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MT Boiler (Andy) Initial Build Plans and Reasoning

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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.

Build Electrical
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.

Build Walls/Floor/Insulation
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.

Lighting
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.

Appliances
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!

UNDECIDED
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!

Anything else?
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· Administrator
‘20 159 HT window van NH Seacoast
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Much of what you are contemplating has been done or tried in the past with limited success. I would suggest you do a lot more research on the forum before beginning your build. You may discover what you think you need or should do are not really the best options.
I‘m sure you will receive lots of suggestions from forum members who have already been thru this and (most likely) redone what they originally felt was the "best" way.
Good luck and please keep us informed on your build. I would also suggest you start trying to meet up in person with others whom have been thru this already and discount much of what you see on so called "conversion" forums (other than the Promaster forum, of course. I don’t say this lightly as the internet is full of misinformation, much of which you appear to have accepted as fact.
 

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Promaster 136wb
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Much of what you are contemplating has been done or tried in the past with limited success. I would suggest you do a lot more research on the forum before beginning your build. You may discover what you think you need or should do are not really the best options.
I‘m sure you will receive lots of suggestions from forum members who have already been thru this and (most likely) redone what they originally felt was the "best" way.
Good luck and please keep us informed on your build. I would also suggest you start trying to meet up in person with others whom have been thru this already and discount much of what you see on so called "conversion" forums (other than the Promaster forum, of course. I don’t say this lightly as the internet is full of misinformation, much of which you appear to have accepted as fact.
I would be interesting in your thoughts on what you think will not work and why? Which is why I posted it here. Sorry but I am just not sure the purpose of a blanket statement like your without any assistance.
 

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‘20 159 HT window van NH Seacoast
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I’m too busy at the moment with other endeavors to go into all the details but there are many others here that will be more than happy to give you advice. I’m only trying to steer you away from making expensive & poor decisions because of a lack of knowledge & experience.
 

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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, mainly not sleeping on the ground anymore!

OK, This is the ultimate Chris Farley "LIVING DOWN BY THE RIVER IN A VAN" dream come true!!

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.

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 since with a foot pump to wash my hands and brush my teeth. Front will be open concept for future considerations.

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.

Mattress???? NO IDEA. Would think as big as possible and 6 to 8 inches thick? Memory foam? Total unknown right now.

Build Electrical
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.

Electrical – Was initially going to go full solar. Now going to go 700w or 800w inverter off of the vehicle battery. 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 on of the 6 AC outlets.

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 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.

AC outlets at bed frame cover the fridge regardless of which side I put it one.

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.

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.

Build Walls/Floor/Insulation
Insulation will be a combination of Rockwool and Polyiso panels.
Floor will be ½” polyiso cut to fit between ridges with ½” polyiso panels. 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

Lighting
Right now I am thinking LED Strip lighting. Two reasons it is removable, if I add cabinets and it fits! 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.

Appliances
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.

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.

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. Most of my meals are some form of salad with a protein on top. Will probably add a toaster as well.

UNDECIDED
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.
Wall outlets having USB plugs?
Second Electrical run to Garage?
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?
Outside Lights. I know I want them but I am thinking ‘portable’ and ‘rechargeable’. Or run them from outlet behind passenger seat?
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!

Anything else?

Some of my thoughts.

Home away from home..

Some comforts, like a bed and a warm place. Any heating system? I recently discovered an electric heat pad ( the therapeutic type) is quite efficient on a low setting keeping me warm in an otherwise cold van below 40F. I may even purchase a larger 4'x2' "germination mat" for seed starting to expand on this concept in bed.

Budget..

$5000 should cover things if you're clever and doing minimal infrastructure improvements. The Bluetti will probably be the single biggest line item. If you skip expensive objects like kitchen ranges, tiled shower, composting toilets you'll have some $$ to spare. I think my build is only around $1500 including the portable power station and PV panel. The power station was actually a gift from employer and I already owned my Honda genie. Being frugal was my jam but I didn't skimp on quality workmanship.

Floor plan..

Plan and plan your floor plan. Maximize the open floor area so things don't get crammed in a van. I've got six feet of floor north/south and full width, sometimes you may have a friend sleeping on the floor or a pet. I like open concept cause I want to be able to haul sheets of plywood/drywall occasionally.

Electrical outlets..

Just place them carefully and you may be able to reduce the quantity a bit, you also may want power at the garage for something occasionally. Your poor man's circuit breaker (power strip) is clever and works fine (depending on who's commenting) because Im certain your not going to run 6 Vitamix blenders on high speed simultaneously, but who know the future, you may get inspired from watching Tom Cruise re-runs of Cocktail and find yourself seaside playing mixologist.

Keep planning and mocking up things!
 

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Promaster 136wb
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Some of my thoughts.

Home away from home..

Some comforts, like a bed and a warm place. Any heating system? I recently discovered an electric heat pad ( the therapeutic type) is quite efficient on a low setting keeping me warm in an otherwise cold van below 40F. I may even purchase a larger 4'x2' "germination mat" for seed starting to expand on this concept in bed.

Budget..

$5000 should cover things if you're clever and doing minimal infrastructure improvements. The Bluetti will probably be the single biggest line item. If you skip expensive objects like kitchen ranges, tiled shower, composting toilets you'll have some $$ to spare. I think my build is only around $1500 including the portable power station and PV panel. The power station was actually a gift from employer and I already owned my Honda genie. Being frugal was my jam but I didn't skimp on quality workmanship.

Floor plan..

Plan and plan your floor plan. Maximize the open floor area so things don't get crammed in a van. I've got six feet of floor north/south and full width, sometimes you may have a friend sleeping on the floor or a pet. I like open concept cause I want to be able to haul sheets of plywood/drywall occasionally.

Electrical outlets..

Just place them carefully and you may be able to reduce the quantity a bit, you also may want power at the garage for something occasionally. Your poor man's circuit breaker (power strip) is clever and works fine (depending on who's commenting) because Im certain your not going to run 6 Vitamix blenders on high speed simultaneously, but who know the future, you may get inspired from watching Tom Cruise re-runs of Cocktail and find yourself seaside playing mixologist.

Keep planning and mocking up things!
If it is too cold outside I am going to keep drinking or drive further south! Living in northern Montana makes me appreciate the warmer weather! But I like the idea of a heat pad! I actually have one on my bed at home!! Is your just a regular off the shelf one or is it low voltage?
 

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Van #2 2021 EXT
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6,173 Posts
This thread might interest you @MT Boiler


I will re-read your initial post and see if I have some ideas for you.
 

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If it is too cold outside I am going to keep drinking or drive further south! Living in northern Montana makes me appreciate the warmer weather! But I like the idea of a heat pad! I actually have one on my bed at home!! Is your just a regular off the shelf one or is it low voltage?
Yea a regular heat pad off the shelf from Walmart... under a 100 watts for sure, 30-50 watts on low setting. My power station can run it thru the night easy, if possible get one that doesn't have an automatic 2 hour shut-off timer.
 

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2022 Promaster 2500 159" WB High Roof
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150 Posts
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.

Build Electrical
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.

Build Walls/Floor/Insulation
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.

Lighting
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.

Appliances
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!

UNDECIDED
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!

Anything else?
Andy -

I have tried to apply your design principles - Keep It Simple, think before you leap, and get as much experience as possible before committing to big $. (I have to admit that I have not done so well in the last one!! ;) ) Of course I am still building out my van so keep that in mind considering my feedback.

One thing that I would suggest before finalizing anything about your layout is to get one of gridded floorplans off of the Sportsmobile website and then play around with different designs (in pencil!) Here is the link: Sportsmobile Plans.

I have a 2022 High Roof 159 WB and I am planning for a roughly 6' fixed platform bed in the back for a N-S sleeping configuration. May be tight on a 136 WB, but laying it out on a scaled drawing may help give you a better feel. (Another suggestion is to review the build threads on this site for other 136 WB owners.) From there I would simply suggest transferring whatever layout you think might work on the floor of the van and just stare at it for I can't tell you how many days. :giggle: From there I actually mocked up my bench/cabinets with spare lumber (but cardboard can work as well) to get an idea about how things all fit together (and decided to adjust some of my layout based on that.)

I've already provided input about setting up electrical with a Bluetti AC200P in your Solar thread so I won't repeat that here. I would suggest connecting all of your DC output ports to a terminal bus and then take the total output off of the DC terminal bus to a DC fuse block. All of your DC devices can then be fed from the DC fuse block. This way you are using all of the ports from the AC 200P without having to plug and unplug anything for different applications. Of course all of your wiring should be sized appropriately.

For my floor, I got the factory wood floor with my van which is a single sheet of high quality laminate seems to be a little over 1/4" covered by a very thin plastic seal. I used this as a template for 3/4" XPS and 19/32" plywood sheathing. I am holding the "sandwich" (XPS/plywood/factory wood floor) all together using the factory tie downs. I didn't fill in any of the ridges. This all made installing the floor a couple of hour project.

I used Thinsulate for insulation, which is pricier than XPS/Rockwool as you are planning but makes insulating much easier. FWIW, Rockwool appears to be a mixed bag based on what I have heard on the Forum and in general from other sources. @GaryBIS has posted the results from testing of various insulation options. May be something to search for on the Forum.

I'll leave it at that for now. At the end of the day our builds have to be our own, based on our individual use cases, abilities, experience, and budgets. I have to say that you have made a good start by reaching out to the Forum, trying to carefully think through your use case and how that translates into design.
 

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2014, 138WB, High Roof, Gas, SW MT
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3,305 Posts
Andy -
...
I used Thinsulate for insulation, which is pricier than XPS/Rockwool as you are planning but makes insulating much easier. FWIW, Rockwool appears to be a mixed bag based on what I have heard on the Forum and in general from other sources. @GaryBIS has posted the results from testing of various insulation options. May be something to search for on the Forum.
...
This is the insulation test mentioned above...

As a fellow Montana resident, I'd recommend that you at least leave space for a furnace. When you head south in the winter to find the warm weather, it takes a couple days of driving through winter to get there. Places like Banff are great winter destinations - we go up there a couple times each winter.

Our van conversion came out at $6000, so you might find some ideas - Cost summary here..

I like simple, and if I had it to do again, I'd go for one of the water systems that uses a couple jerry cans in the galley cabinet - one for fresh water and one for grey, instead of a separate fresh water tank with plumbing. Or, @MsNomer system, which has no tanks, sinks or faucets.

If you are going to have a toilet, a homemade composting toilet works great - like the video "dry" toilet on this page...

One thing we found to be really helpful is once you get down to a layout you like, build a full size mockup of it in the van using cardboard and scrap wood.

Gary
 

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With a limited budget like you have, my suggestion would be to skip having 120 vac in the van at all.

Just put in a simple 24 volt based system and buy 24 volt appliances.

Maybe 2 each Lifeline AGM size 27 or 31 XT batteries.

Use bottled water and a 5 gallon bucket based camping toilet.

For heat and cooking just use propane so that you don't have to deal with tapping into the fuel tank.

Coat the inner steel with a heavy coating that is a combination sound deadener and at least a little bit insulator.

Cover it with a low profile, dense carpet.

For the floor - just use an 18mm baltic birch ply and coat it on all sides with a flooring finish like a porch pain or stain.

Sleep on an air mattress.

If you don't have the tools to do the electrical connections at the batteries and fuse block, don't buy the tools - just find someone who has them to do them for you. In this area I charge a flat fee for helping people do this kind of thing and probably there is also someone near you such as a marine electrician.

That is very close to $ 4 - 5 K right there.
 

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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.

Good plan and quite doable.

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. I assume that with your height, you will be sleeping front to back. The >6’ width is a bit expansive even for a big guy, so you may have room for storage on the side(s). 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. You won't get all of that in 4 feet. If you use a full-size mattress pushed to the driver's side, you could put the sink pedestal on the passenger side facing the front of the vehicle with storage beside the bed from sink to rear. 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. Open space is golden.

Bed Platform – predominately wood. But I am thinking slats for the top of the platform for weight purposes. In your minimal build, weight is low on the list. Slap down some plywood and call it done. 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. One thing we learned in European mountain huts is that American mattresses are a scam. A 4” foam mattress from thefoamfactory.com is as comfortable and perhaps more so, than a 10” American mattress. 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.

Build Electrical
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. Behind the driver's seat has several distinct advantages, particularly if you tie into alternator charging.

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. Make sure that your fridge is happy with the Bluetti. Given the consequences of it failing, the more direct the better.

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. Consider one of these under your rear door hinge: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009ANV81S/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 Run a separate extension cord (through the opening underneath for trailer wiring) to the Bluetti. When shore power is available, you can unplug the power strip from the Bluetti and plug into this.

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. Run the wiring now anyway. 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. Yes.

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. Consider the floor. Either just above the finished floor through the cabinetry at the front of the bed or in a groove in the floor. It's number 1 on the list of what I would do differently. We've got long runs (up, across, down, et.) of wiring that can't be pulled or fished. The wiring I have run since across the floor works much better.

Build Walls/Floor/Insulation
Insulation will be a combination of Rockwool and Polyiso panels. Rock wool is not favored here. Remember, this is not a house where insulation is outside the sealed envelope. In a van, it's up close and personal, and rock wool is nasty.

Floor will be ½” polyiso cut to fit between ridges. You don’t need to fill between ridges. Let it breathe. Add another layer of either 1/2 or 3/4 polyiso board on top of that. 3M adhesive to attach. No need for adhesive. Use the tie downs. 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. Cheap 3/16” Lauan finished both sides works well. Mine has not deteriorated in 8 years.
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.

Lighting
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.

Appliances
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. Not as efficient as some, but I understand your decision.

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!

UNDECIDED
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. With "cigarette lighter" plugs, you can add inserts for whichever USB is in vogue. I have replaced some of my original USB outlets so I can use USBC inserts.
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. You can also make one that goes from above the rear doors to tuck under your mattress. Doesn’t matter if they get into the garage.
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!

Anything else?
 

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2021 1500 136"WB High top
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Doesn't the bluetti have outlets, both ac and dc? If so, Maybe just get the insulation and subfloor in, the fan, bed, fridge Bluetti, and leave the rest for the fall after you've traveled some. With a limited budget, you want to not make choices you later have to redo.

I know nothing about the bluetti, but there's a lot of excellent info on here from those who have installed it. Those people will give you the best advise because they've work through it.

Does your van have any windows? Will the Maxxfan be the only air vent? I have a maxxfan and a skylight, so there's some air flow. I love the skylight and hardly ever use the fan. I bought a Roybi work fan that came with 2 4ah batteries + charger for $100 and it ROCKS! Those batteries keep it going all weekend.

Can you draw out your floorplan? It doesn't have to be fancy, just get some graph paper and make each block a foot or a portion of a foot.

I have a blowup Kayak! I got it on ebay (new) for $100 and I love it! It folds up pretty small and came with a carrying case. I just sir it in the middle of the floor when I'm driving and when I get to the campsite, I leave it sitting by the van. Or if I was concerned it might get stoleb, I sit it on the passenger seat.

I bought these small hooks on amazon, and screwed them into the plastic edge of the pizza oven shelf. These are small enough that they fit and, while I wouldn't hang anything too heavy on them, they are a great place to keep clothes and towels off the floor, for a small investment.
 

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Speaking of that shelf, these fit perfectly under it and are strong as heck.
I then use magnetic hooks which can be moved around or removed.
 

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You have a lot of great advice already but I will throw my 2 cents in the ring. I am also in MT, have a basic 136 build for adventures, and my build was right about $5000.
I completely agree with the idea of putting in a couple basics and try some camping trips. I changed plans for the better by doing that. Some 2x4s and plywood and you can test an elevated bed for height. Throw in your camping gear and mock up some shelves/cabinets for layout.

Heat, our "shoulder season" is really long in MT so morning heat can be wonderful. Plan for where you might add heat. I have mine behind the drivers seat and it was an easy install. Gas, diesel, propane...they all have pros and cons.

I saved a little on electrical by only having 12v, no inverter. LED strips are easy like you said and they work well for me. I use propane for a coleman stove and a grill for all my cooking. Hot water inside but most other cooking is outside since everything is portable.

Water, 7 gallon jugs and a rechargeable pump from amazon. It is meant for office jugs but I have a longer hose attached so it can pump into my sink and keep the jug under.

Screens, I used the cheap, magnetic ones for 60x80 doors. I had to trim, rip off the velcro from one side and re-sew it on. I know it takes more work/time but I am a teacher so money is limited and my time is cheap...in the summer that is.

Good luck and have fun! You can get a lot of advice and ideas on here but you get to choose what you want!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Rock wool is not favored here. Remember, this is not a house where insulation is outside the sealed envelope. In a van, it's up close and personal, and rock wool is nasty.
What would you suggest. I definitely donit want use fiberglass. Spend a few hundred extra and get sheeps wool?

No need for adhesive. Use the tie downs.
Are you saying strap it down with tie downs or straps through the existing tie downs?

Utterly awesome help! Thanks a lot. This is very helpful!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Doesn't the bluetti have outlets, both ac and dc? If so, Maybe just get the insulation and subfloor in, the fan, bed, fridge Bluetti, and leave the rest for the fall after you've traveled some. With a limited budget, you want to not make choices you later have to redo.
Exactly what I am thinking. I am going to push to have power and subflooring in before by March trip to see what happens. then bust my butt to get a bunch done or fixed before my three soccer tournaments in June. After that, I finish off what I know.
Love my kayak and packraft....but have an electric inflater/deflater that gets it done in less than 2 minutes! But, I do leave it inflated when I am camping overnight too!
 
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