Sunday, April 25, 2010

Release…The Sprinter!

In support of our free spirit tendencies, Heather and I teamed up to buy and build the ultimate multisport van this winter. We were looking for a diamond in the rough and we found her in Golden in the form of a 2005 Dodge Sprinter. These Mercedes Turbodiesel driven wonders get 23+mpg at 8500 lbs and 22 feet long. Need I say more? We spent 2 weeks removing the vinyl branding aka burning our finger tips with heat guns on 32 degree nights after work until we had her as white as a baby’s bottom. Her dad, Buck, spent an afternoon laying the tile laminate floating floor as we anticipated some dripping kayak gear and muddy bike tires. We threw 18” alloy wheels from a Mercedes G500 SUV on for bling bling value so we don’t get the cops called on us when bandit camping in high end neighborhoods who mistake it for a passenger Eurovan!

Next stop was a visit to the boys at Vanworks,, in Fort Collins, CO who specialize in custom van conversions. In short, these talented craftsmen can make anything out of anything. Dale and crew did the whole customization from the power system to cabinets and everything between. They added a shore line so the vehicle could be plugged in to our trusty friends all over Colorado. When plugged in the heater, home theater system, fridge, microwave, and other high consumption electronics can run directly from shore power. We added a 2 amp solar system to keep the batteries topped off while we’re out frolicking in the mountains. As any vegabond camper knows, a hot shower was first on our list of must haves for our home away from home. Vanworks put a water output from our sink to a external shower system that heats the water before sending it to the shower head mounted to the back door. (photo) This system doubles as our muddy bike washing station and stinky paddle clothing diffuser.

Another key component the promising van camper can’t skimp on is the ceiling vent and mood lights. Colorado, being the high mountain climate it is, made us pass on A/C. The ceiling vent keeps the humidity from building up and temperature down. We went with movie theater style LED mood lights along the perimeter of the ceiling courtesy of Barry from Jersey at Vanworks who gave mood lights two thumbs up. The finishing touch was the fold down toy hauler bed that converts into a dinette and table when necessary. Jim from Vanworks recovered the vintage fabric on the bed and seats with bling bling black neoprene compliments of Prijon Wildwasser kayaks in Boulder.
My high school days clearly resurfaced when it came to the audio system and I didn't want to let my high school friend BJ Rumph down when he came to town. We went with a single 10” sub under the passenger seat but heavy on everything else with around 600 watts pushing the 6 mid and high drivers. With movies like Top Gun and 300 in the DVD collection, Mike from Vanworks couldn’t pass on having the DVD integrate into the audio system or doubling down on the wall insulation to keep the neighbors from calling our cover when we’re camping across the street! did the front door panel speakers custom for Sprinters.

The finishing touches were some of our favorites. To the left, Vanworks custom made sweet ceiling cabinets to house the microwave and my endless collection of KEEN's!

We just got the crown jewel.... personalized license plates. As many of my childhood friends will remember, my brother Josh was the king of van travel even as a young 20 year old in Oklahoma with several VW Eurovan restorations going on at one time. Because we just upsized the size of our van compared to his daily driver (photo shown on the right circa 1999...the first adventure race I ever did with some college

friends..silly Team Radical), JOSHUA2 seemed fitting for the tags. One distinct memory I carry forward from his nature is to be passionate about living life and pack it all in to one day as you never know how the next page reads. Even though I never liked to fish as much as he did, I paid attention and reeled when he said reel. (see below)! His spirit lives on one road trip at a time. Heather picked up where he left off and fishes the same Arkansas River from it's headwaters in our beloved Buena Vista, Colorado.


  1. Love it JR!!! Josh obviously had his hands in/on this project!! ; ). Do a drive-by, I'll let you guys borrow some static!

  2. Love the whole thing. As I've said, this vehicle of yours elevates my attitude toward you above idolatry to....I don't know what but it's wholesome and pure. Plus sweet lower body garment in the Buck flooring photo. I don't know what they are but you pull them off with aplomb.


  3. That is really great!! I miss you guys.


  4. Holy Shit! This is awesome. We happen to have 22 feet of extra space in our driveway (which has a max weight of 8500lbs), so come on over anytime. Congrats!

  5. Nice!! A far cry from TEAM RADICAL!! We rocked!!
    Looks like you still do!! Talked to Pete last week. Might be planing a trip.
    Vardy(Team Radical member)

  6. Love your new tricked out ride...looks perfect for all your adventures!! Long ride the Joshua2!!

    Susan (Cuz)

  7. Ha, I have a high school stereo system parallel with our Sprinter too! Same kind of thing - 10" sub and four 6.5's. One of the best things we've installed fer sher.

    Question: is the shower propane powered? We don't have any on-board propane (our heater is tied into the diesel tank) and I'm wondering how you've liked that. We mountain bike a lot and something like that could be quite nice.

    See you on the trails in Colorado!