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Old 07-29-2015, 11:39 PM   #1
Midwestdrifter
 
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Default Overland Build

After a year of sprinter ownership I finally have enough details to start a build-out thread.

Background:
My wife and I are engineers. After working desk jobs for a few years we decided that we wanted to do some traveling. We disliked fly-in fly-out tourism as it places so many limits on schedules and accommodations. Plus we really like the in-between places. At the core of our personalities, we are overland travelers. Albeit, not as extreme as many (no 4x4 up the mountain side for us).

On a whim we bought a 1982 Vanagon Westfalia which became our home. We drove the Pan-American Highway from Alaska to Panama and back. Details are on our blog here.

After over a year and 60k miles, we were ready for some transportation updates. AC when driving would have been nice, maybe some more headroom as well. After going through the total costs, reliability concerns, and comfort factor we decided on a T1N sprinter for our next home. None of the off the shelf conversions met our needs, and with the costs of customization included we were better off doing the conversion ourselves.

The Purchase:
We stumbled upon a low miles 2004 140” T1N in florida. A couple of flights and 2 days of driving later we had our next ride in the driveway! Ironically the sprinter cost almost exactly what we sold our Vanagon for. Other than a resonator change in a Wal-Mart parking lot and the crappy paint we have had no issues other than maintenance items on the sprinter.

The Plan:
We are tentatively planning on leaving our jobs next year to do a shakedown cruise out west and maybe into Canada. Following that we will ship the van to Australia where will be flying to meet it. We will stay until the vans import permit expires.

The List:
Unlike many first time/DIY conversions we have a very good idea what our needs are. While we did sacrifice in several areas moving to the sprinter, I think we really have a good conversion on its way. I would classify us as on the minimalist side of American campers/RVers. However due to the extended amount of time we plan on spending in the sprinter we are splurging on some options.

Some Wife (SWMBO) requirements:
  • Full time, or less than 1min deployable bed
  • Permanent swivel table
  • Hot/warm water in less than 10 minutes
  • Indoor shower (temp or fixed)

Some of my requirements:
  • Bed length of 73” minimum
  • 72.5” headroom minimum
  • AUX power for 2 laptops for 2-3 hours, Lights, Fans etc.

Combined requirements:
  • Sink
  • 2 burner cooktop
  • Compressor fridge with freezer
  • 4 cubic ft of storage accessible from indoors
  • 30 gallons of water minimum

The Layout:
Given we only needed to sleep 2, and that we had good success with the Westfalia layout we decided to start there. Well, actually I modeled about 4 other layouts for our 140” and all of them were either to cluttered or totally unbalanced weight wise.

Here is what the layout looked like at the very beginning of the build out.


We have a galley which is 45”L 21.5W 36.5”T. This will have a dual burner induction cooktop and SMEV 5.5” deep by ~15 sink.

The bed is deployed full time and is situated transversely. It hinges up from both ends for storage access.

The tall cabinet on the drivers side has been truncated to make room for a swing out table, and to allow napping on the bench seat.

There is a cabinet over the cab, as well as overhead cabinets on several walls. There will likely be some pull out storage under the bed to be accessed from the rear doors. I have not yet tackled that project. I used Solidworks to make models for all the cabinets.
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2004 T1N | Overland Conversion in Process Completed...For now... | 101,000 118,XXX 137,078 165,000 miles | 140" | High Roof | My Build Thread
Another Random Blog | http://VagariesAbound.blogspot.com

Last edited by Midwestdrifter; 07-30-2015 at 12:01 AM.
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:49 PM   #2
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Default Re: Overland Build

I won't cover the electrical/solar in detail here as I have another thread on that topic.
http://sprinter-source.com/forum/showthread.php?t=36885

Since we often find ourselves in inclement weather during our travels we decided to maximize what insulation space we had available.

This started with 1" of closed cell spray foam in the walls and ceiling.










We also installed a Maxxair fan between the 2 forward ribs.



Next the cab floor was insulated with 1/2" of medium density neoprene.



All the remaining space in the roof and walls is filled with thinsulate.



If you are wondering about the window flare the details are in this thread.
http://sprinter-source.com/forum/sho...124&highlight=

The floor was removed and 1/2" polyiso insulation was added along with reflectix to fill the gaps.
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2004 T1N | Overland Conversion in Process Completed...For now... | 101,000 118,XXX 137,078 165,000 miles | 140" | High Roof | My Build Thread
Another Random Blog | http://VagariesAbound.blogspot.com

Last edited by Midwestdrifter; 07-29-2015 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:56 PM   #3
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Default Re: Overland Build

Looking forward to this build.
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:58 PM   #4
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Default Re: Overland Build

The bed is 74" wide with the flare. Total thickness with mattress is about 7".

The construction is self explanatory. McMaster Carr supplied most of the hardware.









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2004 T1N | Overland Conversion in Process Completed...For now... | 101,000 118,XXX 137,078 165,000 miles | 140" | High Roof | My Build Thread
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Old 12-29-2015, 03:14 PM   #5
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Default Re: Overland Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by Midwestdrifter View Post

This started with 1" of closed cell spray foam in the walls and ceiling.

All the remaining space in the roof and walls is filled with thinsulate.
Did you attach the thinsulate to the spray foam with spray adhesive? How do you like the result - insulation and noise performance?

I was thinking of doing the same but wondering whether it made a difference if the thinsulate was attached directly to the wall. thanks for the build info!
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Old 12-29-2015, 03:31 PM   #6
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Default Re: Overland Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by PCR View Post
Did you attach the thinsulate to the spray foam with spray adhesive? How do you like the result - insulation and noise performance?

I was thinking of doing the same but wondering whether it made a difference if the thinsulate was attached directly to the wall. thanks for the build info!
I used 3M 90 spray adhesive to bond the thinsulate to the foam on the roof and doors. On the walls I used some aluminum duct sealing tape. In retrospect I should have used spray adhesive, and will do so if I pull the insulation.

Its difficult to compare with regards to sound dampening with/without the spray foam. I can say for sure it is quieter. The insulation value of the foam+thinsulate is much better than a single layer of thinsulate alone. The thinsulation is much better at absorbing noise that passes through the body. However the foam provides more dampening on the panels themselves as it has higher stiffness.

For the man hours involved It may be more reasonable to go 100% foam from an insulation standpoint. However the mix of the two materials has several benefits as I perceive them. Better overall sound dampening than either alone. More flexibility for running wires and hoses, as the thinsulate can be moved/removed.

Additionally the thinsulate can be used in areas where foam is not feasible. For example the areas near door locks, and around wiring you may need to access. Compared to completely filling the walls with foam, the thinsulate compresses, so I had minimal trimming/mess that can occur when using 100% spray foam. For example I coverd the back side of the step well liners with thinsulate. Due to the tight clearance spray foam would have been difficult to use.

If I could do it all again, I would order a larger spray foam kit. I would completely fill the lower wall areas with the foam. I would use the nozzles to fill the back door cavities (except where the locks, latches are). I would still use the thinsulate/foam combo in the doors. The roof and upper walls would also remain thinsulate/foam for access and noise reduction.

This is of course a battle of diminishing returns, especially in vans with lots of glass. I am planning tight fitting insulated curtains for this purpose.

If budget is a concern, a single layer of thinsulate combined with rigid foam would be the best value IMHO.
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2004 T1N | Overland Conversion in Process Completed...For now... | 101,000 118,XXX 137,078 165,000 miles | 140" | High Roof | My Build Thread
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Old 07-30-2015, 12:38 AM   #7
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Default Re: Overland Build

Love the hinged bed.
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Old 07-30-2015, 01:07 AM   #8
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Default Re: Overland Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by pfflyer View Post
Love the hinged bed.
Thanks,

It took several weeks of head scratching to work something out that didn't take up tons of space. Looking back I would probably use compression latches similar to what is used on car doors.

The bed panel itself weights about 65lbs with the 1/2" plywood face. deflection is very reasonable with the 16 gauge steel tubing.
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Old 07-30-2015, 01:22 AM   #9
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Default Re: Overland Build

Here are some pictures of the galley construction.



I used 1/2" plywood and 1x2" poplar stock for the front face.



Here we have it test fitted.



All the OEM floor rivets have been replaced with 1/4-20 rivnuts. I am using many of these to mount cabinets.

The ceiling is covered with 5mm plywood.



I used plastic h molding for the joints, and FGRP for the curved sections.









The bench seat is made from 1/2 and 3/4" plywood. I used aluminum extrusions and wooden gussets to provide support where needed.









Due to the bump out aft of the slider door, the bench seat ended up being a tight fit. It requires some gymnastics to get in place.





Here is the interface with the galley.

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2004 T1N | Overland Conversion in Process Completed...For now... | 101,000 118,XXX 137,078 165,000 miles | 140" | High Roof | My Build Thread
Another Random Blog | http://VagariesAbound.blogspot.com
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Old 07-30-2015, 01:29 AM   #10
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Default Re: Overland Build

The overhead cabinet was a bit of a challenge. With no square edges and the bulkhead mounting flanges it became quite the exercise in cursing.

I ended up with 2 rivnuts each side on the upper frame member. I used those to mount a wood block which is flush with the back of the headliner. The aluminum angle in the picture below is attached to that block.







The upper edge of the front face is secured to a 2" aluminum angle. The angle is anchored to the roof rib above with sheet metal screws.



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2004 T1N | Overland Conversion in Process Completed...For now... | 101,000 118,XXX 137,078 165,000 miles | 140" | High Roof | My Build Thread
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