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Discussion Starter #1
Well, to kick off this project here’s where it all starts. I picked up a 2018 Ram Promaster. It’s a 136″ wheelbase van (the shorty) which will make a nice cozy platform to build out our traveling van.



Here's the current plan for a floorplan. Thanks to https://www.buildagreenrv.com/our-conversion/ for the ideas. While we looked at a platform bed, it just took up too much room if not setup crossways in the back. The cross bed solution was too short for my liking. Also we wanted to be lower to the ground with the beds. We will see how it goes as we start building things out.



Thoughts
  • Pro more interior space
  • Pro walkable entry to the beds
  • Con two beds that have to be made
  • Pro daytime seating with easy access
  • Con no large “garage” storage area, would have to use under the beds. So essentially gives up storage space for isle walkway space.
  • Con Bella the beagle “might” have to sleep on the floor. Which she would vote against.
Insulation was fairly straight forward. I used Ridged polyiso and great stuff windows / doors with a pro gun. By the book as far as I can tell from my forum history lesson. I'm using some 3m thinsulate in the ribs (after wiring) and in the door panels. I also installed it above the front headliner storage area.



More to come as I continue the project...
 

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A couple of conversions on here have bunk beds with the top a fold up. I have seen three and liked them all.
You might look at these to think about it.

nebulight has the “Backroader”
keeponvanning has the Citroën
There may be others with over and under bunks.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
A couple of conversions on here have bunk beds with the top a fold up. I have seen three and liked them all.
You might look at these to think about it.

nebulight has the “Backroader”
keeponvanning has the Citroën
There may be others with over and under bunks.
Unfortunately the full bunk bed idea is not going to work for us. My wife needs easy floor access in / out of the bed. It's the primary reason I ended up giving up on the rear platform bed layout. While I liked the storage of a garage underneath, there was just too much climbing, steps, crawling around to work for us.

The design I really fell in love with was the partial bunk cross. Mike & Molly did a magnificent job with this one!

https://www.promasterforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=83351

but in the end I think we will do fine with Gary's more simple layout. Time will tell, and hey, as Keeponvanning did you can always change it up in the future.
 

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Akarmy, your layout is the same as ours.

We built it in a 159” WB, so our galley is 48" long with a nice space at both ends for stowing guitar cases. Our galley is a cabinet, and a cupboard above. We use camp stoves, dishpan, and cooler, so it is indeed a casual camper, not an RV (we have one of those that gets less and less use since the van).

Like you, the bunk on the sliding door side is a few inches longer, hers on the galley side is the short one. Our bunks are 24” from floor to bottom of bunk platform. We left the minimum space we could tolerate between the bunks, so the mattresses are 30” wide, and the floor between the bunks is 15”, just enough to be able to walk/scoot between them. I would not change a thing after 18 months with this layout.

We copied MsNomer in building so all cabinetry can be broken down, except those around the wheel wells where fishing gear and electrics are located. The broken down bunks take about 8” of space along a side of the van, so when we want to transport things there is plenty of room.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Hi,
We are still happy with the layout and would probably do the same thing if starting over again today. Still like the open feel of it all and easy in-out of the beds/seats day or night. Since we rarely use the back doors, we now have removable shelf between the beds for about the aft 18 inches of the beds -- acts as a sort of night stand with a little more easily accessed storage under the shelf. Its made for very easy removable so I can carry large stuff (like plywood sheets) in the aisle.



If I was starting over, one layout I would take a look at is to build right into the sliding door area and make the back doors the primary entry/exit doors (ie don't use the sliding door for entry exit at all). With a good step, the back doors (I think) would make an easier to use door than the slider (which is kind of a pain), and it gives you more area you can build into. Not sure if this holds up to detailed analysis, but might be worth mocking up.


Gary
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thinsulate in ribs

Today I added the Thinsulate into all the ribs across the roof, the side channels at the top of the walls, and into the frame and tight areas on the rear and side doors. Ended up running out with a few more spots I need to fill, so I'll have to get an order out to wrap it up.



First I took some needle nose pliers and finished closing the tabs that hold the roof ribs together. Without that it's hard to pull much through them. Then I fished the channel with my wire fish tape and pulled some string through.



It was easy to pull in the 60 in x 2 in strips.



Same process worked for the horizontal chases, and the doors.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hi,
Since we rarely use the back doors, we now have removable shelf between the beds for about the aft 18 inches of the beds -- acts as a sort of night stand with a little more easily accessed storage under the shelf.
Cool, I was thinking about this as well. I also am considering putting a wall in the front side to make that into more of another garage space accessed from outside. Figured it might be a good place to put a rubbermaid bin with Hatchet and other outside stuff. I would make all of it removable in case you wanted to either haul things, or access via the rear. Maybe start with the top like you did Gary, then see how much the underside is used. Might also make a good spot for the dog's bed. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Our bunks are 24” from floor to bottom of bunk platform. We left the minimum space we could tolerate between the bunks, so the mattresses are 30” wide, and the floor between the bunks is 15”, just enough to be able to walk/scoot between them.
Interesting. I'll have to mock that up as it sure would be nice to get the 30" width. I was planning on 27" with a 18" isle, but maybe your 15" is enough. Thanks for the idea!
 

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26 inches wide is pretty narrow for a sleeping area as that's about the size of my backpacking sleeping pad. My bunks are 30 inches wide and that seems to be a good size. Since you won't be going to the back for anything else, the narrow walk way shouldn't be an issue, but not sure about your needs.

Haven't owned my van for a year, I must say I'm not sure why more people don't do twin beds or bunks. My wife and I are in our 30s and we get jokes all the time about not sleeping together. We take weekend and week longs trips that involve climbing/hiking, so it's best we have our own space to pass out when we get back to the van. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Ceiling panels

Next up is fitting the ceiling panels in place. (I already ran the little wire I need, will post about that later). I'm using 5x5 Russian birch for the walls and ceiling. Plan to stain the walls light gray and leave the ceiling natural clear coat. The nice thing about the 5' panels is that the 136 van can use just 2 panel for the ceiling with a seam in the middle. I made a cardboard template for the corner cut and trimmed the panel to size. Made good use of the spring loaded poles again to hold it up in place for a trial fit. Marked and trimmed. Also marked out where the ceiling lights will get drilled in once I get a 2.25" hole saw.



I have to say, there's nothing fun about fitting these panels in place. So many shapes and levels and nothing seems to line up or fit. But ya all that's been said hundreds of times in the archives already :) Just get it done.

I'm going to have to do some thinking about how to cover the angle at the top of the wall. Thinking of something like a 3/4" x 6" board with the edges cut to match the angles. have to add some blocking to the rear area to level it the same as the ribs further forward.

I saw some good pictures from MsNomer, but it's slightly different than I was thinking as I was thinking about covering the ribs, not matching up to their level. Very helpful pictures anyways.

https://msnomersvan.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/the-upper-side-panels/
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Step installs

I installed a side step from Power and Door steps. It's a high quality unit and comes with Promaster specific brackets and wiring system.



I installed it with Rivnuts into the frame channel at the rear and through bolts through the pinch weld at the outside edge. It's a bit tight working under there and it's right up near the exhaust, but there's room for everything.



Put some silicone fire sleeve around the wire harness until it's away from the exhaust area.



I brought the wires up through and existing hole and grommet up into the passenger pillar. I installed all the electronics and wires into the area where the upfitter connector is located in that pillar. Makes for a tidy install and everything is kept out of the weather etc.



Since my van had the Aux1 & Aux2 switches installed I used Aux1 to power the step. Aux1 is alway on where as Aux2 is only powered when the ignition is on. Still haven't figured out what to do with Aux2 yet. Anyway, back to Aux1, it's a 20Amp circuit that terminates in the upfitter connector. So with the right plug and pins (thanks Digikey electronics) I just plugged right in with the harness. So with Aux1 turned on the step functions as a power step when the door opens, then once you open the door you can turn off Aux1 and the step will stay out for the duration of your camping. Then just turn it back on when you are ready to leave to power the step back in.



The entire thing might be a bit over the top (ya I know it is) as now I'm thinking one of those manual steps might have been just fine. But it's installed now so we will see how it goes.

Next it was clear I needed something for the front cab entry as well with the 20 inch step height. I installed some Carr hoop steps which put the top at 10 inches and split the distance nicely. They are fairly close to the van and really don't stick out beyond the fender flares. They do make entry much better, especially for my wife.





It was a tight area to work in, and to get the Rivnuts installed I had to improvise with a plate of steel and a washer / bolt. This is less than ideal and not an easy way to install Rivnuts, but it works in a pinch. Of course as I started tighenting the 3rd nut in place the bolt sheered off. After collecting my thoughts I got out the drill and screw extractor. Took about an hour total to the the broken bolt out of the half tightened Rivnut. Sigh... took a bit long than planned, but got it all done in the end.





That's it for the step project.
 

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Nice work. You nailed the Car hoop location. Getting it level can be tricky. I did it on my gravel drive and had a forward sag so my extra time was spent in repositioning it. I used self tapping screws on the top as the force is compression, rivnuts on the bottom. That allowed me to get the normal tool to work.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
On to Ceiling paneling

This weekend I started making some progress on the ceiling panels.

First up, I added some thin foam to the outside of the ribs to stop the thermal bridging. However before that I made up a "story stick" with all the holes located so I would know where to put the screws later.



I'm using 6mm birch panels. I sealed the back with one coat of Polycrylic, and the front with two coats.



With the panel located in the right place, I started with the first center screw. I'm using 3/4" self tapping lath screws. I did drill a small pilot hole first to ensure they started in the right place with out wandering.





The front sheet was a bit more complicated to fit with the fan cut out etc. It's nice that with the 5ft panels you can get away with just 2 ceiling panels on the 136" van.

 

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When considering bed width, you might make 'em 24" wide and let them slide/extend to 30" for sleeping... that has worked out perfectly for us. Gives us a 22" aisle that narrows to 10" at night. 22" lets us slide by each other when using the aisle during the day.

See this post for more info! https://www.promasterforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=41218




(Wow, that's an old picture!)

My beds are 14" high + 4" cushion, because I have a basement. If you make 'em high enough to clear the wheel wells, yo may want to make a raised "filler" that's a step up between the beds. That way when you're using as a couch, your legs hit the floor instead of dangling. The 6' long space is a good storage area, accessible from the back or front.


.
 

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And we thought he wasn’t working on it from that pic! Go Ed.
 
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