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Old 11-03-2017, 06:28 PM   #101
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Apologies upfront for the long post. I tend to do this with all my initial threads as I join a forum. Just to give some background as to how I got here. In this case, I am going in all backwards into RV life… instead of researching the parks, facilities, things to know before you get an RV, etc… We just went and got one and now need to learn about it…

Never been one to camp but when I have done it, I really do not mind roughing it out. The idea of going out and seeing everything the USA and Canada has to offer has always been in my bucket list.

I had been looking at a Vistabule teardrop as a way to start small and see how things worked out. Well, my wife's idea of roughing it is staying at a hotel... so as much as I wanted that sweet looking Vistabule, it was a no-go with my wife.

I was not about to get a large towing vehicle to then get a large trailer... to me that was too much work and I worried about having to park, deal with the risks of pulling a trailer, balancing loads, etc. I know that there are things like a weight distribution hitch and sway control solutions to minimize the risk, but that was just not what I wanted. A small teardrop, I felt comfortable with... anything larger for towing, not so much...

So I started looking at what was the most effective, size wise, motor home that would provide some of the comforts that my wife would buy into, without scaring me to death driving it. Enter the Class B motorhomes. Long story longer... looked, did my spreadsheets, looked some more, YouTube videos, websites, etc. And narrowed everything down to something built on the Mercedes Sprinter. Selection came down to the Airstream and the Roadtrek. Roadtrek got eliminated after being able to see them side to side with the Airstream and not liking the interior build quality on the Roadtrek as well as the lack of safety features that were included in the Airstream. I mean, if I was seeing this on a new unit, what can I expect from the Roadtrek years down the line?? And I really liked their ETrek unit... but could not, for the life of me, buy it with so many issues that I saw and the lack of the security features.

Initially I was set on getting a 4x4 (and in the back of my mind, still wish I did) but came down to my senses that I was not going to go out that far into the unknown to need it... That and mixed feedback on harsher ride/softer ride (depending on the thread I read) that air ride was better, etc… still… I still have the feeling that I should have gone with 4x4… this one I might regret.

Also, initially, I wanted the normal unit and not have to waste money in any special edition version… enters the wife… she goes into a Tommy Bahama at the local dealer (Tampa RV) and falls in love with the darker tan seats, the matte cabinetry, and all the small details the TB has… on a purchase like this… best to get what the wife wants. Happy wife, happy life and all that.

We should get our Interstate in a month or two… as there was not one available (after we back out of buying a ’18 pre-owned unit with 3600 miles & without air-ride).

This is what we got: 2018 Airstream Interstate 3500 Lounge EXT Tommy Bahama w/ARS – US$149K purchased from TampaRV ( http://www.rvone.com/ )

So now I want to be ready for when it gets here…

1. What are the must-do mods (besides diesel and miles )?

2. Solar System Upgrades?
  • I already read that the first thing I should do is to get a decent solar controller: From this thread http://www.airforums.com/forums/f240...de-170658.html -
  • Victron BlueSolar 100/30 MPPT Charge Controller - 30 Amps / 100 Volts http://amzn.to/2ud3Bho $201.45
  • Victron VE.Direct Bluetooth Dongle http://amzn.to/2uOgKkF $59.90
  • Because I just got into this immense debt to acquire this AI... I can't afford switch over to full lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries and a trip to Lew... so I will follow the humble approach of doing the swap for Lifeline 4CT batteries in the stock location. And later add a second tray (will order that in advanced since these seem to be backordered from Airstream) and additional batteries to double the capacity.
  • Should I also look at a larger inverter now or wait for when I go with LiFePO4 batteries?? If I do it now, should I go with 2500 or 3500 watts? The plan is to be able to run the A/C for a few hours...

3. Chassis protection? Should I be going under and coating everything with paint or anti-rust coating?

4. Read several threads of broken headlights… will get the front cover with 3M clear protection film.

5. Plan to make the front seats work as two additional beds for when the kids come with us... using a similar setup as to what Roadtrek did or just wait for a similar solution that is coming from Airstream (I think I read or watched somewhere that they were coming out with something similar...)... or just make my own.

6. Memory foam top for the bed...can't be comfy with all the different contours the seats have. But then, how the heck do I put it away. These memory foam tops are super compact until you open them the first time

7. Lots of threads on what gadgets to buy for the kitchen... reading those.

What else?
Hi there. I drove my 2018 off the lot ion a Thursday and evacuated thanks to Irma the next day so I was really flying blind when I camped at Top of Georgia Airstream park. We lost all power there too and I dry camped for 8 days depending on the battery,, solar and LP. It was fabulous and no problems. When the battery ran a little low once I just started the engine and ran it for 10 minutes. The Mercedes Turbo V6 diesel should have no problem idling for a month and it is quieter than the generator. I think you should try it before you think of adding or replacing power. Like you said, it’s a big investment and for the $$$$ should be good as is. I have found it very easy to dry camp on other trips since.
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Old 11-04-2017, 10:03 PM   #102
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Originally Posted by MISGM View Post
Added Note: Installing the Rubber Stabilizer blocks was a bear but worth the effort as they hold the long extensions in place in center of wheel opening with no chance of flopping around due to centrifugal force of wheel rotating. Don't give up on this step!!

BTW I also put metal stems on front because of the TPMS sensors....
Did not realize yours is also a 2018. I stopped by the dealer today to confirm the order of the countertop extension and the battery trays with the straps. While there I took a look at one AI and confirmed what you had already shared: Inside wheels are not finished as the front and rear outside wheels... same goes with the spare, so these are indeed steel wheels. Only front and rear outside wheels are aluminum with the Alcoa dura-bright finish. I will call Monday to get the correct dually kit. I did not look closely, but the Acloa wheels had what looked like metal valve stems, not sure if it was just a cover over rubber valves or what...

Also noticed that with the air ride suspension there is no storage box inside (the one behind rear seat/bed where I was hoping to install lithium batteries some time in the future).

Took several photos of the existing battery and tray setup (but not enough close ups to see how these mount to the coach) and other side where the additional trays will be installed. Does not look like a difficult job, just need to make the cables the correct lenght for adding them once the trays and batteries are in place.
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Old 11-04-2017, 10:10 PM   #103
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carpenc View Post
Hi there. I drove my 2018 off the lot ion a Thursday and evacuated thanks to Irma the next day so I was really flying blind when I camped at Top of Georgia Airstream park. We lost all power there too and I dry camped for 8 days depending on the battery,, solar and LP. It was fabulous and no problems. When the battery ran a little low once I just started the engine and ran it for 10 minutes. The Mercedes Turbo V6 diesel should have no problem idling for a month and it is quieter than the generator. I think you should try it before you think of adding or replacing power. Like you said, it’s a big investment and for the $$$$ should be good as is. I have found it very easy to dry camp on other trips since.
That is exactly what tirggered our purchase. Next one I am doing just that. Drive away and come back when things are back to normal.

I am still doing the power changes to improve efficiency of solar charge system and battery capacity. Just for my peace of mind based on other forum member’s experience
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Old 11-05-2017, 09:28 AM   #104
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Cool

Forgot to add the photos...

Where the new trays will be installed



Could not get a good photo of how the trays are installed on the cross bar...

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Old 11-05-2017, 09:46 AM   #105
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Originally Posted by carpenc View Post
The Mercedes Turbo V6 diesel should have no problem idling for a month and it is quieter than the generator. I think you should try it before you think of adding or replacing power.
You need to be aware that Mercedes recommends to NOT IDLE LONGER THAN 30 MINUTES. The problem is their infamous EGR valve and NOX sensor failures. Both can leave you by the side of the road and can be very expensive to replace. Why AS doesn't order these coaches with the factory installed High Idle kit is a mystery to me because that could prevent a lot of these component failures. Anyway, this isn't a diesel big rig that you can idle over night, so don't treat it like one unless you want early, expensive repairs (that AS may or may not cover under warranty).....
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Old 11-05-2017, 12:40 PM   #106
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Originally Posted by FlyFishinRVr View Post
You need to be aware that Mercedes recommends to NOT IDLE LONGER THAN 30 MINUTES. The problem is their infamous EGR valve and NOX sensor failures. Both can leave you by the side of the road and can be very expensive to replace. Why AS doesn't order these coaches with the factory installed High Idle kit is a mystery to me because that could prevent a lot of these component failures. Anyway, this isn't a diesel big rig that you can idle over night, so don't treat it like one unless you want early, expensive repairs (that AS may or may not cover under warranty).....
Yeah, that kind of sucks. Seeing how they added almost all other factory features, not sure why they left that one out...

I was watching a video of a Roadtrek that has that option...
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Old 11-05-2017, 12:45 PM   #107
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Photos of the wheels, not sure if the valve stem in the outside wheel is rubber with a chrome/metal cover over it or all metal...



Either way, getting the dually valve kit to make it easier to check tire pressure. I do plan to have a small ARB portable air compressor onboard as part of my tool kit.
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Old 11-05-2017, 01:09 PM   #108
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Yeah, that kind of sucks. Seeing how they added almost all other factory features, not sure why they left that one out...

I was watching a video of a Roadtrek that has that option...
The real bummer IMO is you can't add it later on. I talked to my local Sprinter dealer and he said he can't even order the parts needed unless it's to repair a defective unit, and MB requires that he send the defective parts back. I guess there's fairy magic in it that they don't trust dealers with....
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Old 11-05-2017, 03:08 PM   #109
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Smile

These came in today... rest on Monday... that charge controller is larger than I expected.

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Old 11-06-2017, 08:01 AM   #110
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A person in the Bay Area had it installed on his Sprinter.

https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...dle+kit&page=2


Quote:
Originally Posted by FlyFishinRVr View Post
The real bummer IMO is you can't add it later on. I talked to my local Sprinter dealer and he said he can't even order the parts needed unless it's to repair a defective unit, and MB requires that he send the defective parts back. I guess there's fairy magic in it that they don't trust dealers with....
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Old 11-06-2017, 09:39 AM   #111
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Keeping this here since it shows the location of the stock charger controller... thank you FlyFishinRVr!!

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f240...pt-166498.html
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Old 11-06-2017, 10:27 AM   #112
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Keeping this here since it shows the location of the stock charger controller... thank you FlyFishinRVr!!

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f240...pt-166498.html

Quite welcome.

FWIW, the Victron won't fit in the space where the Atkinson was, BUT, you may be able to move the huge inverter fuse to the right a few inches and eek out enough space to get it in there. The other way to go would be to move that fuse to the LEFT and put the Victron on the right. As you can see from the pic, the big PITA is the huge lead at the top of the fuse. It's a bit too short to move the fuse much to the right, and a bit too long to move it left. That's why I punted and installed my charge controller on the outside of the cabinet.
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Old 11-06-2017, 12:29 PM   #113
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Quite welcome.

FWIW, the Victron won't fit in the space where the Atkinson was, BUT, you may be able to move the huge inverter fuse to the right a few inches and eek out enough space to get it in there. The other way to go would be to move that fuse to the LEFT and put the Victron on the right. As you can see from the pic, the big PITA is the huge lead at the top of the fuse. It's a bit too short to move the fuse much to the right, and a bit too long to move it left. That's why I punted and installed my charge controller on the outside of the cabinet.
Can't visualize what I am about to suggest from your photos, but here it goes... I can see the lack of space on the sides of that fuse block... but what about installing on top of all that with proper spacers under the charger controller? Is there enough space between that and the cover to allow for that? or the front cover comes close to all those parts to allow for that approach? I guess I will find out when I get my AI...



At least you provided an alternative to mounting this. I will try to see if I can install in that stock location, but not going to fight too much with it knowing that it can easily be install on the outside
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Old 11-06-2017, 02:16 PM   #114
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Can't visualize what I am about to suggest from your photos, but here it goes... I can see the lack of space on the sides of that fuse block... but what about installing on top of all that with proper spacers under the charger controller? Is there enough space between that and the cover to allow for that? or the front cover comes close to all those parts to allow for that approach? I guess I will find out when I get my AI...




At least you provided an alternative to mounting this. I will try to see if I can install in that stock location, but not going to fight too much with it knowing that it can easily be install on the outside

No, I don’t think there is room where you are describing. There’s other stuff up there and then you have to deal with the box top.

The other potential spot is back behind the inverter, but you would have to run some wires back there from the positive bus and you will definitely have to remove the jump seat to get back there (a PITA to do because of blind nuts on the right side holding the seat in place).
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Old 11-06-2017, 06:57 PM   #115
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Thank you TayaraTravel for providing the list of parts needed for adding two additional house batteries!!!!
  • 2 - Part # 454982 - Battery tray, AGM CL24, End mount - there is no need for anything else. The tray includes the metal strap for the battery...calling tomorrow to confirm order with dealer
  • 12 - Part # 325128 - 1/4" rivets - calling tomorrow to confirm order with dealer (not sure if these are SS rivets... doubt aluminum to handle the weight of the battery...)
  • 2 - Part # GPL-24T - Life Line AGM Grp-24 Battery
  • 20' - 2/0 Battery Cable (I ended up ordering 15' black and 15' red just in case I make a mistake)
  • 8 - Copper lug 1/2'' eye 2/O (I ordered a pack of 15). I have the crimping tool for these (link provided for one sold in Amazon... father-in-law worked for the power company and when he moved in with us, he brought all sort of weird tools, this was among the tools he has... with several different size adapters for different wire sizes. I just spent the las hour talking to him about this, lol, love the guy. We get along so well)
  • Fuse block Terminal 30-300A with 150 amp fuse (orange)
  • Split Loom Tube to cover the cables (just some added protection... I also have some strong sleeve covers that I might use as well)





Also, note to self - remember the switch for cutting off power to LP valve switch
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Old 11-07-2017, 07:16 PM   #116
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Give credit to MCRider for his original plan. All I provided was the invoice from Bob Jones RV.
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Old 11-07-2017, 08:31 PM   #117
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Give credit to MCRider for his original plan. All I provided was the invoice from Bob Jones RV.
Absolutely. Here is the link to Mcrider's post with the link to the pdf file.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f240...ml#post1949787
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Old 12-01-2017, 12:39 PM   #118
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It is here! It is here!!

Well... at the dealer, but it got in today! Richard (sale rep), did a facetime walk around. Pretty cool!!

More to come, with photos, when we take delivery.
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Old 12-01-2017, 02:52 PM   #119
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It is here! It is here!!

Well... at the dealer, but it got in today! Richard (sale rep), did a facetime walk around. Pretty cool!!

More to come, with photos, when we take delivery.
That’s good news, you must be bouncing off the walls.
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Old 12-02-2017, 06:13 AM   #120
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Merry Christmas and many enjoyable New Years!!!!!!!!
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