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Discussion Starter #1
I have been on this forum for 2 years and completed, with help, my conversion 2 years ago. I have never posted pictures of my build. I am non technical and slightly disabled but I am going to give it a try posting about 20 photos with explanations. Please bare with me as I think it will take about 6 posts over a couple of hours IF IT WORKS. PLEASE DON'T JUMP IN UNTIL I GET IT ALL UP, I WILL ADVISE WHEN I MAKE THE LAST POST.

The purpose is a stealth van usable in cold weather. Able to be off grid for three nights at a time with out running engine to recharge. I am not usually on electric power. I use the van to travel -- I do not live in the van, I live out of it. I generally do not use commercial RV places nor do I use parks much. I do plug in at music festivals. I mostly use Walmarts and stealth camp in semi-urban areas.

The logo on the sides is to give the impression that it is a commercial van. On the passenger side the silver colored spot high up just back of the slider is the vent for the gray water tank. On the drivers side a similar spot high up near the back is the vent for the auxiliary diesel tank. The electrical connector just forward of the tail light is the power connector which is from smartplug.com a far superior product than the normal round one. The rear looks almost stock but I have added an unusual sticker above the Espar exhaust. I figured that someone walking past at night when I am sleeping seeing/hearing the exhaust and thinking the van is empty would be less apt to call the police/fire folks.

Yes, I have 2 Maxxair vents on top but it looks as little RVish as possible.

I will see if this posts. If so, more to come.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I must pause to see if I can learn how to rotate photos. Most of about 20 more I have are vertical img_xxxx.jpg on my desk top and appear correct there. I will try to get them right using iPhoto somehow. If anyone has a quick answer email me at [email protected].
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Now I will try to continue.
Having had two Sprinters before, one each way, I decided that mass material sound deadening was not needed and sound was best deadened by solid wood interior build with heavy floor and good thermal insulation. The van was ordered with the cargo mat which is a single piece black rubber/plastic material about 3/16 inch thick. Using that outside the van as a pattern the floor was built of luan covered by 1/2 inch insulation covered by 5/8 inch hardwood plywood. This was secured by bolts having fender washers replacing the six existing tie downs. About 15 additional fastenings were used. These were Teks self drilling, self threading screws designed to hold wood to thin metal. They have a fine pitch thread that actually threads into the metal for at least one turn. YOU MUST DRILL THE COUNTERSINK FIRST. The screw is driven in with an electric drill. As it goes in the tiny ears make the hole through the wood larger than the thread diameter then the drill point cuts through the metal, the ears break off, the screw threads tight into the metal and pulls the wood down tight. The larger hole through the wood prevents the wood being jacked away as the screw engages the metal.

The OEM cargo mat was simply set atop the floor to be secured as interior build was installed. For me, this mat makes an excellent floor as it is waterproof, easy to clean, non-skid, and wears like iron.

The instructions indicate that a .pdf file is acceptable but it does not show on my machine. See a post after #11 for the picture.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Anyway I will try to continue. Why is technology so difficult?

My overall build approach was to use pre-finished plywood for exposed interior parts. This eliminated the need for any interior painting and speeded up the build. Solid pre-finished wood was used for shelf edges, etc.

The very first thing done was to have the 2 Maxxair fans installed, then the floor was put down, and then I ran all the wiring. The interior sidewalls and overhead were then built. My experience is that the back of a van is the most difficult to insulate. I thus built an insulated wall of 2 x 4s with 1/2 inch ply across the rear about one foot in. The photo shows the Espar heater with auxiliary diesel tank and storage for stuff that is only needed from outside the van.

The second photo gives an idea of the interior construction. I used vertical 1 x 4s about every 2 feet apart secured to the metal frame members by Teks screws. Behind these I used cheap fiberglass insulation purchased in rolls. Folks say it will pick up and hold moisture but I have found that not to be a problem on boats and previous vans. I allow some ventilation space as shown. I purchased the common foil covered bubble wrap "insulation" in wide rolls and stapled it to the 1 x 4s to form a vapor barrier. Then the interior 1/4 inch panels were screwed through to the 1 x 4s.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Inside of the 4.5 inch thick wall: The shelf across the top is sloped with a 3 inch lip. It is intended for light weight things. The horizontal rope is for hanging wet towels, etc. I chose to not have recesses at the ends of the bunk, but it is 70 inches long which is 3 inches more than me. It is 34 inches wide spaced out 5 inches from the wall to allow space for bed clothes to hang down or an foot or arm! The black square is the Espar control.

The height of the bunk was determined to allow for the bucket toilet underneath plus storage space. I insultted the first 3 feet of the heater duct so the bunk would not get to hot. The 35 gallon water tank is there with the trash basket secured by a line sitting atop its outlet hose and valve.

The bunk is hinged -- note that it is an inch or so short at each end to allow for the curvature of the van side wall. Marttress is full length. The Espar cold air return is behind the diagonal piece of wood just above the plastic tank. Behind the toilet is storage space.
To use the toilet daytime it is set in front of the bunk. At night it is set inside of the slider so it is easy to get in and out of the bunk.

I have a large plastic bin that fits atop the water tank for small clothes. Two plastic tubs stack beside the toilet for large amounts of clothes.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
The galley runs to the middle of the slider opening. Outboard of the trash basket you can see part of the gray Isotherm 750 watt 4-gallon water heater. The water tank fills via a boat type deck fill -- I simply bring the hose in. The diagonal small hose is the water tank vent. A handy spot to store a couple of extra paper towel rolls. Below the two drawers there is a mouse hole. The foot pump is in there with the operating pedal just flush with the counter front -- it does not stick out to be a tripping hazard. The pump is a quality marine unit (Whale brand) that is double acting as a spring pulls the up stroke.

I use a butane stove. They come in a clam shell plastic case. Pull the case hinge pins, screw half to the wall and use an elastic cord to secure it. Easy storage. The blue hose is the water tank vent -- no odor so can be inside. The red hose is the gray water tank vent to the outside. This tank is under the sink and drains through the floor via a simple valve.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
On the driver's side just forward of the berth I have floor to ceiling cubbies for small stuff. The heater duct curves down and outboard just forward of the wheel well and runs along the base of the wall strapped 2 inches off the floor so the heat does not melt the black OEM floor covering and for easy cleaning under. I have space there to hang a couple of jackets and reach in to make up the berth

The 2 foot deep next space has at the top a plastic bin where I store dishes, cups, etc. Next is a 750 watt cooking power (11 amps) microwave oven. Beside that is space for my toiletries kit. Below that is my super insulated ice chest from Frigid Rigid. It was expensive but is built of fiber glass (not roto molded plastic) with a full 2 inches of closed cell foam insulation. Most other ice chests do not have full thickness insulation in all places as they have tapered sides, thinner bottoms, and recessed areas for handles. They do different types of drains. I have a PVC drain and elbow leading to a valve reachable from underneath and a through the floor drain. I added the Dri-Dek grate from a marine store to keep stuff out of the water. I had the ice bin fabricated locally. It holds almost 20 pounds of cubes. It has open bottom corners for water drainage. In cold weather I use about 3 pounds of ice a day, in the very hottest 5 to 6 pounds a day.

(I am totally aware of and have experience with efficient top loading refrigerators using Danfoss compressors and that they use little power. I use none and have zero noise. My ice cost is little.)
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
The desk/eating table is next forward. It is good sized as I need the space. The black electrical center is from Paneltronics, a company I have dealt with for decades -- they cater mostly to the marine and RV industries and major industrial companies. I have 4 modules from left to right: AC selector for shore power or inverter, AC switch/circuit breakers, DC voltage metering of both house and engine batteries, and DC switch/circuit breakers. At the inverter I plugged in a heavy duty power cord and wired the other end into the A/C selector module. It is always easier to monitor voltage than current and for decades I have learned that I do not need to monitor amps as I can judge the state of a battery by seeing its resting voltage.

The battery charger is a series 5000 from Charles Industries. They make stuff for many industries and are considered about the best. Twenty amps is ample as when shore power is available there is many hours to charge batteries. I have a place for the Maxxair remote control. (I have fans both forward and aft to get a through breeze in hot weather.) I have charging station and my computer fits in the magazine rack.

The heavy duty electrical stuff is installed vertically behind the driver's seat and protected by a plexiglas cover. I mounted components on a black piece of plywood and prewired most before bolting the assembly on. I then only had to connect a very few wires in the awkward location. The inverter and master battery switches are reachable at the edge. Outboard of those are the BlueSea ACR combining relay, bus bars, and heavy duty fuses. For a chassis ground there is a convenient threaded point in that area (up on the side) designed for a cargo tie down ring. Get the right metric bolt, grind or sand some paint off, and use a lock washer for a perfect ground!

My Deka (East Penn Manufacturing) size 8D AGM battery sits underneath. My light proof privacy curtain is permanently attached to the sidewall and slides across on a cord that then is hooked over a couple of screw heads. As the lip on the upper shelf is over an inch high no light escapes here and as the curtain goes down to the floor it makes a reasonable insulator. Light proof fabric is available at fabric stores as it is used for lining draperies. The upper shelf is accessible when the curtain is closed. The fire extinguisher is mounted on a small board so it does no roll around.

The Paneltronics load center was the most expensive thing in the entire project but it saved a ton of time and saved some money by eliminating the purchase of many individual switches, etc.

OK, I am done and am sorry for my lack of technical abilities resulting in the fact that some pictures got compromised by being made square.

THIS IS THE LAST OF THE INITIAL POSTS SO NOW GO AT ME WITH CRITICAL COMMENTS AND I WILL TRY TO ANSWER QUESTIONS.
 

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Looks like the inside of a boat.... I suspect that is not a coincidence and its a good thing too. I have to go back and spend some time on this as you did post a lot. Congratulations.
 
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Nice job! I also thought you explained it very well. If my conversion turns out half as well as yours, I will be tickled... Thanks for sharing your work.
 

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Re post 10. Because of my slight disability I hired an old friend to do the heavy work. He earns a full time living working on boats and I have been involved with boats for over half a century. I did not keep track of the costs but I estimate that counting his labor at his usual rate and the cost of the van the total project was around $65,000.
 

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Thanks seapro. You have given good advice from a marine perspective for a couple years and now we see your work. I really like the functional simplicity. There are a couple of truly unique aspects: one is your choice to construct a fully operating van and not include a compressor fridge. It's great to use what you know n like. The other thing is that this is absolutely the FIRST build I've seen with a .............. pencil sharpener! Bravo, congratulations, and thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I love writing with a pencil much better than any type of pen! I use very little electricity on some things to have it available for the microwave and heating hot water. No mechanical refrigeration and no water pump. All lighting is LEDs.
 

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Nice work, been working on mine for a year now and half done. I think I'll go your direction and post when and if I ever get it done
 

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Great job and very innovative.

I missed your first posts last night when you were having problems with photos unfortunately. There is a known bug in the Apple IOS that causes some images to post sideways online. The very easy solution is to open them in an image proceeding app on your computer first, adjust the size if need be and then save it and then post it. Directly posting an image from an Apple mobile device without doing this step first will usually give you a sideways image. I use Grapic Converter on my Mac but there are certainly others, Photoshop comes to mind.
 
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