Ram Promaster Forum banner

1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
257 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We've been dreaming of a Sprinter for years. Before kids and until a few years ago we had a super clear VW Westy that served us so well, but just got too small as the kids got bigger. We picked up a really nice used 2006 E350 extended that had two rows and the back converted for bikes. It was a really clean conversion and allowed us to test the idea of having a tow vehicle that could carry toys and pull the camper we planned on getting to replace the Westy. That E350 did a few trips around baja following riders around and was a great vehicle. It validated our concept but was getting a little cramped in the back seat. Also with Rally bikes in the mix the low ceiling height was getting to be a pain.

So we created a short list of nice to haves:

- As short as possible (trying to make it not look too monstrous) for a second row and fit bikes
- Able to stand inside (I'm 6' 3")
- Tow our trailer easily - the E350 was a stellar tow vehicle - trailer is ~3800# loaded
- Get good gas mileage - deep down it bugs me to not drive an efficient vehicle, even if the math shows it costs me more
- Reliability, comfort, etc. etc.

I'm not going to go into all of the details of the decision, but I'll give a summary of the competition.

Mercedes - Awesome vehicles, lots of great options, great stories with the new 4 cylinder engine. Crew option. Dealer is 70 miles from us and I've seen pictures of receipts from regular maint like oil changes and check ups...those $500 bills would just drive me bonkers, plus the vehicles are more expensive

Ford - I don't like the looks, but ultimately the issue was ceiling height (extra tall was WAY too big) - I could not stand up, the interior was not as effeicent (longer vehicle needed to build what we wanted) and as silly as it sounds, the screen for the stereo was tiny and the larger screen required like a $2000 upgrade. It just bugged me.

RAM - We looked at the ProMasters when they came out and waited to check out the Diesel and hear some stories. We actually like the way the van looks and everything about the dimensions worked for our plans. The Diesel stories have been scary for some people, but for the most part it seems like they are working them out. The chatter is WAY less on the boards.

It drives great, has a super low floor, and easily gets 23 mpg though I'm usually around 25 mpg on the highway. The engine is super fun to drive when driven in manual mode. We've put a few 800 mile days on the van with our family and everyone loves it.

In early 2015 they were getting really aggressive on the 2014 models and our only compromise was getting a white van instead of the silver or grey we wanted. The savings was significant though, and we have no regrets.

Last fall our local dealer had a silver gas model. We parked it in front of our camper to get an idea of proportions. The camper is a Livin Lite 21BHB for reference.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
257 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The van was a big empty box, and the first step was seats for the kiddies. The Toyota Sienna XLE seats are amazing and there is a company on ebay that pulls new ones out for conversion vans. I slapped them in the van to check them out as soon as they arrived.

They recline AND have a lazy boy leg lift (in the shadows).


We had to play with them a bit to get the right height and position. I knew I wanted to maximize the passenger area so the bike situation would be tight.


My good friend Ryan pulled me into his shop (Canguro racing - B1000 #2 Pro Stock Truck 2014!) and we got started on the mounts for the seats.
http://i797.photobucket.com/albums/yy255/cheesyriders/Van/2015-02-14%2009.52.22_zpsc5n9a8li.jpg
http://i797.photobucket.com/albums/yy255/cheesyriders/Van/2015-02-14%2013.49.20_zpszpu92ccg.jpg



Kids were pretty happy with the result.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
257 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Cutting the windows was next. We went with the CR Lawrence OEM style windows. They have nice vents and I think look pretty nice.

The first holes are hard, but after that you get over it.


After the windows I did some upholstery panels in the back for practice and to prevent the bars from dinging the panels. Plywood and speaker box material worked great.

Then I stared with the bulkhead. 3/4" ply with various bracketing. I had to jog the wall so the seats would fully recline, and the wheels would tuck under the jog. Here is a test fit.



The angle iron extends into the wall on both sides and is secured there. I wanted to try to keep heavy objects out of the passenger area in the event of a frontal impact. I also made a 50" wide "door" in the bottom of the wall so I can load 4x8 sheets of whatever when needed.

I then finished the wall and began using my new found upholstery skills. With panels, some insulation, sound barriers, etc.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
257 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
In March some good friends flew into Utah for some product testing and general shenanigans. We got 3 rally bikes with gear, tools, etc. in the van with lots of room to spare. It was the first real trip with the van and it worked great. On the 250 mile trip home through the mountains we got 26 MPG.



 

·
Registered
Joined
·
257 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The wheels are now plasti-dip black. The passenger area is done with 12V and USB for each rear passenger. Rear speakers (had to get the dealer to activate the rear speakers). Overhead DVD player integrated with stereo. LED overhead lights, reading lights, overhead cabinets, window blinds, separate fuse panel, 12V heater under the driver seat that heats the back, cupholders, wood flooring and full upholstery.





In progress garage picture

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
257 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Some more details.

Here is the second row with the floor finished out and some other details tidied up.



This is the second row electric heater. It's not quiet, but it adds a nice base of heat on really cold days. It keeps the kids toes warm, and they love that. It's wired directly to the battery (with a big fuse of course). It's a 50A circuit. You can see where I wired the second row speakers in the first picture as well.





The second row has all of the power it needs for devices with 2 12V and 2 dual USB. Both of the rear seats have reading lights under the cabinets.



No second row spoiling would be complete without a movie setup. This screen can work through the stereo or through the headsets. The front passenger can also see the screen but it's high enough that it does not block the driver's view.



All of the goodies are wired through a fuse box that is easy to reach.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
257 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
In the back I added a white ceiling from Lowe's and used the closed cell bubblewrap with AL on both sides to add a slight insulation barrier.



I boxed in the 12v wiring for the passenger area and them kept going with the upholstery material. I also added 12v LED strip lighting to provide that disco feel and cast some decent light.



All of the goodies in the back will be switched/wired through a Blue Sea Systems fused rocker panel (overkill I know, but such high quality).

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
257 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Over 5000 miles on the van so far and it runs perfectly. I know there are PM haters out there, but for me it is working out well. The camping has been good and the back it near completion.



Back view with floor and kick panel finished, outdoor flood lighting done, tool box mounted, storage shelf, etc. 3 bikes go in with little effort. I have a few more things to do in the back for storage and supplies, but it is getting much closer.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Nice write up and outcome, thanks for sharing.

Could you comment on how the van does pulling your 3800# trailer?

Thanks,
Jerry
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Nice job, thanks for sharing!

Can you also provide some feedback on how the van performs when pulling your trailer?

Thanks,
Jerry
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
45 Posts
Very nice build there! a few question if u don't mind? I'm just starting my enclosure of cargo area of a 118 WB low roof! I like the ceiling job u did. I know u used a tile board type for the center part, what did u outline the board with? Also, did u find the walls to be easy to cover? Did u need to add strips to build out to be flush for your paneling to go on? Thanks for your help , tommy
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
45 Posts
Very nice build there! a few question if u don't mind? I'm just starting my enclosure of cargo area of a 118 WB low roof! I like the ceiling job u did. I know u used a tile board type for the center part, what did u outline the board with? Also, did u find the walls to be easy to cover? Did u need to add strips to build out to be flush for your paneling to go on? Thanks for your help , tommy
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
257 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
@dezolde > It pulls the trailer with no trouble. Super stable and awesome. I don't have any good mpg data but from other people on here (Adrian) I expect it to be in the high teens if not better. With our E350 5.4L we were between 9-10.5 with the same trailer.

@tommy > I cheated in the ceiling for the garage area. I secured the ceiling board in the center directly to roof ribs. Then around the edges I used the angled upholstered walls to pinch the edge of the ceiling into the corner. Against the front wall I use the shelf hanger to hold up the ceiling.

For the walls I used 5/16 (I think...it was thicker than 1/4") ply that I cut to size and then glued the upholstry to the plywood and screwed them directly to the ribs in the van. I wanted to preserve as much space as possible. The backs of all of the plywood has the reflective foam insulation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
257 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Towed this weekend. ~300 miles through the mountains. 19 MPG. Towed amazing. Left it in "D" for most of the towing with the Tow/Haul mode on. Serious grades, up/down, etc. It was great. One pass the rig slowed to about 45 Mph. It was steep. Everything else was 65-70 no problem.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
120 Posts
The upholstery job looks good would you mind detailing the process? what fasteners did you use? how did you fasten it? what thickness of wood?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
257 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Just finished 2000 mile trip towing our camper. The van was flawless. Except for the silly issue with the emissions found in other threads, the van has been great. Averaged about 18 mpg running all over the sierras towing the 21' Camplite. Dry weight is about 3500#.
 

Attachments

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
8,838 Posts
I think you traded the silly emission issue for the great price on a 2014 van. Undoubtably a mid-year 2015 would not have had the issue, but you would have had to pay more (and might have gotten silver?) I commend you for not going out on a rant about it as we have tried to warn folks about the early diesels. It is wonderful how FCA got the issues fixed in about a year from introduction and the solution seems to have been software!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
257 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Unfortunately the emissions issue is still not fixed after 5000 miles and the van is unregistered and basically illegal. I survived the trip without attracting legal attention, but unfortunately that is not a long term strategy :) At this point though I'm pretty confident it's a sensor that needs replacing or is not plugged in correctly or something similar since the van is running perfectly. I may need to get legal to get it resolved, but I'm not worried that this is a serious issue, just ridiculously annoying that FCA won't agree something is not correct.
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top