Mercedes-Benz Metris Forum banner

1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
656 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I thought I'd share some of the nice features I've found after finally exploring the auxiliary battery set-up I bought with my 2018 135 Cargo. Understand this exploration is after I've built my power box, so it's a bit bassackwards, but I knew the box was going behind the driver's seat and I had to start somewhere.

Here's the order sheet description for the extra battery I bought:

X27 Additional Battery Package: Additional battery for retrofit. $385
E28 Auxiliary Battery 100 Amp
E36 Cutoff Relay for Auxiliary Battery


Very cheap in retrospect. The battery is 95 Ah, not 100. I was sweating bullets about how to connect to it. I was actually a bit irritated that the EK1 connector is served by the starter battery, and there is no fuse box available for the additional battery. I had examined it in a cursory way when I installed the driver's seat swivel -- enough to know I could tap into it, just not exactly how or where. I assumed I'd end up drilling through the seat pedestal somewhere. I also assumed I'd replace the battery lugs with "military" style lugs, and perhaps new cables if needed, and go from there with a 100 A terminal fuse on the + and a just a cable on the - terminal.

I am pleased to say Daimler is smarter than me. When I got in there and looked closely, I realized there are two access ports through the pedestal towards the rear of the van. The port closest to the driver's door was a bit tight for two 4 AWG cables, but the port on the opposite side of the pedestal (towards the passenger side) seemed plenty big for two cables.

This is a view of it from the rear at floor level.
18622
18621


Here's a view from under the driver's seat with a couple of 4 AWG Ancor cables. Note the exposed metal edges of the seat pedestal.

18623



I also realized (never took the red plastic shield off before) that the positive lug has a M6 stud already attached for accessories! Note that the positive cable is pretty homely at around 4mm (~6 AWG metric equivalent). I debated replacing it, but less cutting is better. It actually makes sense in the same way I downsized to 8 AWG for the 16 inch run from my 30A DC-DC Charger to the house battery. This cable never serves appliances, it just charges the additional battery. I can still pull my amps from the battery with all the 4 AWG I have in for my power box. But that M6 stud is very convenient and I'm gonna use it.

18625


I also realized there is a convenient ground point stud -- with extra room for another cable -- to which the additional battery negative is connected. So the negative 4 AWG cable I added actually wraps around the additional battery, i.e., it points 180 opposite of the way I am holding it in the first crimp porn shot below (sorry, I've gotten a bit obsessive about van electrics).
18626
18627


Lastly, back to those exposed metal edges, I macgyvered a grommet in a way I think will work (I am going to add heat shrink to the cable bundle through the grommet as well).

18628
18629
18630


The last bit of fun was an Easter egg of sorts -- a reliable incept date found under the driver's entry step (it matches the MB computer log dates). This was final assembly before disassembly and shipping to Ladson.

18631


So, in sum, the additional battery is quite serviceable. I'll post the "after" pix later.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
656 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Hi Tom:

So the additional battery (factory, 95Ah AGM) and house battery ("Duralast" aftermarket duplicate of factory battery, my add, 90Ah AGM) are electrically separated by a 100A fuse and a 30A DC-DC Charger that alters the voltage and amperage of the current into the house battery (from the factory system) to charge it in several stages -- necessary to get a 100% charge on SLA (Sealed Lead Acid) batteries, and many other chemistries as well. That device stops it from draining the additional battery. MB prevents the additional battery from draining the starter battery with an isolating (one-way current flow) relay. I also have 100w of solar, and shore power. The solar panel is not roof mounted. It sits on kick stands. I preferred this set up because I can always aim the panels for best energy production.

So I have a total of 185Ah of battery, about 50% or so of which is usable on a routine basis, let's call it 100Ah for round numbers. That's not much, call it barely weekender-level at best. As far as electric consumers, I'll have 12 .25A lights (3Ah total) and a MaxxFan (call it 5Ah). 100/8 = 12.5 hours of run time. I have a 1000w PSW inverter that can drain 100 amps in less than 1 1/2 hours. This should be plenty for weekend excursions. The solar might add a few Ah when it's running.

110 AC shore power was a late add to my power box. It goes to the solar MPPT controller via a Mean Well 24V, 21A DC power supply. Shore power can deliver a full 30A through the Renogy DC-DC MPPT on the upper right. BTW, so far all the Renogy products have been rock solid and deliver the rated power and amperage. Their bluetooth module software (which at $40 plus a $45 AiLi battery monitor does what a $200 Victron does) is a bit weak, but no other issues. The Renogy BT-2 is the green light visible just below the shelf on the right side.

The pictures below show my power box. The DC power supply in the lower right is a mainland China Amazon. I replaced it with a Mean Well. Mean Well is Taiwanese-made, serious quality, twice the price. Ignore the temporary mismatched wiring colors on the DC power supply. I haven't done all the adding, but I estimate I have around $1,300 in the power box, plus over 400 hours of labor designing and building. I am very slow with Sketchup, design shown in last pic. I used Sketchup to assure my dimensions were correct. I ended up slightly oversizing the box. Another project may end up being to build the smallest power box I can. I was worried about heat dissipation, and I have a no way to estimate that, so much of the box is open. The round stainless grilles on the front (and sides) allow for airflow and the front griulles allow me to see the indicator lights on the DC DC charger. Both the inverter and DC power supply have cooling fans that switch on or off as needed. When I added the power supply, I added a simple toggle switch to the back panel so I can turn off shore power from inside the van if the electric-related fans are driving me nuts at night. Some DC power supply fans run constantly. The Mean Well runs on demand, which really mitigates noise inside the van.

I built the system this way so that it would be modular and removable without damage to Metris. The box is held down with a M8 through-bolt on the bottom under and through the battery tray. There is a metal plate running along the bottom of the box to tie the entire cabinet into the floor mounting point. The battery tray is steel, and I used heavy 3/8" J rods and a heavy duty aluminum hold-down (the anodized red piece on top of the battery). It's rock solid. The box is finger-jointed and glued, and the top, front and back are removable, as is the slide down "circuit board" on which I have the componentry. The box will accommodate up to a 280Ah LiFePO4 battery which, combined with the factory additional AGM, would give me over 260 safely usable Ah. Then I can get the refrigerator!! Next paycheck maybe ;)

I positioned the box so I can swivel my driver's seat around and use it as a narrow coffee table.

18646
18647
18648
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Thank you so much for providing so much detail. This is a smart set-up. With your permission, I will be copying this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
656 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Feel free. Happy to share the SketchUp file, but the .skp extension is not allowed by the forum so PM me if you want it.

BTW, many thanks again to VanGo who generously sold me the factory Con-pearl panels for my 135 -- which were unavailable in 2018. The van is buttoning up fast now. Gotta love long weekends!

I wound up using Noico RED 315 mill beneath the upper rear factory panels (which have little depth behind them owing to the clip on mounting saddles into which the plastic pins get inserted). Thinsulate would fit highly compressed, but I wanted to increase the chances of avoiding hitting the body panel if I bump into or lean on the grey Con-Pearl, so I stuck with the Noico heavy foam that's all over my ceiling (and will be covered by Thinsulate and corrugated plastic). All that metal around the panel is going to radiate like crazy anyhow. I don't want to cover the metal with 4-way stretch carpet like some others because I want all cleanable surfaces. My rationale is that we generate a lot of moisture when we sleep, I want it to dry as quickly as possible if it collects despite my vents. So all the van's surfaces are hard, no glued down carpet or fabric.

18649
 
  • Like
Reactions: gregfuller

·
Registered
Joined
·
656 Posts
Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Feel free. Happy to share the SketchUp file, but the .skp extension is not allowed by the forum so PM me if you want it.

BTW, many thanks again to VanGo who generously sold me the factory Con-pearl panels for my 135 -- which were unavailable in 2018. The van is buttoning up fast now. Gotta love long weekends!

I wound up using Noico RED 315 mill beneath the upper rear factory panels (which have little depth behind them owing to the clip on mounting saddles into which the plastic pins get inserted). Thinsulate would fit highly compressed, but I wanted to increase the chances of avoiding hitting the body panel if I bump into or lean on the grey Con-Pearl, so I stuck with the Noico heavy foam that's all over my ceiling (and will be covered by Thinsulate and corrugated plastic). All that metal around the panel is going to radiate like crazy anyhow. I don't want to cover the metal with 4-way stretch carpet like some others because I want all cleanable surfaces. My rationale is that we generate a lot of moisture when we sleep, I want it to dry as quickly as possible if it collects despite my vents. So all the van's surfaces are hard, no glued down carpet or fabric.

View attachment 18649
OK, so here's some progress. The driver's side rear is essentially finished. The lower light is for under bed storage, the so-called "garage" in many van builds.

18650
18651


The switch is a BSM Contura III in grey. I found that a razor knife/box cutter allowed a precise cut-in of the switch with no faceplate needed. I like the modern, factory look.

18652


Lastly, that white-ish caulking bead around the floor was supposed to be grey! I am redoing it in black. The switches are a near-perfect factory color match.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
656 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I worked on the Additional Battery connection today. Here are the follow-up pix.

The factory M6 connected to 4 AWG.

18653


Followed by the 100A inline circuit breaker.

18654


Next to my 1974 Craftsman "14-piece Metric Hollow Set Screw Key Assortment."

18656


VHB taped in place (straightened before final).


18657


Getting the extra pedestal cover I bought for the driver's side ready for the Liquidtite fittings.

18658


Voila! Done under the driver's seat --
18659
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
656 Posts
Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Appreciate your craftsmanship and final work product, thanks for sharing!
You are very kind --

Today I worked on the lower passenger panel, C pillar to rear barn doors. I have a 4 fuse subpanel in the extreme passenger rear tied in by 12 AWG cable to my main fuse boxes. The fun today was trying out some nifty aluminum faceplates for the BSM Contura III switches. I'd like feedback on the with- and without faceplate shots. I liked the no faceplate look on the driver's side for a single switch last week:
18660


But this week I wanted to install dual switches, and I doubted my ability to cut-in two switches side-by-side in an acceptably square manner, without compromising the plastic panel in the narrow strip between the switches. So I went with faceplates.

First I took great care to get them aligned properly before cutting. I taped them down square to the straight edge top, then drilled the holes. This assured no steenkin' drill walking, etc. It also gave me a very handy cutting guide for the switchplate, again an X-acto or box cutter job to cut the Con-pearl panels.
18661


I think it was worth the effort. The switch on the right looks off -- it isn't - -the photo lighting/angle is weird because the dimmer switch on the left stays in position neutral, while the on-off switch on the right is either depressed at the bottom or top. Here the bottom is pushed in (Off, no LED).

18662


In fact, as I said above, I like it so much I think I may add faceplates on the driver's side too. I especially like the pairing with the dual USB-A/USB-C and 12v power plug, shown here roughed-in just rear of the passenger sliding door:

18663


Anyway, I'd appreciate folks' opinions.

I also installed the BSM DeckHand dimmer (screwed to wood, VHB taped to Noico butyl on van sheet metal.
18664
Way overkill for my application (a puny < 1A LED array), but I don't totally trust the LED touch dimmers (though I am going to use one (Facon) for the LEDs positioned over the [swiveled] cockpit seats).

The DeckHand allows you to set 1 to 5 minute shut-off delays very simply -- you just hold down the switch 4 seconds until the lights blink, then it's a 1 minute delay for each blink up to 5. I thought that would be useful, say loading or unloading, or at night camping. In addition, the DeckHand allows for multiple switches in parallel, which I am using so I can have dimmers at the rear and side passenger side entries. shown below.

18665


This also a good picture that shows the extra 9" of wheelbase on the 135 -- Look along the bottom of the left side of the Con-pearl panel, between the front edge and wheelwell. The 135 has no additional rear overhang.

Anyway, I am getting close to installing the MaxxFan. That will be very rewarding. Last will be the ceiling Thinsulate and corrugated plastic panels.
 
  • Like
Reactions: gregfuller

·
Registered
2016 Cargo converted into a camper van
Joined
·
320 Posts
The black face plates look great! The extra contrast might also prove helpful in seeing the switch in low light conditions.

The BSM DeckHand dimmer is an excellent idea.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18 Posts
Thank you so much for sharing. I have a 135 with the auxiliary battery option on order and will definitely use this information and likely additional information you post as you continue your build!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
656 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
The black face plates look great! The extra contrast might also prove helpful in seeing the switch in low light conditions.

The BSM DeckHand dimmer is an excellent idea.
Good thought about the contrast RR. I appreciate your views a lot as you were building away long before I was sweating delivery on my 2018. Your posts are great.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RansomRidge

·
Registered
Joined
·
656 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Thank you so much for sharing. I have a 135 with the auxiliary battery option on order and will definitely use this information and likely additional information you post as you continue your build!
Enjoy! It's fun being part of a minor pioneering effort on Metris, especially now that they are going mainstream with the Getaway or Weekender or whatever they are calling it. I missed it in '99 when I foolishly opted not to get the Westy top on my Eurovan, fearing the rear facing seats would lead to child on child (boy on boy, 4 of 'em) violence. This time it is obvious, especially with the switchover to electric and autonomous vehicles: The Metris will be a cult classic of high value retention. It might get more configurable with 4WD or diesel or both, once they start building them in Ladson, but our efficient blown gas 4 bangers will hold value nonetheless. I was buying some street tacos the other day -- another customer asked about the van and offered his guess that I had paid "about $70,000." I was so distracted, momentarily, that I almost lost my craving for tacos al pastor, con todo, Stat! Anyway, it is reaffirming when someone guesses your ride cost twice what it cost.

I wish I could have found a more elegant way to route the battery cables, but I was dead set against cutting holes in the floor or C-pillar. I kept thinking, "there's gotta be a way," but ultimately went with a full reversible approach, so I can back out gracefully if needed.

That was a long way of saying that if you figure out a better way to route the cables rearward, I'd love to hear it. I came up with the seat pedestal faceplate approach when I realized I could order one for only about $25 as I recall (but whatever I paid I know I thought it was dirt cheap by MB standards).
 
  • Like
Reactions: river

·
Registered
2019 Passenger
Joined
·
585 Posts
Now I want tacos.

Won't those switches be under your bed?

How about a magnetic surface mount box tethered so you can move it around?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
656 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Now I want tacos.

Won't those switches be under your bed?

How about a magnetic surface mount box tethered so you can move it around?
Good catch!

They way I've planned it, the bottom edge of the bed plane runs just above the "garage" light at the rear of the panel and just below the dual USB/12v in front. The height was driven by the size of the storage underneath and getting a good sitting height. I decided I needed about 16" of clearance under the bed to handle typical plastic storage tubs and my old Rubbermaid "Action Packer" storage bins, which I have had since the mid-90's. The mattress will be almost 3 inches inboard of the switches and USB when the passenger side bed is in use, so I would have to reach next to the bed. I loaded the switches to the right passenger side because I expect to solo most of the time, and my bed design is divided at the centerline of Metris so the passenger side can fold over onto the fixed driver side when not in use. Also, I expect bed time lighting needs to be covered by the wall-mounted goosenecks on the upper rear panels.

Here's a view of the bed from the rear, imagined with 80/20. The upper rail to the far left is mounted to the factory M8 connectors along the rear belt line. I am vacillating on how much 80/20 I am going to use vs wood, so the bed may end up with a plywood top surface and metal below. The dimensions are basically 60 x 74 as shown. The removable foot extension runs adjacent to the power box, hence the cut-out on the upper left.

18666
 

·
Registered
2019 Passenger
Joined
·
585 Posts
I feel like a cot would work better. Disc-o-bed bunks are great. Portable. Break down. You can level them in the van. Fixed beds are a drag on a slope.
 

·
Registered
2020 cargo 126wb
Joined
·
255 Posts
I get that you really need to find a level place to park for camping. I looked at the DiscoBed web site. They look nice but how do you level them? With shims? Seems like an old-fashioned wooden Army cot would do the same job.
 

·
Registered
2019 Passenger
Joined
·
585 Posts
I get that you really need to find a level place to park for camping. I looked at the DiscoBed web site. They look nice but how do you level them? With shims? Seems like an old-fashioned wooden Army cot would do the same job.
Yea, you get it. You shim them, but you can do it while inside the van. If you need to level a van to level the fixed bed inside you have to get out and mess with blocks. Putting a 2x4 or some books under one end or under the left legs is pretty easy. My kit came with some stabilizer pads that lift a bit and have a round foot. 20 years ago I spent a good amount of time camping in a western city with hills. Serious hills. You parked where you could and that meant a slope...pretty much always.

The Disc-o-bed products aren't some magic bullet. Sure any cot can work, but they are a good product. I'm not trying to sell anyone on them really, but I can share why I like them. I have the kids ones also.

They are bunk beds so if you need to sleep in the van with a buddy you might feel weird sleeping next to you can stack them. Even when you are a single in the van having them stacked is nice because you can use the lower with a blanket draped over the top bunk to create a cozy sleeping pod. You can take advantage of the additional level or lower level for gear etc. When we glamp we have the kid bunk in the tent. The kid sleeps up top and we use the lower for all the stuff to keep it off the floor. Additionally, these bunks come in 3 widths and can take a massive amount of weight. No joke. They use them in big relief projects. The design is nice because they have no cross bars along the whole length so you never get a bar in the back. You then also get a full clear span under the level. They make leg extenders to increase the distance between bunks.

If a cot, bunk or something portable like this can work for your sensibilities it also means when you are visiting a friend or want to sleep outside you just move the thing. They make a bug tent for them if you felt inclined to sleep or nap open air. It' just attaches to the top of the bunk.

Due to the fact that it is just canvas that stretches across 2 pipes it can also be cooler when sleeping in a van during the summer. You can put whatever pad on top also.

Sams has the large. Costco sells the XL. Both of these are cheaper than other sources. Before the pandemic I contacted the company because they are less than 20 miles from me. I asked if they had seconds or used bunks. At that time they did and they ran about 50% of the cost for pick up. I got the sense they don't offer them to the public, but they did have them. No idea if they have them now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
656 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
I feel like a cot would work better. Disc-o-bed bunks are great. Portable. Break down. You can level them in the van. Fixed beds are a drag on a slope.
I hear you about the cot, especially since I am going for a weekender feel and like outdoor camping. Two issues.

Disco, dasco, cot or not, one high-two high, even Dr. Seuss knows one gotta store the cots and bedding someplace. I'm generally doing water sport activities, so I want to be able to tag, bag and deal with storage and bedding easily. So I prefer built-in storage to hide (expensive to me) tackle, dry bags with waders, etc., and it seems inefficient not to double duty the storage as a bench/bed.

In terms of the bed itself, I am willing to tote a top-end mattress because I can, and the comfort is worth it for extended trips. So basically the van is a glitzy bivouac for me. I'll cook out of doors whenever possible. I just backed over my beloved Coleman catalytic heater, so I don't know what I'll do for heat!

As to sleeping head down, I've always been able to park in a way that mitigates bad angles. If not, I'm sure not going to stay there more than a night (or afternoon)!

But the Disco-Cot is cool.
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top