It might look like a mess, but the cardboard boxes in the picture above helped me to work out the design of the battery box and electrical area in the back of the van.
I cut cardboard boxes to size for each of the main components, and also traced the shape of the smaller components like switches, gauges and connectors. Then, I tried different placements in the van. Continue reading “Will it fit? Will it work? Cardboard boxes to the rescue!”
Most solar panels are designed to sit on the roof of a house, not to be driving down the road at 70 miles per hour. The panels themselves can take much higher wind speeds, but it’s all in how you mount them to the roof.
Continue reading “Mounting solar panels to the roof of a van”
Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline, flexible, rigid, wattages, voltages – there are a lot of variables when you are choosing a solar array.
Continue reading “What to look for in solar panels for a van”
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”
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”
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.
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! He also sells it on Amazon. Continue reading “Insulating – beating the heat and noise”
Because the van was late arriving (or rather, our van got sold to someone else and the dealer lied to us about it), the garage started filling up with parts we’d ordered.
It’s really frustrating to have a ton of things to put in the van and no time to work on it.
The Fedex and UPS drivers want to know what our special project is. We really got good value from our Amazon Prime membership this year!
It starts innocently enough – a space in the roof, a wooden template to get the right hole spacing, then out come the power tools and all of a sudden there’s a 14″ hole in the ceiling. Continue reading “Adding a fan, voiding the warranty”
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 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.
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.
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.