We love our bucket and bag toilet solution, but it’s not really suitable for longer term use inside the van. We decided to try out a composting toilet instead. First, we had to find a suitable one.
Mercedes has to disassemble every cargo Sprinter van it ships to the USA, and then reassemble it over here. That’s to avoid the chicken tax.
They worked out it costs them around 7% more on the vehicle price to do this, but that’s still better than paying the 25% tax.
Now that there’s a large enough market in the USA for Sprinters, Mercedes is building a plant in Charleston to make them directly in the USA. Its opening will probably coincide with the introduction of an updated Sprinter model.
We had a get-together for Seattle-area folks who are converting their Sprinter vans. Fourteen vans showed up, and several more people who don’t have their van yet. It was great to see the diversity of builds and the ingenuity that went in to making each van custom for the people who’d be using it.
Some of these van conversions blazed the trail, some are recent additions. What sets them apart is attention to detail, clever techniques for solving problems, and adaptations based on what their owners use the vehicles for.
Ready for some van porn? Read on… Continue reading “Vanspiration – adventure van builds we admire”
Although there are lots of awning manufacturers out there, the choice for Sprinters is limited by their height and the ways you can attach the awning to the van.
There are four main types of awning;
- Retractable ones that roll up into an aluminum or plastic case bolted to the vehicle.
- “Patio” style ones that are like a big roller blind with the legs bolted on to the side of the vehicle (like on larger, older RVs).
- Fold-out ones that often zip up into a fabric case attached to the roof rack.
- Stand-alone tent style awnings that clip on to the side or back of the vehicle when they are assembled.
The most common type to find on a Sprinter are the case style, sold either by Fiamma or Dometic. There’s a reason for that, which we’ll explain below.
There are lots of holes in the metal van walls that you can use for mounting your wall panels. It’s not always easy to accurately find those holes and mark them on the panel. But, like most things, there’s a tool for that.
We use our van to camp close to the trails we want to ride. That doesn’t mean we want the contents of those trails in our van. Keeping ourselves, our bikes, and the van clean takes some creativity.
A while back we made a joke about voiding the warranty on the van by cutting a hole in the roof. Some people took it seriously and we still get questions about what really is OK to do on a van conversion without voiding the manufacturer’s warranty.
The short answer is, it’s completely up to your dealer and Mercedes what they say they will cover or not cover, but knowing what the manufacturer warranty claims to cover and knowing what the law states about warranties is a good starting point for any warranty-based claim you might need to make.
Good luck trying to find a locking trailer hitch pin that will fit in the tiny space that Mercedes leaves at the side of the 2″ receiver mount.
Receiver hitches aren’t common in Europe, so maybe the German engineers got a little confused about how they are typically used. When we added a hitch mounted step to our van, it was hard to find a locking pin that would work.
We ended up making a 90 degree pin lock but ever since then we’ve contemplated just moving the electrical connector for the hitch. Problem is, it’s not easy to know where to put it.
No matter how much you insulate the rest of the vehicle, The glass in a Sprinter van is a massive heat gain/loss area. We bought a sun shade made specially for the windshield and made ones for all the other windows from Low-E foil faced foam with magnets around the edges.