Nature

The Painting of Sprinter-based Roadtreks

The Agile and Adventurous Roadtrek models are on the Mercedes Sprinter chassis, and part of the transformation from bare-bones chassis to finished motorhome includes painting parts or all of the chassis as delivered from Mercedes. Here’s how the painting operations fit into the rest of the manufacturing process.

A Sprinter chassis as delivered to Roadtrek.
A Sprinter chassis as delivered from Mercedes.

Take a look at a chassis waiting to begin the transformation process. Sprinters are work vehicles, and it shows in the design of the stock unit. the front and back bumpers are sturdy ABS plastic, and there’s a guardrail down each side to absorb dings. These are unpainted and very dark gray as the vehicles are delivered from Mercedes.  It looks OK if you’re going to use it as a delivery van or plumbing truck, but most Class B prospective owners are expecting something a little nicer than that.

Here's a vehicle after the exterior panels and grill are removed.
Here’s a vehicle after the exterior panels and grill are removed.

When the vehicle enters the assembly line, these bumpers and side guards are removed, along with the grill and some other fragile stuff, and stored in large bins, one for each vehicle. These parts won’t rejoin the vehicle until later on in the manufacturing process. The bumpers and side molding, plus the special ground effects parts vacuum molded out of ABS at the factory, including the side steps and so forth, are all prepped for painting and painted to match the factory paint on the sheet metal of the vehicle.

Each bin contains the bumpers and other exterior parts for one vehicle.
Each bin contains the bumpers and other exterior parts for one vehicle.

Once the cutting, wiring, and underbody assembly of tanks and plumbing is completed, the painted bumper, side moldings, and ground effects are reinstalled on the motorhome, and now everything on the exterior is the same color. It gives a cleaner and smoother appearance, especially with the ground effects, and that’s why a finished motorhome looks dramatically different from a Sprinter van used as a delivery vehicle.  The awning is also painted to match the body color, making it blend in more to the roof.  Even the air conditioner cowling on the roof gets the matching body paint treatment.

These are the ground effects parts being prepared for painting.
These are the ground effects parts being prepared for painting.

White, silver ice, and champagne pearl paint colors are on the chassis delivered from Mercedes. The other colors you see -ruby red, charcoal gray, green on some Etreks, plus others customers have ordered as special builds – require full body painting. Off come the doors, as well as many other components, and the entire sheet metal surface of the chassis is prepped and painted whatever color is required.  After that, the chassis re-enters the assembly process for cutting, wiring, and tank installation just like the factory-painted chassis.

Black is a full body paint color.
A black RS in the paint booth.

This full body painting is a time-consuming and meticulous process, because the paint must be factory-quality and suitable for a new luxury motorhome.  The manufacturing plant has a state-of-the-art paint facility with special booths to paint and heat-cure the vehicles, with extensive reassembly detailing and buffing to achieve a truly stunning appearance. Some of the paint shop folks are of the opinion that their full body paint jobs are a little bit better than the original manufacturer paint, and looking at these vehicles as they roll off to dealerships, it’s hard to argue with them.

And here's the finished product with smooth, clean lines and a luxurious look. No way is this vehicle a delivery van.
And here’s the finished product with smooth, clean lines and a luxurious look. No way is this vehicle a delivery van.