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Discussion Starter #1
I'm currently having a PM 2500 HT 159" (not extended) Cargo Van (no windows) converted to a camper/rv at Morehead Design in Mills River NC. The finished van will be used to travel North America for the next couple of years, with an extended (6 months) trip to Alaska in 2015.

Because I have a real desire to avod crowded (expensive) RV parks I'm attempting to create a van that allows for extended "boondocking" and maximize the use of small campsites (no hookups) to make extended travel more cost effective. I will also be doing a good deal of my traveling solo - so I've opted for a foldaway bunk bed setup which gives me more room, but has a second bed when I have a fellow traveler. Other major differences from a more mainstream RV - no propane, no a/c, not fancy (just fictional), Webasto DualTop air/water heater, solar panels and battery bank to allow cooking with a portable induction cooktop.

The starting point:


Over the next few days I will attempt to post some "in progress" pictures, more information about some of the components, and some explanation of how/why the "Backroader" is what it is.

Take care.
 

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Yes! Looking forward to this as well. This is my plan in a couple years, so I am in research mode. I am always curious and open to see ideas from others.
Curious to see how you handle:
solar/batts etc. I am liking the products from GoalZero so far. Pricey, but modular
insulation for heat and cold and sound
toilet...tank, or not to tank?
no propane means no hassle making a sep gas box
lighting...LEDs seem to be ideal

Since you will be cooking inside a bit, does that make you steer away from cloth and carpet? odors etc?

Anyhow, keep up updated.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Starting up top:

Note - it's not your eyesight, picture is suffering the effects of a fisheye lens.

Three 100 watt solar panels, two MaxAir fans, a cellphone antenna, and a Fiamma awning - all mounted to the.new ProMaster roof rack by Fiamma. The small black box is a "combiner box" that carries the wiring to the van's interior.

I choose the MaxAir fan over the more widely used Fantastic fan because it can operate even when it's raining and also when the van is moving. Using the roof rack made for fewer holes in the roof. Obviously I won't be carrying any extra stuff up top. I do plan on carrying a small telescoping ladder so I can clean and maintain the solar panels and fan covers..
 

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Roof Rack

Yesterday, I noticed the three nobs on each side of the Promaster van for roof rack and wonder how they work as attachment points: "The roof can carry 400 pounds, and has three roof-rail mounts on each side with tapping plates to assist mounting roof racks." Did you use these with your Fiamma rack? I am not sure what "tapping plates" means---did you use these?
Thanks,
Doc
 

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This is gonna be awesome, subscribing for updates.

I have always wanted to go off the grid and travel like this.

Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yesterday, I noticed the three nobs on each side of the Promaster van for roof rack and wonder how they work as attachment points: "The roof can carry 400 pounds, and has three roof-rail mounts on each side with tapping plates to assist mounting roof racks." Did you use these with your Fiamma rack? I am not sure what "tapping plates" means---did you use these?
Thanks,
Doc
Doc -Short answer is I don't really know the specifics of the roof rack. The reason, this is NOT A DIY build and although I spent a lot of time researching the various components and what I needed for my specific adventure, I'm leaving the execution to Robert at Morehead Design. He did tell me it was a new rack designed specifically for the ProMaster (and mine was the first to use it in the US) so I assume it uses both the rail mounts and plates. I will check and let you know the next time I see it in person.

Further background: Back in my younger days I would have eagerly taken on the challenge of a DIY build, but at 70 and having just returned from 15 years abroad (last five in Panama) I would rather get on the road ASAP and enjoy the adventure. So . . . I found someone I trusted to take my input and get it done.
 

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Thanks Steve--My van is more in the minimilist mode--had a bed built in the back and all camping gear fits underneath. This worked well on first camping trip to Big Bend, but want to add ventilation, awning, and have it insulated and paneled. It has been a bit frustrating researching how best do do all this from various venders. No one wants to put ventilation and fan on the ribbed roof; figuring out the extra battery to run the fan etc; and determining which awning to get and how to best attach it. We do back country camping, usually not in camp grounds. I did trade out the tires for Michelin all terrain which has been great. Hope to get the rest done soon.
Happy trails,
Doc
 

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So what's your interior layout going to look like?

I've been thinking about doing something down the road in a couple years and I'm like you; pretty much by myself. It occurred to me that most of the conversions out there don't really suit my needs. I don't need two twin beds that take up a big chuck of the real estate; really just one comfortably wide twin. That means my couch/bed could be across from the counter space. Morehead has a design like that in their archives where the bed slides out all the way to the counter. Also means that that I could have a bigger shower and toilet. I'd want it at the back. Morehead's design for that is called the MDLWeekender, although I don't see an actual build for this design. The design picture is one of several at the bottom of this page:

http://www.moreheaddesignlab.com/id2.html

Finally, I think I'd have room for a chest of drawers and a flat screen up front on the driver side. The TV would pull out and could be swiveled to the back or front. If I do that, I'd want a couch that has an adjustable backrest that folds up in order to watch tv. I'd mount the fridge at the rear of the counter, with the microwave mounted high next to it. I also was thinking about a table for the couch. I saw this design that would be a clever way to make a table for the couch pull out from the under counter space. I've never seen that done with an RV but I think it'd work:

http://cdn.home-designing.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/1-Pull-out-dining-table-red-white-grey-kitchen.jpeg


What are you doing for AC and heat? I don't see AC on top, but you do have two fans, so I'm guessing you're not going to have AC?

John
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Here is a early layout. We've changed a couple of things, nothing major. Front, drivers side, is the galley, then storage (with a pullout desk/table) with a cassette toilet in the back corner. On the passenger side just inside the sliding door is a small storage unit (not shown in the drawing) with a table that drops down for outside use, then the bunks (upper flods up when I'm traveling alone), a then another starage area.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Doc - The fan install looked pretty straightforward. Take a look at this thread - http://www.promasterforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15729 Sounds like my electrical might be more than you want/need but I will post some reports when I'm on the road on how my system functions.

John - No a/c , couldn't find a workable solution that would run on my battery bank and I didnt want to be tied to shore power. I'm hoping the ability to move to cooler weather when necessary will keep things bearable. For heat I'm using the Webasto DualTop which also provides my hot water.
 

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Steve: I really like your design. It's very close to what I would like to do. It doesn't have a shower, although I've gone back and forth about that. I'd flip the galley and the storage area, but that's my personal preference, of course. Great idea for the pull out table. Your's is the first time I've seen it put in use and I think it's a really great idea. I'll be really interested in seeing pictures when you get it done! Please include pictures with the couch down, I'll be interested in seeing how much space that allows you, and also how wide the bed is. What does the DualTop run off of? I thought they were diesel? I'm assuming your Promaster is gas unless it's a mythical diesel ;) Does that mean you'll have to carry a separate diesel tank? Where are you mounting the DualTop? I'll be really interested in seeing pictures of that too and also hearing about how well that works in keeping your Promaster warm. I'm also interested in hearing about whether you're installing any windows, but obviously your pictures will show that.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
What does the DualTop run off of? I thought they were diesel? I'm assuming your Promaster is gas unless it's a mythical diesel ;) Does that mean you'll have to carry a separate diesel tank? Where are you mounting the DualTop? .
Yup, the DualTop is diesel. A 3 gallon tank is mounted under the van and feeds the heater which is inside just in front of the wheelwell on the drivers side. Everyone I've talked to says this thing sips fuel and will have no problem keeping the space warm, with the bonus of providing hot water.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
The first thing done to the inside: Thomas climbed into his suit and then sprayed LizardSkin ceramic insulation on the walls, ceiling and floor. The good thing about this stuff is that it's sprayed into places you can't get to with many of the other insulation products. It is an excellent condensation barrier and also gets rid of the "tin can" sound. Later in the build batt insulation was added wherever possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
It doesn't have a shower, although I've gone back and forth about that.
I opted for a outside shower. Located above the cassette toilet in the left rear the shower head will mount on the back door when it's open. Background on the decision not to use interior space for a shower - last year I rented a Sprinter conversion (Sportsmobile) and traveled around Arizona and Utah for three weeks, only used the shower once as I found it was a major hassle and opted instead to use campground showers. In a space as small as the PM it's all about priorities and the inside shower didn't make my list.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Inside the back doors:

The cassette tolet is on the left. The grey box on the right is a 12v freezer (galley has a fridge). Above the freezer will be storage racks that I will wait to install until I get a better handle on what "stuff" I end up carrying.
 

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The first thing done to the inside: Thomas climbed into his suit and then sprayed LizardSkin ceramic insulation on the walls, ceiling and floor. The good thing about this stuff is that it's sprayed into places you can't get to with many of the other insulation products. It is an excellent condensation barrier and also gets rid of the "tin can" sound. Later in the build batt insulation was added wherever possible.
How many gallons did it take to do the interior?
 
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