This spring my wife and I decided to sell our travel trailer and try a camper van instead. This would allow me to handle the "let's stop here" request without anxiety over an exit strategy with the trailer. I hate disconnecting to get out of a jam.
We couldn't find a factory model that suited us so I said "let's build one, piece of cake". Yeah, right! This job took much longer than I promised but we are now just about ready for the maiden voyage after missing the summer camping season.
It turned out our requirements made it difficult to fit everything into the 136" wheel base Promaster we wanted. At my age a bathroom was a necessity (all you that suffer BPH know what I mean). We also needed the stuff we enjoyed in the trailer - a stove, fridge, heater, fresh and gray water system, electrical system, dining area, and a decent bed. Consequently planning took a long time. I used much info from the Promaster forum and the great builditsolar.com site.
With a rough plan in hand we bought a 2015 diesel high roof 136" WB Promaster with a lot of great options. The most appreciated were the factory trailer hitch, power mirrors, speed control, back-up camera, and park assist. I also really like the automated manual transmission in the diesel version.
The only way to fit all this stuff in was run the bed crosswise, utilizing the 74" width of the body. I am 72" tall so this was satisfactory when I mocked it up. The bed would turn into a dinette for daytime use that is located at the very front of the cargo area. This meant that one could not walk inside from the cab to the camper section, which was a reasonable trade off. This scheme makes use of some space in the cab by moving the seats all the way forward for camper mode and then deploying a hinged panel that makes the bed wider. Here is the initial plan:
The drawing shows the folding panel behind the seats and a leaf the hinges up from the right side dinette seat. A panel stored under the seat is then placed to bridge the gap from the leaf to the left side dinette seat. The table is dropped to seat level and the cushions rearranged to make the bed. There is just enough room to squeeze out the sliding door when the bed is made.
The other cabinets and fixtures are similar to those seen in other conversions. The stove and water heater run on propane, the fridge is 12 VDC electric, and the heater is an Espar diesel fuel model. I didn't want to deal with a black water tank so I selected a Thetford C-200 toilet with a removable waste water cassette. The access to the cassette is through a door at the back of the toilet, which allows me to remove the tank through the van's back door. This toilet is not imported into the US but I was able to get one from the UK via eBay.
I also included an inverter in this design, which I didn't have in the trailer. Now we will be able to run the microwave and TV without being hooked up. The inverter/charger is a pure sine 2 KW unit running off two 6V AGM batteries.
Here is list of some of the major items purchased for the conversion:
- Thetford C-200 Toilet
- Nova Kool R4500DC Fridge
- Manchester 6814 ASME propane tank
- Flexco FP-1220 Retractable step
- Luverne grip steps for cab doors
- Barker 10109 20 gallon fresh water tank
- Ameri-Kart HT189B Holding Tank
- Right and Left windows by Motion Windows
- Garelick Eez-In Adjustable Table Pedestal
- Moen Kg2045522 Sink
- Ramblewood GC2-43P cooktop
- Aquajet 55QUAJET-AES fresh water pump
- Panasonic NN-SD37S microwave
- Espar Airtronic D2 diesel heater
- Espar Digi-Max D1000 controller
- Atwood GC6AA-10E propane water heater
- Cole Hersee 48530 smart battery isolator
- Fan-Tastic Vent Fan
- US Battery AGM 2000 6V Batteries
- Kisae Abso Sinewave Inverter-Charger, 2Kw (IC1220100)
- Fiamma F65S Awning
I will follow up with more posts later showing the construction details.