In the Belly of the Whale

First off I would like to thank the many contributors to this site as I will be ripping your ideas off wholesale. It was Geek’s adventure van that originally brought me here and poisoned my mind with this bit of insanity. Initially following his build kept me coming here. Guys like GeorgeRA, hein, and Graphite Dave working my mind overtime. And many others that I got bits and pieces from. You guys are awesome.

It has to have a name so I will call it the Whale due to its proximity in size to a small whale.

Goal.

This thing is going to be a camper for the weekend warrior, a couple of longish trips per year and possible work van.

First and foremost it’s a play thing. So it has to accommodate all the goals for play. I want it to be able to camp for a few days at a time without any need connect to anything. I have to shower from time to time so there might be some KOA type camping in there for longer road trips. I’m probably doing this or similar 10 to 16 times a year. More if I can manage. There’s also going to be some week long to multi-week trips in there also. These will be more like touring so there will be hotels and the like involved along with KOA style camping.

The work in my area is slowly drying up. I can work remotely but most places want you in office at least a few days a week. I have friends that work in the south bay and are in the office Mon-Wed and WFH Thurs-Fri. Some of them do that commute daily and others go down there and stay in a motel. I will park this thing in the parking lot of my future employer and sleep there. Hopefully this will not come to pass but I don’t see how I will avoid it.

What is going into the belly of this whale? It’s pretty much the standard build.

Bed
Refrigerator
Microwave
Cooktop
Diesel air heater
Cartridge crapper
Water (sink with white/gray tanks)
Solar/shore/inverter/house battery AGMs
T-slot cabinetry with plywood/formica panels
Cloth covered walls
Misc electronics: TV, laptop, 4G booster, Wifi booster.

Is there really a good reason for doing something like this? The answer for me is possibly maybe.
 
Build Sheet.

MY2016 4x4 Crew high top.

Paint/Upholstery & Trim
744 - Brilliant Silver Metallic
VU9 - Letherette

Optoinal Equipment and Value Added Packages
D03 - Roof-high
D13 - Roof Rails
DE4 - AMG Battery 12V 95 Ah
H00 - Warm/cool air duct to rear compartment
Lb9 - Illuminated Exits
RF1 - Continental Tires
RL5 - Wheel Light Alloy 6.5Jx16
SZ7 - Seatback Map Pocket – passenger
SZ8 - Seatback Map Pocket – driver
T12 - Sliding door – two stage opening
T85 - Assist Handle – left rear door
T85 - Assist Handle – right rear door
C01 - Driver Comfort Package:
12V outlet at driver seat
Hinged lid for storage
Two extra master keys
Comfort seater driver
Comfort seat passenger
C02 - Driver Efficiency Package:
Becker map pilot navigation
Lockable glove compartment
Rear view camera
Fog lamps
Cruise control
C04 - Active Safety Plus package w/Partronic:
Multifunction wheel w/trip computer
Parktronic
Light and rain sensor
Driver assistance pakage
Pixedl matrix display
Heated adjustable mirror
Windshield filter band
Overhead control panel with 2 reading
First aid kit
Emergency flashlight
X22 - Trailer Hitch Pakage:
Low & High Range 4x4
6CE - 6-cylinder/5-speed transmission

July order date, October build dated delivered in the last week of December. By the time I went down in September to confirm the options all MY2016 4x4 were sold and he had a line 20 deep for MY2017 4x4. Not the best deal in the world but still pretty decent considering they didn't really have to give me a deal at all. $1200 off MSRP (done at order time before deep ass line) and allow 10K on CC (he wanted to beef up his year end numbers) for pickup before Dec 31. I could have gotten a better deal but it was only a few hundred bucks more and hundreds of miles away.

Day 1
 

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I'm not a fan of street parking on my street as it is a through street. I've and a couple of cars vandalized by drive by smashers. We've even had a couple of drunks drive down the street and launch boulders. They messed up about 30 cars that night. Then there was the night the drunk lady played bumper cars down the street. It's funny. Driveway is safe but 10 feet away on the street and we'll hulk-smash your car.

Phase Zero:
Months before the arrival of the whale. Install parking space. Driveway is only two wide and we use the garage. Now driveway is 3.5 cars wide. There’s now a place for the whale and plenty of room to gut and stuff it.
 

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Not the best of starts. On pick-up date there was two issues immediately. The sliding door required slamming effort to get the upper rear latch to catch. The rattling in the van was crazy bad due to MB crappy method and lack of care in attaching the interior panels. I had the dealer guy put it in writing that these would be fixed. You’re dealing with car folks, if it isn’t in ink it’s not going to happen. Everybody that’s older than 14 should know this.

I fixed this myself by removing all of the side panels including the rear door. The rear most side panels was the biggest contributor. They’re just screwed in by self-drilling sheet metal screws and nothing else. The distance between screw placements was about 20 inches with no velcro. This allowed the plastic to flap against the metal and it sounded like drums. The rear hard plastic panels also rattled. They have a bunch of the green clips but somehow still manage to buzz. The one thing which I found funny was one door had the CLD blocks and the other did not. It must have been a Friday afternoon. Check the done box it’s quitting time. The side door was also producing a ton of noise if I didn’t slam it to get the rear upper latch to catch. I removed that panel only to find a bunch of foam covered cables that had enough range of motion to beat against the door skin. With all the panels gone it was significantly better in there. The cables are still beating a tune but it will stop once I insulate the door.

Then there was the dreaded 2100 RPM drone. This I didn’t find until I left the lot and removed the percussion band in the back. I had to take it back to have this fixed. I had them adjust the door and turn on the rear fade on the Audio15 at the same time. The drone is gone, the door is working better and the fader is turned on and ready for rear speakers. I’m happy with my purchase again.
 
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I posted the vibration fix in another thread but I'll stick it here also. They changed the leaf springs to some that had rubber blocks fused to it. It also looked like the arch chanted a little also but I didn't take pics or measure it before hand so it might just be my imagination. The service adviser said he couldn't order these parts without an open case with MB. So some sort of know issue. Not sure what the 4 nuts and bolt do.

PN:
2x 906-320-06-00 Leaf Springs.
4x 00000-003276 Nut
1x 017-990-80-01 Bolt.

the drone and the door was covered under warranty. The turning on of the rear fader was free. The dealership and service has been awesome throughout the whole purchase/fix process. I would recommend them.
 

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GeorgeRa

2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB, Portland OR
First off I would like to thank the many contributors to this site as I will be ripping your ideas off wholesale. It was Geek’s adventure van that originally brought me here and poisoned my mind with this bit of insanity. Initially following his build kept me coming here. Guys like GeorgeRA, hein, and Graphite Dave working my mind overtime. And many others that I got bits and pieces from. You guys are awesome.
It has to have a name so I will call it the Whale due to its proximity in size to a small whale.
Goal.
This thing is going to be a camper for the weekend warrior, a couple of longish trips per year and possible work van.
First and foremost it’s a play thing. So it has to accommodate all the goals for play. I want it to be able to camp for a few days at a time without any need connect to anything. I have to shower from time to time so there might be some KOA type camping in there for longer road trips. I’m probably doing this or similar 10 to 16 times a year. More if I can manage. There’s also going to be some week long to multi-week trips in there also. These will be more like touring so there will be hotels and the like involved along with KOA style camping.
The work in my area is slowly drying up. I can work remotely but most places want you in office at least a few days a week. I have friends that work in the south bay and are in the office Mon-Wed and WFH Thurs-Fri. Some of them do that commute daily and others go down there and stay in a motel. I will park this thing in the parking lot of my future employer and sleep there. Hopefully this will not come to pass but I don’t see how I will avoid it.
What is going into the belly of this whale? It’s pretty much the standard build.
Bed
Refrigerator
Microwave
Cooktop
Diesel air heater
Cartridge crapper
Water (sink with white/gray tanks)
Solar/shore/inverter/house battery AGMs
T-slot cabinetry with plywood/formica panels
Cloth covered walls
Misc electronics: TV, laptop, 4G booster, Wifi booster.

Is there really a good reason for doing something like this? The answer for me is possibly maybe.
Congratulation and it looks like you hit a running start thanks to your homework.

George.
 
Add a step on the back so I don’t have to jump out. This step is about 8” lower than the floor of the van. It comes powder coated and would be the step of broken legs in the wet. I added skateboard tape. Cut it to shape and put it on with a roller. This was a 10/10 mod.
 

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Fix MB built in leak. The leaks are as design and well documented on SS. Water comes in the body panel clips, runs down the interior van skin and hopefully out the weep holes. Great for empty wall not great if you plan on stuffing it with insulation. This one is like a rite of passage along with the cutting of the whole in the roof and the smashing(or cutting) of side windows to install T-vent windows.
 

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I have some tips for this one.

Don’t for get to remove the screw for the sliding door.
You can start the panel off from the inside by crushing the portion of the clip that expands and push out.
You can’t get to them all.
At some point you will have to just yank on the trim.
Try not to “pry” at an angle and pull straight out. This will leave the clip on the van.
Some of the clips for the arch is outside the van and can be accessed in the wheel well.
To get the clip off the panels push a screwdriver in to the back and flatten one of the tab while pressing with your thumb. They will roll out. Most are easy.
The rear most panel has some tabs that slot into the corner bumper trim. The come straight out away from van. It also has a funky “use once” press in clip. You can press the center pin most of the way out from the inside of the van and yank it out. Now it can be reused.

The arch needs to be gooped and pressed on with clips.
Other clips can be gooped and put on van before pressing panels back on.
 

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I removed the head liner today. What a pain in the ass.

I started in the back but soon realized that that’s the wrong place to start so I switched to the front.

Remove D-ring at base of B-pillar.

Remove coat hanger hook. The hook is actually a metal clip that is screwed into the B-pillar metal. It has a soft plastic cover on it. The cover simply slips upward off the hook. The hook can now be unscrewed.

While it is not necessary to remove the rubber gasket from the top of the driver’s, passenger’s and sliding door, life will be easier if you do. You don't have to remove it completely. Just the part that's in the way.

Pop the B-pillar cover off at the top. I popped the clips all the way down and tilted the cover out of the way. Probably not necessary but made life easier.

Remove the shelf/sun visor. There are two screws by the handle and two on either end of the visor. If your visor has this annoying clip that stops it from rotating, remove it. I think it was supposed to be removed as part of the delivery prep. Mine was still there. I pops down and slides towards the side window.

Remove the A-pillar cover. Start at the top. It just pops off. It is tethered to the van with a leash. Unscrew the leash. There’s a plastic hook at the bottom. To remove the cover slide the bottom back away from the wind shield. This will likely cause the tweeter cover to partially pop off. Remove them also.

Remove the overhead console light. It has hooks on the left side that sits above the head liner and sping clips on the right side. Pop the right side then slide it right to clear the hooks.
Disconnect the wires. Three of them have little plastic catches that you have to depress. The purple one just pulls off.

The cover at the top of the door that is covering the airbag does not come off. It is soft rubberish plastic and will bend enough to allow the head liner to come out from behind it. Do both sides.

The head liner is now ready to pop off.

Remove all the rest of the head liner lights. They just pop out. Unplug the connector. The one with the dimmer has directional connector. The others are single wires on single connector.

The next part is the center liner of the van. It is the largest panel. There is one gray clip near the top rear of the sliding door opening and three black plastic clips (previously hidden by front liner) at the front center of the that panel. Remove them.

There are large tabs (~2.5” wide and ~1” long) on the side of the liner that extend into holes in the van body on the driver’s side. The holes are large and will allow the tabs to slide out. Push up on the bottom edge of the panel and pull towards the center of the van. This requires real effort. The panel will flex and allow the tab to come out of the holes. There are five of these tabs. The center panel does not have those tabs on the sliding door side. Now both sides of the panel are dangling. The panel is now just held up by the clips. This will allow you to apply an even downward pressure on the clip with minimal prying. Start at the front and pull downward while reaching behind the panel and applying pressure at the center. The clips will pop. You will break some. That’s just par for the course. It helps to have someone else under the panel to catch it.

The next panel has one of the black plastic clips (previously hidden by the center panel) at the front center. Again there are two of the tabs on each side of the panel. Pop them. Both sides are now dangling. Pop the clips.

The next panel is the same as the previous.

The rear panel has one of the black plastic clips at the front center and four of the gray at the rear of the panel. Remove them. This panel also has two tabs. Pop the clips.

You can probably pop the clips without popping the large tabs at the edge of the panel out and allow the center of the panel to flex to get the large tabs to come out but I think that you get better pressure on the clips by popping the large tabs first. I only manage to break 5 of the clips. I recommend that you mark the holes that are used by the clip with a sharpie. That way you don’t inadvertently cover them or use them for something.

To make the van usable while you do the other work put the A-pillar cover back. You can put the tweeter cover back too if you want. I left mine off because I’m going to replace the tweeters. Put the B-pillar cover back. Put the gasket back. Put the sun visor back.

Pictures are coming. I need to sort and name them.
 
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Pics of the tools I used on the panels. Standard stuff. The metal ones will mar surfaces.

The large gray clips have a large inner base. To get the top off you have to just pry at the edge on both sides.

The four on the rear panel right below the latches are not clips. They're access holes. They do not need to be removed.
 

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Tether holding the A-pillar from stabbing you when airbag deploys. Note the hook at the bottom. Once the top of the pillar is popped and the leash is disconnected, lean the top inward a little (this will cause the tweeter cover to pop) and slide back towards rear of van.
 

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