If you have a comment or question, you can leave a comment on any of the pages with a comment section, or you can contact Gary (BuildAGreenRV@gmail.com)
I’m always looking for good project to put up on the site, so if you’ve done a good project, or are working on a good project, or know of a good project please let me know.
Hi, I’m a customer
I’m looking to rent a 35 Mile Per Gallon Teardrop Trailer Rig for our camping trip.
May you please address me with your phone number, so we could speak to you?
I would like to know what car you can hook it up to, will it hook to a Honda??
I also would like to know what the price is and how it will hook up to my Honda car.
Please let me know when you email back
I don’t sell or rent anything – the site is for information only.
We live here in Bozeman with a ’15 HR Promaster. We have had some starting/electrical problems in the last 10 days. Initially it was a ‘no-start, key stuck’ issue then it became a ‘no-start, key removable’ problem. I searched high and low in the PM Forum for ideas. The battery was not showing good voltage as well as not taking a jump. I located some you-Tube videos of a young man who reported problems with grounding but I could not find the engine ground he referred to. Phil (PMForum) posted some stunning photos of the ground and yesterday, we cleaned up the contacts and reinstalled it. The van started right up. Relief! When doing some driving test in our neighborhood, we got a battery warning light showing up within about 1.5 miles. It did not come on upon starting but after a short drive, it lit up consistently. As we had just replaced the battery at Walmart, the day before (Friday) we took the van to them to test it. It came out fine.
Clearly, something is amiss but I am not finding similar problems on the Forum. If you have any ideas on this, we would be thrilled.
Additionally, we are interested in finding a competent and honest mechanic in the area who is familiar with PMs. We are not really impressed with Billion. They may have been responsible for stripping the nut on the ground wire while replacing the recall shifter cable.
Someone could make a good living working on the ever increasing number of PMs here in Bozeman. Ours has given us a lot of pleasure but there will probably be more mechanical needs ahead. If you know of someone we would be very interested in getting the name.
Thank you for all your great ideas on your website as well as in the Forum. You were very helpful when we were building our van over the summer of ’16.
Cheers and enjoy our fickle spring. “We need the moisture”.
Nancy Neiley & Ed Harber
I don’t have much to add to what you have already found with the bad ground.
Its handy to have one of those OBDII gadgets so you can read the codes and to clear codes and see if they come back.
Some people seem to get results in this kind of situation by disconnecting the battery for a few minutes so that when you reconnect it, the computer resets – but, sounds like you have done that.
Maybe post a question on the PM forum?
Agree that it would be great to have a good PM mechanic in Bozeman. I’ve use the guy at Best Towing and he seems competent, but he is not a PM specialist.
For the kind of problem you are having the dealer may be the best choice in that they probably have better diagnostic equipment.
See you around Bozeman!
Thank you Gary. I really appreciate your experience and knowledge of these vehicles. We have reset the computer with the BCM but perhaps not the battery itself. Our OBDII arrives in the mail today. We will start there. When we get things sorted out, I will let you know how. A friend told us yesterday that he uses Keyser’s Auto Repair off of Griffin for his Dodge trucks. We may check into it.
I finally got my 2nd vaccine yesterday so in a couple weeks we may look at some travel, if the van gets sorted out. Cheers and thank you.
Bonjour M. Gary Félicitation pour votre cite. C’est ma référence pour la transformation de mon Promaster 136 WB. J’aimerais savoir les dimensions du meuble de cuisine ( comptoir évier, réfrigérateur, cuisinière ) ( hauteur x largeur ) Merci de votre attention. Gaby Alexandre
51 inches wide, 22 inches deep, 33 inches high
45 inches wide, 20 inches deep
Fridge (on right):
19 inches wide
25 inches wide (sum of both doors)
11 inches wide, 12 inches high
Hope that works for you.
polyiso was up then down for layer of SoundShield. Only have 1′ max headroom so considering poly with something else (poly losses rvalue sharply under 15 degrees which is when you need it the most. so XPS, Aerogel, TechLite, Thinsulite sm400, Rockboard 60, denim ultratouch @ 3/8″ for radient or 2″ batts ripped in half. Had planed cedar as finished roof but learned it wont do my sound system any favors so considering acoustic panel, acoustic carpet/fabric? any thought??
If you actually go through the numbers on insulation performance using average insulation temperature (not the outer layer only), it takes a VERY cold temperature for polyiso R per inch to drop down to the level of XPS — don’t remember the exact temperature, but its below zero. The Building Science site has test data you can use to do the calc.
I would not reccommend XPS as it service temp is only 165F, and the van walls/roof can get this hot.
Thinsulate is good, but does allow water vapor to penetrate it easily to the van skin where it can condense. This does not seem to be a problem on most installs.
I’d be a bit concerned about small fibers with rock wool, but I don’t really know.
I’d stay away from denim as it absorbs and hold moisture.
Don’t know about Techlite.
Aerogel is stellar insulation, but very pricey. Not sure about its mechanical properties or how well it would hold up in the van environment.
Overall, I think Polyiso is hard to beat — high R value per inch, good mechanical properties, very high service temperature, and water vapor impermeable — just my 2 cents — LOTS of opinions out there on van insulation 🙂
Here is an article on the Building Science site that talks about the reduction in R value for Polyiso in cold temps…
Note that in all cases you have to use the mean temperature of the insulation to get a valid comparison — the mean temp is going to be about half way between the inside and outside temps.
If you look at figure 3, which is for 2 inch polyiso, its R value per inch drops down to about R5 (ie same as XPS) with an outside temperature of about -10F — pretty cold. Above his temp, Polyiso will do a bit better than XPS and below this temp XPS will do a bit better, but its not like either falls off a cliff on either side of this temperature — they both provide good insulation at really really cold temperatures.
Thinsulate and Rock Wool both have lower R values per inch that are lower than XPS, so the crossover point would be even lower.
I came across your website buildagreenrv.com and thought I might be able to write an article for your site. In return, I will promote your website link on my Twitter.
If you are interested, I will submit an article for your review.
Hope to hear back from you soon.
Hi Gary, THANK YOU so much. We will keep you posted. One other question – our breaks squeak. How did you end up fixing yours?
The 2014’s have a squeaky brake problem. There is a Service Bulletin out on the problem, but at the time we checked on it with the dealer it did not cover the 1500’s (no idea why). The dealer went ahead and replaced the pads and turned the disks for us for free, and this has 95% eliminated the problem. We still get just a bit of squeak on rare occasions, but nothing like it was before.
Not sure what kind of pad material the dealer used — it might be worth asking on the PM forum or the dealer if anyone has advice on pad material that gets rid of the squeaks.
Hi Gary, this is Ellyn from Moab. I met you your last time through town. Mike and I finally got and RAM 136 and we are working on it. My question to you is that the back doors are pretty noisy when driving on surfaces not perfectly smooth. Is there a way to quiet them down?
We are also looking into purchasing a Goal Zero 1400 lithium battery. We are planning on putting on 2 135watt solar panels. Do you think this is over kill? We only need energy for the fan, dometic fridge and lights and maybe computer.
THANKS so much for your site.
Remember meeting you by the coffee shop in Moab — glad to hear you went for a van conversion!
Our back doors were initially pretty quiet, but after a thousand or miles of bouncing around on back roads they were getting noisy. Turns our all the door stops are adjustable, and taking the slack out of all the stops helped a lot on the noise. There are also some small rubber bumpers on the doors and they can fall off, so check for that. I started with the driver side back door and took all the slack out the adjustments on it, then moved to pax side door and did the same. There is also some material on the ProMaster Forum on adjusting the back doors. I did the adjustments just before our recent Yukon trip, and it made a huge difference and stayed in adjustment over a lot or rough roads.
The size of the GZ 1400 seems about right to me — its about 130 amp-hrs and since its an Li battery, most of that capacity is usable. On your loads, the fridge is the big one — maybe about 40 amp-hrs a day — the others might add another 10 amp-hrs. So, you might get about 2 days worth of capacity from the 1400.
If you decide to add a furnace where the furnace blower uses a couple amps when running, the GZ1400 should still be OK.
The two 135 watt PV panels also seem about right — a lot of people have found that 200 to 300 watts of solar with loads about like yours keeps the batteries good most of the time. Mid winter trips up north might leave you a little short, but in a place like Moab the 270 watts should be plenty.
I like the GZ units from the point of view that you get the whole electrical system in a box and don’t have to worry all the wiring, and you can even pull the GZ out of the RV for use in other circumstances (eg power outage at the house). On the negative side, you do pay a price premium for the convenience — you could likely do a couple of golf cart batteries plus and inverter charger for about half the price of the GZ. Another negative is that they take a long time to recharge on shore power due to the relatively low charge rate of 5 amps — this is less of an issue if you have the solar.
I’m not an expert on Li batteries, but for the Li iron phosphate batteries that a lot of people use in RV’s, the life claims are up in the couple thousand cycles, whereas the GZ Li batteries only claim 500 cycles to 80% discharge — this could be an issue if you use the van a lot, and I’d make sure that the battery can be replaced if need be and check on what the price of the replacement is.
Please keep us posted on how the conversion goes.
Hi Gary what a great idea I have been looking for this full package for a while. I built a tiny house and sold and know I want to be more mobile
I live in Woodstock NY where is the best place to get this model and build the inside myself or get help Patrice and what is the gas mileage?
Gas mileage has been in the 19 to 20 mpg for full trips. Depends on speed and weight of the conversion and how much stuff you mount on the roof. We usually cruise in the 70 mph area on interstates and 60 mph on regular highways.
The ProMasters vans are pretty available — most of the dealers that handle RAM trucks have the ProMaster. Its probably worthwhile to do some online searching of all the dealers in your area to see how much the prices vary and what kind of stock they have. The Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter have similar size models — all of them have their dedicated supporters.
In addition to the material on this site, there are online forums for the ProMaster, Transit and Sprinter — they are really valuable sources of info. This site has a ton of detail on my conversion, and this page has links to other conversions I’ve seen that look good or interesting: https://www.buildagreenrv.com/diy-rv-conversions/diy-van-conversions/
There is nothing terribly complicated about the conversions, so if you keep it simple, its very likely something you can do yourself — maybe with a little help on some parts.
Keep us posted.
I keep hitting the button so subscribe and it tells me the page can’t be found. What am I doing wrong?
Hi Gary, I made a comment in the electrical section and I received a confirmation email that was caught in spam. I think my comment may have been deleted because I can’t find it now. Do you still have it or should I ask again?
Looked for your comment, but could not find it.
Wordpress can have a mind of its own at times 🙂
I guess just send it in again.
My contact info is on this page if you want to send it there also: https://www.buildagreenrv.com/contact-gary/
WOW! What a site. Amazing. You cover everything and I know this is going to be a great resource for me.
Long story short. Getting divorced. Have wanted to do a USA trip for ever. Bought a 2017 2500 Promaster today. Going to kit it out and hit the road for a year.
Sounds good — keep us posted.
Just wondering how your pro master is holding up. Lots of talk in the forums about them being cheaply built. Looking at what van to convert and am liking the FWD
We have about 40K miles on our 2014 and its fine – no complaints.
We took it up to the Yukon last spring and with more than 500 miles on the vehicle eating (all gravel) Dempster Highway. It performed flawlessly on the whole 7300 mile trip.
There are some posts on the ProMaster forum with people asking about how people like their ProMasters, and the response has been uniformly favorable to the ProMaster from owners.
One freight expediter recently reported crossing 461,000 miles on his gas PM.
The only unfavorable posts on the PM I’ve seen are sort trash talk on the Transit Forum 🙂
Thank you for the detailed information and the drawings. I’m helping a buddy with his 2015 Transit T250 3.7l. We are following your drawings. I have a question. If the van has Solar, AC/DC battery charger, and Alternator each able to charge the house bank, how do you prevent more than one charging system from charging the battery bank?
Most people just let the various charges fight it out. Does not seem like the most sophisticated method, but it does appear to work without problems.
Some people with solar put a switch between the van alternator/battery and the house battery and leave it switched off except when solar is not keeping up with charging the house battery — if so, they manually turn the switch on to allow the alternator to charge the house battery. But, this does not appear to be necessary — I don’t have the switch on my van.
Most people just let the various charging systems fight it out. Does not seem like a very elegant system, but it does appear to work and does not cause problems.
Some people put a switch in the line from the van battery/alternator to the house battery and leave it off as long as the solar is keeping up with the charging OK. But, not really necessary — I don’t have one.
Thsnk you very much , for all of your ideas posted there good is so sad how big companys take advantage of there prices , i ‘m in the proses of buying my cargo van to do a conversion, i will like then if i can get some ideas from , thank you Hector.
hello, very great topics, im looking foward to have my 2005 chevy 3500 express 1ton converted into a cargo. trasport seafood, not sure on using ice or tom mount unit. whats the best route i can do. would prefer good insualtion with aluminn walls, and also ceiling and floors.
Hi — I just don’t know enough about that type of conversion to have an opinion.
You might try posting the question on the ProMaster, Transit, and Sprinter forums — there should be some experience there.
I like many of the ideas you have shown. One question is about venting the batteries. You mention yours (under the bed structure) are to be vented, but didn’t show how that was done. I’m wondering how much and what type of ventilation is needed? Hydrogen rises, so floor vents wouldn’t be adequate? Does it need to be vented outside? Thanks!
The hydrogen fumes given off during charging can be explosive and MUST be vented to the outside of the vehicle. It is also quite corrosive to other equipment, so should be in a sealed enclosure.
Our battery compartment is vented out through the sidewall of the van with 3/4 inch PVC pipe. The level of the vent is even with the top of the battery compartment.
I looked around for material on how large the vent should be, but did not find anything really definitive — I went with a size that was toward the larger end of what people were using.
There is a small air intake at the bottom of the battery compartment to let air in.
The flooded lead acid batteries like I have don’t actually produce much hydrogen when charged at the recommended rate, but you probably have to figure that there could be a failure of the charging equipment that would result in significant hydrogen production — so, the vent is important.
AGM batteries don’t normally produce hydrogen and many people use them without vents, even though techincally they should be vented. The downside on AGMs is that they cost about twice as much and don’t last as long.
Nice site Gary. Would like to through my conversion into your hopper. It is based on an Chev. Express extended cargo van that we bought new in 2000 for our conversion project. I am afraid the youtube video that I reference here is a little out of date now. Since made we have: gotten rid of ice chest and added a 3.2cf refrig. with 200 watts of solar, upgraded our batteries to two 6v golf cart batteries, replaced our center isle table with a dinette (does not block isle and can be left up all the time). Updating the youtube slide show is one of the ‘get around to it’ projects. Hopefully before 2016 is over. Safe travels…
Really nice job on the conversion and video.
Lots of good ideas.
Thanks — Gary
just found your site. it’s amazing. i’ve been working on a van for 2 years now. an old sportsmobile. gutted it and am now TRYING to put it back together. all this stuff is new to me. i’m just now starting to think about the “toxic” aspect of all the different materials.
i’m trying to move forward on insulation now but never saw under your insulation post any mention of what kind of toxicity the polyio had? perhaps i missed it! any thoughts would be great….it’s all a bit overwhelming!!! thank you
I’ve not really looked into toxcity for the polyiso, but have not heard anything adverse about it.
I think you might be able to find at least the MSDS sheets on the manufactures sites.
Hello Gary, I trying to find a reasonable source for wall panel or foam backed wall covering for my project. Could you lead me in the right direction. I am located in Ontario Canada and not much is available locally.
Love your new site. Thanks in advance.
I ordered the paneling I used at the local Kenyon Noble lumber yard. They had a book of available hardboards with with different colors and patterns that you could select from. You might check the local lumber yards and see if anyone can order paneling in a similar way.
Some conversions use ordinary plywood or hardboard and then cover it with fabric that is contact cemented to it.
You might try posting a question on one of the forums (ProMaster, Sprinter, or Ford Transit) and ask where people got their paneling.
Thank you for your amazing website and detailed step by step descriptions and pictures. I have been looking for this for a long time!
Nice to hear that the site is helpful — thanks!
Followed your design application which has made a significant improvement to heat transfer and noise reduction.
As always, follow Dave and you will never get lost in the process.
Thanks Dave. your loyalty to helping DIY van converters is appreciated.
Thank you very much Gary for what you do. Please indicate what your favorite charity is so that one can send a donation in appreciation for your efforts.
I did the polyiso on the Sprinter. Ceiling worked fine as did the floor. Worked well on the wall window areas and above cab. Very tedious trying to fill the other areas with rigid insulation where you have small openings. Cut many small pieces to fit through the openings.
Will use the rigid polyiso in the Transit in the ceiling and the large flat window area walls. In the small opening areas I will use Aerocel flexable closed cell foam. Two 1″ layers against the van steel, a layer of Relectix, 2″ of air between the Reflectix and the wall covering. Wall covering is 1/8″ plywood on top of 1/8″ closed cell foam. Wall attachment bolts are PVC.
For more info visit “orton diy – walls” and “orton diy – floor” etc. on Sprinter site.
Thanks Dave — have been following your build on the Transit forum with interest.