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Old 04-27-2018, 07:32 PM   #1
alexk243
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Default 2004 T1N Mountain Bike Van Build

I have read so many write ups on this forum and received so much help so far from this forum that I felt I needed to do a write up to help anyone else in the process. Van was purchased in 2016 and I am just getting around to a write-up on the camper build, which is still ongoing (and I assume it will never end haha).

So my goal was to make a camper van for the long road trips I do to go mountain biking and other outdoor adventures. Had to fit me and the dog, get decent gas mileage, and haul my bikes/equipment.

I shopped Sprinters for a while, tossing up T1N vs NCV3. Ended up getting a 2004 Dodge Sprinter 140 Wheelbase High roof passenger van. The van was used by a family before I bought it and had previously been a transport van (highway use) with a wheelchair lift. Van had over 230000 miles on it, but from what I had read that really didn't concern me. The rear AC had been removed and the wheelchair lift no longer existed, but there was still 3 rows of seats and the duct work for the rear AC.

Without knowing the game plan yet, I wanted to work on the electronics. I knew I would at least need one battery and wanted solar. It would be much easier to do electrical before insulation and interior was built. Also a MaxxFan was essential so I jumped right into those. I picked one with a smoke cover, although slightly more I thought it matched the black color of my van better when closed. I also paid up for the one with the remote, which is really essential if you are driving by yourself.



The plan for the electronics were pretty basic at this point. 12v solenoid triggered when the alternator is running (D+ line from under driver seat) would connect the engine battery to the rear AUX battery, which I placed under the front passenger seat (cheap deep cycle from walmart for now, I know Ill replace it as the build continues). Solenoid is similar to this one. I know a lot of people like a more complicated solenoid to separate the batteries from each other, but for the most part I leave them disconnected, the solar really keeps the rear battery charged. I added a toggle switch in the D+ line so the solenoid is not always "on/hot" when the D+ is hot. I am sure they are concerns with this type of solenoid, but the previous RV we had (VW Rialta) used a similar system from the factory (VW with Winnebago conversion). Solar would charge the AUX battery through a charger and use 200w (2 panels) of solar on the roof.

The old AC duct work was removed leaving the roof exposed and the rusting seams... more on that later.
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Old 04-27-2018, 07:51 PM   #2
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Default Re: 2004 T1N Mountain Bike Van Build

I then added all the switches I would need overheard (I just like overhead switches).

Switches were for fog light, aux lights, radio (12v to remote line, allowing radio to run when van is off), interior lights (master kill switch), and 12v solenoid.



I used this rocker switch panel, which worked great and then just bought the switches off amazon. Most of them were pretty easy to hook up and everything worked and they all glow based on D+ input.

The wiring behind them was a lot easier since I pre-wired them outside the vehicle.



I made a makeshift electronics area above the sliding door on a piece of wood, with all intentions to relocate it, however I like the location as long as I can create an access panel to get into it. My plan was to relocate it under a bench seat, but I knew the bench seat construction was a few years away as I was going to be traveling in it prior to that.



I rewired the radio to run off the rear AUX battery, only connection to engine batt is to the remote line so it still turns on with the vehicle. I also wired up two 12v/USB outlets from the AUX battery for both the front driver and passenger.



USB/12V Outlets from Aux Batt


12V/USB installed in driver side compartment from Aux Batt



Rewiring radio to run from Aux Batt (yellow is power from Aux Battery, Blue is 12v from overhead switch into the remote input)
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Old 04-27-2018, 08:08 PM   #3
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Default Re: 2004 T1N Mountain Bike Van Build

Parts used:

Blue Sea Fuse Box

Blue Sea 300A Battery Disconnect

12 Gauge Wire
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Old 04-27-2018, 08:10 PM   #4
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Default Re: 2004 T1N Mountain Bike Van Build

More to come! Ill be trying to upload a few pages a day for the next few weeks. Is going to take me a bit to get all the pictures and links to the stuff I used together.
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Old 04-29-2018, 05:47 PM   #5
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Default MaxxFan

I am going to apologize now for the lack of pictures in the beginning stages of this project. As the project went on I took much more pictures.

For the MaxxFan installation I followed information from others on this site. It was a bit of a hassle to deal with the ribs (I didn't take any pictures of this process). I used the method of cutting out the square (angle grinder with cut off disc) and then cutting a slot in the rib so the rib went above the plastic mounting plate. I made sure to use a lot of the butyl rubber tape to place the plastic mounting plate on and once secure on I used a lot of Self-Leveling lap sealer to seal it all up. The I linked to is the same brand, but I had to hunt down some black lap sealant to match my vehicle, which cost a bit more, but I thought white sealant would look odd on my roof. Wiring to the MaxxFan was pretty easy since its controlled by a wireless remote. Installation was pretty easy and required a little bit on sanding/grinding to get it to fit perfect.

The fan has been in there for a few years now with no leaks. Wasn't sure about the part with the rib as there was a little bit of a gap, but the combination of HVAC foil tape, butyl tape, and lap sealer it has seemed to hold up.

This pictures are taken a lot later in my project, but show the location of the fan and how I dealt with the ribs:

Also note that I used machine bolts and nuts on the corners for added strength and the sheet metal screws on the sides:


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Old 04-29-2018, 06:08 PM   #6
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Default Solar

While I was up on the roof I also wanted to install the solar panels. I used Grape Solar panels (2x 100W) from HomeDepot, but you can get pretty decent ones on amazon too. These are pretty similar to what I got from home depot.

Make sure you get the mounting brackets and all wiring before you do the install.

I just drilled through the roof of the van and installed it using the mounting kit. Still holding strong 2-3 years later.

For the solar controller I used a pretty cheap amazon one, but it seems to do the job. I also hooked up in a manor to keep them at 12v, not 24v, although I am not sure it really matters. The solar controller can down it from 24 to 12v if needed. I got a controller for 20amps as that seemed to be enough for my panels, even if they operated at 100%, which they never will (200w/12v=16.7amps @ 100%).

I found a really cool cable pass through and cut a square below it, used the butyl/lap sealer to seal it up and used that to pass the solar wires though the roof. I also plan to use this for the future if I end up needing any more wiring on the roof.



I cut a hole in the origional headliner to pass through the cables and mounted the solar controller to the headliner so I could see it while driving. Also you can see the solar cables hanging down from the roof:



I know its not a great picture, but its the only one I could find on my computer that shows the roof location of the fan and solar panels. I kept the panels to one side so that in the future I could add something, maybe a rooftop cargo box, to the other side:



The clearance is close between the MaxxFan and the Solar, but it does not interfere when the fan is up.
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Old 04-29-2018, 08:50 PM   #7
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Default Rearview Camera and Monitor

While I had the headliner off and prior to doing insulation I decided I wanted to wire up a rear view camera. I used a cheap rear-view camera (make sure its rear view so the image is reversed), but purchased one that did not have the backup lines on the screen, I think those are annoying.

I wired it up with a wiring harness similar to this, including a power line in the video wire made it much easier to wire.

Like this one:


To mount the camera I drilled into the top brake light and cut a hole to allow the wire to go into the bottom of the red lens and connected to the harness inside the van. Only concern with this was that it would glow red at night when the brake pedal was pressed, but that was fixed with some electrical tape on the lens. (Ill get a picture of this setup later, my van is loaned out right now and I realized I don't have a picture of the camera setup.

For the screen, I used a suction cup monitor and found that it worked great for what I wanted. I connected the RCA and the red power line from the rear camera and then attached both the power lines to the D+ 12V line. I did this intentionally so that the camera always runs when the van is on, I really like this method, as opposed to only on when in reverse as I can keep an eye on my bikes or trailer. I also found it very useful when determining when to merge on highways, covers a rear blind spot.

If you don't want it running all the time you could easily add a 12v switch into the D+ line. I will admit it is somewhat bright at night when you hit the brakes.
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Old 04-29-2018, 09:02 PM   #8
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Default Rattle Trap

While I was in there I decided to rattletrap the entire front end including doors. I made the mistake of doing 100% coverage, which won't hurt, but cost a lot more without much added benefit. I really wanted to quite the cabin down and looking back there was probably better ways to do this than rattletrap.

The stuff I used origionally was given to me (hence no logo on it), but when I ran out I just ordered the RattleTrap Fat Matt (80mil thick) from amazon, its kinda pricey so I would defiantly consider if you really need it... and defiantly don't do 100% coverage.

As you can see I went way overboard on rattletrap in the headliner:




Rattletrapped the floors:




and the front doors:











Side note, definitely get something like this to help apply the rattletrap, makes it so much easier to adhere:

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Old 04-29-2018, 09:12 PM   #9
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Default Speakers

For a quick fix to the blown speakers I replaced the stock speakers with these 4" Rockford Fosgate Speakers, which sounded way better. I eventually did blow them out though, not sure if it was fault of the speakers, or fault of me cranking it up to high on 4" speakers...

As you can see I had to bend the taps up on the sides, which worked really well with these. I eventually replaced them with 4" Alpine speakers, but the Alpines had plastic tabs I had to cut off and didn't mount as easily. The Rockford Fosgate's metal tab defiantly made them easier to mount. I used butyl tape to help mount them really tightly in there and prevent vibration from loose mounting, also worked really well.



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Old 04-29-2018, 09:22 PM   #10
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Default Window Slider Fix

When I bought the van the previous owner told me that the driver side window was stuck up and he had disconnected the switch and it needed a new plastic tab.

After doing research on here I found that tab is hard to get so went with a method recommended by jmoller99 in this thread of making a aluminium tab.

Based on his idea I got a piece of aluminum I had lying around (1/8" by 3/4"):



Cut it and groud it into shape. Cut out a slot in the middle and sanded it down really smooth.



Then fit it into the window guide, attached it to the arm and made sure to put a ton of grease in there. Not sure what grease I used... either some bicycle grease or hub grease I had lying around.



2-3 years later it is still working great and required no permanent alterations to the arm pin.
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