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Old 01-07-2014, 05:41 AM   #21
GeorgeRa
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Default Re: Quality of build in Roadtreks(Sprinter)..!!??

In the late seventies and eighties we had 2 VW Westfalias then we switched to the NA built RV trailers and the camper. These 2 Westfalias were about 25-30% more than just passenger VW buses, compare this price delta to current Sprinter conversions. In our last, Canadian built, Bigfoot trailer I hit the roof after finding out that Bigfoot added 400lb of steel crossbars to compensate for the wrongly engineered weight distribution resulting with swaying liability.

The trailer went and with the reference point of ownership of 2 VW Westfalias we looked for a Van Conversion. I asked Airstream folks, what is in the ~$80K conversion price in their $130K unit, hidden platinum, rhodium? Especially as fit and finish was on my boarder line of acceptability. Their unit was built for the showroom first impression of luxury but a fireplace and a ceiling fan were missing.

We saw Sportsmobile, good modular concept but finish truly questionable.

We saw a local conversion outfit, overpriced and under engineered design. No CAD, their proposal was based on hand sketches which is OK for discussion but not for a final quote.

So we decided to do our own. The total cost of our conversion, about 70-80% completed, will be at least 2/3rd lower (excluding my labor) than similar conversion from our local outlet.

I view NA home building and RV industries as good champions of engineering stagnancy. Most of RV trailers are built on fixed steel beams with little consideration for weight to strength ratio. In our travel in EU I often see their RV trailers sitting on structurally engineered beams for weight reduction, no 400 lbs patches. I would argue that adding engineering to RV industry would reduce the total manufacturing cost and improve quality over substandard designs. Westfalia is using a lot of, standardized across a product line, plastic moldings to lower the weight and have good and persistent fit and finish.

In the recent years I saw one company in US which did decent engineering of quality RV trailer, still too heavy for my taste but at high quality - http://www.olivertraveltrailers.com/. A decent pickup and this quality Oliver trailer would still be $30K less than Airstream Sprinter. There is something really wacky with Sprinter conversion prices, but, as long folks are willing to pay why should the Sprinter RV industry change.

Personally I wish to see better fit and finish, way less flashy stuff, and I certainly would not call kneeling on the ground in the midst of splashing feces a user friendly functionality, perhaps the 21st Century would call for some innovation of dumping feces. For how many years we have been doing this unpleasant process of camping the same nasty way, boating industry do far better job separating me from brown stuff.

George.

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Old 01-07-2014, 04:23 PM   #22
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Default Re: Quality of build in Roadtreks(Sprinter)..!!??

I have a 2008 RS with 50K miles on it and I have spent over 150 nights in the RS. While I have had a few nuisance issues with latches and a leaking toilet(which Thetford replaced free), I have been very satisfied with what I bought knowing what it was when I bought it.

I had compared the fit and finish and floor plans of all the other Class B units and settled in the Roadtrek. Are there things I wish RT had included in the RS? Certainly. I have added a hard wired surge protection system and a one gallon pressure tank which I would have liked for RT to have included rather than the surround sound system which does not seem to work. LED lights were not as available in 2007 when my unit was built so I cannot fault RT for not including LEDs rather than the hot halogens which I have replaced.

The bottom line for me is that there may be a better and more expensive Class B out there, RT could improve their quality control some, and use a bit higher quality parts here and there, but so far I am satisfied with mine.
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Old 01-07-2014, 04:48 PM   #23
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Default Re: Quality of build in Roadtreks(Sprinter)..!!??

The Advanced RV looks to be better built with very nice cabinet and detail work- but no one their forum including their latest customer can explain to me how you run an ac for a night without a genset....

Expecting quality cabinetry and assembly work out of a volume builder just isn't happening at competitive price points.

My Fleetwood toy hauler is built to the same modicum of standards as the Roadtrek.

It does exist though at the right price points. My Beaver motorhome is head and shoulders above the quality of almost all sprinter based units. My parent Beaver units shows similar build quality.

The cheapo componentry is designed for temporary rather than live in use.

This is why guys that do it right always do tons of mods their units or just build from scratch.

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Old 01-07-2014, 04:51 PM   #24
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Default Re: Quality of build in Roadtreks(Sprinter)..!!??

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I certainly would not call kneeling on the ground in the midst of splashing feces a user friendly functionality, perhaps the 21st Century would call for some innovation of dumping feces.
George.
Sad and hilarious George!

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Old 01-07-2014, 04:55 PM   #25
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Default Re: Quality of build in Roadtreks(Sprinter)..!!??

Quote:
Originally Posted by gte View Post
I have a 2008 RS with 50K miles on it and I have spent over 150 nights in the RS. While I have had a few nuisance issues with latches and a leaking toilet(which Thetford replaced free), I have been very satisfied with what I bought knowing what it was when I bought it.

I had compared the fit and finish and floor plans of all the other Class B units and settled in the Roadtrek. Are there things I wish RT had included in the RS? Certainly. I have added a hard wired surge protection system and a one gallon pressure tank which I would have liked for RT to have included rather than the surround sound system which does not seem to work. LED lights were not as available in 2007 when my unit was built so I cannot fault RT for not including LEDs rather than the hot halogens which I have replaced.

The bottom line for me is that there may be a better and more expensive Class B out there, RT could improve their quality control some, and use a bit higher quality parts here and there, but so far I am satisfied with mine.
Thank you for your input. I am not questioning the electrical appendages, (although still of inferior make), nor the optional accessories one could have had but the overall built of the skeletal wooden structures/insulation, etc. as well as the plastic mouldings: apprentice or skilled workmanship it very, I mean very poor. Electrical routing/fit is also very poor. Like many mentioned because of additional labor costs attention to detail is circumvented. Like the Germans say: Ordnung, there is none!
*******

I too plan on replacing all the hot halogen lights. Can you please lead me to the source of the LED lights that you fitted matching the same cut out of the former? Thank you..

Cheers...

Last edited by Mein Sprinter; 01-07-2014 at 04:58 PM.
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Old 01-08-2014, 03:51 AM   #26
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Default Re: Quality of build in Roadtreks(Sprinter)..!!??

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Thank you for your input. I am not questioning the electrical appendages, (although still of inferior make), nor the optional accessories one could have had but the overall built of the skeletal wooden structures/insulation, etc. as well as the plastic mouldings: apprentice or skilled workmanship it very, I mean very poor. Electrical routing/fit is also very poor. Like many mentioned because of additional labor costs attention to detail is circumvented. Like the Germans say: Ordnung, there is none!
*******

I too plan on replacing all the hot halogen lights. Can you please lead me to the source of the LED lights that you fitted matching the same cut out of the former? Thank you..

Cheers...
I replaced the four spots with LEDs from sailor SAMs. I got the ones with the extended leads and they fit fine. Here is the one I bought
http://www.sailorsams.com/12-volt-LE...ns_p_2917.html
Good luck
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Old 01-08-2014, 05:57 PM   #27
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Default Re: Quality of build in Roadtreks(Sprinter)..!!??

Quote:
Originally Posted by gte View Post
I have a 2008 RS with 50K miles on it and I have spent over 150 nights in the RS. While I have had a few nuisance issues with latches and a leaking toilet(which Thetford replaced free), I have been very satisfied with what I bought knowing what it was when I bought it.

I had compared the fit and finish and floor plans of all the other Class B units and settled in the Roadtrek. Are there things I wish RT had included in the RS? Certainly. I have added a hard wired surge protection system and a one gallon pressure tank which I would have liked for RT to have included rather than the surround sound system which does not seem to work. LED lights were not as available in 2007 when my unit was built so I cannot fault RT for not including LEDs rather than the hot halogens which I have replaced.

The bottom line for me is that there may be a better and more expensive Class B out there, RT could improve their quality control some, and use a bit higher quality parts here and there, but so far I am satisfied with mine.
I agree. On balance, we have been very pleased with our purchase. We chose it because it exhibited better build quality and design than the competition.

As I recall, the OP solicited forum advice prior to buying his used unit. 'Caveat emptor' would seem to apply here. Did he not notice the 'defects' and lack of perceived quality during inspection at that time? Complaining about countersinking screw holes and the fact that some items are not built the way he would do it? I don't get it. We live in a world of finite choices, and in a highly complex machine like a class B RV, there are multitudes of things that 'could have been done different'. That doesn't necessarily make it a bad product.

Hit the road and enjoy this great country! We've put 90K miles in 5 years on our RS, and can't wait to do more!
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Old 01-08-2014, 07:42 PM   #28
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Default Re: Quality of build in Roadtreks(Sprinter)..!!??

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I agree. On balance, we have been very pleased with our purchase. We chose it because it exhibited better build quality and design than the competition.

As I recall, the OP solicited forum advice prior to buying his used unit. 'Caveat emptor' would seem to apply here. Did he not notice the 'defects' and lack of perceived quality during inspection at that time? Complaining about countersinking screw holes and the fact that some items are not built the way he would do it? I don't get it. We live in a world of finite choices, and in a highly complex machine like a class B RV, there are multitudes of things that 'could have been done different'. That doesn't necessarily make it a bad product.

Hit the road and enjoy this great country! We've put 90K miles in 5 years on our RS, and can't wait to do more!
He, he... Yes, I solicited advice before buying and I bought it while it was -10 inside and out. Didn't know that when looking behind the walls she wasn't too good in quality built. It's not necessarily only the surface(screws; countersink, panels, veneer, etc) but things behind the panels. Most of you probably have never had to correct or get to things inside the bowels of the the coach. I am talking mostly about quality of the built...throughness...attention to detail; fit and finish; pride in workmanship. .

Do I like her, of course, love her but she will over the years be improved, things rectified, put in proper Ordnung worthy it's name; Roadtrek the way she should have been built when first founded.

cheers...
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Old 01-09-2014, 02:41 AM   #29
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Default Re: Quality of build in Roadtreks(Sprinter)..!!??

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He, he... Yes, I solicited advice before buying and I bought it while it was -10 inside and out. Didn't know that when looking behind the walls she wasn't too good in quality built. It's not necessarily only the surface(screws; countersink, panels, veneer, etc) but things behind the panels. Most of you probably have never had to correct or get to things inside the bowels of the the coach. I am talking mostly about quality of the built...throughness...attention to detail; fit and finish; pride in workmanship. .

Do I like her, of course, love her but she will over the years be improved, things rectified, put in proper Ordnung worthy it's name; Roadtrek the way she should have been built when first founded.

cheers...
I think we all have gone through(and continue to) the post delivery improvement process with our units. Welcome to the club but do enjoy it.
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Old 02-26-2014, 04:04 AM   #30
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Default Re: Quality of build in Roadtreks(Sprinter)..!!??

I purchased a RS-Adventurous off a dealer's lot (that is, I didn't place an order optioned to my choices). I got a reasonably good deal on what is pretty much a standard-equipment Roadtrek. My chassis is a 2010 Sprinter (188 hp V6) and the Roadtrek model is called a "2011" model year. (This isn't uncommon for a split between chassis and RV model years.)

To understand where I'm "coming from" -- my previous RV was a 1995 Blue Bird Wanderlodge, 42' length with 470 HP Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine. Wanderlodges are all steel (or have fiberglas front and rear 'caps' on an otherwise steel body). Since 1989 (102" wide body models) they were built on a highway "luxury bus" chassis, prior to that they were on a 96" wide school bus chassis modified for use with the RV models. These are high-end coaches with top quality interiors and a multitude of convenience features. (For example, an AquaHot provided domestic hot water (for kitchen and bath), hydronic heating (full coach), and engine pre-heat for cold weather starts. The engine cooling water was routed through the AquaHot to provide heat while underway, and a Wabasto diesel burner provided heat for the AquaHot while parked. The coach had a 300 gallon fuel tank. Fresh water, 120 gal, gray and black tanks about 70 gallons each. I got 5 to 6 mpg from the Rockies west and 6 to 7 mpg east of the Rockies. This was the first RV I ever owned. I had rented an RV once before, many years ago. (I owned this coach for 40 months, and drove it 36,000 miles through all or part of 26 states.) The coach was built as a "all season" RV. Plumbing was protected sufficiently, that while occupied it would not freeze so long as systems functioned properly. The storage "basement" housed the tanks and much of the plumbing -- and was heated by the AquaHot with a special thermostat that maintained 40 degree temperatures. The interior also had electric heaters in addition to the AquaHot and some coaches also have "heat strips" in the three roof mounted ACs. It comes with a 17,500 watt generator. When packed for travel it weighed 48,000 lbs. (GVWR was 52,500 lbs for 3 axles (8 tires)).

Approaching a Roadtrek, it is obvious that it's no Wanderlodge. But, as a much smaller, lighter and more powerful (power to weight) it makes an interesting comparison. The size difference between the two RVs means that the R/T has some compromises, but that is expected. The large coach was purchased with the intent to live full time. The R/T for shorter trips up to a couple weeks in length. As it turned out, we got caught in the housing "melt down" and were unable to sell our home to effect the full-time RV living plan. Instead we took about 3 trips of 3 to 4 months each during the year with the WL. With our R/T, we've taken several trips each year of a week to 10 days -- and one trip of nearly 6 weeks duration -- plus numerous day trips where the convenience of the R/T made the inconvenience vs an auto worth using it. (e.g Trips to the beach, or to big "festivals" some distance from home, etc. Frankly, having a bathroom along for the ride is a comfort to those who are older and may had "urgent needs." I'm happy with the comfort on the trips up to a couple weeks in length. I don't think I'd want to do the 6-week trip again -- unless we planned to use a hotel for a break two or three times in that length trip. (You mileage may vary!)

Interior build out. The WL used 5/8 plywood for all cabinets. My coach had plastic laminate, but many have 'upgrade' wood veneers. Counters are Corian. The Roadtrek uses veneer over thin plywood or MDF particle board. Fit and finish was relatively good in the R/T. I did have one strip of veneer on the edge of the bathroom door start to peel off -- but by giving it immediate attention, I was able to re-glue it before it tore off or was damaged. The various cabinets and doors (after 2-1/2 years of moderate use) all work and have held up. One cabinet latch must be depressed to close it all the way (perhaps some lube would help, when I get around to it). I'm mostly satisfied with the interior build quality.

I am a little disappointed in some of the appliances. The Dometic refrigerator and AC both work according to spec and are of adequate quality. To be honest, there's not much choice in that category of appliance anyway. The furnace and hot water heater are also standard units and are reasonable based on the size of the vehicle. The off-brand microwave/convection oven, however was a horrible choice. Last year, it quit working for no apparent reason. Troubleshooting found no easy fixes. Of course, we were out of warranty by the time the oven quit. After figuring out the brand, etc., going online I found that it had an absolutely terrible reputation, with many complaints about short lifespan, and poor quality. I decided to replace it. I choose a microwave without the convection oven feature (we'd never used it in the R/T as our meals were kept simple due to the limited storage and cramped food preparation area). Upon disassembling the cabinet to get the old Microwave out and put the new one in, I was not impressed with the workmanship visible (for the first time) behind the cabinets. I was also unhappy to see out little insulation had been installed. Indeed, it looked like 1 inch of fiberglass insulation had been installed behind the wall covering (passenger seat) but it ended shortly after appearing behind the cabinet, where there was NO insulation.

This brings the question -- is this typical Roadtrek practice? Or, is there a "cold weather" option available that I didn't know about? We found, while stopping in Colorado, that the Roadtrek was not well insulated at all. We stayed at a park that was rather higher elevation than we'd realized... and the late season weather was colder than we'd expected. During the night, the temperature dropped below freezing. When the furnace cycled off, the van would cool down almost instantly. When in the bed, if you got too close to the side wall, if felt like the heat was sucked from your body. It appears that there is zero insulation in the doors (rear, side slider) other than whatever Mercedes may have installed. It would have been nice if the sides and ceiling had been sprayed in closed cell (high R-Value) foam after the plumbing and wire harness had been installed.

The bed. They say "king" size. Well, sort of. It is larger than the so-called "queen" bed in the WL. However, the large coach allowed walking past the bed on 3 sides, so you could enter the bed as normal. It was easy to 'make up' with regular linens and blankets (though it was several inches shorter than a standard queen bed ... and it had more rounded corners at the foot to allow easier passage around the corners). After some experimenting, we worked out setting up the R/T bed as a "twin" bed, as it proved awkward (and annoying to one's partner) to enter and leave the bed. It was especially bad for a middle of the night visit to the bathroom. As with the mattress in the large coach, we put a 4 inch "space foam" mattress topper on the R/T bed. Eventually, we trimmed the mattress topper into 3 pieces -- one each for each side of the "twin" and a rectangle cut to fill in the center of the power sofa between the two "twin" beds. I wish that the sleeping platform (at the lower half) had been 3 to 5 inches wider, as they are just a bit narrow, in OEM form. I could build a platform, but then I'd have to deal with matching the OEM cushions, etc., which makes that a problem. Naturally, this means when traveling, the bed is always "up." (But there's only the two of us plus our cat (that's a story in itself -- but he does OK -- but he was clearly happier in the Blue Bird).) Bottom line. Not entirely thrilled with the bed, but it is working OK for us. Younger folks might be "better" on this point, but this is from my point of view.

The kitchen. The Blue Bird had limited counter space and had made some design decisions that were, with 20-20 hindsight, not ideal. The Roadtrek has very little counter space. The cooktop is adequate, but not a very heavy duty model. The sink is also adequate but small. We do not cook anything elaborate -- using a campsite BBQ (if available) for meat and using the cooktop for breakfasts, and meat patties and other simple dishes. The refrigerator seems to hold only about 2 to 3 days worth of supplies -- and care in loading is necessary. (WL - no comparison -- it had a 22 cu ft side by side Amana home style refrigerator with ice maker.) I like to have ice available for cold drinks ... and I've found that I can get about 4 lbs of ice from our home freezer into the R/T in plastic bags. The tiny ice trays are not very productive, but I've figured out how to get two into the freezer (once the sack-ice runs out).

The cooktop actually is an improvement vs. the Wanderlodge. (What, you say?) The Wanderlodge we had was an "all electric" unit. The plus was no LP gas to hassle with -- and more storage underneath (since there was no LP gas tank). The down side is that when you were not able to plug into shore power, you had to run the generator to operate the electric cook top. (The refrigerator and microwave were handled by the dual 2800 watt inverters and the 6 type 4-D house batteries (at 145 lbs each).) This was a major annoyance when camped where there was an extended "quiet time" ... California State parks have an 8PM to 10AM quiet time. Cold breakfast. At least I was able to heat some coffee. Had I been able to "do over" my selection of the Wanderlodge -- I would not have gotten an all-electric model.) The "other" problem was that the large Amana refrigerator could draw down the house batteries overnight. Wow!

The bathroom: Roadtrek has a most efficient set up for the bath. With the shower occupying the same space as the toilet and sink, it has a certain efficiency -- and it is truly easy to wash everything down! However, its advantage is also its biggest fault. When you take a shower, everything gets wet. So the bathroom really needs to be dried out after the shower. The other big annoyance is living with a 6 gallon hot water heater (after having lived with an Aquahot that is, essentially, a tankless water heater that "makes" unlimited hot water. You can take a 20 minute shower, and never run out, so long as you're connected to shore services. Actually with 120 gallons of water on board, it's only the waste water holding tanks that would be a concern. As for the R/T, I normally request a space near the shower house when staying in a camp ground -- and I use them.

Holding tanks and gauges. Again, it is obvious that the huge tanks in the Blue Bird can't be replicated in a small van. The minimal hot water is not unreasonable considering the minimal size of the holding tanks. I have not (yet) experienced a critical overflow situation with the holding tanks in the R/T... but I make it a practice to dump the tanks roughly every morning. The macerator pump is an "interesting" feature as is the "retracting" sewer hose. Design wise, I think it would have been better to have a throw switch instead of a push and hold button to operate the macerator. Retracting the hose is sometimes difficult ... you push the hose in-- and at some point it bends to form a loop in the storage tray. The loop does not want to form at time, requiring a lot of pushing and pulling. I notice (when putting the van away for this winter) that a hole has developed in the hose, near where the loop bend takes place. I'll have to figure out how to best fix this, but I'll start with some duct tape (the all-purpose repair material). The frustrating aspect is that there does not seem to be a bypass to allow the gray tank to drain with out running the macerator. (That's why the 6 gallon hot water heater is OK ... you can't use too much water or you'll overfill the gray tank.) Have I missed something -- is there some way to set up the gray tank to drain by gravity?

The gauges suck. Both the black and gray tanks show "full" regardless of condition. I've used all the usual chemicals and unless the "sensor cleaner" chemicals are used in EVERY tank, the black tank doesn't register anything but full. The gray tank is slightly better, but quickly quits registering the actual level. (The WL gauges were also "sensitive" but were several orders of magnitude better.) What's frustrating is that I could forgive Blue Bird for the so-so gauges as they were "state of the art" in 1995. Now there are modestly priced sensors that apply to the outside of the tank and do not ever need cleaning. Why weren't they used? At least the fresh tank ... and the LP gas both appear to provide reasonable level indications.

Minor frustration is the location of all the hook-ups. They're all way down by the ground, requiring a lot of stooping (or getting on hands and knees) to access. Probably not a problem for a younger, more flexible person. (Of course, other than the sewer hook-up, the WL had waist level access to all the utility attachments. It also had a reel for the 50 amp power cord.)

The generator (about 2500 watts using LP gas) is rather noisy. Somehow the single cylinder "pop-pop-pop" is more annoying that the 4 cyl Kubota diesel (55 hp) used on the 17,500 watt generator on the WL. Aside from that, the small generator has proved to be acceptable. Very difficult to service, though, as I found when I needed to change the oil at the end of the "break in period." At least I was in an RV park with nice concrete parking pads, that made crawling under the van less unpleasant. Mirror (to inspect), flashlight, and funnel required for that service. It looks like Onan has a "better" optional exhaust system that might cut some of the external noise. (I swear, at 50 feet, the 2500 watt genny is really noisier than the 17,500 watt genny. Amazing.)
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