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2017 Ram Promaster 2500 159 EXT
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Discussion Starter #1
Van:
2017 Ram Promaster 2500 159

Our build is a little different than most, in that we are building on a few ground rules. We own a tiny off grid cabin, and we are building out the van in order to share as much as possible between the cabin and van. This gives us the opportunity to build out our van relatively quickly and low cost, and still maintain the option down the road to customize things more to our liking. Our initial build is setup for sleeping for 4. We plan on taking my senior parents on a few road trips out west while we get used to our van. Eventually we'll do a less minimal build more centered around our needs as a couple.

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Initially we are planning on a bunk setup, with our two existing twin beds up top, supported on cargo E-Tracks. This allows us to quickly stack the beds, or remove one as needed. Below, we'll be using a basic tri-fold full sized couch to fit between the wheel wells for additional sleeping and lounging.

Sink/fridge cabinet has a simple food service deep steam tray as sink, with grey and potable water storage underneath. Also on the side is our 12v dometic fridge, and storage for our butane cook top. This cabinet will be designed to latch into place so that it can be moved into our cabin as needed.

Rear seats are from a Ford Transit.
We'll be using a Mr Heater Base Camp for our water heating and showering needs via a pop-up outdoor shower.

Wish us luck!
 

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2017 Ram Promaster 2500 159 EXT
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Discussion Starter #2
Step 1 - Sound dampening and insulation prep work... the mad rush to get it done before Wisconsin Winter really kicks in.

First we started by some some basic sound proofing using Quick Roof.
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The best part about this was being able to allow my father the opportunity to help out.
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We installed a minimal amount of Quick Roof in order to help lessen some of the rattle.

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Next step was a rush to get the 3M Thinsulate we ordered installed before the weather grew too cold for the spray adhesive to function properly. We used plastic sheeting held onto the walls with strong magnets in order to trace out our templates for the different insulated panels we'd need to cut out. This worked VERY well, seeing as for the insulation 'close was good enough' when it came to sizing our cuts.

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A good pair of scissors, and some painters tape helped make cutting out the insulation a breeze.

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The final step for the day was dry-fitting everything in order to ensure a proper fit. Next part will be working with the 3M 90 Spray and putting up the insulation itself.
 

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2017 Ram Promaster 2500 159 EXT
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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Solar and Batteries ordered.
Since the wife and I both use CPAPs at night, and knowing from our tiny off grid cabin what our power needs were typically like, we made the decision to go big when it came to batteries.
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We purchased two of the BigBattery.com 12V 170Ah LiFePO4 Power Blocks. A recent review seemingly confirmed that these can be charged down to -20C (-4F), (Review was updated to clarify this. Still a good deal, just not as groundbreaking as it seemed). Combined in parallel, we're looking at 340Am of battery capable of some impressive numbers. Best part is that these are easily serviceable batteries, and assembled here in the USA.

For charging these guys, we went with a Renogy DCC50S 12V 50A DC Board Battery Charger with MPPT. For $250 on Amazon, this charger combines a DC to DC charger with an MPPT charge controller for the solar side of things.

Solar panel wise we still need to make a decision on whether to run 2, 3 or 4 100W panels or the equivalent. Ultimately, it comes down to what our power needs end up being once we get some time on the road with the van. Beyond our CPAPs, it will be powering lighting and a Maxxair fan for certain, possibly charging batteries, a couple laptops and maybe a cell phone signal booster. We'll see.

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Discussion Starter #7
This does not compute.
I know, I've been trying to verify with the company as well. Either way, as I don't ever plan on letting it get THAT cold in there, I'm still excited about them.

Here is the review, he shows testing the pack around the 15:11 mark in case the link doesn't want to timestamp right:
 

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2017 Ram Promaster 2500 159 EXT
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Discussion Starter #9
I see an edit to the pinned comment on the video, which I don't recall seeing when I first watched this video earlier in the month:

Correction to this video: Unfortunately, I was correct about questioning the low temp charging protection on the powerblock 170Ah. The cells in the video CANNOT charge down to -20C. I have the data sheet and it clearly states that these cells can only be charged down to 0C. I was told by the head engineer that these cells in particular can be charged down to -20C. I figured it would be a fun test video to freeze the pack and charge it at high rates to see what would happen, but now we know. They would be destroyed.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
After consulting with my mechanic (who happens to rally race and knows a thing or two about seat anchoring requirements), and bribing my welder/fabricator nephew, we managed to install the rear seats.

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Not pictured is the 3" wide by 24" long 5/16" thick bars underneath that hold it in place with the help of some grade 8 bolts.

We also installed plusnuts into the sides, using a quick home made tool consisting of a bolt, a wrench, two washers, a hammer and an impact driver.
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Tomorrow, if all goes well, we'll be cutting out the polyiso and plywood for the floor.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Got the second sheet of 1" Polyiso and 1/2" Plywood installed today, and also managed to install the final sheet of polyiso and make a template for the the last sheet of plywood before the sun started to set and the temperature plummeted. Tomorrow I'll cut and place that last piece of plywood. The plan is to paint the metal floor and plywood, then join the plywood using biscuits before doing the final install. At this time looking to drill holes and add some rivnuts to secure the floor down.
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2017 Ram Promaster 2500 159 EXT
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Discussion Starter #13
A note on Cold Weather thinsulate installation.
We installed our thinsulate the beginning of December. Temperatures were in the high 20's to low 30's. What I did to install the thinsulate with the 3m 90 Spray adhesive was as follows:
1) Put the 3m can in hot (tap) water. Let the can heat up. Consider using 2 cans so you can rotate them as one gets cold.
2) If possible, use an electric plug in heater to warm up the van interior.
3) Spray one section at a time. First the wall, then the Thinsulate.
4) Use a heat gun to 'set' the 3m spray. Take your time. Check if the adhesive is tacky. On a larger ceiling piece, it took maybe 5 minutes of heat gun time, and I had to adhere one half of the insulation at a time.
We've had no adhesion issues at all.
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'17 136 HT Black
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A lot of people don't have to worry about the cold when building their vans, so it's good to hear some tips/tricks from those who are in different climates.
 

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2020 _159 EXT in TEXAS
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