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SmokelessJoe 11-22-2005 08:04 PM

Bob, do you mean the Mini Cooper?

( photo taken at the place where I am staying this winter while working oin the trailer)

The Argosy will be painted to match the Mini but the car will ride on the flat bed of the Tow Vehicle.


SmokelessJoe 12-26-2005 02:52 PM

Dear Diary
Dear Diary:

I went to see the Sprinter salesman before Christmas.

Iím not saying that I drove home with cold feet about my Mini Cooper on a flatbed pulling the Argosy idea but the thought of spending $50,000 on a tow vehicle would probably make anyone consider things very carefully.

Perhaps I should take time for a Reality Check?

I am 69 and before I know it, if Iím lucky, Iíll be 75.

Maybe loading and unloading the Mini, even driving one, is a better idea when you are 55.

Shouldnít I consider the option of a van, not just the flatbed plan?

Often when Iím conflicted or uncertain I sit down a type ďnotes to myselfĒ

Like these:

Sprinter Cab and Chassis flatbed, hauling MINI and pulling Argosy


Super Cool idea
A unique dream project that Iíve been planning for 4 or
5 years and told everyone about (I bought the Mini
with this plan in mind)
Have your Mini and use it too


Giving up on a dream is an emotional hurdle to
More ups and downs, as we used to say in the Circus
Two vehicles to maintain, insure, license, operate
(savings on insurance and licensing about $2500 annually- $12,500 over 5 years)
Limited to one passenger
Flat bed to build
Two vehicles to steal (maybe together)
Too much consumerism? Do I really need a ďtoy

Sprinter Van pulling Argosy


May not be totally dull and ordinary, but definitely
lacks the pizzazz of a Jet Black Flatbed
Giving up my Mini Ė do I really want a VAN for daily use?


No ups and downs, less to do helps preserve my energy
Sale of Mini helps fund the project
Savings on insurance and licensing about $2500
annually- $12,500 over 5 years)
Savings on Mini maintenance, probably $1000.
Extra seating in case family members, grandchildren
want to come along
Ready made large cargo space vs. need to build possum
Lighter load perhaps equals more miles per
No flatbed to build
A van can be a mini motorhome for day excursions
whereas the Mini has more limitations
Less operational cost (insure, license, maintain,
Less exposure (leave one unit behind to steal instead of
High seat driving comfort Ė itís getting harder and harder to get in and out of the little MINI

Maybe forum members can offer some advice?


dieterdog 12-26-2005 06:10 PM

Hi Sergei, loved your pictures. sorry i cannot offer advice, as i am starting from ground zero with my Argosy. can tell you that a larger, higher tow vehicle is very comfortable on long driving days,,,, donna, dieterdog

Foiled Again 01-28-2006 09:24 PM


Originally Posted by SmokelessJoe
Dear Diary:
....High seat driving comfort Ė itís getting harder and harder to get in and out of the little MINI

Maybe forum members can offer some advice?


I have a dear friend who has collected classic micro cars including a 53 Nash, a 56 T-Bird, and my personal favorite a BMW Izetta. He just LOVES to go to Beemer rallies and watch the snobs DIE when they realize the "Erkel car" is actually a BMW! They puke their Brie!

He is a realist and has slowly been selling off those cars as he ages, not because of finances, but because - as you say - it gets harder and harder to get down into them and back up out of them. The Izetta will probably be the last to go as the whole front opens up.

It happens to us all. Do what you want, but if you want to use your Argosy to it's fullest, get a full sized tow vehicle.

Note from Me: I've always driven compact cars until I got "big dawg" my 2500 Suburban to tow my 22ft CCD (yes it's more than a 22 really needs but... you've heard of aluminitis haven't you. Who knows what the future holds?) It took a week or two, but I've actually gotten so used to the big truck that I leave the LEXUS sitting. One thing I do notice is that very, very few people give me the finger... or try to cut me off or intimidate me. I am actually a very ladylike driver, and will let any fool have the right of way rather than end up talking to a local law enforcement official while waiting for the tow trucks to arrive.

It doth amuse me mightily that intimidation is not necessary when one is driving a big honkin' truck with wheels the size of your mini-Cooper.

Just my 2.5 cents.

Tin Lizzie

SmokelessJoe 01-28-2006 10:19 PM

Tin Lizzie and others:

This thread popping up tonight made me re-read my ďDear diary/ Notes to myselfĒ from a month ago.

I donít know where all that pessimism masking as a Reality Check came from.

I suppose I have decided to listen to my inner voice.

Yesterday, in Michigan, I bought the brand new 2006 Sprinter 3500 Cab and Chassis Dual Wheel that will haul my Mini and pull the trailer.

It will be built by May. Itís JET BLACK and really cool.

All day Iíve been wondering about how I might harness some of the interesting Sprinter options to provide electrical power for my rig.

The Sprinter has an optional power take off that can run a belt driven generator.

It also has an optional High Idle Function that can keep an optional 200 amp alternator charging a battery bank as fast as an inverter can drain it.

Maybe I should post those musings separately to see what advice I might get.


Foiled Again 01-28-2006 10:48 PM

Enjoy it!
Bop til you drop!

Tin Lizzie

uwe 01-29-2006 08:42 AM


Originally Posted by SmokelessJoe
Tin Lizzie and others:

This thread popping up tonight made me re-read my ďDear diary/ Notes to myselfĒ from a month ago.

I donít know where all that pessimism masking as a Reality Check came from.

I suppose I have decided to listen to my inner voice.

Yesterday, in Michigan, I bought the brand new 2006 Sprinter 3500 Cab and Chassis Dual Wheel that will haul my Mini and pull the trailer.

It will be built by May. Itís JET BLACK and really cool.



Sergei, sounds to me like you have a very good plan to spend the rest of your life. ( may it be long and fun filled!)
Frankly, I was a little saddened by your earlier post where abandoning your otherwise great ideas was mentioned.
Many of us would do the same thing, were we not compromised by time, family needs, financial woes, or whatever else usually gets in the way of doing exactly what we want. You having this option is a great asset! Use it!

SmokelessJoe 01-29-2006 02:57 PM

Tin Lizzie, Uwe and others who sent messages off line.

I appreciate your support.

Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Computer recently said

ď donít let the noise of othersí opinions drown out your own inner voiceĒ.

I liked reading that, I suppose because I usually do listen to my own inner voice despite the noise.

This time I got confused with what my own voice was. I was making myself believe that I should be practical.

There was no ď noise of othersí opinionsĒ actually. It was just me doing a trip on myself.

Two people in particular put me back on path.

One was Russ Wiltsie, in whose shop I am remodeling the Argosy. Heís a very soft-spoken guy and one day he said, his eyes searching my face for a reaction ď will you be happy with a van as your daily vehicle?Ē

The other person was George, the son of my best friend, who came to see me on New Yearís Eve.

I told him that I had decided to get practical. He shot back ďGet real, Sergei. Owning a trailer isnít a practical idea in the first place! Follow your dream. Go back to your plan. It was too coolĒ

From that moment I got back with the program.

Next, I want to post some ideas here about harnessing the Sprinterís power plant to provide electricity for my rig, hoping that some of the technically minded here can give me advice.

Uwe, if youíre out there, I particularly want to hear your suggestions.

Thanks again.


SmokelessJoe 01-29-2006 03:36 PM

Harnessing the Sprinter's power

When I bought the Dodge / Mercedes Benz Sprinter part of my new rig - to - be in Grand Rapids, Michigan Friday, I learned that there were three interesting options available that I didnít know much about.

This advanced European truck is still new to America. American Car Salesman, great as they are, donít really know anything about this vehicle.

They will learn in time by watching what (and why) their customers buy but right now many of them have never seen some of the options available and donít know how they are used.

The options Iím talking about are:

200 amp generator $USD 603.00

Auxiliary Belt Drive $297.00

(this power take off develops 9.38 h.p. and is designed to run a compressor or generator)

High Idle Function $USD 729.00

I had decided to mount a generator on the new truck. The intelligent choice, a diesel drawing fuel directly from the vehicle, is not an option because no small, quiet diesel plant seems available.

The choice narrows to Onan, Yamaha or Honda LP plants because gasoline would add an unnecessary and volatile third fuel to the traveling mix.

I had also decided that I need an inverter because I want to use a 9 cu foot 110 volt LG residential fridge.

I am not enamored of the regular LP fridges, partly because I resent the RV industry oligarchy getting away with charging as much as $3000 to $4000 for a fridge of archaic design and styling.

The LG is only $500.00 Cdn., so light I can lift it off the ground in a bear hug, fast to cool, contemporary and stylish. It is easily replaceable and doesnít need to be level.

The problem with the inverter is cost, efficiency and the heavy weight of the battery bank.

So Iíve been asking myself Ď why donít we mount both the inverter and the glass mat battery bank ON THE TRUCK, charging the bank with the 200-amp alternator?

According to Sportsmobile, a major converter of Sprinter C Vans in Austin, Texas, you can even run an A/C off the inverter while the truckís diesel motor is under factory installed HIGH IDLE FUNCTION. See:

We will need some way to maintain 110 v to the fridge in the trailer while towing but that should not be insurmountable.

I want to explore this idea because it is unique, takes the weight out of the trailer, and takes advantage of the Sprinterís diesel motor and advanced technology.

The Sprinter diesel runs more quietly than the Onan Micro Lite generator!

Another interesting concept might be an under the hood belt driven generator. See here:

Another friend, who builds Sprinter conversions in Ohio for a living, wrote, ďI have heard that the only real issue is getting the hertz to remain constant. A 3 hertz loss or gain can ruin electronic componentsĒ when I asked him about these generators yesterday.

I donít know the implication of that. Can anyone out there help me understand?

I couldnít roust anyone at the Tendaire factory this weekend so I donít know what a belt driven generator might cost.

The cost of optioning a Sprinter with High Idle Function and a 200-amp generator plus buying an inverter and batteries is comparable to buying a generator.

(Much cheaper, actually, if I concede that I have already decided to buy an inverter).

The idea is to have just one high quality diesel motor do all the work around my rig.

I am anxious to have comments because, if I am going to add some options to the truck, I need to do it now.

These trucks take 7 months to deliver and I am sneaking into the line-up.


3Ms75Argosy 01-29-2006 07:02 PM

Sounds great but..
How long can your battery bank power up the refrig at night? If you're drawing battery power from an inverter, I hear that it uses up your battery power almost instantly for high draw items (like AC or a fridge).

I'm assuming the prices for the RV fridges you quote are for Cdn $$'s? I think the most expensive fridge at camping world for my trailer is about $1200 US. Although I agree it's robbery (and I bought mine from a rebuilder for about $500 - with no electric boards to worry about), I have to admit being able to fire it up with propane and not use up my batteries has it's pluses.

I love your sprinter plan. Are you getting the cab only model with dualies on the rear - or are you deciding to use the van model?
Tell us more!

SmokelessJoe 01-29-2006 07:55 PM


The draw from the LG fridge is 1.5 amps. In defrost, which I assume does not happen often, it can draw up to 4 amps.

The most expensive Dometic fridges on display now at Camping World near Buffalo, N.Y are almost $4000 USD. I admit that these are the top of the line 3 way models.

I think RV fridges, for what they are, are overpriced and old technology. Maybe this is because there are just two major manufacturers. Same with toilets.

The idea behind the High Idle Function on the Sprinter is that you can run the truckís diesel motor for as long as you want in order to have the big 200 amp alternator charge the battery bank.

The Sportsmobile builder (see his site above) claims the inverter will maintain adequate power even to an A/C on this basis.

I would like to deploy these Sprinter features so that the diesel on the truck will, in fact, provide the power for the entire rig.

The Sprinter motor runs more quietly than an Onan Micro Lite generator.

I bought the Cab and Chassis in the 158Ē wb 3500 dual wheel version. Itís Jet Black. I treated myself to a sunroof. I hadnít seen a sunroof on a cab and chassis truck before.

The Argosy will be painted Pepper White and Black, to match the Mini Cooper.


uwe 01-29-2006 08:30 PM

I wonder what the continuous safwe output is of a 200A Alternator.
MB Diesels sip fuel at idle, not sure about increased idle speed. A 200A power supply and a beefy inverter could probably provide some serious power to the trailer. Kick up the idle for cooling, and have a 1 ton driving generator.
Also, the automatic transmission ight not like extended idle times. I think this entire concept needs deep research. It would be brilliant if everything came together without a hitch.

3Ms75Argosy 01-29-2006 10:11 PM

Cool rig!
I REALLY can't wait to see more pics of your trailer, and of the tow rig when it comes.

Depending on the output of the generator, running your fridge and AC with the motor on will be fine. My question is more if you are boondocking, even the quietest motor will need to be turned off after 10:00 pm at most places. Not a problem if you overnight in a place with electrical hookups. With the motor off, the inverter will draw the batteries dead in no time.

I can't remember if in your orginal post you stated that most of your camping will be boondocking or not.
I 'm curious too about the generator. I'll look at those sites more carefully too.

SmokelessJoe 01-29-2006 10:18 PM

Uwe and Marc:

I will ask RoadKingMoe and other technically sophisticated people here for help with this too.

Did you check out the Sportsmobile Texas web site I listed above?

I am assuming that Mercedes Benz offers these fairly expensive options because they can do a specialized job, Iím guessing for police departments, engineers, military construction, etc.

Itís unlikely they would produce and sell something that would harm an idling transmission.

The appeal to me is in harnessing the diesel in the Sprinter to become a work horse for the whole rig.

I may stay at a trailer park occaisonally, if I find a nice one, but I am an urban explorer more than I am a nature lover so I imagine myself parked behind somebody's barn near Memphis while I am downtown with the Mini.


3Ms75Argosy 01-29-2006 11:13 PM

reading the site listed, it states you can use your AC for about 2 hrs, and then both aux batteries will be drawn down (you also have a third battery for the truck, right?) using just the inverter and the batteries. Fuel consumption (using the truck as a generator parked)is on the higher side at fast idle. You get 1.25gallons of diesel burned for each hour at high idle (1,500 rpms.) I can get anywhere around 4-8hrs of of use for one gallon on my Honda Eu2000. The cost for the inverter (and second battery) alone is $1,400. YIKES! My generator was around $900. I'm guessing the startup voltage requirement of the Colman 12,500 AC to be around 2000 watts. My colman 13,500 will start with the EU2000 and cool on low, but that's really pushing it (everything off). I'm sure I'll hear about browning out the coils too, but in the heat of central CA, I had no choice when boondocking. I really wish I bought the Yamaha 3000, but am happy with the Honda (but I digress).

I don't know, I think a propane fired generator might be the ticket.

SmokelessJoe 05-25-2006 12:28 PM

Diesel Powered Trailer
I would like to complete my trailer using diesel instead of propane, which I donít like.

Iím thinking of a Wallas Ceramic Diesel Cook top.

Some type of small hydronic heater kit (Red Dot, Heater Craft) and a water heater ( there are a couple of interesting coolant heaters at West Marine) would provide space heating and hot water.

They would both be powered by one of those ingenious, small Webasto or Espar Hydronic Coolant heaters, producing about 15,000 btu.

The space in the Argosy is less than 1000 cubic feet.

Has anyone done anything or seen anything like this?

Does anyone have an opinion on the relative merits of Webasto and Espar?


SmokelessJoe 05-27-2006 08:00 PM

Waste Management System
This thread traces the discussion on holding tanks and the development of the ďWaste Management SystemĒ that finally emerged:

lewster 05-27-2006 08:55 PM

Brilliant plan

I've been down your road....sort of. We had a 2002 MINI in black and pepper white, just like yours! Had panoramic sunroof and a bunch of other goodies. I have been running a 2004 Sprinter for 2 years. With 50K miles, I have only changed the oil about every 12,500-13,500 depending on what the maintenance computer says.

I think your concept is GREAT! If you want a fine diesel fired hydronic heating and hot water system, look at Vehicle Systems, Inc. They make the Aqua-Hot, Hydro-Hot and a new smaller unit which I can't think of the name at the moment. They utilize the Wabasto diesel burner and are a very efficient unit.

Look into a battery bank of 6 volt golf cart AGM batteries. They have a much higher draw-down capacity and many more charge-discharge cycles than normal 12V batteries due to the much thinker plates. They are connected in series/parallel for 12VDC. The generator/inverter system is also a sound one, IMHO, especially when you couple it with the 200 amp alternator.

The big Prevost bus conversions use this type of system, but the 600HP Detroit Diesels run a 450 amp alternator. The motor weighs as much as your MINI!!!:lol: The coaches are all electric with domestic appliances, electric cook tops and Aqua-Hot heat/hot water systems.


Let me know if I can help you in your quest!:D

dieterdog 05-27-2006 11:31 PM

Hi Sergei,, all sounds great,, good to see you post,,, cannot wait to see the finished product,, too bad about Mother Nature,,,,tis the nature of the beast you know,,, dieterdog

SmokelessJoe 05-28-2006 08:40 AM


Interesting coincidences those, .... Black and Pepper White, Sprinter.

There has been a diesel powered trailer discussion here, including your earlier contribution.

Did you see it?


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