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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This discussion is Part 2 of My Modest Camper Conversion - Part 1, where we left off with 5 : Wall & Ceiling Panels and now move on to...

6 : Kitchen Cabinet Framework

The design we worked out for the kitchen cabinet included four drawers on the left, a simple hand pump faucet with a sink and jerry cans for fresh and gray water in the center, and, on the right, shelf space for the Yeti 1000 power unit and below that a pull out drawer for the Dometic cooler.

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I constructed the basic framework of the cabinet using 1/2" Birch ply, and the photo below shows: the drawers in place that we bought at The Container Store; the water jugs in the center area below where the sink will sit; a shelf for the Yeti 1000 power unit; and the Dometic CF18 12V cooler on its pull out drawer.

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7 : Flooring

There is so much information out there covering so many questions asked about how to adhere this or that furring to even out the ribs in the Promaster floor, about what rigid insulation to lay down before the subsurface and about the application of some final vinyl or wood or whatever, it's enough to make one's head spin. And yes, all that effort probably pays off in greater thermal insulation and provides a finished surface that would dress up the kitchen in any house. Great looking floors are prominent in so many of the stellar conversions that so many #vanlife owners are so rightfully proud of.

We took the easy way out...and we're glad we did. We bought a BedRug VANTRED Cargo Mat that is custom fit for a Promaster and called it a day.

We actually like the surface of the BedRug. It fits perfectly and has underside ribs of its own to smooth out the unevenness of the floor, and it really cuts down on noise from the road. Boom. And done.

8 : Bed and Kitchen Cabinet Installation
For the bed we hung IKEA SKORVA Steel Midbeam Support braces from a 2x6 bolted into each side wall horizontal rib. This was quite easily done by first removing the four D ring tie-downs in the horizontal rib at the rear, 2 on each side, and then screwing 8mm x 60mm length bolts through the 2x6 into the existing threaded rivnut in the horizontal rib.

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This photo shows one of the 8mm x 60mm bolts, with lock washer and a heavy standard washer, screwed into the existing rivnut that secured the removed D ring tie-down.

A third bolt was also inserted in the middle of the 2x6 through one of the existing holes in the horizontal rib with a heavy washer, a lock washer and a nut on the inside of the horizontal brace. This is possible to do before the upper wall panel is secured because there are open slots in the horizontal brace that are wide enough for a hand to hold a wrench in place and keep the nut from turning when the bolt is being tightened.

The IKEA midbeam supports are then hung from brackets that are free with the purchase of the supports from an IKEA store. We finished the bed assembly with an IKEA LURÖY Slatted bed base positioned on top of the supports and an Zinus Ultima Comfort Memory Foam Mattress to sleep on.

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With the top and bottom of the kitchen cabinet frame attached securely to the wall in the same way as the head and foot braces for the bed, the next steps included working on cutting down the IKEA GERTON Beech Tabletop (61” x 29 1/2” x 1 1/8" / $100.00) to fit the cabinet frame and then using the jigsaw to cut out the hole for the Heng's SSS-1315-5-22 Stainless Steel Single Sink (available on Amazon / $53) and the Valterra Hand Pump Faucet (available on Amazon / $24). The countertop was then secured onto the cabinet frame using underside L brackets.

Update 6/2020
: I've had a couple of questions about the black drain tubing shown below. I purchased the $11 Camco Flexible Camper Drain 37420 on Amazon. This tubing includes a drain trap and the tubing that runs down to my gray water jug. As indicated on the Amazon product page, this drain fits a standard 1 ½-inch drain fitting, and I also purchased the $10 1 1/2" threaded Plumb Pak, Stainless Steel Keeney 878PC Bar Sink Strainer on Amazon which fit snuggly into the Heng stainless steel sink linked to in the preceding paragraph.
Plumbing for this simple sink set-up was one of the easier jobs to accomplish once the various parts were purchased.

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Doors to the cabinet were installed using Laurey Easy-On Hinges (available at Home Depot / $6.70 for a 2-pack) and they are kept tightly closed while driving with RV Drawer Latches and Catches (available on Amazon / $12 or a 4-pack).

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9 : Under bed Storage Drawers

For clothing and personal items, my wife and I each get a large drawer that started life as a ready-to-assemble, 36" x 24" IKEA MAXIMERA Drawer ($73) that is faced with the same 1/2" Birch ply that I used for the kitchen cabinet. The 1/2" ply was also used to build the cabinet itself. Both my wife and I were impressed with the sturdy quality of the drawers and the self-closing sliders.

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Installed in the Promaster under the bed, the finished drawer cabinet is secured in place with four heavy duty tie-down straps, one at each corner stretched to a separate D ring tie-down in the rear floor of the van, and each of the drawers is kept closed while driving with the same RV latches that secure the kitchen cabinet doors.

10 : Finishing Touches

To each side of the under-bed drawer storage I secured two side panels of 1/2" ply that are held in place with the Scotch dual lock tape. They're securely in place but can be pulled out by hand to access the garage storage area under the bed. For example, while driving we store the insulated window coverings that my wife made behind the left side panel.

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With all that done, all we had left to do was make the bed and decorate a little. You can also see a hanging pocket in the back corner that my wife made so that I can put away my eyeglasses and reading lamp when it's time for lights out.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we didn't forget to celebrate the end of our rewarding conversion project.

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Update 6/2020
For those of you wondering about the time it took to complete the build out and the total cost in US$$, here's a rough calculation...
  • How long did it take? My estimate based on an 8-hour work day would be 32 days, NOT including planning. Keep these caveats in mind, however: I didn't do anything with the floor except cover it with a BedRug (excellent decision #1 for my needs); I had professionals install the MaxxFan and the 4 CE Laurence windows (excellent decision #2); and I did not plan/build/install my own electrical system but instead bought a Goal Zero Yeti 1000, which after a short maiden voyage seems to be working just fine for my limited electrical needs (excellent decision #3).
  • And the total cost? A rough calculation after the fact from my build out notes comes to about $6300. This includes: purchase & professional installation of windows & fan; the Yeti 1000 portable power unit; the Dometic CF18 12V cooler; the BedRug; Noico sound deadening for the wheel wells; 3M Thinsulate insulation; 1/8" Baltic birch 5'x5' ply sheets for paneling & 1/2" Birch 4x8 ply for cabinetry; plumbing & 2 water jugs; IKEA components including the kitchen counter top, Skorva bed supports & Luroy platform slats; minimal electrical wiring and misc. hardware.
Here's wishing you all good health and safe travels. Best of luck with your van conversion projects! And thanks again for being such a friendly and supportive group. Like I said, my wife and I couldn't have done this without you. :D
 

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That is a fantastic build. You really nailed the essentials.

One caution, though. If I read the description correctly (Upgraded ABS ensure door closed within 8LB traction, equivalent to a gallon water weight, which is suitable strength for adult only.), those catches are totally insufficient for the drawers under the bed. Front facing is a whole nuther ball game, and those drawers are going to be heavy even with just clothes.

We have almost identical drawers except each is smaller. On our first trip, before we got out of town, MrNomer had to stop suddenly at about 30mph. The drawers ended up behind the front seats and ball bearings were everywhere.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
That is a fantastic build. You really nailed the essentials.

One caution, though. If I read the description correctly (Upgraded ABS ensure door closed within 8LB traction, equivalent to a gallon water weight, which is suitable strength for adult only.), those catches are totally insufficient for the drawers under the bed. Front facing is a whole nuther ball game, and those drawers are going to be heavy even with just clothes.

We have almost identical drawers except each is smaller. On our first trip, before we got out of town, MrNomer had to stop suddenly at about 30mph. The drawers ended up behind the front seats and ball bearings were everywhere.
MsNomer, thanks so much for your comment. I always appreciate the advice you share here in the Forum!

I was wondering about the locking strength of these latches myself. Now that you’ve raised the issue with viable specs, I’ll definitely have to look into some stronger options — for the drawers for sure!

Edit Update 4/25: Giving a bit more thought to your cautionary suggestion, I realize that the drawers themselves, with the sturdy construction of the IKEA drawer itself and the facia of the fairly large 1/2" Birch ply, probably weigh more than 8 lbs. each. So I will definitely look into installing a stronger latch of some sort before we starting rolling. I probably have a bit of time to figure it out. 😩
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thinking overnight about this build—I wish there were a way to sticky it so all newcomers could view it first. Like RD’S $500 electrical system, it presents a quick, economical, yet elegant path to enjoying this van. Anyone who wants more can build up from this.
MsNomer, thanks so much for the kind feedback. Like I said at the start of Part One, if my wife and I are proud of one thing regarding our build, it’s that we designed it to meet our realistic needs, to stay within our budget, and to be worked on within our modest capabilities.

Do I admire — and even envy and lust after — all the fantastic builds that are shared online in all the different channels and groups and forums? Definitely.

Will my wife and I enjoy THE VAN and the adventures it will allow us (one day!) to experience? Absolutely!
 

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You have captured the essence of what these DIY vans are all about. It’s grownup Pinewood Derby. You have taken the same block of wood (metal) we all get and made it your own. Enjoy.

Do keep in mind, though, that it’s not a sin to add or improve as you use it. Little improvements and additions as you use it add to its uniqueness and usefulness.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
proeddie, thanks for the compliment. And yes, there will continue to be changes, mods and improvements over time as THE VAN gets takes us down the back roads someday. MsNomer has pointed out [above in comment #7] that "Little improvements and additions as you use it add to its uniqueness and usefulness." So true!
 

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2019 PM 1500 136" Low White Tow Nav Park
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Stumbled upon your build thread and what a treasure trove! I'm a recent low roof 136er owner by choice: We are a humble, but proud, select group! Found myself agreeing a lot with your choices. I appreciate the hyperlinks to spec out specific parts. I decided as you to go with the Vantred from Bedrug for all the same reasons, and I'm confident that it will play nice with the L tracks I'll be putting in. I was (OK, still am :D ) letting myself get overwhelmed with choices (last year, I was SO getting a 159" HR but took a breather, and realized that my 136LR is better as my daily driver).

As a low roof, any regrets with the Maxxair over the bed? I'll have slider windows by the bed and am planning for the fan to be at the "sunroof" flat spot behind the cab but there's been also been so much talk of noise at highway speed necessitating a need for a cushion plug (KA-CHING"...Another royalty to MsNomer!).

Thanks for sharing. I'll do what I do best and look at options and pick and choose. I'm in no hurry.
Looking forward to Part Trois!
 

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... I just noticed your kitchen faucet! I have the same one... no wiring, quiet at night, easy to pipe to water bucket!

We don't need an electric sink!

Note: my sink/faucet is a modular add on to the van. Depending on the trip it is "installed" or removed in about 5 minutes. Most of the time it's removed and we use the space in the cabinet where the water would be for other things. Bottles of water seem to cover most of our needs on most trips.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Stumbled upon your build thread and what a treasure trove! I'm a recent low roof 136er owner by choice: We are a humble, but proud, select group! Found myself agreeing a lot with your choices. I appreciate the hyperlinks to spec out specific parts. I decided as you to go with the Vantred from Bedrug for all the same reasons, and I'm confident that it will play nice with the L tracks I'll be putting in. I was (OK, still am :D ) letting myself get overwhelmed with choices (last year, I was SO getting a 159" HR but took a breather, and realized that my 136LR is better as my daily driver).

As a low roof, any regrets with the Maxxair over the bed? I'll have slider windows by the bed and am planning for the fan to be at the "sunroof" flat spot behind the cab but there's been also been so much talk of noise at highway speed necessitating a need for a cushion plug (KA-CHING"...Another royalty to MsNomer!).

Thanks for sharing. I'll do what I do best and look at options and pick and choose. I'm in no hurry.
Looking forward to Part Trois!
maztek, I do agree! We 136" LR owners do seem to be in a minority when it comes to camper conversions. But to each, his/her own, right? For you and me, the smaller wheelbase and the lower roof are the perfect fit.

And the best, most recent news? ... we finally got THE VAN out onto the road for its maiden voyage! The trip was pretty much cut in half because the reservations we had made for the Hwy 395 on the eastern side of the Sierra in California were all cancelled. :( But we did get to stay for two nights at a wonderful campground off of Hwy 80 on the way up to Tahoe and Reno -- Giant Bend Campground at the Sugar Pine Reservoir. And I'm thrilled to report that everything worked out to near perfection for us! I'll report back with more details in a later post or two, but let me just say that the every one of our build decisions seems to have been the right one for us. We had more than enough storage than we needed, the Goal Zero Yeti 1000 provided all the juice we needed for a 2-night stay, and the Promaster drove easily, comfortably, and over the 500 miles traveled over the Sierra and back averaged 18.5 MPG, which wasn't bad at all in our opinion.

In answer to your question, though, about the location of the ceiling fan, we were very lucky with the weather and didn't have to use the fan at all. So I can't really say if its position over the bed was a good or bad thing. All I do know is that when on the lowest speed, the MaxxAir fan is really, really quiet, so noise right above our heads wouldn't be an issue. We also have two windows slider windows with screens right behind each seat, which I'm hoping would give us enough air circulation inside the cabin when the fan is running. Other than this bit of info, however, I can't really provide any advice one way or another about the fan location.

Anyway, as I said, more details about the maiden voyage/shake-down cruise will be posted in the coming days.
 

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... I just noticed your kitchen faucet! I have the same one... no wiring, quiet at night, easy to pipe to water bucket!

We don't need an electric sink!

Note: my sink/faucet is a modular add on to the van. Depending on the trip it is "installed" or removed in about 5 minutes. Most of the time it's removed and we use the space in the cabinet where the water would be for other things. Bottles of water seem to cover most of our needs on most trips.
Wow, proeddie, a removable sink! That's awesome. In my reply to maztek above, I mention that my wife and I finally did get out on the road for THE VAN's maiden voyage, and in our first albeit short trip, we really didn't use the sink all that much. It was a nice to have, for sure. And I'm glad that I have plenty of fresh water storage: a 7 1/2 gal. jug in the garage (which is our main water supply when at a campsite) and the 5 gal. jug under the seat. But I agree, for our modest needs, there is absolutely no need for a 12V water pump.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
MsNomer, now that is definitely a minimalist decision. Good for you! (and for giving a lot of thought about what you really need and what you really don't!).
 

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Actually, it wasn’t a minimalist decision at all. :giggle: I could have either jugs or microwave under the basin, but not both. Microwave is in no way minimalist, but it is used every day and considered essential. I knew already that I didn’t need the sink because we had never needed one in ten years of truck tent camping. We had, however, lusted for the microwave.
 

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Wow, did MaxxAir fan inventories nationwide just dry up? Anyway, found a reasonably priced one and bought while the buying's good. Seems like at times, ONLY that one product will work in my build. Still looking to install fan just aft of cab and then the wife spoke. We have an A frame camper and one feature we love is the awning. Sometimes there's no avoiding the sun or rain, and she said (basically) make sure you plan for one. WELL...the roof (solar etc) wasn't top priority, just floating out at the edge. Well, that moved up quickly. And good it did cos I got edumacated by KeepMeMoving and her 1/2" (Awning). Dis affects Dat effects Dis... Just like in home renovation, at least Dat issue is now addressed, and parts are piling up in the garage.

I enjoy the discourse, except when there's continually battery of an OP's decision (yeah, could be about insulation, or floor spacers, or [heh heh] high or low roof). As MsNomer says: Microwave (y), Propane (n), Butane stove only for outside (y). Just realized how efficient emojis can be! A few more: Sink (y), Wayfarers van builders modular furniture (y), their L track not bolted through floor (n).

As the more senior members have said, the build is as much part of the journey as getting on the road.
Back to lurking and abusing that most excellent "Search Community" field.
Deep Thanks to all.
 

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Hi,
Really nice job on the conversion -- love the simplicity yet high functionality.

Couple questions:
  • How long did it take?
  • Did you total up the cost?
  • What is the gadget attached to the sink drain -- some kind of trap or air vent?
Gary
 

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