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2018 3500 EXT Camper Conversion in CT (TX for now due to Covid)
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Discussion Starter #23
If I had somewhere else to store it, I would not have installed the smartbed when I did. Moving it back and forth constantly to work on the van was a pain.


So the van build has been relocated to Connecticut. I drove it here over a 4 day trip. Averaged 15.5 miles per gallon based on my calculations versus 15.7 according to the vehicle computer. I noticed that the vehicle computer was off by + or - 0.5 pretty consistently.



The electrical system is working although the demands on it have been low. I generally am getting about 30 amps of charging off the alternator when running. I thought I should get more, I am using a sterling 1260 battery to battery charger. It makes me very comfortable to have 600 amp hours on tap if I need it but I have been driving so much that I don't need it much at the moment.
 

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2018 3500 EXT Camper Conversion in CT (TX for now due to Covid)
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Discussion Starter #25
How do you like your seat bed?
The plan was for it to be my secondary sleeping surface, but I have been sleeping on it for now. It is pretty comfortable.

I just got my mattress in this past week so I will be sleeping in the bed from here on out.

I am pretty happy with it overall, I wish the handles to reach under and unlock it were a little easier to reach, but that is a pretty minor complaint.
 

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2018 3500 EXT Camper Conversion in CT (TX for now due to Covid)
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Discussion Starter #26
Updates - Wow a lot has happened since I hit the road with an unfinished vehicle. Every week I was working I spent about 6 hours working on the build. Still not a ton got done, but I was living and working out of it until March.

< insert Global Pandemic here >

Drove the van back home to Texas gathering supplies along the way.

Back at home, table saw, circular saw, full set of tools, garage, unlimited electricity (relatively)
Work has progressed much faster. Some of which is finishing things I didn't have time for before I hit the road. Redoing things I thought I didn't like. Upgrading other things I thought could be better.

Here are my current projects
Redoing all the plumbing. I didn't put in shutoffs like I wish I had and ended up with a leaky fitting or two. So I am correcting this, in the process I pulled the tank and lined the plumbing compartment with a shower floor liner and a water escape home around my incoming engine coolant lines, if I have a leak it will run out the bottom of the van onto the ground, or harmlessly puddle on the liner. Status - 90% complete, just need to install showhead when I finish the shower walls.

Installing refrigerator. I used an ice chest for a while, and alternately an ARB 50 qt freezer/fridge or Even smaller dometic freezer/fridge (11qt I think). All of these solutions had wires running here and there, and took up floor space. I have decided that although those were ok, to install a permanently mounted refridgerator (TF 49 which I ordered but hasn't come in yet) Status - 10% (measuring, planning, ordering)

Redoing garage storage - A lot of the stuff I had in the garage was parts and tools to finish. I intend to complete this before going back to work, so I won't need the tool and supply storage. I will just carry basic tools and supplies because I will no longer be building - 100%, finished this afternoon.

Complete shower - I never panelled and sealed the shower, and never really needed it. It should be a simple job and as soon as I can go and buy supplies, I will complete this. I may need it more in the future, as the gym where I work may not re-open with Covid19, or could close at any time. I don't know that easy shower at the gym access will be always available in the future, so I will get this done before I hit the road. Status - planning only, no materials

Change toilet - I had a thetford curve, for a porta can it is nice, large and electric. But it is very large and takes up a lot of room in the shower. It is too large to store anywhere else, and it is heavier than I want to move a lot. I tried standing in the shower with it as if I was going to shower and I didn't like it. So I got a smaller model (piston hand pump rather than electric) and installed it on a slide that comes forward from under the bed. I think this will be more suitable. I avoid using the toilet in the van much anyway and this will work fine and save some room. Status - 100%

Finishing - I need to paint, install flooring, wall coverings and in general make it look finished. Status - 10%

Camera system install - Plan to install a 4 camera system. I have no windows other than one back door window to vent the AC, and the cab windows. It is hard to see in some directions so I will install a camera system with one camera on each side and one in the front and one in the back. I will have two monitors, one on the dash and one by my bed so I can 'see' outside the van while asleep. Otherwise there is zero outside visibility from the bed. Status - have the parts and have the plans laid out. It might be part of my progress tomorrow. I almost started on the side cameras today.

What I learned that I didn't know in the last 8 months, I want as much as possible built in and easily accessible. I don't want to move the toilet to shower, or step over a refrigerator, or have to secure things before I drive off. I also want ice for my whiskey. What does that have to do with anything? The TF49 I ordered has a freezer compartment, whereas the ARB and Dometic chests I had can be great freezers, or refrigerators, there is not real way to make ice and keep stuff refridgerated (but not frozen). This is a part of the reason I chose this fridge, I want to keep my drinks cold, and have a tray or two of ice, and I don't want to run two appliances (most of the time, perhaps I will still use the others as second fridges on long trips, probably have them in the garage if I do)
 

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2018 3500 EXT Camper Conversion in CT (TX for now due to Covid)
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Discussion Starter #27
I am done with most everything on my list, just lack some finishing trim, paint, and flooring.

It already looks worlds better, I really won't know about how much better it is to use for about a year if everything goes as it appears to be going. In the meantime I might try some camping and get a bit of fun out of it.
 

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Insulation (layer 1)

Working on the insulation, probably 70% done with the thinsulate, stuffed it in all the ribs and covering all the open areas. This will be covered with 1/2" XPS panels under the walls as an additional layer as well as a thermal break between the ribs and interior walls. As I plan to run air conditioning off battery at night, I want the insulation to be thorough. Figuring thinsulate and XPS will do it. Only windows are cab windows and rear windows.
Nice! How many cans of adhesive (assuming it is 3M 90) did it take you?
 

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2014 136” HR
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You mention an 11-qt Dometic. How well does it perform? How much juice required? Someday I will have a dedicated 0° freezer.
 

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2018 3500 EXT Camper Conversion in CT (TX for now due to Covid)
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Discussion Starter #31
It works well, it seems to hold temperature pretty well, but it doesn't seem to draw much less than than my 50QT ARB, which doesn't seem to draw much different than my TF49. It seems like they all draw about the same regardless of size or make. They all draw a lot more in the summer than the winter, in the winter in connecticut I unplug them and put stuff in that I don't want to freeze. Despite being smaller the only thing it seems to save is space (which is a valid reason to get one)

One caveat about it is the shape, it is not practical for store bought frozen dinners, completely wrong foot print. The opening is not perfectly lined up with the biggest part. It was never really too much of an issue for me, but the one time I did try to get a frozen dinner and put it in, it didn't fit. (I rarely use those type of meals as I generally try to eat a low to lowish carb diet). If you are freezing your own meals you can adjust the size to suit the vessel so its not as big a concern. If I was planning to buy frozen packaged stuff I would probably consider something a little different shape.
 

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One of no mess easy fix for me also being diabetic are turkey Sauage patties.....8 to box....2 plastic wrap of 4 each.....dont buy store brand....i have been know to take 4 boxes total 32 individual turkey Sauage patties to start trip

Sent from my LG-H871 using Tapatalk
 

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Please be aware that all newly registered members MUST make an introductory post in the Introductory Post Forum as per forum rules. Promasterforum.com Introduction Section
HI jracca, I really admire your build. What ac did you use? Did you consider a dual-hose portable ac unit? I am planning to use one but am intrigued to see your solution!!
 

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2018 3500 EXT Camper Conversion in CT (TX for now due to Covid)
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Discussion Starter #34
HI jracca, I really admire your build. What ac did you use? Did you consider a dual-hose portable ac unit? I am planning to use one but am intrigued to see your solution!!
I considered it, but the amp draw is much higher and the efficiency is much lower. Honestly while in CT I do not use the air conditioner that much, but when I do, I like flipping a switch and not running hoses, moving things around, etc.

I had a lot of things in my prior Class B Rv that were not 'built in' and they were a hassle. I decided on this build that most things I used were going to be permanently installed and ready to use at the flip of a switch. I also had severe storage limitations in the last van so I knew I wanted to make sure I had plenty of storage. A two hose portable AC system would be much larger than my window unit and take up much more space.

Based on years of experience living in a van (part time) I learned that a lot about what I really wanted and really didn't (like I don't have any kind of kitchen, just a microwave).

When I returned home with this van I put the lessons of the first 9 months of use into some renovations.
 

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Discussion Starter #35
I have been working on mostly making stuff look nice since I have been back here in Texas and not using the van for work.

The fridge, toilet, plumbing, shower, and camera are all installed. I have some wiring to do for some new lights, but electrical will be the last thing I finish as I want to clean up my electrical/plumbing compartment at that time.

I finished the closet today. I am really happy about this, although it seems like it is a minor thing, I put a lot of thought into this and a lot of work to do it without adding much additional weight.

I used kydex sheet on aluminum track for the doors. The doors slide in the track up and down. They are just held with tension at the moment but I do plan to have a latch because otherwise the top door will slide down over bumps while driving.
This is the track I used
And this is the kydex sheet

I used kydex sheet for the back side of the closet as well near the door. I have the shiny side out on that side. The vertical panel that creates the closet space is covered in 1/4 foam backed marine vinyl (you can find that anywhere, I probably got it from Amazon)

The pictures are nothing to write home about
Open and closed.
70704
70705

The inside of the vinyl covered board is lined with cedar. Supposed to help repel insects, I suppose it can't hurt.

The van is almost completely re-finished. Everything was bare wood when I left the first time (I had to rush the build in only 6 weeks or less). Now almost everything is either painted or covered in plastic or vinyl. I still have to do the floor and that one little strip of wood to the right of the closet in the photos.
 

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2021 3500 Extended
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Can you post some pic's of the a/c install?
 

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2018 3500 EXT Camper Conversion in CT (TX for now due to Covid)
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Discussion Starter #37
Here are some from outside.

71236
The window is the air inlet for operating with the doors closed
71237
The area directly above the AC is the roof vent which serves as an exhaust. That silver material is EZ cool which is 1/4 foam between two lavers of foil. It is supplemental as the wall it is mounted in is 3/8 plywood, 3/4 Polyiso, 5mm plywood, covered on the inside with marine vinyl backed with 1/4 foam.
71238


You can see the locking gate which closes off the area under the bed and locks. This is for running the AC with the doors open. The ventilation system runs fine for a 3-4 hours (my typical use) but heat does build up a little if you use it for long stretches (all night, or all day) so I have this locking gate so I can lock up my stuff and leave the doors open if I am staying in a campground and such, so I don't have to sit there and watch my stuff constantly. If leaving the doors open and there is a possiblity of a little rain I also have
71239

Stock pic, this is not my silver van.

All of this is mostly superfluous as I rarely need the air conditioner (10-12 times a year) and even more rare that I want to run it more than 2-3 hours (4 times this past year and once was an air conditioner test for this forum). But I like having the option should I travel somewhere I need it. To that end I am anticipating changing the roof vent to something more powerful before the summer to give me better ventilation when the doors are shut.

I often am parked in places where if this was too obviously an RV I might get hassled (bar and grill parking lots after they closed and I ate and drank their food, with permission, but police might not care about permission). So my setup is designed around not being too obvious (no 8 1/2 tall van is stealthy, but there isn't much that screams RV from a distance). I actually get asked if my van is really an RV when I stay at RV parks, I have given many tours that way and made a few friends.

It was an absolute for me that I would not have any holes in the sides of the van for vents, fills, ACs, hot water heaters, or anything else. Both because of the increased potential for leaks, and to look a little less like an RV. If you put a ladder or two on my roof I might pass as a contractor (at least in Texas where work vans have roof vents). Even the concrete company I owned had roof vents on our trailers so our guys didn't die in the heat. Also the furnaces and hot water heaters seem to attract insects that want to nest for some reason, at least my last one did.
 

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2018 2500 159-HR
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Recently saw a PM with a single window like this in the Palo Alto area... thought it was interesting as most single windows I'd seen installed on the passenger side door.
 

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2018 3500 EXT Camper Conversion in CT (TX for now due to Covid)
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Discussion Starter #39
Recently saw a PM with a single window like this in the Palo Alto area... thought it was interesting as most single windows I'd seen installed on the passenger side door.
To be honest I have no idea why I chose that window over the other side. I am sure I had some reasoning at the time. But I think the other is chosen because it provides a better rear view when driving, however in my case you cannot see out the back anyway. The only thing I can think of right now is that it would be much harder to reach in and open the door with the opening window on the drivers side of the drivers door.
 

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2021, Promaster 159 HR 2500, Silver
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@jracca

Maybe you mentioned this but I skimmed the posts and didn't see it. What size inverter did you use to power your AC?

Thanks
 
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