Overland Build

Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
Thank you for the business Midwestdrifter!

I was able to catch the post man today! You should have your parts by Tuesday. I think you are going to be one of the first guys doing an install on jackstands. Give us a shout if you need any further clarification with the instructions. I hope to have our install video finished in the next few days.

We also have some rocker guard / steps in the works to protect the body and help everyone climb in.
Woot! :bow: I have a couple of buddies lined up to help, so should be fairly routine for us driveway mechanics.
 

GeorgeRa

2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB, Portland OR
I have a 120mm PC case fan on the aft face of the electrical cabinet. I drilled about 10-15 square inches of vent holes in the bench seat internal divider. On the left FWD side of the bench seat another 160mm fan moves air from behind the fridge into the bench seat. Hopefully its enough ventilation to keep the fridge and electronics happy. The 120mm fan is connected to the inverters "turbo" fan output which runs when the inverter gets hot-ish. The 160mm fan is slaved to the fridge condenser fan so it runs with the fridge.

I am still considering a temperature driven vent fan for the electrical cabinet. It would need to be triggered at 100+ degrees (or be very quiet) as the interior of the van will easily break 90 degrees in the sun. When the inverter isnt running, the electrical cabinet doesn't seem to get more than 10 degrees above ambient. Which is good, as the lower temps tend to increase component life.

That fan controller you linked to is quite nice. :thumbup: Programmable set points and multiple outputs... I wonder if it could be modified as a generic thermostat. It might work well for a hydronic heating system that needs adjustable fan speeds and temperature triggering.
I am in the midst of designing cutout for my fan but decided to test it for the airflow first, it is way too low. The AC Infinity company http://www.acinfinity.com/cabinet-f...eater-and-av-quiet-cabinet-fan-system-6-inch/ took 12V fan and connected it to USB 6V max. Nice little variable speed controller but at 6V it is useless. So I am either going to use this fan (2 ball bearings) or get another one which I got for the fridge (magnetic bearing) and power with 12V. I am contemplating how to control it. Ideally it would have variable speed by temperature delta triggered by Magnum fan if I can get to that wire from the inside the Magnum unit. http://www.ebay.com/itm/DC-12v-24-4...l-Computer-Fan-Speed-Controller-/221949762965.
Another option is to get a 90 F thermal switch and have a simple on/off control.

Regards,

George.
 

Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
I am in the midst of designing cutout for my fan but decided to test it for the airflow first, it is way too low. The AC Infinity company http://www.acinfinity.com/cabinet-f...eater-and-av-quiet-cabinet-fan-system-6-inch/ took 12V fan and connected it to USB 6V max. Nice little variable speed controller but at 6V it is useless. So I am either going to use this fan (2 ball bearings) or get another one which I got for the fridge (magnetic bearing) and power with 12V. I am contemplating how to control it. Ideally it would have variable speed by temperature delta triggered by Magnum fan if I can get to that wire from the inside the Magnum unit. http://www.ebay.com/itm/DC-12v-24-4...l-Computer-Fan-Speed-Controller-/221949762965.
Another option is to get a 90 F thermal switch and have a simple on/off control.

Regards,

George.
How many wires/pins do the fans have? 4 pin fans have an integral controller. A 25khz pwm signal on one wire can be used to control speed. If the magnum uses the same control scheme you could tap the control wire for your external fan. There are other options if the magnum uses direct voltage control.

You could attach a thermo switch to the magnum case. Around 105 degrees would be a reasonable cut in temp.
 

GeorgeRa

2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB, Portland OR
The AC Infinity fan is voltage control. I am going to get the PWM Noiseblocker fan, PWM controller, and thermal switch and experiment. If the controller has low draw (~35 mA) and doesn't need to be reset after shutdown I will use it, if not than just the thermal switch. I will located ether the temperature probe or the switch directly at Magnum fan outlet so it will be "semi linked" with the fun.

I just got an email from Marine Warehouse, apparently Indel run out of Smart Energy Controllers and I should get one after 2/23, it seems the SEC is becoming popular.
 

Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
I finished remaking the passenger side wall panel. I used 5mm plywood for the base. I needed a 2.375” offset to clear the bed at full swing. Due to the thin material fasteners were not an option. The panels size made clamping difficult. I opted to use CA glue with accelerator. This allow me to bond the edging in a matter of minutes with no clamping. Pretty strong stuff! I guess CA glues are popular with woodworkers to reduce assembly times.













I added a shower mixer and disconnect above the bench seat. I used the following mixer combined with valved quick disconnects from McMaster Carr.

http://amzn.to/1Lu7MHY







The Lift Kit, shocks, and Struts arrived! :bounce: So I will likely be attempting installation this weekend. Estimates put the installation around 16 hours. Hopefully I can beat that. I have the fridge spacers made, once they are painted I can button up the Galley for hopefully the last time.



 

hein

Van Guru
CA glue is awesome. All our Celtec cabinetry is assembled with the stuff from Bob Smith Industries. That's what most hobby shops resell. I called them and sent a link to my thread and they were stoked! I can see that you use the accelerator spray and know about the baking powder trick. I prefer micro balloons.

Here's how we added a thermostatically controlled fans to our inverter cabinet: https://sprinter-source.com/forums/showpost.php?p=293373&postcount=445

I have the thermo-couple towards the top of cabinet. I do adjust the temperature based on time of year and outside conditions and inverter usage. It's nice to be able to see what the temperature is at a glance. I have a remote thermometer mounted to the suction line from our fresh water tank outside. I keep and eye on it when temps drop below freezing.

Thanks for sharing your build and methods. Great photos.
 
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vanski

'05 Snow Camper, '17 170 4x4, Adventure Vissionary
The color of that there lift kit is what we call SLO green. You should take a trip out west to show those guys your rig at some point.
 

slem

Member

Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
Yes it is. Van Compass 2" lift kit. Looks to be very well made. I have a couple of new tools that should make the installation a bit easier. It helps that my sprinter has no rust.

The color of that there lift kit is what we call SLO green. You should take a trip out west to show those guys your rig at some point.
By SLO do you mean San Luis Obispo, CA? That's about the closest thing Google came up with.

I am considering color options for the lift parts. The green isn't bad, but doesn't go the best with the blue on the van. So I was considering a matching medium blue or just generic black.
 
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Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
I started Saturday working on installing the front lift kit. I needed about 7” blocks under my short-ish jack stands in order to get the tires off the ground. The kit install proceeded smoothly, with no seized bolts or other discrepancies. However, the included M12x1.5x220mm bolts that secure the subframe+spacer was actually 1.75 pitch. So after exhausting any local source options I decided to put the lift on hold. The vendor is working on getting correct bolts to me. I guess it was a supplier issue. Otherwise the kit and instructions were quite good.





The shocks/struts on the van were original and still and great shape. They are free to a good home. PM me if you are interested. I think Sprinter-Source needs a Karma – Part it Forward thread for free + shipping parts. :thumbup:

I did as much of the rear lift kit install as I could without jacking the rear up. Again fit was good. I needed to tweak the sway bar attach bracket to get the spacer to fit.



While I wait on bolts I decided to paint the rims. Black for the wheels, and blue for the hubcaps. The lift kit parts also got a coat of matching blue. I also put a couple of coats of rattle can clear coat on for added durability.








I installed some sliding doors in the vertical cabinet. We also prepped and started painting the remaining cabinetry. It will take at least a month to get them finished. I was going to install the fridge, but with the van on jack stands I will hold off for now.








 

Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
Here are the replacement subframe bolts with correct pitch. I wanted to get the sprinter off the jack stands this weekend, so I opted for earlier delivery of unplated bolts. These will get several coats of corrosion resistant primer.



Here is the subframe lift spacer installed. The supplied bolts don’t have a reduced diameter shank. This made installation of the rear 2 bolts (on both sides) difficult. I ended up installing the front 2 on one side, and then lowering the other side to get everything installed.



Here is a shot with the engine mount spacer.



While I had the suspension out I took the opportunity to clean and paint the wheel wells. I checked all the bushings and everything was nice and tight. I replaced the shock mounts just because I could.





Here is the strut spacer installed. I put some zinc primer on the hub mating surfaces.







Here are some shots on the ground. The rear lift blocks are not installed yet.







I haven't measured yet, but it looks like I will need 2 degree camber spacers. I will get some on order for when I take it in for tires and alignment.

I had a couple hours free on Sunday. So I finished insulating the D5 coolant lines. I also ran the vacuum line for the bypass valve. This allow me to reinstall the gray water tank. Which means I can finally install the fridge!



 
Just found your build thread this morning while checking the Unity site. WOW! you and your wife have done a hell of a job!! I'm impressed. My wife and I started out with an 84 Vanagon Westfalia after many years of tent camping. I did a lot of modifications to it over the twenty years we owned it and I miss it dearly but we are getting older and I'm not much for laying on the ground in the middle of nowhere at 6:00pm in the evening patching a leaking water hose! It was just getting too old and needed a younger owner. We found a young engineer with a little girl and gave them a good deal. We bought one of the Sprinter Westfalias from Airstream in 2006 which was wonderful with a complete kitchen and bath with shower. My wife was in heaven. However, the AC unit on top was a huge problem and parts and service was difficult to find. We loved the Espar diesel furnace which is a quality unit BUT.... few know how to work on them.. actually there is one guy in Indiana who seems to be the main US repair guy. He owns the Lubrication Specialist shop outside Indianapolis and he sells the diagnostic device that you plug into the spar that allows you to find out what isn't right AND reset codes. I suspect that in OZ you're going to need a AC unit more than the furnace most of the time. Oh, one question... are you going to put the led floods on both sides of the camper> I put big Hella work lights on the rear and both sides of the Sprinter Westy with switches inside for security reasons at night. We liked to camp remote as much as possible. Anyway we sold our Westy Sprinter to a 73 year old guy and his dog last November and he's heading to Alaska this summer and maybe central America next winter. We get our new Unity in May. OK, thats enough from me. Keep up the great work and we'll be following your progress and trip. Bob and Kirsten in Northern Wisconsin
 

Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
Just found your build thread this morning while checking the Unity site. WOW! you and your wife have done a hell of a job!! I'm impressed. My wife and I started out with an 84 Vanagon Westfalia after many years of tent camping. I did a lot of modifications to it over the twenty years we owned it and I miss it dearly but we are getting older and I'm not much for laying on the ground in the middle of nowhere at 6:00pm in the evening patching a leaking water hose!
I can relate. The vanagon is a unique platform in the USA, nothing quite like it; both in utility, and in quirkiness. There are days when I miss our vanagon (Chuck). In the end the sprinter is a logical next step. Maybe it’s the Engineering that makes me practical (or I am an engineer because I am practical?) Chuck never left us stranded, but the level of equipment the vanagon had to offer was just a bit lower than we wanted. The 16mpg highway was also a hard to deal with. Even the newest vanagons are nearing 30 years old! Of course never needing an OBDII code reader had its perks. The soaring prices of vanagons motivate the sale. Chuck is now being enjoyed by a solar company CEO as he flogs it all over SoCal. :thumbup:

Just found your build thread this morning while checking the Unity site. WOW! you and your wife have done a hell of a job!! I'm impressed.
Thanks for the kind words. We have put enormous amounts of time into this build. Hopefully we can get 100 times that many hours of enjoyment.

I suspect that in OZ you're going to need a AC unit more than the furnace most of the time. Oh, one question... are you going to put the led floods on both sides of the camper?
I have high output LED light strips that will be mounted to the solar panel frame all the way around the van (about 150 watts total). I am also planning on putting lower output LED light strips under the van to prevent stubbed toes during midnight bathroom runs. It’s amazing how dark our camping spots are sometimes. Remote enough to see the Milky Way, and quiet enough to hear the wind is our preference. Owls seemed to enjoy perching on Chucks open vent hatch. :cheers:

As far as AC goes, we try to avoid RV parks as much as possible, but we may well need an AC unit. Worst case scenario I can rig a window unit to hang in the driver’s window for a little relief. I am also looking at marine AC units that could be used for short term cooling from the batteries. I just need to find the funds… Because AUS uses 250V 50Hz mains power any equipment I need to plug in will be easiest to source there. Maybe we will spend some of the Australian summer in New Zealand. :hmmm:
 

GeorgeRa

2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB, Portland OR
We had 2 Westfalias, 1977 and 1985 and they become a part of our DNA. After seeing Yosemite bear footprints on the driver door slightly cracked open window with our youngest sleeping one the factory hammock over the front seats we switched to bigger US made vanilla RVs in the late eighties.

Recently, with kids gone on their own ventures we had a large for us Bigfoot trailer which we rarely used. So we ask why and in conclusion went back to our DNA imprinted "small" van and we love it.

With your Australian travel plans don’t forget to have a rear fog light which is require in EU and Australia. http://www.mynrma.com.au/motoring-services/buy-sell/buying-advice/features/fog-lights.htm

Love the progress on your van.

Cheers,

George.
 

Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
After seeing Yosemite bear footprints on the driver door slightly cracked open window with our youngest sleeping one the factory hammock over the front seats...
:wtf: Bears be crazy! (Tourists who treat them like cows are too).

With your Australian travel plans don’t forget to have a rear fog light which is require in EU and Australia. http://www.mynrma.com.au/motoring-services/buy-sell/buying-advice/features/fog-lights.htm
Interesting :thinking: I am not sure what specific requirements we have to comply with as we will be on a temporary/tourist import permit. Countries are very random in what rules they require tourist vehicles to comply with.

Hopefully they don't want me to move the steering wheel to the "right" side. :lol:

Moving on to van progress. The rear end is back on the ground. Had a bit of a delay due to the rear brake discs. They were at the wear limit, and needed replaced. Only 2mm of wear allowance!





The instructions with the kit have you re-attached the parking brake cable in its original location. I did not like the way the cable was curved and the tension. So I re-worked the bracket to raise it about 1.5”. Another half inch of height could be attained with some spacers/washers. It is a bit tough to bend without remove it from the cable. But I was successful.







Prepping and painting the wheels took a few hours extra as well. The 12mm bolt on the lower shock extension cannot be torqued to 20ft-lbs. There is no spacer in the mount, so the bolt will just compress/bend the bracket flanges. I stopped at 15ft-lbs.







The painting on the cabinetry is coming along. Only a few items left and we can move onto covering the wall panels.
 

Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
Got bored one night. So I made up some mini LED light strips. I am thinking a few under the van for indirect nighttime lighting. A couple under the bed and in the cabinets as well will make digging for items much more pleasant. I sealed the ends of the silicon casing with some automotive gasket maker I had lying around. It bonded to the silicone surprisingly well.



I tackled installing the camber shims this morning. Took about an hour per side. Use Loctite on the bolts.





Prior to the shims the camber was positive ~2.5 degrees. After it was 0.5 degrees. Factory spec is plus/minus 0.75 degrees. The van probably doesn’t need an alignment at this point, but I will do it just to be safe. New tires and all.

I finished the roof and backup lights today. When it gets dark I will snap a photo or two.

I am putting the finishing touches on the under bed enclosure. Hopefully I can close it up shortly. I need to get the shower mixers hooked up for the final leak test. This requires cabinets which are still in paint.





I am so close to wrapping up all the major mechanical systems that I can taste it. :drool:
 
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Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
Here is where I mounted the ground lighting. Relieving oneself in the pitch blackness of a night at a remote campsite can be a challenge. A bit of indirect lighting makes avoiding the rocks much more pleasant without spoiling your night vision. They are mostly hidden except at great distance or low angles.



Here is the bracket for mounting the spin-on fuel filter assembly I posted earlier. It mounts the driver’s side fender wall about 12” forward of the fuel tank. Clearance is good at about 18-20”. The filters are 5” or so above the lowest part of the fuel tank. The subframe assembly also provides substantial bash protection. I could have mounted the filters higher, but the D5/isotemp coolant lines are directly above the filter which drops it down about 3”











I connected supply hard line to the filter pack using a 12” long line. The filter pack connects to the OEM filter inlet, so the WIF warning is retained. As a plus, filter changes take only a few minutes, with much less cursing. I started the van up earlier, and no leaks on the first try. :rad:
 

calbiker

Well-known member
Excellent work! I'm amazed.

Here's another vanagon/Westfalia owner. 10 years ago I upgraded to a Sprinter MH. But I wouldn't get myself to sell the '91 Westfalia. They are so easy to work on and repair. One day it wouldn't start anymore. It took me 2 hours to check all sensors connected to the Jettronic motor controller, check that the fuel injectors were spraying fuel, only to find the I hadn't changed the plugs for over 100k miles. The plugs were burnt down to a nub. I really like the hydraulic lifters and water cooled engine to get better heat on this "newer" model.

I can relate. The vanagon is a unique platform in the USA, nothing quite like it; both in utility, and in quirkiness. There are days when I miss our vanagon (Chuck). In the end the sprinter is a logical next step.
 

Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
Excellent work! I'm amazed.

Here's another vanagon/Westfalia owner. 10 years ago I upgraded to a Sprinter MH. But I wouldn't get myself to sell the '91 Westfalia. They are so easy to work on and repair. One day it wouldn't start anymore. It took me 2 hours to check all sensors connected to the Jettronic motor controller, check that the fuel injectors were spraying fuel, only to find the I hadn't changed the plugs for over 100k miles. The plugs were burnt down to a nub. I really like the hydraulic lifters and water cooled engine to get better heat on this "newer" model.

Thanks for the kind words. Working on our vanagon Chuck was fairly standard as far as difficulty of work. Having an inline-4 cylinder conversion made sourcing parts much easier (millions of them sold). Diagnosing the vanagon systems is definitely simpler than the NCV3 sprinters, with CANbus everything. Honestly the T1N sprinter has not posed any major issues. I feel that I can tackle any repair except for major engine mechanical work. Of course sprinter engines are quite a bit more expensive than the waterboxer in the vanagon. Considering my I4 conversion was 500$ in junkyard parts, its not even in the same league cost wise. The waterboxer was an improvement over the air cooled models overall. Unfortunately the cooling system design was borderline Rube-Goldberg. Of course VWs design longevity goal of 100k miles didn't help much. :tongue:

Having ABS, airbags, power steering, cab AC, and diesel power has sold us on the sprinter. We could have retrofitted much of this into a vanagon, but the cost would have been very high, even with me doing all the wrenching. Plus, with most of it being custom work, reliability was going to suffer, especially in the beginning.

I was really amazed how loyal vanagon/westy owners were. "Everyone knows the only real camper van is a vanagon. The sprinter is too big! You will never be able to camp in fun places! It has no soul!" :hmmm: :lol: When I become fabulously wealthy a fully restored and upgraded vanagon Westy will be on the list.

Nothing wrong with the vanagon when in its good condition (well actually I have a few gripes). But there were design deficiencies that needed corrected. That plus the average age makes them a very entertaining platform to overland in. Despite all this we had a blast in Chuck. Other than some operator induced damage, we had relatively little in the way of mechanical trouble. Never left us stranded. :thumbup: Of course I have above average mechanical aptitude, and I replaced or rebuilt half the van during our journey. I enjoyed working on Chuck, but I am really enjoying the sprinter. The thought that most everything will be good for another 100k miles makes me grin. No filter changes in the dirt. No leaking master cylinders, or cracked coolant lines. :bounce: Man I am starting to feel nostalgic thinking about Chuck. Some good memories. Maybe I will post some photos from the trip.
 
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GeorgeRa

2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB, Portland OR
Thanks for the kind words. Working on our vanagon Chuck was fairly standard as far as difficulty of work. Having an inline-4 cylinder conversion made sourcing parts much easier (millions of them sold). Diagnosing the vanagon systems is definitely simpler than the NCV3 sprinters, with CANbus everything. Honestly the T1N sprinter has not posed any major issues. I feel that I can tackle any repair except for major engine mechanical work. Of course sprinter engines are quite a bit more expensive than the waterboxer in the vanagon. Considering my I4 conversion was 500$ in junkyard parts, its not even in the same league cost wise. The waterboxer was an improvement over the air cooled models overall. Unfortunately the cooling system design was borderline Rube-Goldberg. Of course VWs design longevity goal of 100k miles didn't help much. :tongue:

Having ABS, airbags, power steering, cab AC, and diesel power has sold us on the sprinter. We could have retrofitted much of this into a vanagon, but the cost would have been very high, even with me doing all the wrenching. Plus, with most of it being custom work, reliability was going to suffer, especially in the beginning.

I was really amazed how loyal vanagon/westy owners were. "Everyone knows the only real camper van is a vanagon. The sprinter is too big! You will never be able to camp in fun places! It has no soul!" :hmmm: :lol: When I become fabulously wealthy a fully restored and upgraded vanagon Westy will be on the list.

Nothing wrong with the vanagon when in its good condition (well actually I have a few gripes). But there were design deficiencies that needed corrected. That plus the average age makes them a very entertaining platform to overland in. Despite all this we had a blast in Chuck. Other than some operator induced damage, we had relatively little in the way of mechanical trouble. Never left us stranded. :thumbup: Of course I have above average mechanical aptitude, and I replaced or rebuilt half the van during our journey. I enjoyed working on Chuck, but I am really enjoying the sprinter. The thought that most everything will be good for another 100k miles makes me grin. No filter changes in the dirt. No leaking master cylinders, or cracked coolant lines. :bounce: Man I am starting to feel nostalgic thinking about Chuck. Some good memories. Maybe I will post some photos from the trip.
The nostalgic memories from our 77 and 85 Westfalias lured us back to the Sprinter van. We couldn’t get one just like our old Westfalias, with the exception of Sportsmobile, so we venture to DIY. In our family of five the experience of camping with Westfalias left a permanent imprint in our memories. Our layout is identical to our Westfalias except we added the cassette toilet, but we will never be able to go through Tuolumne Grove tunnel tree in Yosemite again, well, the road is closed anyway.

I envy the progress on your impressive conversion, my progress was stalled for over a year due to moves, I am just beginning to prioritize a long list of remaining tasks.

Cheers,

George.
 

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