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Van Build - 136 WB high roof

1538 Views 31 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Steve
Decided to take the leap back in August and buy a used 2500 136" high roof. Wanted a simple build to use for hiking, backpacking, and mostly climbing trips. My goal was to have it ready for the fall climbing season. Aside from the kitchenette, which is partially finished and in my garage, it's ready to use! Taking it out to Smith Rock this weekend for it's debut. Was supposed to be out there last weekend but it was too hot. Odd weather here in the PNW.

My goal was a bed, basic electrical, running water, a fridge, a heater, and half-decent finishes inside.

I get out recreating every weekend so I really didn't want to take weekends off. So I did everything a couple hours most evenings after work.
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2019 RAM Promaster 2500 136"
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The van the day it arrived. It's a little beat up inside, and has some damage detailed in another thread. But I'm ok with that and will deal with it. My first van and I don't have time for long trips anyway so this will be more of a weekender and proof of concept that the van thing works for me. I decided to not fuss too much over the details and just feel it out. My "Van 1.0". If it all works out, maybe in 5 years or so there will be a 2.0. Or I'll just go back to sleeping in my Forester or in the dirt :)

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Started cutting a side window and fan 9/5/22:
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
9/6/22 - Added a live-view digital rear view mirror. Never driven a van before and not seeing out the back was unnerving to me. This was very helpful and it works great. Not perfect in the dark but you can't see much in the dark anyway with a normal rear view. I replaced the light with the camera.

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9/6/22: Made a superstrut roof rack and popped on my solar panels. 2 of 3 pictured. Renogy 100W panels.

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2019 RAM Promaster 2500 136"
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
9/7/22 to 9/9/22: insulation, furring strips, and electrical. Thinsulate with 3M 90. Went up super quickly. I just ordered the amount listed for a promoter 136 from van life outfitters. Furring strips are 1x3 and fastened with self tappers. I cut 2x4's to size for the area on either side of the bed a glued them in. The electrical is 12 and 14 AWG wire. I'll upload a diagram.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
9/19 to 9/22/22
Had to take time off since I was out in the Sawtooths on a climbing trip. Came back and finished the furring strips and started on the floor. I'm 6'1" (without shoes) so I needed to maximize height. 1/2" ply strips glued down to the upper ribs. 1/2" rigid insulation between them. I added 1/4" ply to fill in some of the non-ribbed spots. I then added 3/4" ply blocks bolted to the factory tie down locations. 1/2" ply on top of all this glued and screwed to the 1/2" ply strips and heavily screwed to the tie down locations. The 1/2" ply strips act to splice the 3 upper subfloor sheets together and keep them held down via glue, while the (6) tie down locations keep it all locked in.

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
10/3/22 - 10/7/22
Flooring and walls

The flooring is a single sheet of vinyl glued down with vinyl floor adhesive. The edges are trimmed with aluminum angle. I also built wheel well boxes to sit on top of the flooring and trimmed the edges with some scrap wood. Sorry, pics are a little out of order here. I wasn't too worried about a perfect look. You can see lots of screw holes and plywood edges. Tools, not jewels.

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The walls are 1/4" ply with "4 way stretch fabric". It's quite forgiving and easy to work with. Just glued directly to the ply. I didn't make templates. Just cut everything rectangular and did some guess and check. Not everything is perfect but with each passing day I see less and less of the imperfections.... And all the dents in the van hide my sloppiness :)

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
10/10/22 to 10/12/22

Electrical and bed

Wired up all the electrical. Built a little box for the battery too. The DC-DC charger isn't done yet. Still need to add the ignition control wire. Again, not too worried about appearances here. Functional!

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Put in the bed. I ditched the joist hangers I had earlier and just put the 2x4's in flat. Reinforced the first 2x4 with a second flat 2x4 under it and a 1x6 side rail to keep the bed in. The bed is a Foam Factory HD-36 "high quality" full size mattress. Fit perfectly at 54"x75". Lights under the bed illuminate the garage. The fridge won't be permanently located there. It's just off-gassing (had a bit of a smell). Just arrived that day. The kitchenette will cover the unfinished panels and power is already wired for the pump. I also prewired power for a Webasto heater under the passenger seat yet to be purchased ($$$!)

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Also added nightstands for each side of the bed. You can see the dual-zone dimmer switch for the ceiling lights here too.

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well that's it for now. Fall climbing season is upon us so I won't be doing much until November or December, depending on weather. My goal prior to winter ski season is to get the kitchenette installed and the heater in. Hopefully that will get done sometime in December when I pick things up again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Looks great! I love the bedside tables and all the open space under the bed.
Thanks! I think I'll end up doing some kind of fixed storage under the bed. Having slept many nights in my subaru with wet ski gear or dusty climbing gear next to my face, I'm very excited to have all that dirty gear well away from my sleeping space! I'm sure there is a great way to organize all that stuff down there but I think it'll take a few trips to get my imagination going on how it should be laid out. TBD!
 

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Thanks! I think I'll end up doing some kind of fixed storage under the bed. Having slept many nights in my subaru with wet ski gear or dusty climbing gear next to my face, I'm very excited to have all that dirty gear well away from my sleeping space! I'm sure there is a great way to organize all that stuff down there but I think it'll take a few trips to get my imagination going on how it should be laid out. TBD!
Modular / removable pieces might be a good choice. Exploristlife.com is making a video series of their van that is all modular. I think when you don't live in a van, it's nice to design it to fit different kinds of uses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Finally got around to putting in a kitchen this past weekend. Built a shoddy cabinet out of 1/2" ply and topped with a butcher block countertop. Installed the sink with electric water pump and a clean + gray water tank. I also installed the Webasto and swivel so the van is done!

Thanks for all the wonderful info I learned from endless scrolling of this forum. It was incredibly helpful!

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You have done excellent work in a short time frame. You will enjoy the open space.

You are quite wise to use it a bit before you make final decisions for under the bed. When I look at the final photo, I think, "It's raining/freezing out there and I really want the xxxx that I can see in in the container just behind the 2x4."

How will you secure the ICECO?
 
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