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Old 04-15-2010, 03:52 PM   #1
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Question New Here... don't know which way to go in getting Sprinter based RV

Hi everyone. I'm new here.
This Sprinter sickness all started with me seeing a show about RVs on the travel channel. Next thing you know I'm stopping an old lady on the street who has a Vista Cruiser... scouring the internets... visiting dealers... Here's where I'm at.

The lady I stopped on the street just so happens to want to sell her 2004 Vista Cruiser. <15K miles. Comes with a rear hitch platform and a Honda Elite Scooter for when you don't want to unhook the RV and take a ride to the nearest town. I don't need the scooter, really, but it's got 150 miles on it. I've got bicycles and even a full fledged 850cc motorcycle I can carry if I need to. She's asking 45K for all. Needs a good cleaning, needs the gen set exhaust pipe re-bracketed, aside from that all seems well.

Then an RV dealer a couple hours away has a 2005 MB cruiser, with a floor plan I like much better. It's brighter inside. It's clean, no graphics (I prefer it plain jane). 15K miles. Never registered. RV dealer used it for local camping trips. Bed in the middle, bath in the back. Also asking 45K. Had it a while, probably get it for less.

Same dealer has a 2009 leftover Fleetwood Icon 24A. Got him down to 74,900 after I showed him some out of state dealers selling new for 69,900. Might be more room for negotiation. I like the floor plan, and the size. I wasn't considering a class C, but this one is really nice... Then there's the fact that Fleetwood went chapter 11 and then regrouped. And the slide out on the side already has a panel underneath that has become partially unglued. Is that indicative of the quality??

Which makes me want to go look at a Winnebago... but that's 80K Thought the View 24P with rear bunks would also be good for toting our bicycles in there.

So then we go to the NYC auto show, and a truck dealer brought a couple of Sprinters. At that point, my wife and I both think that buying a new one for 40K+ and outfitting it ourselves could work. But... I'm not big on the whole blue-tec thing and the DEF that needs to be added. I know I could do the conversion to RV the way we want it... but not sure about the time it'd take to do it, and the value of it after all is said and done. So now I'm thinking the low mileage used 5 cyl class Bs are way to go...

Any advice appreciated... I'm so confoooosed.


Last edited by NurseDaddy; 04-15-2010 at 03:56 PM.
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Old 04-15-2010, 05:07 PM   #2
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Default Re: New Here... don't know which way to go in getting Sprinter based RV

I can't answer about your recreational preferences but a commercial rv conversion was a poor match for us. There simply wasn't enough room inside for our toys, the weight limit was tight with all that deluxing, and there wasn't much thought for folks who come back to camp wet and muddy. But I think it was the single purpose dedication that I really disliked. I'd have to buy a pickup truck, too, to take care of many of my other needs.

But there are plenty of folks who like the pampering. A fellow canoeist has a Sprinter B+ with a slide-out, basement storage, and his is taller and wider. It's like night and day. Twice the room. He has a house and I have a truck. I think it is a much better solution than the narrow van if you like cabinetry and real bathrooms. He is also well off enough to store the van for most of the year while he drives other Mercedes vehicles. A fully outfitted B is about the most expensive way to buy a camper by the square-foot.

We bike and paddle and have a roof rack for 3 canoes and a swingaway hitch bike rack for 4 bikes. But for daytrips I love just tossing an outfitted canoe inside or some gear-laden bikes. Makes for easier use and helps with the security for any errands I might run on the way home.

I describe myself as the poster boy for how the clueless can learn to build a DIY from reading the Net. My first project and I spent about half my $11k conversion budget on skilled labor, the rest on materials. I figure the skilled labor worked at about 5x as fast as my own labor. My 158" 02 was two years old when it came to me with 68k miles for $20k.

I certainly enjoyed the countless hours designing and the satisfying feeling of all those hands-on hours. An empty cargo van is easily usable for camping with bug netting for the windows, inflatable mattress, a cooler, portapotti and tent camping equipment. Pretty much the rest of the conversion is luxury. Slider windows and a fan are very appreciated. The diesel furnace and insulation make mine a year round camper. We have an all-electric inside kitchen with a 2000w inverter and enough batteries. An unintended consequence of my electric approach is that the insides are largely removable if a future buyer did not appreciate my handiwork. Not that I'd sell it before I get a couple of hundred thousand more miles of use.
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Old 04-15-2010, 05:40 PM   #3
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Default Re: New Here... don't know which way to go in getting Sprinter based RV

Thanks for the reply. You brought a lot of good points to the discussion.

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Old 04-15-2010, 07:42 PM   #4
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Default Re: New Here... don't know which way to go in getting Sprinter based RV

We followed a similar approach to building our conversion. I couldn't get the versatility i needed with a ready-made RV. We can both do without a bathroom, a 'chamber pot' works fine for us both at night. There's not many RV's that are able to load several full 4x8 sheets of plywood without taking things apart, which i seem to do a lot more than i thought i would. All of the cabinetry and bed is removable so i can use it like a truck to move big things, out of the rain, but having a space big enough for plywood without taking anything apart is great.
The only downside has been the time it has taken to build. If i could devote full time to this, it would still take a couple months. Makes the ready-made more attractive, for a minute or 2.

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Old 04-19-2010, 03:05 PM   #5
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Default looked again...

Went and looked at the 2005 MB cruiser. Nice shape, good value at the right price, but I'm thinking that one bed in the middle composed of the dinette and couch, does not a happy family make. Well if I knew my son would sleep without being so active in his dreams, maybe. He's got a full sized bed, and he's all over it at night. I hear him kicking the walls in his sleep. Being awoken in the middle of the night by a kick to the ________ seems like something I would not enjoy. So on to something with separated sleeping arrangements.

I looked at the 2009 Fleetwood Icon again. Man, that thing is beautiful. But I really don't want to spend 75K. So I've been looking around and found a 2007 Gulfstream Vista Cruiser Mini class C with 15K on the clock for $49K and change. Rear bed floor plan. Bunk up front too. That should keep us from getting kicked.

We'll be going to look at it next week.

I have not totally ruled out a tall and long sprinter cargo converted by me, but we'll see what kind of deals I can get on something ready made that suits our family.

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Old 04-20-2010, 12:25 AM   #6
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Default Re: New Here... don't know which way to go in getting Sprinter based RV

Hey NurseDaddy, Like all of those above, I have another story to tell. I have owned 2 Sprinter based RV's. Spent the first year with a Dodge based 2008 Pleasure Way which was wholly within the standard size 2500 Sprinter. Put 25,000 miles on it in 12 months so it was used. As was noted above, the standard van body is narrow for living in it for any time. We had all the supposed creature comforts, but it still was confining. Everything was too small. Water capacity, LP capacity, refrigerator, storage was at a premium so I had to add a hitch based storage box to contain items needed for the trips. Got 19-22 mpg was a benefit.

After that year we went to the LA RV Show and saw several other sprinter based RV's. For a built conversion wholly within the standard body Airstream and Leisure Travel Vans had the best quality (B's). Also saw numerous C class Sprinter based as well. We decided that we did not like the bed/storage over the cab to spoil the aerodynamics and mileage as well as we did not see the quality in the C's that we saw in B or B+.

We have ended up with a Leisure Travel Van Freedom II. We now have 14,000 miles on it after six months and are really glad that we did it. Its the 3500 Freightliner Sprinter cab and chassis with a built RV on the back, on foot wider than the standard van on both sides so it still fits the width of a parking space. Have basement storage, 50 gal water and LP .... full fridge and freezer.... 15-17 mpg... (it can do 18-19 mpg but I just cant get myself to drive under 65... so we go 75 and the mpg suffers).

If you want to stay in the standard van size, I might suggest that you build it yourself or hire someone to do it.

Couple of key features I might suggest:
-stability of a 3500 is significantly better, dual rear wheels makes a huge difference ( I dont seem to be able to go anywhere without fighting a wind so this is a big deal).
-make sure your restroom and water storage are at the rear. You need weight in the rear. My Pleasure Way had restroom in middle and was a pain. This is a truck, and it does not ride well without a load... get the heavy stuff in the rear.
-Be sure you sit down in it and feel comfortable about the space.... yes, just sit there....
-The Sprinter is the right platform, no other can deliver like this one does in these classes.

We are very happy we upgraded...to the 3500 and have the wider body, have a look here: http://leisurevans.com/

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Old 04-21-2010, 05:20 PM   #7
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Default Re: New Here... don't know which way to go in getting Sprinter based RV

Thanks LtD.
The Leisurevans model looks good. Will it sleep two adults and a child?? Can you stand up in it?
There are so many to choose from. Too much brain time is being spent trying to find an RV now. I'm obsessed.
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Old 04-22-2010, 12:16 AM   #8
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Default Re: New Here... don't know which way to go in getting Sprinter based RV

I have a Winnebago Navion and am happy with it. A slide-out makes the MH more livable/spacious. It's not unusual to get 23% off list price. Try this place.



Originally Posted by NurseDaddy View Post
Which makes me want to go look at a Winnebago... but that's 80K Thought the View 24P with rear bunks would also be good for toting our bicycles in there.

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Old 04-22-2010, 03:06 AM   #9
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Default Re: New Here... don't know which way to go in getting Sprinter based RV

Well, everyone has their own thing. I'm very handy at building and crafting, but after careful analysis I realized that I simply couldn't begin to compete with the quality that a staff of computerized designers, CNC woodworking machines, and factory finishes can provide, plus I REALLY didn't want to spend 2-3 years fussing around converting a van, but I wanted to use it NOW. We bought a Roadtrek (Yes folks, they are pricey, but you get what you pay for) built on a 2008 Sprinter 2500 chassis two years ago. We now have over 35,000 miles on it and love it! No slideouts, and yes that makes it a little tight, but everything is a compromise. If you truly need a fireplace, 42 inch TV, and spa, then a class B is not for you. The ride is super, and you can go anywhere with it. No problem pulling into grocery store parking lots or parallel parking in small towns. That gives you complete freedom to explore anywhere. My advice.... Sprinter is the best platform, and buying a factory-made class B is the smart move. They made all the design/layout mistakes years ago, and what you get now is the best possible optimization of space utilization and quality. Take the Nike approach...........just do it !!! The initial cash layout will be more than be returned in lower fuel cost, lower campground costs, and lower maintenance costs compared to a trailer or class C or motorhome.
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Old 04-22-2010, 03:16 AM   #10
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Default Re: New Here... don't know which way to go in getting Sprinter based RV

Originally Posted by calbiker View Post

A slide-out makes the MH more livable/spacious.

I'm continually amazed at how much difference a slide out makes in a trailer or an RV. They don't need to stick out very much to make a big difference. vic
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