Rip Van Build - 2020 Sprinter 170 4x4 Crew

Our van finally arrived from Germany! I ordered it in early 2020, finalized the build in early May, and it arrived mid September. I didn't initially intend to buy new, or 4x4, but after a couple of attempts to buy second hand fell through, I decided to. One of my thoughts was, if I was going to put all this effort into customizing it, I'd want it to last as long as possible. I had a long time to tweak out on the factory build before submitting it, so it ended up being pretty fully loaded. 4x4 was a hard decision to make, but in the end, between the winters in Quebec and the amount of time we spend around water and sand, it will be worth it.

My wife and I split our time between California and Quebec. We've recently had a baby, and we decided to start driving back and forth once or twice a year. We chose the 170 because we needed second row seating for kids. We have a pretty complete build planned, and the intention is to do it in two phases. Over the next 2 months I will install insulation, diesel air heater, water heater, roof fan, bed, sink and toilet, and outdoor shower. In California I will install roof racks, solar, higher capacity house batteries, fridge, and stove. I've already sourced most of what I need, but I'm just starting to put it together.

I've benefited so much from this forum, and everyone's build threads, and I'm so excited be be starting my own!




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Fog Lights

The build is pretty overwhelming, so I jumped in with a simple mod, replacing the fog lights with LEDs. The rest of the lights on the front are LED, so it looks factory. I sourced them from a company in Quebec (Thanks to JFC's forum post):

https://ledenligne.com/collections/...9005-9006-h11-h10-9140?variant=29693620977762

Instal was relatively straight forward. The fog light bumper trim pieces are just clipped in, but I struggled to get them off from the outside (there may be some magic method I don't know about). On the left side, I was able to access from the back of the bumper, and could unclip the tabs with my fingers. The back of the right side was much harder to access as there is a tank in the way. I had to remove the wheel well liner, and then very awkwardly and fairly painfully slide my arm between the bumper and the tank to gain access. If I did it again, I might just remove the bumper.

Once the bumper trim pieces were off, unbolting the fog light units is easy. The new LED bulbs came with an anti flicker box that you plug into the bulb. On the left side, I zip tied this box to the fog light, and then just bolted everything back together. On the right side, that tank was too close to the back of the fog light, so I zip tied the box to the inside of the bumper skin instead, just below the fog light.

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Kajtek1

2015 long/tall limo RV 2.1l
I am on my 2nd Sprinter build, so we can share the excitement.
I plan to drive my Sprinter more, than camping in single spot with it and looks like you will be using yours in similar way.
My idea is to not spend much money on solar (plan only 100W) as beside initial cost- it will cost more in extra fuel burned, so I plan to use economical diesel engine as generator.
I also parted out old camper, so I have shower stall, toilet and appliance very cheap to start with.
I am trying to fit camper dinette in my extended Sprinter, but it leaves me only 1 foot walking path around.
Have fun on your project.
 
Floor insulation

There is so much information out there on best practices for sound and heat insulation. These were my biggest factors:

-I wanted to use the wood factory floor. It isn't very thick, but it is high quality plywood.

-I'm 6'1" so I didn't want to add too much thickness below to avoid hitting my head. on the roof.

-I've read that the 4x4 drivetrain can become noisy, so I did want some sound insulation

-I wanted some heat insulation, but heat rises, so I was more concerned about insulating the walls and ceiling


For sound insulation, I ended up laying down a complete layer of aluminum backed butyl rubber. I also covered the wheel wells and front cockpit. Some will say this is overkill, and I know there are diminishing returns for 100% coverage, but that's what I did! I went with a product called Damplifier Pro, by Second Skin. Dynamat is the most well known brand name sound deadener, but second skin seemed comparable quality, and less expensive. I also managed to get a good sale price for Labor Day weekend. Another common option is call Noico. This probably would have been fine, but there was some question in my mind about the use of asphalt in the product. My wife gets anxious about smells and chemicals, happy wife happy life.

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On top of the Second Skin, for a bit more sound and heat insulation, I installed a layer of 1/2" closed-cell crosslink polyethylene foam (commonly called Minicell). I didn't fill the gaps between the ribs, because I figured it was a lot of work, and a little room for airflow would help to avoid trapped moisture.

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I put the plywood floors back down for now, and will install a combination of sheet vinyl and rubber coin flooring once I get all the interior build out fitted. I am also planning on installing a few sections of recessed L-Track in the floor, so will be continuing to pull the flooring up to cut and fit everything. Not pictured are the factory wheel well covers that I will reuse. They are a nice dense rubber, and I'm sure they will help decrease road noise.

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Wall and Ceiling Insulation

Another contentious topic with lots of good options. I decided to go with SM 600L Thinsulate everywhere. While it isn't the highest performing option, it has good moisture control, and is easy to work with. I also purchased some EZ-cool which I plan to use on the backs of the headliner and wall panels, but not in contact with any of the metal bodywork. I think using a rubber or neoprene makes more sense behind wall mounted L-track and 80/20 as a heat break.

On the roof and window band I used 3M 90 adhesive spray to mount the Thinsulate. On the upper and lower wall sections, I installed large sections of Thinsulate with relief cuts to allow it to mount around all the sheet metal supports. This also helped to keep the Thinsulate in place, so I didn't bother using the 3M spray. Before covering the window pockets, I put some of the leftover Second Skin on the sheet metal, lower down because I may add small windows later. I also used a wire to snake sections of Thinsulate through all the pocket sections of the bodywork on both the roof and the walls.

I haven't taken down the front headliner yet, but I will probably do so and put a partial coverage of Second Skin and glue some Thinsulate as well. If I had started by taking down the front headliner and working my way back along the panels, I could have avoided breaking a lot of the mounting clips for the panels, because I could have slid the panels off the clips rather than pulling down to pop the clips out of the sheet metal. Seems like this is a common problem. I will probably leave the headliners off for a bit as I'm sure I'll be routing some wiring across the ceiling.

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Diesel Air Heater - Espar D2 (S2)

This seems like a great system, and recent versions have automatic adjustment for elevation changes, which should improve reliability. I ordered the van with the H12 (Fuel-Fired Pre-Heater / Booster (17K BTU) so it already has the fuel tap, which makes the install a little easier. I decided to install it under the passenger seat base. I also ordered the van with E21 (Additional Batter for Retrofit Consumer, Co-Driver Seat Base) so I had to relocate the battery. I'm planning on a larger house battery in the future, so it makes sense to move it anyway. My passenger seat base is a low profile base, so I mounted the heater backwards from most of the installs that I've seen to allow the vent to be in a reasonable spot on the seat box.

I'm still in the process of wiring and running fuel and exhaust lines for the unit. I'll be working on this today!

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Finished running the exhaust, intake, fuel, and wiring for the Espar today. All I have remaining is to connect the end of the fuel line, and figure out how to wire the Easy Start Remote + option.

I decided to wrap the exhaust because it snakes through the 4x4 subframe. I didn't end up mounting any hangers except for the muffler. Exhaust exit is just behind the front right wheel well. I like this because it's outside of the underbody, and protected by the mudflap.

I ran the intake into an existing hole in the frame, and I noticed the coolant heater does the same thing.

I took a cue from gltrimble and covered the fuel line with a high temp tube and then a heat shield sleeve to protect it since it is so tiny, and runs quite close to the engine exhaust.

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Roof Fan - Maxxair 7500K

I intended to install a Maxxair 6500K fan, but there seemed to be a global shortage of them when I tried to purchase one, and the only ones available in Canada cost more than the 7500K, so I bought this instead. The complaints I've read about the 7500K are the remote failing, and the lid closing when you turn the fan off (though there seems to be some magic moves you can do with the remote to trick it). It appears you can also manually open it by turning the knob by hand, but I haven't hooked the electronics up, so I have yet to play around with it. I also ended up buying the 6 button wired remote to mount in my control panel area on the van. You need a Cat5 cable to use as a wire, and the end that attaches to the fan needs to be low profile to fit. I couldn't find a good source for a wire with low profile connectors, or low profile connectors, so I ended up buying the tool to crimp the connectors, and took a hack saw to a standard connector before crimping it.

I decided to install it at the rear location on our 170, above the bed. I installed rain guards on the front windows, so the air will flow in through the front of the van, and out through the fan at the back. Long term I also plan to put in at least one floor vent when I install a fridge. I will have an induction cook top but it will be right next to the slider door, so I could always open the slider to vent (weather permitting) when cooking. I think direct ventilation is more of an issue for a propane stove as the combustion creates a lot of moisture, we shall see. I have an idea to route a range vent to the rear fan if it seems necessary.

This install involved a surprising number of parts/tools to do properly:

Parts

-Maxxair 7500K Fan
-Maxxair 6 Button wired remote
-Cat5e Cable
-Rear 170 Roof Adapter
-1/8" x 1" Aluminum bar
-3/4" Plywood (to make a frame)
-3M Window-Weld 08609
-Dicor self-leveling lap sealant (2)
-Butyl tape
-10-24 x 2" 18-8 stainless steel screws (16)
-10-24 316 stainless steel tee nut inserts for wood (16)
-Nickel anti-seize paste
-Cold Galvanizing spray paint
-Primer spray paint

Tools

-Plywood and towels for sitting on the roof
-Clamps
-Drill and bits (step drill would be nice)
-Chamfer bit to clean up drill holes
-Jigsaw and fine/ thin metal blade
-deburring tool to clean cut line
-Wide tape to protect roof
-Plastic sheet or large trash bag
-rubber gloves
-vacuum
-ladder
-Foam brushes
-Q-tips
-Cat5e crimp tool

Throughout the process of cutting / deburring the screw holes and main vent hole, I must have vacuumed the roof 10 times. It was a windy day, so it was hard to stop shaving from going everywhere. Also, between the window-weld, anti-seize, and lap sealant, it got fairly messy, so a few pairs of disposable gloves would be nice.

Before getting on the roof and cutting the hole, I made a plywood frame to mount on the inside of the van. I cut the inside of the frame to match the roof adapter, and made the outside of the frame about a 1/2" larger all the way around. I clamped the fan frame, roof adapter, and plywood frame together and drilled holes for the hardware. Instead of using the provided screws, I bought 10-24 machine screws and tee nuts that press into the wooden frame. In an effort to avoid galling, i used dissimilar stainless steel grades for the screws and nuts, and used a nickel anti-seize. From my experience, you really don't want to use a high speed drill when assembling stainless hardware, as this significantly increases the chances of galling. I then drilled the plywood frame holes out to accept the tee nuts, spray painted it, and then pressed the tee nuts into the frame. I also drilled and cut the aluminum strips to put on top of the fan frame, to act as a stress relief for the screw heads.

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I put the towels and plywood on the roof, and taped a large trash bag below to catch metal shavings. I put the adapter in place (checked about 10 times that I had it the right orientation) and marked and drilled the corner holes for the cutout. I used a handful of drill bits to enlarge the pilot hole to be large enough to insert the saw blade. This is where a step drill bit would have been very useful. The roof is so flexible, it would be easy to warp the sheet metal as you drill. The bit pulls once when you punch through the roof, and once again as you pull back on the drill. Using lots of bits to step it up worked well with light pressure and high speed.

I then taped the roof to protect it from the jigsaw, used the adapter to mark the cut lines, and cut the hole. This part was relatively straight forward, but be sure to use a new blade intended for thin metal with fine teeth. High reciprocating speed and slow progress made a very clean cut. Before cutting the last edge, I put some tape under the piece of sheet metal that would be removed so it wouldn't fall or start bending at the end of the cut.

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I cleaned up the cut line with a deburring tool, cleaned up the drilled holes with a chamfer bit, and then applied two coats of cold galvanizing paint with a foam brush and q-tip, and then two coats of a primer.

I then put the adapter back on the roof, indexing it in place with screws at the corners, and taped around the adapter leaving 1/4" space. I removed the adapter and scuffed up the exposed surface with Scotch-Brite, and cleaned it with alcohol to prep it for the window-weld. I applied 3, 1/8" beads of window-weld to the bottom side of the adapter, and then pressed it onto the roof, again indexing it with the corner screws, and lightly clamping it to set. Some of the window-weld squeezed out the sides of the frame, but I ran an additional bead around the frame to have a little more to work with, and then, using a gloved finger, wiped off the excess, creating a nice little radius of window-weld. I then removed the tape after about 10 minutes and let it dry.

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Next step was to run the butyl tape around the bottom edge of the fan mounting frame. I started midway on the back side of the frame, and used one continuous piece the whole way around. On the corners, it made it easier to go around the bend if I pulled the backing paper off locally to allow the butyl to flex. I then inserted the 4 corner screws through the aluminum strip, frame, and butyl tape to index the frame as i pressed it down onto the adapter plate. I applied anti seize to the holes in the plywood frame so the screws would pick it up as the screwed down into the tee nuts. From the roof, I inserted the plywood frame through the hole, and held it as I drove the 4 corner screws into it. I then drove all of the screws into the frame only tightening them once I was sure that they were all successfully engaged in the tee nuts.

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I then cleaned the aluminum strips and roof with alcohol in preparation for the lap sealant. If you are using the adapter and aluminum strips, I would suggest 2 caulking tubes of lap sealant to be able to fully cover the extra height of components. Unfortunately, the supplier only sent me one, so I had to do a thinner coat that I wanted, and will add to it later. I cut the tip of the tube to the largest diameter to get a nice smooth application. I covered the entire aluminum strip and screw heads, and then worked my way down towards the roof doing about 3 loops around the fan. I ran out before I was really done, and had to use my finger to spread the sealant out to cover a couple of holes, so it isn't the prettiest thing ever, but I'm confident it's water tight. I'll add more when the second tube arrives.

Last step was to install the fan. As I mentioned earlier, if you're using a wired remote, you'll need a low profile connector for it, because the plug is mounted at the edge of the circuit board, and there is zero clearance. I bought a standard Cat 5 cable, chopped one of the ends off, and crimped my shortened connector onto the end. You need to plug this in before dropping the fan into the mount. There are 4 mounting screws that secure the fan to the mount, and it helps to pull the metal screw clips up slightly before putting the fan in place.

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I'm quite happy with how it turned out. Definitely a bit of a daunting task...just the thought of cutting into the roof like this. I'll add more lap sealant when it arrives, and test the electronics with some temporary wiring when I get a chance. I'll probably remove the fan when it comes time to cut the hole in the headliner when that goes back in.

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Oneendlessroad

2020 170 4x4 Owner
Floor insulation

There is so much information out there on best practices for sound and heat insulation. These were my biggest factors:

-I wanted to use the wood factory floor. It isn't very thick, but it is high quality plywood.

-I'm 6'1" so I didn't want to add too much thickness below to avoid hitting my head. on the roof.

-I've read that the 4x4 drivetrain can become noisy, so I did want some sound insulation

-I wanted some heat insulation, but heat rises, so I was more concerned about insulating the walls and ceiling


For sound insulation, I ended up laying down a complete layer of aluminum backed butyl rubber. I also covered the wheel wells and front cockpit. Some will say this is overkill, and I know there are diminishing returns for 100% coverage, but that's what I did! I went with a product called Damplifier Pro, by Second Skin. Dynamat is the most well known brand name sound deadener, but second skin seemed comparable quality, and less expensive. I also managed to get a good sale price for Labor Day weekend. Another common option is call Noico. This probably would have been fine, but there was some question in my mind about the use of asphalt in the product. My wife gets anxious about smells and chemicals, happy wife happy life.

View attachment 155650

On top of the Second Skin, for a bit more sound and heat insulation, I installed a layer of 1/2" closed-cell crosslink polyethylene foam (commonly called Minicell). I didn't fill the gaps between the ribs, because I figured it was a lot of work, and a little room for airflow would help to avoid trapped moisture.

View attachment 155651

I put the plywood floors back down for now, and will install a combination of sheet vinyl and rubber coin flooring once I get all the interior build out fitted. I am also planning on installing a few sections of recessed L-Track in the floor, so will be continuing to pull the flooring up to cut and fit everything. Not pictured are the factory wheel well covers that I will reuse. They are a nice dense rubber, and I'm sure they will help decrease road noise.

View attachment 155652
Hi Philip,

I am at the same stage with similar concerns. A few questions:

1.What brand of mini cell did you use ?

2. Is the floor warmer now - assuming it may be cold where you are ?

3. What impact has it had on sound ?

4. Will you be using both on the walls/ceiling and as regards DamplifierPro, will it be at the recommended 20-30% coverage ratio

5.Lastly, with the two materials on the floor now, does it hide the ridges from the metal joining piece that goes across the floor just in front of the rear wheels ?

thanks
 
Hi Philip,

I am at the same stage with similar concerns. A few questions:

1.What brand of mini cell did you use ?

2. Is the floor warmer now - assuming it may be cold where you are ?

3. What impact has it had on sound ?

4. Will you be using both on the walls/ceiling and as regards DamplifierPro, will it be at the recommended 20-30% coverage ratio

5.Lastly, with the two materials on the floor now, does it hide the ridges from the metal joining piece that goes across the floor just in front of the rear wheels ?

thanks
Hi, I purchased the foam from Foam Factory:


I'm in Montreal, and it is definitely starting to get colder here. I can't really tell you that the floor feels warmer, because the temperatures have started to dive as I've worked on it, and I have all the doors open, so it's basically the same temp in and out. I'm confident that the combination will keep the interior warmer though. I ran the Espar air heater for the first time today, and with the floors, walls, and ceiling insulated, it stayed warm for quite a bit after I turned it off.

I've driven the van once since insulating, and it definitely made a big difference. When you're driving, the majority of the noise is road and drivetrain noise, which will come through the floor and wheel wells, so I wouldn't go overboard with full butyl coverage on the walls and ceiling. There are clearly lots of opinions on this, and plenty of people who know more than me, but I gleaned what I could from everyone else's builds.

On the walls and ceiling, I'm relying on the Thinsulate and factory installed sound dampening. I added a few pieces of Damplifier Pro to the rear window panels as they didn't have anything, but everywhere else seemed to have it factory installed. I've heard on this forum that Thinsulate does a good job by itself to dampen the panel noise. I can say that, standing in the van, it has a more muffled feel with all the insulation installed, and it certainly feels sufficient.

I don't understand your last question about the metal joining piece, maybe you can take a pic or describe it more?
 
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Anjay

Member
You are in Canada and our winters are long and cold. If you are planning to use van for winter camping insulations is very important. I am on west coast and temperatures here are way milder what is in your neck of woods.
From the beginning I was planning to have infloor heat. It could be electric or hydronic. I choose hydronic in order to use heat from engine coolant while driving. If you interested I can tell how I done it.
While camping in freezing temperatures I noticed that in the morning the all the ribs in the ceiling were showing frost or moisture from condensation. Having previously camper with moisture damage to ceiling I decided to correct that.
My ceiling initially was Insulated just with thinsulate. What I missed was that ribs are heat sink bridge to the roof that why moisture condensates on inside. As an remedy I removed ceiling panels and added 1/2 polyiso board and reinstalled ceiling. In hind sight just a layer of 1/4” foam probably would be sufficient.
I am 5’10” and after having 1” insulation under factory floor and 1/2“ is no problem for me with ceiling height.
Just something to consider before you get any father and you still have chance to make changes.
 
You are in Canada and our winters are long and cold. If you are planning to use van for winter camping insulations is very important. I am on west coast and temperatures here are way milder what is in your neck of woods.
From the beginning I was planning to have infloor heat. It could be electric or hydronic. I choose hydronic in order to use heat from engine coolant while driving. If you interested I can tell how I done it.
While camping in freezing temperatures I noticed that in the morning the all the ribs in the ceiling were showing frost or moisture from condensation. Having previously camper with moisture damage to ceiling I decided to correct that.
My ceiling initially was Insulated just with thinsulate. What I missed was that ribs are heat sink bridge to the roof that why moisture condensates on inside. As an remedy I removed ceiling panels and added 1/2 polyiso board and reinstalled ceiling. In hind sight just a layer of 1/4” foam probably would be sufficient.
I am 5’10” and after having 1” insulation under factory floor and 1/2“ is no problem for me with ceiling height.
Just something to consider before you get any father and you still have chance to make changes.

Thanks for the insight. I only spend half my time in Quebec; the other half is in southern California. While we may do some winter camping in colder weather, especially as we travel across the continent, it will be more commonly used in a milder climate. That being said, as I will have my wife and kid with me, it definitely needs to be workable.

If your floor is heated with engine coolant, what happens when you stop? Do your have a hydronic heater running when you camp? Do you also have a diesel air heater? I'll be interested to see in very cold weather if my D2 is able to maintain a comfortable temperature with the current set up. My build is very modular, and meant to be able to be adapted if I find it necessary, so I could always add more insulation. I do like the idea of putting foam between the roof ribs and the headliner. I'm 6"1" so you have a few extra inches of standing space to work with than me.
 

Anjay

Member
The floor is heated while under way. It heats up interior to comfortable temperature. It really feels good walking on it in socks. I do have d2 and d4. D2 is put in service on chilly mornings to take cold edge off. D4 i installed for heating water while stationery(heat exchanger is doing it under way). To be honest both are used sparingly do to noise emitted. it is like jet is ready to take of next to you. In quite camp setting isn’t adding to experience what I am after.
I must say that once van is insulated it retains heat in interior for some time. While camping most the time is spend outdoors anyway. Anyway we slept many times close to freezing temperatures without heat just add extra layer of covers.
It was just fine even at -8C outside. We did have hookups but used ceramic heater only in the morning to warm up interior.
My opinion now is keep all systems as simple as possible, the more complicated it gets is more trouble down the road.
 

RVBarry

Well-known member
To be honest both are used sparingly do to noise emitted. it is like jet is ready to take of next to you.
Hi, you can get mufflers for those.
 
Hi, you can get mufflers for those.
I've run the Espar D2 (with the muffler) and, while you can certainly hear it, I wouldn't be concerned about bothering other people unless I was in a very crowded and quiet campsite! It sounds similar to my Whisperlite camp stove. I've heard the D5 is louder, and it's one of the reasons I when with the D2 air heater.
 

hdaniels

Member
" I also ordered the van with E21 (Additional Batter for Retrofit Consumer, Co-Driver Seat Base) so I had to relocate the battery."
I want to install an espar heater under the passenger seat and my van has a a house battery in the passenger base as well. Did you remove the battery completely, or re-locate it to a direct location? Can you explain more?
Thank you!
 
" I also ordered the van with E21 (Additional Batter for Retrofit Consumer, Co-Driver Seat Base) so I had to relocate the battery."
I want to install an espar heater under the passenger seat and my van has a a house battery in the passenger base as well. Did you remove the battery completely, or re-locate it to a direct location? Can you explain more?
Thank you!
Once you start fitting these vans out, there are so many endless configurations, it makes you question your build choices. What I'm doing is a partial build, using the factory auxiliary battery to power a toilet, water pump, diesel heater, and fan. When I take my next step of the build, I'll add solar, battery bank, inverter, fridge, induction cook top, and AC outlets. My plan is to power all of this with a lithium battery bank that is not connected to the starter battery like the current auxiliary battery (only with a battery-to-battery charger). When I do that part of the build, I will either get rid of the aux battery, or keep it to power external lights, the small factory inverter, and as a back up starter battery.

In the meantime, I have relocated the aux battery back into the base of the seat. There is room for both the heater and the battery, but you have to get rid of the bulky factory battery tray. In my case, I have an AGM battery (can be mounted at an angle), so I just made a wooden support frame and bolted that to the angled floor of the van inside the seat base. I have the low profile seat base, so I located the vent hole for the D2 on the far side of the box because it was really tight to try to located it on the same side as the heater. This means that I currently had to temporarily re-route the vent to the opposite side of the seat because the battery blocks the hole. If I do end up keeping the battery long term, I'm tempted to put it in the engine bay, and use the seat base for other stuff like an amp.

Hope that helps!
 

hdaniels

Member
I am going to install a full electrical / battery system so I plan on removing the aux battery, trying to figure out what I do with the existing wiring. I haven't decided to disconnect and remove or to leave in place and insulate. At least I think I will disconnect the positive side of the aux battery from the vehicle.
Thanks!
 

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