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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi, I have been researching for the past six months and have slowly started the build process. I'm not working at the moment, so I have a bunch of free time. I want to build a four-season camper van and travel the country, visiting all the national parks along the way. Feel free to critique any design decisions. I am a computer guy, so most of this is new to me. I try to keep everything as low toxic as I can, which might explain some things.

Layout:
Raised E-W in the window
Driver side - shower/toilet, fridge
Passenger side - batteries, electrical, sink, stove, air heater
Garage - freshwater, hot water
Under - grey water, hydronic heater

Raised bed:
32" height, 77" long, 60" wide

Framing:
8020 10 series aluminum extrusions

Insulation:
Ceiling - SM600L, AtticFoil
Walls - 1/4" Thinsulate
Cavities - Thinsulate
Exposed metal - SM400L
Floor - 1" cork

Roof:
8020 15 series aluminum extrusions
Vent Fan - Maxxair front middle
Middle skylight - Bomar N2039-10AX - 20 1/4" x 20 1/4"
Rear skylight - Bomar N2029-10AX - 18" 7/16 x 13 5/16"
Solar panels - 2 x 160w Renogy flexible
Bathroom fan - VentAir VP543
Cargo box - Thule Force Alpine
Kayak holder - Thule Hullavator Pro

Floor:
Expanded cork insulation board, 1.5" on floor and 1" on ridges
Aluminum heat transfer plates
3/8" PEX-AL-PEX tubing
3/4" Baltic birch plywood
1/8" Cork underlayment
1/8" Marmoleum Sheet - Withered Prairie

Ceiling
3/4" T&G Beetle Kill Pine
5 x 5-20w 4.5" frosted glass halogen lights

Walls
1/4" Baltic birch marine plywood
1/4" Thinsulate
Windows - CRL T-vent driver/passenger
Window flares with sliding windows

Electrical:
12v LiFePO4 battery bank - Battle Born 100Ah x 4 in parallel
Nation’s dual alternator 280XP w/ Balmar Regulator MC614
Morningstar TriStar 45A - TS-MPPT-45
Morningstar TriStar Remote Digital Meter - TS-RM-2
Magnum MS2812 2800w inverter/charger
Magnum Remote Control ME-ARC50
Magnum Battery Monitor Kit ME-BMK
30A shore power SmartPlug
Bluesea DC panels - 13 position and 8 position
Bluesea AC panel - 6 position
Bluesea ELCI panel

Air heat/cooling:
Air Heater - Espar Airtronic B4 13.4k BTU under passenger seat with EasyStart Pro
Roof vent - Maxxair Deluxe
Floor vent - 2 x 3in holes in wall space behind shower

Radiant heat:
Hydronic heater - Espar Hydronic S3 B5
Engine heat exchanger - flat plate heat exchanger
Engine circulation pump - Espar D5E
Hydronic fan heater - REAL Heat 6433 19k BTU
Radiant floor pipe - 3/8" PEX-AL-PEX
Floor 3-way mixing valve - Honeywell Am-1
Floor circulation pump - Ivan Labs El Sid 10w

Cabinets:
80/20 10-series with 1/4" plywood
Cabinet hinges: Blum soft close
Drawer slides: Blum Movento
Drawers - 1/2" Maple
Cabinet doors - Maple with MDF center shaker style
Drawer fronts - Maple with MDF or plywood center slab or shaker style

Galley:
Electric hotplate - Cadco PCR-1S 1500w
Refrigerator/freezer - Nova Kool RFS7501ACDC 7.5cf
Countertop passenger side - Oak 1-1/8"
Countertop driver side - Oak 1-1/8"
Sink - Kraus Dex 17"
Faucet - Moen ?

Plumbing:
Freshwater tank - ~37gal HDPE
Freshwater pipes - Eldon James KFLEX
Freshwater fittings - 95% PVDF, some nylon and brass
Greywater tank - ~15gal HDPE
Drain pipes - PVC
Water heater - Isotemp Basic Slim 4gal / 15 l
Water filters - 4 x Big Blue 4.5"x10" - 20-1 micron sediment filter prefilter, KDF 55/GAC, KDF 85/GAC, Bone char
Water pump - Shurflo Revolution 4008
Accumulator - Shurflo 182-200

Shower:
Compost toilet - Nature's Head
Showerwalls - .04 white painted aluminum glued to 1/4" plywood
Showerhead - Oxygenics Fury
Shower mixer - Grohtherm 1000
Showerpan - custom stainless steel

Offroad:
Detroit TrueTrac LSD
Tires - 245/75/R16 - BFG KO2
Maxtrax

Other:
Aluminess front bumper
Aluminess rear bumper with tire carrier and cargo box
Driver/passenger swivels - Scopema
 

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Wow, that's quite a list!

What is the hatch over the bed?

Enjoy the build, I look forward to more pics.
 

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Nice Planning!

Where did you get the "pop out" sides? Could you post interior photo's? Decent option to get a few more inches on a east/west bed.

Noticed the 400 Ah Lithium Iron battery pack. Talk to the guys (two retired brothers) who run electric car parts. They seem to be straight shooters when it comes to LiFe batteries, State of Charge, and Life Cycles. Batteries are not cheap, but they seem much more honest about life cycle and what chargers to use. http://www.electriccarpartscompany.com/Sprinter-Battery-Kit-12V-400Ah-800Ah

Shower -- I'm still working on ideas/thoughts of a 24x 30, interior is 24 x 24-- part of the wall pushes out when needed for bathroom/shower. It would be a 12" deep cabinet for clothes, but then moves out over the bed when you want to shower. Portapotties doesn't need much room, Double drip edge, but allows a clothes closet portion to slide out over the bed. Same idea would work as you need more room around the torso compared to your legs. Expanded PVC or google "extruded hollow core PVC plastic" for all the trade names. I've seen a "mildew resistant" version. Lots of space, so needs to double to storage in some fashion. Oh, bottom of shower pan could be the bottom of a dog crate.

Shower -- don't overlook simple. A 25 gallon plastic bin is 27 x 18.75 x 16.88 -- add a drain, put up a temporary shower curtain, and you could shower in the open space of the van. I told my wife I could scrub her back, but she didn't go for that one! When done, you still have a nifty box to store stuff. I'm fine with showering every other day when on the road, so shower is needed for 15 minutes (rinse, lather, rinse) every 48 hours. Huge amount of room that is only needed less than 1% of the time. I'd rather have a jump seat, and "hideaway" porta-pottie.

Looking forward to seeing your build!
 

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I have a very similar layout that is almost completed. Have spent 35-40 nights in it so far. My sold Sprinter had the same layout that worked very well so Transit is almost the same.

A few comments:

1. The 15 series 80/20 makes it easy to install 1/4" plywood panels. I inset the panel face 1/8" because it looks better inset.

2. Consider making your own 80/20 connectors. Save money and no wait for parts to be delivered. A list and PDF drawings of the connectors I made and the stock connectors purchased:
http://www.ortontransit.info/testeighty4.php

3. Purchase fasteners from a industrial supply company to save money.

4. I tried to use 1/8" plywood panels to save weight. They bowed between the bolts so went back to using 1/4". Even some of the 1/4" panels required a wood strong back to stiffen the panel.

5. The above link also has drawings for two methods of installing panels. One where I want access and one where access is not required.

6. I put 1/2" closed cell foam strips between the floor corrugations under the plywood floor.

7. Be sure to thermally isolate the 80/20 from the van steel. Did not do that on the Sprinter build and the 80/20 aluminum extrusions were close to the exterior temperature. Just goes around the wall insulation. Transit frame is only bolted to the van steel in one location to provide a ground.

8. Consider not installing the cabinet above the sink. I like to stand at the sink with a clear view out the slider door opening. When cooking on the sink top the fumes and smells exit up and out the open slider door instead of inside the van.

9. Consider extending the sink top out toward the slider door 3". Makes a huge difference in usable counter space. The counter is notched around the rear slider door post.

10. Consider a drop down hinged table off sink cabinet that goes out the open slider door. Like to cook outside the van in good weather.

11. My sink is further to the right than your drawing. I can put the rather large Camp Chef Ranger II two burner stove to the left of the sink. Portable stove can be used on sink top, on drop down table out slider or on a picnic table. Try to avoid cooking inside the van. I use refillable 1 # propane bottles. Carry bottles in a gasketed plastic ammo box.

Since I am on my second (and last) build I have been able to make a lot (100+) improvements on what I did in the Sprinter. Same layout but many improvements.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Wow, that's quite a list!

What is the hatch over the bed?

Enjoy the build, I look forward to more pics.
That's just a skylight and I guess an escape hatch if I can fit through it. I'll get it in a week or two and see if it even fits.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Nice Planning!

Where did you get the "pop out" sides? Could you post interior photo's? Decent option to get a few more inches on a east/west bed.

Noticed the 400 Ah Lithium Iron battery pack. Talk to the guys (two retired brothers) who run electric car parts. They seem to be straight shooters when it comes to LiFe batteries, State of Charge, and Life Cycles. Batteries are not cheap, but they seem much more honest about life cycle and what chargers to use. http://www.electriccarpartscompany.com/Sprinter-Battery-Kit-12V-400Ah-800Ah

Shower -- I'm still working on ideas/thoughts of a 24x 30, interior is 24 x 24-- part of the wall pushes out when needed for bathroom/shower. It would be a 12" deep cabinet for clothes, but then moves out over the bed when you want to shower. Portapotties doesn't need much room, Double drip edge, but allows a clothes closet portion to slide out over the bed. Same idea would work as you need more room around the torso compared to your legs. Expanded PVC or google "extruded hollow core PVC plastic" for all the trade names. I've seen a "mildew resistant" version. Lots of space, so needs to double to storage in some fashion. Oh, bottom of shower pan could be the bottom of a dog crate.

Shower -- don't overlook simple. A 25 gallon plastic bin is 27 x 18.75 x 16.88 -- add a drain, put up a temporary shower curtain, and you could shower in the open space of the van. I told my wife I could scrub her back, but she didn't go for that one! When done, you still have a nifty box to store stuff. I'm fine with showering every other day when on the road, so shower is needed for 15 minutes (rinse, lather, rinse) every 48 hours. Huge amount of room that is only needed less than 1% of the time. I'd rather have a jump seat, and "hideaway" porta-pottie.

Looking forward to seeing your build!
The fiberglass popout in the window indents are Flarespace flares. The size gradually increases towards the rear. I'll attach some pics. This is after I painted it and there is still some tape to be removed around the windows.

I like the cabinet in the shower. I haven't seen that before. The idea for an enclosed shower was to use it as a wet/dirty gear location and dryer. I'll have a duct from the Espar going into the top. I want to keep all the moisture from entering into the living space. There will probably be a lot of engineering going into the shower, so I'll save it for last.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Working on the floor today. I have 1" insulation between the ribs and 1/2" insulation on the ribs. I'm planning to add another sheet of 1/2" over everything. I should have did it backwards and had 1/2" between the ribs and 1" on top as it would have saved tons of time cutting. Most of it is glued down already so no going back now.

Looking at the plywood, it is still bowing in certain areas and needs to be screwed down to be level. I can either add more bolts through the floor, add small 1" strips of plywood glued to the ribs as screw down points, or use sheet metal screws I already have about eight elevator bolts going through the floor that will be counterbored and will also be utilizing the tie-down bolt points with aluminum angle. I guess a few more holes is no big deal, just need to drop the gas tank to get to some. Which needs to be done for the Espar install anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Since I am on my second (and last) build I have been able to make a lot (100+) improvements on what I did in the Sprinter. Same layout but many improvements.
All good information Orton, thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well one thing about the flares is that if you order the window version, make sure you aren't sleeping at window height because it takes up a few precious inches on each side. I only have about 77.5 inches of space between the windows. Below and to the side of the window is about 80.5 inches, which is where someone would want to be. I didn't think about this and smacked my forehead after it was installed. I'll see if I can sleep to the left of the window at least. I have contemplated swapping it out for the no window version, but I'll need to test the bed first before making any rash decisions.

I've been thinking about the layout and creating more open space. I've already removed the shelf above the front seats. I'm going to try to make the bed so that it can expand and contract in half. I don't need a 54" bed most of the time, so keeping it at 27" or so should be fine. There are a few people with this idea in a couch version that expands into the isle where the slats go into the empty space between the other slats.

I'm looking at mounting the Espar B4 outside so that I can have the bikes on the driver's side to open up the isle. I will need an external mounting box and the intake/exhaust ducts will need to enter the cabin somehow. I'm going to order the box and see if I can find a good location.

Yesterday I picked up some 1/4" plywood to play around with my 8020 samples.

I cut 9 x 1 1/4" adapters of 3/8" thick 1.5"x1.5" aluminum angle to add additional mounting points for the plywood floor using the d-ring holes. I mostly used a jigsaw, which worked great. I tried a hacksaw but it takes about a minute of furious cutting. Which is a long time... Now I have to make an indent in the insulation for the adapters so they don't sit on top.

I need to think about running cables under the floor. My thinking is that my plumbing will be above the floor, so I already need to make some cover for it. I might as well add the electrical next to it. I've done a lot of research into what cables are good to reduce EMFs. The consensus is to use EMT conduit and twisted pair cables. Some triplex cables comes twisted already, I just don't need to use the extra wire. Adding EMT conduit under the plywood floor might be a good use of space. Cutting the holes for the 90 degree angles in the plywood will be a little difficult.


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Discussion Starter #13
Counterbored a few of the elevator bolts. It's very difficult to align it in the center, so I'm going to try out another tool.

New tires. BFG KO2 AT 245/75/R16


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It appears you have sprayed some kind of paint on the inside steel of the wall and ceiling panels.
I am considering doing the same before insulation, hopefully giving the steel extra protection against rust, before burying it forever.
What did you use?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I used extra AFM zero VOC interior paint and primer I had lying around. I scuffed it up before I painted and it seems to be sticking pretty well. I can't take it off with my finger nail unlike a metal primer I tested. I had a bunch of dents and some paint chips down to the bare metal, so I went a little crazy coating all that with primer and then paint over it.

My reason for painting the rest of the van skin was to reduce the amount of heat from the sun. I added Aerogel powder to the paint, which is similar to 3M Ceramic Microspheres, but supposedly better. I was curious if it would even work. I did notice a few degrees less in direct sun where I painted.
 

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Thanks Moose - my thinking exactly! The plan is to add microspheres - any temperature reduction on the inside of the van skin will be welcomed. As long as spray foam will stick to the added paint layer. I will do some testing first.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Removed the spare tire and holder. Lots of space behind the plate holding the wound up wire. I'm probably going to use the spare tire area for my AC condenser or Espar B4.

Also made more progress on the floor. My new table saw has helped some but only rips up to 32", so it's difficult to make straight cuts on big pieces of plywood.


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@moose
Also made more progress on the floor. My new table saw has helped some but only rips up to 32", so it's difficult to make straight cuts on big pieces of plywood.
I suck at making those cuts. I always buy two full sheets of plywood. The top one I slip over to expose what I need cut off the bottom sheet + my skill saw offset (about 3 1/2") so if I need a board 8' long, 16" wide.... I slip the top sheet over by 19.5" clamp them together and with a couple of clamps rip away.

My 8020 arrived, so I'm making up a sled to bolt on my old Makita. I'd love a fancy $3000 table saw, but for time being a larger sled will help me as I am not the most stable person on their feet.
 

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Also made more progress on the floor. My new table saw has helped some but only rips up to 32", so it's difficult to make straight cuts on big pieces of plywood.
I use a 8' plus length of 1 1/2" aluminum angle and two small C clamps. Clamp angle to plywood for the guide for a small 4 1/2" blade saw. Works very well.
 

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Removed the spare tire and holder. Lots of space behind the plate holding the wound up wire. I'm probably going to use the spare tire area for my AC condenser or Espar B4.

Also made more progress on the floor. My new table saw has helped some but only rips up to 32", so it's difficult to make straight cuts on big pieces of plywood.


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I use a kreg skill saw sled and a cordless saw.

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