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Old 11-06-2015, 02:28 PM   #1
DieselFumes
2015 4x4 2500 170 Crew
 
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Default Escape Pod adventure van - obligatory build thread

We got our 2015 2500 170" 4x4 in July. You may already have seen the story of the dealership fiasco.

I'm documenting the build on a separate site (http://sprintervanusa.com) mainly because friends and family can't see the photos here without signing up. I'll still post stuff that would be more interesting to this audience on the forum though.

In many respects, this build is the "new normal." LiFePO4 battery, Maxxfan, solar, Espar, Thinsulate, panel bed.

Some things are a little different though. We used flanged L-track to hold down layers of sound and heat insulation above the factory floor, we're making modular removable cabinets, and we'll use a drawer to hold bikes in the back. I also used Victron components for the solar controller and inverter. They don't get so much exposure on this site, but the equipment is solid and their tech support is great too.

We currently have the solar panels mounted, electrical wiring, battery and inverter installed, and insulation (Thinsulate and Low-E) in the walls. Next is foam- and fabric-covered wall panels, held in place with more flanged l-track ready to take the cabinets. Then, on to the bed install and plumbing.
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Old 11-11-2015, 12:09 AM   #2
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Default Re: Escape Pod adventure van - obligatory build thread

We are planning to start insulating our van next week, and after seeing your build I am 100% set on doing the same. With the exception of using rattletrap instead because we got a better deal.

Did you do 1 layer of Thinsulate or two? Also any advice on things you learned would be great. Best ways to cut it, etc.
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Old 11-11-2015, 08:39 PM   #3
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Default Re: Escape Pod adventure van - obligatory build thread

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Did you do 1 layer of Thinsulate or two? Also any advice on things you learned would be great. Best ways to cut it, etc.
We did one layer of Thinsulate, and I think it's sufficient in most locations. You could get two layers in on the lower panels, but I think you'd lose loft (amount of air held between the fibers) if you put two layers on the upper wall panels because they'd be pushed too close together by your wall covering.

Two layers would also remove the remaining air gap, and my understanding of the foil-faced foam products (LowE, Reflectix) is that they need that air gap in order to create a sensible R value.

The one place I might put a second layer is above the headliner in the cab area. I think it would cut down on noise quite considerably and there is plenty of room in that location.

We got our Thinsulate from Hein. The 50ft roll (maximum size he can ship as one parcel) was just sufficient for a 170" wheelbase van. We have not insulated the driver or passenger door or the firewall. We also haven't put any over the wheel wells, which might be a good move. I'll probably buy some more Thinsulate from Hein and collect it when I'm next in his area. Another 10 feet should be sufficient.

Best way to cut it is with scissors. We have some that we only use for cutting fabric. They are sharp. They worked well. I remember it was better to hold the Thinsulate with the white side up because then the scissors didn't get caught in the fibers.

Pro tip: When you're filling the voids in the lower wall panels, there are places at the edges of the voids where the metal inner wall of the van is bent at 90 degrees to be welded on to the outer skin, but there's still an open space behind these bent tabs. We cut the Thinsulate for the size of the entire area, then cut a T-shape into the side of the Thinsulate to let it wrap around that metal support. Keeping it as one larger piece meant it didn't droop inside the walls in the hard-to-spray-with-adhesive areas. You'll see what I mean when you start on this project.

The 3M 90 adhesive that Hein recommends using is wonderful. Do spray both the van wall and the Thinsulate. Wait until it's properly dry before putting the Thinsulate against the wall - it's a contact adhesive, not a wet adhesive. I'd suggest wearing a proper organic chemical mask when you do this because the fumes aren't nice and they hang around inside the van for a while as it off-gasses.
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Old 11-17-2015, 01:21 AM   #4
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Default Re: Escape Pod adventure van - obligatory build thread

Small note: as far as I know, Mercedes uses almost zero welding between the inner and outer walls. It is almost all modern industrial adhesive.
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Old 11-17-2015, 11:57 PM   #5
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Default Re: Escape Pod adventure van - obligatory build thread

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Small note: as far as I know, Mercedes uses almost zero welding between the inner and outer walls. It is almost all modern industrial adhesive.
Quite possible. No weld marks on the exterior like there are on the inside of the floor where the cross members attach underneath. Either way, you're going to want to get the insulation around those areas.
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Old 11-18-2015, 01:10 AM   #6
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Default Re: Escape Pod adventure van - obligatory build thread

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Small note: as far as I know, Mercedes uses almost zero welding between the inner and outer walls. It is almost all modern industrial adhesive.
Hopefully the newer Sprinters have all those braces now glued. My 08 had about half of them not glued. I used a full tube of adhesive to complete the job before I insulated the walls.
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Old 01-05-2016, 08:49 PM   #7
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Default Re: Escape Pod adventure van - obligatory build thread

I guess I should actually be posting some of my progress to this thread.

We finally got our fabric covered and bamboo wall panels mounted with flanged l-track to hold them in place.


Bed panels arrived yesterday from Overland Sprinters.


I bought some CTA seat swivels. I'm going to hold off installing them until our new seats turn up.


The stupid cup holder under the passenger bench seat was really annoying me. It's no good for cups, and it makes it hard to store a duffel bag or milk crate under the seat, so I took it out. Wanna buy it?


We've been using the van a lot for cyclocross races and getting out to mountain bike. It's so much more civilized having a warm dry place to change and a microwave to heat up food after a race/ride. The Victron Energy components in the electrical system are performing really well. The solar panels give me a good charge even in the grey Pacific North West winter.


Still a way to go before it's done, but the cabinets are nearly finished, and I have most of the other components I need. Just a matter of finding time. No plumbing has happened yet, either. Still a big empty space over the passenger side rear wheel arch ready for the tank and pump.

What I can't work out is how to mount an awning, since I have roof rack legs in the factory channel. I might have to mount it down from the underside of the rack bars rather than up from the factory channel.
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Old 01-05-2016, 10:01 PM   #8
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Default Re: Escape Pod adventure van - obligatory build thread

I was wondering if the bench cup holder would fit and replace the front dash cup holder/ashtray. I would have to relocate the 12v outlet but I would have almost 2 worthless cup holders verses one almost worthless and a hole where the ashtray goes.
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Old 01-05-2016, 10:10 PM   #9
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Default Re: Escape Pod adventure van - obligatory build thread

That Victron display is really nice (as is the rest of your van).
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Old 01-06-2016, 12:44 AM   #10
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Default Re: Escape Pod adventure van - obligatory build thread

Nice project. That partition door looks stronger than the security door on an airliner.
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