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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
About time to post my build process for our Adventuremobile. My wife and I are avid cyclists, and we wanted something that would cater to that lifestyle. So over the course of a few posts, I will relate my build, step by step as much as possible.

Background:
I retired a couple years ago, and moved cross-country to where my wife was in residency. We sold our long-time home in North Dakota, and sold almost all of our belongings, rather than move it all. I moved down with all of my belongings in the back of my Subaru Outback. So very few tools, etc.

I do have a long history of DIY, home remodeling, and even (long ago) construction and cabinet making. My wife insisted that the build be very simple and basic, where as I wanted a bit more sophistication. We settled on the simpler side of things, and in hindsight, that was a good choice for us.

We attended a 4-day cycling event in Georgia, camping out of my Outback in a tent. We arrived just before midnight, in the rain, and had to pitch camp. It was cold at night, and wet, and in the morning, as we were sipping our coffee, another cycling couple pulled up in a rented camper van, deployed their awning, and were camping! My wife said: "We need one of those!" And the adventure begins.

Deciding on the Promaster:
After looking at the vans that were available, we decided on the Promaster because of the lower floor height, wider cargo space, and good gas mileage. We considered diesel, but the cost of maintenance and repairs led us to the Promaster gas. We knew we wanted the high roof, and enough room for a comfortable camper build, but also the mobility and manuverability to get into and out of some "less-than-stellar" backroads and campsites. So we ultimately settled on the PM 159 HR. Now to find one!

Purchasing the van:
I shopped in 5 states for a van. The used market was such that you could save a few thousand, maybe. They were few and far between. I did not want to spend a lot of time and money on a build on a van platform that had high miles. So new it was! The standard operating procedure for Promaster salesmen seemed to be advertise and enticing low price online and in the newspaper, then bait and switch when the prospective buyer came in to make a deal. This happened at six different dealers.

Then, I ran into Hendrick Chrysler in Charlotte, NC. I was literally just passing through, and decided to stop and talk to them. Of course, I had checked their inventory and prices online before I arrived, and even printed out the ad for the one I wanted (awaiting the bait and switch). I bought it on the spot for the offered price, which was very fair. It had cruise, the tow package, and that's about it. Just what I wanted. After my week long trip, I had to return with Mrs Blues to pick it up.

Here is a picture of it new at the dealer:
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Discussion Starter #2
The Design:
After watching a bunch of YouTube videos and visiting websites of commercial campervans, I had a pretty good idea of the basic layout that would serve our purposes: A side-to-side bed mounted high enough in the rear to accommodate the bikes below in garage area. Mrs Blues insisted that we retain as much open floor space as possible. So a small, simple galley/counter on the drivers wall, and the ARB fridge just inside the passenger side slider, accessible from outside the van as easily as inside. The design kind of came together as I built, I tried to pencil out a design, but quickly gave up and just started.....

The Sound Deadening:
After driving the van home from the dealer, I knew that it was in dire need of sound deadening. I read that the insulation can serve that purpose, but the last thing I wanted was to insulate and not be happy with the sound deadening, so I bought a lot of KillMat. I applied it liberally to the entire interior of the van, covering as much of the panels as was practical. I also applied to the door panels in the rear. I cut strips and applied them to the depressed "valleys" on the floor (although I did not worry about covering every inch).

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Discussion Starter #3
Shore Power Outlet:

At this point I installed the shore power outlet, just in front of the driver's side wheel well. The electronics were slated to go into this area, and it seemed like the logical spot to put it. I decided to install a 50 amp RV plug, and use an adapter for standard 30 amp extension cords as needed.

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Discussion Starter #4
Insulation:

After much reading and research on materials for insulation, I decided to use the foil backed Iso foam for the bulk of the insulation. It was kind of a pain, in that I had to make templates, then cut the foam a bit large, then trim to a good fit. It was not that difficult, but was time-consuming. Really time consuming.

I also used a bunch of Thinsulate (from Hein) for the doors, ceiling and the inside of the wheel well boxes. If I had it to do again, I would just go with all Thinsulate.

I used 3M 90 spray adhesive to attach both the foam and the Thinsulate. It worked well, but like rubber cement, you need to spray both surfaces, let dry until tacky, then stick the panel to the wall. No need to brace or tape. I went through A LOT of spray adhesive. I should have bought it by the box at Lowes. Yes, that much. Cans and cans and cans. Then I went around the edges of the rigid panels with Great Stuff. I bought the pro gun, which made it much easier. I also filled in the webs which I would not be using for wire runs. Finally, I cut strips of Thinsulate and pulled them through the larger webs, which could be used for wire runs.

On the floor I used XPS rigid foam, since it handles compression better than polyiso.

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Discussion Starter #5
Floor:

I decided to use 3/4" marine grade Oak plywood for the floor (and the lower walls). I originally wanted birch plywood, but could not find it locally. In the end, the oak looks nice. I used three pieces. The largest piece rant lengthwise in the front passenger side of the van. This would cover pretty much all of the usable floor space in the end. Then an 8 foot long strip under the galley on the driver's side front, and the rear was crafted from a single piece running perpendicular across the rear, under the bed. I bolted the pieces down using the factory D ring mounting points (with bolts, not D rings). This worked well.

I did not finish it right away, which in hindsight was a mistake. I sweat and was building this out in the deep south in the summer of 2019, when temps each day were in the high 90s and low 100s, with heavy oppressive humidity. I sweat puddles on the floor, and they got dirty, necessitating a heavy cleaning before sealing with polyurethane. This despite using my template made from RAM board as a floor protector.

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Discussion Starter #6
Max Air Fan Install:

We decided to install the MaxAir fan over the bed, as far back on the van as practical. We intended to install a rooftop AC unit on the front (we even purchased it). But for now, the rear fan has been good. I bought the install ring and interior boards from Hein. The ring shims up inside the peaks and valleys of the corrugated rooftop, providing a smooth surface for the fan install. In my mind, it is a necessity for a rear fan install on a Promaster.

I cut a hole in the roof with a Bosch sabre saw, after taping off the paint with blue painter's tape, and drilling holes in the corners of the hole. This was relatively easy. Afterwards, I filed and sanded the edges smooth and then painted the raw metal edges with white enamel to seal it. The interior was a bit tougher, even with the boards I purchased from Hein for the purpose. There were two different heights needed to make a square the same height, so it would seal inside to the ceiling.

The top side I used the recommended windshield sealnt to seal the adapter ring to the van, then butyl tape and screws for the fan top ring. Then I sealed the whole works with FlexSeal (white). Slip fan in and put in the screws, easy-peasy.

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Wiring:

I wanted to run wiring before putting up the interior walls. After some quick calculations I settled on 12g 10AWG stranded wire for all of the interior wiring. I bought a big roll of black and a big roll of red. I ran wire runs for all possible DC and AC runs. For instance I ran 110v wires to the front and back fan areas, as well as 12v wires. Also ran wires for a 12v pump for sink, even though we will be using a foot pump. Also ran 12v wires to areas where we may in the future need under cabinet lights. Plus all the lighting runs, fridge run, etc. I used wire loom only where wires passed through the metal webs, so vibration doesn't eventually cut the insulation.

The wire from the shore power connector to the inverter is 10AWG stranded pure copper appliance cord.

I ran all the wiring down to where the fuse/breaker box will be. I coiled up the extra wire and labeled both ends of every wire bundle with my label maker.

I also ran the cables for the battery to battery charger. 4AWG cables from the van battery to the rear driver's side wheelwell area. I ran the cable back through the little channel at the driver's side door opening, down under the black trim piece behind the driver's seat, and back through the lower channel between the floor and the skin of the van.

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Discussion Starter #8
Bed Coves:

I wanted as wide an area for the mattress as possible, so I built coves for the bed area. I used 2-by material for the edges, and 5mm luan for the "skin". This means that there is only about an inch of polyiso insulation behind the interior and the van skin in this area. The coves are just screwed into the webs of the van, with nylon spacers to reduce squeaks. That has never posed a problem with cold feet. Then I simply covered the rest of the top wall area with 5mm luan plywood, painted white. I also installed and wired two "headboard" lights, which I thought we would use for reading. We rarely use them.
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Lower Walls:

I constructed the lower walls from 3/4" oak plywood. I wanted solid walls in the garage and to attach my electronics to. I attached the lower walls (and the upper too) with rubber well nuts. Get the good ones at Lowes. I bought a bunch from Amazon, and they were small and did not hold properly. The Lowes ones are solid and hold tight. Squeak free. Squeaks and rattles bug the heck out of me, so a quiet, solid build was a basic requirement. I also used the factory d-ring mounting points to bolt it in, with nylon washers.

FWIW, I left the factory vents (the black plastic thinks in the rear of the van low on the wall). These act as one-way valves for air to escape when closing the doors. If you look close, you can see that the lower edge of the lower wall "floats about 3/4" off the floor, allowing air to flow to the vents.

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Wheel Well Boxes:

I constructed simple wheel well boxes from 3/4" oak plywood, with a 2x2 frame. Solid. The tops will be used for storage. I stuffed loose Thinsulate insulation in them, and ran wires for the rear 110v outlet and 12v outlet. I used Blue Sea 12v outlets, which are marine rated and excellent.

Valance:

That pesky area where the ceiling transitions to the wall. I wanted a smooth transition. I ended up gluing 3/4" plywood furring strips to the webs, and then attaching a strip of 3/4" plywood across the whole top valance area. This will serve as a solid base to attach the ceiling boards to.

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Discussion Starter #10
Ceiling:

I used bead boar ceiling, in a knotty pine. Mrs Blues and I discussed colors for the van, and did not want an all white "whiteout" effect. We decided on natural wood ceiling and floors, and white walls.

I first attached furring strips to the ceiling. I carefully cut them to profile the ceiling webs, out of 2x10 (or was it 12) material. In hindsight, this was a pain, and I should have just used a couple layers of thin plywood. But this worked well enough, just time consuming. I glued and screwed the furring strips to the ceiling webs.

The beadboard was glued with construction adhesive and pin-nailed to the furring strips. Due to the limited length of the boards, there is kind of a pattern in the joints, but I think it looks OK. As I installed the strips, I drilled holes for the ceiling lights, LED units off Amazon. I also fished the wires for the lights through to make installation easier.

I curved the edges of the ceiling down smoothly to meet the walls. I left a gap of about an inch where I installed strip LED lights (dimable). We use these lights all the time. The switch is by the headboard of the bed, easily reached when in bed. Picture will follow below, as that was installed a bit later.

For the areas above the two doors, I cut pieces of the beadboard and glued it (above the slider) and screwed it (above the rear doors - for access to the wires behind).

Then applied a couple coats of polyurethane to the ceiling, lower walls and floor. Floor received I believe 5 coats of polyurethane.

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Discussion Starter #11
Bed:

We wanted as much headroom as possible, AND enough room for the bikes below, so a thin bedframe was called for. I installed 4 unistruts (the half-height type of unistrut) across the lower shelf of the bed cove. These proved to bend a bit when I got in bed, so I added several 1x10s across between the unistruts. These were all screwed down to the 2 bys under the bed coves, which rest on the factory thick rails and are screwed and bolted securely in place. On top of the frame, I installed half-inch birch plywood (again, marine grade, which has more, thinner laminations). I also installed a 2x4 header under the front of the frame. I added this to increase stiffness and to make it easier to mount some other things like electrical outlets. I didn't want to add one to the rear because I would have to sacrifice height where we load the bikes. I DID add headers on the sides, even though I probably didn't need them. I coated it with polyurethane. I did NOT drill any holes for ventilation in the bed frame. It has not been a problem, but we do have a bed bag that supposedly seals the foam mattress.

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1) Do you have to lower seat posts to fit bikes in?
I have the same idea - fit bikes under and sit up in bed. I spanned a plywood sandwich for the bed, with flat 1x2s in the middle.

2) Do you have photos of the LED strip corner detail? I'm building my ceiling and planning lighting, and may try something similar.

3) Do you think LED strips at the corners would be enough lighting without the puck lights?
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Galley:

Mrs Blues insisted that we have a simple build. After searching for a narrow cabinet, and figuring we would need a prebuilt bathroom one, or a custom one. I built this entire van with only a sabre saw, drill, and sander. Not even a circular saw. Although I used to work for a cabinet maker, and have the skills, it was not going to happen.

Plan B: While shopping at Ikea, we saw a pipe-framed simple sink with a couple drawers. We bought it, along with a couple kids toy chest plastic bin slider units (which was our Plan C). We never did use the pipe-framed unit, and unfortunately had to throw it out when we moved. We DID use the Ikea toy bin holders, with a simple 1/2" birch plywood top. Sealed with polyurethane. I mounted a couple 2x4s to the floor and then screwed the sides of each unit to the 2x4s. Also screwed to the wall at the top.

I laced some shock cord across the bins to hold them in place while driving. This is secure and silent. I also strung a length of shock cord across the top of the opening under the sink, onto which I threaded a grey curtain to cover things up. Simple and effective.

Sink: Mrs Blues wanted a SMALL sink. I mean tiny. I obliged, using a small RV sink and drain. Below the sink I used a Camco RV pea trap, and a simple plastic corrugated tube to a plastic Jerry can mounted under the sink.

Water is supplied from a Primo 5 gallon jug mounted below the sink, through a stiff plastic hose simply stuck through the Primo seal on the top of the jug. The flexible hose is attached to the stiff hose and goes to the Whale Gusher foot pump, mounted to the floor through a silicone pan that covers the entire area between the bin-holders under the galley (to catch any errant water). Flexible tube runs from the foot pump up to a marine faucet (I think it is also Whale brand). It has no actual faucet or shut off. You pump when you want water, and don't pump when you don't want it running. Simple and effective. The 5 gallon Primo bottle is mounted to the wall with a heavy duty strap mount, designed to hold 20# propane cylinders. Super strong. The 6 gallon plastic jerry can is held by paracord laced across and over the jug in several places, with a cam-lock to retain it. It is not as stout as the Primo holder, but I typically drain the tank before we drive anywhere. It is super easy and quick to remove and drain the grey water jerry can, or replace the Primo bottle (or drain for the winter.

I am very happy with this simple setup. The only things I would change in a future build is a slightly larger sink, and a taller faucet.

Top "cabinets" are simple wire baskets. Works for us.
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Paper towel holder is super simple: a length of shock cord passing through a length of rigid plastic tubing, and tied with a slip loop knot and stretched over the wire basket. This accomplishes a couple things: It holds the paper towel roll strong enough that it doesn't unroll while driving, and it keeps it from rattling around and making noise. It is easy to replace the rolls when needed.
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I'll get some better pictures of the plumbing under the sink tomorrow.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
1) Do you have to lower seat posts to fit bikes in?
I have the same idea - fit bikes under and sit up in bed. I spanned a plywood sandwich for the bed, with flat 1x2s in the middle.

2) Do you have photos of the LED strip corner detail? I'm building my ceiling and planning lighting, and may try something similar.

3) Do you think LED strips at the corners would be enough lighting without the puck lights?
1) I have to lower it on my bikes, not on my wife's bike. My MTB has a dropper so it is no trouble. My road mike takes a 5mm allen, which I keep on a rare-earth magnet attached to the fork mount - easily within reach.

2) I will get to the valance lighting strips in the build. Give me a minute!

3) The valance light strips get pretty bright, but I only installed them over the bed area (and another set under the bed in the garage area, with a separate switch in the back below the bed). The puck lights are controlled by a dimmer switch mounted just inside the slider, high on the B pillar. Those lights are more general lighting for when we are cooking and playing cards.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Valance Lighting:

I bought a ling strip of white LED dimable lights off Amazon. I also bought aluminum channel into which they install and have a thin opaque plastic lens that covers everything up. They are controlled by a simple rotary dimmer switch mounted on the headboard near the front of the bed. We use these lights all the time while in bed. Way more than I thought we would.

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Garage Lighting:

I installed this after using the van for a while. I found that it was tough to load things up and access my toolbox in the dark, even with the cabin lights on, since the bed shades this area. So I bought some more LED strip lights and another simple rotary dimmer that I mounted under the bed on the driver's side. This works really well to light the area. I just ran the strip along, weaving back and forth across the bottom of the bed.

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Discussion Starter #16
Pictures of Galley Plumbing:

Here is a picture of the top of a full Primo bottle (5 gallons). I have already peeled off the label and exposed the smaller (white spot in the middle of the cap on the picture) foam seal. The hard plastic hose that forms the bottom of the siphon tube has been cut at an angle so that it doesn't suck tight against the bottom of the jug. This also serves to pierce the foam seal. The soft plastic tube seals pretty tight against the green plastic cap on the Primo bottle, enough that if I leave it that way and pump water, it collapses the jug. But if I pull it out so that only the hard plastic tube is through the cap, it works fine. I try to either drive with a full, sealed bottle, or push the feed tube down enough to seal it. And just remember to pull it up a half inch when I pitch camp.

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Primo bottle mounts to the metal bracket with the black web belt. Super secure.
 

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Another question. Did you pull out the existing van light to mount in the wall panel? How does it come out?
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Electrical System:

The electrical system is also pretty basic, but functional, and can be expanded over time. I have not yet installed solar panels or a charge controller. I am still contemplating how to do so. Since we have shore power charging through the inverter, and a Sterling battery to battery charger for when driving, it has not been a big priority.

Battery:
We have a single 100ah Battleborn Lion battery. I mounted a battery holder just in front of the driver's side wheel well, screwing it it firmly to the floor. The battery is held tight in the battery holder with a webbing strap. It is a solid mount. There is room for another battery along side the current one, and If I lay them on there sides and fabricate a different mounting system, I can fit 4 of these batteries in this same basic space. Room for expansion = flexibility.

Inverter-Charger:
I decided on an AIMS 2500w inverter-charger. A big factor in the decision is that the shore power comes directly into the inverter-charger and the inverter charger handles all things AC. It handles the grounding/bonding, which is something I was not too comfortable with cobbling something together. Even with my electrical engineer son-in-law looking over my plan. So this was a way to keep it simple and safe.

The inverter is mounted in front of the drivers side wheel well on the wall. I simply screwed it to the 3/4" plywood with 8 (or was it 10) screws. Solid. The main 12v cables from the inverter to the battery are 2/0 AWG pure copper stranded cable. I used a screw-type lug crimper to make all my heavy cables. I bought a hammer-type crimer first, but never used it, as the first crimp was on the B2B charger to the van battery, which had to be done in the cab of the van. I was not keen on wailing on the crimper using the van body as support, so enter the screw-type crimper, which worked really well with my 1/4" impact driver. I also used heavy duty shrink wrap to finish the ends. They came out great.

I also bought the AIMS remote switch for the inverter. It is pretty inexpensive and simple. I mounted it on the large pillar on the driver's side wall, where I mounted most of my electronic gauges, switches, meters, etc. But it allows me to turn it on and off, as well as verify what mode it is in, without crawling under the bed.

Fuse/Breaker Panel:
I went with a combo 12v 110v RV style fuse (for 12v lines) and breakers (for 110v lines). I was prety careful and labeled all of the wires (each pair taped together and labeled at both ends with label maker), AND the fuse or breaker on the panel.

I probably over-did the number of separate 12v runs that I fused, but I figured better to have as many separate fused runs as practical. So each lighting run is separate (ceiling puck, headboard, valance strips, and garage), as well as fridge and each 12v outlet.

The only 110v run I have is to the rear 110v AC outlet, which is pretty much only used for my Peet's boot drier (for my cycling shoes and helmet). I try to only run it when I am driving, since it is a large AC load.

Master Switch:
I installed a Blue Sea on-off switch between the battery and all downstream electrical. This is to allow me to completely shut down power whenever I want.

Sterling Battery to Battery Charger:
This is installed just below the inverter. It was a pretty straight forward install. The positive output cable runs to the master switch (and then the battery). It is isolated by a 250a breaker, which I can use as a switch if I want to isolate the B2B charger from the system if need be.

Although this Sterling B2B charger is rated at 60 amps, I have only seen mid 40s from it, and even then it settles down to 20 something amps rather quickly. Even so, we can charge after an average night in a 20 minute drive (or a longer idle).

Fuse and Breakers:
I also installed a 250a MEGA fuse on the positive battery post (at the end of about 6" of 2/0 cable). And the 125a breaker for the positive lead of the B2B charger.

Negative Bus Bar:
For the negative side, I installed a heavy duty bus bar. It is the black "box" in front of the Sterling. The black "box" is the protective cover.

Voltmeter/Ampmeter:
I wanted to be able to monitor the state of the battery as well as how much current is going in or coming out. I really wanted a Victron meter, but could not bring myself to pay over $200 for it. So I bought a cheap one with a 100amp shunt off Amazon. It has worked well, and I am really happy with it. I mounted the shunt near the Sterling (just in front and a bit below), and the gauge on the pillar in front of the bed, above the counter. This was $39 and well worth every penny.

Solar:
Although I did not install solar, it would be easy to mount the controller to the same driver's side wall. Room for expansion, and eventually I can see adding solar and another 100ah battery. I would like to mount a couple large panels on the roof, but my current car port BARELY clears the closed MaxFan, so I need to figure out a low mount for the panels. Eventually.

Before the negative bus bar was installed, and before all of the 12v lines were installed.
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Top to bottom: Fire/Carbon Monoxide alarm, fan, thermometer, AIMS inverter remote switch, ammeter/voltmeter gauge. Black remote hanging on the wall to the left is the MaxFan remote in it's holder.
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