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Old 08-18-2022, 02:34 PM   #1
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Default New Class B Home Build

Hello, I thought I would post what I have recently built to show yet another example of what can be built with the terrific advice given here. This is my first automotive project of any kind, and frankly, it was a bit of an overwhelming project to undertake. Thanks for all of the info and advice I have gathered here, and other forums. I would never had begun this project if it were not for this help.

I ordered this '21 Cargo 170 in November of '20, and received it in mid March of '21. I started the conversion in April and had it 99% finished six months later - and yes, I worked on it pretty much every day, with about 1000 hours of actual labor, and 300 hours of research & planning, starting when I first ordered the van.

I planned to not skimp on any components, buying the best product I could find for the use intended . I have had two previous Class C RV's and was not impressed at all with the quality of the builds, or the components.

In addition to what you can see from the photos, I also installed a VB full air rear suspension, Timberline hydonic system for water and space heating, and a Victron electrical system with 400ah battery bank.
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Old 08-18-2022, 02:43 PM   #2
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Default More Pictures

More pictures of the interior.
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Old 08-18-2022, 02:45 PM   #3
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Looks great. Please show more pictures of the bathroom. I don't recall seeing many self-builds with an enclosed bath with shower. Did you do the entire design yourself?
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Old 08-18-2022, 02:57 PM   #4
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wow, amazing !
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Old 08-18-2022, 03:28 PM   #5
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Very nicely done, indeed. You must have some previous woodworking experience as it very nice.


A list of components would be very interesting for us, I think, as well as wiring diagram. I agree with Peteco about some bathroom details. I didn't see a door if I am looking at right, are you using a curtain?


I think in a previous post you stated it weighed 8800# but I seem to remember the 2500 single wheel has a gvwr lower than that. Does the VB increase the allowable load? Just looked at the 2021 is at 9050#. Does your weighing include people and all the stuff so actual travel weight?
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Old 08-18-2022, 04:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peteco View Post
Looks great. Please show more pictures of the bathroom. I don't recall seeing many self-builds with an enclosed bath with shower. Did you do the entire design yourself?
Thanks peteco. Yes, I did do the design, with a lot of ideas from others that have posted their builds. If you look above the shower you will see a swing out curtain rod that gives an additional 10" or so of arm room at the top. When travelling, the shower 'rod' is retracted inside and acts as a hanger. This single item has made the tight shower very usable! The curtain simply goes on the inside, with the small half wall holding it in place. My wife has said she wants a little more privacy, so I am building a door that matches the height of the partial wall. I have been working on that this morning, as a matter of fact - making up the frame and gluing in a white acrylic panel similar to the other doors in the pics.

Here is a link to the shower 'rod': https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01KR7AGWC/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Sorry about that one picture, I have no idea why it is shown sideways - that is not how it is in my photos.
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Old 08-18-2022, 05:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by booster View Post
Very nicely done, indeed. You must have some previous woodworking experience as it very nice.


A list of components would be very interesting for us, I think, as well as wiring diagram. I agree with Peteco about some bathroom details. I didn't see a door if I am looking at right, are you using a curtain?


I think in a previous post you stated it weighed 8800# but I seem to remember the 2500 single wheel has a gvwr lower than that. Does the VB increase the allowable load? Just looked at the 2021 is at 9050#. Does your weighing include people and all the stuff so actual travel weight?
Thanks booster, I appreciate it.

I am self taught on the woodworking, have built cabinets for my house and a few misc. items, mostly for our two older children. I am just really, really slow - like the electrical, plumbing, etc. A few more details on the shower are shown in the reply to peteco, above. I did weigh it on a trip with full water & gear, and two adults - and it was 8800lbs. And you are right, the total allowable weight is 9050, but I am sure the VB system would increase that (to the tire load limit), as the rear structure was beefed up by the suspension kit. And added Sumos to the front end, but not much addtional weight there - almost all on the rear.

Here is a list of components, etc.:

Fresh water tank capacity: 38 gal
Gray water tank capacity: 26 gal
Black water tank capacity: 22 gal

Air conditioner: Haughton low profile, 13,500 Btu cooling, 12,000 Btu heating
Water and space heating: Elwell Timberline Hydronic Heating System

Electrical: Victron 3KW Multiplus Inverter/Charger, 2 - 200ah Victron Lithium batteries, 2 - 30a Victron Orion DC-DC battery chargers, Victron 30a
MPPT solar charger
Solaria 400w solar panel
Paneltronics power distribution breaker panels (12v and 120v)
Misc. Blue Sea component breakers, fuse holders, etc.
Ancor wiring and terminal connectors

Suspension: Front - stock with addition of Sumo Springs, Rear - remove complete suspension & replace with VB Full Air rear suspension, self leveling

Appliances/major components: Isotherm SS Cruise 195 Fridge/Freezer combo, Vollrath commercial single induction cooktop, Ruvati 20" x 21" RV sink
with Kraus pull down faucet, High Pointe Microwave/Convection oven, Tecma Nano Macerator Toilet, 2 - Jensen 12v TV's, iRV66 AM/FM
Radio w/ DVD/CD/MP3/MP4/USB AMP, frt and rear house speakers

Miscellaneous: Rear Arctic Tern double pane 550mm x 900mm awning windows, w/inside screen & shades, Fiamma F65S cantilever awning, Flat Line
Van Co. Low Pro roof rack, Maxx Aire 7500 roof fan, RB Components side and rear door zip in/out bug screens


I do have a very nice, professional looking wiring diagram, but it is larger than the allowable file size for this forum. If you would like to see it, send me an email & I'll send you a copy: pddahl@gmail.com
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Old 08-18-2022, 06:57 PM   #8
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Outstanding - looks professionally built.
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Old 08-18-2022, 08:09 PM   #9
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Thanks to mkguitar and N147JK, I appreciate your kind words!
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Old 08-18-2022, 08:18 PM   #10
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A few more pics:

About half way through, I decided to mount the two rear bed/storage areas up on a 6" platform. My thinking was that I really would not be back there too much, so headroom would not matter, and I would really like to have some more storage, and a way to pass electrical conduit & water lines from one side of the van to another.
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Old 08-18-2022, 08:50 PM   #11
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The quality of the build and the fit and finish are superior to any off the line B I have ever seen. What a great job! I am especially intrigued by the size of your three tanks. They would be perfect for boondocking or any situation.

Man, that is nice!!!!
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Old 08-18-2022, 09:22 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doneworking View Post
The quality of the build and the fit and finish are superior to any off the line B I have ever seen. What a great job! I am especially intrigued by the size of your three tanks. They would be perfect for boondocking or any situation.

Man, that is nice!!!!
Thanks so much for your comments - it means a lot!

The gray tank is located under the van to the left of the fuel tank. The black tank is located under the drivers side bed, just slightly above the macerator toilet, but of course that doesn't matter because the pump lifts the contents into the tank. And the fresh water tank is under the passenger bed. Both of these tanks sit on the actual van floor, and not on the raised platform in the back. I needed the full depth for both tanks. There is a surprising amount of storage in the back, even with these tanks. I have my Dish TV antenna on a quick detach mount behind the fresh water tank, as well as room for tools, water, cokes, and the hydronic heater blower & hot water supply hoses. Under the drivers side bed I have room for my Honda EU2200 generator, 2 folding chairs, 2 walking sticks, a football, a dirty clothes hamper area, and still have room left!
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Old 08-18-2022, 11:13 PM   #13
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Great job. Looks like a very well thought out design and great build quality.

You must have a gasoline Sprinter. What was your thinking about choosing a gas Sprinter vs a Transit van. Why did you choose the gas Sprinter engine vs the Ecoboost Transit engine if you wanted a gas van? Do you have a second alternator? I would be interested in your perspective on this decision. Thanks.
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Old 08-18-2022, 11:47 PM   #14
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Thanks jrobe, and yes, it is a gas Sprinter. I had '17 Navion with the V6 diesel, and really liked it, but I had heard of way too many emissions issues with the newer diesels when they get some miles on them. Plus, diesel was often difficult to find where I had easy access to the pump with the larger Navion. Plus the much higer diesel prices gave me pause. In the end, I test drove a gas version and I was truly amazed at the torque, and decided that I liked the gas. Two of us bought Sprinters together for a little better price, and he also got the gas engine, and has also been amazed at how well it has done. Loaded at almost 9,000 pounds, I got a true 16.1 mpg on a 4,000 mile trip out west, with some mountain driving. Just got back from a 3,200 mile trip up into Canada and got 15.3 mpg. Can't explain the difference, as the latest trip had no mountains - but I probably did run the AC a bit more.

I did 'try out' the new Dodge vans, and pretty sure the Ford Transits, a few years back at the Winnebago convention, but the simple fact was, I did not fit in either van. I am 6'2, 200#'s and I could not get comfortable in either cockpit. My Sprinter is so much more comfortable, with plenty of legroom - I don't even have the seat all the way back. This is, of course driver preference, but for me it was an absolute deal killer, no matter what else the Dodge or Ford had - I did not even look further.

My Sprinter came with a stock 265 amp alternator, and I am running 2 Victron Orion 30A DC - DC chargers and all is well. Don't see the need for another alternator, unless you were trying to charge a huge battery bank. Mercedes recommends no more than 80 amps for other uses (house charging) out of the stock alternator.
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Old 08-19-2022, 03:49 PM   #15
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I like your creation quite a bit and agree with the many compliments you've already received.

We own a 2020 Galleria built on a 2019 M-B chassis that I've made a number of upgrades to. There's still one component that I haven't remedied, the Pro Air 12 volt air conditioner. It struggles as do all the other 12 volt units I've read about.

Recently I looked at the 120 volt Houghton unit, same one you installed and am considering it as a retro-fit. We typically boondock and rarely connect to shore power. We have a large lithium battery bank that supports the Pro Air for many hours. Regarding the Houghton, I'm concerned about the Houghton's amp draw, but have no user-provided info. Have you measured its amp consumption?
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Old 08-19-2022, 05:49 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by dmb496 View Post
I like your creation quite a bit and agree with the many compliments you've already received.

We own a 2020 Galleria built on a 2019 M-B chassis that I've made a number of upgrades to. There's still one component that I haven't remedied, the Pro Air 12 volt air conditioner. It struggles as do all the other 12 volt units I've read about.

Recently I looked at the 120 volt Houghton unit, same one you installed and am considering it as a retro-fit. We typically boondock and rarely connect to shore power. We have a large lithium battery bank that supports the Pro Air for many hours. Regarding the Houghton, I'm concerned about the Houghton's amp draw, but have no user-provided info. Have you measured its amp consumption?
Thanks, I have since looked at several Gallerias, and really liked what I saw!

I have run my AC strictly on the 400ah lithium battery bank for a few test hours. If I remember right, it dropped the SOC from 95% to about 65% over a period of about 1 1/2 hours, with the compressor running constantly. Again, if I remember correctly, it was taking out approx. 100 amps to power the AC unit. Sorry that I did not document this better. See this link for a little more info: https://sprinter-source.com/forums/index.php?threads/100299/#post-1054651 , posts #4 & 5.

And, if you search @blutow on the Sprinter-source forum, he has a more detailed test of this AC unit. Advanced RV also has a very detailed test of this unit on their website (youtube), but they never called it a Haughton. They were testing it in order to find a better, quieter unit for their builds. You can buy this same unit from RecPro for a lot less that the unit they sell, and it seems to be the exact same unit.

Good luck!
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Old 08-20-2022, 03:43 PM   #17
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I have toyed with the idea of doing a similar DIY build for our next van. Your van would be a good reference point. Can I ask you, what do you think you saved doing the labor yourself - assuming our time isn't worth anything .

As an example, we have a pretty similar Sportsmobile Sprinter Class B that we had built about 4 years ago with fairly similar components and cabinets. We paid about $115k ($70k for the build) at that time although by their pricing charts, I think it would be closer to $150k now ($100k for the build). Do you think by doing it yourself you saved 30% on the build, 50%, etc.? In retrospect, was it worth the effort?

Thanks for posting this thread. I have already saved your list of components, etc. for future reference.
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Old 08-20-2022, 08:12 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip53 View Post
Hello, I thought I would post what I have recently built to show yet another example of what can be built with the terrific advice given here. This is my first automotive project of any kind, and frankly, it was a bit of an overwhelming project to undertake. Thanks for all of the info and advice I have gathered here, and other forums. I would never had begun this project if it were not for this help.

I ordered this '21 Cargo 170 in November of '20, and received it in mid March of '21. I started the conversion in April and had it 99% finished six months later - and yes, I worked on it pretty much every day, with about 1000 hours of actual labor, and 300 hours of research & planning, starting when I first ordered the van.

I planned to not skimp on any components, buying the best product I could find for the use intended . I have had two previous Class C RV's and was not impressed at all with the quality of the builds, or the components.

In addition to what you can see from the photos, I also installed a VB full air rear suspension, Timberline hydonic system for water and space heating, and a Victron electrical system with 400ah battery bank.
Very nicely done!!!
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Old 08-20-2022, 08:15 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Philip53 View Post
Thanks jrobe, and yes, it is a gas Sprinter. I had '17 Navion with the V6 diesel, and really liked it, but I had heard of way too many emissions issues with the newer diesels when they get some miles on them. Plus, diesel was often difficult to find where I had easy access to the pump with the larger Navion. Plus the much higer diesel prices gave me pause. In the end, I test drove a gas version and I was truly amazed at the torque, and decided that I liked the gas. Two of us bought Sprinters together for a little better price, and he also got the gas engine, and has also been amazed at how well it has done. Loaded at almost 9,000 pounds, I got a true 16.1 mpg on a 4,000 mile trip out west, with some mountain driving. Just got back from a 3,200 mile trip up into Canada and got 15.3 mpg. Can't explain the difference, as the latest trip had no mountains - but I probably did run the AC a bit more.

I did 'try out' the new Dodge vans, and pretty sure the Ford Transits, a few years back at the Winnebago convention, but the simple fact was, I did not fit in either van. I am 6'2, 200#'s and I could not get comfortable in either cockpit. My Sprinter is so much more comfortable, with plenty of legroom - I don't even have the seat all the way back. This is, of course driver preference, but for me it was an absolute deal killer, no matter what else the Dodge or Ford had - I did not even look further.

My Sprinter came with a stock 265 amp alternator, and I am running 2 Victron Orion 30A DC - DC chargers and all is well. Don't see the need for another alternator, unless you were trying to charge a huge battery bank. Mercedes recommends no more than 80 amps for other uses (house charging) out of the stock alternator.
I have the Houghton 3401. My Victron BMS 712 says it is drawing around 110 to 120amps at max power?
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Old 08-20-2022, 08:39 PM   #20
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Hey jrobe, as far as what I saved - that may be impossible to answer. My first RV was a custom built toy hauler built on a medium duty Freightliner chassis, with a Cat in line 6 cyl diesel. It had typical RV components, which is to say fairly cheap and not well built. The construction was OK, and just a bit above my 2nd RV which was a Winnebago Navion. The Navion had really cheap components and materials, and the workmanship was absolutely atrocious in places, but overall the unit looked great. Such is the status quo in most moderately priced RV's, and homes, for that matter. They look good....until you look under, behind and inside the structure.

We decided to downgrade, again, and get a converted van. I knew at this point I was not going to buy another one - I was going to build it. I had done so many repairs and upgrades to the previous two units, that I was certain I could do a better job. In addition, we could hardly believe that these smaller converted vans, in many cases, cost more than the larger Class C's!

Well, it did not take long for me to figure out why they cost more! That van tapers from the floor to the ceiling, has a curved crown roof, and also tapers a bit front to back, near the rear door. All in all, it was a pain to try & build anything that fit right and was secured well.

I did do some looking though, and I could not find a van that had similar high end components, including the VB air suspension for under $200k. Not saying they are not out there, as there as so many conversion companies open now. But, by building it myself, I knew where everything was, knew that I did not have an electrical wire rubbing against a sharp surface, knew it was wired/fused correctly with proper marine stranded wire, knew the hydronic lines were well insulated & run properly, knew the doors, ceiling, walls & floor were well insulated.....well you get the point.

As far as whether you should do a build yourself - I vote yes, if you have the ability and most of all the determination. There were definitely some trying times. I was very lucky in that I have a large enclosed shop where I could do the work, am retired so I have the time, and have most all of the tools I need. Still had to work off of the floor, which made several under chassis items tough to do - but still doable.

I have about $120k in actual costs in the unit, so I saved quite a bit of money, and for me it was a real no-brainer.

For a much more detailed description/photos on the build, check out my build thread on the Sprinter-source forum: https://sprinter-source.com/forums/i...hreads/106963/

If you would like to discuss anything about the build, you are welcome to give me a call - just PM me for my number.

And good luck!
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