Platform – 2023 Ram Promaster Cargo 136wb 2500
Purpose – Basically a home away from home with some comforts where I can get warm, sleep and use as a platform to get to where I want to be. Mostly traveling to fish, visit national parks and referee. Potential of 15k miles a year. Well, and I am tired of sleeping on the ground anymore!
OK, This is the ultimate Chris Farley "LIVING DOWN BY THE RIVER IN A VAN" dream come true!! So, yes I will be in the middle of no where most of my trips establishing a 'home base' for day or two to fish and hike.
Budget – I bought a new van because I don’t know how to fix vehicles. So my build budget is only $5000. Keeping it simple with the ability to add to it or expand as I find out more of what I need. As I go I will add to it but I want to keep the budget pretty strict up front.
Build Concept – Simple is better. Build will be partial for the spring and finished by the fall. I want to get electrical, fan and insulation in plus a potential bed frame than hit the road for 10 days and find out what I need/want plus what I won't need.
Build Look – 10ft x 6ft floor plan...basically. Back of van, to the van door roughly 6ft will be a bed platform. 6Ft is the goal. 4.5 ft of that will be the back garage, open storage. 1.5 ft in front will be cubical for storage of cloths and fly tying stuff. At this point the front 4 feet will be a fridge, bench seat with electrical in it and a pedestal sink with a foot pump to wash my hands and brush my teeth. Front will be open concept for future considerations. I will probably add a better kitchen and swivel seats later. Framing the wall to make sure it can happen.
Bed Platform – predominately wood. But I am thinking slats for the top of the platform for weight purposes. Should be roughly 40 inches total in height with mattress included. Final height will be determined once the floor is in. Main idea is I have an inflatable kayak, packraft, two backpacks and a host of fishing gear I plan on taking with me. Plus, a Camp Chef Explorer Griddle/Grill which I have traveled with for years and love.
Mattress???? NO IDEA. Would think as big as possible and 6 to 8 inches thick? Memory foam? Total unknown right now. I am single so I don't need a huge bed. A friend used shelves on either side of the bed for storage and like it so that is a consideration after my first trip.
Location – Initially I was going to put it all behind a wheel well. Now I am almost certain it will be behind the drivers seat in a seat/box. But I really like two other guys concepts on here that are using the same power station. So, I changed that.
Electrical – Was initially going to go full solar. Now going to go 700w or 800w inverter off of the vehicle battery. Again, complete 180 from what several other people are doing here. Electrical base will be Bluetti ac200p. Circuits will be based off of a power strip with a breaker switch and 6+ three prong plugs. Power strip plugged into the Bluetti power station in one of the 6 AC outlets. I am doing this for ease of use (one plug in one unplug when I move the Bluetti to the garage/house/shop. Otherwise I am unplugging lots of stuff plus lots mores stuff to double check. Fridge might have to go dedicated to Bluetti Power Station.
AC OUTLETS - 6 standard three prong 110 wall outlets. I behind drivers seat, one half way down drivers side on wall or one bed platform right at the bed platform. Third one at the back of van in the garage. Two on passenger side, one behind passenger seat and one at the bed platform either mounted on wall or on bed platform. Final outlet will be on the wall about counter top high for kitchen use if I ever add one. Each wall outlet will be a home run to the power strip. Heavy duty extension cord type cable with female end cut off mounted in the outlet. Might go straight heavy electrical wire.
AC outlets at bed frame cover the fridge regardless of which side I put it one. Other can be used for charging etc.
DC Electrical considerations – At this point I don’t know if I will need circuitry for DC. If I do a simple 6 circuit box will be sufficient ran the same as the AC. This could be easily added as I go with a simple cable to the breaker box, already provided by Bluetti in the power station.
PRE WIRE SOLAR – I have not given up on solar but will pre-wire the van for solar for a later addition should it be needed. Again, a concept someone on here suggested. Just need to figure out how.
Electrical Considerations – Do I wire through bed frame or roof. Thinking roof makes the most sense. Little bit more expensive but if I ever want to redo the bed I can do that. Going to use heavy duty extension cords or heavy duty electrical wire for the wiring. Reasoning is that they are durable, heavy wire and predone. All I need to do it cut the female end off and insert it into an outlet box.
Insulation will be a combination of Rockwool and Polyiso panels.
Floor will be ½” polyiso cut to fit between ridges. Add another layer of either 1/2 or 3/4 polyiso board on top of that. 3M adhesive to attach. Subfloor will be ½” plywood. With either laminate wood flooring above that. Goal is to be less than 1.5 inches so I don’t lose to much clearance. I am 6’2 ½” tall. So, the more head room the better.
Walls – Polyiso panels 1 ½” panels for as much as possible and rockwool to fill in gaps. Wall material will be finished plywood or ???, that is still undecided.
Ceiling will be same as walls except I plan on wrapping the van metal framing and mount to framing to again save a bit of head room.
Right now I am thinking LED Strip lighting. Two reasons it is removable, if I add cabinets and it fits for what I think I need and want! Easy to do, low cost, low energy use. Considering adding ‘can’ lights in ceiling above the front of the van as well. Just not convinced of that yet.
Ceiling fan in back above bed. Right now I am almost 100% committed to MaxxAir 5100K. Wired to Bluetti.
Fridge – Again, almost 100% committed to IceCo. Good price, good quality plus ac/dc options. So I can also use it outside the van when needed.
Garage – Mainly open space for storage of fishing and hiking gear. But, wheel well to wheel well will be a pull out drawer with a pull out table. Pull out drawer will be lockable for fly rods and reels. Table top will need detachable legs.
Cooking will be mainly outside. I have a Coleman camp stove and a Camp Chef griddle grill combo (explorer). Also a tenergy for boiling water to make tea or coffee. Most of my meals are some form of salad with a protein on top. Will probably add a toaster as well. But I enjoy stopping and cooking on my trips. I have grilled out in downtown LA on the side of the road!
Walls – finished plywood or paneling or ???
Solar – Can I pre-wire without putting panels up without a big cost?
Roof rack – if add solar I will add a 8020 rack to hold them in. Otherwise I really don't think I will need it. But an 8020 frame is simple.
Wall outlets having USB plugs? Most of my electronics are USB. But USBC is coming and I don't want to replace my outlets within a year.
Second Electrical run to Garage? Do I need that much power in the back.
Bug screens – I know I need at least one for the slider? Thinking of making my own with magnets for driver and passenger windows. Potentially using gutter guard covers as well? Options? Most of this I have found on the internet but I know I need bug covers and I am hoping when camping remotely I can cover half of the front windows with something that will keep the bugs out. Doesn't have to be overly secure either but keep critters and bugs out while providing some circulation of air.
Outside Lights. I know I want them but I am thinking ‘portable’ and ‘rechargeable’. Or run them from outlet behind passenger seat? That is something several people's vans I have seen have is an internal plus close to the slider for outside use.
Window covers or drap/partition between front and back?? Window covers for insulation might be cheaper? Partition might make more sense??
Swivel Seats are a future add. I got time!