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Old 07-06-2019, 07:23 PM   #21
VanGoSki
 
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Default Re: Baby Shamu - 170 4x4

George, your build looks ideal for living in and you've used your space well. Beautiful build. But did you ever wish you had the 144 for more maneuverability off-road? I had my heart set on the 144 for most versatility, but when I see 170 builds like this I really have to pause.
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Old 07-06-2019, 09:38 PM   #22
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Default Baby Shamu - 170 4x4

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Originally Posted by VanGoSki View Post
George, your build looks ideal for living in and you've used your space well. Beautiful build. But did you ever wish you had the 144 for more maneuverability off-road? I had my heart set on the 144 for most versatility, but when I see 170 builds like this I really have to pause.
Thanks

My choice when ordering my van was between the 170 regular and the 170 extended. After seeing all the nifty builds by some big name outfitters like Outside Vans, Brown Pow was my favorite, I decided that accessing 98% of the trails and campgrounds in a roomy 170 4x4 was better than accessing 99% of the trails and campgrounds in a 144 4x4. No regrets at all.

To improve my chances of getting over tough terrain I have increased the ground clearance of my van by 4-6” over a stock 4x4. I have over 18” of clearance between the sheet metal and the ground currently.



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Last edited by gltrimble; 07-07-2019 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 07-07-2019, 05:10 AM   #23
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Default Re: Baby Shamu - 170 4x4

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Very nice conversion, congratulation. Can you share what type of paper towel holder did you use?
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Old 07-07-2019, 04:14 PM   #24
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Default Baby Shamu - 170 4x4

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Very nice conversion, congratulation. Can you share what type of paper towel holder did you use?
Thanks George

It took me two attempts to fabricate that paper towel holder. I could not find one online that mounted horizontally from one end. I chop sawed off most of the bottom casting then tack welded the portion with the mounting holes to the remaining metal base. It is aluminum too, just looks like stainless.

My first attempt the heat from the chop saw melted the plastic internal ratchet. The second attempt I went slow on the chop saw letting it cool. However, my welding started to also impact the plastic internals but it still worked smoothly enough for my needs.

The rubber band keeps the wind from unraveling the towels.

Kamenstein 4554ASB Perfect Tear Patented Wall Mount Paper Towel Holder with Rounded Finial, 14-Inch, Silver https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0024AKCTS..._QGHiDbXK52FG6



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Old 07-09-2019, 07:19 PM   #25
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Default Re: Baby Shamu - 170 4x4

Meticulous. and super clean. Very impressive build. L

I'm looking forward to you posting the details of your cabinet builds. Also any afterthoughts you might have now that they are done and in use. I'm at this very phase right now so I'm a sponge :).
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Old 07-10-2019, 03:55 AM   #26
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Default Baby Shamu - 170 4x4

RADIO INSTALL

I ordered my van with the radio delete option, ERO. It eliminated the radio but included the four factory speakers with wiring. It saved me about $350. I also did not order the factory rear view camera which was an option at the time, later to become standard equipment. Eliminating the radio and camera saved about $1000 total which I put toward an aftermarket stereo, subwoofer, and speakers. I also purchased a rear view camera from Amazon for about $100.



The radio install proved to be the most frustrating part of my entire 2+ year van build. I eventually learned through a fellow forum member’s build thread that Mercedes used different parts with the radio delete option starting with the wiring harness. Rather than using the same wiring harness on all new vans Mercedes used a wiring harnesses from an earlier model van. The following was the correct harness after three attempts.

Metra 70-9401 Radio Wiring Harness for M B /L R /Sprinter 94-Up https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000I2T4G6..._14vjDb67B14XF



Next up was the radio surround trim. Only two attempts to get this one right. Also different because of the radio delete option.

SCOSCHE CR1294B 2011-Up Dodge/Mercedes Benz Stereo Installation Kit https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DL9LDSU..._.1vjDb19EX4R4

For the stereo I went with the largest screen size available on a CarPlay compatible brand name unit and a fellow forum member’s recommendation. It was the 7” Pioneer AVIC 8200NEX.

Pioneer AVIC-8200NEX Navigation Receiver with Carplay/Android Auto https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01D6IUNEU..._VdwjDb7TCWYRJ



This picture gives you an idea of the wiring nightmare involved.



Included in all those wiring connections was a Metra steering wheel interface and the Sirius satellite radio tuner. I connected the steering wheel interface directly to the CAN bus near the driver’s side fuse panel. For once everything worked. The Sirius antenna was located on the roof just forward of the rear view camera. There was a plastic plug located there for the wire penetration.

Metra Axxess ASWC-1 Universal Steering Wheel Control Interface https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B4PJC9K..._AnwjDbQJY7VN9

SiriusXM SXV300v1 Connect Vehicle Tuner Kit for Satellite Radio with Free 3 Months Satellite and Streaming Service https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NJTO4CY..._WmwjDb6VVK7S5

The Pioneer had provisions for two USB connections. My van came with none so I drilled holes in both the driver’s and passenger’s side of the center console for USB ports.

USB Mount Cable - Rerii 1M 3 Feet USB and 3.5mm Aux Extention Mount, Flush, Dash, Panel Mount Cable for Car, Boat, Motorcycle https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VAIEAUM..._eMwjDb8NKV7PP



For the subwoofer I used a Rockford Fosgate shallow depth 10” covered with a 12” mesh speaker grill and powered by a Boss 1100 watt amplifier. The subwoofer filled the wall cavity perfectly. I sealed the wall cavity behind the subwoofer for improved sound quality.

Rockford Fosgate R2 Ultra Shallow 10-Inch 4 Ohm DVC Subwoofer https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005C1R9CE..._UcwjDbZ94CC4M

SINGLE 12-Inch 2-Piece Steel Mesh Speaker Subwoofer Grill - Black https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00V16CM2G..._qqwjDbCSR67BD



The subwoofer amp was installed in the passenger seat base leaving room for the future Espar D2. Power came from the auxiliary battery connection in the driver’s seat base.

RIOT 1100 Watts, Mosfet Monoblock Power Amplifier R1100M https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004S4XNEO..._EgwjDbXVGNKAY



For the front door speakers and the dash tweeters I used JL Audio 6.5” speakers. Hein’s speaker adapters worked great. I also had to cut the speaker terminals slightly to avoid contact with the door. I used this opportunity to apply Noico sound deadner and Thinsulate in each door. The tweeters from each speaker fit perfectly in the dash positions. I used the existing factory speaker wiring. I also positioned the GPS antenna for the Pioneer in the center speaker position.

JL Audio TR650-CSi 6-1/2" Evolution TR Series 2-way Component Speakers System (Pair) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003QQ67HA..._N3vjDbZM1TRG5







For the rear speakers I used a pair of Pioneer 6.5” 3 way speakers.

Pioneer A Series 6.5" 320 Watts Max 3-Way Car Speakers Pair with Fiber Cone Midrange and 6-1/2" Multi-Fit Installation Adapters Included w/ FREE ALPHASONIK EARBUDS https://www.amazon.com/dp/B014Z7ILY0..._FEwjDbRW92XKZ





The rear view camera from Amazon had a better image and wider angle compared to the factory camera and it only cost $112. I mistakenly ordered the factory camera pre-wire from Mercedes, $70, only to discover it was easier to use the video cable that came with the camera rather than search for adapters for the odd ball OEM camera connections.

The Pioneer gives me the option of leaving the rear view camera on by default. The camera’s only weakness is in total darkness. I plan to install some LED backup lights that will do a better job of illuminating the ground when in reverse.







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Last edited by gltrimble; 07-10-2019 at 06:02 PM.
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Old 07-11-2019, 02:34 PM   #27
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Default Baby Shamu - 170 4x4

BATTERY AND AUXILIARY ALTERNATOR

For batteries I am using four Fullriver AGM 6 volt 224 amp GC2s. I went with AGM batteries primarily for cold weather performance and cost with the idea of converting to lithium in the future as prices drop.



I custom fabricated two identical undercarriage mounts just forward of the rear wheels on my 170 4x4 van. The two removable battery cages each bolt to two 2” angle brackets secured to the van crossmembers. Each bracket secured by three 3/8” rivnuts.









To install the batteries I used a Harbor Freight aluminum motorcycle jack that dropped down to approximately 3” in height, just enough to slide each pair of batteries under the van without jacking up the van.







I also installed the Nations 280 amp auxiliary alternator and a Balmar 614 voltage regulator. The regulator is programmed for AGM batteries. I ordered my van with the N62 alternator mount which made the install very simple. Basically one bolt to mount the alternator. The new longer belt was also a quick install. Once I confirmed that the new belt was the proper length I cut the shorter OEM belt with a razor knife. The original belt could not be easily removed without some disassembly of the fan. I did have to unplug a couple connections to the fan before slipping the new belt over the fan. A large screwdriver was all that was needed to slip the new belt over the tensioner that was included with the N62 package.

I mounted the Balmar 614 on the firewall sharing some bolts that hold the cabin air intake filter. The Balmar 614 comes with a wiring harness that connects directly to the alternator. One additional connection is required for the ignition source. I routed a wire to an ignition source located in the driver’s seat base, entering thru the firewall opening and then up the “A” pillar and down the “B” pillar. My headliner and associated plastic pillar covers were already removed for the conversion.





I ran a pair of 2/0 copper welding cables wrapped in plastic loom from the alternator to the passenger side batteries. I used the same size 2/0 cable between the two pairs of batteries and also from the driver’s side batteries to a 400 amp slow fuse mounted just below floor level. The fuse feeds a 3000 watt Go Power pure sine wave inverter mounted directly above the floor. It also feeds the DC breaker panel.

I created a ground connection to the frame adjacent to my 400 amp fuse. I then installed my Victron battery monitor shunt directly above the floor.







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Last edited by gltrimble; 07-11-2019 at 03:34 PM.
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Old 07-12-2019, 03:56 AM   #28
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Default Baby Shamu - 170 4x4

OEM ESPAR D5 (H12) PLUMBING MOD

Note: This is a real time update!

I currently have an Isotemp Spa 4 gallon marine water heater plumbed to my engine coolant system. I use the engine heat to provide for most of my hot water needs occasionally topping it off using the built-in 750 watt Isotemp electric heating element. I also have the H12 option which includes the Espar D5 hydronic heater. This diesel fueled heater is useful for providing hot water when camped or stationary for multiple days without significant sun to charge my batteries. The drawback to using the Espar D5 is that the heater has to heat the entire engine block which limits the heat transfer to the water heater.



Running the D5 for a 40 minute cycle typically raises my domestic hot water temperature approximately 20 degrees F. Multiple 40 minute cycles of the D5 are required in order to get hot water. The van ECU logic also limits operation of the D5 to three 40 minute cycles before I have to start the engine. This is to prevent excessive drain on the starter battery.

To improve the hot water heating efficiency of my Espar D5 I made some simple plumbing modifications to improve the heat transfer. The first mod was to put the Isotemp water heater and the HVAC heater core in series rather than in a parallel flow path. This placed the Isotemp upstream of the heater core and also doubled the flow of hot coolant thru the Isotemp. This resulted in a +10F improvement in heating the hot water. I was now seeing a 30F rise in the hot water temperature for the initial 40 minute run time of the D5. I tested this by simply pinching the hot coolant flow to the heater core closed, forcing all the coolant flow thru the Isotemp before returning to the engine and D5 Espar.

The second modification was simple but more involved than the first. It involved adding a bypass circuit that would allow some of the coolant to bypass the cold engine and return directly to the D5 heater. This was achieved by some minor plumbing reconfigurations and the addition of a heater flow valve. Here are the before and after flow paths for the heater system.





The heater flow valve is controlled by a 5 ft choke cable mounted below the driver’s side dash. The bypass plumbing line previously existed as the rear heater, now Isotemp, (H88) return line. It previously intercepted the heater plumbing coolant return downstream of the heater core. I shifted the return line over a few inches to an adjacent hot coolant line which was just upstream of the coolant electric recirculating pump thus bypassing the cold engine entirely.

My hope was that enough coolant would take the path of least resistance, the bypass, and return directly to the D5 and Isotemp. This would promote faster heating. My concern was if too much flow utilized the bypass line the limited coolant volume, no reservoir, could quickly overheat, tripping the D5. If this occurred I reasoned that the heater flow valve could be used to throttle the bypass flow. I was counting on enough coolant to pass thru the cold engine to limit the temperature rise.

Testing of the reconfigured system revealed no need to throttle the bypass flow. The result was another +10F gain in hot water temperature. Total heat gain by the Isotemp was now +40F compared with the initial +20F for a 40 minute cycle time.

Heater flow valve and reconfigured plumbing


Below is before and after at firewall on connection.






For this to work you will need at a minimum the H12 Espar D5 hydronic heater or a DIY equivalent. The H88 rear heater option makes the bypass and return line a simple mod. Lacking the H88 just requires a bit more heater hose. You will also need to override your ambient temperature sensor to operate your D5 above the 39F limit. This is detailed in this forum using a simple DPDT switch and a resistor (I use 15k=18F).

This modification also comes with minimal risk. Leaving the bypass open while operating the engine will just decrease the hot coolant flow to your domestic water heater. The engine coolant loop is not affected. I managed to make the modifications and only lose about 8-12 ounces of coolant using hose line clamps and some left over bourbon corks.

For the next few weeks I will be carefully inspecting the underside of my van for any coolant puddles.

Materials:
3 feet of 5/8” heater hose
Heater flow valve
3/4” Elbow in place of factory Tee
5/8” Tee to split heater core from bypass
Reuse factory Tee at firewall
Hose clamps
Beer optional

Total cost about $25.



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Last edited by gltrimble; 07-12-2019 at 04:06 AM.
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Old 07-12-2019, 04:52 AM   #29
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Default Re: Baby Shamu - 170 4x4

Love your build. I have the same van and want a similar layout. I was considering using flarespace, but after reviewing your thread, I am now second guessing that. Do you have floor plan dimensions by chance? I was under my van today looking at the H12 and trying to wrap my head around this modification. Without the H88, it is definitely a little more involved on the plumbing side. I can't tell if I have the circulating pump already or if that would need to be added. There are 3 hoses coming out of the D5 and I can't tell initially where to start with this plumbing, lol. As I type this, I am thinking that I need to a D5 manual and see what I can learn there. Do you know if I should have the circulating pump with just the H12? Anyway, thanks for all of your consideration, I don't want to pollute this great thread with my questions.

Cheers,

Matt
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Old 07-13-2019, 01:59 AM   #30
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Default Baby Shamu - 170 4x4

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lostgriz View Post
Love your build. I have the same van and want a similar layout. I was considering using flarespace, but after reviewing your thread, I am now second guessing that. Do you have floor plan dimensions by chance? I was under my van today looking at the H12 and trying to wrap my head around this modification. Without the H88, it is definitely a little more involved on the plumbing side. I can't tell if I have the circulating pump already or if that would need to be added. There are 3 hoses coming out of the D5 and I can't tell initially where to start with this plumbing, lol. As I type this, I am thinking that I need to a D5 manual and see what I can learn there. Do you know if I should have the circulating pump with just the H12? Anyway, thanks for all of your consideration, I don't want to pollute this great thread with my questions.

Cheers,

Matt

Matt,

I honestly do not know if the circulating pump comes with the H88 or H12 option. If you have the pump it would be located to the driver’s side of the heater core in/out. It appears to operate any time the HVAC temperature dial is set to heat. I would think you have to have the pump to move the water thru your D5. The D5 output splits between the rear heater (Isotemp) and the heater core. One way to identify the lines is to run the D5 and feel which lines get hot and in what order.

I also considered using flares but there were negative consequences. This included a smaller bed and your spouse having to climb over you in the middle of the night. It also reduced the capacity of the cargo area and required mounting bikes sideways. By my calculations the sideways bed only nets you a 10” gain in van space and a loss in bed length. Installing the bed like mine takes advantage of the concave shaped rear doors and the window pockets which combined add about 8”.

I am happy to share some key dimensions. The bed panels measure 76” in length plus a one inch gap at each end for a total of 78”. The galley sink area is 20” deep while the fridge is 22” deep. The shower is 25” deep x 27” long. Let me know if you need more info or dimensions.

Lynn


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Last edited by gltrimble; 07-13-2019 at 06:09 PM.
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