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Me too, but I also tend to go overboard when I'm uncertain and doing something new. There are lots of ways to do this job. But the goal is always the same - secure at highway speeds with no leaks. I used a plastic outer adapter from Hein and made my own inner adapter from wood to mate with my ceiling contour. I used butyl tape on both sides of the outer adapter and a little construction adhesive to hold the inner adapter against the ceiling. But then I went overboard with the Dicor and emptied a whole tube around the base of the fan. Not pretty. In hindsight, I could have just covered the screw heads. The perfect contour of the outer plastic adapter plus all those screws into the inside adapter created a very uniform, tight seal with just the butyl tape. Even better would have been to follow Hein's recommendations and seal the outer adapter to the roof with Windoweld.

FYI everyone, exposed butyl tape dries up and cracks over time. Not an issue for thin sandwiched applications, but don't leave thick build-ups exposed. DAMHIK
I also pumped nearly an entire tube of Dicor all around my fan. :D I didn't want any leaks.

Thanks for the note on the butyl tape drying.

Related, I feel that due to the elements, a fan installation should be inspected regularly. The sun is very harsh. I suspect that even the Dicor will need to be peeled off and a new slathering be reapplied should it ever dry up. It reminds me that I've not done that this year.
 
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Discussion Starter #82
Installed swivels today. First one took 2 hours cuz I had to figure out how, buy a T40 torx bit, and buy beer. Second one took 30 minutes.

66505
 

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Discussion Starter #83
I discovered that the street is a fine place for cutting wood.

But I'm thinking of installing my fan in the near future and cannot figure out how to get to the roof. Stack books? Park next to a tree? It seems ridiculously wasteful to buy a ladder just to install a fan. Maybe buy a ladder, install fan, return ladder?

Also discovered the majority of time is not installing a thing, it is research, drive to store, search for things, ask questions, read labels, try other stores, etc. I installed the floor the other weekend, took 5 hours or so. But it took the entire previous day to buy stuff. This weekend I wanted to work again. But it again took the whole day to buy stuff and I still need to find more tomorrow.
 

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For a fan install, you might get away with buying a collapsible ladder. The fan is small and you can lug it up onto the roof with a ladder like that. For installing something large like solar panels (large ones anyway), you'll need a proper tall stepladder.

I'm suggesting a collapsible ladder because it is useful to have on the road and so you may want to store it in the van permanently (i.e., it's not a waste). I needed to use my ladder a few times on my trips.

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I discovered that the street is a fine place for cutting wood.

But I'm thinking of installing my fan in the near future and cannot figure out how to get to the roof. Stack books? Park next to a tree? It seems ridiculously wasteful to buy a ladder just to install a fan. Maybe buy a ladder, install fan, return ladder?

Also discovered the majority of time is not installing a thing, it is research, drive to store, search for things, ask questions, read labels, try other stores, etc. I installed the floor the other weekend, took 5 hours or so. But it took the entire previous day to buy stuff. This weekend I wanted to work again. But it again took the whole day to buy stuff and I still need to find more tomorrow.
Yup

Design/Build DIY Van Conversions. We buy a van, have a rough idea of design, & start building. The design process involves much research in a hobby that changes over time with new technology, new materials, & new equipment. Without a fully detailed design you can not produce an accurate materials list. I highly doubt any DIYer on this forum has ever performed a fully detailed design & put it on paper prior to starting the build process.

I estimate I could build Van #2 in 35% of the time it took me to build van #1. Less research, less time on design, & less mistakes. The DIY path is a self education process where you gain knowledge & skills that are very valuable if you heed them again (most of us will).

Regarding the ladder; another option would be to rent one from a rental shop if the rate is cheap enough not to buy something.
 

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This is why I started offering the "rent my shop" option" to DIYers. (Livermore, CA)

Among the other tools and parts, I have 2 tall, heavy duty electrician's ladders. They were not cheap but really handy for van roof work.

It is amazing how efficient a person can be if the tools and a semi - useful helper are right there at the van. You can work while I hand stuff to you.
 

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Discussion Starter #88
Yup

Design/Build DIY Van Conversions. We buy a van, have a rough idea of design, & start building. The design process involves much research in a hobby that changes over time with new technology, new materials, & new equipment. Without a fully detailed design you can not produce an accurate materials list. I highly doubt any DIYer on this forum has ever performed a fully detailed design & put it on paper prior to starting the build process.

I estimate I could build Van #2 in 35% of the time it took me to build van #1. Less research, less time on design, & less mistakes. The DIY path is a self education process where you gain knowledge & skills that are very valuable if you heed them again (most of us will).

Regarding the ladder; another option would be to rent one from a rental shop if the rate is cheap enough not to buy something.
I don't doubt at all that a second build would be that much faster, especially if the design is similar. I have my basic layout and major components planned out, but keep running into stuff where I really need to know the EXACT component I want and where it will live permanently because it affects another part and then another and another etc. Then I think if this ever breaks and is unavailable the replacement could be a different shape/size and not fit, so I have to plan for potential changes here and there. I did the bed platform this weekend, and have to plan for removing part of it to access what I plan to put underneath in case I need to replace an electrical components or something.

For a fan install, you might get away with buying a collapsible ladder. The fan is small and you can lug it up onto the roof with a ladder like that. For installing something large like solar panels (large ones anyway), you'll need a proper tall stepladder.

I'm suggesting a collapsible ladder because it is useful to have on the road and so you may want to store it in the van permanently (i.e., it's not a waste). I needed to use my ladder a few times on my trips.
Oh yeah, I do want to add solar. Problem is I am in an apartment and don't have anywhere to store large things like ladders. All my tools and materials live in the van. Might have to go the rent a ladder route.

Yup, you’re learning. Doing the actual work is nothing it’s sourcing the parts & materials.
This weekend I spent the entire Saturday planning out a buy list and buying things. Then today I spent the first hour and a half buying more stuff. Then around 6.5 hours insulating wheel wells and building a bed platform. R&D is by far the majority of the time though. I'd guess 60% R&D, 25% buying stuff, 15% working. The 15% work is split 5% figuring out how, 2% set up and clean up, 3% learning and doing slowly, and 5% actually working quickly. At least I'm getting better with my tools.

This is why I started offering the "rent my shop" option" to DIYers. (Livermore, CA)

Among the other tools and parts, I have 2 tall, heavy duty electrician's ladders. They were not cheap but really handy for van roof work.

It is amazing how efficient a person can be if the tools and a semi - useful helper are right there at the van. You can work while I hand stuff to you.
Livermore, you say? It's a bit of a drive, but in the area.
 

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I don't doubt at all that a second build would be that much faster, especially if the design is similar. I have my basic layout and major components planned out, but keep running into stuff where I really need to know the EXACT component I want and where it will live permanently because it affects another part and then another and another etc. Then I think if this ever breaks and is unavailable the replacement could be a different shape/size and not fit, so I have to plan for potential changes here and there. I did the bed platform this weekend, and have to plan for removing part of it to access what I plan to put underneath in case I need to replace an electrical components or something.


Oh yeah, I do want to add solar. Problem is I am in an apartment and don't have anywhere to store large things like ladders. All my tools and materials live in the van. Might have to go the rent a ladder route.


This weekend I spent the entire Saturday planning out a buy list and buying things. Then today I spent the first hour and a half buying more stuff. Then around 6.5 hours insulating wheel wells and building a bed platform. R&D is by far the majority of the time though. I'd guess 60% R&D, 25% buying stuff, 15% working. The 15% work is split 5% figuring out how, 2% set up and clean up, 3% learning and doing slowly, and 5% actually working quickly. At least I'm getting better with my tools.


Livermore, you say? It's a bit of a drive, but in the area.
Hang in there @aaronmcd it gets better or you just get use to the hours of research & tweaked design changes. I believe in designing in separate components & trying to stay away from proprietary products. An example of what I am talking about would be a roof fan which in the RV Industry has a standard “rough opening“ hole of 14” by 14”. The idea is if you have the need to replace this unit after years you should be able to buy & drop in a new fan into the old opening. Design & build for “serviceability” repairs maintenance etc. An example of this is the majority of my wiring for electrical was placed after my ceiling, wall, & floor panels were all installed. That way I can alter or fix easily.

Not sure exactly where you are in your build, however in general breaking the entire build into smaller tasks & then tackling each task in a determined sequence will provide you a loose schedule. An example from my experience in order would be;

roof fan, shore power, any windows (any other perimeter penetrating items)

Any wiring or mechanical (plumbing etc) that has to be behind the finished (ceiling, wall, floor) panels or surfaces

Ceiling & Wall Insulation & Finished Panels

Floor Insulation & Plywood (floor finish)

Ceiling hung cabinets/shelves

Bed & floor cabinets

Electrical & Mechanical

All Other Finishing Items


It is all worth it in the end !!
 

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Discussion Starter #90
Renogy 2000W inverter "new version" arrived today. Amazon said it had "significant cosmetic damage", which seems to be only on the cardboard box. But it came with a warranty card so I assume it is covered. It came with double 4 AWG wires. An online calculator claims this is equal to 1 gauge.

The bed platform I built over the weekend is a bit squishy. I should have calculated shear flow since I designed a built up bed relying on shear flow to treat 2 layers of ply and a few 1x2s as a composite beam. Ideal deflection calc shows 3/16" but I'm getting around 3/4". So now I did the shear flow calc and it looks like I really underestimated how many fasteners it takes for full composite action. Shoulda used glue, but I plan on getting some larger screws and doubling the quantity. If it remains flexy, it's ok as long as I'm confident in the strength calcs.
 

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Discussion Starter #91
Added #14 screws and it's ~twice as stiff.

Today added some supports on the bed platform, glued threaded rod into the ledger board to support the platform, and got started on gluing insulation. Will need at least a few more cans of this 3M90, and probably bought too much polyiso. Bought 4 sheets, but haven't even started on them yet cutting up the leftover XPS for some smaller panels.


Bed panel after adding bigass screws:
67241


Today's workshop:
67242


Bed on ledger board from last weekend before I added holdown threaded rods and support for the overhanging parts:
67243
 

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Discussion Starter #92
The glue for bed bolts didn't hold, and I discovered threaded inserts which are much better. Installed these and bolted down the bed platform yesterday.

Also I cut the first hole in the van. Installed a Van Windows Direct half slider window on the sliding door.

Today I took the ladder rack off the roof using a telescoping ladder I bought for 100 bucks on Amazon. Also glued in a bit more insulation. The hardware store near me doesn't carry 3M 90 so I bought a loctite spray adhesive. It says not to use on polystyrene so I tested it on polyiso and it was fine. I also tested on a corner of XPS and it dissolved the foam.

Getting ready to install the window:
67440


Cut a big hole in the van!
67441


Window in.
67442


Van looks so much better with a window and no ladder rack.
67443


Should I keep these rails? They are a bit wonky. And they scraped the paint underneath in a few spots and there's some rust. Should probably do something about that.
67444


Bolted down the bed platform. Also handy as a storage shelf lol. Should I paint it or just leave it bare?
67445


Glued some insulation. This rigid stuff is a PITA cuz I have to cut it so carefully in so many pieces. Once I get all the pieces in I'm thinking great stuff and some thinner foam for gaps. Have no clue how to put on walls or cabinets.
67446


I unboxed the fridge and it's dented. Return? Ask for a partial refund and keep it (if it works)?
67447
 

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Discussion Starter #93 (Edited)
So I've still been assuming this general layout. I'm looking into interior elevations a bit, and it turns out the fold out desk at the driver seat might not be that great.
1) The driver seat with swivel is high, and the fold out counter would have to be quite high from the floor.
2) A high desk in that location does not allow for cabinets above. They would have to be set back 18" which seems like a waste of good cabinet space.
3) If it is folded out for a desk, and the area beneath is being used to put stuff, the desk can't be put away.

The other option would be your standard table on a pole more to the middle. This could be nice to eat together, and provide a more inward facing desk to allow more cabinets, but putting it away and setting up seems a bit more of a pain.

Any thoughts?

So as I do, I play with dimensions and try and make stuff work. If I lengthen it a bit and shift the swivel point, it could swivel out farther from the driver side, thus allowing the cabinets to extend 8" farther to the front and still have a comfortable 26" of unobstructed desk plus a bit more under cabinets. Still the cabinets cannot come too far forward or it would feel awkward being too close to my head.
 

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A few thoughts...

- that window is nice!

- if you're putting the fan at the back of the roof, it's easy to install from a ladder leaning on the back of the van. That's how I did mine.

- I'd dump the rack rails but keep the hold downs. Might come in useful for future ideas!

- one word: countersink. On the bed, countersinking the screws would make for a smoother surface. Not criticizing, but next time, consider countersinking the screw heads, or use pan head screws. If you mattress is wrapped in a cloth cover it might get caught on a screw head. Maybe cover the screw heads with duct tape strips to prevent that...

- that window is nice! (already said that, but it's really nice! Good choice!

Enjoying your street-install posts!
 

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Discussion Starter #95
A few thoughts...

- that window is nice!

- if you're putting the fan at the back of the roof, it's easy to install from a ladder leaning on the back of the van. That's how I did mine.

- I'd dump the rack rails but keep the hold downs. Might come in useful for future ideas!

- one word: countersink. On the bed, countersinking the screws would make for a smoother surface. Not criticizing, but next time, consider countersinking the screw heads, or use pan head screws. If you mattress is wrapped in a cloth cover it might get caught on a screw head. Maybe cover the screw heads with duct tape strips to prevent that...

- that window is nice! (already said that, but it's really nice! Good choice!

Enjoying your street-install posts!
Window seems nice. It's got the screen on the outside, but my wife doesn't think it looks bad and it stayed in place on the freeway so seems fine.

Fan will be in front in the flat spot to make it easy. Bunk windows will draw intake air. I feel I can do it with my telescoping ladder moving from side to side.

Rails: I want to install solar panels side to side. Was thinking the rails might help with mounting solar, but haven't really dug into the details yet. These rails are kinda crap so might be worth spending the time on researching better rails with better mounting.

Screw heads: I initially used #7 screws that went in pretty good, but after testing and some calcsI added some beefy #14 screws. I chose these heads cuz I thought I could get them to sink in good. I predrilled holes and even drilled larger holes at the top (makeshift countersink) which helped a bit but they still stick out some. But I feel like when I put on a mattress I'm not gonna move it so it'll be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #96
PLEASE CRITIQUE LAYOUT!

Finally, after trying to spend minutes after work here and there I got an idea that seems reasonable for electric components. I have 6" between inverter and b2b charger, 6" between charger and charge controller. Wires included in approximate real life locations.

All main switches at the rear door - top to bottom - solar, main, DC, battery charger. DC fuse I'm still thinking about, but this seemed like an easy and accessible location.

Inverter is at the front edge of the bed so we can use the AC outlets before I get outlets hard wired.

Batteries are sideways for space saving and ease of access to terminals. They are located just above the wheel well flange and set back as far as possible toward the side panel.

Cyan is the bed.

67848
 

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Discussion Starter #97
One annoying thing the sterling b2b charger positive wire. I could run straight to the charger with a few inches, but I want a breaker switch located near other breakers and main on/off switch, which requires an extra 4 ft. Not long for 4awg if the wire fits, but more cluttered than I like. I could try and relocate the b2b breaker and the DC load breaker to be more in line, but that puts them in the box which I didn't want.
 

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One annoying thing the sterling b2b charger positive wire. I could run straight to the charger with a few inches, but I want a breaker switch located near other breakers and main on/off switch, which requires an extra 4 ft. Not long for 4awg if the wire fits, but more cluttered than I like. I could try and relocate the b2b breaker and the DC load breaker to be more in line, but that puts them in the box which I didn't want.
Hi @aaronmcd

I briefly looked at your schematic above, but did not thoroughly go thru it.

Regarding your B2B breaker switch near the main on/off switch; I am wondering if instead of a on/off switch you would be better off using a “4 position” switch like I used? My switch “off / house batteries / starter battery (alternator charge) in your case B2B / Both.

1 switch that; turns everything off or can disconnect the B2B from the house bank. I have fuses in my system (not breakers).

Thought I would throw that idea out there. The 4 position switch was $5 or &10 more than the simple On/Off


67849


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Discussion Starter #99
That would work (I think - it's on the negative but I could run the ground through the switch) except I'd still need a fuse and I already bought everything anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #100
Thinking of trying to move the DC fuse box up next to the inverter, because that little spot in front of the wheel well could be a good toilet paper stash. Also I have a cat, and gotta make sure the cat can't get at any wires. Maybe the whole side wall hinges down into the bike compartment for access.
 
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