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Old 05-07-2019, 07:01 PM   #1
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Midwest Designs Sprinter TypeB In-Depth Review - Mike Mas




Hello IRV2 Users - For the past few months, I have been compiling my In-depth review of my Midwest Automotive Designs 4x4 “Patriot”. This type B offering provides a classy looking conversion which doubles as a RV when needed. One of the main reasons I choose the Midwest conversion is because unlike some other builders, they retain a stock "Panel Van" look on the exterior. I use my Midwest coach for play and work as well as for occasional traveling for business. Motels are now a thing of the past, no longer do I have leave my vehicle in a motel parking lot with my valuables and try to sleep in a motel room.

I’ll also be documenting a Lithium Upgrade for both this Midwest coach and my Leisure Travel “Wonder” Type C. By doing the upgrade myself, I’ll be able to retain my propane generator, as well as carry an extra 15-19 gallons of extra propane fuel for a total of around 40 gallons for off the grid use. Another major benefit is, I’ll have a "4th Power Source” consisting of 110v grid power, engine alternator, lithium or generator. I'll equip these coaches with a Xantrex E-Gen 600 ah pack, battery control module and a Xantrex 3012 inverter charger. The system should run the roof top AC for 6-8 hours on just the lithium battery, making it ideal for parking next to other campers, state parks, etc. I'll put up a link on this forum when it's completed. Enjoy

Link to Review:

http://www.rotory.com/sprinter/midwest/

Mike Mas
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Old 05-14-2019, 10:00 PM   #2
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Great Review

We have the weekender and have enjoyed it very much. Very few issues, but when we have had issues Midwest has done well to stand behind their product (minor stuff - coach battery, screw head covers in coach, camera cover).

One question - our layout is identical to yours, when removing the captains chair on passenger side - how difficult? What do you have to unplug exactly and what do you have to then cover in the floor? Would love to open that space up but want to ensure it won’t be a nightmare to put chair back in and that we will be able to cover the area without issue. Thanks.
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Old 05-15-2019, 03:07 PM   #3
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Mike,

Nice site and nice write-up. I anxiously await your Wonder write-up. I've done and documented the solar install part as shown in my signature line. I'll be curious to see your lithium upgrade! Though you had me at Lifeline AGM 8D in your Sprinter. I might go that route as I really don't have the need to expend as much money as lithium costs.

I found one typo in your write-up: in the Bio section it says National Inquire. Should that be Enquirer?

Thanks again.

Kelly
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Old 05-15-2019, 08:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hk31 View Post
We have the weekender and have enjoyed it very much. Very few issues, but when we have had issues Midwest has done well to stand behind their product (minor stuff - coach battery, screw head covers in coach, camera cover).

One question - our layout is identical to yours, when removing the captains chair on passenger side - how difficult? What do you have to unplug exactly and what do you have to then cover in the floor? Would love to open that space up but want to ensure it won’t be a nightmare to put chair back in and that we will be able to cover the area without issue. Thanks.
Thanks for the reply - regarding the chair it only takes a few minutes, there is a release under the seat which lifts the lock out of track. The seat is pretty heavy so get someone to help you. I can't believe how much nicer it made the coach, its so easy to move about inside now and reaching the cab from the back and vice versa and carry stuff in and out of the sliding door.

Enjoy - Mike
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Old 05-15-2019, 08:36 PM   #5
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Mike,

Nice site and nice write-up. I anxiously await your Wonder write-up. I've done and documented the solar install part as shown in my signature line. I'll be curious to see your lithium upgrade! Though you had me at Lifeline AGM 8D in your Sprinter. I might go that route as I really don't have the need to expend as much money as lithium costs.

I found one typo in your write-up: in the Bio section it says National Inquire. Should that be Enquirer?

Thanks again.

Kelly

Kelly,

LOL thanks for the reply and the Enquirer error.

There is one step between AGM and lithium, it's called "Carbon Foam Technology. about half the price of lithium, but you can discharge it down to 20%. My buddy has them in his Trawler and can't stop bragging about them.

Heres a link - but Google the battery and check it out further.

Firefly International Energy

I'm really looking forward to the lithium upgrade, by the way, how do you like your Wonder, Just had mine a short period of time but I'm loving the little coach. Might well be the best B+ out there with regard to usability, handling and storage. Let's stay in touch!

Regards - Mike
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Old 05-16-2019, 06:56 PM   #6
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Mike,

We love our Wonder FTB. Have about 15K miles so far including the 87 day trip to AK last summer. Had the Unity MB before but like the Wonder floor plan a whole lot more. Much more open and airy and we find the storage and galley area much better. Also prefer the Ford to the MB. I'm a Ford guy. The only down side of the Ford vs. MB is the ground clearance. You gotta really be careful not to drag the back end. There are stops back there but you can still bottom out the macerator if not careful. Unfortunately I learned that the hard way getting off the ferry in Fort Simpson NWT. Became super cautious after that experience.

Before we even get home after a trip we're planning the next one. Our friends can hardly believe we can spend a week in there much less 87 days but we thrive on it. Probably do a SW Colorado mountain trip before we go to Ireland in July and then to the NW for a month in August/September.

Keep me posted here when you get your Wonder write-up done and if you have any questions about my solar install don't hesitate but I'm guessing that's child's play for you!

Kelly
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Old 05-16-2019, 09:05 PM   #7
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Thanks for the reply - regarding the chair it only takes a few minutes, there is a release under the seat which lifts the lock out of track. The seat is pretty heavy so get someone to help you. I can't believe how much nicer it made the coach, its so easy to move about inside now and reaching the cab from the back and vice versa and carry stuff in and out of the sliding door.

Enjoy - Mike
Thanks. One other question, sorry to hijack your thread. When you get the seat released what is left over? A large bracket? A hole in the floor? Just trying to figure out what else has to be removed and what we would need to do next. Would be a great spot for the dog to lay and open up the cabin a bit.

Thanks!
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Old 05-16-2019, 09:41 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Hk31 View Post
Thanks. One other question, sorry to hijack your thread. When you get the seat released what is left over? A large bracket? A hole in the floor? Just trying to figure out what else has to be removed and what we would need to do next. Would be a great spot for the dog to lay and open up the cabin a bit.

Thanks!
You'll love what you see - there is an "almost flush" seat mount under the floor, its rounded and only sticks up around 1/2". I just went to Home Depot and bought 29" x 18" mat put on some sticky rug holder and presto its looks like a welcome mat at the sliding door. Scope out the image, you can see the rug at the door. It totally changes the coach for free space, you'll love it!

Regards Mike
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Old 05-16-2019, 09:47 PM   #9
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Mike,

We love our Wonder FTB. Have about 15K miles so far including the 87 day trip to AK last summer. Had the Unity MB before but like the Wonder floor plan a whole lot more. Much more open and airy and we find the storage and galley area much better. Also prefer the Ford to the MB. I'm a Ford guy. The only down side of the Ford vs. MB is the ground clearance. You gotta really be careful not to drag the back end. There are stops back there but you can still bottom out the macerator if not careful. Unfortunately I learned that the hard way getting off the ferry in Fort Simpson NWT. Became super cautious after that experience.

Before we even get home after a trip we're planning the next one. Our friends can hardly believe we can spend a week in there much less 87 days but we thrive on it. Probably do a SW Colorado mountain trip before we go to Ireland in July and then to the NW for a month in August/September.

Keep me posted here when you get your Wonder write-up done and if you have any questions about my solar install don't hesitate but I'm guessing that's child's play for you!

Kelly
Thanks for the reply, I'm glad you're enjoying the coach. Actually the fact she sits that low is the reason the Wonder handles better than any other B+ on the road. It's her low CG, combined with a height that is almost 12" lower than the benz and her low profile tires that makes this coach so stable for roll moment. I'll cover a few other reasons in my article.

I'm so jealous of your Colorado trip, I wish I could tag along!

Regards Drive Safe Mike
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Old 05-18-2019, 12:11 PM   #10
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Yes, the lower ride was noticed during the test drive of a Wonder MB before we looked at the FTB. The whole rig feels more solid on the ground. One big difference is when you take a curb or other depression in the road at a sideways angle, ie, both sides do not catch it at the same time: the Wonder does not roll and toss like the Unity did. The Unity rocking felt like it was trying to throw the air conditioner off the roof! I'll bet the oscillations were a good 6-12" greater at the top of the Unity.

But dragging tail isn't fun either but manageable as long as you allow for it. The wife and I both have it pretty well figured out.
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Old 05-19-2019, 05:18 PM   #11
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Yes, the lower ride was noticed during the test drive of a Wonder MB before we looked at the FTB. The whole rig feels more solid on the ground. One big difference is when you take a curb or other depression in the road at a sideways angle, ie, both sides do not catch it at the same time: the Wonder does not roll and toss like the Unity did. The Unity rocking felt like it was trying to throw the air conditioner off the roof! I'll bet the oscillations were a good 6-12" greater at the top of the Unity.

But dragging tail isn't fun either but manageable as long as you allow for it. The wife and I both have it pretty well figured out.

Kelly,

Mount a small steel wheel on the hitch, it will cure the problem. Even if it contacts and lifts the coach body another 12+" the rear axle still has plenty of traction.

Mike
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Old 06-17-2019, 12:24 AM   #12
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Hello IRV2 Users - For the past few months, I have been compiling my In-depth review of my Midwest Automotive Designs 4x4 “Patriot”.
Hi Mike. Trying to understand what it is you are reviewing. According to its website, Midwest Automotive Designs makes two campervan models, the Weekender and the Passage. The Passage is available on the Sprinter short or long chassis and on the Promaster chassis. The Weekender is on the Sprinter chassis only. I own a Weekender on the Sprinter 3500 extended chassis. Midwest Automotive Designs does not seem to make a model called the Patriot, at least according to its website.

REV Group owns Midwest Automotive Designs. It also owns the American Coach brand. American Coach sells a model called the Patriot, which is probably made in the Midwest Automotive Designs factory and looks pretty similar to the Passage model. Is that what you are reviewing, an American Coach Patriot?

According to their websites, there are specification differences between the American Coach Patriot and the two Sprinter offerings under the Midwest Automotive Designs brand. Very confusing nomenclature. Can you clarify what you are reviewing? Thanks.

Bryan
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Old 07-14-2020, 10:39 PM   #13
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Installing a switch to charge the house battery with the solar panel.

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Originally Posted by LA-Hodag2 View Post
Hi Mike. Trying to understand what it is you are reviewing. According to its website, Midwest Automotive Designs makes two campervan models, the Weekender and the Passage. The Passage is available on the Sprinter short or long chassis and on the Promaster chassis. The Weekender is on the Sprinter chassis only. I own a Weekender on the Sprinter 3500 extended chassis. Midwest Automotive Designs does not seem to make a model called the Patriot, at least according to its website.

REV Group owns Midwest Automotive Designs. It also owns the American Coach brand. American Coach sells a model called the Patriot, which is probably made in the Midwest Automotive Designs factory and looks pretty similar to the Passage model. Is that what you are reviewing, an American Coach Patriot?

According to their websites, there are specification differences between the American Coach Patriot and the two Sprinter offerings under the Midwest Automotive Designs brand. Very confusing nomenclature. Can you clarify what you are reviewing? Thanks.

Bryan
This looks almost identical to the American Patriot. I have a 2020 American Patriot MD 2. This looks like an MD 4. Mike took the right hand seat in front of the sliding door out.

Earlier today, I messaged Mike from his web-site review, to ask about how he installed a switch so that the solar panel would also change the house battery, which I discovered it does not. I deduced, that the chassis battery is the only battery charged by the solar panel, which is what Mike says in his review.

Mike responded asking me to post on this forum (I had been unable to, until I responded to a forum email, which I had not seen).

Mike's email response to me was that he had installed a 3 pole switch to manually route the solar charging current to either the house battery or the (original chassis battery). This is exactly what I want to do, but I need more information:

I've attached an image of the electronics panel with the solar charging controller removed, showing its back side. The grey ribbon cable which I pulled out of the opening goes to the Xantrex controller and presumably to the Zantrex inverter. I don't know where the inverter is located, though I suspect it is either: where the shore power plug is, near the battery, maybe under the back seat, or where the breaker panel is over the right side rear wheels. Does anyone know?

As you can see there are two pairs of connections on the solar controller. One pair has two wires coming off each terminal, the other pair has one. I found a Zamp ZS-30A manual online, and the pair with two wires is connected to the battery side on the controller. My guess is that Mid-West decided to run two cables to the chassis battery -- though I'm not sure. I will look in the chassis battery case tomorrow and see if that is the case.

In order to switch between the chassis battery and the house battery, Mike says he installed a 3 pole switch between on the battery side, that allows him to switch between routing power to the chassis battery and the house battery.

The question now, is how to get to a house battery hot wire to the control panel area. Any information on that would be very helpful.

Thanks!
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Old 08-06-2020, 02:54 PM   #14
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Midwest Designs Sprinter TypeB In-Depth Review - Mike Mas

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Originally Posted by lincoln-irv2 View Post
........
Earlier today, I messaged Mike from his web-site review, to ask about how he installed a switch so that the solar panel would also change the house battery, which I discovered it does not. I deduced, that the chassis battery is the only battery charged by the solar panel, which is what Mike says in his review.

Mike responded asking me to post on this forum (I had been unable to, until I responded to a forum email, which I had not seen).

Mike's email response to me was that he had installed a 3 pole switch to manually route the solar charging current to either the house battery or the (original chassis battery). This is exactly what I want to do, but I need more information:

I've attached an image of the electronics panel with the solar charging controller removed, showing its back side. The grey ribbon cable which I pulled out of the opening goes to the Xantrex controller and presumably to the Zantrex inverter. I don't know where the inverter is located, though I suspect it is either: where the shore power plug is, near the battery, maybe under the back seat, or where the breaker panel is over the right side rear wheels. Does anyone know?

As you can see there are two pairs of connections on the solar controller. One pair has two wires coming off each terminal, the other pair has one. I found a Zamp ZS-30A manual online, and the pair with two wires is connected to the battery side on the controller. My guess is that Mid-West decided to run two cables to the chassis battery -- though I'm not sure. I will look in the chassis battery case tomorrow and see if that is the case.

In order to switch between the chassis battery and the house battery, Mike says he installed a 3 pole switch between on the battery side, that allows him to switch between routing power to the chassis battery and the house battery.

The question now, is how to get to a house battery hot wire to the control panel area. Any information on that would be very helpful."


Thanks for your information. We have a Midwest Designs Passage on a 24 foot Sprinter chassis, along with the same Zantrex inverter/charger and Zampf Solar panel and controller you have. We struggle because the Zampf solar panel often reports the "battery" fully charged but the house system gauge and the inverter indicator show the battery at less than 20%. Often, even though it is very sunny and very small loads have been run, the house power will fail even though the Zampf Solar says full. Were you able to learn if Midwest wired the solar to the chassis battery instead of the house battery?
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