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83C's Shite-esque Fleet: Suzuki Revival

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As part of a career change a while ago I found myself in need of a camper van. Having been through a fleet of bargain basement motors (over 80 of them so far), I've never had an issue with buying cheap.

First I had a 2002 Transit that was just too far gone for me to have the time to retest, so it got replaced by a Vito that was ok but bloody cold. About six weeks ago I found a Mercedes Sprinter on Facebook, already part converted:

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No decent exterior pictures at the moment, but we all know what a slightly rough looking Sprinter looks like.

The interior could best be described as a work in progress:

C061E98E-6918-4F9E-98E2-87CE5E3F8B15_zps

The bare MDF look isn't really for me, so I got an offcut of carpet and started to make it more homely:

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In this state it was better, but still a bit bare around the bed area:

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A few hours later:

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Next steps are to sort out some of the bodywork issues (the n/s/f indicator lens is a piece of 5l water container gaffer-taped in place), and decide what to do about the wheels.

Currently it wears some nice Mercedes alloys with 225/70/15 tyres. As nice as they are, the tyres are way too tall for the van. It should wear 195/65/15's, with the current tyre size (10% bigger circumference) the gearing and speedo are way out and the 2.3 non-turbo diesel struggles to hold 60mph. Really I need to take one off and find out if the alloy is the same width as a normal steel wheel.

All good fun, I'll update as and when things progress.

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Chateau Le Sprinter now has some front curtains.

 

Yesterday I taught myself how to drive this:

 

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And made these:

 

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I have a full-height curtain that draws across behind the cab seats, but this has the effect of partitioning off the heater from the main living area. These curtains should give a degree of privacy whilst allowing me to use the heater and stereo.

 

At last, some exterior pictures:

 

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The 'Super Sprinter' sticker was done for me by a colleague at work - appropriate for someone who works on the railway, but a bit optimistic on a van with all the get up and go of a heavily drugged sloth.

 

D105C366-DEA2-4097-84DA-257537021CA2_zps

 

2299cc of OM601 boat anchor. Changed the air filter yesterday and the old one came out the same colour as the box it lived in. Fuel filter looks recent, oil filter is in stock awaiting the delivery of the oil I ordered last week.

 

I may well swap to steel wheels - if anyone has a set they'd like to trade I'm sure we could strike a deal.

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Liking the van, I hadn't thought of making my own curtains for my caravan, as I am completely cack handed and would probably end up with my hand stiched to the fabric. I also lack a sewing machine, but I may give it a go as I can stitch a button on by hand, without too much blood.

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The 'Super Sprinter' sticker was done for me by a colleague at work - appropriate for someone who works on the railway, but a bit optimistic on a van with all the get up and go of a heavily drugged sloth.

 

On the contrary, beside lethargic performance the only other characteristic it would require to live up to the Super Sprinter name is a constant smell of burning oil and boiling coolant.

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Heartily approve of this kind of thing......I have a [email protected]&*("N camper.   Sorry, but I have, wanted one since I was 8 and pineapples were still slightly exotic tinned fruit. 

Anyway, that's beside the point - what I like about your Sprinter is the potential for stealth camping.  

 

I have seriously thought about doing a van with full Network Rail (to continue the theme....) or Open Reach livery just so I can sleep in a layby or somewhere without somebody trying to break in or hope for a spot of dogging action.    

 

Look forward to seeing more!!

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On the contrary, beside lethargic performance the only other characteristic it would require to live up to the Super Sprinter name is a constant smell of burning oil and boiling coolant.

To be fair, at work we decided it would be classed as a 153 due to its rather 'sedate' performance!

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Heartily approve of this kind of thing......I have a [email protected]&*("N camper. Sorry, but I have, wanted one since I was 8 and pineapples were still slightly exotic tinned fruit.

Anyway, that's beside the point - what I like about your Sprinter is the potential for stealth camping.

 

I have seriously thought about doing a van with full Network Rail (to continue the theme....) or Open Reach livery just so I can sleep in a layby or somewhere without somebody trying to break in or hope for a spot of dogging action.

 

Look forward to seeing more!!

It's nowhere near as stealthy as the previous two vans - the Transit and the Vito were proper plain panel vans - completely anonymous. The Vito actually acquired the nickname 'the rapemobile' due to the fact that the only doors that opened from the inside were on the driver's side. The mid-panel windows on the Sprinter start to give clues that it isn't just a builders hack.

 

That said, I've never been bothered in any of the vans - maybe Devon has a better class of layby?

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I don't know either. However, they're not 'normal' car wheels as the Sprinter uses a 5x130 stud pattern, rather than the Mercedes car pattern of 5x112. They should therefore be proper van wheels. I actually quite like them, it's just the enormous tyres that are causing the issues.

 

The patio area out the back could do with some decking and a few potted plants....

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Yep! Spent about 4 weeks in it so far. The Vito was the worst for condensation, bare steel roof in winter = raining inside at 0200. The Sprinter is well ventilated and seems to keep most moisture out.

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+1 for not Merc wheels.

 

R reg is pretty bloody early for a Sprinter to still be extant - a handyman round where I live somehow still has an N reg one (!!!!) running, but it has a tidemark going round the whole thing at least as high as the door runner, and the whole of the rear panels and doors. No idea what it's in but it looks like stonechip or matt black.

 

Even comparing it to a 153 is generous, they have nearly 300bhp! ;)

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The other major similarity to a 153 is an inability to climb hills - most of ours struggle to top Hemerdon at anything over 25mph, the Sprinter usually ends up in a 3rd gear thrash at 35mph on some of the A30's hills.

 

Apart from the usual arches and door bottoms starting to show a bit of rot, this one is surprisingly good. The underside responded well to the hammer test, I reckon sanding back the surface rust and a fresh coat of Hammerite (what the blue section appears to be painted with) will sort it for another couple of years.

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Today I started trying to make the Sprinter slightly less cosmetically challenged.

 

After a session with the DA and the grinder:

 

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I'm not trying to do the whole thing in one go - sections at a time is the answer given the vagaries of Cornish weather. I found a few grotty bits in the front arch but nothing that a bit of extra tickling with the grinder couldn't remove, and nothing that couldn't be filled.

 

The nearside sill isn't too bad, maybe another 12-24 months before it'll need plating. I ground all the bubbling out and quickly sprayed some primer on ready for a coat of black Hammerite tomorrow.

 

The rear doors have also been done, and I've taken the chance to even the blue/white line across the doors - there was a couple of mm difference across them.

 

F8E7AE22-3312-425F-A805-76AF941008D9_zps

 

First coat on. I've also acquired new number plates and a new n/s/f indicator lens, they'll go on tomorrow.

 

I don't really know what to do with the white areas - there are patches where it looks dirty but I can't shift it. Hand painting is ok for the bottom half, but really the white needs to be spray painted.

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The headlamp got moved to make painting easier.

 

Earlier:

 

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Three-quarters finished:

 

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The crap water bottle lens on the n/s/f has been replaced with a proper indicator unit, and a pair of new numberplates have been fitted.

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Probably around 5' 8"-10". The overall height of the vehicle is 8' 2". I can't stand up (I'm 6' 6") but that's never bothered me.

 

I think the next one will be a LWB hi-top though - i want to take the sprogs camping, and next year I'll be heading over to the IoM for the TT - so the ability to fit a bike in without having to remove half the furniture would be a bonus, as would having a more powerful engine for when I'm flogging up the M5 and M6 to the ferry. The old OM601 will last forever and a day, but it also takes forever to get anywhere.

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That's far too labour intensive for me :)

 

I might try a polishing mop with some G3 though. I don't want to go too overboard, the lower half was done to tidy it and stop it getting worse. It has to last another 10 months and then I'll get a bigger one.

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For some light relief from the camper I went with Mr. Holbeck of this parish to buy a Rover 75 this morning.

 

Start of the trip:

 

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A065E525-5A8E-4DD0-B73A-26CA31B02EEA_zps

 

Exeter to Honiton to meet holbeck for the final part of the journey in his rather tidy Aldi:

 

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I'd found the car on a local Facebook page, the seller seemed keen to get rid. Few minor issues but nothing drastic, so money changed hands and I drove away in this:

 

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Obligatory petrol station photo starring holbeck:

 

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We returned to Exeter in convoy. Waiting at Red Cow L/C:

 

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And journey's end:

 

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So what have I actually bought? It's a 75 1.8T Club SE - I'll do a VIN decode soon to get the actual spec and colours. It's very comfy, had the head gasket done a few years ago and has a rather nice lake in the spare wheel well - I'm thinking of introducing some Koi carp into it.

 

Priorities:

Reseal the rear light units (I think the driver's side unit is the source of most of the water judging by the wetness around it),

A couple of tyres as one is illegal and the other front not far off,

Airbag light is intermittent so check connections

Rod out drain tubes in plenum and upper inner wings

Find out why the brake pad wear indicator lamp is lit.

 

Many thanks are due to holbeck for taxi services, and for being there to laugh if it all went wrong :)

 

More pictures soon once it's been washed!

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