that come out here because it's way better than spending the day in a box. There are so many people doing vanlife on the West Coast that I've met people who have been at it for years or even decades. I've had zero problems, tickets, or issues. How stealth you build the vehicle is entirely relevant. I'm inclined to think that you've not tried, you're overly paranoid, or that you choose poor sleeping locations. PM me and I'm happy to help with any questions.
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Old 08-06-2017, 03:25 AM   #40
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Default Re: 2007 Short Wheelbase High Top Urban Stealth Camper

I have to agree whole heartedly with VA. I've stealthed all over CA, WA, OR, TX (incl. the second strictest u.S. county) and parts of NM, UT, ID, CO, MT, AR, MS, TN, KY, AL, LA and others. Slept in the middle of the resort site at Death Valley, residential hoods of Telluride (they don't take to van tramps) and others. I've never felt 'stuck' and don't consider it camping unless I'm, well, camping in the wilds. I'm inclined to believe it is more the person tho' than anything else. You must use common sense, courtesy, never break the laws and personally I never sleep in the same spot twice in a row.
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