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Meet Vaniel! A 2017 159" High Roof Gasser. My girlfriend and I are converting it to live in full time while we travel and adventure :)

Click HERE to see my first post in the introduction section.

This thread is just to outline our down and dirty initial build. The purpose of our initial build is to test out our desired layout before committing to it. Starting yesterday, we live in the van full time and we will travel until Thanksgiving, at which point we will land in the Chicago suburbs for a few months to do a proper conversion. My family is in Illinois and we have access to a nice big heated shop to work on the van.

Click HERE for a link to my blog writeup with some more details and lots more photos.
My Phase 1 Dirty Build consists of:
- 36sqft of 80mil Noico sound deadener applied to walls and ceiling
- 2 sheets of 1" polyiso and 2 pro cans of great stuff applied to some wall panels
- Aluminum loading ramp and 3/4" plywood bed platform for a full size 6" thick Amazon foam mattress
- Temporary living accessories include a Coleman 70qt Xtreme cooler, Camco 5.3gal porta potty, coleman propane stove, Goal Zero Yeti 150 and a folding table/chairs

My primary concerns as I develop a plan for the Phase 2 "complete" Build are related to security, privacy and ventilation. My initial thought was to have a bulkhead, three narrow horizontal sliding windows and two maxxfans. After stewing on that scheme for a while, I decided: 1) the bulkhead (although nice for security reasons) would really kill the vibe inside the van. 2) We will be boondocking quite a bit so perhaps no windows would be good so we don't have to worry about our interior lights being noticed from the outside. 3) My security concerns could be solved by having locking drawers under the bed for climbing gear and perhaps a hidden or recessed floor box for electronics and other valuables.

My question is this: Would two roof maxxfans without windows provide adequate ventilation? I imagine one fan above the bed in the back and one fan up front, one set to intake and the other exhaust should move plenty of air ACROSS the van. On the other hand, using vented windows on the sides of the van with only one fan above the bed would move air better in the up/down direction. Also, we might learn we hate not having windows and opt for them knowing that we may have to cover them if we want to be discreet about where we park at night.

Please check out our BLOG, ask questions and criticize my work :D
 

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Two maxxfans (one in and one out) will provide sufficient ventilation running on only 40 percent speed -- it has worked for me. No windows increases wall space (and more space for insulation) and facilities "stealth" camping as no light escapes. For stealth you need a light proof curtain to be drawn across behind the front seats. Fabric stores sell a light proof material for drapery liners. For the necessary window on the slider door a fitted panel closes this off -- it is stored under the bed mattress during the day. The maxxfans should have the optional "smoked" covers as they emit hardly any light even when open.
 

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I have 360 degrees worth of windows and cover them with reflectix using Velcro.
I would highly recommend installing the 2x ledgers, that you have under the loading ramp bed frame, level instead of parallel with the floor. It will get rid of the rolling out of bed feeling.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Two maxxfans (one in and one out) will provide sufficient ventilation running on only 40 percent speed -- it has worked for me. No windows increases wall space (and more space for insulation) and facilities "stealth" camping as no light escapes. For stealth you need a light proof curtain to be drawn across behind the front seats. Fabric stores sell a light proof material for drapery liners. For the necessary window on the slider door a fitted panel closes this off -- it is stored under the bed mattress during the day. The maxxfans should have the optional "smoked" covers as they emit hardly any light even when open.
Great tips, THANKS! I would not have thought to get the smoked covers but makes perfect sense.
Do you consider the window on the sliding door necessary for visibility while driving?
 

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It is necessary! We just heard all 2018’s will have it along with a backup camera.
 

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Greetings and welcome.

Meet Vaniel! A 2017 159" High Roof Gasser.
...My question is this: Would two roof maxxfans without windows provide adequate ventilation?...
More than adequate IMO...and maybe even overkill? We run our MF 5200 (white cover, still plenty of light allowed in for us) in our Chevy conversion (Van V1.0 > an image link to the rear bed area with MF just forward of the foot). We have weather tech window deflectors (and just ordered a set from eurocampers today for our V2.0 159 PM). THEN, if we really need to cool things down, we will turn the MF to intake (blow in from outside) and set up a small fan to direct the cooler outside are toward our heads in the bed. We sometimes set up our hammocks outside (image link) so my wife found some nice small personal fans example link that work perfect to our tweak to direct airflow toward us in bed or in the hammocks.

...Do you consider the window on the sliding door necessary for visibility while driving?
In both V1 and V2 the glass slider was a must have. IMO it is the most dangerous blind spot on any van. That said, we are having white-perforated-vinyl on the slider and rear windows so it will tame down the looks, help a bit with reflective cooling, and still look like a plain work van.

Thom
 

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Nice blog
Thanks, Lisa is the primary blogger although I'll be contributing some too. Our van chemistry is on point (so far haha). I'm good at planning and she is good at documenting.

I would highly recommend installing the 2x ledgers, that you have under the loading ramp bed frame, level instead of parallel with the floor. It will get rid of the rolling out of bed feeling.
Dude, are you trying to get in my head? I didn't notice anything till you said that! I used an iPhone app to check for level as others suggested and my bed platform is about .8deg leaning towards the front this particular night. Build weight and potentially pulling one of the leaf springs may get it closer later on. I'll wait and see for now!
 

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Bed Leveling

I didn't notice anything till you said that!
After our extended maiden voyage we concluded that a slight bed slope doesn't matter.

The truth is, no campsite is level - - there's always a slope. If it slopes up, we pull-in forward and back-in if it slopes down. In this way we level the bed. If we actually mounted the bed to be level on flat-ground, it would never be level in actual camping situations.
 

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Update on our maiden voyage:
We have been on the road for just over a month now and are having WAY too much fun :)
So far we have spent 1.5wks in the Smith Rock/Bend, Oregon area, another week in Zion National Park and 2 weeks in Red Rock, NV. $0 spent on camping so far. All of these places have plenty of BLM nearby which has been awesome. Our days have been spent climbing, hiking, resting or driving. Lisa has been blogging about our life, meals and posting trip reports, so check it out!

My observations regarding the Phase 1 dirty build:
- Totally livable as-is. Almost don't need to do a proper build lol
- We LOVE the layout we chose. Proof of concept = success
- Looking forward to having a heater. Overnight lows have been in the 30s and totally bearable but the added comfort and ability to deal with lower temps will be nice. Most likely going with Webasto.
- The chem toilet can get stinky (just from pee). Not a big deal since we only really use it when boondocking. If we needed regular toilet access I would probably go with a composting setup but I don't see it ever being an issue
- It will be nice to not have to worry about refilling ice, food, water and charge the yeti 150 as often (currently every 3 days)

We play very hard (and need rest days), so it is not a big deal to have to go into town every few days, but I do feel like it's a waste of gas. I've spent less than $600 so far on the build and find it very comfortable. Our satisfaction has us thinking very hard about what we really want to spend our time and $$$ on when it comes time to do our "final" build.
More to come!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Phase 1 dirty build road trip is complete! Seattle, WA to Bolingbrook, IL. 9/18/2017 to 11/16/2017
We had a lot of fun and learned a bunch about the van, our needs/wants and preferences.
I highly recommend that anyone without van build/van life experience (like me!) uses this approach to validate your design before starting in on the real build.

This will be my last post (and my postimage.org test) here before I start my real deal build thread. Thanks for all your input so far!

Vaniel being gutted and prepared for new innards


This is where we are parking the van until it is complete. Vaniel is spoiled AF.


Wrapping up and storing the toys, totes and toilets

 
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