Solar panels for “free” power

Solar is a great way to recharge a battery and keep equipment like fridges and fans running during the day.

There are many options for solar panels – different sizes, voltages, and types. You can get flexible panels that stick to any surface, or rigid ones mounted in aluminum frames designed for house roofs.

Along with the panels, you also need a controller. That takes the energy from the panels and converts it to a steady 12 volts to power equipment and charge a battery.

Continue reading “Solar panels for “free” power”

Moving the bench seat

Bench seat in the third row position

The Crew van comes with a three person passenger bench seat behind the driver and co-driver seats. We want to use that room for a living area, so we have to move the seat back.

Luckily, the 2015 crew vans come with captive nuts under the floor in the positions the seats would take in a passenger van. It’s weird — Mercedes puts the nuts in place, but then puts a solid metal floor right over them.  Continue reading “Moving the bench seat”

Insulating – beating the heat and noise

We’re using several layers of insulation on the van walls and floor. Different products have different insulating properties – either heat or sound insulation – and so we need to use a bit of a sandwich.

A 50-foot roll of Thinsulate. Almost enough for a 170" wheelbase Sprinter.

The main heat insulation is Thinsulate – pretty much the same stuff as in gloves and coats, but 1-1/2″ thick and specially designed for use in vehicles. It stops noise as well as heat loss. We got this through Hein, another person who has converted a Sprinter van. He couldn’t find a supplier who would sell to him, so he became a supplier and now he sells it to other DIY-ers! Continue reading “Insulating – beating the heat and noise”

Stripping (the inside of a Sprinter)

Brand new long wheelbase crew van ready for conversion

It’s really easy to take the inside out of a Sprinter van. I’m not sure if that’s a compliment. There are lots of plastic pieces that just unclip.

We bought a Crew van, so it comes with a headliner, rear door inserts, and plastic panels on the walls up to the mid-line. The areas that would be windows in the back are just bare metal. The passenger van comes with more paneling, covered in vinyl. The passenger van also has more windows, which we didn’t want.  Continue reading “Stripping (the inside of a Sprinter)”

We bought a van!

We ordered a four wheel drive sprinter on the day they first came available in North America. The dealership completely screwed up, and sold our van to somebody else – probably on purpose. All I’ll say is, never use Wilson Motors in Bellingham, WA. They are dishonest and care more about how much money they can save than about customer service.

I couldn't wait to get rid of these Wilson motors plates

Luckily, they’d found a replacement 4×4 which kind-of sort-of was OK for our needs. We took it rather than waiting another six to ten months for a replacement to get built in Germany and then shipped across.

2015 170" wheelbase 4x4 Crew sprinter

We didn’t end up with most of the options we’d ordered, like suspension seats or the Active Safety package, and the van we took home had several things we’d never have ordered – what use is an alarm system if you’re parked in a forest? Or alloy wheels on a dirt road? Or the crappy Becker GPS system.

Still, it was a crew van (one row of passenger seats, windows in the sliding door and behind the driver) and had 4×4, which was our primary reason for waiting so long for the van. Plenty of room inside for the conversion we want to do, and hopefully the 4×4 will look after us when we’re heading to remote mountain bike trails.