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T1N can motovan

Feb 8, 2022
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Hi folks, this is a thread inspired in large part by how much I appreciated being able to browse the various other build threads done. This will be, and I cannot possibly emphasize this enough, MUCH WORSE IN EVERY WAY than all of those. I was typing out all the people whose builds this will be worse than, but I'm sure anyone reading this will have read their threads and, well, come along for the ride and watch me screw things up left right and center.

Let's begin, shall we? I have an '04 savana I use to haul motorcycles to the trails that's rusting away and also may or may not have a headgasket issue. That's bad. But what's worse is that every time I put the bikes away I scrape my hands or bumpy my head or hit my shin. It works, but it's frustrating. So I'm doing the American thing and instead of fixing it, I'm just buying a new one. Well, new to me anyway. It's easily the worst time in my memory to buy a used car generally and specifically to buy a used van so for the past few months I've been watching prices and seeing where the market goes as I decided between a transit, a sprinter and an econoline/express wheelchair van with the high rear doors. For whatever reason, sprinter prices started coming down around here while transit prices have stayed sky high. I had mixed feelings about the sprinters as they seem to either be fine forever (if you delete the def) or you end up spending 8k to replace six mercedes badges and a random sensor. Also, according to the internet, if the sprinters so much as see a puddle of anything other than genuine mercedes oil life-flighted straight from germany, they instantly bursts into flames and you die.

In the sprinter's favor was that I wanted a crew van and transits only offered crew versions starting in 2020 and I'm not spending $60k + buildout for something that I'm going to use less than 30 times a year. You can just take out the rearmost seats and put a motorcycle in a passenger van but I didn't want to deal with windows again. Plus, did I mention the transits are still expensive?

Which is how I found myself taking a ride out to Pennsylvania to pick up my new van. A 158" wheelbase 2005 T1N Sprinter 3500 with 190k on it. The engine that is (again, according to the internet) so reliable that it makes folks think sprinters are still good. Based on my track record, it should last nine months.

Please join me on this wonderful journey with my first diesel engine as I go through a 16 year old van and fix what's broken (maybe), explore the genius that is mercedes engineering (probably) and accidentally fuck up fixing the paint job (definitely).

I'm hoping to get three things out of this thread.

1. Accountability. It's tough to find time to go work on the van and I'm hoping that posting about it will help me be a little selfish and carve out time to work on it.

2. Input. When I'm about to do something dumb, I have faith that folks will tell me.

3. Just a show of appreciation for everyone else's build threads that I've enjoyed reading.

Initial To Do List Prior to Motovan Conversion:
New radio
Right speaker doesn’t work
Rear left door handle

Replace dash vents
Diagnose and fix air conditioning
Rust - outside spots, any underneath and then the spot under the windshield
Rust - interior front (if any)
Rust - interior rear (if any)
Paint - rear doors at least
Wheel rust/cleanup
Oil leak? Maybe just overfilled? Clean engine and watch it, level is currently good
Coolant leak, if any
Right rear brake rotor
Emergency brake doesn't engage enough
Replace glow plugs
Replace glow plug module
Make sure that fixes the CEL – P0675(673)(672)(671) – glow plug circuit and P0380 glow plug heater circuit A
Replace passenger seatbelt and one bench seatbelt
Replace air bag clock spring
Make sure that fixes SRS light

Clean headlights
Fix keyless entry - key repair? - and get a second key
Remove governor - requires tune
Replace intake air temp sensor
Confirm fixes P0071 ambient air temp sensor range/performance

Reupholster seats and bench
New driver seatbelt buckle cover
Tighten sliding door latch/handle from inside
Replace windshield wipers
Install turbo resonator eliminator kit
It looks so long when I type it all out.
Oh no, it's growing!

Post-Fixing Plans (I'm going to update links as I think of/link new stuff I want):
My plan is to make a separate garage in the rear of the van behind the bench seat. Part of the wall will basically zag back so that there's a bed above and behind the bench and then I would like to make that fold out with either supports or hooks running up to the ribs in the ceiling so I can sleep two on it. Then find space for sleeping one more - maybe behind the crew seat on the floor.
Swivel seats?
Soundproofing and insulation. Either closed cell foam or insulation (thinsulate? havelock?) from the front seats back. Dynamat/kilmat all over the floor in the front.
Plywood floor using old OEM one as a template. Coin flooring on top and 2ft up the walls in the garage. Silicone gaps so I can hose it out if necessary and gas/oil spills can be cleaned easily. Maybe stable matting instead for the garage area?
ARB awning + gutter brackets from VW vans
Backup camera? I had one on the old van before it crapped out and I don't think I need it but this one is a little longer so maybe it's a good idea?

To consider:
Where does the gear go? Helmet hooks. Hangers for jerseys and pants? Boot rack for drying?
Where do the tools go? Consolidate all to toughsystem boxes I have?
20g+ water tank for washing bikes? Possible to mount under van? Use the spare tire space and put the spare on the back door?
Fridge? Small cooler at first.
Overnight air conditioning. Maybe batteries charged by the alternator as we will never be using it for longer than a long weekend.

As it sat when I went to buy it.



Two-person crew bench - the bed will eventually go above and behind those. In the meantime, seating for a kid and a dog.

The wrench came with the van. It's how you open the rear-left door because the PO took out the latch for "reasons".

Lightly dappled with rust.

Mostly surface. This is the worst of it. And the wheels are a thing. At least it has new tires all around.

That is not the factory radio. He had the factory radio though. But, it's terrible so no thanks. I'd like to get something with carplay or similar but there's a lot of other things to tackle first. This works, you just have to remember to push it back in every 20 miles or so.

Five cylinders of fury

I rode out to get it and put the bike in the back for the drive home. Made it all the way until literally a quarter mile from my apartment before I had to swerve to avoid someone who unexpectedly wanted to share my exit lane at the last second and... the bike tipped over and spilled gas everywhere. I guess it was good to have a reminder to seal up the garage area.

Parked in its new home and the location where all work will take place, the streets of NYC. I'm sure the cops won't mind.

These mirrors are awesome.

Look at the paint on those rear doors. Not sure how well it shows up, but it's textured. Oof. Also please don't steal my identity using only the license plate number. Thank you.

Initial Impression:
I love it so much. This thing is the beefiest giant tin box of a truck I've ever driven that's not actually a box truck. The savana 1500 definitely felt all of the weight of being loaded down and even with new shocks and extra springs in the back it really bounced and swayed as it went down the road. The dual rear wheels really make the sprinter feel planted in the corners which is very nice and it handled 500lbs of motorcycle like it wasn't there so that's promising for when I really load it down. The motor generally seems pretty simple (famous last words, I know, I know). Catastrophic failure comes from the injectors and this one doesn't have any sign of "black death" - leaking around the injector seals that means at best they need to be replaced - and per the cap dance test there's no blowby at all. The diesel motor is a delight to drive and I love the sound of the turbo spooling up. Maybe it'll get old when it's not new to me anymore but so far it's great. The governor at 82mph is frustrating though. It pulls like crazy right up until 82 and then... just no more. I thought only NCV3 and newer were governed but apparently not. The only way to get it removed is to get a tune so we'll see how that goes. It's definitely been a work van and is a little beat up but I'm hoping I bought it before that inflection point where everything is just entirely down hill. It would be nice to fix it up and then be able to get all my desire to tinker with stuff and buy shiny things out of my system every year by doing stuff like buying a roof rack or fancy new headlights.
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And, because I've been working on it a little already... the first two posts are free while you catch up with me and we then slow to a crawl.

I hope everyone enjoys shitty pictures I took as it gets dark.

The glowplugs sit in the head and if you're going to remove them then you have to do it right because the alternative is taking the head off and drilling them out and that's either time consuming or expensive. I've been going out to the van every couple days for the past week or so and today was no exception.

In goes the PB. This weekend I'll drive it for an hour and let it get nice and hot and then slowly work them out. Hopefully an entire can of this stuff over the past week will help.

And since I was there and I just filled it up when I bought it (thanks, "oh yeah, it needs to be fueled up" guy I bought it from, but how did you get it so close to empty?), a full tank will last you almost 600 miles and it's mostly going to be sitting for the next month or two as I work on it, I thought better safe than sorry. This was new to me. Diesel apparently turns into a gel when it gets cold and while winter diesel includes whatever additive stops that from happening, I can't be sure I'm going to get fresh gas before it gets really cold. When I googled "what the fuck, why does diesel freeze and what am I supposed to put in it" someone suggested a gallon of kerosene but that seemed really dumb to me. Maybe it works, but there is no way I'm putting a gallon of kerosene in a gas tank on the advice of someone on on the yahoo answers archive.[OK, I know it works now but too late]

Inside, I wanted to replace all the interior lights with LEDs so that I can leave them on for an hour while I putter around and not worry at all about the battery.

Someone at sprinter-source strongly recommended a certain light so I bought them. Without first checking to see if they fit or looking at what kind of bulb was in there.

So, yeah. I'd say it's going pretty well.

At least the air filter was relatively easy. Out with the old which didn't look too bad.

In with the new!
And... last post to catch us up to where it sits today.

First things first: in NY you register the car and then you get it inspected. You have like a week once it’s registered. It’s currently on temporary PA plates that are good for 60 days so I have some time but you won’t pass inspection with a check engine light on. So let’s fix that.

Glow plugs and glow plug module are causing it.

Hopefully a good ten days of spraying pb blaster every day or two will mean they aren’t stuck in the head as that’s one of the few things that can really increase cost on the van.

I had to 3-D print a special tool using advanced technology to get the little caps off the glow plugs. I tried a pick and some bent needle nose pliers but this really did the trick.

Then, cross your fingers and… out they come! No problems at all. Turns out 3/4 of a can of penetrating oil and a week helped.

What is going on with all the gunk on those threads?

The new ones do look a lot better.

After that, the module came out. Here’s the good side.

And here’s the fuck you MB engineers, this was a stupid idea side. Why would you put a fuse in a glow plug module like this? Instead of… and bear with me for a second… a fuse. The new module has self-resetting breakers so should avoid this in the future.

In with the new and make a note about that rusty seam for later.

As long as I was there, I replaced the cabin air filter. The engine air filter looked fine. Cabin air not so much.

And the passenger seat belt and one of the two bench seat seat belts had to come out. I had some trouble with this star washer because I didn’t want to break it taking it out. The secret trick? Break it.

The most important thing that happened today?

Not pictured, new wiper blades.
Alright, another weekend and more work on the van.

Today I planned to replace the rear brake rotor, replace the clock spring and if I had time fix the rear door handle.

Starting out, it’s always important to be safe.


Wheels chocked and I personally like to have a jackstand and then keep the jack with just light pressure. Just in case the jackstand fails for whatever reason. Not a winning lottery ticket.

I really love this tool. Just pull the trigger and things get unstuck. But it’s awfully heavy to use for every task.

Wheels come off and that rotor does look like it could be replaced.

Sometimes the giant zappy brappy doesn’t fit so we have to resort to the tools of our forefathers.

You can never have too much light. Particularly when figuring out why hammering on this stupid thing isn’t getting it off.

More hammering. I don’t know where my little sledge hammer is.

But it turns out that I wasn’t helping myself any with the parking brake being on. Not that it mattered, because the parking brake shoe adjuster was rusted in place.

Angle grinders respect nothing.

Finally get the new parking brakes on. There’s a little spring that comes through from behind that just fuck it’s frustrating.

And then I spent two hours on my back in the dark as my lights slowly died one by one, a light drizzle started and increasingly drunk Saturday night drivers whizzed by two feet from my head.

The way the parking brake works, there’s that little adjuster at the top. And at the bottom it comes together around this thing. That moves when you pull the parking brake and pushes the shoe against the rotor. But for some fucking reason, with the parking brake shoes slotted in they were still too wide and that meant I couldn’t put the rotor on and eventually fiddling with it I ended up breaking this piece so…


Because everything is in the street, the wheels go back on with no rotor, still on a jackstand but at least if the cops come by they won’t ticket me because at first glance everything looks fine.
Well, I got it.

And then, not pictured, I promptly un-got it, said fuck it and put it back together with no parking brake.

After approximately a thousand hours of research, it turns out that the problem is that “closed” looks different than I thought. Closed captures the little cylinder that hooks the mechanism up to the cable and otherwise falls out onto the street.

Got my booster and feel terrible, but still wanted to do get something done. The SRS light on the dash is on because the clock spring is broken. The clock spring is the thing that lets you turn the steering wheel while maintaining the connection to the airbag and the horn. You can tell yours is broken if you get a light on the dash and your horn doesn’t work. Or, you know, you have a scan tool and it says “driver air bag impedance high.”

Anyway, unplug your battery for a while ahead of time. Then pop off the airbag (held down with only two small t25 screws). Really surprising how much dirt there is in here.

Have someone hold the steering wheel while you undo the bolt or… just use an impact wrench. That grey circle thing is the clock spring. Unscrew and replace it, button everything back up and take off your “no airbags we die like men” bumper sticker.

Gonna have to start working on the exterior, the van is picking up stickers.
Alright, today was the day I went out and faced my old nemesis the parking brake.

You know how the stories are always about knights slaying dragons and pvangel hand-carving (and installing) an entire custom set of cabinetry for his van in a weekend? And not so much about all those charred suits of armor smoking in the background?

Yeah. Well, the good news is I figured out what’s going on. The cable is rust-welded in place so it doesn’t have sufficient slack because the whole parking brake assembly is fucked. So that’s good. Another $100 and parts on the way. Not sure how clear it is from the picture, but the cable needs to extend further out to let the mechanism fully close.


At least I’ll feel less bad about not fixing that until those parts come in.

Next up, a common point of failure on these vans that puts you into “limp mode” where you don’t get any turbo and can’t go above 45 or uphill, the turbo resonator. You and I both know that the sound of a turbo spooling up is as close to God as any of us are going to get. But some folks think engines are loud and should be quieter. And so Mercedes put a box of plastic on the intake to quiet it down. The turbo resonator is made of plastic and over time and being exposed to lots of heat cycles it cracks. When it cracks, it lets in air. More air (different air?) than the sensors expect. And then you go into limp mode because the turbo is like two grand and Mercedes has zero sympathy for anyone who doesn’t follow their maintenance schedule rigorously, have access to a professional fleet mechanic and sacrifice one large mug of beer every 36 days to the turbo god. Anyway, I bought a delete kit.

The delete kit is a nice aluminum cylinder that goes on and lets air zoop straight into the turbo and it doesn’t break. Hopefully.

Off comes the heat shield.

It’s so beautiful.

Off come the hoses so we can get access to the turbo resonator, a black plastic boxy thing attached to the turbo….

It’s supposed to look like this with a bulbous black plastic thing.

Huh. Looks like the PO already put one on. I’m still chalking this up as a success but I suppose it explains why the turbo sounded so great to me.

I tried getting some pictures of the difference LEDs make in the overhead lights but you can’t see it because phone cameras are smart. It’s better though and the van is wired with extras along the wall in the back. I’ll use that wiring (eventually) to run conduit and then put in more lights and I don’t know what else.

Speaking of slaying dragons and rebuilding old dodges in their entirety from pick n pulls… I was reading and one of the problems with these vans is apparently that water runs down the door and collects in the footwell and the drainage holes are too small and easily clogged. Generally, this van looks like it’s getting some rust spots and needs some TLC but should be good with a little wire wheeling and some new paint. But I checked my drivers side footwell and this? This ain’t good.

It gets a pretty thorough wire wheeling and then rustoleum rust encapsulater and I need to check the other footwell tomorrow. You can see it’s still mostly good but the rust did eat away at one of the drain holes pretty well. Not well enough that I have to weld in new metal which is good because I don’t have welding equipment. But definitely well enough that everything under any paneling and the entire underside of the van is getting a thorough inspection.

Sound dampening tiles arrived yesterday, and I was going to pull up the flooring anyway to clean it but you can see the rust goes further up so it looks like I’ll be wire wheeling and painting too. I have some supposedly factory white paint but I don’t know if I care enough about the color under the floor to not just use black.
More Parking Brake Fun

Different day, same story. Not enough time to just hang out and work on the van (or, if you want to look on the bright side instead of whining, a rich life full of many good things that I enjoy).

I had thought that, while waiting on a part I could just disassemble this, grease it and put it back together. I was wrong. But it’s an interesting mechanism. This is the parking brake equalizer. So the right side is the cable going to the parking brake lever. Your traditional “pull this to drift” parking brake up front. On the left are the two cables running to the parking brake on each side. You pull the parking brake and it pulls that lever forward. Then that pulls the middle bit forward and thanks to the magic of a big rusted circle, it equalizes pressure on both sides (more or less).

Anyway, the whole thing was fused with rust and even spraying it with pb blaster and banging on it with a mallet when it was off would just make it grudgingly move. It never broke free. So... back to waiting for a new one.

On the upside, I did manage to get a little more work done on the parking brake. Is this painfully slow for you reading along? Because holy fucking shit, fuck you parking brake. Just... fuck. you.

The cable was swollen so wouldn't fit through the grommet. Little cutting wheel action later and voila!

Here's where the other end feeds in.

It was stuck. Obviously. Twenty minutes of using a screwdriver the wrong way and a mallet later...

Not pictured, more swearing and gentle tapping with a mallet as the fit on this is extremely tight.

I think I'm going to need to do the other side, but I just don't want to. Hopefully the parking brake works with just one side so I can pass inspection and put off fixing the rest of it until it warms up.

In other news, this SRS light was on because the prior owner somehow locked the passenger seatbelt (and one of the two seatbelts on the bench in the back). I sent them both away to Safety Restore whose prices are cheaper for some reason if you buy from their ebay store and they had one day turnaround so that was super nice. I'm curious about what the guy did to get the seatbelts to lock like that, because I have a special (but not the dealership one) MB scan tool and I don't think it was in an accident. There's no record of an accident, the driver airbag I took out when replacing the clockspring was quite dusty and definitely original, and there's no record of any other accident-related codes in the system.


Reinstalled, and voila! The first big step of fixing the van up is complete - all the lights on the dash are now out.
As I'm still waiting for parking brake parts (they'll be here today!), this weekend was time for some sound dampening and rust treatment.

This cupholder is holding down the floor mat. Don't worry, I promise I will clean once I'm done with the initial buildout!

Obviously it's these three screws underneath that are a pain to get out because of the angle that hold it in, right?

Haha, of course not. Gross.

On the other hand, free pencil!

I'm keeping the pencil.

And with the mat out, you can see there's really just those two roundish spots of surface rust. The lines in the middle are remnants of a foam that degraded and is rust colored. Because of I don't honestly know why.

I tried to figure out the painting process during manufacturing. The seat mount is painted on the outside and the inside but the bolts are also painted. You can see they were painted in place so I guess they installed the seat mount and then painted everything but surely that's not the most efficient way? I don't know nearly enough about making cars to say whether or not it is but who're you going to believe? Someone with shitty opinions on the internet or billions of dollars worth of Mercedes engineers?

Out comes the seat! Just one of the benefits of doing all the work in the street: you don't have to worry about your garage getting all cluttered.

A little more surface rust underneath where the seat mount bolts to the floor. This made me really glad I decided to take out the two seats. It's not at all bad, but now I can just deal with it.

Seats are installed with four bolts in the back and then two tucked underneath in the inside front of the seat mount. Taking out the passenger seat with nothing underneath it is very easy - just slip in there and there's plenty of room to unbolt them. The driver's side which is full of wiring and fuses is less easy.

So the seat comes off. I find this warning very amusing because that plug goes to the seat. It is a sensor for your airbags. If you unplug it while the battery is on maybe nothing bad happens. Or maybe your air bag blows up? Either way, thanks for the warning that would only be helpful after doing the stupid thing. Fortunately, I follow a couple of simple rules. JACK STANDS. JACK. STANDS. Also, unplug the battery any time electricity or air bags are involved.

Look at all that wire. I'm sure it's important.

It's so dirty. I gave up on traditional cleaning and ended up using brake cleaner. It worked great. Those panels are the OEM sound deadening. We will be more thorough but I'm leaving them in because they're impossible to get up without basically wire wheeling them away an inch at a time. I did try but it was an exercise in futility (for the level of effort I'm willing to put in) and I figured more sound deadening won't hurt.

Anything that even hinted at rust got wire wheeled into oblivion and repainted. I'm using rustoleum because it has rust in the name. I have POR15 that I plan to use for any areas that I expect to see more water. Like anything rusty on the undercarriage.

If a little is good, more is better.

Hey siri, what does overspray mean?

Seats go back in and yes, I know, I know it's still dirty but I ran out of brake cleaner and water and have limited time so nobody else will ever know. You can see my incredible attention to detail where I cut out little holes in the sound dampener for the seat bolts.

How much is too much?

I actually found this stuff really easy to work with. Just use a box cutter to trim and you can basically do whatever you want with it. It has adhesive on the back. I've read about using special tools to install it but I personally recommend being very heavy and pushing on it as that worked quite well.

And all back together!

This took me about four hours total, including twenty minutes trying to reattach my ripped temporary plate someone tore off and threw on the ground. Was it worth it? Unequivocally yes. I was really happy to be able to treat all the rust so it was worth it just for the peace of mind on that front, but then when I tested it by starting up the van and not driving it at all it was immediately apparent that the sound dampener works. You can't hear anything from the floor. It was like a void of sound. Of course, no good deed goes unpunished and the absolute pindrop silence coming from the floor meant I could very clearly hear that the firewall is not insulated in the same way. I expect that there will be some real tilting at windmills in my future trying to make this quieter and I've added sound dampener to the doors to the to-do list.

In other news, I got the heaviest package ever. That odd little protrusion on the front right passenger footwell is where the jack goes. Mine didn't come with one and I thought it was fine because I already have a bottle jack. I've been happily jacking up the van using points along the rear axle or diff and thought it was working fine. Then I happened upon a post on the internet saying "NEVER DO THAT YOU WILL RUIN EVERYTHING FOREVER." Because, MB in their infinite wisdom, put together jacking points for the van that are not flat and so high that you need a two stage jack to reach. So another $70 later, and here's a brand newish OEM jack. You can see how it has a very nice curve to it. If your jack doesn't have a curve your van explodes. This is a feature, not a bug. Also a feature: despite having a curve DO NOT USE THE AXLE to jack up the van.

As I continue to work on this it's interesting to see what I'm beginning to think of as the MB engineering philosophy. It's early yet, but so far I would describe it as: "do it our way or get fucked." These seem like very well-built vans and they supposedly run forever, but there are a lot of things where you can clearly see their thinking and it just doesn't leave any room for any other method.

Another example is taking out the driver's side seat. The parking brake is attached to the seat mount and they clearly think the process should be:
1. remove seat.
2. unscrew electronics/fuse mounting points from seat mount.
3. Remove parking brake lever from seat mount.
4. Remove parking brake cable from parking brake lever.

I am the better idiot so I managed to just kind of lean it over and work around it but there's a clear thought process that really doesn't take into consideration that folks might ever do anything differently. I've also, helpfully detached the parking brake cable on the other end already so I had plenty of extra pull there - I would imagine it just plain doesn't work to do it my way without having done this.
Awww yeah, another parking brake failure making real progress today!

But first, new battery. Home Depot’s battery is apparently the OEM so that’s what I got. I was tempted by AGM but everyone online absolutely loves the OEM battery.

Little bit of rust on the battery tray that got hit with some rust converter. It’s interesting because MB just didn’t consider the possibility that junk would clog their drain holes. But it does. Particularly if you live somewhere with leaves. Then the water sits and makes this tray rust. (Just like the footwells).

Then, a few weeks ago I ordered a toy from a totally legit source on the internet.

My van came with only one key and MB wants one million dollars for each replacement.

Find a local key maker and trick the machine by taking out the chip so that it can just copy the key itself without trying to figure out which car it’s for (and then rejecting it). And ta da!

New Jack in action! This thing is beefy.

Lifts the van right up. I had to take a break in the middle to run back home so left it like this (door closed!). Nothing to see here. Just a regular van. Please do not tow.

For the fortieth time, the wheels are off and I finally get the parking brakes on right! Fuck yes! Look how those beauties touch. More or less.

Back together and the rotor fit over it.

Last time I’d replaced the left rear parking cable. Now to replace the central cable that goes to the parking brake. Because of my break, it was four and had started getting dark so fewer, worse pics. But the cable runs through the middle of the van over the gas tank. Huh. Fortunately, you can unscrew the bolts holding the straps on like 4” and then kind of work around the gas tank. That’s where the cable goes up to the brake lever. You can see how the black thing is the tank. There is less room than it looks like so it was good times with awkward hand angles and a pick.

Thread it through and just a little cylinder hooks it up to the lever.

Thread it through the back and…. Goddamn fuck. There are 1500, 2500 and 3500 (duallies!
). I ordered a cable for a 3500. But either I got the wrong one or I ordered the wrong one because this is not for a 158” wheelbase van. Short by several feet.

New one on the way, and when it gets here I’ll hook it up to the new parking brake equalizer.
Finally got the right parking brake cable installed. Didn’t have time to adjust it but went for a short drive and the right rear brake is sticking a little.

I also took the time to fix up the passenger footwell and put some sound proofing in both footwell and I’m back to complain about stupid Mercedes design decisions. The way this works, rain comes down from the roof, collects in the door and then drains down to the footwells and then out a little drain slit. The three big holes are for the plastic footwell covers to attach to, they’re not drains.

All that mud water is because dirt and grit from NYC streets clogged up the drain. I would guess this is fine if your van is part of a fleet that gets the undercarriage washed regularly but for the rest of us? What a shitty design.

I put some extra weather stripping around the doors so that water won’t get caught in the door sills/cracks and will just run down the body.
First things first, the extra weather stripping is doing a great job keeping the footwell bone dry. This is after some heavy rain.

Then, there was a rare warm day and I tried some painting. I had my kid help me. I am very glad that I did, but it did not improve the final result. I’ll have to go back over everything and do some sanding and learn what the fuck I’m doing. Also, unclear the white paint that the internet “guaranteed” was a match was actually a match but I won’t know until I really clean the van and it gets warm enough to apply some clear coat and yes I know this is not how to do it but it seemed more important to teach an eleven year old how to use an angle grinder and a spray can.

The good news? It ain’t rust anymore!

Today on the other hand was all me. Time to finish the floor soundproofing. To take up the OEM flooring, I needed to get rid of all these rivets.

Drill and repeat one hundred times.

Next, to take up the seat rails.

After discovering that the nut was not welded to the frame like the sprinter forums suggested it would be but instead just free floating (and free falling right on top of the fucking gas tank so now I will need to drop that to reinstall and put the bolts back on), I just cut out the wood around the other one. Wera chisel screwdrivers were a very nice Christmas present. But… unclear how that’s different from any other screwdriver? They’re all chisels!

Clean everything up, pound out the rivets, give the holes where the rivets went out a little squirt of rust reformer just in case. A tiny bit of surface rust but overall I’m delighted with how great shape the floor is. Basically zero rust! This was the last thing I was really worried about with this van.

When I’m done, it will be 80% mass loaded vinyl by weight and volume!

And that was where it ended for the evening. I’m really hoping to finish up the sound proofing and do the insulation up front ASAP so I can actually use it to go riding. Because I am jonesing.
Now that the Dakar rally is over, let’s make some more progress.

This is what someone on the internet says turns a plusnut

Into this. The plus shape is larger than rivnuts so it’s theoretically better. I really want to be able to hang stuff on the walls and make sure my floor isn’t going anywhere so these are what all the folks on the internet said were best.

It didn’t work. But some judicious impact wrench and a nut held in place with a regular wrench worked OK. Floor up front is now held down by bolts and plusnuts rather than rivets. Rivers were fine, but plusnuts are better and I’m going to be using them to hold my walls and ceiling on so I just don’t haven’t to worry about anything. Complete and utter overkill until I start thinking about a bed for myself.

The plan for the floor now depends on what I hear back from vanrug. I have one in my savana that I really like but they don’t have anything listed for a t1n so I emailed them asking if I could just buy a big rectangle to cut myself.

I really like the cushion (because I’m old and fat and that means my knees hurt more than they should when I kneel so it’s really nice to have that) and it can be swept out ok. But really it’s worth it to have that sweet sweet “let me just kneel down and grab this thing without being at all cautious and also if I do this I don’t have to install more stuff like coin flooring.” feeling.

These are going to get replaced with plywood covered with speaker carpet.

Look ma, no rust!

I put in sound dampener on the wall and started putting in insulation but I’ll wait to finish that until it’s time put up the plywood walls.

The ceiling also got plusnuts and sound dampener.

New speakers up front! There are only two. Folks put in more but man let’s take it one step at a time.

New rocker-fosgate speakers. Only ~$50 but they sound 1000% better. The old ones you had to turn up all the way to hear and then they’d crackle and were just terrible in every way. This makes me want to replace all the speakers in every vehicle forever. The fit is close enough. If they rattle I’ll bolt them into the dash but the oem cover holds them down ok at a stop at least.

Despite being one of the longer days I’ve spent working on the van, today’s post will be short with few pictures. It sleeted on me, it was cold and windy, it hailed and it snowed. All over the course of a delightful day rolling around on the streets of NYC. This screwdriver started the day clean. I looked about the same when I was done.

I went out to fix the break caliper that was sticking. On the list for next year or the year after will have to be new calipers all around because these ones work fine but an ounce of prevention…

Once that was taken care of I turned back to my old nemesis, the parking brake. It wasn’t really working and I had the sneaking suspicion that was because I replaced the cable and parking brake shoes on the right but not the left.

Despite having a receipt from the prior owner for a brake job done last year, the rotor wouldn’t come off with 45 minutes of swearing and hammering. So I used a bottle jack braced against the suspension. No pictures because this is dumb and don’t do this but it worked well and once the rotor was off it was the same old song and dance. Fortunately, I’ve played this game before and am slightly bettergreat at changing out parking brake pads and installing the cables on a sprinter. It’s still a pain in the ass. Look how trashed the old pads were.

But it was also the last thing I needed to get done before getting the van inspected, something that became a VERY HIGH PRIORITY today when I discovered a couple of things.

1. The savana inspection and registration expire at the end of January. Anyone want a rusty savana with a maybe blown head gasket? Price is: you pick it up. It’s AWD and that works well.

2. Someone had stolen the temporary PA tag I’d had on the van.

3. A transit cop just kind of hung out right in front of the van for an hour while I worked on it. Then he circled by a couple times after leaving.

Fortunately, I do have the NY plates. I had to drill out this extra little license plate holder and I’m using safety nuts because I let my kid choose what we bought and that package of license plate screws had the most and was the best. And most expensive. Same thing, right? It’s interesting, these guys go on the back and then you just bolt onto them. Unclear to me how they’re supposed to get tightened down without an impact which seems like a terrible idea so I used loctite.

That was nice, but nothing compared to the feeling of relief and success that I felt taking this picture. The van is in drive and very firmly stuck where it is by the parking brake.

One exciting new development. I started the van when it was ~15F out just to see how the diesel would do. I used a trick I read about on the internet - turn the key to on until the glow plug light goes off, then repeat twice more without starting the van. Then start. It worked great and the van started up easily. But… when doing so the serpentine belt area started squealing. It stopped when warm and hasn’t done it since. It’s fine, right? Right?
I've been kind of frantically working to get everything to a state that's at least ready to put bikes in it because the old van is going to a new home tonight.

First things first, last place for rust to hide. Under the rear flooring. On the left you can see where I spilled like three gallons of gas bringing the bike home. It still smelled a bit of gas and had turned the rug into a kind of jelly like substance - you can see how much darker it is. This is also an area that just completely rusts out on sprinters. I don't know why. But it does. So I'm pretty happy about the limited amount of rust.

Three hours later... I may have gone a little nuts with the paint, but it's all going under something so I don't care that it's not white (I CARE SO MUCH BUT NOT ENOUGH TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT). Did I need to spray the wheel wells? No, I didn't. But I figured it wouldn't do anything bad and I was trying to work on my technique of having just a smooth motion from an appropriate distance. I also added a layer of paint where I cut out the carpet because I was having fun spray painting things and having spent two hours huffing diesel exhaust it seemed like a good idea to just provide some extra protection for... reasons?

Bulkhead went in, and here's the view from the front. It's not particularly secure, but because the vanrug is going underneath it I think I'm going to install it with two plusnuts through the floor, two plusnuts on each side through angle brackets, and then a couple at the top. Right now it's just kind of screwed into the ceiling in a way that is not at all secure but given time constraints is good enough.

Another view from the front before tidying it up a little more and moving all of my stuff from the old van over.

One last thing to do - cover up the back window so that folks don't just walk by, see dirt bikes in the back and think "thank you for this free dirt bike". Stealth is the watchword here. More or less. Kind of hard to be stealthy when you're a thirty seven ton battleship but what can you do. Long term, the plan is to cut out some thin plywood and cover it with carpet but short term I thought I'd just screw something on and then when it came time I couldn't do it. I don't know why, not like a couple of sheet metal screws are going to hurt but that's how I ended up with some adhesive and this piece of carpet covering the window.

Because I also have to work today, I went out early and put that carpet on the rear window and then brought all the stuff that's not a motorcycle from the old van to the new one. The back is nice and clear for the bikes but the front? I don't know why I needed a wall to begin with - nobody will be able to see the bikes in the back behind all this stuff. Ironically, before this all my tools had been put away and I'd swept the van out and it was totally clean and neat. Hopefully putting it like this will make me actually think about what I need and where it goes. For example, probably 2/3 of that is riding gear. Boots, helmets, jerseys, pants etc. Helmets will be mounted to the walls in the back and I was planning on a couple small hooks to hang hangers with a jersey, pants and socks on as they should be pretty flat. But boots are an open question. I would like to figure out some way to have the boots just live on a couple of peet dryers that I can just flip the switch on and air them out while I drive back from riding. Maybe a computer fan hooked up to PVC - I need to give it some thought. Anyway, there's so much stuff. It's ridiculous.
Bikes go out of the old van.

And into the new!

The plan is for the orange bike to go in the middle and the blue and green ones to go on little plywood platforms on the wheel wells. I need to mock this up though as 1. they fit across inside the wheel wells just fine right now. and 2. the wheel wells are a little longer than I thought they'd be so the KLX110 in particular doesn't really fit like I thought it would. I didn't spend much time futzing with it because I snuck out in the middle of work to do this but I'll spend some more time working on it over the coming weeksyears. Any thoughts are always welcome before I set off on doing something dumb like a little platform with grooves in the middle for the wheels.
Back to things nobody cares about, because we’re going to talk about MB engineering again soon when I do some work on the back door and this is a reminder of the MB design philosophy of “if you don’t do it right you get what you deserve.”

We had an ice storm and you can see from the frozen water exactly how the new weather stripping directs the water away from the footwell. Presumably in several years I will discover that this causes rust elsewhere. Just kidding, over the next year I’m going to finish wire wheeling any rust underneath into oblivion and then painting over it and then spraying underneath with fluid film every year forever. Fuck you, rust.

next steps involve sorting all of my tools as part of the “hey what happens if you just jam a van full of stuff in another van without any rhyme or reason?” project. so far I’ve spent ~2.5 hours sorting through the pile and gotten it into bike parts, tools and riding gear. Just that “tools” category is awfully big.
You are copying these posts over really quickly, is It as simple as a copy paste, photos and all? I have not tried it yet. I have a few threads that I would like to move.
You are copying these posts over really quickly, is It as simple as a copy paste, photos and all? I have not tried it yet. I have a few threads that I would like to move.

Yup, just c/p works perfectly. I was surprised too! Thought for sure I'd have to redo the pictures but I just hit edit and then c/p everything in the box. I did it on my phone actually, so don't know if works on the computer but presumably it does.
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