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Discussion Starter · #1 ·


I haven’t posted my van here before, so here goes…

First, it’s a new build on a 2017 because reasons. Basically, I ordered the van new with this build in mind (and specced with everything I could think I’d want) and planned to DIY. I got a small amount done, then life and it sat (indoors). I found several builders who said they’d finish it for me along the way, and in every case they made me wait for my build slot because they had things ahead of me, and before my time came up they either ghosted me or simply said “yeah, we’re not doing that kind of project any more.” Then FreedomVanGo in Jacksonville, FL, came up on my radar because they were and Adventure Wagon dealer and they said they could do it. I took it to them in March and as they were getting started AdWag announced their full interior kit (I already had a MOAB for it from them) and so we decided to wait for that instead of going custom. So I got it back from FVG a couple weeks ago. Had a couple minor teething pains right at first, but FVG took care of me and I was able to use it to take a bike to a trailhead yesterday finally! More pics…







Done so far:

  • 25 gallon shower at back with propane instant hot water
  • 5 gallon supply and 5 gallon gray galley sink
  • AdWag interior kit
  • FVG custom floor, galley cabinet, power install (more below), roof rack
  • diesel cabin heater
  • passenger seat swivel on custom lowered seat base (to maintain factory seat height)
  • awning
  • 500W of solar panels
  • Fantastic fans (I installed these)
  • U-Go rear 12V AC unit
  • bike drawer (FVG did the drawer, I did the bike mounts on it)
  • jackknife sofa (I had this from a previous camper, makes a nice sized bed)
To do soon:
  • Shelf for microwave and kettle
  • install new dash stereo head unit
  • finish cabinet for toilet to stow in, re-mount AC unit on top of it
  • shower rod to span rear doors for shower privacy
  • many small things, but no show stoppers
The power system is full Victron. The batteries will charge off the van alternator, solar panels, and/or shore power. I’ve got the 3000W inverter/charger and I think enough battery to run the AC unit all night for one night before I need more charge.

That’s more than enough for a first post, but happy to answer questions and will add some details soon of some of the things that have been done already as well as update as I do other things.

—Donnie
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
FVG installed the diesel heater control and the two Victron panels around the AdWag access panel for its fuses like so:



The AdWag kit has 8 LED lights in the ceiling, each one controlled by a button on the light itself. I wanted master switches and they were already fused in groups of four (four front on one, four back on the other), so I made a switch panel:



I’ve got a feeling I’ll end up using the master switch for the front four and then use the buttons on the four over the bed, but this gives me options, which I like.

I made the panel using engravable plastic sheet and my Glowforge laser. I think it came out okay, though I do plan to ultimately probably do some other stuff on that panel and I’ll make it a little nicer later.

—Donnie
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The AC unit is shown here:



It requires venting to the outside, as you can see, but I found a spot that worked with my floor plan and let me go through the wall and down and out the outside in the middle of the black lower trim:



I think this AC is going to be enough for my needs. I’m going to raise it up with a small cabinet under it, and if it’s not enough for the entire cabin of the van I’ll try doing curtains on the bed area and just feeding it into that and see if that’s enough. I really only need it for sleeping. But should it end up not being adequate at all, well, at that point I’ll go roof top and I can at least just replace that trim and not have to do much “real” bodywork to eliminate those holes.


—Donnie
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Last thing for today is my bike mounting:



FVG made the drawer. Then I just got some t-slot track off Amazon and some 1” t-bolts and then some thumbscrews. Then we cut and drilled some 1/4” thick aluminum plate and mounted the Delta fork mounts on them. I have two mounting locations on each plate so it’s easier to stagger the bikes for handlebar overlap (I’ll probably never need more than four, but I made enough for six as I think I can Tetris that many in there if I really want to).



I like using the Delta QR fork mounts for two reasons. One, I already had a few of them and a LOT of the fork mount adapters from a long history of racking bikes in weird places. Two, the adapters also allow for some height and for/aft adjustment to fine tune the handlebar overlap issue.

This solution seems, in my VERY limited experience so far, to be very good. Almost no wobble side to side (so little that the space between bikes can be pretty tiny and they shouldn’t bang one another).

Some affiliate links:
I bought 6” wide 1/4” thick aluminum bar from McMaster and used a band saw to cut it down to 5” long to make the plates, then drilled as appropriate. This is a pretty simple setup.

—Donnie
 

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Can you post some more details about the AC unit? It has a compressor I believe right (meaning its not some swamp cooler or black magic "AC" unit)? What are your thoughts on performance of the unit. I was looking at them last spring but didn't pull the trigger because I couldn't find anyone actually using it besides youtube vids showing it at trade shows.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Can you post some more details about the AC unit? It has a compressor I believe right (meaning its not some swamp cooler or black magic "AC" unit)? What are your thoughts on performance of the unit. I was looking at them last spring but didn't pull the trigger because I couldn't find anyone actually using it besides youtube vids showing it at trade shows.
This is not where I got mine, but it’s cheaper than when I got mine:


(And people have reported possible counterfeit Espar heaters from Heatso in other threads, so take this vendor with a potential grain of salt.)

As for how well it works, well, I don’t know. Back when I first got it, I did put it on a battery I had and ran it in my shop. It seems like it puts out a pretty good amount of cold air. It’s definitely compressor based. Supposedly around 32A at full bore, IIRC. But now that my van is done it is cold outside, so I have no way to know. Would it have kept ANY other camper I’ve had cold? No way. But my van has a LOT smaller volume than any other camper I’ve had AND is probably better insulated than any other camper I’ve had, so I’m hopeful. I think it’s going to be okay, but I can’t say for certain. At least not for at least five months or so!


—Donnie
 

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This is not where I got mine, but it’s cheaper than when I got mine:


(And people have reported possible counterfeit Espar heaters from Heatso in other threads, so take this vendor with a potential grain of salt.)

As for how well it works, well, I don’t know. Back when I first got it, I did put it on a battery I had and ran it in my shop. It seems like it puts out a pretty good amount of cold air. It’s definitely compressor based. Supposedly around 32A at full bore, IIRC. But now that my van is done it is cold outside, so I have no way to know. Would it have kept ANY other camper I’ve had cold? No way. But my van has a LOT smaller volume than any other camper I’ve had AND is probably better insulated than any other camper I’ve had, so I’m hopeful. I think it’s going to be okay, but I can’t say for certain. At least not for at least five months or so!


—Donnie
Thanks yes this is the website I saw it at.

Thanks for the reply. Please post an update when it get warmer! :)

Thanks for the reply! Do a follow up when it gets warmer please! ;_)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Microwave shelf time (finally).

Use the Shaper Origin to cut out an end:



Here are both ends cut and ready:



Mounted up to a custom cut and bent shelf base:



A friend cut that base and bent it for me (I drew it) and then we powder coated it on site. BARELY fit in a home oven cocked at an angle.

Finished:



The shelf base has all those slots in it so it’s future proofed for whatever I need to strap down. The microwave is strapped with a black 1” piece of webbing. The kettle beside it has three tiny shock cords that each go through the shelf base…two behind the kettle and one in front. The two behind go straight up and into holes in a piece of acrylic that’s a little bigger than the top of the kettle. The one in front goes up to the same piece and is hooked. This holds the kettle down on the base and won’t let it fall when driving. To use it, just unhook the front, flip the acrylic behind it and fire it up. When done, reach behind, pull the acrylic on to the top, and hook it.

Then you can also see a couple plastic bins that fit nicely on top of the microwave, so I added a custom bungee to hold those in place. And you can see the paper towel holder (strategically placed so it’s easy to grab paper towels from outside the van with the sliding door open). Not pictured is a nice undercabinet light since otherwise this shelf would have shaded the rest of the galley too well.


—Donnie
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Lots more little things going on.

Galley:



You can see the powered cooler on the floor. I think it’s gonna work well there. It’s sturdy enough I can step on it to get in the bed without worry, and the lid will open fully and there’s room to pull the basket out easily. The AC is reinstalled at the end of the couch in that shot, too.

On the wall above the couch I just used a long run of zig-zagged shock cord, which I think is gonna work out well for soft things. Those long black nylon sleeves have the windshield, cab side windows, and slider side window insulated covers in them.



I had this weird net with shock cord around it kicking around for a long time and finally found a use for it:



Getting closer.


—Donnie
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Wife finished up her part of my shower-out-the-back plan…she sewed me a shower curtain with some magnets in the ends as well as some 10” wide strips with magnets to cover the door jambs:

Untitled by djb_rh, on Flickr

Untitled by djb_rh, on Flickr

It’s not clear, but each side of the curtain has an embedded rare earth magnet every foot down the length and they seem to stick well. No, it won’t hold up to a huge gust, nor to a prankster, but should be “good enough.”

Shower rod is a run-of-the-mill Amazon rod that is intended to be a pressure rod, but the doors don’t hit a rigid stop so pressure wouldn’t work. Instead we fabbed these brackets and I stuck them on the doors with 3M VHB:

Untitled by djb_rh, on Flickr

Untitled by djb_rh, on Flickr

And yes, before anyone asks at present it is very easy to get water inside the van this way. But it’s a sprayer with not awesome pressure, so don’t spray it in the van! But ultimately I’m going to order a set of mosquito screens that have solid walls and screens and are divided at bed level so it’ll be easy to close off the back of the van from spray, too.


—Donnie
 

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Nice work. Same setup we ran in our last van for the shower. Mostly ended up just showering on the other side of the door and skipping the privacy. 🤷‍♀️ 😁
 
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