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Old 03-12-2012, 06:51 PM   #1
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Default Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

Hi -- I decided it is time to delurk, since I am hopefully soon to become a newbie, instead of a wannabee as I am now.
We have been looking at RV's off and on for years and finally we are good to go and have decided that a class B is the best choice. With gas prices being what they are, we really want to get one of the diesel powered ones and the Sprinter based models are the obvious choice. That being said, we aren't exactly wanting to deal with the 100K-plus new vehicle prices and have been searching the used market, such as it is. We've been trying to gather all the information that we can and of course, the 3500 chassis has a much shorter history and is pricier. We've heard/read some comments about problems with the 2500 models, largely due to their being overweight. For instance, Roadtrek's SS Ideal, which is so recent that we probably wouldn't be going for it anyhow, seems to have very little leftover weight allowance. It's also confusing and sometimes difficult to determine which chassis a particular vehicle was built on when reading descriptions. Even the Roadtrek website is confusing and sometimes inconsistent in describing older models.
The other frustration is our inability to SEE practically anything that we are reading about. The last local RV show had no van campers whatsoever. We finally saw a new Airstream -- not that we were going to spring for it anyhow, but it was the first Airstream van we've been able to see anywhere. We still have never seen an SS-Ideal.
My question here is basically what others think about the models based on the 2500. We're pretty committed to not getting a gas powered model and as you know, that limits our used selections to very few. Do you think we should eliminate 2500's consideration as well? I'd appreciate your opinions. Thanks.
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

I had a 2005 Pleasure-way Plateau Sprinter 2500 chassis and I now have a 2011 Great West Van Legend 3500 chassis. In model year 2007 Mercedes Benz brought out a new body and V6 engine. The van was longer, wider, taller and heavier than the old I5 engine models. With the older model none of the Class B RV converters were building on the 3500 dually chassis. With the new model quite a few started converting on the 2500 chassis but most all abandoned that idea by the 2010 chassis model year. Most all Class B RV converters now only offer models on the 3500 chassis. There is a reason plain and simple. The old model was possible to convert on a 2500 and there are a lot out there. The new model converted on a 2500 for a brief couple of years was very marginal. Bottom line. If you are buying new you may not have any choice. It will be a 3500. If you are buying used, most all old models will be 2500s and you will not really have a choice. If you are buying used, and looking at the new model style, there will be some 2500s from converter years 2007 to 2010 that I would avoid. I'm not sure what was being used for the shorter 140" wheel base but I heard Great West Van was looking at building on the 140" 3500 dually chassis not the 2500. Bottom line, again it is not your decision and the converters have clearly figured out they need to build on the 3500s.
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:55 PM   #3
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

Hi! I'm a newbie as well, I haven't even seen my coach yet - it's still in FL awaiting my Spring Break so I can go fetch it! About 2 weeks ago I purchased a 2011 Pleasure-Way Plateau and the 3500 chassis (I think) it's got the dual rear tires which I think it a feature of the 3500.

I wanted to point out that Roadtrek no longer makes the SS-Ideal - that was a model with a rear slide out. If you are interested in that one you'll have to look for used, there are usually some on RVTrader. They do currently make the SS-Agile which is built on the short sprinter chassis. It's only 19ft long! That's the model I thought I had my heart set on until we found this great deal on the 2011 PW and now after just seeing pictures of the PW and looking over features and such and comparing both coaches I have to say that I'm pretty sure the PW is the better coach. Yes it's a big bigger but the floorplan and design of the PW is so much more appealing (to me anyway) than the RoadTrek.

I recently saw an Agile on RVTrader - it was in FL, at Sunshine State RVs and I believe it was $79,000 - can't remember what year - 2010 maybe?

Good luck! Keep us posted on your decision!
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Old 03-13-2012, 02:13 AM   #4
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

Thanks for the replies. I think we actually saw the Pleasure Way that you are buying--online, not in real life of course -- and wondered about whether we should jump on it. Did you have the opportunity to look at one like the one you are buying? It's SO hard to get to see any of them. Good luck with your purchase, and please keep us posted about how it works out for you. What were some of the features you liked about the P-W?

Davydd, I have read your posts about your Great West purchase with great interest. Looks and sounds wonderful. From the Roadtrek site, it looks like they were building their RS models (regular Sprinter as opposed to SS short Sprinter) on the 3500 chassis for several years now. They list the specs for past model years and it gets confusing because there is stuff like "2009 built on 2008 chassis" and such. It looks like they were using the 3500's for the RS for longer than 2010 and 2011. Am I missing something?
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Old 03-13-2012, 01:48 PM   #5
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

You have to pay attention to Converter model year and chassis year. Usually they are a year apart because the converters buy up chassis in advance and then convert them. So right now 2012 chassis are available but they will soon be calling their new models 2013s built on those chassis. The new model V6 engine chassis came out in 2007 so there are some conversion models called 2008s, 2009s and 2010s that may be built on the 2500 170" wheelbase chassis. By the 2011 converter model year most finally figured it out and now build on the 3500 chassis. Also, the 2010 chassis model year (2011 Conversion models) were the first to get the upgraded V6 horsepower and torque engine. That's why I would look closely at any Sprinter conversion sold between 2008 and 2010. They might be 2500s and will have the less HP and torque engine. I purposely waited to buy a 2011 model and double-checked to make sure I was getting then new 2010 3500 chassis.

You can drive any converters Sprinter to test drive because they do nothing to differentiate them in setup that I am aware of. Most all the equipment, such as AC, refrigerator, generator, etc. are pretty much the same. If you are considering a Pleasure-way you can rest assure you are getting top quality fit out and cabinets. The biggest Sprinter decisions are plan design layout and features. Those are preference issues with everyone's needs, wants and perceptions differing. I've posted my reasons on those.

One last thing to clear up some confusion. Up until 2010 chassis year Sprinters were badged Mercedes Benz, Freightliner or Dodge. Rest assured they were all Mercedes Benz with no differentiation other than grill and badging. Now they can be badged Freightliner or Mercedes Benz but not Dodge anymore. A Sprinter is a Sprinter plain and simple.
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Old 03-13-2012, 09:25 PM   #6
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

Hmmm...I'd be surprised if you saw my coach online - we found out about through word of mouth, it was at a campground in Naples, FL. The only place I saw it advertised online was on the PW Owners forum, but that was after I'd decided to purchase it. I only looked on RVTrader though so you might have seen it...it was a pretty great deal!

My parents are "snowbirds" and live in Naples (in their 36' County Coach) during the winter so they have looked at it, test driven it, etc and have sent pictures and such....they have also fallen in love with it and while it's registered in my name and I paid for it I have a feeling I might have a hard time prying the keys out of their hands.

Last July I rented a "Majestic" from Apollo Rentals in CA and one of the things that occurred to me was that if all the "tall stuff" was behind the driver then you could actually use the rear view mirror to some degree - useful mostly for merging. The PW has all the tall stuff lined up right behind the driver, which the RT does not. This is also good because when you are in the coach and look out you get to see "your" campsite, rather than the neighbors! Also, when you turn the driver/passenger seats around you can see out of the coach and have a view.

Another feature is that the PW is built on the dually chassis (or at least mine is) which means you can carry more weight and they put in a larger fridge with a separate freezer. This is great for me because I don't intend to do a lot of cooking in the coach and I can freeze meals ahead of time and have a place to put them!

I also like the bathroom better in the PW. The RT has an aisle bathroom and while you might be able to shower in the actual bathroom it's very cramped and the whole floor would get wet outside the bathroom. Also on the RT the bathroom has a double door which seems awkward and unnecessary.

The PW doesn't have the macerator - which I happen to think is a good thing since it's one less part to break! I can see the benefits of having the macerator, but I have a dump station nearby and I'd rather not run the risk of it failing.

I'm still unsure if it has an inverter - this has been unclear to both my dad and I - Dad looked it at and he's read the owners manual, apparently there is a 1 plug inverter behind the TV so you can unplug the TV and plug in something else. I believe the RT have inverters - not sure if they are integrated or if they only power 1 plug. There are, I believe, 2 12-volt plugs that you could plug a portable inverter into or get 12-volt chargers for stuff! I plan on doing a lot of dry camping so this is important to me!

The one thing it does not have is a Sat/MP3 Radio in the dash! No backup camera or navigation system either. All of that could be added later, but I do believe it's standard in the RT.

Honestly though, outside of the buying process you prob won't be comparing coaches and learn to live with whatever your coach has.

Good luck with your search! Let us know what you end up with!
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Old 03-13-2012, 10:38 PM   #7
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

Pleasure-way's standard is an inverter to power only the TV off the batteries when boondocking. My Great West Van Legend is set up the same way. What I didn't like about those small inverters is they had a fan to cool them and to me was annoying. So whenever connected to shore power I always disconnected the TV and plugged into a nearby 110V outlet. I think the inverters are about 450w. That won't power anything else except maybe other electronics including laptop computers. You would need a larger inverter of about 1750w to 2000w to power a microwave or 110v coffee pot. You couldn't have enough batteries to power an air conditioner. I don't know what Roadtrek's setup is in regard to inverters other than maybe they power the 110v outlets when boondocking?

In 6 years of Class B RVing I never encountered a situation where the gravity 3" flexible waste hose did not work. It is positive, quick and clean. Dump the black tank and then rinse with the gray tank. Simple. No clogging, no electrical malfunctions. The slinky flexible hose compresses to about 2 feet in length and has its own storage tube. The only positive I can see in a macerator is I could theoretically empty my tanks at home. I just dump at a campground on the last day of a trip and have a public campground near my house I could go to if needed.

You made good points about the orientation of the Roadtrek vs. the Pleasure-way and the location of the tall cabinet items. Roadtrek, Airstream and Winnebago ERA subscribe to the tall items on the passenger side and the Pleasure-way, Leisure Travel Vans and Great West Vans have similar layouts with the tall items behind the driver and the major windows looking out over your campground. By putting the tall items behind the driver you also have more length to play with to also raise the refrigerator off the floor and put the microwave oven at viewable eye height instead of under the kitchen counter. The Roadtrek plan allows you to add a second row of two passenger seats much easier. A lot of people like that. I don't have a need or desire to tie up space in a Class B with two additional seats I would rarely use. That's a preference item you might like if you use your B as an every day vehicle, have kids or use it other than touring and camping such as tailgating at a football game. Although all the manufacturers have electric sofas with legal seat belt seating in the back, it is not the most desirable place to ride as the bounces and bumps are magnified.

The two biggest debits I found in the newer Pleasure-ways was the bathroom was so tight to the driver's seat that you could not turn it around to a table and use as living space upfront and they regressed in regard to adequate under electric sofa storage in the back. Those two criteria drove me to Great West Vans on my second go around.
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Old 03-14-2012, 06:56 AM   #8
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

Your replies are great -- I'm amazed at how closely both of you are talking about the same things I/we have been debating about. We have had a big go-round about the tall things on the driver's side. Davydd, I had already read about your GW so I knew you didn't want the second row seating and neither do we. We don't want to be driving a mini! It's annoying how often they seem to be standard equipment and the alternates, especially Winnebago's which I've only seen in photos, look like cheap add-ons. Winnebago's added "wardrobe" leaves a gap between it and the counter top and looks like something from Walmart, in the photo at least. On the other hand, we were in the 2012 Pleasure Way at a local dealer and my reaction was that the driver's seat felt much too cramped and isolated from the rest of the coach. What with aging hearing as well as radios going and whatever, I am afraid that communication with anywhere other than the passenger seat could be a real problem. Likewise, I like the option of placing the table up front and it appeared that there wouldn't be enough room to swivel the driver's seat around and use a table, in fact I don't think they even provided a mount for it. It left me thinking that maybe having the third seat, but not the fourth, was a good compromise. The other thing that I didn't like was the way the tall side obstructed the view across from the entry, since visually it seems to emphasize the smallness while the open view seems larger. I definitely liked the larger fridge in the P-W and one thing that we don't like is the lack of options for an upgraded fridge -- seems like there are almost none larger that 3.5+/- cubic feet -- our friends sleeping outside in our driveway in their much older Chinook have a fridge at least as big as the P-W's.
Teach, I did see a couple of really good deals in Florida--glad you found yours--it gives me hope. With the size of the bathrooms, I haven't compared enough yet, but I did notice the small shower in the R-T. I also noticed the lack of undersofa storage in the P-W and was surprised; I've seen pictures of others that looked much better.
Davydd, I was wondering about the screen doors that you have with your G-W. If they can do them, how come everybody doesn't? Are they available as an add on anywhere? Like you, we want actual doors, not curtains, because of our dogs.
Thanks for all the great info, guys!
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Old 03-14-2012, 02:19 PM   #9
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

To my knowledge no other B converter has offered a screen on the side sliding door of a Sprinter. It seems exclusive to Great West Vans and the screen is their own proprietary design to enclose the opening. Closing off that opening is difficult. I managed to make a custom screen enclosure for my 2005 Pleasure-way Plateau but it did not keep our cat inside as the GWVan screen does.


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Old 03-14-2012, 04:19 PM   #10
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Default Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

Nice photo -- I was really studying the photos on the G-W site to try to figure out how it works. Even in your photo it is hard to figure out. Does it slide to the left, behind the sink, or to the right? In G-W's photos, it looks like it goes to the right, towards the passenger seat, but I don't see how it makes sense that way unless the screen sort of accordian folds, like a curtain or something like that. It looks like maybe that's how it works, but then I don't get how the framing around it would work. Sheesh! I can imagine it was difficult to make one yourself -- but I would sure try if I had to and probably work off of the G-W design, not knowing anything else to do. Could you possibly show a photo of it opened? And how is it working for you?

Nice looking kitty, too.
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Old 03-14-2012, 06:48 PM   #11
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

The screen accordion folds within the frame. In the open position it stacks tight over at the right. It is spring loaded so you close it by sliding it toward the back where it hook catches to latch. If you flip the catch latch up the screen releases and it springs back to the open position. To the left of the door the kitchen cabinet and a snap in and velcro in screen enclosure above the cabinet seals off the rest of the sliding door opening.

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Old 03-14-2012, 07:44 PM   #12
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

Thank you, that is very cool.
We have looked at the P-W in real life and I thought the driver's seat area was very cramped and I'd like to have a front table.
I was looking at the Leisure Travel free spirit and noticed that it DOES have a front table mount. With the driver's seat swiveled around, it works with the table, although it looks a bit tight. It's not clear to me from the photos whether there really is more space behind the driver's seat. Looks like your G-W has some space there & less cramped. L-T's model looks like the bath is large, but P-W's looks bigger. Also L-T seems to have good underbed storage while the P-W we saw didn't seem to. Also noticed that L-T's tank capacities are a little smaller.
Not sure exactly what I'm asking...maybe whether you have an opinion on whether the L-T does improve on the space up front to any meaningful degree over the P-W.
Thanks for the explanation of the screen door. Don't think I've ever seen an accordian folding screen before.
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Old 03-14-2012, 11:45 PM   #13
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

You can look at the interiors of most of the Sprinter Class Bs here:

2012 Minneapolis RV & Camping Show Class B Photos

Here are photos of the Great West Van Legend EX:

2012 Great West Van Legend EX
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Old 03-15-2012, 06:17 AM   #14
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

Very nice. Thank you for the photos. Thinking about LTV vs. P-W. Your rig looks wonderful.
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Old 03-15-2012, 04:38 PM   #15
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

You can't go wrong with either LTV or P-W. Both are quality Bs. If I were buying a new B today there would be no question that I would go back to Great West Vans. If I were to rank the Bs, this is the way I currently see them in satisfying my wants and needs. The caveats are we all have different wants and needs and these are mine, and this is for Sprinters only.

1. Great West Vans Legend EX (if I wanted larger, otherwise very satisfied with my Legend)
2. Leisure Travel Vans Free Spirit (sharp interior but can't tell if driver swivel seat is practical)
3. Pleasure-Way Plateau (they have new plans to consider but the standard TS plan fails my needs)
4. Sportsmobile customized Sprinter (last resort since plans above satisfy most of my needs)
5. Roadtrek SS Agile (if I decided on a smaller size by default but would check with Great West Van or Sportsmobile first)

Probably would not consider because of plan layouts.
6. Roadtrek RS Adventurous (just too many things I don't like about it - wrong orientation plan layout, fridge and microwave below counter and undesirable bathroom)
7. Airstream Interstate (Nice looking, most expensive MSRP and claustrophobic interior with an aisle way too narrow)
8. Winnebago ERA (least expensive MSRP but still some rough edge development)

The toughest thing to do is to decide on your first B. Almost any would do because they would be so fresh and a new experience that you will or will not enjoy and no matter what you choose you quickly learn to adapt to them and learn creative techniques in loading them and using them. There are a lot of subtle things you learn to desire after user experience. Here are some to consider and explains why I gravitated to what I have today.

1. Aisle space. Can two people pass by each other? This is not something to dismiss. It can be kind of a drip, drip thing between two people that builds up.
2. Zoned interior living. Electric sofas provide a great deal of flexibility in use but it is especially nice if you can utilize your cab seats with a table up front. Two people can then do separate things. Interestingly the plan layouts I don't like excel at this because they promote social idea with up to four captain chairs around a table.
3. Bulk storage. Many of us were driven to hitch cargo carriers in our Bs. I tried it and quickly learned I didn't like it. That got me curious about under sofa storage and looking for the best. If you like the electric sofa layouts this is something you learn from user experience. You can solve the problem easily with a fixed platform queen bed with vast under bed storage.
4. Auxiliary batteries. One is not enough if you like to travel to the more wilderness areas like national forests, national parks, etc., or boondock. I got by with one in my Pleasure-way including a 5 day stay in a national forest but it was always a constant concern in battery management. Two so far has been a non-worry luxury. Four available in a Legend EX would be Nirvana joy.
5. Bathrooms. There is room in a Sprinter B to have an enclosed bathroom. So why not look for the most functional?
6. General Interior Storage. You learn to make do with what you have and you never have enough. Saying that, I always took too much along. I do prefer having a good wardrobe hanging closet. It doesn't have to be big but there are a few things I prefer to hang than fold up. I'm gravitating slowly to more utilitarian clothing like those nylon expedition pants and shirts.
7. Screens. This is one of those if you don't have it you don't know what you are missing. I can tell you now it is one of the nicest features we have. The side door screen is great and makes coming and going from the B easy without having to deal with the sliding door. The back door screen is a bonus in keeping the B cool in even desert weather.

We made the conscious decision that if you are going spend triple what your first house cost you to load up with every option available - generator, awning, air-conditioning, extra house battery, TV, microwave, coffee pot, etc. even if you think you don't need it. It will improve trade-in or resale and if you do change your mind, you have it. We don't use our generator, awning, air conditioning, TV and microwave all that much but they are nice to have on those occasions you need them.
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Old 03-16-2012, 12:42 AM   #16
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Davydd
To my knowledge no other B converter has offered a screen on the side sliding door of a Sprinter. It seems exclusive to Great West Vans and the screen is their own proprietary design to enclose the opening. Closing off that opening is difficult. I managed to make a custom screen enclosure for my 2005 Pleasure-way Plateau but it did not keep our cat inside as the GWVan screen does.


Nice cat.
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Old 03-16-2012, 04:49 PM   #17
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

We still haven't seen the LTV Free Spirit, but we have a lead on one. We are on the same page with you about the front seating. Yesterday we saw a nice P-W, but the lack of the front table is a big drawback. Also, you can't recline the driver's seat much at all. While the LTV's front seats do swivel, I agree with you that it is hard to tell from the photos how functional it is. Storage wise, I'm not clear on whether you lose space with the LTV. They don't have the overhead across the back & instead, the ones on the side appear to go back further and might be deeper. However, the one that goes across the back in the P-W is huge.

The batteries are causing us some confusion. There's been some discussion about using 2 6-volt batteries rather than one 12-volt because the 2 6-volts have more power. However, I don't think that's what you are talking about. A dealer we were talking with a couple of weeks ago was suggesting that space for a second battery was a problem. It looks like the LTV we haven't seen yet has two batteries. If a vehicle doesn't come equipped with two, is it possible to get one as an add-on? What about solar panels?

I totally agree about the screen door and may have to invent one myself, I guess.
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Old 03-16-2012, 07:56 PM   #18
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

One further thing...I just did a quickie Google on retractable screens and found about a zillion manufacturers of them. Some of those mention RV's; so far I haven't seen any photos of a set up similar to the Sprinter. However, there are so many out there and so many variations I have to think it can't be too hard to get one either customized or as a DIY.
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Old 08-24-2014, 04:37 AM   #19
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 2013 chassis slider screen

After looking on line and going to several screen shops, I decided to make my own. I bought a "Bug Off" two panel screen and a single "Magic Mesh" screen (Amazon). I inserted the strongest magnets i could find in the upper material of the "Bug Off" screen, that was made for the rod and sewed horizontal lines approx. every 2.5 inches so the magnets wouldn't bunch up. I lined it up the middle opening so I could exit out the door. I cut the "magic mesh" to fit each end. The sides on those screens already had magnets attached. I sewed the sides of the "Magic Mesh" screen onto each side of the "Bug Off" screen and added a few magnets to the upper corners? It was exactly the right length and the "Bug Off" screen has a weighted strip on the bottom that keeps it down. It is easy to put on and take off. It works great. I kept the rod and put it on two closable attachments behind the cabinets above the bed, so I can roll up the screen and store it when not in use.
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Old 08-24-2014, 06:25 AM   #20
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Default Re: Sprinters -- 2500 and 3500 chassis

Davydd

Every time I see your excellent GWV Sprinter I grumble to myself how I couldnt strike a deal with the former GM of GWV for a 2011 from Winnipeg factory. Still considering options to replace my PW but nothing settled yet. Regards. You helpful info is appreciated by everybody, for sure.

AL

PS So many grand kids and their parents visiting the Island this year, our camping trips have been short ones!!!
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