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Discussion Starter #1
So...it's finally time to get started on our camper van. But before all of that, here's a little bit about our plans. For years we enjoyed our 2002 Eurovan MV/Weekender. Ownership had it's ups and downs with some of the typical mechanical issues found on these vans. But having had a poptop, we are sold on that feature. The convenience the poptop offers and how it fit our approach to travel became a must-have for our family.

So about 2 years ago I set out to figure out how to build a replacement for our Eurovan. As a growing family, the platform was becoming too small and the expense of ownership was only going to grow over time.

After comparing all of the van platforms that had the room we would need (Sprinter, Transit and Promaster), we decided on the Promaster. The Sprinter was expensive, had it's own set of mech issues, and I'm done dealing with the idiosyncrasies of a German car. The Transit was a viable option, but I'm not fond of the low roof model which was the only one that at the time could be used for a poptop. The Promaster low roof met our needs best: drive-able size, stand up room for the wife, and front wheel drive as this van will see lots of snow. While the PM is not perfect, it's good. I wish it had a passenger option as I would rather start from that base for my build. As I subscribe to the "don't let perfect be the enemy of good" philosophy, the choice for the PM 136 gas engine was logical.

I owe a big thanks to Korey slamit06 as his builds were the inspiration for my project. Seeing what he did gave me confidence that a Eurovan replacement was not only possible, but could be done to a high degree of quality while constrained by a realistic budget.

I purchased the van from Russ Ficek at NW Jeep in Portland Oregon www.nwjcd.com. Russ has been mentioned for his great service on the board a couple of times and I can confirm that. I tried several other dealers and found that if you don't want what's already on their lot, they wont give you the time of day. Russ was more than willing to deal with my build option for option and place an order. I ordered the van on 10/21/16 and took delivery on 2/24/17. Given the cost of the build, I decided to go new for the PM and have the benefit of warranty and a new van.

***The van was delivered as ordered but I am having a gremlin on the sliding door which does not want to lock either from the fob or the interior door lock switch. It goes back to the dealer for a service check this tomorrow so hopefully it's an easy fix. I am also going to have the horn beep on fob lock disabled as it's annoying.


For the popup and much of the conversion I talked to Sportsmobile and CCV. Matt Dunkerly at CCV was helpful, but busy, and I preferred the additional height of the poptop, the simplicity of their builds, and passenger seating options that CCV offers so I went that route. I plan to have the vehicle to CCV in mid April for the conversion work.

Over the next few weeks I'll be working on soundproofing and other small prep work prior to the trip to CCV.

Stay tuned and I'll update this post along the way. Any questions fire away!

I have included a few pics. Some of options that I did not find pictures of before I bought. This includes the factory floor option, the upfit connections, the leather steering wheel and the overhead storage bin.


side_van.jpg

floor.jpg

inside.jpg
 

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Welcome. I see your van will not fit in the garage you have now so I fail to understand why not go for the high top? I had a 1979 Westfalia pop up and my high top seems like a perfect replacement and no need to put the tope up! You are gonna love this van!
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Good questions. In my conversations with Sportsmobile and CCV they were only willing to put a poptop on the low roof model. Our sleeping plan is 2 up in the poptop, 2 down on the platform bed with da pooch.

At the end of the day it will very similar to Slamit06's build

http://www.promasterforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=50025
 

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Discussion Starter #5
A follow up to my first post. Russ was able to get us ahead in line for service on the faulty slider door lock. Root cause was a damages lock from the assembly plant. They repaired the lock and it works as expected.

I have the factory alarm in the PM and had requested that the horn beep be disables on fob lock. According to the dealer that's not possible with the factory installed alarm. If anyone else had a different experience I'd like to hear that.

Had a good call with Matt from CCV today to tweak our build plans a bit. Still on schedule for a mid April drop off at CCV and really looking forward to getting the work done.

Rolls of fatmat and other sound and insulation products being delivered from amazon daily. Getting some prep work done in advance of the CCV trip will be fun.
:)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ed,

You are right on both accounts, heated seats and rear defrost!
 

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More progress today. Amazon is delivering a steady stream of boxes to the house :)

Today I started the soundproofing and got about 75% done. My philisophy is to apply it liberally as that won't be very easy after the walls go in. I have 2 layers on the wheel wells and slider.

After the Fat Mat I plan to reach out to Hein and get some of the thinsulate insulation he has.

New front and rear speakers are on the way so I should be able to provide an update on that in the near future.

I also have a thread going related to exterior lights for the back of the van. This would assist both in backing up as well as illuminating the area behind the van when camping.

http://www.promasterforum.com/forum/showthread.php?p=406209
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Made more progress this weekend.

Installed rear speakers (rockford fosgate prime) upgraded front speakers (jbl 6520) it sounds great. Patching into the upfit connection was pretty slick. Rear speaker install is temporary until I get it to CCV and the wall kit goes in.

Also used the upfit connection to install exterior lighting, details here: http://www.promasterforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=60810
 

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A few more additions. Starting on the Thinsulate insulation purchased from Hein.

Also mounted a blue sea panel for future use with the house battery system.

Only about 3 weeks until it is off to CCV for the big items. Can't wait!
 

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I've been thinking about a plan if we want to take the grandnephews for a weekend. The 159 makes it a bit easier. In addition to the two couch/beds. I can extend a 27" wide 3/4" plywood bed over the fridge/toilet. A second 30" wide plywood bed could extend across the kitchen cabinet to the slider.... just need a support on the slider side.

before


after


Both would be stored in the basement or on top of the couches, under the cushion. I like thinking about plan B ideas, when I'm not figuring out how to do the next piece of my "project"!

Another thought is to put someone across the front seats on a foldable foam-covered plywood base. I've seen a few pics and it looks pretty comfortable with the seats slid back. For 136'ers, the front seat plus an across-the-kitchen-cabinet might work for 4.

The hi roof was a no-brainer for me.

ed

RD, I noticed that you quickly picked up on the fact that it would not fit on the garage...>:D
 

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Sleeping is the easy part. How would you transport?
Either 2 cars, with my wife taking the kids or their parents dropping them off...Trips with the kids would be short, close to home, and 1 or 2-nighters.... like state parks, etc.

I have installed DOT approved lap belts at the forward position of the two couches, using all DOT approved hardware. They pass through the top floor, basement floor, and are bolted directly through the van steel floor with the appropriate provided washers. I have used them with adults once or twice on trips with friends, and they are comfortable. They are the same setup that I have found most RV manufacturers use for sideways sitting passengers.

It appears that most states don't require seatbelts for adults behind the front row... but some do.

My 4 person setup would kinda kill the porta potti location, but that would be OK because we could use campground facilities.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Yep everyone has a different purpose and solutions to their build needs. For me front facing rear seats with shoulder belts and headrests are a non negotiable. Not transporting my family and friends any other way. Having had a pop top that is also a must have for us. Headroom goes from 5'4 to over 8 feet with the push of a button.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Build Update:

Having completed my initial prep work last week I drove the van out to Colorado Camper Van in Loveland CO. Portland, Boise, Park City and Fort Collins were the stops along the way. The van drove great on the Interstates and I found it very comfortable to spend hours behind the wheel. Cruising along at about 80 the engine is a little over 2500 rpm. We listened to the audio book of Astoria which is a epic story of exploration and adventure covering much of the geography we were crossing in the PM.

My time at CCV was spent with Matt working over the details of my build and finalizing every option and location of items. During that session he also produced a floor plan to visually plan the build and provided a tour of active projects to help shape ideas. It was great to see all the various vans in stages of build, Sprinters, PMs, Transits and E-series. Each van representing someone's specific goals and dreams for their van. It's great to work with someone like Matt who has seen many builds and can easily provide options and alternatives for any idea you have. Several PM's were present and having pop tops added. One was for a local adventure van company that plans to use it as a rental. I anticipate that will create a lot of buzz once people are able to give it a try. CCV is also planning to create a variety of DIY kits. Everything from custom cabinet kits, bed boxes and platforms to the Pop Top itself for the truly adventurous. They have also worked with other up-fitters to provide Pop Tops for out of the area projects.
So now my family and I practice our patience. After about 12 months of serious planning including ordering the van last October and getting on the CCV build calendar last September. We will be travelling to pick up the completed van in about a month and camping in CO, UT and ID on the way home. Photos of that fun will be coming soon.
 

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Great thanks. If you open your camera’s pictures in any photo editing program and then just save them they will appear right side up here.
 
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