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PostPosted: Dec 15th, '17, 16:51 
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CompetentCrew
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Looking at buying a 4x4 Mercedes Sprinter Van to replace my Mitsubishi Challenger to tow the Farr 6000 but also to use as a 4 berth family campervan. Not looking at a full motorhome with fixed cabinetry. I would build a light weight and flexible interior. My approach would be similar to the adaptable layouts and systems designed by various companies of the USA, such as OUTSIDE VAN see here http://www.outsidevan.com which look amazing to me and I suspect not overly difficult to do something similar, even if less refined and a lot more dodgy-home-man-handy-man-style. Basically just want a large enough space with removable beds/bunks to camp inside the van using our overnight hiking gear (inflatable mats & sleeping bags) etc. We would carry a portable 12v fridge, lots of water, food, clothes, camp chairs and depending on time of year and destination lots of different toys such as: sailboards, surfboards, mountain bikes, snorkelling gear, wetsuits, back packs, kayaks, snowboards & skis, …

A longer van would obviously provide more valuable space for a 4 berth campervan but may be less suitable for towing. I don’t have any experience towing with these vehicles. My current Mitsubishi Challenger wheel Base 2800mm with tow ball overhang 1200mm (43%) which is all I have for comparison. I have a feeling I could be missing something.

Mercedes Sprinter Vans all have braked towing capacity max 2000kg and tow ball down load max 200kg.
However Sprinter models come in three (3) different wheel base options and each has different rear overhang, as measured from the centre line of rear axle to rear bumper. A 50mm hitch receiver and tow ball adds 150mm to overhang for each and gives the actual tow ball overhang dimension. I understand a small rear overhang is preferable for towing. But is it actually more correct to focus on the tow ball rear overhang expressed as a percentage of the wheel base rather than the dimension of the tow ball overhang?

SWB 3250mm wheel base overhang 990mm (30%) + 150mm = 1140mm (35%) overhang
MWB 3665mm wheel base overhang 1240mm (34%) + 150mm = 1390mm (38%) overhang
LWB 4325mm wheel base overhang 1614mm (37%) + 150mm = 1764mm (40%) overhang
Extra Long LWB 4325mm wheel base overhang 2015mm (47%) + 150mm = 2165mm (50%) overhang

What are the pros and cons regarding towing and stability of the different Sprinter models for towing?
I think I will exclude the smallest SWB and exclude the longest Extra Long LWB models.
Which leaves me with a choice between either the MWB or the LWB vans. Which one would be better for towing?
Would the LWB be OK for towing?

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Farr Haven - Farr 6000 - Yamaha F6
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PostPosted: Dec 15th, '17, 18:28 
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The Farr 6000 is an easy tow, I don't think the sort of rear overhang would be a big deal on a properly set up rig. Interesting, because of the spare wheel position on the Pajero I had to get a really really long tow hitch, I had misgivings because it increased the overhang considerably, but it towed the 7500 perfectly. Buses don't seem to have any worry towing their kitchen trailers.

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PostPosted: Dec 15th, '17, 20:16 
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Rick, are you looking at buying second hand?

Some of the merc vans have a reputation of rusting in the back - the guy who house sat for us last year has been converting his xlong merc into a home and it was scary how much rust he came across. It also surprised me how much it twists when he parks on our driveway. They are definitely NOT as stiff as your challenger and I'd be nervous towing 2 t with one.

If you want to get drowned in lessons learnt along the way from a merc camper converter , pm me an email adress and I'll pass it on to him ( he's building something to live in - really well insulated, a solar / electric system to make zeb drool, plumbed shower, but a very flexible interior that needs to cart around his electric mtb / motorbikes / etc)

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PostPosted: Dec 16th, '17, 22:45 
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In 2009 I bought a new Fiat Scudo LWB and made an interior to sleep three similar to what you might be considering after veiwing your link. It is easy to do with marine ply and epoxy. Interior fit out cost was less than $8k and that included ABR compliant fold down seat $2k , Airmax extractor fan $600, fridge etc The double bed folded forward in order to increase the load space. One of the best things I did was fit an external compressor fridge with the compressor and condensor underneath the car to stop the internal heat load. It was a plain white van from the outside for stealth camping and it was used in every state of Australia for that successfully with multiple boat tows from Townsville to Adelaide (1600kg total tow weight). See interior below.

A point to note insurance may be an issue if you self build. I complied it myself and as a Chartered Engineeer dealing with insurance companies was made a lot easier as they accepted my experience and insurance through the campervan and motor home club was very cheap.

Wheelbase was 3122mm and I can't easily find the overhang dimension. It towed well except for three factors:

1. Front wheel drive so it had a hard time getting traction. ( not an issue for your Merc). It was always a worry on the boat ramp.
2. High first gear and reverse meant a lot of clutch slipping.
3. Comercial rated LT tyres were bloody dangerous in the wet as my van was built light. Therefore the LT tyres never got the weight they wanted and they slid. After coming home from the Hawkesbury once with a trimaran on the back I was four wheel drifting and wheel spinning across Sydney in the rain. It was nerve wracking. If I was slightly crossed up in the wet under braking the trailer would push the back end to one side and I had to correct it with opposite lock.

Towing stability was good in the dry, I got the van and boat combo a couple of times up around the 160km/hr mark and it felt solid. Cross breezes were not an issue.

I sold the van when I got two kids as I wasn't comfortable with the youngest sitting next to the galley in an accident.

I now tow with an X5 and that is heaps better but mainly due to AWD and a highly intelligent automatic transmission.

My suggestion is keep the height of the van under 2m as then you can fit in most carparks and it makes it more user friendly.

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PostPosted: Dec 17th, '17, 18:35 
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There’s no way I’d use a front wheel drive tow vehicle –absolutely never!

My father towed our Farr 6000 (1420kg) with his Toyota Rav4 auto 3.5Lt V6 which was primarily a front wheel drive car and was apparently terrible for towing unless using a WDH. Although it had braked tow capacity 190kg/1900kg, because of the front wheel drive it really squirmed around with a tow ball load and my farther refused to tow his own Jayco Eagle Outback camper trailer (1200kg) without using a Hayman Reece WDH.
We borrowed my father’s Jayco camper trailer, and also my in-laws Trakmaster Kimberly Caravan (2,000kg) lots of times, always towing both with our Challenger. I experimented using our challenger in both rear wheel drive and all-wheel-drive, and both with & without WDHs. From my own experience both AWD and WDH makes huge improvements regardless of what’s being towed.

This is why I’m so keen on the Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 which is an on road compatible AWD system. Rather than the other makes of large vans – all either rear, or worse, front wheel drive only.
Plenty of ex-ambulance Sprinters around, They’re used with high kms but only cost $20k to $30k and have plenty of life left for occasional second car, weekends, holidays and towing etc.
Would expect to keep it for many, many years…

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Farr Haven - Farr 6000 - Yamaha F6
Mitsubishi Challenger LS 2.5TD


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PostPosted: Dec 17th, '17, 22:36 
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Rick, the front wheel drive was appropriate for the boats I was sailing then, they were NACRA's and Taipans (96kg). As my family grew so did the size of boat until the van struggled.


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PostPosted: Dec 18th, '17, 09:03 
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I used a Magna executive V6 with front wheel drive to take my Duncanson 18 (Early Careel 18) up to Queensland and launched and retrieved the boat many times with that car. The only hick up I experienced was when retrieving the boat at the Rye (Vic) boat ramp. Lots of sand. I needed to get a brave person to sit on the bonnet to get that boat out on that day. Most times it was OK. Would I use a front wheel drive to tow? Yes. Would I tow a boat with a front wheel drive? No.

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