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159" 2500 HR Window Van
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Starting a build thread here in the waiting time before van is delivered. We ordered a 2022 159WB 2500 Window Van back in Sept and were promised delivery in Feb ....... which really means May ...... maybe!

I have "built" it in my head a few times already and finally put a sketch down on paper. If any of you fine folks on this forum spot some of your ideas here - MANY THANKS.

BTW .... for those wondering our Van is named Hamba Izwe which is Zulu for "go to the country" i.e. to explore.

Rectangle Schematic Handwriting Font Parallel

Rectangle Schematic Font Parallel Floor plan
 

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159" 2500 HR Window Van
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Here are section views of current idea. Still need to pin down the height of the bed/dinnette couches. Having them higher makes more storage underneath and better side to side width for sleeping. Having it lower makes better sitting height for dinnette plus views out the side windows. Probably need to decide this one once we sit in the van for a bit.
Handwriting Rectangle Schematic Font Material property


Handwriting Rectangle Schematic Font Material property
 

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159" 2500 HR Window Van
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Some overall discussion of out build objectives:

We are wanting a camping van to visit nature in more comfort than our current tent/mini van/inflatable mattress/cool box style. We not planning to be live aboard "Van Lifers" and are not interested in either urban stealth mode or boondocking in 4X4 country. As travelers we stay on the move rather than stick in one spot so aim for maximum flexibility to be on the go for a couple weeks up to a month at a time. We like rough camping in a forest site rather than at a KOA meaning no electrical hookups, rest rooms, etc so we plan to bring our comforts along with us. We like to stay in beautiful places and see the scenery while we are there so we have ordered a window van rather than a "cave". We live in the Southeast and travel spring through fall so we definitely do need AC but do not need to over think insulation/heating.

Based on these objectives we have selected a design that includes:
  • Rear east/west bed that can be left in place while on the move so no need for breaking down all the time
  • Bed can be converted to dinette to seat 6 when in long term camp, or with friends or during crappy weather
  • On board hot shower with cassette style porta potti toilet
  • Truck style vertical door fridge under counter height
  • Large counter space and deep bowl sink for food prep
  • All electrical (110V) cooking appliances such as coffee maker, induction stove, electric frypan, nutri-bullet, etc
  • Swivel front seats each with a day table for use with light meals while on the road
  • Large capacity fresh and grey water tanks (~30 gal each)
  • Isotherm water heater using engine radiator heat source
  • Roof top maxx fan over cooking area and AC over bed
  • 400W solar mounted between the fan and AC on a roof rack
  • Side awning on roof rack
  • Bluetti 4100Wh battery pack system with all internal controls including 2200W inverter
  • Swing out rear bike rack for two Lectric bikes
  • Various galley and "garage" storage drawers and cupboards

Comments/ideas welcomed
 

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‘20 159 HT window van NH Seacoast
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You will soon discover that a truck style vertical fridge under the counter is a very poor idea. It’s easy and works, space wise for sure, but do you want to be bending down loading and unloading a fridge sitting on the floor? Chest fridges on slides are a far better use of that space if you must use it for refrigeration. I say this as someone who has NO use for chest fridges and love my TF130, btw! A vertical fridge should always sit at countertop height for easy of use.
 

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159" 2500 HR Window Van
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
@keeponvaning ... Hope the fridge is not that bad. We currently live in an apartment with a galley kitchen and dorm size fridge. Its not too bad though freezer is useless. Our main goal in not selecting a tall slim line fridge was to avoid having a "tunnel" effect with high cabinets on both sides. The shower was determined essential so a shorter fridge was the compromise. Maybe I can raise it at least 6" or so so its not absolutely on the floor. I got the 130 model but with a remote compressor. The plan is to push the fridge into the wall space as far as possible to keep counter top no wider than 21". With a remote compressor the fridge does not need air circulation at back - just extra insulation there. Compressor will be under bed in front of wheel arch. I am mulling over thoughts about a 12V computer fan to circulate air and/or a vent to outside underneath the black external trim.
 

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159" 2500 HR Window Van
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
All the blog posts about designing van on this forum and elsewhere suggest sitting in the van for a long periods determining what is doable. That is now turned on its head with both us and others that are waiting 6 plus months to get the van and have already been buying stuff. Buying stuff early was partly to make sure to get the product (for example marine style danforth fridges are in scarce availability) and partly to capture 2021 pricing since specialty items are going up 20% or more in 2022. This is unfortunately a gamble to know what it will feel like in real life.

The floorplans and sketches on the site don't tell an accurate story when faced with reality of the Van structure such as oversized C pillar, horizontal cross beams, roof beams, etc. All the floor plans are drawn like a box with straight sides... the veteran builders here will tell us that there are no straight sides anywhere. This leaves me wondering about lots of details both big and small:
  • will the C pillar push my fridge out too far and take up valuable passage space
  • how does the cross beam interfere or tie into the counter height
  • what do I do on a Window van with wide window sill - can this be a utility chase or place for herb rack/book rack
  • will an underfloor gray tank block off the factory jacking points
  • will roof beams allow the AC to be mounted in last "bay" by back door or will I need to come forward a bay
  • will an isotherm heater fit under the sink if I also need to route glycol lines under van to engine bay
  • etc
Any thoughts, observations or suggestions most welcome
 

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159" 2500 HR Window Van
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Question on slider door opening.... we plan to put our sink in the rear half of the opening leaving approx 24" of clear width in the front for climbing in and out. Anyone done something similar. What clearance do owners find comfortable for those with similar builds or who chock the slider open only part way.
 

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2019 Promaster 3500 Silver high top 159"
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My experience with the isotherm water heaters is that even though they're well insulated they keep my van quite warm for 4 to 6 hours after I stop driving. This is particularly noticeable when it's 25° outside. The water is also tepid after 12 hours. So no hot shower in the morning.

if you are camping in warm climates and expecting to use A/C, consider a demand heater rather than 5 gallons of 160f water radiating after you stop driving. NB that is dead water, you can't use it since the tank is on the wrong side of the pump.

If you really want the free hot water, and yes it is nice. Enclosing the heater in a sealed well insulated box would probably be a good idea. Hmm, I feel an upgrade coming on 😀
 

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159" 2500 HR Window Van
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Update: our Van arrived at last - exactly 9 months after we signed the order - I feel like a new parent welcoming our baby into the household and want to hand out (virtual) cigars...

Spent most of first week measuring and re-measuring and can make some of the decisions that were pending such as:

  • will the C pillar push my fridge out too far and take up valuable passage space - the fridge can fit aft of the C pillar but that narrows our bed down from 60" to 56". However, bed height can be set just at the bottom of the window which will give us extra 4" of length east/west using the indents for the windows.
  • how does the cross beam interfere or tie into the counter height - its the ideal height for the counter top
  • what do I do on a Window van with wide window sill - can this be a utility chase or place for herb rack/book rack - I plan to chamfer the countertop to fit over bean and close gap up to edge of window since there are too many holes to use as a sill
  • will an underfloor gray tank block off the factory jacking points - NO, the 2022 with ebrake has no underbody cable so there is lots of space to put tank closer to center
  • will roof beams allow the AC to be mounted in last "bay" by back door or will I need to come forward a bay - the roof rib spacings are strange and nothing like stated on various sites. AC will fit but VERY far back and may overhang edge of door by 1/2 inch. OK since it is not further than camera housing and lights.
  • will an isotherm heater fit under the sink if I also need to route glycol lines under van to engine bay - still need to finalize this plan before I drill holes in floor for glycol lines.
  • etc
 

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Van #2 2021 EXT
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Hi @RamVanGuy

Hope you are making out fantastic with your build.

I see you have asked some questions here & had some limited responses. To attract more DIYers to your build discussion, posting photos are quite helpful.

To answer some of your “?” & some added comments here are some of my experiences & opinions;

IIRC slider door opening; Van#1 36” & Van#2 (photos below) 34”;

Cabinetry Shelf Drawer Wood Shelving

Automotive tire Bicycle tire Automotive lighting Tire Asphalt


You can see our Truck Fridge “TF 130” in the photo above. Like KOV we love this “swing door” fridge better than our chest fridge in van#1 am ARB Q50 (but the ARB was more efficient). Unlike KOV we want ours on the floor, however this is because our typical access is from standing on the ground beside the slider door (Grocery Cart to Fridge - then Fridge to Picnic Table for outdoor cooking - we do not cook in our van). We do access our fridge from inside, however we are quite use to grabbing coffee cream or almond milk that is in the door & we have lots or clearance space around the fridge (Function over Fashion). Like @MsNomer we do not attempt to fill the space of our van up with cabinets & have “comparatively” to some designs and definitely when compared to “Factory Vans” large open spaces. Some may feel this is a waste, but this is what we like & fine “open space” quite comfortable & less constricting. Each to their own. You have a window van & we have an almost van cave (1 window added in the slider). A window van would “feel” more open.

Under a “heat dome” weather conditions, if I had an Isotherm then I would want shut off valves to isolate the engine coolant (heat) to the Isotherm. We drink out of our 44 gal water system & this keeps us from installing an Isotherm (that & we do not have a shower nor do we need hot water very often).

Where our use might be similar “Travel Vans”, our builds & design philosophy are quite different. You are South East & comparatively I am Pacific North West (in Canada so actually Pacific South West 🤔). You need AC but not heat. You still need to think about “insulation” as assumingely if you need AC the Delta T is larger. Insulation is not only acoustical but thermal and for both it works both ways (acoustic & thermal deadening transfer inside & outside). Particularly with heat contributing equipment like an Isotherm (engine heat) and a Fridge which heats up the interior of your van.

Van Design/Build for me is just a long list of compromises. Of all the compromises it has been my experience (limited as it is), that I really focus on the “consumables & accumables” I know accumables is not a real word, but what is that you say? Well in our case; Water, Propane, Gasoline, 12vdc energy & toilet tank & grey water tank. Of all the Consumables/Accumables surprisingly to me the most conservative one for us is Water. However, we drink from our tank.

@jracca uses a sectioned off sleeping area for AC IIRC. Also IIRC he is a P.Eng. & understands the limitations of battery powered AC (the smaller the sleeping space volume to cool the longer you can go on battery power - Delta T & insulation value play a big part of this).

If you have not received answers to some of your questions, it might be because there is not enough info in the question for others to imagine (ie will a grey water tank block off jack points 🤔). I suppose it could, but have no idea until your design is disclosed. If you post design sketches or photos now that you have your van, the Forum Members might be more helpful.
 

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159" 2500 HR Window Van
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You won't miss that 4” in bed width. Ours is 48” and we've never needed more. Consider just taking it down to 54” so full-bed sheets fit. Many generations have slept comfortably in full beds.
Thanks for the thoughtful suggestion. I have just finished the measuring and wood cutting for our bed/dinette bunk and found that cutting the top to 54 inch was much better than trying to shoehorn in something hybrid like a "RV Queen".
 

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159" 2500 HR Window Van
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
@RV8R Thanks for your detailed message. I am making good progress on the build though I am not yet posting anything of substance - perhaps I will get time to do a decent overview in a couple of weeks since I am aiming for finishing Phase 1 (Functional for Travel) by mid-Sept so we can hit the road on a shakedown trip.

I have been posting specific targeted queries as the problems occurred and, as you noted, the forum members are both extremely knowledgeable and also generous with their time in sharing advice.
 

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Van #2 2021 EXT
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@RV8R Thanks for your detailed message. I am making good progress on the build though I am not yet posting anything of substance - perhaps I will get time to do a decent overview in a couple of weeks since I am aiming for finishing Phase 1 (Functional for Travel) by mid-Sept so we can hit the road on a shakedown trip.

I have been posting specific targeted queries as the problems occurred and, as you noted, the forum members are both extremely knowledgeable and also generous with their time in sharing advice.
You are very welcome @RamVanGuy

Glad you are making good progress & good luck with hitting your "Functional for Travel" date and shake down - Exciting !!

I'm sure you will get specific answers to your questions as they come up. 👍
 

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159" 2500 HR Window Van
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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Finally seeing light at end of tunnel and our Van is close to ready for a shakedown trip starting next week. Thought I would update this thread now that Phase 1 building is out of the way.

First effort was under the van - while its light and has the most space for crawling underneath.

Notice no center brake cable!

Tire Wheel Automotive tire Tread Road surface
Tire Wheel Automotive tire Automotive lighting Tread


Yellow Sumo not quite touches the spring when van is unloaded. Expect positive continual contact when built out and loaded for travel.
Wheel Car Automotive side-view mirror Tire Vehicle


Added a Luverne step on passenger side. Really happy with this - it's their extra wide style and is very solid. Note this is the slider door version that I moved forward to cover half the slider plus the passenger door. Luverne does NOT recommend this since their special brackets are made to fit the pre-existing holes. If you are prepared to make your own holes it's fine and you can get a really solid fit
Road surface Asphalt Grass Luggage and bags Bag



Also prepped for the undermount grey tank. Made support brackets but had to wait on the drain holes until shower and sink are located. The tank fits under passenger side just forward of the rear axle. Two alum angles support sides to RivNuts drilled in floor beams. Two extra straps go across tank as added security. No undervan photos of tank at moment.
 

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159" 2500 HR Window Van
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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Next step was van floor. First Noico - not sure if it's needed on floor - definitely worthwhile on walls and wheel wells
Vehicle Motor vehicle Automotive tire Mode of transport Automotive exterior


Then 3/4 Poly Iso boards. Used 1x6 pine edges to allowing screwing down the plywood at door entries and joints.
Automotive exterior Hood Wood Composite material Bumper

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Left an opening in insulation for shower pan which sits flush on metal floor.
Wood Fluid Water bottle Plastic bottle Flooring


While my 3/4 Poplar plywood was getting varnished, I moved on to doing the rest of insulation. Thinsulate is the BEST - so easy to cut and put up. Just two tips 1. buy a good pair of shop scissors and 2.watch out which type of 3M 90 you get. I made a rookie mistake and got "Inverted" which cannot spray the ceiling!


Liquid Plant Cosmetics Fluid Drink
 

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159" 2500 HR Window Van
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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
I used Home Depot plywood cabinets that are really good value. BUT they need to be modified for van use. Take off the stapled plastic corner edges and replace with metal angle brackets and screws.

Wood Automotive design Flooring Rectangle Floor


Wood Flooring Floor Hardwood Gas


30 inch wide sink base gets split in two to make a mini sink base and set of shelves.
Road surface Wood Asphalt Flooring Floor
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The back and base also get trimmed to fit the van curves then reinforced.
Automotive tire Road surface Asphalt Tire Wood

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The result fits perfectly alongside the 31 inch high x 22 inch deep fridge.
Wood Window Fixture Gas Machine


Similar plan for upper cabinets is still a TBD for Phase 2. Have however done the CAD (cardboard aided design) to place suitable framing.
Vehicle Motor vehicle Hood Automotive design Automotive exterior
 
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