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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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Promaster 136wb
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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
OK, everyone. @MsNomer and others have suggest prewiring the solar runs. I have no idea how to do this. I know my electrical will be up front. I am not sure I wont to punch a hole in the roof before I know if I am going to install it or now...I am seriously leaning towards a couple portable panels for when i am parked. But, I would rather spend couple bucks to prewire it just in case. So, Do I punch the hole and cap it? prewire it to a designated spot and drill the hole later? Suggestions?
 

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OK, everyone. @MsNomer and others have suggest prewiring the solar runs. I have no idea how to do this. I know my electrical will be up front. I am not sure I wont to punch a hole in the roof before I know if I am going to install it or now...I am seriously leaning towards a couple portable panels for when i am parked. But, I would rather spend couple bucks to prewire it just in case. So, Do I punch the hole and cap it? prewire it to a designated spot and drill the hole later? Suggestions?
Solar wires can get to the roof with no holes in the metal van roof.

You can prewire & leave enough wire in the header cavity above the rear doors.

They can go thru the plastic rear camera housing. There is a path from that housing to the dash I can point out to you if you need;

Sky Hood Vehicle Automotive lighting Automotive tail & brake light

Interior design Sink Tap Cabin Comfort
 

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2017 136” HR
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My solar wires (and many other’s here) enter the van through the rear camera housing. I used Uxcell 90° cable glands in 6mm - 9mm if I recall. You can fish then into the van over the rear doors.
Hood Automotive tire Sky Vehicle Automotive lighting

Automotive parking light Automotive tail & brake light Hood Light Automotive lighting



Cable glands such as these.
 
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‘20 159 HT window van NH Seacoast
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The Promaster forum has come through for you as I knew it would!

Use polyiso - inexpensive and it works! Forget the sheep expensive and holds moisture. Use the tie down threaded holes in the floor to hold the plywood down. Just buy the proper size metric machine screws. Forget the glue, adhesive, filling in of the channels they’re all a waste if time & money. Certainly no need for 6 AC outlets - 1 or 2 max. Plan to use Al 12vdc (forget the hard to source 24vdc and added , unnecessary complications it requires). Simple is better!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Ok, so my budget is actually not super tight, I don' think. Plus, I am total find using reclaimed stuff if I can. Extension cords, wall outlets, and plywood subflooring. We are a booming building market and lots of stuff out there.
Electrical is $1900.
Bed Platform $350
Water system - $100
Insulation - $300
Floor and walls $400
Fridge $650
Bathroom toilet and portable shower - $100
Bed Mattress $500
Ceiling Fan - $250
Sink base $100

little left over for just in case...or a swivel seat. I have built 2 houses and a remodeled a 1200 square foot basement. I know 'things' happen.

Battery Power Station is $1400 of that. I am going to restore and good will store where I have seen dozens of extension cords to find some. Plus, a bonus, a friend of mine just retired from the construction industry and said I could swing by. His employees are buying most of his gear, but I am ok with finding whats left.
Already have two 7 gallon water jugs.

Anything left over goes to swivel seats
 

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2022 Promaster 2500 159" WB High Roof
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Ok, so no sheeps wool, no rock wool. I still need to fill in the metal braces and gaps. What did you guys use?
So my plan is to attach sill seal to the vertical and horizontal braces to create thermal break, but not stuff them with anything. I will probably use some of them as a chase for part of my DC wiring, so leaving them "unstuffed" will make it easier to access if necessary in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
So my plan is to attach sill seal to the vertical and horizontal braces to create thermal break, but not stuff them with anything. I will probably use some of them as a chase for part of my DC wiring, so leaving them "unstuffed" will make it easier to access if necessary in the future.
Quick question...What are you running that is DC powered? My computer, phone and camera are all AC outlet compatible. My fridge is AC/DC. Toaster, tenergy pot are AC too. Trying to figure out what I am going to need DC for. I got to figure out power specs on Fridge, might be more efficient to run it DC but I have more DC outlets on the Bluetti than AC and cannot figure out what I am going to need them for.
Thanks
Andy
 

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2022 Promaster 2500 159" WB High Roof
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Quick question...What are you running that is DC powered? My computer, phone and camera are all AC outlet compatible. My fridge is AC/DC. Toaster, tenergy pot are AC too. Trying to figure out what I am going to need DC for. I got to figure out power specs on Fridge, might be more efficient to run it DC but I have more DC outlets on the Bluetti than AC and cannot figure out what I am going to need them for.
Thanks
Andy
My planned for DC loads include two small 21 QT chest fridges (one for ice and the other for groceries/medicine), a DC water pump, one or two DC powered fans over the bed, LED lights (trying to decide between puck lights, strip lights, or both), fan and actuator on composting toilet (that is a splurge that was required to accommodate my wife), and a few USB ports for phone/tablet/computer?. Probably overkill, but hooking all of the DC output ports in parallel into a DC terminal bus gives a total of +/- 50 amps draw at the same time, plus I won't have to keep reaching under the bed to connect/disconnect various DC cords if I need to swap things around. At this I expect my biggest (and primary) AC loads will be an induction burner, coffee maker, and possibly a 2.5 gal water heater. I suspect only the water heater would need a dedicated AC circuit and that primarily to hook in a dedicate on-off switch/timer. Everything else would just be plugged into the Bluetti's AC output ports. Hope this helps at least clarify some of my thought process.
 

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2022 Promaster 2500 159" WB High Roof
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My planned for DC loads include two small 21 QT chest fridges (one for ice and the other for groceries/medicine), a DC water pump, one or two DC powered fans over the bed, LED lights (trying to decide between puck lights, strip lights, or both), fan and actuator on composting toilet (that is a splurge that was required to accommodate my wife), and a few USB ports for phone/tablet/computer?. Probably overkill, but hooking all of the DC output ports in parallel into a DC terminal bus gives a total of +/- 50 amps draw at the same time, plus I won't have to keep reaching under the bed to connect/disconnect various DC cords if I need to swap things around. At this I expect my biggest (and primary) AC loads will be an induction burner, coffee maker, and possibly a 2.5 gal water heater. I suspect only the water heater would need a dedicated AC circuit and that primarily to hook in a dedicate on-off switch/timer. Everything else would just be plugged into the Bluetti's AC output ports. Hope this helps at least clarify some of my thought process.
Forgot to add the two MaxxAir fans (front and back on my 159 WB.)
 

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Are you saying strap it down with tie downs or straps through the existing tie downs?
She's referring to the factory tie-down points/loops on the floor. Remove those bolts and loops, and replace with longer 8mm bolts through your floor sandwich.

And yes, wool insulation would be fine. But first compare costs (etc) with Thinsulate and poly-iso foamboard. BTW, Thinsulate is basically polyester quilt batting, only sturdier and easier to secure. Also avoid re-cycled denim, and anything else that readily absorbs moisture and/or acts as mold food.
 

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Ok, so no sheeps wool, no rock wool. I still need to fill in the metal braces and gaps. What did you guys use?
Great Stuff

Window & Door

Yellow Material property Gas Liquid Font

In My Opinion;

Polyiso in ceiling, walls, floors & fill in with Great Stuff.
If you want XPS on the floor.
If you want my minutia of detail (my opinions), just ask ,,, things like “methods” of systems (reference - If I used polyiso on the floor I would edges seal it with foil tape to attempt to bolster the water absorption performance of the raw edge of the polyiso).


I started this thread to help newbies & get a sense of “agreed(ish) basics”;

 

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Great Stuff

Window & Door
To be clear - Great Stuff is great for gaps around the polyiso - but do not fill the beams with it, it’s a complete waste of money and time. I filled stupidly my roof beams with it and it makes absolutely no difference in heat/cold transfer. @GaryBIS confirmed in one of his many experiments that covering the metal surface is much more efficient.

Hollow spaces are better filled with thinsulate strips or loose poly fill like you find in stuffed animals, dog beds and pillows. Inexpensive, too.
 
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2018 136 HR Ont.
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MT Boiler said:
Ok, so no sheeps wool, no rock wool. I still need to fill in the metal braces and gaps. What did you guys use?
Great Stuff

Window & Door
Great Stuff

Window & Door

Yellow Material property Gas Liquid Font
Don't fill in the beams with great stuff. Gary pointed out there might be a benefit to preventing the chimney effect in the uprights. I used a few pieces of polyfill to prevent.
 

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To be clear - Great Stuff is great for gaps around the polyiso - but do not fill the beams with it, it’s a complete waste of money and time. I filled stupidly my roof beams with it and it makes absolutely no difference in heat/cold transfer. @GaryBIS confirmed in one of his many experiments that covering the metal surface is much more efficient.

Hollow spaces are better filled with thinsulate strips or loose poly fill like you find in stuffed animals, dog beds and pillows. Inexpensive, too.
Those are massive heat sinks ,,, best wrapped on the outside with something like sill gasket foam & keeping them on the cold side of the insulation ,,, attempting that is;

Product Font Line Automotive tire Gas



I used @83Grumman technique to wrap mine in Van #2 & then used trunk liner as a finish. Easy to install.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
Electrical wise, I toured the thrift stores and restore and found old outlets but they want just as much as new ones almost. HD I can buy the whole thing, box, cover and outlet for about $7.5 each. I have 'paired' my outlets to four. One one on either side of the bed platform (fridge), one half way down the drivers side wall and one in the Garage.
Two of my friends in construction have extension cords they think they might be able to part with...most are 5 or 10 feet long, which is perfect for what I am doing! and FREE!!

Ok, kind of getting excited about this. I bought a role of masking tape and am about to go tape it off and stack some stuff in the back to see what I like/don't like.
 

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Quick question...What are you running that is DC powered? My computer, phone and camera are all AC outlet compatible. My fridge is AC/DC. Toaster, tenergy pot are AC too. Trying to figure out what I am going to need DC for. I got to figure out power specs on Fridge, might be more efficient to run it DC but I have more DC outlets on the Bluetti than AC and cannot figure out what I am going to need them for.
Thanks
Andy
AC will use so much more power than DC -- way more than you have if all that you listed will want power. Are you sure all you listed has to be ac? My laptop (with a special adapter), phone, ipad, fans, lights, camera chargers, fridge, water pump, blendjet are all DC. I thought most phones had usb or usbc adapters plugged into bricks, which are basically mini inverters.
 
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