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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well heck, I lost my second job in a year, so I finally have a little time to put a build thread together.

The objective is a versatile van that can take the family camping, and maybe haul some building materials. Oh and it also has to be my daily driver.

I had been drooling over the Transits for some time, so I bought this 148" mid roof cargo van off the dealer lot when I needed a bigger truck for my cabinet business. A few months later I closed the shop, and selling it was looking like a $8-10,000 loss. It's a little big for getting around town, but I need a truck regardless of my job so it might as well be this.

I'll admit, the build is a little disorganized. I have a tendency to do a bunch of hasty work to prepare for a trip, and then have to undo some of the work to do the stuff I should have done FIRST. Like insulation and such...

So here's where I started, with a raised bed and cabinet for the water tank. I later added some cables from the ceiling to support the center of the bed.



Here's the bed folded up:



Here's the 10-Gal propane tank I mounted under the driver side floor:



This was a serious pucker moment: cutting the 14" hole in the roof for the MaxxAir Fan. I measured it 5 or 6 times. The fan cuts in on my headroom quite a bit, kind of wish I installed it in the rear and moved the solar panel forward.



Speaking of solar, this is a 190-watt panel I found on CL. Made these custom mounts for it with some 80/20 crossbars. Gotta love the roof mount points that are built into the van!



Installed this seat from a Sprinter for the monkeys.



The galley setup. The cooktop detaches from the cabinet and will be able to hang off the side of the cabinet, as we prefer to cook outside. The fridge is a basic mini fridge, it runs off the inverter; not the most efficient solution but until I can scrape together the $700 for a 12v fridge, this will have to do.



Battery switch, voltmeter. All the electrical stuff is in the wall cavities to save space. The house battery can connect to the 60A from the driver seat pedestal via the switch for charging while driving. Typically the solar keeps up with demand as long as the sun is shining.



The Tracer MPPT charger controller, this pic was before the switch was mounted to the interior panel:



Display for the charge controller:



Xantrex 1000w inverter:



Reflectix insulation glued with spray adhesive. I know it doesn't have much insulation value when applied directly to the sheetmetal, but it does help more than you'd think, and I wasn't willing to give up 1 1/2" of headroom for more insulation.



And then the gray Home Cheapo carpet spray glued on top. Adds a surprising amount of reflective acoustic insulation.



Galley with flip-up countertop. Room under the sink for the porta-potty.

 

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I'm going to steal your roof mount idea! 3" angle raw material?

Also your use of wall space for the inverter and electronics!

I'm pondering the ceiling, too. I also don't want to lose any headroom, so I won't be mounting anything to the bottom of the ribs. I'm currently thinking of scribing 3/4" thick material to each side of each rib, that would in turn be a ledger to support 10-12mm laminate flooring with .5" of insulation between the laminate and the ceiling. The laminate "ceiling" would be about an inch above the bottom of the ribs, the ledger would be maybe .25-.5 above the bottom of the rib. I'm not to concerned with seeing the rib and it's associated holes, I can always cover them with white rubber traction tape, available at Marine Supply stores or Ebay.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm going to steal your roof mount idea! 3" angle raw material?

Yeah but I wish I'd used 4", the 80/20 was just barely touching the top of the roof so I added 1/2" rubber pads under the brackets.

If I can get the carpet to form over the ceiling ribs I will do that. It's only cosmetic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I like the simple roof mounts. Did you need to angle the screw holes in the angle to the 80/20 to compensate for the roof angle where the angle attached?


Ideally yes, but the countersink allows the screw to sit a little off axis. I did trim off the 80/20 at a slight angle.

It's definitely not engineered to aerospace standards, but it seems to keep the solar panel from flying away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Mounted the Eccotemp on-demand water heater on the back door. Looking now I should have turned that L-bracket around so it would be hidden behind the heater. D'oh!


Here's the pic of the propane tank as requested. Someone suggested that the bolts are too close together and I agree. It's very secure for now but I will put another bolt through it soon to be sure it doesn't wiggle loose. Sure is a PITA drilling 1/4" steel under there without a lift or mag drill!

BTW, if you are going to use this tank, the filler is too high to reach behind the frame, once this tank is empty I'll put a street elbow to make it possible to fill at any propane station.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Built this flip-out table this weekend. 3/4" Baltic birch with gray laminate.

Mortised in the Soss hinges for the center fold.




Folded up:


This was my first idea to support it, with a drawer slide. It was pretty floppy. I engineer as I go along.


So I rigged it with aircraft cable. Better, not sure if it's rigid enough. Might have to do a stay underneath.
 

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Mounted the Eccotemp on-demand water heater on the back door. Looking now I should have turned that L-bracket around so it would be hidden behind the heater. D'oh!
I'd love to see the details about how you're running water and propane lines to the Eccotemp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'd love to see the details about how you're running water and propane lines to the Eccotemp.

Here's a detail of the water system. Accumulator at the top to reduce pump cycling.


Pump below that.


Plumbing for the spigot and tee to the pex line that runs to the sink up front. Tank inlet below using a city water fitting (has an internal check valve).


The water heater will be fed from the spigot via a short garden hose. I haven't ran the propane hose yet for the heater but I might use a quick-disconnect under the bumper, that way I could hook up other appliances at the rear like a propane fire pit.

Here's a detail of the gas regulator, note the tee before the regulator to supply high-pressure propane to the mr. heater Buddy.



 

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So the ecotemp doesn't have a built-in pump?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
So the ecotemp doesn't have a built-in pump?


No sir. In fact if you are thinking about using one, I would recommend a higher output pump than I have (1 gpm) as it takes a fair amount of flow for the heater to kick on. It took the addition of the accumulator and some tweaking of the heater controls before it worked consistently. Otherwise I think the Eccotemp is a fantastic value, I had it plumbed into the system on my cargo trailer conversion and it worked like any residential on-demand heater.

In the end, I didn't connect the Eccotemp permanently to the van plumbing for 2 reasons:

1. I didn't want to cut a vent for the exhaust.

2. I found that I wasted a lot of water waiting for the hot water to get from the heater to the sink. If I need hot water for washing at the sink, I'll boil it on the stove.
 

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In the photos it looks like your fresh water tank is inside, on the passenger side and your sink is on the driver's side. Is that right? How are you routing water across the van to the sink?
 

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Potty like it's 1999!

Used K-V 500 lb slides, these things are great! The yellow tabs release the lock-in and lock-out mechanism. Rock solid, no rattles.
Those slides are perfect, but I can not seem to find the ones with the locking mechanism. Could you provide more information please?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Those slides are perfect, but I can not seem to find the ones with the locking mechanism. Could you provide more information please?
They are the Knape & Vogt KV8908 slides. I get them from a distributor, but these guys seem to have them for about the same price.

Tschwartz, there is a PEX line that runs from the pump, up through the right rear (D?) pillar, through the rear door header, through the top channel along the driver side, then down behind the driver B-Pillar (just forward of the window indent). It pops out below the window indent and goes into the cabinet. There are a few SharkBite elbows where the turns were sharp, but I was mostly able to snake it through. I also added foam pipe insulation (the stuff that looks like gray pool noodles) to keep it from rattling and protect from freezing. I'll see if I can get a few pics of the run.
 

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Tschwartz, there is a PEX line that runs from the pump, up through the right rear (D?) pillar, through the rear door header, through the top channel along the driver side, then down behind the driver B-Pillar (just forward of the window indent). It pops out below the window indent and goes into the cabinet. There are a few SharkBite elbows where the turns were sharp, but I was mostly able to snake it through. I also added foam pipe insulation (the stuff that looks like gray pool noodles) to keep it from rattling and protect from freezing. I'll see if I can get a few pics of the run.
I can picture exactly what you mean. I hadn't thought of crossing the ceiling in the rear door header. That sounds like a great idea.
 
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