Ram Promaster Forum banner

1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
25 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
World's slowest conversion project here.
Insulation now being done, for the most part, I'd like to try my hand at a few of the next steps, done quickly/temporarily until I can save enough $ to have it done by a professional. Just want to be able to do a bit of camping/boondocking.

I'm thinking:

- Threaded inserts in the braces and beams on the walls, maybe the ceiling, to attach a few cabinets. Probably just buy the insert tool and inserts on line and use the holes in the walls that already exist -- the complex of beams and braces on the walls and ceiling is a mystery to me when thinking about strength (generally speaking and if I had to stop real fast or got in an accident -- getting crushed by everything launching at the driver's seat). Some of them seem extremely strong, most not so much -- a bunjee in one of the existing holes can start to bend some of those braces.
I figure I'm less likely to go wrong if I use the very small number of already threaded holes in the beam that is lined up on both sides with the rear of the sliding door (there's probably a name for that) and the smaller, but still already threaded holes in a horizontal brace in the rear half of the cargo area. There are only about 4 of these totals -- maybe cut and bolt a vertical and horizontal strip of thick plywood on each side using those holes?
Seems like I should be able to use those super strong looking tie-down bolts to put some metal or wood strips down to attach ...

-- Cabinets. I'd really like to get a temporary galley -- half-height cabinet with sink on top and enough room for a couple of ten gallon tanks and a quiet electric pump underneath. There don't seem to be any units like that already built. Maybe a couple other cabinets, either full height vertical and/or a horizontal one on each side, near the roof.
Materials-wise, I suppose I should get either plywood (maybe 1/2" minimum, for strength and not detaching) or metal already built cabinets; and to stay away from particle board like those closet organizers at Home Depot.

-- Solar panels: thin, flexible type (already purchased), three rows of three except the row at the back of the van where that Fantastic Fan is (just two in that row).
I'd really like to create a frame for all 8 of them with a hinge along one side so that I can tilt them (playing around with the panels on my driveway, while hooked up to the battery controller and battery showed me how big a difference tilting makes). But, I'm clueless as to how I create such a thing. I'd think that there would be a 'big kid' version of erector sets, with which I could just buy already sized pieces of frame and connecting hardware. Thing is, with flexible panes, I'd undoubtedly need the frame to be elaborate enough to support the underneath side of the panels. Then, a separate part of the frame to attach to the van roof.

I'm tempted to just do a temporary job and attach the panels flat (forego tilting for now) with an adhesive that would allow them to come off later for professional installation, something I could pull or cut (e.g., razor) off later, without harming the surface of the van roof.

-- I also need to hire someone that could wire up my battery and inverter, mini breaker box. I could probably do it ... if I knew how :eek:. I get shut down easily, e.g., I sized and purchased the correct gauge wire for my system to connect the battery to the inverter, along with the lugs, then found that Home Depot doesn't sell a large enough crimping tool for those lugs (that they sell).
My inverter has no AC plugs or cables attached to it.
I'm in the San Diego area. I'd gladly pay to have it wired together (no permanent installation for now, maybe just a piece of plywood to attach the components, other than the battery). Seems like RV solar is a real specialty though. No one seems interested in small projects.


Any advice is appreciated.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,123 Posts
You are making it out to be far more difficult than it actually is. Fear is your biggest enemy. Many here with little or no knowledge have figured it out and done it on their own and I'm you can also. Read all the threads you can and don't be intimidated. There is no right or wrong way to do many of the things you want - just your way.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
8,809 Posts
Take on ONE project. Too many things going on makes for indecision and delay. One doable project is more likely to allow progress. Suggestion. Have an overall plan for your work now and allow the Pros to work around it because it is good and right. This is much less expensive and allows you to have the use of the van. Forget tilting solar as you seem to have lots of solar capacity and the loss due to lying flat won’t be an issue. I built tilting panels on my former RV and tilted them about twice in 8 years. Double sided Very High Bond tape from 3M will hold those flex panels.

Perhaps build a galley out of 1/2” high quality plywood. It will only take one sheet and can be built modularly to hold a sink, the water jugs and your cooking stuff. Attach it to the walls and floor with rivnuts or the D rings. Then you can cook. It is nothing more than a plywood box that can have simple glued and nailed corners and shelves inside and a few doors or drawers if you want.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
25 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Keep on Vaning: You are right about fear. However, I have made unfortunate mistakes on other projects. Seems like for this project, some aspects have little room for error, e.g., holes in walls, roof, floor. For instance, I really would like to get my composting toilet installed, which other than attaching it to the floor, I need to vent it and I don't know where to do it through the roof or floor. I'd rather do it in the floor. But. since the vent fan is only 7.5 watts, I'm not sure that's strong enough to blow down and out as opposed to up and out (i.e., the roof, which I really don't feel comfortable making a hole in, especially since there is no supplied fitting and I have NO idea what kind of 'vent cap' would be available for this. Also, it can't interfere with the solar panels, which, three side-by-side, just barely fit the width of the roof.

I did ok with the insulation, I think. Kind of pleased with it actually. Still trying to decide about prying to factory flooring up to put down the 1" polyiso, then cover it back up with the flooring or put the polyiso on top of the factory flooring and put something else on top of that.
I haven't filled in all the areas within the bracing and beams with Great Stuff, only about 1/3 of that. This may be me complicating things again, but I'm a bit leery of not leaving space to run wiring for the electrical/antennas cables, etc. I thought about running a few Pex pipes/tubes in some key places, with some fish wire, but didn't know whether I should use 90 degree elbows (i.e., didn't know whether I could pull the actual wire through 90 degree turns with fish wire).

Hein: I just got back from Lowe's, purchasing a small table saw, some hardwood plywood (nice finish) and a work table.
Then, I came home and checked out 8020.net. OMG, I love that site; it's incredible! I look at their galleries and my head explodes -- so many great complete products. Without the photos, I'd never be able to envision a finished product and make it work if I had to create/design it myself. I could definitely put it together if it was a kit or even order the parts if I knew dimensions. I think my problem has always been: I'm great with the big ideas and horrible with details (you should see me try to draw a sketch of something -- it looks like a 7 yr old did it with his/her left hand). I don't even try to draw any more. I think that's why precise pieces with fittings designed to work together (8020.net) appeals to me so much. I'd really love the 8020.net idea with titanium and carbon fiber materials for light weight, but that would undoubtedly be cost prohibitive (see, that's where my mind goes -- finished, high performance product).

Anyway, that site makes me want to take back the (unopened) saw and wood I bought and just use their metal products. Although, I could always use the 8020.net metal parts for a cabinet frame and wood for the sides and top.
BTW, do rv cabinets have backs? Or, are the backs (of the insides of the cabinets) just the finished walls of the RV?

My inverter is a Magnum Energy MS4448PAE.

Oak Tree Vans installed my two CRL windows (sliding door and small one on driver side that I envision :D will ultimately be in what becomes the bathroom) and the Fantastic Fan. They did a good job and I like the owner and his next in charge. But: It took a 7 month wait for them to get to that small job (supposedly a 4-6 week wait on the waiting list), on time them cancelling when I showed up on a scheduled start date; and, I think he seemed to express a combination of: didn't take me completely seriously, i.e., as a customer who would be able to pay, for some reason (even when I showed up 3 days after our initial meeting with a brand new ProMaster diesel and a bunch of new fixtures, appliances and elec/solar components the day after I bought it), he kept "down-selling" me: I would mention a kitchen and he would suggest a metal bowl and a jug of water. I'd talk about a microwave, he'd say inverters in RV's don't handle the high voltage (?); I'd talk about a bathroom/toilet, he'd suggest a bucket with a toilet seat on top (I'm not kidding); I'd show him my Nature's Head composting toilet, sine-wave inverter, thin flexible solar panels, 5.0 cu ft Grape Solar fridge and he'd just look at me kind of blankly. I couldn't tell whether he thought I stole the stuff or he just would not have known where to begin implementing that into one or their floor plans, or what.

I think they and most conversion companies have one or two floor plans and a specific set of materials (for instance, they routinely put carpet on the walls, with a foam pad underneath, that's it!) and they don't like to go outside that box, because it wouldn't be lucrative for them, or to make it lucrative they would have to charge the customer ~$125/hr to experiment. They want to have limited options: small or med/small fridge; no toilet or cassette toilet; 1 regular (not flexible) solar panel or no panel. They appear to mostly do Sprinters.
I did mention a shower/hot water heater and the owner said it would add about $8-12k and that was w/o me mentioning that I wanted a combination heater/hot water heater that runs on diesel (Espar or Webasto makes one). That kind of told me that if would probably cost $35-40k at least, for their work, in addition to the electronics and fixtures. That's probably reasonable for them, just too much for me since I probably wouldn't get the options/choices I really want.

RDinNHandAZ and Hein: Thanks for the info about not needing to tilt panels. Although, I was thinking it was important because my system will be particularly sensitive to shadows that can real easily begin to appear in one is not careful, the further from noon the time gets. That is because I will have my panels wired in groups of 4 to make it 48v (I always forget whether that's series or parallel), so a shadow on the corner of one panel will affect 4 panels (instead of a single 100w panel dropping to 30w it would more likely be 400w dropping to 120w).

I can also NOW imagine getting the 8020.net components to put together a tilting frame with a mesh support under the panels and a hinge connecting to a thin, base frame attached to the roof with maybe 2-sided tape and perhaps some silicon sealer.
Still, if, as you guys say, I would rarely if ever use the tilting option, I'm now thinking I'll get some of that 2-sided tape you suggest and just get them installed, maybe drill a little hole in either the front roof running lights housing or the rear roof brake light/camera and go through the roof with a hole that's already there. Maybe find a rubber grommet for the hole I drill and seal it.

In addition to the two-sided tape, should I use some sort of sealer around the edges of the panels? I'm a little concerned that at 70 mph, wind might get under the leading edge of the panels and given that the 2-sided tape isn't solid across the bottom of the panels since there are wide rain grooves in the roof of the van, in time rip the panels off while on the highway.

I'm going to order a threaded insert/rivet tool and kit (of various sizes) threaded inserts from Amazon; and I guess I'll just attach them to the biggest holes in the thickest parts of the braces in the van walls for cabinet attachment.


Should I return the table saw/plywood and go with 8020.net metal cabinets? Or, if I try that will I run into trouble with the rear edges of the side panels of any cabinets I build, since the van walls are not 90 degrees to the floor?

I do know how to use woodworking tools. I took several years of JHS/HS wood shop decades ago. I'm just not good at improvising when improvising is critical -- it's starts to look real klugey fast.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
8,809 Posts
You can’t pull wire through elbows in pvc, they make sweeps for that and don’t use the pvc water pipe use pve conduit! Better use flex conduit. http://www.homedepot.com/p/1-2-in-x-25-ft-ENT-Coil-Blue-12005-025/100569078

Some cabinets have backs and others use the van side. Your choice.

The wiring is series. Many avoid it partly for the reason you mentioned. I wonder why you need 48 volts? Perhaps you plan to run a golf cart around the campsites?

Learn to scribe and cope a cabinet to the wall. Its easy. I like wood and just bought a Kobalt folding table saw after 50 years with powermatic and Delta cast Iron. Some have done 80/20 here, look at some build threads.
 
  • Like
Reactions: c p

·
Registered
Joined
·
25 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
48 volt = less energy loss = more efficient, and I can use much thinner wires; plus, there are rumblings of 48v Air Conditioning systems (one already exists for RVs, 2 for off-grid solar), so maybe for the future --> a 48v DC AC (air conditioner) with a 48v DC electrical system = even more efficiency/less loss.
Other than a couple of fans (fantastic, composting toilet, and maybe if I decide to get a diesel (air) heater in the future, it will undoubtedly have a 12v fan) I will be using 120v appliances. For awhile, I'll use a 120v fridge, electric heater, microwave, invection (?) counter top cooker.
My battery and inverter are also 48v, although that's besides the point, regarding your question.

I read so many RV blogs/vlogs who were going big, size-wise, on solar who said that if they were to do it over again they would go 48v. In the future I plan to double my current solar (800w x 2 = 1,600w) by having a double set stacked on the van roof that flips or slides over when I park and forms a solar awning. The flexible solar panels have already come down in cost about 25-30% since I bought mine, by battery controller can handle that doubling and although I wouldn't mind also doubling my battery, it will probably be fine as is, even if I do that upgrade.

Thanks for the pve conduit reference.

Do you scribe and cope with a coping (handheld) saw, or an electric scribe (?) saw or what? I remember how much I liked what woodworking I did do in the past.

Thanks again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
37 Posts
RDinNHandAZ really has great general advice on how to approach huge projects. Reminds me of Dune: "Fear is the mind killer".

c p I agree with you, there's so much to do at the beginning, I feel immobilized unable to make any decisions.

Yeah, some of the decisions you make may be traumatic errors but asking stupid questions on the internet will help minimize the seriousness of the mistake. And rarely is a mistake irreversible although it could take money and work to fix. 4" hole in the roof in the wrong place? Someone can weld it closed with a patch. Obviously better to ask and research before cutting the hole but rarely the end of the world if you screw up.

I recall you saying something about not knowing vent caps for toilets. Every single manufactured RV has vent caps. Just have to ask, google, go to RV forums, etc.

One specific bit of advice might be to shorten your posts and stick to one focused question at a time. In my case, my attention span has become too short to read long posts and my memory is going so I can't remember any of the questions if there are more than one or two in a post.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,123 Posts
You scribe with a compass https://cdn1.tmbi.com/TFH/Step-By-Step/FH02NOV_SCRIBI_02.JPG and then cut it with a jig saw. I didn't put any backs on any of my van cabinets.

Cutting holes in the van for windows, vents, etc is scary the first time but then you realize it's nothing. Lots of people here have excellent documentation on how they did it.

That "converter" may be a wonderful guy but forget him. You don't need him and he is only going to rip you off in the end.

8020 is great stuff but it does absolutely nothing for me ethestically. You either love it or couldn't care less. I'm in the care less catagory. It's way expensive and unforgiving if you are not dead on with your measurements. Wood is far easier to work with (IMHO) and much more forgiving.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Hi, whenever you mount cabinets or put in place wood framing in the sides of the Promaster, do you just use sheet metal screws and screw directly into the ribs? Obviously you can not use too long of screws that would drill though the side of the van. Should you try to aim for existing holes from the factory or do you just drill new ones where you need it?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
8,809 Posts
Where it works install Rivnuts. These add a threaded hole into which you can instal a bolt that can be tightened. Putting them in holes that exist in the ribs may be possible but often a new hole is drilled (careful not to push the drill so far it contacts the van exterior) and they are installed. These are much stronger than self taping screws although I found places to use both.
Here is a cheap one that does metric.
https://www.amazon.com/Astro-1427-Hand-Rivet-Nut/dp/B004KLVJAA
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
212 Posts
Hi, whenever you mount cabinets or put in place wood framing in the sides of the Promaster, do you just use sheet metal screws and screw directly into the ribs? Obviously you can not use too long of screws that would drill though the side of the van. Should you try to aim for existing holes from the factory or do you just drill new ones where you need it?
I'll post some pictures of how we did my cabinets. I am impressed that we where able to do what we did - of everything we have built I am most proud of the overhead cabinets. Not fancy at all, but we did spend a few weekends on it...most of the time was spent trying to explain what we were envisioning to each other. Neither of us being artists, carpenters, or engineers - it was quite the undertaking.
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Top