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Old 09-16-2019, 12:19 AM   #21
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Default Re: Considering building out a 118 T1N for part time stealth camping

My advice to all first time prospective buyers: If you can't confirm that most of the usual suspects under the hood have recently been replaced and/or you can't afford to put $2-5K into getting the van mechanically sound, I wouldn't recommend anyone buying any T1N, especially if a camper build is your goal. If you don't know what the usual suspects are/have no idea what you're looking, listening, and feeling for--I wouldn't recommend anyone buying any T1N. These vans are at best about 14 years old. Low mileage is nice but age of components now plays a bigger role. This one in particular is not one that I would consider "low" mileage. More than anything I would not put any money into a camper build until I was 100% certain that the mechanical systems would be very unlikely to let me down. There have been a ton of recent posts by members that have purchased T1Ns based on mileage and aesthetics, spent thousands on a camper build before putting any significant mileage on the van, only to end needing thousands more in repairs 300 miles into their "maiden voyage". I don't claim to know what I'm talking about. I bought my first T1N based on mileage and aesthetics and I got extremely lucky, though I did put about $3K into the mechanicals in the first year. Luckily when I had issues I was in Denver--thank you Linden Engineering. My 2nd T1N I was not so lucky with, and while I'm still happy with the price I paid for it I've put in about $5K in parts, hundreds of research hours, and at least a hundred hours of my own work to to get it running to my specifications. At this point, we should all look at T1Ns as a labor of love, a hobby, or disposable. If you can't check any of those boxes, you're rolling the dice and betting whatever the sticker price is. Good Luck.
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Old 09-16-2019, 01:34 AM   #22
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Default Re: Considering building out a 118 T1N for part time stealth camping

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My advice to all first time prospective buyers: If you can't confirm that most of the usual suspects under the hood have recently been replaced and/or you can't afford to put $2-5K into getting the van mechanically sound, I wouldn't recommend anyone buying any T1N, especially if a camper build is your goal. ...

... At this point, we should all look at T1Ns as a labor of love, a hobby, or disposable. If you can't check any of those boxes, you're rolling the dice and betting whatever the sticker price is. Good Luck.
And yet, with NC3V Class B motorhomes still running in the $80k range used, $10k for a nice T1N even with another $5k in parts and labor still seems to look like a pretty good deal, doesn't it? I can put a LOT of money into my T1N before I get anywhere near what I'd have had into an NCV3. And worse yet, it appears that the NCV3 vans are as big (or bigger) money pits than the T1Ns.

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Old 09-16-2019, 06:39 AM   #23
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Default Re: Considering building out a 118 T1N for part time stealth camping

I think the key point here is to budget $3k on parts updates and price a used van accordingly.

In two years and 40,000 miles I’ve installed a starter motor, replaced all the fluids, filters, the radiator, fan and clutch, belt, pulleys, tensioner, cold-side induction hoses, two injector seals, five glow plugs and repaired the module, four tires, door lock wiring repairs, sanded/polished the head lamps, new low beams, new windshield and rust repair to frame, three roller arms on the sliding door, replaced the inner slider handle, fixed the bent latch, washed the rust from the headliner with CLR, and resealed three leaking roof seams.

I’m planning to do brakes, and maybe the shocks and sway-bar bushings next spring.

Oh, and I’ve built a bed platform, cargo drawer, three hammocks, re-anchored the 2nd row bench, added a backup camera, a rear step, and a 5-up pivoting bike rack. And of course my daughter painted baby dragons on the front fenders.

But now it’s replaced our 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan as my daily driver (kids like the headroom and it gets equal fuel milage), and I’ve been to the coast and back twice this summer - just shy of 10k miles since May, and I would hop in it tomorrow and go anywhere, but being able to say that with confidence has taken significant time and vigilance, and a bit of luck.

Good luck to you, too!

-dave

Last edited by Nautamaran; 09-16-2019 at 06:44 AM.
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Old 09-16-2019, 08:46 AM   #24
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Default Re: Considering building out a 118 T1N for part time stealth camping

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If you can't check any of those boxes, you're rolling the dice and betting whatever the sticker price is. Good Luck.
I'm another new owner who blindly gambled on a used T1N. I didn't realize what a potential can of worms these things can be. I bought a retired FedEx van with a bunch of miles (333K). Not a looker. I bought it without even driving it, but the seller had just driven it around 120 miles. As it turns out, FedEx does a pretty decent job of maintaining their corporate-owned vehicles. In the end, I will still have put a couple grand into various repairs (tires, rear diff, FedEx ECU mods...)

If I had it to do over, I probably still would get an old Sprinter. For my budget, there really isn't much else that has as much cargo space and is as efficient. There are lots of people talking about Sprinter problems on this forum, but there are WAY more of them out there still driving around. I'm happy that my dumb luck delivered me a solid van to start with. Mileage can be deceiving. I'd rather have lots of well-maintained miles than fewer miles of neglect.
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Old 09-16-2019, 12:46 PM   #25
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Default Re: Considering building out a 118 T1N for part time stealth camping

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... These vans are at best about 14 years old. ...
I've been adding my warning about the aging T1N's for some time now. Good job outlining the reality.

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... I'd rather have lots of well-maintained miles than fewer miles of neglect.
Low miles on trucks as old as the T1N's most often means that they have been sitting unused for periods of time. Periods of non use can take their toll on a vehicle too.

T1N's are generally not a good idea for anyone who prefers or plans on dealership maintenance.

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Old 09-16-2019, 01:40 PM   #26
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Default Re: Considering building out a 118 T1N for part time stealth camping

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Low miles on trucks as old as the T1N's most often means that they have been sitting unused for periods of time. Periods of non use can take their toll on a vehicle too.

T1N's are generally not a good idea for anyone who prefers or plans on dealership maintenance.

vic
Old, low mileage vehicles can experience "parking lot rot" as the seals dry out from disuse.

While your advice is sound, I'd like to point out that it's sound for ALL old vans... believe me, having a '95 e250 extended as a Class B motorhome for the past four years was no picnic either. While it was totally reliable, it was only because I dropped $5k into it when I bought it as well to make it so. Shop labor rates for marque houses are upwards of $100/hour now. Parts, while domestics may be cheaper, aren't THAT much cheaper, and believe me a 351W or even the Triton and Vortec engines can be nightmares to work on. The 2.7L I-5 is, even by diesel standards, pretty straight-forward.

I'm fortunate in that I have an independent mechanic who is both a good friend, AND a diesel guy with a dynomometer in his shop. I'm also fortunate in that most of the "usual suspects" in the T1N were taken care of immediately before I bought mine to the tune of nearly $5k, including the installation of a new turbo, so I am doubly fortunate. I've put about 6k miles on mine since April, and I'm waiting for the first oil sample analysis to be returned as I write.

I confess that after owning three Ford e-series vans over the years and driving several Chevy and Ford vans, that I'm quite impressed with everything about the T1N. I wish that the NCV3s were as simple and stright-forward mechanically. I'm NOT certain that I'll ever consider AN NCV3 seriously though.
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Old 09-16-2019, 04:19 PM   #27
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Default Re: Considering building out a 118 T1N for part time stealth camping

I was put off by the potential liability of DPF-related failures in the NCV3. The prospect of a tuning issue taking out the DPF, and being required to run it hard through the periodic regen cycles are still not appealing... we do a fair number of short trips and that would be hard on a DPF system. That said, I do like the NCV3’s stance and styling, and the more modern all-CANBUS diagnostics. Dimensionally we wanted to be nimble and fit a standard parking stall, so a 144” 2500 would have suited us fine, but...

-dave
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Old 09-17-2019, 07:07 PM   #28
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Default Re: Considering building out a 118 T1N for part time stealth camping

Hey all,
Really appreciate the advice and input on the thread! I feel very welcomed into this community!
I'm still on the fence about it, considering that yes, a piedmont red sprinter isn't all that "stealthy".
But do I actually care about that? Not so much.
I'm young and caught in a stressful job and would like to just hit the road and travel while I still can.
My dad has been a Mercedes Mechanic for 40 years and is questioning if I really want to make this jump because of the expenses associated with a vehicle of this age, he would be able to lend a hand and help with repairs though.
It would be a huge investment on my part but I would like to save as much of my paychecks as I can if I do like the idea of full timing it.

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Old 09-17-2019, 07:33 PM   #29
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Default Re: Considering building out a 118 T1N for part time stealth camping

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I'm curious if any insulation (for sound and/or temperature) was added before the panels were installed. That's a pretty small vehicle. It would be tight for more than one person. I'm glad to have my gigantic 158" high roof. I don't mind taking up two parking spaces
It apparently has R-3 Installed in side panels
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Old 09-18-2019, 12:06 PM   #30
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Default Re: Considering building out a 118 T1N for part time stealth camping

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Hey all,
Really appreciate the advice and input on the thread! I feel very welcomed into this community!
I'm still on the fence about it, considering that yes, a piedmont red sprinter isn't all that "stealthy".
Well the red is certainly a lot prettier than "AC Company White" I'm 20 myself working on a project Sprinter so i can hopefully hit the road soon. Granted the white is stealthier and keeps it cooler in Florida but everyone knows the white van stereotype. Personally never had any issues camping anywhere in Florida (never in residential areas, a couple of times at the rest area on the turnpike, 24 hr walmarts work really well too!
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