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Old 01-20-2016, 01:24 AM   #21
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CyclingCamper:
I have ordered a new 2016 Safari Condo Sprinter 3500 XLFlex model and I am anxious to get my hands on it. One thing to keep in mind is that as of Oct 2015 when I ordered mine the delivery was 13 months after placing the order! These units are not in stock, but if you can afford the wait the advantages that George has spelled out regarding flexibility and support from Safari Condo it is well worth the wait. I myself am going to use the time to research into tweaks and mods to customize this unit into the best fit for our needs.
Good Luck in your search!
Congrats! The new SC 3500 XLFlex is a real gem! Now with dual wheels. Better load capacity and more stability on the road. I guess you order it with the front dinette. The new front layout wasn't offered at the time. (http://www.classbforum.com/forums/f5...yout-4070.html )

I find the layout without dinette seats gives a lot more space and storage but not being able to give a lift to anyone and not having a real front lounge is not as interesting for us. We love to spend chilly evenings in front, feet-up on the bench seats. But that depends on individual needs and lifestyle. The interesting thing in both layouts is to have a separate space for the permanent bed.

And yes it's a very long wait for such an exciting toy. Enjoy planning all your tweaks and mods!

.
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Old 01-20-2016, 12:55 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by RonL View Post
CyclingCamper:
I have ordered a new 2016 Safari Condo Sprinter 3500 XLFlex model and I am anxious to get my hands on it. One thing to keep in mind is that as of Oct 2015 when I ordered mine the delivery was 13 months after placing the order! These units are not in stock, but if you can afford the wait the advantages that George has spelled out regarding flexibility and support from Safari Condo it is well worth the wait. I myself am going to use the time to research into tweaks and mods to customize this unit into the best fit for our needs.
Good Luck in your search!
Congratulations RonL!

Did you visit the factory in Quebec or had you seen a Safari Condo elsewhere in Canada?
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Old 01-20-2016, 06:49 PM   #23
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Thanks cruisefx. Unfortunately there are no Western Canadian distributors. We did find a rental company (Discount Quebec) just outside of Quebec City that rents the SC Promaster 3500 XLFlex unit very similar to George's. The rental rates were much reduced at the end of September so we flew out for a 10 day rental and did a memorable tour of the Gaspe. At the end of our tour we visited their showroom and placed our order, we were hooked! It was a long way to go but well worth it in our opinion.
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Old 01-20-2016, 07:57 PM   #24
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Thanks cruisefx. Unfortunately there are no Western Canadian distributors. We did find a rental company (Discount Quebec) just outside of Quebec City that rents the SC Promaster 3500 XLFlex unit very similar to George's. The rental rates were much reduced at the end of September so we flew out for a 10 day rental and did a memorable tour of the Gaspe. At the end of our tour we visited their showroom and placed our order, we were hooked! It was a long way to go but well worth it in our opinion.
Good move! Nice to know you can rent them. I knew SC sold one to a rental company but didn't know which one (very affordable off-season https://www.discountquebec.com/en/re.../galleryTabBtn ). Just curious to know RonL why you chose the Sprinter and not the ProMaster?
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Old 01-20-2016, 08:37 PM   #25
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Good move! Nice to know you can rent them. I knew SC sold one to a rental company but didn't know which one (very affordable off-season https://www.discountquebec.com/en/re.../galleryTabBtn ). Just curious to know RonL why you chose the Sprinter and not the ProMaster?
The deciding factor was rear wheel drive, otherwise we probably would have went with the ProMaster. My girlfriend and I are avid skiers and fatbikers so we intend to use the van in the winter as much as summer. With the weight distribution more to the rear on the van conversions I was worried about traction with a front wheel drive. I believe that having the additional weight over the drive wheels will be beneficial for winter traction in the mountains. Have you done any winter driving with your ProMaster? If so, how did it handle on snowy hills and icy roads?
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Old 01-20-2016, 09:04 PM   #26
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Thanks Ron

Even in CDN dollars, that's a great price for off season rentals!. We are in Toronto and there is only an Alto trailer dealer so it means a trek to Quebec for us, too. Trying to decide whether to attend the Montreal RV show. The Toronto RV is the following week but there will not be an Safari Condos there. Or wait until the weather is cooperative and visit the factory in the spring.

Again...congratulations. Is this your first motorhome?
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Old 01-20-2016, 11:48 PM   #27
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The deciding factor was rear wheel drive, otherwise we probably would have went with the ProMaster. My girlfriend and I are avid skiers and fatbikers so we intend to use the van in the winter as much as summer. With the weight distribution more to the rear on the van conversions I was worried about traction with a front wheel drive. I believe that having the additional weight over the drive wheels will be beneficial for winter traction in the mountains. Have you done any winter driving with your ProMaster? If so, how did it handle on snowy hills and icy roads?
Good point! We never used our van in winter but on some occasions we noticed that a FWD with a fully loaded van (got up to 4000Kg!) was not the optimal traction combo. It has more traction though, than a RWD when kept light. But camper vans are usually full of stuff. You were lucky also to order it with dual wheels for the cargo capacity. The previous 2500 wasn't logical for the XL with such a wonderful and huge cargo space under the bed.

Traction was never a real problem for us but when you read the european magazines you see that Ducatos often have to rely on traction aids in winter (chains, studded straps). We will eventually buy one of those Thule snow chains 2014 Ram ProMaster 3500 Tire Chains - Thule
Did you considered ordering a 4x4? A very pricey option, I guess.

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Old 01-21-2016, 12:03 AM   #28
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Thanks Ron
...Trying to decide whether to attend the Montreal RV show. ...Or wait until the weather is cooperative and visit the factory in the spring.
The Montreal RV show will be at the Palais des Congrès Montreal's recreative vehicle show | RV Show Montreal. A much better place than the previous one at the awful Olympic stadium spaces under the bleachers.

But a visit a the factory is a must. Impressive to see such a small shop producing such great vehicles. And they are a very friendly family owned business. A far cry from our visit at the Roadtrek plant where we almost bought an Agile before deciding to change for Safari Condo's new Promaster. We bought the first XL Flex that got out of the plant. We feel so lucky to have made that tough choice, canceling the RT contract to go ahead with a newly designed layout on a brand new unproven van. Never expected that so many up fitters would later adopt that chassis in North America.
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Old 01-21-2016, 02:34 AM   #29
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Travato has nearly 50-50 weight distribution. These vans are typically nose heavy in cargo configuration. The RV conversion puts virtually all the new weight in the rear, balancing the rig out.

The front wheel drive will certainly perform better in the rain and snow than a rear wheel drive. The only thing better would be the 4 wheel drive Sprinter.
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Old 01-21-2016, 04:41 AM   #30
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The deciding factor was rear wheel drive, otherwise we probably would have went with the ProMaster. My girlfriend and I are avid skiers and fatbikers so we intend to use the van in the winter as much as summer.
Given the large investment you're about to make for the Sprinter and XL Flex conversion why not just get the Sprinter 4x4 option? One huge advantage for the Sprinter is having the only factory supported 4 wheel drive system.
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Old 01-21-2016, 06:36 AM   #31
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Given the large investment you're about to make for the Sprinter and XL Flex conversion why not just get the Sprinter 4x4 option? One huge advantage for the Sprinter is having the only factory supported 4 wheel drive system.
We considered the 4x4 option but concluded that we can access most if not all the places we need to go with rear wheel drive and good winter tires. It is a big investment and in the end we couldn't justify the hefty adder.
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Old 02-03-2016, 04:45 PM   #32
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My wife and I like what we see with this model so we've started the process. We sent an email to safari condo last week, we are still waiting for a response. We'll be looking at an exact duplicate of yours GeorgeB, same color and all!

I assume since we live in the USA that we would have to bring them a US spec van to upfit? I assume that they can't supply US spec vans from Canada?
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Old 02-03-2016, 05:50 PM   #33
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My wife and I like what we see with this model so we've started the process. We sent an email to safari condo last week, we are still waiting for a response. We'll be looking at an exact duplicate of yours GeorgeB, same color and all!

I assume since we live in the USA that we would have to bring them a US spec van to upfit? I assume that they can't supply US spec vans from Canada?
Great!
Yes, you have to bring your US van to the Safari Condo plant. You will save a lot buying your van in the US. You saw the thread with the US customer that bought an MX? http://www.classbforum.com/forums/f7...r-mx-4006.html

They are very busy preparing the Montreal RV show.
( https://www.facebook.com/permalink.p...23104127859354 )

I will have a look at their Sprinter model with the new finishes. I'll report on that. I can ask them to contact you if you PM me your email?
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Old 02-08-2016, 04:49 PM   #34
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The MX thread you posted answers many of my questions, thanks.

GeorgeB from your pictures it appears that your awning cover is painted the color of your van? Is that something that Safari Condo includes in their price or did you have that done on your own?
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Old 02-08-2016, 05:34 PM   #35
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GeorgeB, from your experience how long can you typically go if you are dry camping until you run the batteries down to 50%? I see from your pics that you have 4 95W solar panels and 195AH of battery capacity. I want to determine if I need to go with more battery capacity in my new unit. I would like to have 3 days of autonomy if possible.
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Old 02-08-2016, 07:24 PM   #36
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GeorgeB, from your experience how long can you typically go if you are dry camping until you run the batteries down to 50%? I see from your pics that you have 4 95W solar panels and 195AH of battery capacity. I want to determine if I need to go with more battery capacity in my new unit. I would like to have 3 days of autonomy if possible.
In our 2 seasons with the camper, we never stayed still for more than 2 days, always had a place to go, a quart of milk or a case of beer to buy, so we also relied on the engine alternator for some charging (sometimes only a 15 min. drive) It's hard to evaluate our real average autonomy but we can say that we never had any problems with our SOC (never got under 50%) when dry camping, using our two fridges, the microwave, the electric bed lifting mechanism, the water pump, the LED lights the Fantastic fan and the Webasto heater. Last summer we stayed for 7 days dry-camping in an open area with sunshine most of the days and always had our batteries topped at 98% by early-afternoon. They usually dropped down to 56%-65% in the morning. So the 380 W of solar was very useful. You never get enough.

Of course, with our 195 Ah batteries bank, if we would be camping in the rain in a dense forest we would barely last 48 hours, being very careful not to use the microwave and limiting the use of the fan and the heater. So a bigger battery capacity would be essential in these conditions if you want to stay still for 3 days.

If I could change my battery bank I would easily go for the double, to 400 Ah AGMs. Of course that means ideally going Lithium for the weight.

The problem is that if you have more you spend more!

Again, as I said, our habits of moving a lot means we always relied on charging with the alternator for short periods so we never ever had any problem, even in rainy weather.

Getting a bigger battery bank means more weight if you stay with AGMs or installing more expensive and fancy BMS if you go Lithium. Apart for more sophisticated systems like AdvancedRv seems to have, the efficient Lithium route is not yet an off-the-shelf solution.

The problem also is if you don't have other sources for recharging a bigger AGM battery bank (second alternator) you run into the problem of never charging them enough. Not the same if you go Lithium as they don't loose efficiency if they are not full.
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Old 02-08-2016, 08:00 PM   #37
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George,

You could easily double your capacity by simply putting in two drop in lithiums. The Stark Battery is 125 ah each - so you could go 250 ah and usable at 90% - so 225 ah of usable capacity. A simple drop in Progressive Dynamics converter and you'd be all set. If and when I convert my van over to lithiums, that is what I'm going to do.

The only issue was if you wanted to do below freezing camping. You'd need to take precautions to avoid them dropping below freezing and charging. I have no interest in doing that, so I'd not do anything else.

On this forum, we tend to go down rabbit holes on monitoring and charging batteries. I've found that mostly unnecessary. Monitoring the voltage tells me pretty much everything I really need to know. I don't need to eek out every last amp hour out of the bank, or absolutely guarantee I've put every amp possible into it. As long as I have more than adequate capacity, I'm set. I'm sure some will be appalled at these statements, but I don't really see the practical need for all that on just a small bank and minimal investment. On a high dollar, large pack, certainly, but not on a small bank like this.
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Old 02-09-2016, 02:44 AM   #38
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George,

You could easily double your capacity by simply putting in two drop in lithiums. The Stark Battery is 125 ah each - so you could go 250 ah and usable at 90% - so 225 ah of usable capacity. A simple drop in Progressive Dynamics converter and you'd be all set. If and when I convert my van over to lithiums, that is what I'm going to do.

The only issue was if you wanted to do below freezing camping. You'd need to take precautions to avoid them dropping below freezing and charging. I have no interest in doing that, so I'd not do anything else. ...
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On this forum, we tend to go down rabbit holes on monitoring and charging batteries. ...


Thanks for all this info Wincrasher,

You are now recommending the Stark battery. Is it this one?:
12V 125Ah,StarkPower 'UltraEnergy" Lithium Ion Battery (LiFePO) Energy Storage Battery

A total capacity of 250 Ah for two batteries at 68 lbs. for 2400$ Not bad!

Also, you are suggesting to use a converter from Dynamics. Wouldn't it be simpler and easier to install a combined inverter/charger in one unit with compatible Lithium options? (to replace our Tripp Lite RV1512UL) Which one would be appropriate for such a system with a 2000W sine wave inverter.

I guess it is also necessary to upgrade the solar controller? (ours is the TriStar solar controller TS-40)

In other words the integrated BMS in the Stark battery would protect the cells from surcharge and undercharge and balance them but you would need to have upgraded chargers and controllers to feed them with appropriate voltage.

I understand that the integrated BMS also adjusts the charging in relation to the battery temperature, but charging below freezing is still impossible.

Just read an interesting article on future development "self-heating lithium-ion battery that could beat the winter woes" from EC power.

Self-heating lithium-ion battery could beat the winter woes | Penn State University

There's hope!

"Next we would like to broaden the work to a new paradigm called SmartBattery," said Wang. "We think we can use similar structures or principles to actively regulate the battery's safety, performance and life."




.
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Old 02-09-2016, 04:10 PM   #39
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You could. I like the Magnum, but they are pretty expensive and it's a large box you need to find a home for in your van. If you have the space and the $, it's a great solution.

A thing to consider is how rapidly you want to recharge you batteries. If you want high amp charging, you need to upgrade your cable sizes. If you are OK with lower charging, say in the 45 amp or so range, then the existing cables are probably OK. I'm fine with slower charging on a small bank like this.
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