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2023 AWD Crew Van MR 130”wb (on order)
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I thought it’d be a good idea to start a thread that lists some affordable mods for us people who spent all our money on the vehicle and didnt save bucks for all the upfitting. Please share your creative ideas here and we will all benefit!

Please redirect me if there is already a thread like this.

Examples that Ive pulled thusfar from the forum:

- Instead of an expensive ladder: get a telescoping ladder that packs esily from Ace Hardware so you can get to your roof racks (put plumbing insulation foam on it so you dont scratch the van)

- affordable awning alternative: use a tarp with poles. Kelty Noah tarp recc

- iOverlander app is a great resource for locating free camp/parking spots

- in Portland, OR you can buy Pendelton fabric from the factory on sale by the yard to use for blankets or upholstery

- sheeps wool works great as a non-toxic insulation. Havelock is great but at a premium, shearing a sheep is cheaper
 

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I’ll play
Bought collapsible ladder from Jeff Bezos, chinese diesel heater from eBay, salvaged a damaged extension ladder for bed scaffolding, bought click together laminate flooring from Habitat, best purchase was a complete house electrical system I purchased from a guy on Craigslist. Electrical system was brand new never used/installed. It is the exact “low power system” depicted on Far out Ride. Saved over $1000 on the complete system including lithium batteries. Guy started buying components before he had a van then realized he did not want a van. Coincidentally, this is the exact system I wanted because I have limited electrical knowledge and knew that Antoine would show me how to install.
Home built plastic bag, bucket, plywood toilet...gets the job done and hides in a cabinet.
Also bought a Moon Shade awning, very expensive for what you get but very handy.
 

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Solar panels
  • Mount single large rigid panel "directly to the roof with wooden support in interior ceiling. See @orton's method.
  • Flexible panels although lifespan may not be as long as rigid, but no hit on fuel economy. Mounting the flexible panels to coroplast might improve cost and performance. See RV with Tito YT and discussion (somewhere) on this forum
  • Solar panels may not be necessary, depending on use scenario. Lots of alternator power available on the Transit. Portable panels for extended boondocking
I need to put surfboards
  • Fixed rear bed with galley down one side, boards were fit down the side into the bottom of the galley . Can't find post, but its somewhere there
  • Hang the boards on the inside walls see @OldMadBrit
  • Hang them on the ceiling see @fargy483
possibly a cargo box
  • Less sh!t :)
  • Hitch + swing away carrier
 

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  • Mount single large rigid panel "directly to the roof with wooden support in interior ceiling. See @orton's method.
  • Flexible panels although lifespan may not be as long as rigid, but no hit on fuel economy. Mounting the flexible panels to coroplast might improve cost and performance. See RV with Tito YT and discussion (somewhere) on this forum
  • Solar panels may not be necessary, depending on use scenario. Lots of alternator power available on the Transit. Portable panels for extended boondocking

  • Fixed rear bed with galley down one side, boards were fit down the side into the bottom of the galley . Can't find post, but its somewhere there
  • Hang the boards on the inside walls see @OldMadBrit
  • Hang them on the ceiling see @fargy483

  • Less sh!t :)
  • Hitch + swing away carrier
Lots of ways to skin a cat!
 

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Lots of ways to skin a cat!
That was my point! Always good to question and look for creative alternatives. Constrained resources can often lead to superior solutions. Sorta the whole point of a van as camper rationale.
I’ll play
Yes, creative sourcing is a big opportunity. I have also used CL, Ebay, FTUSA for sale, and even an affiliate code from Antoine so far. I suppose I can also count Habitat for the decent enough santuko knife for the van. I even picked up the Baltic birch for my floor while passing through Toledo on a road trip, cuz $$$ savings. Having it cut to length was just enough to get it fit into my minivan. Best deal so far was Z-plan pricing and $2700 rebate on the vehicle. 😛
Also bought a Moon Shade awning, very expensive for what you get but very handy.
Also good to choose your battles. I'm gunna start with a tarp and some "eye bolts" in my otherwise unused roof rack holes and see how that goes, but I could see going with some sort of commercially made portable product. Maybe one of these budget friendly (to quote the post title) moonshade alternatives"
link or link
 

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2020 High-Extended AWD EcoBoost Cargo with windows
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On a 130? Yeah... roof-rack of some sort - build your own roof rack for much less money.

Magnets. If there's any metal or fabric-covered-metal around, things like remote-controls (for lights, Air-Lift, stereo, and fan in our case) get a magnet taped to the back with gaffer's tape; then you just stick them on to whatever surface.

Pay close attention to various options: there are plenty of folks running 5-6 gallon water jugs for their fresh and/or gray water in their galley; we found that a 10-gallon box tank occupied similar space - meaning actually taking up less space per gallon than a 6-gallon luggable. There are probably other examples of this... but not front-of-mind right now.

Don't let your wants/needs get too caught up in the theoretical pursuit of perfection. There are a lot of discussions here on the perfect insulation, floor, heating, ground-points, roof-racks, etc. Appreciate two things: sometimes "good enough" is actually good enough; and, "in theory, theory and practice are the same - in practice they are not." Screw theory; go with what works for you.

Second or third recommend on that telescoping ladder. This 8.5' unit has been used a number of times but was clutch yesterday when the CHPs made everyone stop to remove the snow from their roofs. Felt like a bit of a d*ck denying the dude that said, "I might need to borrow your ladder to clean my Sprinter," but there were three other vans struggling to clear their roofs - we'd have been there all day as ladder-less vans rolled up.
Tire Car Wheel Land vehicle Vehicle


Tire Car Cloud Wheel Sky



Everyone has heard of and/or used Reflectix or the like; but it works really well as window coverings when paired with corrugated plastic, gaffer's tape, and magnets. It makes for a 1-2" air space between the Reflectix and the window - a great temp barrier. Seems expensive; but much less expensive than other options. I can't believe I don't have a single decent photo of them from the Sprinter.
Automotive tire Hood Wood Automotive exterior Grey



Cheap benefit thing: label stuff that is a bit complicated. First example from our Sprinter, then from our Transit.
Circuit component Electrical wiring Hardware programmer Computer hardware Electronic engineering


Gas Electrical wiring Plumbing valve Cable Machine


Gas Auto part Font Machine Electrical wiring
 

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Paint the floor. Only put finished flooring in the small exposed area.
Don't fill valleys in floor, just span them with material that is sufficiently rigid.
No walls in backs of cabinets (or maybe even elsewhere/everywhere)
No upholstery, use paint or stain or seal.
Coroplast ceiling, or cloth with magnets
Plastic drawer units.
No super thick mattress. Use slats instead of plywood for some flex. Ikea ones are often on CL for free or cheap.
@natecostello's dufflebag upper cabinets
@orton's alternate roof fan design (also more aero than max or fantastic w/shroud
All of the above will save $ and weight (= fuel + wear and tear on mechanicals)

Diy "gutter guard" window vent screens. (search for thread)
Zinc hardware instead of stainless for interior
 

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2019 250 148 mr
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Solar panels
I have a solar panel suitcase and long cables. This also allows me to change the angle/direction they face as the day goes on. This nets me a lot more power each day with fewer panels as well as no roof rack and the ability to park in the shade.

The only downsides are storing the panels in the van and a few minutes to set them up and take them down.
 

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sweat-equity mod:
Moving the wiring harness going to the back of the van into the body cavity and throwing away the giant wire raceway.
Or throw away the giant raceway and replace it with a 1 1/2" square Panduit wireway.

I also just moved it up the wall a few inches, so it was inside the rear overhead cabinets.
 

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Okay, I have one more but I have to appreciate Gregoryx’s comments. “Sometimes good enough is good enough”. Also want to mention, I built his roof rack...exactly turned out really nice and hugs down within 1/2 inch of the roof.
Here’s my one more don’t mean to offend anyone but don’t use Baltic birch for your floor.
Use something cheaper. Maybe sandee from HD. Baltic birch is for building nice paint grade cabinets in your house. You don’t need Baltic birch even if you are using solid sheet flooring.
I’m a long time hobbiest wood worker. I built every cabinet in my last two houses and really used Baltic only for drawer sides. Have had lots of compliments on the cabinets. Was surprised at the prevalence of Baltic birch when I joined this site. On the other hand I still wonder why I actually spent money on thinsulate insulation. I gues to avoid social stigmatization.
 

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2023 AWD Crew Van MR 130”wb (on order)
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I have a solar panel suitcase and long cables. This also allows me to change the angle/direction they face as the day goes on. This nets me a lot more power each day with fewer panels as well as no roof rack and the ability to park in the shade.

The only downsides are storing the panels in the van and a few minutes to set them up and take them down.
Do you reccomend any specific panels?
 

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Monoprice.com lots of great prices and products
Wheel Tire Vehicle Plant Car

Pure Outdoor by Monoprice Large Wing Sun Shade / Shelter instead of Noah's Tarp, very waterproof! Comes with poles.
Pure Outdoor by Monoprice Large Wing Sun Shade / Shelter - Monoprice.com cut in half lengthwise and hook on roof rack. Photo before we cut it.
Product Luggage and bags Gas Bag Machine

Pure Outdoor by Monoprice Emperor 50 Rotomolded Portable Wheeled Cooler 13.2 Gal, White - Monoprice.com 13.2 gallon Yeti type cooler with 2 soft coolers inside. 1 frozen food, 1 fresh.

Bedrug for van insulates and works for only floor, too. https://bedrug.com/cargo-van-mats search this forum for comments
 

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Everyone has heard of and/or used Reflectix or the like; but it works really well as window coverings when paired with corrugated plastic, gaffer's tape, and magnets. It makes for a 1-2" air space between the Reflectix and the window - a great temp barrier. Seems expensive; but much less expensive than other options. I can't believe I don't have a single decent photo of them from the Sprinter.
I want to see/hear more about this window solution! How thick is this corrugated plastic? 1"? Where do you use the gaffers tape? (surely not to affix to windows). Magnets to hold to window frame? Do tell!
 
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