About Das Bus (Our First RV)

We sold Das Bus in June of 2015.  Even though we don’t have her anymore, she was such a part of our website and lives that we’re leaving these pages up, just as they were.  Here’s hoping she has many more happy miles in store for her new owners!

Us with Das Bus

Well, here’s Das Bus.  She’s a 2003 Sprinter that originally started life as a Forest River MB Cruiser.  We bought her a few years ago, and we couldn’t have made a better first RV purchase.  For starters, she gets 18-22 miles per gallon, fully loaded (depending on how I drive).  She’s been solid as a rock (with a couple very notable exceptions…), and we’re counting on many more happy miles with her.  And we must be pretty confident about the miles to come, because we totally remodeled her, inside and out.  She looks AWESOME now!  Probably the best way to check her out is this video tour.  It’s a pretty thorough trip through our little RV.  Check it out!


Special Bonus Page for RV Nerds!!!

In 2012, I completely gutted and rebuilt Das Bus. If you’re an RV nerd, and would appreciate the gory details, you can see that page here.  This is probably the single most popular page on our site, so I must have done something right!

38 thoughts on “About Das Bus (Our First RV)

  1. Ronald

    Hello. I just today bought a FR Cruiser Sprinter RV. 140K on it, runs and drives great. But RV end is old and tired and ready for a redo. One question, do you carry a spare tire? Mine is housed in the rear “trunk”, and literally takes up half the space. Thanks, Ron.

    1. James - Post author

      We did carry a spare tire at first, in the same location you describe. But eventually we stopped carrying it. Instead, I carried roadside assistance. (The tire size on the Sprinter is one of the two most common LT tire sizes in North America. So we never worried that we wouldn’t be able to find a tire if we needed one.)

      Enjoy your new RV!

  2. Al Perez

    Love your renovation of my cruiser. Just bought a 2005 and want to change the front grill to Mercedes like you did. Can you tell me where you bought it. did you have to change the hood?

    1. James - Post author

      I don’t remember where I bought it. It was a Sprinter accessories store of some sort.
      But I do remember that I did NOT have to change the hood to make this work.

  3. sharon strong

    We are considering the purchase of a 2003 FR MB cruiser but the owner is having a hard time finding someone to fix the key fob, especially for the side door entry. It usually won’t lock and sometimes affects the front door locks. Do we go to a Dodge dealer to have it fixed?

    1. James - Post author

      For that year of Sprinter, you actually have three choices. In order of my preference for them, they would be:
      1. Mercedes Sprinter dealer
      2. Freightliner dealer
      3. Dodge Dealer

    1. James - Post author

      The ones for the front windows are from Europe – a company called REMIs. We got them from Eurocampers.com.

      The side blinds just came from Camping World!


    Hello! James & Stef, hope that your Christmas together was delightful and cheerful as your videos presentations and wishing a successful 2018. I’ve been holding back this email and ask to share the experiences in both “rigs” from economics, relatively, live style, performance and are you better off where you are with?
    Your frank thoughts as always are appreciated and will assist us in trying to see which one we can fit.
    Warmest Regards,

    p.s. Stay well and fit!

    1. James - Post author

      Honestly, both have been great rigs. There are things we sometimes miss about Das Bus – like the 600 mile range between fillups! But then there are things we don’t miss, like having to make the bed up out of cushions each night. And having to find a station that had diesel. I don’t think I’d like going back to an “old school” rig that had a generator underneath it.
      I don’t think it’s really right to think of one rig as better than the other. It’s all been an evolution, for us and for the rigs. We’re at a different place now than we were when we first bought Das Bus, and the technology in the vans has evolved.
      Tough question, but I think the right answer is: I don’t think we’d do anything differently. Even in hindsight.

  5. David Puvogel

    Where did you purchase the fitting/drain plug for the hot water heater drain? Did it have a barbed fitting to slide the hose over? thanks

    1. James - Post author

      Hi Dave. Actually, I just cobbled that together with parts from the local home center. But yes, there was a barbed fitting involved.

  6. Jamie Jerdan

    I would appreciate some insight into the Garelick/Eez-In Adjustable Table Base that you installed in your amazing Das Bus. If you installed the “gas rise” model, more power to you. Pun intended. If you installed the “manual” model, I have a question.

    The table is 32”W X 48”L X 1”D, weighs approximately 30 lbs., and to no one’s surprise is surrounded by two bench seats and a wall. I assume that lowering the table is fairly easy.

    Since I only have easy access to one end of the table, my question is about lifting the table up from the bed position. In your opinion, would “lifting” a table of this size and weight, from one end, work smoothly? I have no experience with manual adjustable table bases and would appreciate any insight you have, before clicking on your link to Amazon to purchase one.

    You are both an inspiration to those of us who fall hard for our homes away from home. Thanks much!

    1. James - Post author

      I did install the manual table. No gas assist.
      One side of our dinette table was up against a wall, and two sides recessed into the dinette seats. So I know the situation you’re talking about.
      It worked a lot better to sit on the couch across the aisle and put both hands/forearms under the table top and lift straight up from underneath. If you try to pick it up from only one side, it will rack and not raise smoothly.
      Our top was a lighter weight plywood, so it didn’t weigh that much – the racking was the bigger concern.
      Best of luck!

      1. ArtDeco

        Hello James or Steph Whoever speaks for DasBus. I have a twin an ERA with barn doors and dinnette bed. Im making room for 2 bikes inside. Whoul like advice on heavy ebikes storage

        I am a long time lurker this is my first comment abd its on your oldest post

      2. James - Post author

        Well welcome! And thanks for finally chiming in.
        It’s going to be really tough to give advice without knowing the particular bikes and floor plan you’re working with.
        I assume you are looking for indoor storage? If not, there are many racks that can handle an e-bike. Just be sure to lock them up while they’re on the rack. Here’s a piece on bike locking.
        Indoor storage is trickier in vans, but not impossible. Just try to envision where your bike may fit, and then figure out the mounting afterwards.

  7. Jan

    I love your renovation! I just purchased a 2005 Forest River MB Cruiser a couple of months ago. Right now, it’s winterized and in storage until next spring. I live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, so I didn’t want it to be on the salted roads. I’m wondering, how did you winterize Das Bus (if you did)? I used RV antifreeze, and too late I realized I’d filled my whole-house filter with it. The dealer where I purchased it didn’t tell me it was a filter, and I didn’t even notice it until I was winterizing.

    I have many renovation ideas for my van, which I call the Jan Van, and I hope to own it for 10 years and put thousands of miles on it.

    1. James - Post author

      The MB Cruiser was ahead of its time, I think, with an innovative floor plan for its day.
      I winterized with compressed air – mostly because we would go out several times over the winter, and rinsing out the antifreeze seemed like a pain!
      There should be a video on our channel where I go step-by-step what I did to winterize Das Bus.
      You may have to scroll back a ways, but the video is there.
      Best of luck with the “Jan Van”!

  8. Myrna larrabee

    We are in seventies love our three motor homes when kids were growing up. Now older drive to New Hampshire and Florida have three dos small now considering a smaller vehicle have a Pontiac torrent 2009 want to trade we have been in every state in us including Alaska and Hawaii. Now have time to enjoy time travel but social security is determine cost quality condition can’t seem to find anyone who understands our needs came across your site thru Amazon gift ca d hoping to hear from you. Oh yes they making class c seems size we need live currently in wisconsin

    1. James - Post author

      Welcome to our site Myrna!
      If you’re looking for info about smaller RVs, that’s kind of what we tend to look at the most.

  9. Martine Janah

    Hi Stef and James, Awesome renovations to your compact and enviable RV! Great work!! I am renovating a Class C Tioga 1997, and learned some useful things like Dynamat, Prodex, AGM batteries, and the slim profile windshield blinds. I would love additional info on the following if you have it:

    1. Dynamat and Prodex – Could I use both or either as underlayment for floating wood floor? Could I use either one as a heat-resistant, noise-reducing padding around the generator? Could I layer them for underlayment use?

    2. AGM Batteries – could you give me more information on which ones to buy? I need deep cyle, for 12 volt system, and plan to add solar panels with charge controller for recharging. I live in sunny Los Angeles. I have no clue about batteries, so please be specific.

    3. Windshield roller blinds – I cannot find these attractive blinds anywhere, because I don’t know the key search words. Could you please let me have a specific name and brand, and where you bought them? Very nice addition!!

    Thanks for all your great info and video!

    1. James - Post author

      Hi MG. Let me see if I can answer your questions.
      1: I suppose you could use either Dynamat or Prodex under a wood floor, though there may be better choices, depending on what you want to accomplish. A large part of the insulation benefit of the Prodex comes from the radiant barrier, and to be effective, a radiant barrier needs to be facing an empty space. You won’t have that under a floor. You would probably be better with a layer of polyiso insulation under there (but I’m not an insulation expert!). Something like Dynamat would still be effective at killing vibration – but by the time you’ve built an RV on top of a floor, there’s quite a bit of mass there already. I’d save the Dynamat for the walls & ceiling. I would NOT build any sort of box for the generator – they are air cooled engines, and if you build a box, you’re messing with the airflow.
      2: I used lifeline AGM batteries. I got two 6-volt batteries, model GPL-4CT, and wired them in series to get 12 volts. They lasted the years we had Das Bus, and from all accounts are still going strong.
      3: The windshield blinds are made by Remi. They’re a German company, and you can find their blinds at Eurocampers.com. They might not be available for a 1997 Ford or Chevy though (because Remi is a German company after all). Remi also has their own web site, but ordering directly from them would probably be challenging.
      Good Luck!

  10. Bill Thornton

    Thank you for all the effort you put into your web site. I learned a lot from just seeing the quality work you do. I agree that the planning is the hard part. I am trying to convert a Chevrolet Express 15 passenger bus to an RV. It is a challenge!

    1. James - Post author

      If you’re starting with a passenger van – those are even more challenging than a cargo van in my opinion. All those windows to deal with! Best of luck to you. Hope we were able to be helpful in some way.

  11. frank gochnour

    Hi James & Stef: Hope you are Both well. the wife and i are older nearing the young age of 60. we do not own an r.v. yet. i like the sprinter vans but these are out of our price range.but i do like the travato 59 g on the dodge promaster van.i see that you too got a yellow one and that looks pretty neat. i enjoy your web page. we have had a pretty good life. have had up’s and down’s. i had shoulder surgery in the past and the wife had a knee replaced we used to tent camp out of our little toyota car and that car is getting older so maybe in the next few years we may have to trade this car in on something better.hopefully i can stay healthy and keep on working and be able to buy a travato.you too have fun take care and be safe,enjoy your travel and camping.

    1. Stefany

      Hi Frank! Great to hear from you, thanks for reaching out. We like to put up content for people like you…not RVers just yet but folks trying to educate themselves for when they do make that 1st purchase. Hope you found something useful here on the website. AND! Glad to hear you’re working on staying healthy, good for you. It really has to become a non-negotiable part of our lives as we near our retirement years. You worked so hard all these years, now you want to be fit enough to ENJOY the next chapter! Keep in touch and let us know when you decide on something to purchase! Health and Happiness to you both….Stef

  12. Joy K Jones

    Couldn’t find your listing on RV Trader, has the vehicle sold and if not, how much are you asking?

    1. James - Post author

      Sorry! We’ve sold her!
      I thought I had taken down all the ads, but I guess I must have missed one.

  13. Dean May

    Rvers from 2000-2006 with our 4 kiddos. Now two retired school teachers thinking about doing it again. interested in the cost of das bus? Thanks, dean& diane may

  14. Mike Baker

    James love your show. On the dump tank experiment. I have a suggestion that might help.You used a square tank on your test. How about a tank that would be funnel shaped on the bottom in the middle of the tank? The waste should go straight down opposed to having a flat bottom that offers to many rest stops before going down.Remember not to have it stick down to far on the bottom because if you hit something and broke the end off.That would stink.
    Come to Indiana some time we would love to have you all in. Let me know what you think.

    1. James - Post author

      Hi Mike!
      I’m 100% certain the tank design you describe would have better emptying characteristics as far as solids go. The trouble is – I’d have to build it! (And I’m not that good with plexiglass that I would want to try compound curves or compound bevels.) And apart from that, I’ve not seen that particular tank shape on any RV I’ve crawled underneath. So while it might demonstrate a theory, it wouldn’t be very informative for most people who just get whatever tanks their RVs come with.
      I completely agree with you on how such a tank, if it existed, would dump, however!

  15. Thomas Conn

    Came across your page on face book, thank you for your postings. I have been living in and our of VW camper vans, 3 different Chinook Concourses and many years ago as well a used 40′ beaver diesel pusher ( the stupidest thing I have ever done, buying it ). On the hunt for Chinook Concourse number 4 in my life now. The two of you keep up the good work! Your bicycle riders, I happen to have had the first mountain bike in Idaho and as a Sun Valley Police Officer, we had the first mountain bike patrol in Idaho in 1982…..

    1. James - Post author

      OK. Sun Valley Mountain Bike Patrol?! Awesome! I bet you’ve got some interesting stories from that.
      Good luck in your search for a Chinook – though there are rumors they’re coming back…
      Thanks for checking us out!

  16. John Cunningham

    Really great blogs and pictures…….really enjoyed it. I have a 2004 Sprinter I have since new……A working truck for my business (cargo 158″) I have dreams of turning it into something. I think that it would be too big of project to add all the systems you have and maybe starting as a RV would help but that is not to be and its paid for! Thank you so much for doing this!

    1. James - Post author

      Hey John! Glad you found something on the site you liked. Yes, starting off as an RV simplifies things quite a bit. But I am giving some serious thought to building our next one from scratch if I can’t find one that has everything I want. It is a bit intimidating, but very worth it in the end to get exactly what you want. The planning is the hardest part – execution is simple. I hope you go for it, and then come back and tell me what you learned. Cheers!


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