Layout plan.

GeorgeRa

2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB
I am beginning to get some details about our future RV. The design is very similar to our previous VW Westfalias except the added head. Most likely I will use 80/20 with 1/4" pre-refinished plywood for construction. Any critique would be very welcome. The base for my drawings is wood floor published by Dave. Two more picture.

Thank you,

George.
 

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OldWest

2004 T1N Westfalia
Move toilet compartment behind driver seat. Shorter sink cabinet closer to rear passengers--more open feeling.

Or, move toilet compartment behind driver seat, add full height cabinet with fridge, etc where toilet comoartment used to be. Add short sink cabinet behind front passenger seat with lift up side table. Entry would be with sliding door fully open. This sink cabinet behind front passenger seat is an old Westfalia design.

Want to keep tall compartments cabinets to outside. Current plan with tpilet compartment in middle may make space feel tighter

Good luck

If short people could go with crosswise bed like new Wstfalia on Fiat Ducato chassis (has greater widtu than Sprinter) see pdf le in Westfaia subforum here
 

GeorgeRa

2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB
Move toilet compartment behind driver seat. Shorter sink cabinet closer to rear passengers--more open feeling.

Or, move toilet compartment behind driver seat, add full height cabinet with fridge, etc where toilet comoartment used to be. Add short sink cabinet behind front passenger seat with lift up side table. Entry would be with sliding door fully open. This sink cabinet behind front passenger seat is an old Westfalia design.

Want to keep tall compartments cabinets to outside. Current plan with tpilet compartment in middle may make space feel tighter

Good luck

If short people could go with crosswise bed like new Wstfalia on Fiat Ducato chassis (has greater widtu than Sprinter) see pdf le in Westfaia subforum here
Thank you for your review. My first drawing was with the head behind the driver seat but I was afraid of facing a big wall after rotating the driver seat. I agree that sticking the toilet in the middle could feel too busy. I am going to revisit this location. Small cabinet behind the passenger seat is definitely a possibility.
I went on Dusseldorf Westfalia site, too much drooling.
Unfortunately I am too tall for sleeping across a Sprinter, Fiat Ducato is 100mm wider so it could be a good option for me but have no clue when they will show up in US.
George.
 

Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
1. The top of the drivers seat protrudes into the cargo area. My seat location puts the top 3" into cargo area. If you rotate the drivers seat, is there space for the occupants feet?
2. The sink does not have any counter area. Counter between stove & sink?
3. Do you really need a full macerator toilet with its black water tank? The most important toilet facility is a wide mouth plastic bottle for # 1. Easy fill & empty. McDonalds were created for # 2.
 

d_bertko

New member
Graphite Dave has had the same experience as we have. Use our Luggable Loo twice on the last 10-week trip.

I'd go him one better on the lack of sink counter---we use two plastic dishpans outside the van on a picnic table.

It is true we could use them inside for twice the room as a typical rv sink---but what drycamper really wants to make a mess inside while cooking or cleaning up?
 

GeorgeRa

2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB
1. The top of the drivers seat protrudes into the cargo area. My seat location puts the top 3" into cargo area. If you rotate the drivers seat, is there space for the occupants feet?
2. The sink does not have any counter area. Counter between stove & sink?
3. Do you really need a full macerator toilet with its black water tank? The most important toilet facility is a wide mouth plastic bottle for # 1. Easy fill & empty. McDonalds were created for # 2.
This is a very good point with 3” protrusion into cargo space and lack of room after rotating the driver seat. I will need to rethink the placement of any cabinet there.
A #1 and #2 facility for us is a must. The question is how to go about it. The simplest is a Portable Potty but because its lack of any venting it tends to emit odor. A gravity fed toilet constrains location of the black tank and the toilet. I was considering a vacuum toilet but they are expensive and it is very difficult to clean their vacuum tank. Compost toilet stinks with urine. Cassette toilets are awkward to empty. The macerator toilet decouples the toilette from the tank, cost is reasonable - $500 and it simplifies dumping. I could build countertop height toilette compartment which would increase countertop space and make the van more spacious.
Graphite Dave has had the same experience as we have. Use our Luggable Loo twice on the last 10-week trip.
I'd go him one better on the lack of sink counter---we use two plastic dishpans outside the van on a picnic table.
It is true we could use them inside for twice the room as a typical rv sink---but what drycamper really wants to make a mess inside while cooking or cleaning up?
We tend to be outdoor type campers not the wine sipping while sitting in a slide-out couch watching 52” TV. So a lot of our activities are not inside an RV vehicle. But we like to have some comfort of hot water and dumping library.

Thank you for your comments,

George.
 

d_bertko

New member
We used a Portapotti for the first couple of years. The Luggable Loo plus pee bottles is a better solution than that because of zero smell, no clean up, minimal weight, all-temp use. My female whitewater friends have used feminine funnels for many years since it makes the male relief zipper on a drysuit practical. Met wife-approval criteria after she tried it. The combo is under $50 if you wanted to reclaim the driver's side space and separate food prep from the other.

You could consider a 170" Sprinter. Some extra space eases the design process considerably. The smaller the footprint the harder to get the design right the first time.

My only other comment on your layout is that it constrains the rear access with dedicated storage. It does resemble many commercial rv layouts. One-use designs are easier to optimize but maybe the mass-produced version would be same cost with higher resale value? Otherwise your design could be tweaked by making the bed and rear-door cabinetry removable when not needed. A good justification of the very high 80/20 cost.

Many of us DIY'rs have built cargo/toy haulers because minimized fixtures gives more room and less weight. And of course it can cost less to install less. A light Sprinter is a quick Sprinter.

Dan
 

GeorgeRa

2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB
………………………You could consider a 170" Sprinter. Some extra space eases the design process considerably. The smaller the footprint the harder to get the design right the first time………. Dan
This new van will be our second vehicle and a longer van will have some limitation for driving around town so we will be sticking with 144”.
………..My only other comment on your layout is that it constrains the rear access with dedicated storage. It does resemble many commercial rv layouts. One-use designs are easier to optimize but maybe the mass-produced version would be same cost with higher resale value? Otherwise your design could be tweaked by making the bed and rear-door cabinetry removable when not needed. A good justification of the very high 80/20 cost.
Many of us DIY'rs have built cargo/toy haulers because minimized fixtures gives more room and less weight. And of course it can cost less to install less. A light Sprinter is a quick Sprinter.
Dan
My goal is to make this conversion semi convertible. The no-removable items would be:
- Flush toilette with countertop height cabinet,
- Galley with fridge, battery (unless I mount 2 batteries under the hood), electronics, gauges and monitors, inverter-charger, distribution and fuse panel,
- Overhead cabinets. I am not sure if we really need rear door overhead cabinet.
and removable items would be:
- Sofa/bed and countertop cabinets which will be fully framed with 80/20 attached to the floor only, hopefully to the factory seats mount. I will pay attention to light weight construction such as light weight filler panels on 80/20 frames.
I will likely not be able to have full seat conversion but I would like to be able to mount 2 rear seat rows after removal of conversion items. With no seat I will have good cargo area.
Thank you for your comments.
George.
 

d_bertko

New member
Sounds like a reasonable plan.

The voice of experience here on seating: seating passengers farther back than about half the sliding door makes it hard to communicate with them. Maybe that is a plus for certain passengers..

That is quite a different thing than camp use. Swivel one or two front seats and the extra space to where a rear bed would start and that is a quiet, comfortable, uncrowded distance to talk across.

Seems to call for separate seating plans for camp use vs car-like passenger transport. Easy to add a single sliding-door area seat for passenger transport but anything wider will bump into the kitchen and block rear access. We have a similar but skinnier layout and I add a single seat when we have three of us to transport. If there are four or more I give up, forget about the single seat and let the rear passengers converse among themselves.

Our camping life is almost always just the two of us and optimizing the layout just for two is better than compromised seating for more.

I only put in a single swivel since that improvement came two years after I installed the propane locker behind the driver's seat. But since there are only two of us we would rather eat facing each other than sitting parallel. I do believe any wall cabinetry behind the driver's seat will defeat the purpose of the swivel. OTOH, one swivel works very well---it gets one of us out of the way when the other needs to move around the interior making a meal or the like.

Good luck with the project, I had a blast building mine.

Dan
 

GeorgeRa

2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB
Using available on this site the 144” floor plan I sketched my current plan in 3D. I am definitely more proficient in 2D than this freshly learned Google freebie, but 3D is definitely valuable. For actual cutting I will use 2D drawings.

My plan is to modularize all structures with 80/20 and have modules #3, 6, and 7 attached to the floor and easily removable. Overhead cabinets will also be fully framed with 80/20 but permanently attached to the wall and roof ribs. Sink with fridge and toilet will be attached to the floor only. Removability of module #3 could be complicated if all electronics and perhaps battery will end iin this module.

If necessary I could add small storage cabinet behind the passenger seat.

Any critique is very welcome.

Thank you,

George.
 

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Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
Plan looks very workable.
One important comment: Be sure you thermally isolate the 80/20 from the steel Sprinter body. I did not and in a van which has very good insulation the aluminum just conducts the heat in and out of the van very efficiently. Use a wood block or plastic between the Sprinter steel and the 80/20. One bolt to the Sprinter and a second bolt to the 80/20 with wood in between. Somewhere in my postings there is a picture of how to do it.
What 2D drawing program do you use. I have a lot of CAD drawings for my conversion that may be useful. How much time did it take to learn the Google Sketch-it program? I should learn.
 
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GeorgeRa

2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB
Plan looks very workable. One important comment: Be sure you thermally isolate the 80/20 from the steel Sprinter body. I did not and in a van which has very good insulation the aluminum just conducts the heat in and out of the van very efficiently. Use a wood block or plastic between the Sprinter steel and the 80/20. One bolt to the Sprinter and a second bolt to the 80/20 with wood in between. Somewhere in my postings there is a picture of how to do it.
Thank you for your comments. Based on your experience I will definitely have thermal insulation for overhead and other cabinets as necessary. Because I am purchasing passenger van with walls and roof liner none of my 80/20 extrusions will be in the direct contact with metal chassis but actual mounts will. My thoughts are to attach the fiberglass angle to the ribs and Al extrusions to the fiberglass brackets. On the picture below I am still trying to figure out how these cabinets were attached.
George.
 

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GeorgeRa

2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB
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What 2D drawing program do you use. I have a lot of CAD drawings for my conversion that may be useful. How much time did it take to learn the Google Sketch-it program? I should learn.
Since building our first (and the last) house I learned TurboCAD and have been using it since. Our house was designed by an Architect from Portland but was drawn by hand by someone in his office, this was 1993. Hired contractor was ready to start the foundation but fortunately I redrew the house using quickly learned TurboCAD, I am very glad I did it, there was a foot missing on the perimeter of the house of rather complex footprint. We fixed it. The TurboCAD is very good for 2D but for 3D it really requires a pro-version which I don't have. I am using TurboCAD Deluxe 17.0.

Google's Sketch-up is rather easy but very limited. I took me a couple of hours to get basics, after 2 videos I was ready. I could not find "snap" options and could not adjust vertical position on one of the modules, it was snapping to something but have no clue to what.

George.
 
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icarus

Active member
Do yourself a favor, and use a full size mock up on the floor. Chalk out the dimensions , then chalk in the proposed installed items, and then use cardboard boxes or something similar. What you may find is wht works on paper does not work very well in the confined space of a van. Pay particular attention to walking clearances, head room, butt room, (while opening doors, cabinets etc). Even professional designs have their short comings. Spend time working things out in real space.

I was a he builder designer, and we did a lot of fine tune design in real space and came up with much better solutions to a variety of problems.

Icarus
 

GeorgeRa

2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB
Do yourself a favor, and use a full size mock up on the floor. Chalk out the dimensions , then chalk in the proposed installed items, and then use cardboard boxes or something similar. What you may find is wht works on paper does not work very well in the confined space of a van. Pay particular attention to walking clearances, head room, butt room, (while opening doors, cabinets etc). Even professional designs have their short comings. Spend time working things out in real space.

I was a he builder designer, and we did a lot of fine tune design in real space and came up with much better solutions to a variety of problems.

Icarus
Thank you for your feedback and I agree that all work before actual cutting materials will ultimately pay back. Doing thinks twice on the paper or mock-ups is far easier than in actual material. We don't have the Sprinter yet, so all design work is still preliminary.

George.
 

d_bertko

New member
Some subtleties:

When I designed my bed system I figured we would want a 60x80 queen size bed. My supporting platform uses 15"w folding atv ramps so that was an easy multiple. But when we tried camping in it we felt that we wanted more storage and liked each other enough to try a 3x15"-ramp bed (a 45" bed). Sounded narrow but it worked for us and we loved the new 15"w bedside shelf. You might experiment to find your comfort level. Ours surprised us.

Since my 158" is around 65"w at bed height there were a few extra inches to play with. I spaced the 45" bed a few inches off the wall in order to give room for my atv ramps to fold to the wall when I needed extrawide cargo space. The first unanticipated benefit was that the 45" bed width now felt like it was 48"w. The second benefit was that there was now room along the bed sides to tuck the duvet. Much more like a normal bed and less like a sleeping bag. Much easier to keep covers on you without zipping the sides up.

We commonly reduce the double bed to a 30"w sofa during the day. And I always set up the van this way when off on a solo expedition. This yields a 15"w aisle starting from the passenger side midline. The rear door now has clear access and the van feels wonderfully spacious. It makes a great workspace for my wife while I'm off paddling. The rear door is easier to use than the slider so the passenger side is where the aisle should go.

You could consider this option when building your removable sections. My floor plan was laid out to allow a back-to-front aisle and it naturally made my camp seating lengthwise. Since that is not great for road passengers I now have a cross piece option like yours that I can secure to the sidewalls. Always nice to have both possibilities. Cutting off rear access with the crosspiece is a worse camp experience but maxes out the storage if the platform area behind the crosspiece is used for daytime storage. (Sigh, always better if you travel with less kit that needs to be stored...)

I also staggered my passenger side overhead shelf about 15" forward of the rear door. That allows one better access since it is enough space to step in from the back without having to duck to one side. Hard to give up overhead storage but this room has payed many dividends. A narrow shelf to the rear door edge would reclaim some storage.

Many, many layouts have something that overlaps the sliding door. My Engel chest partially overlaps that space. It works really well there since I don't have to climb into the van to access it in camp. We mostly live outdoors in camp and it is a great help there. It overcame my reluctance to block some access. The chest is low enough that I occasionally load a short canoe through the slider if the road bikes are on the hitch receiver swingaway.

Dan
 

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Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
I use GeneralCadd. I also have Autocad because that is the format that is required to communicate with suppliers and customers. I do not like Autocad. Autocad is not logical for me. So I draw in GeneralCadd and save the drawing to a .dwg format file to share. If you measure the van correctly, you will not be surprised with things not fitting. One thing I have always used is a tape measure at the computer. Draw it on the screen to determine the dimension and get up and use the tape measure to give yourself a real world idea of what the dimension looks like. Not necessay to do full cardboard mockups. I did spend some time with a rope to determine the best location for the bottom edge of the overhead cabinets. Made a temporary bed platform and strung a rope overhead to represent the front edge of the cabinet. Moved the rope until I found the best compromise for storage space and not hitting my head as I sat up in bed. So a combination of accurate drawing, a tape measure and some mockups worked well for me. Another good input is to rent a converted van similiar to what you want. We rented a Mercedes van in New Zealand for a 2 1/2 week vacation. The result was a list of what worked and what did not work. If you do not have experience with CAD drawing, then a full mockup with cardboard can be a substitute.
 
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GeorgeRa

2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB
Some subtleties:
When I designed my bed system I figured we would want a 60x80 queen size bed. My supporting platform uses 15"w folding atv ramps so that was an easy multiple. But when we tried camping in it we felt that we wanted more storage and liked each other enough to try a 3x15"-ramp bed (a 45" bed). Sounded narrow but it worked for us and we loved the new 15"w bedside shelf. You might experiment to find your comfort level. Ours surprised us.
Thank you for great comments. Our previous RV bed was 54” x 74” and we found it very comfortable, perhaps even too wide. So 54” x 74” is my starting point but still have some room in width, not so in lenght.
Since my 158" is around 65"w at bed height there were a few extra inches to play with. I spaced the 45" bed a few inches off the wall in order to give room for my atv ramps to fold to the wall when I needed extrawide cargo space. The first unanticipated benefit was that the 45" bed width now felt like it was 48"w. The second benefit was that there was now room along the bed sides to tuck the duvet. Much more like a normal bed and less like a sleeping bag. Much easier to keep covers on you without zipping the sides up.
2 sofa bed modules will be built from 80/20 extrusions and will be completely framed. I will have gaps on both sides of the bed for ease of removal. You have a very good point.
We commonly reduce the double bed to a 30"w sofa during the day. And I always set up the van this way when off on a solo expedition. This yields a 15"w aisle starting from the passenger side midline. The rear door now has clear access and the van feels wonderfully spacious. It makes a great workspace for my wife while I'm off paddling. The rear door is easier to use than the slider so the passenger side is where the aisle should go.
You could consider this option when building your removable sections. My floor plan was laid out to allow a back-to-front aisle and it naturally made my camp seating lengthwise. Since that is not great for road passengers I now have a cross piece option like yours that I can secure to the sidewalls. Always nice to have both possibilities. Cutting off rear access with the crosspiece is a worse camp experience but maxes out the storage if the platform area behind the crosspiece is used for daytime storage. (Sigh, always better if you travel with less kit that needs to be stored...)
I am trying to duplicate VW Westfalia layout with perpendicular seat/bad arrangement to have a 5 passenger vehicle without removal of the sofa/bed modules. 54” wide seat should give me 3 tight seats. With 170” wheelbase I would likely keep the factory second seat row in place and have rear bed arrange similarly to yours.
I also staggered my passenger side overhead shelf about 15" forward of the rear door. That allows one better access since it is enough space to step in from the back without having to duck to one side. Hard to give up overhead storage but this room has payed many dividends. A narrow shelf to the rear door edge would reclaim some storage.
Good point, I could consider to do this on both sides. Our camping pattern does not require a lot of storage.
Many, many layouts have something that overlaps the sliding door. My Engel chest partially overlaps that space. It works really well there since I don't have to climb into the van to access it in camp. We mostly live outdoors in camp and it is a great help there. It overcame my reluctance to block some access. The chest is low enough that I occasionally load a short canoe through the slider if the road bikes are on the hitch receiver swingaway.
Dan
Some sort of cabinet blocking the rear or front portion of the sliding door opening is still an option. Van Specialties recommended putting cassette toilet there. Most of Sportsmobile layouts have this space taken by a functional or just storage cabinet. My design is a mixed bag of the attached pictures Sportsmobile layouts.
One of the reasons to design a modular, floor mounted (except overhead), layout is post built flexibility. Even using free standing 80/20 furniture can be modified with reasonable ease.

I just received 80/20 catalog so I need to go over that learning curve.

Thank you,
George.
 

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GeorgeRa

2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB
I use GeneralCadd. I also have Autocad because that is the format that is required to communicate with suppliers and customers. I do not like Autocad. Autocad is not logical for me. So I draw in GeneralCadd and save the drawing to a .dwg format file to share. If you measure the van correctly, you will not be surprised with things not fitting. One thing I have always used is a tape measure at the computer. Draw it on the screen to determine the dimension and get up and use the tape measure to give yourself a real world idea of what the dimension looks like. Not necessay to do full cardboard mockups.
Doing some modification on my Bigfoot Fiberglass trailer which fiberglass shell is not square I used 2 methods to transfer the multi radius shapes into CAD. The primary method was to take profile picture with 500-600mm lens (actually I use M4/3 so it was 100-300mm zoom) and digitize it into the TurboCAD. Using telephoto minimizes distortion of a wide angle or even standard lens. The second method was to use Leica Disto laser finder and measure the profile to strait edge distance with 2” to 3” intervals. The second method was great to verify or to correct the photo method or good enough if photo cannot be taken such as inside walls. For small profiles I used either Keufell & Esser Co flexible ruler or contour gauge (see pictures), take a "imprinted" profile photo or just scan it and digitize it.
I did spend some time with a rope to determine the best location for the bottom edge of the overhead cabinets. Made a temporary bed platform and strung a rope overhead to represent the front edge of the cabinet. Moved the rope until I found the best compromise for storage space and not hitting my head as I sat up in bed. So a combination of accurate drawing, a tape measure and some mockups worked well for me.
I will be following your drawing of overhead cabinet regarding dimensions.
Another good input is to rent a converted van similiar to what you want. We rented a Mercedes van in New Zealand for a 2 1/2 week vacation. The result was a list of what worked and what did not work. If you do not have experience with CAD drawing, then a full mockup with cardboard can be a substitute.
In a week we are going to Europe for 3 months and I will be spending some time there to look at Ducato and Transit. We could rent Sprinter as well. Good point.
Thank you for your help,
George.
 

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