Hodakaguy's 4x4 Sprinter Conversion - Pic heavy!


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Continued from above...

Bases installed.

Pro Tip. I use these to keep open tubes of sealant fresh, they are little condoms for your sealant. Been using these for years and they work great!

Starting to run wire. I always use pre-tinned marine wire when possible as it offers superior corrosion resistance. Each individual strand of wire is tinned before being wound into the complete wire.

Wire ran through the compression fittings and ready to install.

Finishing the install.

More 221 to seal the screws on the top case. The rubber fitting is tapered and as you tighten the upper housing it squeezes the rubber around the wires creating a water proof seal.

And all in place.

Temporarily sealed off the ends of the wires and snap tied them to the rack.

Lots of wiring....

I'll clean this wiring up soon.

Quick diagram for the wiring. There will be a junction box up top to handle the power distribution.

More to come....



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Awning time.....

Starting to assemble the awning mounts onto the rack. The rack came with these ABS spacers that act as stand offs for the awning brackets, when you tighten them up they pull in flush.

One of the spacers was a bit to wide and needed to be trimmed down a bit, a couple quick passes on the table saw and it's ready to go!

Using a long level to make sure the three mounting tabs are all parallel with each other.

With the mount in the correct position the second hole is drilled on each tab.

Mounts in place!

Time to unbox the Awning.

Awning in place....

I decided to go ahead and mount the tabs for the awning legs onto the side of the van. In the past I usually didn't use these but in certain circumstances they can be very handy so on they go.

The mount.

Holes drilled, primed and painted

Sikaflex 221 to seal the holes.

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Continued from above...

While I was working on the Awning my wife was cutting insulation and loosely installing it into position.

And starting to glue the insulation in place.

Another benefit of the roof rack is that it shades the roof of the van and really helps to cut down on the heat. Below is a couple pics of the Un-insulated metal on the roof. First on the front portion (The part that's still open until I install the solar panel) and the middle where the roof racks deck is shading the van. This was taken on a 80 deg day with bright sun. The portion of the roof that's under the roof racks deck was 37 deg F. cooler than the open area. Nice!

After the days work I took a drive up in the hills to snap a couple pics, play with the drone and get out of the house for a bit while still maintaining Social Distancing :).
I think the rack will look even better once I get the solar panel installed as it will fill in the big gap behind the lights so you don't see sky when looking up from the ground. The rack has built in mounts that holds the panel on the upper tubing in front of the punch plate and over the lights.

The awning deploys with the included crank, the crank folds completely flat for easy storage and comes with mounting clips to attach it to a wall etc. The awning goes from retracted to fully deployed in under a minute.



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More insulation work today.

I'm using 3M Thinsulate SM600L insulation which is effective as both a Thermal and Acoustic insulation. It's also hydrophobic so it won't absorb water....and very expensive so you want to use everything that you can. Here I'm cutting some small pieces out of a scrap piece.

Installing and gluing the insulation into the ceiling.

Here I'm using some pieces of dense foam to thread onto the exposed tips of the screws from the cable gland, just a bit of extra wire protection to keep the sharp bits under wrap :)

Looking into the dome light wiring to figure out which wires are what. Looking like the computer is switching the ground and both constant and door power are hot. Hmmm....

Time to remove the drivers seat, lots of wiring to run soon.

I'll be installing the switch pro and 75amp Bosch relay for the LP-9's under the seat.

Ceiling insulation is getting closer to being completed.



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Starting to wire in the ceiling lights. Yesterday I spent quite a bit of time figuring out why the dome lights wouldn't work, turned out that the front light unit wasn't quite plugged in all the way and the master on/off switch that is built into the front dome light was defaulting to the off position. The Mercedes dome light's work off manipulating the ground vs the power going to the lights. There is a computer controlled SAM module (Signal Acquisition Module) that controls the dome lights via the door switch, the SAM module can be sensitive to loads and can fault out if the loads are outside of the parameters. I temporarily hooked up the LED touch lights to the factory dome light wires to test the system and it all worked good...hopefully no SAM errors will show up down the road with the LED lights in the circuit but if they do it's an easy wiring job to change again.

I'll be using 3 Double Pole Double Throw switchs to give me power options on the LED lights. There are 6 lights total and 3 switches, 2 lights per switch giving me different options for each individual zone. With the switches I will be able to set the lights to come on with the door switches powered off the starting battery (Just like the factory lighting), manually turn a light bank off or manually turn them on via the Aux battery. The lights themselves are touch activated and you can hold your finger on them to dim the light. The lights have a memory and will start in the last used position so if you have them all on dim they will start back up on dim etc.

Supplies Used:

*Genuine Marine LED Lights - Available on Amazon Here: CLICK HERE
*DPDT Switches - Available on Amazon Here: CLICK HERE
*Titan Heat Shrink Electrical Crimp Tool - Available on Amazon Here: CLICK HERE
*Marine Heat Shrink Electrical Connectors - Available on Amazon Here: CLICK HERE
*Brother Heat Shrink Label Maker - Available on Amazon Here: CLICK HERE
*Marine Heat Shrink Tubing - Available on Amazon Here: CLICK HERE
*SAE Connectors - Available on Amazon Here: CLICK HERE
*Pre-Tinned Marine Wire - Available on Amazon Here: CLICK HERE

Here's a shot of the Genuine Marine lights and switches installed in the ceiling for reference.

Here's a rough drawing that shows how each set of lights/switch will be wired.

Adding some grommets for abrasion protection on the back side of the lights, nice snug fit!

I like using marine crimp connectors on all my projects, they have built in heat shrink with a glue on the inside and hold extremely well. If you are using marine connectors it takes a special crimp tool to avoid cutting the heat shrink when you crimp. The tool is pretty inexpensive and well worth having in your kit.

Hit it with a heat gun and it's a sealed solid connection.

Another thing I always do on my projects is label all the wiring with printed heat shrink tubing. The extra effort up front pays for itself down the road when your trouble shooting, removing/re-installing panels etc. The costs of labeling machines have come way down in recent years and they are now very affordable. I'm using the Brother PT-E550W Label Machine. This unit works great and there are plenty of generic cartridges available on eBay for about $10 per cartridge. The heat shrink is available in many different sizes and as a bonus you can make standard labels as well :).

I'm running all black wire in this section so I placed a small piece of red heat shrink to help identify the polarity in addition to the labeling.

Factory Dome light wiring, Red is constant pwr, Brown/Blue is switched ground. Battery is getting low, right after this pic I hooked up the portable solar panel to top off the batt.

Prepping the factory light wiring to attach to the 3 way switch.

Continued Below...


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Continued from above....

I'm using these SAE connectors for quick disconnects on the two fan units, this will allow easy removal of the ceiling panels if needed. The connectors are rated at 20amps and the fans pull a max of 3.7 amps.

The middle two lights are spaced apart and again I used SAE connectors to allow quick removal of the ceiling panels if needed.

I didn't like how the factory wiring was ran across the metal edges here so I added a bit of loom for abrasion protection.

Sealing off the end of the constant power wire for the OEM dome light that's no longer needed.

More light wiring.

Light power from the aux battery. I ran pre-tinned marine wire for this run that will power the lights and the two fan units. The lights use less than .5 amps each and the fans are 3.7amps each, 14awg is plenty good here for this length of wire run.


Didn't get any pics while installing the marine wire as I was trying to finish up before it got to late. Here's a couple pics after it was all installed.

More to come.....



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Working up top today on the LP-9 wiring.

Wiring! The lights use 3 or 4 wires per light depending on if you want to have a 50% power option, I'll be using 3 wires.....100% power, Amber back lighting and Ground. The lights will pull 55 amps on full bright so the wiring needs to be up to the task. I'm running 6awg marine wire for both the main feed and the ground fro the start battery to the lights, #10 wire for the amber back light power. I decided to make a harness that uses the 6awg wire and has a very short 12awg drop to each light.

Getting ready to start the process of building the harness.

I'm using 6awg HD Splice connectors to make the drops at each light, here getting ready to crimp.

Crimping tool, this baby is handy and works really well!

I'll be using Heavy Duty heat shrink with the glue on the inside to seal each splice connection.

Fabricating the drops to each light. After crimping I add a bit of solder to the mechanical connection to make sure it holds as an extra measure.

Installing the wedge into the connector.

The 12awg wire dropping to the light just fits into the connector with the 6awg wire.

Next I put liquid electrical tape on the ends of the connector as an extra water proofing measure. Once the harness is completed I will put the liquid tape on all the ends once more before wrapping the harness with tape.

And heat shrink installed......not just lots more to go lol.

Test fitting

Van is a mess lol

Continued Below.....


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Continued from above....

More progress

At this point I got busy and forgot to take pics of the next few steps. I repeated the same process for the 10awg amber back light wiring, then wrapped the harness in electrical tape and finally put loom over the whole thing. The solar panel will hide the wiring and keep the sun off the harness. Once the solar panel is installed I'll do a better job of securing the harness.

Quick test of the lighting with power scabbed from jumper cables :). Can't wait to get it fully wired up.

Phone pics...Not the best but you get the idea.

More to come.....



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Headliner Installation........and lights baby!

Started out this morning by cutting some pieces of select pine on the table saw to install under the fans. I should have installed these when I originally installed the ceiling fan units. The boards will serve two functions, first they will give me something anchor the ceiling panels into and 2nd they give the fan screws more of a secure bite.

Also have to have the morning coffee :)

Next up removing the fan units from the bases.

I removed the screws on the front and back ends of the fan base, next up get the wood into position. A quick clamp came in handy here.

I put some Sikaflex 221 in each screw hole and on each screw itself.

When I originally installed the fans I used Sikaflex 252 to seal the fans to the van roof and it's very solid. As long as the fans are off I decided to add an extra layer of leak protection by adding a coat of Dicor lap sealant.

Got a sweet picture of my Mandals (Socks and Sandals) :)

Insulation re-installed around the fan.

Thinsulate SM600L

Two more layers of pine to bring the boards down to the correct height for the ceiling panels, Had to take about 1 blades width off the last board on each section to get the correct height.

Continued Below....


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Continued from above...

Ready for the center ceiling panels.

Here I'm using a piece of heated metal to melt holes in the ceiling panel where I'll install the screws to anchor the panels in place. By melting a hole before you drill you keep the fabric from fraying.

And screws installed.

Testing the lights.....Everything worked, sweet! Lights operate off the door switch with the ceiling switch in position 1 and manually off the aux battery in position 2.

Video showing the function of the LED touch lights.

Still need to install the trim rings and touch up a few small items then I can move on to other areas.

More to come....



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Playing with the camera today.....

Coffee while on the road! Here's a quick video demonstrating the Presto Myjo coffee press. We've used this press for quite a while now and love it, it's quick to use and there is almost zero clean up! The unit is small, light weight and very inexpensive. Works awesome in conjunction with the Jetboil....hot fresh coffee in 2 minutes!

Link to the MyJo on Amazon: CLICK HERE

Link to the Peak Refuel Chicken Alfredo on Amazon: CLICK HERE

Link to the Coffee we use (French Roast) on Amazon: CLICK HERE, Variety Pack here: CLICK HERE

Link to the Jetboil Flash Stove on Amazon: CLICK HERE



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Time to get the roof rack finished up so I can move back to doing inside work....

Next on the roof rack...close in these side gaps so you don't see the white bottom of the solar panel. I'll also build some filler pieces that cover the gaps on each side of the solar panel for aesthetics reasons.

Here's the gap that I'll be fabricating a cover for on each side.

Dialing in the pattern with FAD.....Foam Aided Design :). I used the foam board to get a good fit up before transferring the pattern to Aluminum.

Pattern transferred to a sheet of 1/8" aluminum. I was playing with design ideas here and had drawn in a few circles, I decided not to incorporate the holes as I have another idea that I'll add in down the road.

Steady hand and a Jig Saw.....cut baby cut.

Making the 2nd side.

Making some spacers with some 1/2" x 2" aluminum 6061-T6 stock.

Chop saw with aluminum blade made quick work of cutting the aluminum stock....nice and clean.

Head of a bolt makes a good tool to mark the corners before grinding.

Getting ready to drill the mounting holes.

Now to make up the solar panel end gap covers. Starting with some nice aluminum bits :)

You can see the gaps on each end of the panel in this shot that I'll be covering.

Drilling holes and using pop rivets to attach the aluminum angle to the aluminum sheet. The angle will keep the aluminum sheet from panting in the wind, making it nice and solid.

Continued Below....


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Continued from above....

Starting to assemble....

Tucking the LP9 wiring harness up under the solar panel.

Starting to assemble the side and top pieces.

Wiring all tucked up and in place.

Tidying up the wiring on the back side of the drivers side panel

Solar side gap pieces installed

I think the front looks better with the side panels installed....Done!

Took the van for a drive to make sure adding the new panels didn't cause any new wind noise....nope, perfect!

Next up I'm installing a Pelican case to carry our light weight camping chairs, ground cloth etc. The case will be going right behind the solar panel as this area won't be utilized for much and its a perfect place to mount the case out of the way. I'll always have our chairs ect with us everywhere we go.

I'm using the Pelican Storm Case IM3410. These cases are super tough, water tight and lockable. They also hold up well when left outside, I had a similar case on our Syncro and it was very handy!

I used stainless steel sidewalk bolts to attach the case to the rack. I drilled holes through the case and used Sikaflex 221 to seal the bolts to the case to ensure the case stays 100% waterproof.

Quite a bit of storage inside for light weight items.

Double 1" fender washers on the under side, nice and solid.

The latches are easy to use and the case is lockable. Handy setup!

One last chore for the day...Brakes. For the last year I occasionally get a squeal from the brakes when stopping and it's driving me crazy. I pulled the front pads on both sides, cleaned them, applied lube to the critical areas then applied some "Disk Brake Quiet" on the back side of the pads......took a test drive and it's nice and quiet now :)

More to come...



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Out driving on Saturday I snapped another pic. Not a lot of work this weekend on the van but I'll be back at it soon.



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Little work today....

Starting to add the lower L-track. I will be using a combination of recessed and flat mount L-track since I'm going to re-use the plastic trim around the windows.

First up I need to trim the lip on the bottom side of the plastic so the L-track can sit flush against the metal. A pair of sheers make quick work of this task.

Adding Plus Nuts to the horizontal recessed L-track. This track will only be used to support the panels.

Prepping the L-track. Here I'm recessing the holes in the flush mount L-track.

Starting to get there. The Vertical flush mount track will support the bed frame eventually. I'm tossing around ideas to finish off the ends of the tracks along with the upper edge of the horizontal track....I think I have it figured out, we will see :)



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Working on the drivers side today.

Getting ready to install the horizontal L-track.

Drilling holes and installing the Plus Nuts....Using the Deburring tool to clean up the edges before tapping the plus nuts into place. The Deburring tool has replaceable cutting tips, the shape of the tip allows you to de-burr both the outer and inner edges of the hole. Great piece to have in your kit...available on Amazon here: CLICK HERE

Getting ready to tap the Plus nut into place and seat it.

I borrowed a pneumatic plus nut setting tool from a buddy of mine. This tool is the cats meow! Not only is this tool quick to use but it sets the plus nuts perfectly straight every time! I'll post a video soon discussing the differences between Rivet Nuts and Plus Nuts and the different types of Installation tools.

The pneumatic tool...

Setting Plus Nuts..

Drilling and Installing the L-track.

Now on to the vertical piece of L-track. Since I'm keeping the factory plastic trim around the windows I decided to use angled L-track for a finished look and wider mounting base for the L-track that will be mounted over the plastic.

Using the Aluminum blade to cut the vertical piece to size. This blade makes quick work of cutting L-track and leaves nice smooth square cuts.

Here's where the Vertical track will be installed. This will be one of the two front supports for the bed.

Prepping the track and drilling holes...

Continued Below....


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Continued from above...

The plastic covering around the windows lets me install the L-track a little differently on these sections. I used a Forester bit to carefully cut a larger hole in the plastic then drilled the hole for the Plus Nut in the middle of the larger cut out. The head of the Plus nut is now recessed perfectly in the plastic and allows me to install the angled L-track without having to recess the back of the track for the head of the Plus Nut. This allows for a stronger overall installation.

Plus Nuts Installed....

And installing the Vertical Piece of track.....Fits great! The aluminum track conforms to the curve of the van as you tighten up the bolts, just start in the middle and work your way out.

More to come.....



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Plus Nuts & Rivet Nuts. I made up a video showing the difference between a Rivet Nut & a Plus Nut...when to use each and an overview of the different installation tools.

Plus Nuts are super handy and I've been using a lot of them. I've been asked several times recently about the differences in a Plus Nut and a Rivet Nut so decided to make up a video and demonstrate the tools in action.

Note that the Pneumatic tool is now available under $200.

Astro 1450 Plus Nut Tool: CLICK HERE
Pneumatic Rivet/Plus Nut Tool: CLICK HERE
Standard Rivet Nut Tool: CLICK HERE



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Finishing up the L-track today.

Here I'm getting ready to cut and install the lower portion of vertical recessed track that will capture the lower panels.

And I'll be cutting and installing the forward horizontal section as well. I re-installed the OEM plastic pillar so I can cut the track for a snug fit.

And installed....

Hodaka Wife helping out today and installing the front Thinsulate insulation. Hoping to re-install the front headliner next weekend.

Installing the power wires that will power our portable chest refrigerator. Here I'm using the factory installed speaker wires as pull wire to pull in the new Marine duplex wire.

As I pulled up the new wire I taped some old telephone wire to the marine wire so that I could use the telephone wire as a pull wire to pull the factory speaker wires back down into place.

Loom installed. The power port for the fridge will sit in the rear section of the forward panel.

This is the power panel I fabricated for the fridge power. It has a Blue Seas Marine cigarette plug on the top and a Powerlet port on the bottom.

Went through and applied wire loom to all the ceiling wires. The wires are already double insulated but the extra measure can't hurt.

More to come....


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