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2019 159 High Top - White, of course!
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Discussion Starter #21
Another question. Did you pull out the existing van light to mount in the wall panel? How does it come out?
The factory lights are just held into the panels with plastic clips molded into the lights themselves. You can just unclip them by gently pulling one side and then the other. I cut a hole in the 5mm luan plywood and just snapped them into place. I don't think we have ever used them.
 

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Discussion Starter #22 (Edited)
Fridge:

We did not want to mess with a cooler and ice, so a fridge it was. The ARB was a logical choice. I bought the 65 quart model, since it is a little higher and longer and makes a great seat, especially with the factory pad/insulation kit. I also purchased the ARB mounting kit (the one with the ratchet straps), which just mounts to the floor with screws. It is solid. At first, it just sat right on the wood floor, but I discovered that the ARB plug in the bottom of the fridge does not seal tight and condensation inside the fridge (it is really hot and HUMID in the southeast in the summer). So it puddled under the fridge and marked a spot, which I had to sand out and refinish. Before I put the fridge back in, I put down a grey silicone tray to catch any errant water drips, and I will be more vigilant about mopping up any condensation inside the fridge.

I mounted the fridge strategically in front of the passenger side wheel well. It is partially (maybe a quarter to a third) under the bed, with the opening towards the front. I use the fridge as a seat quite often, and my wife sits in the reversible passenger seat. We also use the fridge as a step to get into the bed. And (very importantly), you can access the fridge from outside the van really easily, through the sliding door. This is handy when loading groceries into it, or just getting a beer while sitting around the camp fire. Mounted in this position, the lid of the fridge will not stay open by itself. This means you have to hold it up while accessing the inside of the fridge. But it also means that it stays closed by default. You can always just remove the lid by pulling if you need to clean the inside of load a bunch of groceries.

This size fridge is really nice. There is plenty of room inside. There is a wire basket in the front section, which can be removed easily. There is a divider in the wire basket, which is handy to keep things organized. A smaller tray area is in the very back of the fridge. It is nice for small items like condiment packs and such.

The fridge is permanently wired into a dedicated 12v circuit using the ARB wiring kit, instead of the included cigar lighter type plug that came with the fridge. More secure that way.

There is a pouch on the side of the canvas cover that faces the inside of the van. I use this to store the manuals for all of the electronics, to keep them handy but out of the way. Manuals inclde the AIMS inverter, the Sterling Battery to Battery charger, the ARB fridge, and the Ammeter/voltmeter.

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The factory lights are just held into the panels with plastic clips molded into the lights themselves. You can just unclip them by gently pulling one side and then the other. I cut a hole in the 5mm luan plywood and just snapped them into place. I don't think we have ever used them.
I don't imagine I'll ever use them either. They shut off automatically too soon to be useful while I'm working on the build. I don't have lights installed yet, but when we take the van on trips I just bring a magnetic camp lantern and stick it to the ceiling. I've tried to use the cargo lights for quick stuff with low success rate lol.

Solar panels - I'm fairly certain mine are a good couple inches lower than my Maxxfan. I have rigid panels running crosswise over 1 5/8" unistrut mounted on Unaka Gear mounts.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
Porta Potty:

We have a 5 gallon Dometic porta potty. We try to use public or campground bathrooms when possible, but it is nice to have an inside place to go when needed. I need to figure out a better mount, since it is now just bungied in place attached to the fridge mounts and is not very secure.

Any ideas?

You can also see the grey silicone tray beneath the fridge in this picture. And the hanging cargo net below the bed. This is super handy, as it holds a lot, keeps things quiet on the road, and you can see what is where really easily. I just mounted it to the bottom of the bed frame.

You can also see the small foot stool that we place below the passenger seat when it is turned to the back. To the right of the foot stool, you can see the 110v (white) heater, and the Buddy Heater, both of which are strapped in securely while traveling. We only use the 110v heater while on shore power, and the Buddy Heater judiciously while we are awake. CO never even registers on the meter while it is running, and we keep the MaxFan open while it is running.

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Discussion Starter #25 (Edited)
I have a couple inflatable solar LED lanterns that work remarkably well. They just sit in the sun and charge, and will run all night. I typically deflate them and throw them on the dash to charge while traveling, and just leave them in the sun while at camp.

They include a plastic strap that snaps closed. We use this to hang one in our screen house. It provides plenty of light without a cord to the van.

Edit: These are Luci brand. I bought them off of Amazon. They work really well, with 3 settings for brightness. The latest model (in the picture below) has a USB port so you can charge a cell phone, or charge the internal battery from a USB charger.

On dash, charging in the sunlight:
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Discussion Starter #26 (Edited)
Blackout Curtain:
I installed a blackout curtain, in black color between the cab and cabin of the van. I used VHB tape to install the mounts for the curtain rod just above the cargo rack, and thread on three panels of blackout curtains. Then closed, you don't see any light from the interior. Pure privacy. This is really nice when we are driving to a bike ride. We can close the curtains and change clothes in privacy. And after a hot ride, we can take a quick sponge bath before hitting the road in clean, dry clothes.

The curtain, although not insulated, also helps block off the cab on cold nights, making it easier to heat the back of the van. There does seem to be sufficient air flow through the curtains, even when closed, even with the MaxFan exhausting on high.

I also cut reflectix window covers for all the windows. I just leave them up on the rear windows all the time. The front windows are typically covered when we pitch camp. We stow the rolled up window covers above the cab in the cargo rack, or just throw them on the bed.

Screen Door:
I bought a cheap magnetic screen door on Amazon, and with my wife's help, modified it to perfectly fit the sliding door. I attached it to the metal around the door with heavy duty velcro, which has held up fine. I also installed a metal strip along the edge of the floor (and insualtion) to help protect that edge, and supply metal for the magnets to stick to for the bottom of the screen door. We had to add additional magnets to the bottom seam of the screen doors to get them to swing and stick properly. This works well and keeps the bugs out. I also purchased the screens that slip over the cab door frames so that you can keep the front windows down without bugs getting in. We hardly ever use them.

We also put an area rug on the floor (with a non-slip backing mesh) and it is nice under foot.
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Rear window covers, attached by simple Command hooks afixed to the rear window, through slits cut in the reflectix:
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You can also see the taller step that we carry around to help get in and out of the van. It is a rubbermaid brand and is the perfect height. The fake grass mat in front is easy to clean, even just shaking out removes most of the debris and it really helps keep the interior of the van clean.
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Inside attachment of the screen door using industrial strength velcro stuck to the metal van wall:
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You can also see the magnetic curtain ties used to hold back the screen door when not deployed:
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Metal edge to finish the floor edge at the sliding door:
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Discussion Starter #27 (Edited)
Bike (and other) Stuff:
I placed a sheet of thick rubber down under where the bikes go in the garage. This is easy to keep clean and prevents wear and tear on the wood floor.

I bought fork mounts for the bikes we have and mounted them by simply screwing them into the 3/4" plywood, right through the rubber mat. They work well. I do have to drop my seats, but my wife's can stay up. I also mounted a holder for a floor pump behind the passenger side wheel well. It holds it tight without any rattles. Handy.

I also installed a couple hooks above the rear door windows to hold the wheels. I also installed two eyes below the windows, which have shock cord - and - ball closures to hold the wheels securely. Simple and easy to use. And quiet - not rattles or squeaks.

My small tool box full of bike (and van) tools lives on the drivers side, just inside the rear doors. I glued some thin sheet silicone to the bottom so it doesn't mar the floor or move around. It never moves, although it certainly would in a wreck. Hmm, better think of a solution....

I also installed a USB charger with 6 outlets on the rear of the driver's side wheel well. This is handy for charging bike lights and cycling computers, while keeping them handy. I also attached a small screen mesh basket to hold such items while they are charging.

I installed a 12v outlet and USB power outlet higher up on the rear driver's side post (at the back corner of the van, in the factory plastic trim piece), so my wife can power her white noise machine (apparently I snore), and her cell phone. I also attached a small wire mesh basket to hold things on the back side of the bed.

I use a CPAP machine when I sleep. I hard-wired in a 12v adapter, so I can just carry out my machine and hose and plug it into the van. It is switched at the Blue Sea cigar lighter/USB port, so I can turn it off while not in use. It sits on the back edge of the counter while in use, and under my pillow all other times.

We each have a bedside fan (12v with internal rechargeable battery) attached near the headboard of the bed. These are really efficient and really helpful if it is hot. They work great. They have heavy duty clamps built in. The front one clamps to the wire basket above the galley. The rear one, I had to mount a garage door handle to the corner metal for something to clamp to. These are well worth having.

On top of each wheel well box, I installed some metal brackets so that I can hang the AC power cords from the driver's side ones, and the passenger side ones retain our folding camp chairs, screen house, folding table and folding grill.

I also attached shoe hangers to the back of each seat. These hold a surprising amount of stuff, and it is easy to see what is where and access it. The passenger side one is even accessible from outside the van, through the sliding door, or the passenger door (depending on which way the seat is facing). You can see part of the fire extinguisher that I mounted to the right rear of the passenger seat, below the shoe hanger.

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Discussion Starter #28
I am sure I am forgetting a bunch of stuff. But the van is working really well for us. It suits our needs perfectly!
 

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I have (I think) that same bike pump. Joe Blow? Been working perfectly for years, over 50,000 miles, and if I wipe it down it could pass as new.

USB in the garage for bike stuff is nice. For home I finally bought a hub with cordless charger and 5 USB cords sticking out, we call it the octopus. For the van I haven't yet decided.
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Mattress and Bedding:

I wanted to buy a cheap foam mattress on Amazon or Ebay, but after reading some pretty scary reviews of new mattresses full of worms or bugs (I kid you not!), I was frankly put off on the cheap ones. I ended up ordering one from The American Mattress Company. They manufacture their own mattresses in the US. And they will even custom make mattresses to your specific size for no additional cost!

I specifically built the bed coves to house a standard RV Queen mattress, which is one of their standard sizes, so I did not need to go the custom size route. I ordered the graphite infused model. I also ordered a zippered full enclosure "bed bag" mattress enclosure that is waterproof and bug proof. It has a terry cotton exterior and is not crinkly. On top of that I put a mattress pad.

Sheets are bamboo sheets from Hotel Sheets Direct. They are the same ones we use in our home, and are thick, soft, and comfortable. I just use standard queen sheets and tuck in the excess length, no problem.

Pillows are goose feather pillows hand made by Hutterites. They are AWESOME. Again, same ones we use in our home.

Comforter is a goose down comforter in a duvet cover. I also keep a goose down sleeping bag in the van, just in case. I used it once, when it got really cold and I was sleeping alone in the van, before I got the Buddy Heater.
 

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Discussion Starter #32 (Edited)
I have (I think) that same bike pump. Joe Blow? Been working perfectly for years, over 50,000 miles, and if I wipe it down it could pass as new.

USB in the garage for bike stuff is nice. For home I finally bought a hub with cordless charger and 5 USB cords sticking out, we call it the octopus. For the van I haven't yet decided.
Yes, a Joe Blow pump. It works fine. I have a Silca floor pump in my garage, which is even nicer. And rebuildable. I have had my Silca since the 1980s, and have replaced the leather gasket in the tube once, and the rubber in the end connector (that seals on the valve stem) once. Still works like new. The reason I carry the Joe Blow in the van is because it pushes a larger volume of air, and if I need to seat a tubeless tire, at least I have a prayer with it. The Silca generates higher pressure, at the expense of volume. The new wider, tubeless tires don't need as much pressure anyway.

At first, I just tossed the pump on the floor between the bikes, but it sometimes rattled, so I put a couple screw eyes in the wall in the passenger side rear corner and used the shock cord and ball closure to mount it. It was still not that secure and still rattled a bit, so I removed it and installed a Quick Fist Clamp. It comes with a small indention in the back, that fits the pump hose perfectly. It opens and closes with one hand and is very secure. And silent!

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Discussion Starter #33 (Edited)
Various and Sundry:

Some little things that we have found very useful:

Magnetic Hooks:
I left much of the factory metal frame rails visible in my build. That was purposeful, as we use magnetic hooks for many things. You can slap up one or two in a variety of places, to hang a towel, or dry your clothes. Whil in camp, they will also stick on the exterior of the van, handy for hanging stuff to dry in the sun, or a trash bag. I use a couple to hang our trash can. I bought the "Strongman" rare earth magnetic hooks on Amazon. They will supposedly hold 44 pounds each. I would say closer to 10, at least on the "never completely flat" surfaces inside the van.

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Trash Can:
Is a simple canvas cube-style auto trash can with a waterproof liner. I bought it at a local big box store. I hang it inside the back side of the sliding door. Two of the magnetic hooks hold it just fine. Once again, this is available both from the van interior and outside via the sliding door. Handy. I use plastic liners in the trash can, and it so happens that it fits a grocery bag perfectly.

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Magnetic Curtain Tiebacks:
I bought a set of these on a whim, to help stow the blackout curtain on the passenger side while driving. (The driver's side tucks back nicely between the counter and the seat). We also use them to hold the screen door open while we drive, or around camp when there are no bugs. They have proven very useful. The only down side is that they are wrapped in colored string (black in my case) and the string has unravelled on most of them. I attribute this to cooking the glue off in the heat of the van over the summer. I got the 12" ones, and that seems to be the appropriate size.

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SmartStraps Bungee:
These have also proven useful. I bought them at Lowes (they are also available on Amazon). The stock length is not very useful, but you can easily replace the shock cord with any length you want. I use two on each rear door to secure the bike wheels while traveling. I also use them to secure smaller objects while driving. Super handy!

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Discussion Starter #34
Cook Stove:

I wanted to go as simple as possible. I bought a Coleman butane single burner stove from Walmart for about $20. It works well enough. I buy my butane canisters in 4 packs at Sam's Club for $6 for 4. One lasts a good long time, longer than I expected. I keep an eye on the CO meter whenever I am using propane or butane in the van. I have only seen it show anything other than zero once, when I was heating water for coffee without the MaxFan open. I typically have the fan on low, but you can open it without turning it on as well.

I glued a 1/2" piece of plywood into one of the top slots of the left galley drawer system. I then stuck "no-slip" pads on the bottom of the stove feet. These keep the stove from sliding around on the counter and while stowed. The two shock cords hold it in place. BTW, I stow a plastic cutting board under the stove on the shelf.

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Discussion Starter #35
Back to our "Cabinets":

A little more detail on our "cabinets" (or more properly drawers).

We purchased two TROFAST toy storage cases from IKEA. When we purchased them, they came with 2 large and 2 small drawers. Like you see on the right set as installed in our van. Of course, being IKEA, they needed assembly, which was fine by me, because I reinforced some of the areas and glued all the pieces together in addition to the factory screws. I then gave them a couple coats of polyurethane.

The base of each set is hollow. I screwed and glues a 2x4 to the floor of the van, to fit snugly inside the base of each unit perpendicular to the van wall. Then I screwed the IKEA set into the 2xs from the outside. It is really solid. I also used metal L brackets to attach the top to the van wall. Before I installed them, I cut a piece of 5mm luan plywood, painted white on the interior surface, and screwed it to form the "back" of the cabinet. You can see this behind the area below the sink.

The counter top is just a piece of 1/2" marine birch plywood, sealed with a few coats of polyurethane. I used L brackets to attach it to the wall, and glued and screwed (up through the bottom of the cabinet tops) it to the base. I may cut a new one out of 3/4" plywood, but this is working well for us, so maybe not. I had the 1/2" plywood on hand, but not a large enough piece of 3/4".

This system has proven pretty useful. You can easily remove the drawers, and take them into the house to pack clothes. With the two shock cords retaining them, you can easily remove them by just putting your hands inside the shock cords, pushing them gently outwards and grasping the drawer, which can then be removed or just pulled out. When you push the drawer back in, the shock cords snap back into place. Simple.

The rear set of drawers are home to our cooking and eating utensils (and a few other things). The front set of drawers are for our clothes. We each get a large and a small drawer. This has worked for us, but we have yet to take an extended trip.

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Discussion Starter #36
Oh, here is a picture of the toy storage system from the IKEA website:

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Discussion Starter #37
Other Stuff:

Screen House:

We carry a 10' x 10' screen house to put over a picnic table if the bugs are bad. It is an inexpensive Ozark brand from Walmart. We do use this a fair amount. It is also nice to have something to "stake your claim" if you drive away from your campsite for a while. It is kind of fiddly setting up, but once you understand the way it works it is not too bad. It breaks down quickly. I stow in on top of the passenger side wheel well, along with the camp chairs, the folding table and the folding grill.

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Folding Table:
I bought a Trekology Portable Camping Side Table from Amazon. I got the medium size, which is 18x22 inches and 16 inches high. I did not have high hopes for quality and utility, but figured I would give it a try. It is great. The top is aluminum, and it rolls up. The base is also aluminum and folds quickly and easily. Everything is high quality. I think I paid $40 for it. When set up, it is stable and strong (although I don't think I would sit or stand on it). It is fairly low, (16", or knee height) but we use it with our camp chairs to eat and play cribbage. Works great!

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Folding Grill:

I bought A UCO folding grill off Amazon. I wanted something to grill on, but didn't want to sacrifice too much interior space. This fills the bill perfectly. It works great and folds flat, taking up almost no space at all. I pack charcoal into gallon ziplock bags. I use a butane torch to ignite the charcoal, and it works well. The charcoal takes up more space than the grill.

I even used this for a couple months after moving into our new home, before we bought a big Weber. I grilled almost every night for several months. It has held up well. It comes with a nice canvas pouch that it fits into. I got the larger of the two sizes. It was $40.

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A few thoughts...

Those polar fans are nice! I have a few and with the rechargability and timed shut off, they're perfect for camping use at bedtime.

They have really nice rubber coated magnets on Amazon. MIght be better if you're going to stick magnets on the outside of the van and be sure of no scratches. They have a threaded 1/4-20 bolt that can be used with a coupler to attach a hook.

You might want to look into a Carr hoop step for the slider. They work great and are always there. I mounted ours so it doesn't stick out from the side, and it's just about halfway between the ground and the van floor.

Lots accomplished!
 

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Oh, here is a picture of the toy storage system from the IKEA website:

View attachment 70302
We also purchased TROFAST & love them. We thought we would need “keepers” to stop them from sliding out but they have not ended up on the floor yet.🤞

I like your solution to keep these in place - Keeping It Simple.
 

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Porta Potty:

We have a 5 gallon Dometic porta potty.

I need to figure out a better mount, since it is now just bungied in place attached to the fridge mounts and is not very secure.

Any ideas?

View attachment 70284
Yes maybe use aluminum “C” channel & screw these down to your floor?

You can have these (but the shipping would be way more than what you could make yourself) I took them out of my van when my Dometic toilet seal failed;

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Just under 4.75” long 5/6” x 5/6” aluminum “C”
 
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