Ford Transit USA Forum banner

1 - 20 of 749 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,149 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Bit of introduction: I currently own a 08 144"WB diesel Sprinter that has been converted to a stealth camper. Started with an empty cargo van and two years later and $20,000 spent the van is completed. Has sleeping for two. No exterior water inlet, not exterior shore power plug, no vents, no awning, no outside bike rack etc. Looks like a plumbers van from outside. Only thing that shows is the solar panel if you are some distance from the van.
Conversion includes:
600 watt Xantex pure sine "Vehicle" inverter powered by Sprinter 12 v system
1000 watt Magnum MSS1012 inverter/charger/transfer switch "House" inverter with shunt and Magnum control panel
Retractable shore power electrical reel
205 watt solar panel
15 amp Morningstar MPPT solar controller
600 watt Proctor-Silex (KMart) microwave
255 amp hr. Lifeline 8D AMG house battery
Indoor shower pan
5 gallon beer keg converted to shower water heater with DC pump
80/20 extrusion framed cabinets
LED lighting
Maxxair roof vent/fan
Removable table/sleeping platform
Dometic CR-80 12v/120v refrigerator
24 gallon SS inside fresh water tank
11 gallon SS outside gray water tank
Permanently mounted portapotty
All wiring outside the walls with "SO" rubber cords
"Free floating" house electrical independent of Sprinter. Not grounded to Sprinter.
1 1/2" thick composite floor
Sink with cold water faucet

The Sprinter build is documented in detail on the Sprinter-Source site. Search for "orton DIY". Separate postings for each section of the build.

Plan on buying 3.7 non-turbo gas engine 148" WB high roof Transit. Will do a very similar conversion. Have about 96 items on my things to change/improve.

Will document the build with this posting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
22 Posts
DIY Build

Interesting idea. Park almost anywhere, less chance of theft.

I'm working on my own DIY build plan, 3.7 MWB, Med top.

We've had a VW Westfalia for the past 20 years, 100K plus miles and smiles. Many customizations have made it very livable and increased storage. Longest trip 5 weeks, 5500 miles through the SW last spring.

Want more space, internal shower, engine power/reliability, better AC, but don't want to lose the visibility, manueverability, parkability (trips often include days in cities, and it has to be a daily driver as well).
We're into gawking mode, so plan for maximum windows, almost 360 degree visibility. Someone once described the Westfalia as like "driving an aquarium." But I'm thinking some stealth features might be worthwhile.

A few questions about your build:

"Retractable shore power electrical reel"
Can you describe this? length, brand, where did you get it?

"Indoor shower pan"
Size, where did you get it? I assume it's not permanently mounted, so where do you store it? How is it connected to the gray water tank? What are you using for a curtain?

"Maxxair roof vent/fan"
Did you also look at Fantastik? What features make the Maxxair better?

"24 gallon SS inside fresh water tank
11 gallon SS outside gray water tank"
I like the idea of SS tanks rather than plastic. Where will you get them? Custom?

"All wiring outside the walls with "SO" rubber cords
"Free floating" house electrical independent of Sprinter. Not grounded to Sprinter."
This sounds interesting. What are the advantages of outside wiring and free-floating electrical. Since it's independent, not charged by the system alternator, you're relying entirely on the solar?

"Sink with cold water faucet"
Since you're heating water, why not a hot/cold mixer?

I'm hoping for a transverse bed in the rear. I need at least 6'. Specs say 5'10", but I've read elsewhere that is at floor level, that it's wider at the beltline a few feet up. Also may be able to use an inch or two into the sidewalls if the structural members are in the right place. Anyone have a photo or diagram of the interior walls?

One of my design benchmarks is the British manufacturer Vantage, Motorhome Van Conversions, Van Conversions | Vantage Motorhomes, esp their MED model.
But they're using Ducato/Promasters and I've moved my target vehicle to Transit for a number of reasons.

Look forward to reading more about your build.

Larry
Portland, OR
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,149 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Go to spronter-source.com for detailed answers to your questions.

This is a cord designed for the NE to connect a house to a engine block heater. 14/3 cord in a retractable reel hidden under van.

Shower pan is permanently mounted and drains into bottom of gray water tank to create a water seal. Use space in shower enclosure for portapotti, food storage and towel rack. Use garden hose with spray nozzle from keg. Jazz Sales

Maxxair has three advantages, Cover allows vent to be open in rain, no rain sensor, two cover support arms so vent can be open while driving.

Custom SS tanks. Traded some engineering time for the tanks.

Cords run behind cabinets and in floor. Cords do not require conduit and are much more flexible. Do have some 16/2 cords buried in ceiling. House electrical system uses two wires to every load. No need to ground to body. Less opportunity for shorts.

Two inverter system is very flexible. Nice to have 120 volt power available while driving. Can use 120 volts while driving to power charger. Very seldom required. Solar keeps up for my use. Since I installed the larger 205 watt solar panel 8 months ago I have only used the solar for charging.

I just wash dishes with cold water. No need for hot water at sink.

Transit measures 74" wide just below windows in back.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,149 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Would appreciate some feedback on my build specification of the Transit. What did I miss or what do I list that I should not buy?

101A Transit Cargo Van with 3.7 Gas Engine
R2X T-250 148" High Roof 9000 Sliding passenger side door & rear windows
X4L 4.10 Limited Slip Axle Ratio
21D Dual Bucket Seats with Dr. Side Manual Lumbar in charcoal cloth
53B Heavy Duty Trailer Tow Package
98C CNG/LPG Gaseous Engine Prep Package
63C 220 amp Heavy Duty Alternator
63E Dual Heavy Duty Batteries
41H Engine Block Heater
67D Trailer Brake Controller
542 Heated Power Mirrors with Turn Signals & Short Arm
17B Fixed Passenger Side & Rear Cargo Door Glass
92E Privacy Glass
58V Am/Fm Single CD Radio
60C Cruise Control
62C Aux. Heater & AC Prep w/o Rear Controls
85D LED Load Compartment Lighting Package
94C Front Map Lights
61C Rear View Camera
43R Reverse Sensing System
68B Remote Start
86F 2 Additional Keys
67C User Defined Upfitter Switches (4)
90B Rear 12v Power Point

Invoice = $37,721 & Retail = $41,170
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
22 Posts
Orton

Thanks, I'll use this as a base for my list.
Major differences are MWB, Med top. I'll go for the 3.73 axle.

Not sure about 150 vs 250 model. 400lbs rating, what are other differences besides springs? I've ridden in vans with a lot of excess capacity and they are very stiff without a pretty full load.

What are you doing for a display and/or Nav? Doesn't the rear cam require something?

Also not sure about the second battery. With a 150A coach battery bank I'm not sure I need it.

More later when I refine my list.

Larry
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
65 Posts
What is the difference between the 150 vs 250, used to be you got a larger: radiator, brakes, wheel bearings, springs,alternator transmission etc… Haven't been able to decipher the specs between the two to identify the differences.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
266 Posts
Thanks, Dave - good point to think from for me...

Also interested in specific details on 150 vs 250...

With respect to dual batteries, initially that was a reflexive yes for me. But would be interested as to Ford's intent for the 2nd battery. Isolated for customer use? Or just a beefier equiv battery for vehicle use only.

Also, anybody know what the Perimeter Anti-theft Alarm option is? Anything sophisticated like accelerometer-based motion sensing? Or something else?

For me, lt's 130" WB, medium top, and dual sliding doors.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,149 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Orton

Thanks, I'll use this as a base for my list.
Major differences are MWB, Med top. I'll go for the 3.73 axle.

Not sure about 150 vs 250 model. 400lbs rating, what are other differences besides springs? I've ridden in vans with a lot of excess capacity and they are very stiff without a pretty full load.

What are you doing for a display and/or Nav? Doesn't the rear cam require something?

Also not sure about the second battery. With a 150A coach battery bank I'm not sure I need it.

More later when I refine my list.

Larry
Is MWB the 130" WB?
High roof requires the 4.1 rear with 3.7
I do not know the differences between 150/250
Both cruise control & the radio I picked have the 4" middle dashboard screen I assume is used by camera. Either that or the rear view mirror is used.
If it is a conversion I would think the larger alternator and two batteries would be an advantage.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
241 Posts
Bit of introduction: I currently own a 08 144"WB diesel Sprinter that has been converted to a stealth camper....

Conversion includes:...
255 amp hr. Lifeline 8D AMG house battery
Indoor shower pan
5 gallon beer keg converted to shower water heater with DC pump
...
Greetings,
I was wondering (unless i missed the "fuel" source??) how the water heater is _heated_? Is it a DC water heater coil inside the keg?

I'm kicking around the idea of utilizing a marine grade water/air heater but they are spendy!! (available for gas or diesel).

Also, on the 8D battery (nice choice!), will your fitment allow for easy replacement when the time comes? (I'm assuming yes, but those things are heavy, i'd want the battery folks to swap it out when needed if i went that way.)

Thom
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
640 Posts
Also, anybody know what the Perimeter Anti-theft Alarm option is? Anything sophisticated like accelerometer-based motion sensing? Or something else?

.
We had some young kid @ work that had this "junk" car with a perimter alarm on it, He parked in the wrong place (by the main entrance). when you got within 10 ft of it, a loud speaker would say "stand back from the vehicle!"
some grabed a parking cone, placed it about 8 ft away, till everyone heard it.
We never saw it again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,585 Posts
Maybe he was used to parking at the old train station near Cork Town, or possibly Michigan and Trumbull. Where else would he expect to get ten feet of guaranteed perimeter clearance?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
640 Posts
The alarm system was worth? more than the vehicle (pollution/crash bumper 80s camaro)
Looked brush painted with old yellow latex house paint.
Alot of brand new Very nice cars @ work
What was he thinking?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,149 Posts
Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
The fuel source for the keg water heater is the second vehicle powered inverter. I have two inverters. The "house" inverter is a pure sine 1000 watt Magnum MS1012 inverter/charger/transfer switch. The "vehicle" inverter is Xantrax 600 watt pure sine inverter only. Sprinter 12 volt system powers the 600 watt "vehicle" inverter while the engine is running. The keg has a Hottwatt 120v AC electric heating element that is sold to give regular RV propane water heaters the option of heating water with 120 v AC power when you have access to shore power. The kit includes a thermostat. The current 450 watt heating element requires about 45 minutes of driving to get the 5 gallons to 90 degrees. No mixing with cold water. All water is at the correct temperature so no wasted water.

The new Transit will also have two inverters. The same Magnum "house" inverter but the "vehicle" inverter will be increased in size to a 1000 watt pure sine inverter. The "vehicle" inverter will be able to power the "house" inverter charger or the keg water heater or a 750 watt electric baseboard heater in the back of the van. The shower water heating time should be reduced to about 1/2 hour. By buying a gas engine I will be able to idle the engine to do any of the 3 functions.

I installed the 8D battery by myself without help. Do have a small tractor with a bucket to raise it up to the floor level. Slides easily across floor to where it is located inside van. One battery reduces cables. Also bought it with spade terminals for easier connections.

Normally the battery is at 93%/94% SOC in the morning and back up to 100% by noon. The 205 watt solar panel has done all the charging for the last 9 months. Never connected to shore power or the alternator since I increased solar panel size to 205 watts. The second "vehicle" inverter is available for charging if the sun is not shining for several days. Another thing I have learned to do on gray days is to turn on the "vehicle" inverter while driving. My largest power user is the refrigerator. It runs on 120v AC while driving so all amperage generated by the solar panel is used to charge the house battery.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
241 Posts
Greetings and thank you for your informative reply about the heating of water in your current and planned rig.

I have a question relating to the inverters/power.
By way of background my wife and i camp in areas that are not conducive to solar power (Pacific Northwest and lots of tree or cloud cover). Soooo...i've been trying to figure out how to do the basics (heating of air and water) without propane or solar. Your mention of the gaser being able to idle and (hopefully economically!) intrigues me. With that in mind i ask the following:

In your opinion, would it be possible, without much fuss (i.e. what type of inverter/battery bank etc in your guesstimate) to run an induction hot plate in the rig's kitchen? We currently use a NuWave unit with the following specs:
quoted from ( NuWave FAQ LINK )

"For those cooking on the road or open water, operation of the NuWave PIC2 requires 10.83 amps when used on an RV or boat.

Please note this information is based on line voltages registering 120V. Consult the chart below for wattage use varying by setting.

Temperature Setting Watt Setting
Low (100F~170F) 600W
Med.Low(175F~270F) 600W
Med(275F~370F) 800W
--Thom's note--- i've only used the above three settings at home to cook. It is our primary cook source in our full time 38 foot fifth wheel.---

Med.High(375F~420F) 1000W
High(425F~560F) 1200W
Sear 1300W"

----end of FAQ quote.

It usually takes ~3 to 4 minutes to boil 1 quart of water
OR
5 minutes max to bring a typical meal up to simmer and then ~another 5 to ready-to-eat.

-----on air heating. I read that you had the espar(?) hydronic/air heater in your current sprinter. Have you considered the gas fueled version of that in the Ford gas rig? Expensive i realize. I'm just trying to wrap my mind around the idea of starting the van's engine everytime(?) i want to cook or heat the rig. Seams sort of negating the reason to get away, but i'm still pondering and learning with an open mind.

More than likely we would not bother with solar as explained above, so that part of the build fund could be allocated in additional batteries(?), inverter, alternator, etc?? For refrigeration we might continue with the ice-cooler as it is doing fine for the ~5 to 6 days between restocking.

Cheers,
Thom
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,149 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Using Transit engine for a generator in not economical for any long time period. I would only use it for short periods of time. 1/2 hour to heat shower water every other day. 1/4 hour in the morning to warm van. I stay warm at night by using a 12 v DC heating pad under the sleeping bag.

11 amps on 120v AC is 110 amps DC divided by .85 inverter eff. = 14 amps or 140 amp hours if used for one hour = 70 amp-hrs for 1/2 hour. So each use would use up 1/4-1/3 of the capacity of my 255 amp-hr. battery. Batteries should not be depleted more than 50% so each use would use up 1/2of the usable amp-hors available. Not practical.
I use a two burner CampChef Ranger 2 propane powered stove. Uses small1 lb. cylinders. The other advantage is it can be used on a picnic table or on my fold down outdoor table. Much more practical than using electric power. The induction cooking plate also would require a 2000 watt inverter which is much larger than needed for everything else. I have a 1000 watt inverter that just works with a "600 watt" microwave.

I will start without any heater other than my 12v DC heating pad. I let van get cold at night and then heat it when I get up in the morning. If I do decide to buy a heater it will probably be
a Propex propane under the floor heater. No propane inside. I also do not want propane inside the vehicle. 1 lb containers is ok for cooking. I store them outside.

Do not give up on solar. You do drive to the camp sites in sunshine some of the time. I have driven in Oregon for a week and never needed to charge battery with anything but the solar panel. It does provide amps on gray days. One conservation method I use is to power my refrigerator with 120 volt "shore" power as I drive. I have a second inverter that provides 120 volt Ac from the Sprinter 12 volt system with engine running.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
241 Posts
Thanks again for the informative reply orton.

On battery bank and install with the ford... i know it has the dual battery option from the factory... What do you have in mind for your build?
Amp hour capacity, type, location(s) ?

I've pretty much decided against going with the optima line as you don't get much AH-bang for size with them, even though they can be placed inside (the larger 75ah version with venting hose attachment.)

Thom
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,149 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Existing Sprinter electrical:
255 amp-hr Lifeline 8D AGM battery with spade terminals located inside at left rear
About 18" forward of battery is a Magnum MS1012 1000 watt inverter/charger/transfer switch with remote meter and with the shunt.
Shore power cord reel mounted under left rear corner
205 watt Kyosera 27.7 volt single solar panel
Morningstar 15 amp output MPPT solar controller
Iota combination AC/DC power distribution panel
600 watt Xantrex "vehicle" inverter powered by the Sprinter 12 volt system
Blue Sea selector switch to select either shore power from reel or "shore" power from the "vehicle" powered Xantrex.
House 12 volt system in not grounded to the chassis. Two wire cords used.
No connection between house 12 v and vehicle 12v. No direct alternator charging.
All charging done with proper 3 stage charger. Either Morningstar or Magnum or both.

Electrical system has worked very well and will be copied in the Transit with a few changes.

Transit powered "vehicle" inverter will change from 600 watts to 1000 watts. That will allow full 50 amp battery charging by Magnum instead of 30 amps, can add a 750 watt electric air heater in rear of van and reduce shower water heating time from 45 minutes to 30 minutes.

Will separate the AC and DC distribution panel to reduce wire rats nest. Will change to a Blue Sea DC distribution panel with terminal strip.

Will add 3 position selector switch to choose air heating or shower water heating or charging for output of 1000 watt "vehicle" inverter.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,149 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
I have lost confidence in the Sprinter getting me to my destination. And along the way there are very few Sprinter service locations.
I also want to build another because I have learned enough from the first try that I can make a lot of improvements. Also want a simpler gas engine instead of a complicated diesel.
Sprinter conversion is dialed in and works extremely well. Very satisfied with the conversion. It works. Since I increased size of solar panel, it has not required any shore or vehicle alternator charging. All charging from solar.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
164 Posts
If it is too much to ask please ignore my question.

I am interested in the size and type of wiring you used to interconnect your solar system components?

Its not that I am likely to replicate it. But in the 1980s I worked in energy management in Phoenix, which had a huge fledgling solar power industry and I am just wondering? I have a background in engine driven AC & DC power generation and distribution.

Ray Kendall was respected by Motorola management and he brought the US automated silicone cell production forward many steps. I cannot find much online about Ray, but gee he was a knowledgeable fun man to know.

Greg Hayden
 
1 - 20 of 749 Posts
Top