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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi Folks -

This thread to document the conversion I've started of a 2017 PMC Tradesman. The idea is to install a semi-permanent (but still removeable) floor, on top of which a 4' x 5' camper box unit that will slide out of the van when I need to haul large stuff.

The camper box will have hinged "wings" that fold out on top of the wheel wells, and a wing that will fold out forward toward the seats, creating a queen bed sized sleeping area.

Just getting started:

First installed the rails and bars available from the UK on ebay. Cheap and easy. Then purchased an 18 cubic foot (smallest I could with my needs) cargo box. I need this for my work, and for extra space if family camping.

I pulled out the plastic trim bits on the cargo floor and have sprayed on two coats of Lizardskin acoustic insulation.

Spraying inside the van has been a pain in the butt and the product was not cheap. I hope this effort was worth it. (I also plan to spray the ceiling, since I have enough product.)

I peeled the back door panels off and inserted thinsulate and have also begun stuffing thinsulate into nooks and crannies on the walls, in some case two layers. Broke several of the plastic pins. I have a dozen on order as replacements.

Not sure how I am going to deal with the former windows yet. They need some sort of insulation but I am trying to keep this job simple, and will not be aiming to have fully finished surfaces all around. After all, the whole camper unit is intended to be removable.

My house power will be supplied by a Zerogoal Yeti 1000. This has arrived, along with a Dometic CFX 40 liter fridge. The fridge will go on a rail inside the box, opening out the back door. The height of the fridge basically has determined the height of my bed platform / box top.

For farts and giggles, I half loaded the fridge with pre-cooled items and hooked it up to the Yeti. In the (77 degree) climate control inside my house, it burned through 9% of the Yeti battery in 24 hours. That's a hair under 7.5 12v amp/hours out of the 83 the battery holds.

In the real world, I expect the fridge (which draws 40-50 watts on 12v when the compressor is running) will burn through more like 12-15 amp/hours a day. My goal is 3 days of autonomy (no motor) and it looks like the Yeti will power the fridge and electronics that long. Longer if I supplement with a solar panel and/or charge the Yeti off the motor. Fridge will be powered by the motor when it is on.

Tomorrow:

Spray Lizardskin ceramic (heat) insulation on the floor.

Build the floor: Yoga mat, polyiso, and plywood.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
On the comment above... compressor runs far less than half the time! I have the fridge "real world" testing now.

Making progress here on the conversion. Step accomplished:

1. Finished applying ceramic floor and wheel well insulation.

2. Stuffed nearly 40 square feet of thinsulate insulation into nooks and crannies. It was very productive to remove the black plastic panels towards the back of the side walls, even if one of them (on the drivers side) is a little bit of a pain. Removing these panels provides access to a large area that can be insulated.

3. Installed a base, or 'subfloor', let's call it - measuring 48" x 61" - consisting of a sandwich of a) high density yoga mat, topped by b) 1/2 inch polyiso foam, topped by c) 1/2 inch of plywood with a heavy coat of polyurethane. This was assembled outside and then laid on the van floor. The caulk tube product for polyiso foamboard would not cure when sandwiched between the board and the yoga mat. After that initial screw up, and throwing one board away, I used a Gorilla caulk tube product labeled safe for foamboard. OTOH, the polyiso product works fine to adhere the foamboard to the wood.

4. Built out the basic frame of the camper boxes on top of a patio table. The box base, 1/2" ply, also measures 48" x 61". Plywood and 1" x 2" and 1" x 3" Home Depot "select" boards for construction.

Facing the rear, from left to right, there is a compartment for the refrigerator (on a slide), a compartment for pots/pans/utensils/dry food (shelves to be built), and on the passenger side a tall thin (~19.5" x 7.5") compartment running the full length of the boxes for camp tables and chairs. Height of the boxes (19.5", plus plywood top) was determined by the height of the fridge on its slider.

Speaking of the Dometic fridge slider: I was disgusted at the price ($150) when I ordered it. When I got it, it turned out to be a heavy and well engineered slide. I am happier with the purchase now that I've seen it's a decent piece of equipment.

In front of the fridge compartment is the electrical area, where the Goalzero Yeti battery pack and wiring live. There is also (hopefully) room to store two 30 watt solar panels within this compartment. And, I am hoping, the "hardware store" of things like the jack kit, infrequently used tools, etc.

Finally, in front of the kitchen compartment and the table/chair compartment that open to the back is one large storage area for water, clothes, daypacks, etc.

5. Loaded the completed box frame (without the top) into the van and put a few (just a few) screws through the bottom to attach to the subfloor.

I am now testing the electrical system, routing wiring. With the engine running, the fridge runs off an AC inverter hooked to the van's rear 12v socket. There's a second plug here on the inverter for something else. When the van motor is off, the fridge switches over to the battery pack, drawing ~45w @ 12v when the compressor is on (which is infrequent). The battery pack itself is hooked into one of the 12v car sockets between the front seats and charges at 65-90w @12v when the motor is running.

I have conduit and various electrical components on order. Once I install them, I'll put the top on the camper box, and build "wings" that fold out from the box to cover enough additional space to have a flat surface the size of a queen mattress.

Photo attached.
 

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