MB Sprinter Van Build Part 1
Finding a wheelchair accessible full sized van proved difficult, so we purchased a Sprinter cargo van and created a plan to finish it out for ourselves, incorporating what would be needed for wheelchair use. Easier said than done but still enjoyable. I have used a mini van for years and am able to transfer into the passenger side then transfer over to the driver’s seat without a WC lift. However, due to the height of the Sprinter a wheelchair lift was needed. There a variety of lifts, mostly platform lifts that when brought back into the van would obstruct the sliding door area. We may have used a regular under van wheelchair lift, but I feared that dirt or debris may get caught up in it. We chose the Superarm Lift, www.handicapsinc.com, out of Colorado.
This lift uses a hoisting system incorporating a garage spring, an overhead bar that attaches webbing with carabiners to the wheelchair. It is quick, easy, and efficient. If you look at the video, following this article, you will see the ease of its use and when the lift is back inside the van there is very little obstruction of the doorway making it easy for others to enter or exit the van. Following are the steps or stages that we went through to complete it. The above van shows the outside work that has been done: we changed the wheels from utility to alloy, installed running boards, side windows, and an awning. The timing on this project has been slower than hoped and with Covid supplies became limited or took longer than expected to arrive.
Sprinter November 2020
This is how the van came to us: a diesel 2020 Mercedes Sprinter Cargo Van 170. If this was to be used as a cargo van every thing would have been adequate but for what we were after many changes and additions would need to be made from the front seats back.
The Sprinter came with a floor installed which proved advantageous for us to use a as template for the raised floor and insulation that would need to be installed. As seen above the original floor allowed me to trace its shape on the plywood that would become the floor along with the 2 x 2 ‘s that would raise the floor to allow for floor insulation to be installed.
The original floor was put back in and secured, my son Brad who was helpful with this part of the install, applying glue that would secure it to the floor. It was secured down with paving stones laid on top to pressure it place.
Next, the plywood was laid down and glued and screwed to assure a non-squeaky fitting. Also show, over the wheel wells, is Rattle trap that was used through out the van to keep down road noise from coming into the van, it has worked well. In the back of the second photo are the batteries, inverter, the 110 volt panel, and on the back side of it is the 12 volt panel or fuses.
The above show the plywood studs and rafters that are used to secure the paneling, cabinets, Max Air fan, air conditioner … Also the Havelock wool insulation can be seen and the location where a window will be installed. There are windows in the back doors, behind the drivers seat, and in the sliding door. The window in the slider proves of so much use both for light and for being able to see the road when making turns.
In the sliding door area I moved the floor out which adds a little more floor space and makes the possibility of falling out the door less so. The second one shows the closet area created to house hanging clothes along with a small microwave and a refrigerator, it is mounted on drawer slides and a pin is used to secure it while traveling. Notice the 110 volt outlet by the slider.
The van came with a step below the back bumper with hand grips on the side which are helpful to get in or out of the back of the van. The bed is mounted lower to allow for an easier transfer height, this gives up garage space but we have no intention of living off grid. The counter and the first round of cabinets were installed for us to find out what we would like and need. I feel like we built the van out two or three times.