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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
We bought our PM two months ago, banged out a bunch of work to be able to minimally camp out of the van, then took it on a 4,000 mile road trip to Santa Fe and back.

It was a great trip, and we're real happy with the van and the work we've accomplished so far.

Everything worked well. And what we've installed so far allowed us to be self-sufficient and camp comfortably and without paying for overnights throughout the trip (mostly finding beautiful spots on BLM land).

Here's what we've got put together so far:
** A 2021 159WB 2500 with factory swivel seats and tow package.
** A MaxxFan Deluxe toward the front of the roof.
** A Fresaire evaporative cooler toward the back of the roof (see note below about a custom water tank I installed for the Fresaire).
** A 28-gallon NW Conversions wheel-well water tank.
** The DC portion of a 200AH electrical system (the rest of the solar/shore power/B-to-B charging system purchased but not yet installed -- a great kit from AM Solar).
** Lonseal single-sheet coin flooring (which is super tough and nice looking -- ordered through a local flooring shop).
** 80/20 framing for a fixed bed, the water tank and other features in the storage/garage area.
** Kilmat and Thinsulate on the walls and ceiling, and closed-cell foam under a 1/2-inch plywood subfloor.
** Great adapters from DIY Van for the MaxxFan and Fresaire, as well as a black 80/20 rack for the future solar panels.

Items purchased/planned but not yet installed:
** An IsoTemp engine-coolant water heater (awesome kit and instructions from Vanlife Outfitters).
** A Chinese diesel heater.
** A 24x32 shower pan/seating bench/storage area for cassette toilet.
** A stainless steel kitchen sink positioned next to/sharing a faucet with the shower inside, and a hot/cold shower sprayer at the back doors for outdoor use.
** A two-burner propane cooktop.
** A TruckFridge/Indel B 12v fridge/freezer.
** Six Motion Windows.
** 80/20 framing for cabinets and support structures throughout.

A note about the Fresaire: We chose this option instead of an AC unit so as not to break the bank on our electrical system. The Fresaire works great, puts out lots of cold air and uses minimal power. The Fresaire housing and mechanicals are high quality and appear to be durable. The Fresaire water tank seemed cheap, however, and like a leak-waiting-to-happen. So I ditched the water tank and used a 13-gallon Class A Customs drinking/gray water tank instead. This took some fussy plumbing to accomplish, but it works well, is leak proof and allows us to load up 13 gallons of water for the Fresaire (which I can top off from our 28-gallon tank) instead of the original 4-gallon Fresaire tank.

As for the 80/20 -- this stuff is expensive and takes a while to get the knack of (ordering, planning, building, etc.) But it is light, super strong, versatile and easy to modify. So far, it's been fun to work with, and it looks great when assembled.

Our road trip went without a hitch. The van allowed us and our dogs to go just about anywhere, be comfortable in any weather and stop for breaks/sleeping at any time.

We have a lot of work to do yet, but the process is enjoyable. We'll post more photos as we go.

Electrical wiring Coil Gas Auto part Machine
Automotive tire Automotive exterior Asphalt Bumper Automotive wheel system
Gas Engineering Auto part Composite material Wood
White Black Textile Grey Floor
Sky Land vehicle Tire Vehicle Car
Wheel Tire Vehicle Ecoregion Car
 

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2017 136” HR
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Good for you getting out there! Me, too, will be using 80/20 for my build, already made my roof/solar rack. Quick question - what is the smaller size you used around your water tank - 10-series or 30-series (metric 30mm)?
 

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2018 136" HR
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606 Posts
Hi, Is the Fresair just a swamp cooler? I went to their website and it states "humidity-free cooling" which I'm confused. I like the pine shaving filter, does it smell like pine when you have it turn on?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I used 1515 for the roof rack and bed frame/supports, and 1010 for everything else. I'll continue with 1010 for the electrical framing, cabinets, etc.

The 10 series is much cheaper than 15 series and plenty strong, if not in a big weight-bearing role. Also, I've decided to use 80/20 inside corner brackets (instead of making my own) to ensure that everything stays square and fastens strongly. I guess it was worth me swallowing the cost of the 80/20 fasteners to ensure a good result.

I got a nice kit of 1/4-20 screws of varying lengths off Amazon to fasten wood panels, D rings, etc. to the 1010 profiles. That has worked out well.

As for the water tank -- I filled it on a work table before installing it to check for leaks on the inlet/outlet fittings. When doing this, the tank bulged out considerably on the sides, thus the numerous side supports of 10 series 80/20 on the installation. I placed the tank on a pad of 1/2 inch polyiso when installing it to insulate it a bit from the cold floor. The tank and all the connections did great during our road trip.

Using 80/20 has been quite a learning curve, but a fun process. A couple tips: 1) Find a supplier within driving distance to buy profiles without paying for huge shipping (mine is Teco in Tualatin) and 2) Get a paper copy of the 80/20 catalog to figure stuff out. The online catalog will give you prices etc but is maddening to navigate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah, the Fresaire is basically a swamp cooler, but it emits cool, dry air into the interior of the van. Works great on hot days with lower humidity (which was our experience during the recent road trip) and is less effective in hot, humid weather (which we have not yet experienced).

The Fresaire gave off a slight, pleasant pine sawdust smell the first couple hours of using it. But that has gone away.
 
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