Comments, Suggestions?

Welcome to our new site on building your own camper van or RV conversion.

The site has details on many van conversions and other efficient camping solutions, a large section with design/build information on all of the areas involved in doing a conversion (layout, floors/walls,  galley, insulation, plumbing, electrical, windows, beds, toilets, …), a resources section with all sorts of references that can be helpful doing a conversion, and lots more.

 

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If you’ve done a camper van or other conversion yourself and you would be up for providing some pictures and description for this site, please let me know.

If you have any ideas for material that should be covered, please let me know.

If you have any comments, suggestions, questions, or feedback:

 

14 Comments

  1. Hi Gary,

    Another question rather than a comment or suggestion(!) sorry, I am just embarking on a camper conversion here in the UK based upon a Peugeot Boxer which is basically the same van as yours (Fiat Ducato/Citoen Relay chassis).

    I was wondering how your floor has held up? Before finding your site I had decided that the best way to insulate a van floor would be to avoid battening and thereby avoiding creating cold bridging points. I was intending to follow the same idea as yourself – ply floor over rigid board insulation, although I will be using a thicker ply to screw my furniture to. What I am worried about is degeneration of the insulation board through foot traffic, compression and vibration from the road. In the UK PIR board is quite fragile, you can pick it apart with your fingernail and snap it easily with your hands. Before committing to using this I want to be confident that the board will not break down necessitating a complete rebuild! Kingspan make a product that is designed for floor use called Styrofoam, actually resistant enough to compression to be used under concrete screeds in industrial applications, but I cannot find any info anywhere about the competence of such products in applications prone to vibration. King span only comment that it is unintended use!

    • Hi Paul,
      The floor is fine so far. I don’t see any signs that the polyiso is not holding up, and I’ve not heard from others who have used the same scheme having problems.

      I did look up the bearing allowable for the polyiso, and concluded it would be OK, but you may not be dealing with the same material.
      The thicker plywood you would be using would spread the foot traffic loads over a wider area, so that would help.

      I suppose you could get a sheet of the insulation board you can get and just do some testing with it — put it on the floor and lay a piece of half inch plywood over it and walk/jump on it a hundred times or so.

      For the Polyiso we get here, the foam core can be picked apart with some effort with a fingernail. It would be hard to break in your hand as long as the two alum foil face sheets were intact — you can break it by slamming it down over your knee.

      Normally I don’t like using styrofoam for van insulation as is max service temperature is something like 160F, and the van skin can get hotter than this, but this is probably not an issue for floors.

      Gary

  2. Hello Gary-I have been thinking about doing a build for a promaster, but I have been worried about reliability/build quality. Have you had any serious reliability issues and do you feel the build quality is similar to a Ford Transit for example?

    • Hi John,
      I’ve not had any serious problems with the PM.

      We had squeaky brakes for some time until they came out with a fix, buts that’s the only thing. There were a couple recalls (nothing serious) that the dealer took care of. I’ve yet to pay for anything other than oil changes.

      I don’t have any experience with the Transit, so can’t really say. But, both the PM (as the Ducato) and the Transit have been popular in Europe for quite a while, so its not like buying a totally new design. There were changes made for the US version, but its a lot the same as the European version.

      People tend to have very strong opinions on which brand is best, but I’ve not seen any way to do a good reliability comparison based on real data myself.

      My dealer has been great, but I think that FCA has been a bit slow to address some of the issues — that said, I’ve not had great luck with Ford on earlier vans either.

      Gary

    • Hi,
      I don’t know of any, but don’t know that much about awnings.

      You have probably checked with Fiamma?

      Gary

  3. Hi Gary.
    Your original site provided a lot of great information and gave me the incentive to do it myself. I am converting a 2015 promaster window van , BUT, isn’t there always a but, I am curious as to how you fed the wires from the van battery to the house batteries. I have placed my batteries on the passenger side above the rear axle.
    Thank you and have a great day.
    Roger Nash.

    • Hi Roger,
      My house battery is on the drivers side a few ft aft of the driver seat. I ran the wires from the van battery under the driver seat and then over to the side of the van, and then inside the wall back to the house battery. Part of the run (under the seat area) is enclosed in plastic conduit for protection.

      Not what route would be best for a house battery on the passenger side, but I’m sure you can work something out — maybe use conduit for protection as needed.

      That is a pretty long wire run, so be sure to pick a large enough gage to avoid having a lot of voltage drop. There is a voltage drop table link in the References part of my site.

      Gary

  4. I have been reading your site on installing a 5 gallon propane tank in a contained, vented location. A question is about turning the tank off. I would like to do this installation, but turn the tank off each time it is done being used. This looks difficult with the four wing nuts to hold the lid down. Do you turn the tank off after each use?

    • Hi Mike,
      It is a bit of a pain on mine to actually turn off the valve on the propane tank — you have to undo the 4 wing nuts, lift the top, and close the valve.
      About the only time we have had to do this was for ferry crossing, but if you wanted to do it after each use you would have to have a smoother way.

      Maybe add an additional shutoff valve in the line just outside the sealed compartment? Not quite as good as turning the tank valve off, but it does shut down most of the system plumbing and applicances.

      Please let us know what you end up doing.

      Gary

  5. I have a 2015 chevy 1500 express van i’m turning into a weekend camper van. My question is concerning solar power. I’m a little nervous installing the system, What would you say is the difficulty level of installing a 200 watt system?

    thanks for your time

    • Hi Steve,
      I’d say if you are installing the rest of the electrical system, the solar part is no more difficult.

      You will need the pv panel(s) and a charge controller that is correct for the pv panels.
      rennolgy makes some solar kits that would allow you to make sure the charge controller is compatible with the pv panels. Amazon has some of these kits.

      Gary

  6. I was wondering if you could recommend how I can find someone to help me do a van conversion. I am a 48-year-old woman who simply never learned the skills required to do it myself. I am planning to start living full time in my van in August and I am in the process of buying the van right now (step or cargo). I just don’t have a clue where to look for someone to assist with the work that will need to be done to convert it. Any ideas where and what I should look for?

    • Hi Kelli,
      I don’t have a list of converters, but there are quite a few.

      Steve on the ProMaster forum used Moorehead Design, and it looks like he got a good result: http://www.promasterforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16609
      Steve was able to save a lot on his conversion because Moorehead was willing to be flexible on how fancy they made it and on not going overboard on features. Steve has something like 15K miles on his trip from the south US up to Alaska and back — so, a pretty well proven approach.

      Sportsmobile is a good site to look at — they do a lot of conversions and will do the conversion on your van.

      I think most areas have a few places that will do this kind of work — some of them just individuals who do conversions. This may be a good option, but I’d be very careful about getting a quality conversion. Having an agreed on timeline is also important as conversions can take a long time.

      Please report back on what you decide on and how it works out.

      Gary

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