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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here is my initial floor plan. Looking for feedback. I’m 6’3” 245 lb and my gf is a modelesque 5’11”. This plan started with a queen mattress oriented in the passenger side rear corner. Plan would have electrical system over 1 wheel well, water system over the other. I’m thinking about building the shower with a prefab pan, kerdi board walls covered in frp. Shower would bilge into grey tanks under the sink.
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi @JimbobNY

Before looking too far into your floorplan, I have a few questions;
  1. What are you using the van for ,,, live in or trips or camping?
  2. How are you dealing with all things heat & AC?
  3. Are you insulating the floor (you are both fairly tall)?
  4. Is your van the 159” EXT?
  5. How attached are you to the shower?
I knew I omitted some pertinent details.
1-would be for trips and camping.
2. Thinking a buddy heater and fan/breeze. Trying to make it 3 season capable but might get out of Buffalo for an occasional trip to warmer climates in the winter.
3- I plan on insulating the floor.
4- 159 ext with factory swivels
5- I can tolerate a lot of frustration as long as I’ve had a shower! I want to be able to do so when a gym or state park isn’t an option.

I want it to be simple to winterize- thus the bilge into dumpable grey tanks. Would be carrying bikes in the garage. She and I rented a cargo van last summer when Hertz lost our minivan reservation. We “went with the flow”, threw a mattress, some coolers, an 18v fan and my Ooni pizza oven in the back, cancelled the bulk of our hotels and HAD A BLAST. We put 3500 miles on their van in 10 days and enjoyed the trip more than we would’ve on our initial plans!
 

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Van #2 2021 EXT
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Great @JimbobNY ,, That is very helpful to understand a bit about your wants/needs.

IMO, Van Design/Build is just a series of compromises. Our 2 designs focused around having a comfortable queen size bed & all other decisions were subject to the bed. Our bed went east/west with the heads & the driver’s side (typical road crowns would have our heads higher than our feet).

IMO a shower is a “Big Deal” in a van. We get by with Navy showers & road facilities just fine. If a shower is that important to you then I would look at @SteveSS design.

A shower IMO is one of the most complicated wants/needs for a van. If you need one you need one, but for us it would have been a mistake. The complication results mostly in water ,,, packing / heating (isotherm) / grey / getting more / disposing the grey

You sound adventurous, one way of vetting out your design is to use your van while you sort out what you truly want/need.

Having design/built 2 EXTs, I can attest to a couple of things ,,, at least in our case;

1) At the end of the day it isn’t even about the van

2) No matter how much you think about it ,,, better ideas come about from actual road use/experience
 

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2014 136” HR
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You have wisely allowed open floorspace to move around in. Try not to compromise it. 18” is a good cabinet depth.

Is the 36” to the bed board or to the mattress top? Be sure to mock it up before committing to make sure you tall people can sit up in bed.

Your counter space is quite limited. Since you won't likely be showering and prepping food at the same time, consider making the fixed shower stall counter height with a hinged section of counter. Lift the counter, raise a short section of curtain to 4 ceiling hooks. When done, lower the curtain to 4 hooks within the stall and close the lid.

How well would Kerdi board handle earthquakes? A bit of washboard road or a few pot holes could be worse.

Where is the fridge? I assume the toilet is in the shower?

Consider a bank of drawers at the front edge of the bed, perhaps incorporating a pull-out table for more counter space.

Play with the height of the storage unit by the door before you commit. Shorter may be more visually appealing.

Have fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
You have wisely allowed open floorspace to move around in. Try not to compromise it. 18” is a good cabinet depth.

Is the 36” to the bed board or to the mattress top? Be sure to mock it up before committing to make sure you tall people can sit up in bed.

Your counter space is quite limited. Since you won't likely be showering and prepping food at the same time, consider making the fixed shower stall counter height with a hinged section of counter. Lift the counter, raise a short section of curtain to 4 ceiling hooks. When done, lower the curtain to 4 hooks within the stall and close the lid.

How well would Kerdi board handle earthquakes? A bit of washboard road or a few pot holes could be worse.

Where is the fridge? I assume the toilet is in the shower?

Consider a bank of drawers at the front edge of the bed, perhaps incorporating a pull-out table for more counter space.

Play with the height of the storage unit by the door before you commit. Shorter may be more visually appealing.

Have fun.
I was thinking that 36” bed board would be to the mattress height- a shelf/night table with outlets for charging (between the shelf and the window). Having the mattress run all the way to the back would allow us to sit up in bed using the rear doors as a headboard.
As far as counter space- I’m thinking about a hinged counter off of that small cabinet I placed at the foot of the bed opposite the shower. It would open up parallel to sliding door.
Kerdi board is the same material they make their shower curbs out of. It has incredible strength to weight benefits and is waterproof. It’s not cheap. I’m going to do more investigating before I commit. I’ve DIY’d a few residential bathrooms using it and think it might be a great solution.
Toilet would be stored in the shower. Emergency use only kind of a thing.
Initial thoughts were to have the fridge under the cooktop. Now I’m thinking it could go in that cab at the foot of the bed or maybe under the bed? I’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of that. What would I gain in storage or functional counter space? I’d like to figure out a way to have a pop-up sort of table space spanning the 2 swiveled seats. Maybe moving the fridge helps with that from a design perspective.
I’ll definitely be flexible with that foot-of-the-bed cabinet height. Just thinking of things in terms of footprints at this point. I appreciate your feedback. I realize I’m short on counter and storage space. I just need to be efficient with what’s left.
 

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our shower is on the passenger side and overlaps the slider about 8 inches. It drains into a small gray water tank mounted under the floor. This allows the kitchen counter to be 60 inches long. It includes the sink, cooktop and refrigerator with storage below and above. There is a small flip up counter at the cab end that provides a table for the driver's side and there is a standalone flip up table on the passenger side like one I saw in a Winnebago Travato. something like this:
Vehicle Car Motor vehicle Car seat cover Automotive design

The fixed part makes a nice handhold when climbing in.

Don't give up the shower. Our 3 most important items are the bed, the toilet and the shower. Our Promaster is a standard length 159 wb but our short queen size bed is athwartship instead of fore and aft.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
our shower is on the passenger side and overlaps the slider about 8 inches. It drains into a small gray water tank mounted under the floor. This allows the kitchen counter to be 60 inches long. It includes the sink, cooktop and refrigerator with storage below and above. There is a small flip up counter at the cab end that provides a table for the driver's side and there is a standalone flip up table on the passenger side like one I saw in a Winnebago Travato. something like this: View attachment 91918
The fixed part makes a nice handhold when climbing in.

Don't give up the shower. Our 3 most important items are the bed, the toilet and the shower. Our Promaster is a standard length 159 wb but our short queen size bed is athwartship instead of fore and aft.
Do you have a pic of your shower in relation to the slider?
 

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2014, 138WB, High Roof, Gas, SW MT
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Hi,
I'd try to work out where you are going to put every single thing that is going into the van - water heater, grocery storage, fridge, water tank and pump, and on and on.
I think its going to be pretty tight to get it all in - better to face up to that now than half way along the build:)

It looks like the only seats are the cab seats? I wonder if you are going to be happy with that?
We have fore and aft beds along the sides with an aisle up the middle - we spend a ton of time sitting on the beds and using the aisle as a foot well. You might be able to work out a way to convert between the full width bed and a footwell version for daytime - but, be careful with this, as anything that takes more than 10 seconds to convert back and forth will get to be a pain.

Most showers end up being storage cabinets, but if you think its a must, then its a must.

Strongly recommend that you do a cardboard and scrap wood mockup in the van - this will tell you so much more than sketches on paper - its the best planning time you will spend.

Gary
 

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The market may have changed since I was looking in 2015, but the Engel chest I ended up with was the only fridge I found that could fit an 18”-deep cabinet. Other fridges would fit under the bed. I strongly suggest you stick to the 18”, particularly given that you are large people.
 

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Your height
Here is my initial floor plan. Looking for feedback. I’m 6’3” 245 lb and my gf is a modelesque 5’11”. This plan started with a queen mattress oriented in the passenger side rear corner. Plan would have electrical system over 1 wheel well, water system over the other. I’m thinking about building the shower with a prefab pan, kerdi board walls covered in frp. Shower would bilge into grey tanks under the sink. View attachment 91901
Have you already purchased the van?
I ask, because with your brought I’d be looking real closely at the extra high roof.

Also, the factory swivels kinda suck. Compared to aftermarket swivels - they don’t allow the seats to slide as far back (forward) when swiveled. Also, if they’re not facing forward you can’t drive the van(I’m sure this could be disabled somehow.)

Another huge thing I would advise against is the gray water storage under your sink. That system is a real pain in the butt. Better to put a tank under the van (with a remote controlled dump valve) and if you’re worried about freezing just put some heating pads on it. The jug under the sink game stinks (literally and figuratively.)

it’s unclear if you will be sleeping east west or north south.
 

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this the best picture i have already posted -
 

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2021 136” HR
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Your height


Have you already purchased the van?
I ask, because with your brought I’d be looking real closely at the extra high roof.

I Agree. I don’t think you have room for any insulation in the floor if you don’t want to hit your head on your ceiling.

Also, the factory swivels kinda suck. Compared to aftermarket swivels - they don’t allow the seats to slide as far back (forward) when swiveled. Also, if they’re not facing forward you can’t drive the van(I’m sure this could be disabled somehow.)

I have factory swivels and loves them. They slide all the way back and I disabled the sensor on the passanger seat with 1 zip tie so I can drive with it turned backwards.

Another huge thing I would advise against is the gray water storage under your sink. That system is a real pain in the butt. Better to put a tank under the van (with a remote controlled dump valve) and if you’re worried about freezing just put some heating pads on it. The jug under the sink game stinks (literally and figuratively)

Properly installed grey water tanks inside the van do not stink because they are vented outside.
Your bilge pump idea is intersecting.
 

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Love all the floor space! My usage is similar to yours, and floor space over extra storage was my choice. My kitchen counter is 18". I use the dresser across from it when cooking and that works out perfectly. You might want to consider not installing a cooktop and using one that plugs in so you have that countertop for things like washing dishes. If you need an installed cooktop, maybe put it on the other counter. (which I'm guessing is where you are putting the fridge?

Consider installing a heater -- Bison or the new one @MsNomer is getting that's not out yet.. These are in the $700 range for gas heaters and they are what will make the camper a three season camper. If you don't want to invest in the heater now, at least plan for a potential place for it and a way to add the wiring. I made a video for my bison install. Watch it and you'll see what you need to add for future placement. Make the space big enough for the larger heater @MsNomer is getting. I added mine this year, and I wish I'd set myself up for the future instillation.

Is your shower opening that angled area? That looks like a really small opening, and an odd shape for a shower pan. Have you found a shower pan? If not, find the pan first, you will have to build around that.

What are you doing for an eating table? Whatever that is, you might need to use it for counter space/cooking. If it's a lagun mount, figure out what you're mounting it to now. Options are limited in the swivel seat area.

Your feet will dangle when on the swivel seats. You might want to consider extending the raised floor into a sort of step stool. That could give you a place to mount the lagun. It also could be where you keep part of the electrical system, depending on how big a system you plan.
 

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2019 Promaster 3500 Silver high top 159"
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Another huge thing I would advise against is the gray water storage under your sink. That system is a real pain in the butt. Better to put a tank under the van (with a remote controlled dump valve) and if you’re worried about freezing just put some heating pads on it. The jug under the sink game stinks (literally and figuratively.)
Thanks for the info. I have my grey water under the galley. It is impossible to clean out and can become really funky. Bleach and soaking for a day or two solve that issue for a few months. I was considering replacing the fixed tank with plastic jugs which would be easy to clean out and dry between trips. It sounds like that isn't the case.
 

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Thanks for the info. I have my grey water under the galley. It is impossible to clean out and can become really funky. Bleach and soaking for a day or two solve that issue for a few months. I was considering replacing the fixed tank with plastic jugs which would be easy to clean out and dry between trips. It sounds like that isn't the case.
I started with the tank in the kitchen cabinet. We don't use the sink that often, usually cook & clean utensils, etc. outside with a bucket...

While I had the kitchen cabinet out last time, I connected the sink drain to a flexible hose to a pipe going down the side wall of the van (behind the wall of course). the pipe ends at the bottom edge of the van with a threaded fitting that I cap between trips. So when in use, grey sink water drains outside. I put a collapsible bucket under the pipe and just dump the bucket after use. Easy...
 

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I went with a 5 gal grey tank under the van with an electric ball valve. It's works out perfectly. I use biodegradable soap, and strain all that goes down the sink (which you should do regardless of what you use), so it's not a bad thing to empty in a lot of places.

Also, if you're going with lithium, go with the new self heating batteries. Save yourself a lot of winterizing headaches for a minor expense. Now is a great time to buy because of black friday deals.

I love the Renogy combo MPPT and DC2DC because it trickle charges the van's battery from the ithiums during that time you're not using the van. And it frees up a lot of space.

I accidentally installed my water pump upsidedown. It doesn't seem to effect how it runs, but it made winterizing the water system a snap. The most vulnerable part of the plumbing in freezing weather is the pump. All I have to do is loosen 2 wingnuts and the filter cup and all the water flows out (after draining everything else.)

Add a ball valve to the fresh water tank for draining it.
 

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Wife and I got bored during covid and built out a 159 Ext diesel (used).

Here is what we learned:
1) have a cocktail and a sense of humor since work was done knights after work for more than a year and remember everything is a compromise!
2) Insulate floor, walls, and ceiling - makes a huge difference in stable temps and less rattle/noise/neighbors. We have foam blown in walls, doors, ceilings and we are amazed how loud our buddies promaster is without it.
3) Minimize windows - they suck for heat and cooling and you will cover them up 90% of the time at night with expensive PITA blinds. Want to see the view - go outside!
4) We made full sized cardboard models of everything before we committed - sounds stupid & time consuming but it allowed us to modify things to make it flow, be more spacious, avoid bumped shins, bruised hips, and split heads.

Taking out 2 inches in depth of an upper cabinet or rounding a countertop corner or form fitting the shower to the van wall really ADDS up.

Lastly - keep it as simple as you can. For us that meant Electric everything (no propane or alcohol devices) so we built LIFEPO4 capacity to boondoggle for a week or 2 full days with A/C running (FL is hot). No black tank. Power from solar, alternator, and shore (small portable genny if we ever need it). Heat from diesel tank feeds diesel heater.

And be safe! Double up on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and have two fire extinguishers. My 2 cents
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Wife and I got bored during covid and built out a 159 Ext diesel (used).

Here is what we learned:
1) have a cocktail and a sense of humor since work was done knights after work for more than a year and remember everything is a compromise!
2) Insulate floor, walls, and ceiling - makes a huge difference in stable temps and less rattle/noise/neighbors. We have foam blown in walls, doors, ceilings and we are amazed how loud our buddies promaster is without it.
3) Minimize windows - they suck for heat and cooling and you will cover them up 90% of the time at night with expensive PITA blinds. Want to see the view - go outside!
4) We made full sized cardboard models of everything before we committed - sounds stupid & time consuming but it allowed us to modify things to make it flow, be more spacious, avoid bumped shins, bruised hips, and split heads.

Taking out 2 inches in depth of an upper cabinet or rounding a countertop corner or form fitting the shower to the van wall really ADDS up.

Lastly - keep it as simple as you can. For us that meant Electric everything (no propane or alcohol devices) so we built LIFEPO4 capacity to boondoggle for a week or 2 full days with A/C running (FL is hot). No black tank. Power from solar, alternator, and shore (small portable genny if we ever need it). Heat from diesel tank feeds diesel heater.

And be safe! Double up on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and have two fire extinguishers. My 2 cents
Cocktails, simplicity, and safety. We’re cut from the same cloth!
 

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Windows—depends on how you use the van. We travel year-round for extended periods, so we can't just stay home in bad weather. It's easy to say, "go outside," but when outside is inhospitable for whatever reason—including bugs, windows earn their keep. We cover ours only when lights are unavoidable, as in the occasional parking lot.

It was cold and windy this February day in Texas:


Property Bus Vehicle Mode of transport Window
 
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