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Must have’s

Pedal Box

When I was getting my suspension done John had asked if I heard of Pedal Box.

I had not and he said it was one of those must have items.

It was a simple plug and play device that plugs directly into your gas pedal.

IT has multiple setting but the main thing it does is?

All Turbo diesel Sprinters have something called pedal lag.

It is worst in the 4x4

This pedal lag can be dangerous when you step on the accelerator there is a delay of a few seconds for the fuel to get to the injectors to make the van move forward.

If your trying to pull out into traffic you don’t get an immediate response and someone can hit you. Or worse, you hit the gas to try to avoid an accident and the van doesn’t move.

With the pedal box you get instant power.

I recommend this to everyone who has a Sprinter.

GPS/Back up Camera

Garmin being the leading edge for gps units was our only choice.

Even though it can be frustrating at times.

The voice commend almost never understands what I am saying so it needs to be typed in.

There is a huge learning curve in terms of which categories you use when doing a search.  The major benefit is that you don’t need a monthly plan and it doesn’t need your cell phone to connect to it unless of course you want it to.

Giving your cell phone additional Gigs to use in other areas instead of Google maps which suck up power and memory.

Make sure you get one that has the option for forward facing and back up cameras.

This could be a lifesaver to you and your van.

Again do you own research and decide what is right for you.

We found that the plastic mounting clip isn’t really strong enough for the unit.

I hope someone comes out with a better way to mount them.


Compost toilet

We debated what to get for a long time.

A proven system was what we wanted.

It came down to Airhead vs. Natures head

We chose Airhead over Natures head for only one reason and that was not having to lift open the toilet to remove the pee container which is a daily chore.

Also Airhead can install a plug in the bottom of the tank if you decide to run the liquids into a tank cleanout tank under your van.

So far a month in and we haven’t had any issues.

No smell, easy to use and does what it is supposed to do.

Emptying the toilet was actually easier then I thought and no bad smell.

Put on my rubber gloves, opened a trash compactor bag and turned the toilet upside down into the bag and shock. Out it came, no fuss no mess.

Loaded up the new medium and off we went, 15 minutes for the entire process in a shaded area away from others near a trashcan.


Heat and hot water

So the jury is still out on this one due to the fact we have not had the system working consistently.

Hot water for either showers or washing dishes is a must have.

Heat is not something we were willing to go without since most of the places we wanted to visit would have temperatures below freezing.

Again do your research.

The systems we looked at were all over the place in cost and features.

There was no one system that did it all.

One thing we know we didn’t want which would have easier is to have propane.

With propane you can do a gas fired heater and a separate gas water heater with a storage tank.

Plus having propane gives you the ability to do a gas cook top and also an oven.

Why not propane?

IT is more dangerous since it is highly flammable, the tanks are usually mounted under the van and for off road they hang down too low.

Lastly using propane creates a lot of condensation inside the van and moisture inside a van is a major NO.

Even exhausting with fans doesn’t get it all out. Especially if you are using it to heat your van! So no propane but it is a viable option if you don’t plan on going off road and have proper ventilation and are aware of the dangers.

Now if your not using propane what are you using?

Well electric is an option if you have a lot of battery storage electric heaters and hot water heaters work fine along with electric cooking.

A better option would be to use the existing fuel storage tank and run everything on diesel. 

We looked into the Webasto system and also the Marine diesel cooktop which doubles as a heater. Only issue was we still needed a way to heat hot water. Plus it was extremely expensive.

We decided on the Rixen system, which ties directly into the vehicles fuel tank, which was simple since Sprinters come with a separate fuel tap.

A complicated system, yet they have simplified it for you to install!

The way it works is it uses an Espar diesel furnace mounted under the van to heat coolant. This coolant then runs through a small two-gallon tank. This tank can also be heated by electric when plugged in which is more efficient. We found it used all 30 amps and drew additional power off of the batteries.

From the tank it is pumped through two heat exchangers. The first one has a blower fan behind it for hot air. The second heat exchanger had your water lines running through it for on demand hot water. 

The air heater has a thermostat, which controls it and the by-product would be hot water since the system is all tied together.  It also has an optional high altitude sensor, which we purchased since we live above 6000 feet.

Another option you can do is tie the entire system into your engine coolant system so while you are driving you are preheating the system for heat or hot water.

Plus the coolant stays hot for a while.

You can also start the system and pre-heat your engine if you live in a cold climate.

We have had an issue with air trapped in the lines but we are working through the issue now. 

One additional benefit which I have seen is to run the coolant lines along your fresh or gray water tanks under the vehicle to keep them from freezing. 

How much energy do you want to put into your system will make a difference in the long term based on your RV habits.

AMP Power Step

Another wonderful must have, especially if you own a 4x4 is the AMP self-retracting step. It fits where the sliding door and the passenger door are located. When not in use it folds up under the side of the van. When the door opens it drops down immediately. 

How to install all of these things?

Again planning out your build is everything.

I have seen people build cardboard replicas of everything and install them to see how they fit.

As well as CAD drawings down to the bolt!

It all depends how well you are able to measure and visualize how the van will look and how everything will fit into it.

Your tolerances will come down to a ¼” one way or another so make sure you give yourself plenty of wiggle room.

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