Advancing Alvar

TerryG

New member
David & Nancy,

Congratulations on your beautiful new RV!

I work for SmartPlug Systems. I have provided you with my direct contact information should you ever need any help with our products. Please do not hestitate to contact me at tgilliland@smartplug.com or (206) 285-2990.
 

Sleeptite

New member
Hello, David,

Congratulations on your finished RV Alvar. Thanks for sending along these photos. Hopefully more to come. A handsome vehicle indeed.
You’ve incorporated lots of nice features. In particular:

A. The beds (height, layout, multiple positions) are a great idea. Do they also make into something akin to a sofa, so that guests could ride along for a day-trip? ?Seatbelts there?
B. Nice lighting, and steam bent curves in the cabinetry. Cup holders in the lounges; mini headboard for the bed. Wall cubbies in the back for cell phone, remote, eyeglasses.
C. Love the pass-through under the rear beds.


From your posts, I know you are a real detail guy, so I feel I can ask you some real detail questions, as you’ve probably thought through every aspect of the design in Alvar.
A. I notice you’ve chosen fabric traditional curtains as opposed to the dual-density accordion shades. Why your preference for fabric?
B. The countertop(s) appear to flush with the cabinetry, with no overhang or lip. Intentional?
C. Curious as to why you didn’t make the computer desk from countertop material.
D. Why no chrome/aluminum wheels? Into the stealth look? Will that black paint chip?
E. Are your “nerf bars” standard at Advanced, or on your order? I love the idea of external storage, but worry about scuffing at curbside when parked on city streets. I like how the doors fold down, on fabric hinges. Did you consider mud flaps?
F. Did you incorporate a security system, like Viper? Or do you think the MB computer chip key is enough?
G. Where did you put the subwoofer?
H. Thought you might paint the shore power socket black to go with the stealth look.

Looking forward to your comments, first impressions from the drive back home (handling, heating,etc.), and the continuing development of this great RV.

Tom
 

Davydd

Well-known member
Hello, David,

Congratulations on your finished RV Alvar. Thanks for sending along these photos. Hopefully more to come. A handsome vehicle indeed.
You’ve incorporated lots of nice features. In particular:

A. The beds (height, layout, multiple positions) are a great idea. Do they also make into something akin to a sofa, so that guests could ride along for a day-trip? ?Seatbelts there?
B. Nice lighting, and steam bent curves in the cabinetry. Cup holders in the lounges; mini headboard for the bed. Wall cubbies in the back for cell phone, remote, eyeglasses.
C. Love the pass-through under the rear beds.


From your posts, I know you are a real detail guy, so I feel I can ask you some real detail questions, as you’ve probably thought through every aspect of the design in Alvar.
A. I notice you’ve chosen fabric traditional curtains as opposed to the dual-density accordion shades. Why your preference for fabric?
B. The countertop(s) appear to flush with the cabinetry, with no overhang or lip. Intentional?
C. Curious as to why you didn’t make the computer desk from countertop material.
D. Why no chrome/aluminum wheels? Into the stealth look? Will that black paint chip?
E. Are your “nerf bars” standard at Advanced, or on your order? I love the idea of external storage, but worry about scuffing at curbside when parked on city streets. I like how the doors fold down, on fabric hinges. Did you consider mud flaps?
F. Did you incorporate a security system, like Viper? Or do you think the MB computer chip key is enough?
G. Where did you put the subwoofer?
H. Thought you might paint the shore power socket black to go with the stealth look.

Looking forward to your comments, first impressions from the drive back home (handling, heating,etc.), and the continuing development of this great RV.

Tom
A. Beds: Since the twin beds will not be used as the traditional dinette seating with uncomfortable back cushions common to Class Bs I decided to raise the bed as high as possible. That height turned out to be 29" to the top of the mattress. Then we notched in so it would be easy to get in bed and still maintain shoulder width. The placement of the side table as it related to the sitting position also determined the notch which turned out to be about halfway back. So you step all the way in, turn your back to the bed, sit and swing in at the right position. Also, my head misses the upper cabinet by about 2" when I do that. We went out to ARV in September when they got the bed mechanism in and did a mockup in another partially completed B to verify the dimensions. It turned out what I originally drew was fairly accurate within an inch.

The beds can be sit up just like a home sofa with footstool or lazy boy with head support. You can't get that with typical electric sofa/beds in Bs. You can set it up like a beach lounger or zero gravity style lounger. You can leave it in the bed position but elevate the back for reading in bed and raise the pillow section so you don't need to have to carry an extra pillow to get that effect.

We did give our B our first test drive to downtown Cleveland for lunch with two ARV employees. They rode in the back without seat belts. It is not something we normally plan to do nor do we plan to install seatbelt which would have to attach to the floor some way.

B. The lighting and cabinetry is pretty much all ARV standard. We selected to finish. They can do pretty much anything you desire in finishing. The pass through, side table and head board were my design. Pretty much the whole bed was built from my design. I furnished CAD drawings.

C. The pass through was sized so we could push an enclosed kitty litter box through for servicing either inside or from the back. So it had to be 16" wide x 17" high. To get that size I curved the corners. Also I curved the underside of the bed structure so we could store stuff under the bed in the aisle and also since the bed notch is only about a foot wide you toes don't bump into the baseboard walls.

A. The curtain design is ARV's. It completely blocks out the light because the back of the curtains are a dense fabric. The actual finish fabric was of our choosing. We had dual density accordion shades that went up and down in our former Pleasure-way and sideways in our GWVan. I didn't care for either and they do not block out the light. We can make our B pitch black now.

B. The countertops are flush to give as much aisle clearance as possible. I believe the clearance is 25" and we can pass by each other. Our GWVan had 27" but the countertops were narrower to achieve that.

C. The computer desk is plywood with the same veneer as the cabinets. ARV wanted to lighten up as much as they could. Since it matches it kind of disappears a little when tilted up against the wall and held by a magnet. The countertop material is Color Quartz, a synthetic stone quartz material. It is quite heavy. I did insist the bed side table be quartz as I did the sink cover. They were using a wood cutting board for the sink cover. No one will use that as a cutting board.

D. Aluminum alloy is difficult with dually wheels as the inner wheels had to be steel anyway. The stainless steel full wheel covers mimic the wheels and interfere, IMO, with checking air pressure. The black wheels are a Mercedes Benz glossy black option to their standard Grey. They just look wicked. Will the paint chip? No more I assume than the standard grey. It is not an after market paint of unknown quality.

E. The nerf bar design was used with one other Advanced RV. It is kind of a prelude to what they might do when they start building 4 x 4 Sprinters soon as an option. Scuffing on curbs is a lot worse with fiberglass skirts. Those are steel bars and black touchup paint will be easier than fiberglass repair and refinishing, IMO. The covers are held in place with strong magnets. That's unique and I think I am the first to get them. There are mud flaps on the wheels.

F. There is a security system. We found out today. Now we have to figure out how it all works with the door locks. It is a separate button fob. As it turns out you cannot lock a door with the security fob and then use the standard M-B key fob to open the door without setting off an alarm. :)

G. The subwoofer is back under the driver's side bed. ARV replaced all the M-B speakers and put in a Pioneer system in the dash and back by the TV.

H. As I mentioned, I think I got the first ARV SmartPlug installation. I didn't even know I was getting it. I like it a lot better than the round line up and twist to lock ones we had in the past. Also the cable is easier to roll up as it doesn't get as stiff in cold weather. It is about the only unstealth tell tale on the sides. We could have had it concealed as well if we desired. I believe one other ARV did. In hindsight had I known this one would be easier to plug in blind in a stealth location than the old one.

We just got home this evening. Now I have to take some time to figure everything out. ARV prepares manuals for everything. This is my homework. :)

 

Sleeptite

New member
Thanks David,

as always, a complete and detailed response to each of my questions. I am eager to follow your future posts as you begin to use this dream vehicle.

Knowing some architects, however, they are always planning their future project. So, after a few weeks of use go by, and you're already thinking about a deposit with ARV on your Alvar II, please know that I'd like first dibs on Alvar I ;-)
 

Davydd

Well-known member
Advanced RV just published this video on our Class B. You will see how the articulating beds work.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqX_ohsr4og[/youtube]
 
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Davydd

Well-known member
I fixed it. Interestingly, it played on a Mac with the Firefox browser but not Safari. Now it plays on Safari.
 

Sleeptite

New member
Nice demonstration of the beds!
Did you use the mechanism from Mantua Mfg.? (just down the road a bit from ARV).
Did they have to rework the motors for 12v, or does it run from 120VAC off the inverter?

Also like how your computer desk lines up nicely with the bigger table.

-T
 

Davydd

Well-known member
Nice demonstration of the beds!
Did you use the mechanism from Mantua Mfg.? (just down the road a bit from ARV).
Did they have to rework the motors for 12v, or does it run from 120VAC off the inverter?

Also like how your computer desk lines up nicely with the bigger table.

-T
The bed operator is from Leggett & Platt and didn't exist on the market until after I made my proposal. The bed is highly modified to fit the van. It operates at 120VAC of the inverter.

http://www.lpadjustablebases.com/downloads/brochures/p-232-bed-base.pdf
 

avanti

2014 GWV Legend 3500 I4
Davy,
Thanks for the frequent updates. We are all enjoying vicariously sharing the fun of your settling into you new digs and exploring its impressive capabilities.

A few questions:
--Do you know what the SilverLeaf system is using to measure tank levels? Does the auto-fill feature rely on this system to know when the fresh tank is full, or is there a separate float valve in the tank? I ask because most tank level systems are pretty approximate, and I am wondering whether yours is sufficiently precise to be depended on for this purpose.
--You mentioned that there is a 4/0 cable from the aux generator to the batteries. Is there a similar cable for the ground return, or does it depend on the chassis ground?
--Does ARV install a true battery-monitor system (I am guessing "yes")? If so, what brand?
--I think you once mentioned that you thought that the under-floor heat pad was intended for use via shore-power only. With all that battery capacity is this still true in your rig? Is it enforced or can you run it via the inverter?
--What do you think would happen if (heaven forbid) your SilverLeaf system failed? Are the essential systems of the van able to be controlled manually or would you be dead in the water? Although I love gadgets as much as the next guy, I have been a little chary of central control systems like this, and am wondering if my worry is misplaced.

I realize that these are down-in-the-weeds questions and that it takes time to absorb this level of detail in a new machine. But as you come across this kind of information, I hope you will continue to share. Thanks so much, and again: congrats. You must be on top of the world.
 

Davydd

Well-known member
The Silverleaf as I understand it does not manage anything but is a reporter/communicator to all the other management systems.

How are tanks measured? Difficult for me to answer though I think I have been told twice. Something about barometric pressure. I know it is not mechanical. For on the fresh water tank is a roto molded odd shaped tank a mechanical system couldn't measure. We auto filled the the water tank today and it shut off and the water is now coming direct without the pump

I know there is the 4/0 cable to the batteries. How it is ground was not discussed so I don't have an answer. ARV could probably answer your questions if you asked. They are very open to their customers but assume most don't care or understand the details. However I had full access to the factory. In fact we spent our first night in our B inside the factory alone. Compared to the battery box being assembled at ARV and the little bit of video Roadtreks revealed I would have to venture Roadtrek is not there yet. ARV has a true battery monitoring system controlling every single cell in voltage and temperature and there appears to be some very sophisticated charge controlling. As I said, if Silverleaf failed only the reporting fails and even that is redundant. The batteries are GBS lithium ion batteries from Elite power Systems. You can Google their website for information but I am guessing ARV is customizing from there.

I'm not on top of the world right now, I'm I Sedona. ;) for the first we are playing with above freezing temperatures and full hookups to see how it works. BTW, the electric floor heat does work off the batteries. We had it on the first night when it was 5 degrees. It is more of a comfort thing as the Espar heat does the heating. When connected to shore power the glycol is heated with electrical. The heat is ducted and comes out of the baseboard from under the kitchen galley. They can also upgrade the Espar and duct back to the beds. We didn't opt for that and after camping down to 0 degrees I don't think it is necessary.

The Van is so well insulated (sound and thermal) and the curtain system is so well designed we can sleep under a parking lot lamp next to a running semi in below freezing temperatures and not be bothered. We did that in Albuquerque. We could not have done that in our Great West Van. That I know for a fact in our prior experiences.

So far we are liking everything about this B. Figuring out where to store and put things is the biggest issue but we went through that agony when going from our Pleasure-way to our Great West Van, so we are taking it all in stride because we know once again we have more storage somewhere once again.
 

avanti

2014 GWV Legend 3500 I4
ARV has a true battery monitoring system controlling every single cell in voltage and temperature and there appears to be some very sophisticated charge controlling.
Oh right. That was a dumb question. I forgot about the modular-cell batteries which you have described before. I assume that each cell has its own shunt or hall-effect sensor, or some such.
As I said, if Silverleaf failed only the reporting fails and even that is redundant.
Hmm. But doesn't the Silverleaf do things like read temperature sensors and directly control the Espar heat; and control the lighting in a centralized way? These are the kinds of things that scare me a little. Are there manual overrides for these and other essential systems?
I'm not on top of the world right now, I'm I Sedona. ;)
Close enough. :thumbup:
The heat is ducted and comes out of the baseboard from under the kitchen galley. They can also upgrade the Espar and duct back to the beds. We didn't opt for that and after camping down to 0 degrees I don't think it is necessary.
I agree. Our GWV's Espar is ducted under the fridge, which is similar. I was worried that this would not be effective back in the bed area, but in practice it works great. Really comfortable heat, and I'm sure yours is even better with the extreme insulation you have.

I did have GWV put ducted heat in our bathroom, though. It is awesome having that space nice and toasty for my morning shower. :thumbup: Our old Airstream Interstate was always frigid in the bathroom whenever it was cold outside.
 
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