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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all,

We're still at the planning phase. And we're debating over whether we should buy a new van or a used one. Apart from that, we have somehow put up a rough plan of our future van camper. We're posting here to share our thoughts as well as seeking your experienced insights to correct or better the plan.

Alright, this is our background:

1. Who are we? We're just two of us, no kids, no pets. For next 5-10 years, we will continue to work and set up for an early retirement(40-50).

2. This won't be our ultimate van. We're not full-timer yet. However, this van should still be able to handle a boondocking trip up to two weeks.

3. We're not handy. But we're willing to learn.

4. We never drove any big sizes. So we don't to jump from a small car to a gigantic van. Base on research, RAM ProMaster 1500 136 WB high roof seems like a good choice. It's big enough, but not over-whelmedly huge.

And this is what we want:

1. Beds, not a bed: One of us is a light sleeper and the other one is apparently not a well-behaved sleeper. So, if we couldn't manage to get a king size like home, we would like to have separate sleeping areas. :eek::crying::(

2. On a daily basis, we don't want to cook inside the van. So we will opt for portable stove or rear slide-out kitchen.

3. We don't want to have complicated wiring throughout the van. So we will have battery-operated LED lights instead.

4. We don't need a bathroom and crazy pluming. We will have an out-door shower with privacy tent.

5. AC/DC operated appliances: Refrigerator, TV...

6. Portable Toilet;

7. Portable table;

8. Sofa;

And now, this is the grand debut of the first draft of our RAM ProMaster 1500 136" WB high roof conversion plan:



Notes:
1. L shaped bunk bed; lower bunk is extendable to be a full size(So we, crazy couple, can actually sleep together from time to time); upper bunk has a removable piece in the middle to create a gallery during the day time. Sleep up to three in total.

2. Sofa: the lower bunk converts to a sofa during the day. Using mattresses(same size) from both bunks to reach ideal height; using mattress of the extendable portion for back support;

3. Removable table in front of the lower bunk.

4. Storage: under the lower bunk; driver side; rear elevated to cover wheelhouse(20");

5. Pocket Door to separate the rear area(rear area could be for toilet or slide-out kitchen).

Please kindly share your opinions with us. We would like to heard something critical to better this plan.

Cheers,

T&Z
 

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2014 136” HR
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That is a most ingenious plan. I have not seen it anywhere else.

Comments:

You will love the 136". Nimble as a cat.

You are committing to a lot of shuffling of mattresses, bedding, the filler board. That will soon get old.

Because of the slight wall curve, straight-down rain wets several inches into the doorway even with the door partially open. You will need a way to protect the lower bunk. You might consider flipping right/left with some of your counter between driver seat and lower bunk, kitchen in doorway. This would make it easy to facilitate outside cooking, lower bunk would be safe, and your couch would face out the door instead of to the interior.

Storage could be tight for a 2-week trip, especially with all that moving bedding, filler board and table to be stored.

Mock it up with cardboard. Include 2 weeks worth of stuff in your mockup. Go through the motions of making beds, converting, etc.

Most important: have fun. I envy that you anticipate a second chance. We oldsters usually don't have that luxury.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
MsNomer, Thank you for your comment.

Because of the slight wall curve, straight-down rain wets several inches into the doorway even with the door partially open. You will need a way to protect the lower bunk. You might consider flipping right/left with some of your counter between driver seat and lower bunk, kitchen in doorway. This would make it easy to facilitate outside cooking, lower bunk would be safe, and your couch would face out the door instead of to the interior. I started my plan with the lower bunk on the driver side. I changed to the passenger side to make more counter space. Obviously I din't know about the rain issues you mentioned. I'll definitely flip the side. Now I've already found it worthy to post here to better my floor plan. JEJEJEJEJE!!!

Storage could be tight for a 2-week trip, especially with all that moving bedding, filler board and table to be stored. Check the following link. With this design, we can still have storage under the lower bunk. The center piece of upper bunk will be flipped to the lower bunk side with the hinges. One less item to store. Plus, we're planing to install overhead cabinets wherever is allowed, mostly over the counter and part of the lower bunk.
http://www.studioalaya.com/furniture/beds

Mock it up with cardboard. Include 2 weeks worth of stuff in your mockup. Go through the motions of making beds, converting, etc. Good idea!

I'll wait for a few more ideas to have the 2nd version.
 

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If you are saying that the filler piece hinges down and attaches under the top bunk, that sounds like a great solution. How will you handle the middle-of-the-night toilet run?

Storage under that bed appears suitable only for stuff that will not be accessed often. At least consider drawers so you won't have to discombooberate the bed for access.
 

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Master Overland Custom Vans Tampa
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Convertible furniture makes a small van feel huge. Our sofa is on slats that pull out to a 48" wide bed and we are so glad we chose this design. Yes we have to pull out the bed and reposition the cushions but it takes all of 2 minutes to "make the bed". I like your design.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
How will you handle the middle-of-the-night toilet run? We almost never had a the middle-of-the-night toilet run. We don't want that either. LOL! Anyway, after reviewing your suggestion of flipping the lower bunk to the driver side, we are planing to have the Porta Potti behind the driver seat. And we would have a rear slide-out kitchen.
 

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Getting all the van interior to use by eliminating the slider door and putting the pottie behind the seat seems a better option. The time will come to need the night access, trust us. What you are planning is a Campervan (thanks MsNomer) which is great for a few weeks of camping but for more, or full timing a “Class B” would be better with a compartmented bathroom, tanks under, real galley, etc. That would work better in a 159 or Extended van which you will be competent to drive in about 2 weeks with the 136. We spent a few days in New Orleans and Key West with our 126 HT last spring and never had a driving or parking issue due to size and those towns are tight!. It’s a perfect Campervan!
I’d say buy the new van, order what you want in a color you love and keep it for those 5-10 years. Live the fun life now while you work on the retirement. BTW if you are like those of us who “retired” early (52!) then know life will present opportunities to work at what YOU want to do, as much as YOU want, and you will be busier than while you were working full time to get there. We have been doing it for 15 years and know many others who say the same. I like your ideas and the van plans too.
 

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Food prep outside is great when the weather cooperates and a slide out kitchen is a way to do that. I'd like to have an easy inside food prep option too for when it's windy, raining, cold, or blazing hot.Then u can utilize any nearby space/picnic table/shelter/shade tree/scenic spot and not be tied to rear of van. Making your stove portable could allow that. Also, the under bunk fridge location seems awkward to access depending on how bunk is deployed. I'd prefer access all the time. The pocket door and potty door could be a fabric shower curtain if privacy is wanted and way easier/simpler to build. Also no issue with stuff on the floor when opening potty door. Still lots of blank space in the rear for the unanticipated space needs. The upper bunk could also be an extendable version and make under bunk storage more accessable. The 136 certainly requires more planning especially for 2 people. Your design is unique and I look forward to following your progress.
 

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What are the bunk lengths in v.2? It looks like about 5' unless the counters are utilized.
 

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Yes, I'd move the fridge out from under the bunk.

On our just-completed trip out west, we had the issue that sometimes it was too windy to cook outside. I will be making some wind shields for the butane stoves before the next trip. I can see a rear pull-out working reasonably well with protection on three sides. Maybe add a cover?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Yes, we're planing to buy a tent/awning for the rear kitchen. Plus, we could use it for outdoor shower.
 

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I'm struggling with the layout problem as well. I mostly travel alone but occasionally my wife wants to go as well. (I teach antique clock repair to keep busy in retirement). Anyway, we're seasoned citizens and access to the "facilities" at night is a must.

I've attached a jpg and hope it shows up - my first try attaching something.

My van is a 136 low roof (assuming it ever arrives). Decided on bunk beds using a Disc-O-Bed as the base. Beds on the drivers side with cabinets below to hold batteries, chargers, and 5 drawers. I ordered swivel seats for both driver and passenger. There is a cabinet between the driver and the bed with the top extended to act as a table for the driver when the seat is swiveled. The cabinet also contains two 35 qt compressor refrigerators (Dometic CFX35). One will be used as a freezer and the other a fridge. They pull out on drawer slides and the tops lift up for access. Galley is on the passenger side. Port-a-potty is behind the galley. There will be a cabinet above the potty and a curtain for privacy. Espar heater under the foot rest in front of the swivel seats, similar to RD's.

There's 27" of head room between the upper and lower bunk. I'll use that most of the time, but when my wife travels, she'll get the lower bunk and I'll squeeze into the upper bunk which will only have about 18" of head room. The High Roof would have been ideal for this layout but I have parking issues and the low roof just makes it.

I, too, thought about the L shaped bunk but it makes access to much of the space difficult at best. I traveled out of my Ford Ranger Long bed (7 foot bed), with a cab high cap. Very tight so the Promaster will be luxurious in comparison - even when I have to sleep on the top bunk.

Layout isn't finished but it's getting close. I'm using Sketchup to model everything in 3-D which makes it easy to try lots of layouts on paper. I learned my lesson on my first 118" Promaster and will take the advice given here to build a cardboard model before committing to cutting wood.

Lex
 

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I like it. If you have looked at my build you know I used a bit over 1/2 the door opening for my galley. It leaves a reasonable space to enter and gives about 2 feet more space on the galley side of the van. That is valuable real estate inside the van. Consider using it??? When we cook inside we can open the door if it is nice and you feel and see nature, but if it is raining or windy we can close the door and see out the window! Very nice.
Can the top bunk be removable so when you are solo it feels even more spacious? I have camped alone on my collapsible bed collapsed for the trip and the van feels huge for one person, I really liked it!
 
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