Baby Shamu - 170 4x4

gltrimble

Well-known member
That grab handle on the ceiling is a great idea.

That handle and a short step stool are a necessity for getting in and out of the bed. I installed a second handle on the bottom side of the rear bed panel. This second handle allows me to stand on my Van Compass hitch step while making the bed. I have plans for a third one on the rear ceiling.

Attwood 2053-5 Vinyl Grab Handle - Gray https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000FGV882/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_3pNqDb6AAGZ4S




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gltrimble

Well-known member
WINDOWS

I replaced the driver side window with a CR Laurence awning window and added two 10x36” Hehr slider windows over the rear bed. These three ventilating windows combined with a centrally located Maxxair fan have worked successfully.



I purchased the CR Laurence window thru Amazon for about $500 and was able to pick it up locally at the CR Lawrence’s San Diego distribution center to avoid shipping charges.

SprinterPaul and I had unsuccessfully tried to remove his window using some piano wire but the sealant would not cut with an ordinary wire. When it came time to remove my driver’s side window I picked up a $17 window removal kit from Harbor Freight. The kit came with a sharp piece of metal to pierce the window sealant and also thread a saw tooth wire thru the opening. Two plastic handles attach to the saw tooth wire. With the help of my wife we had the window out in 10 minutes with no scratches on the painted surface. Amazing little kit from Harbor Freight.





If you look closely at the above picture you will see some ventilation holes/slots along the periphery of the window recess. This is typical for a crew van. You will also note that the factory windows form a seal outboard of the ventilation holes and thus no rain water can enter the van. The new CR Laurence window came with a rubber seal that makes contact on the inboard side of these ventilation holes. If you are lucky the rubber seals might cover the holes. I learned later that the rubber seals were not enough to keep water out of the ventilation holes.

Every time I washed the van I noted tiny drips of water on the inside lower wall cavity where I had previously removed all the wall panels. These leaks would not be noticeable if you did not have the wall panels removed. Upon removal of the window I discovered the source of the leaks, the ventilation holes. I covered the entire periphery of the window including the holes with a 1” x 1/8” Dicor sealant before reinstalling the window. Follow up water tests showed I was successful.

I decided against installing a second CR Laurence window in the slider because 1) the slider is hard on the awning windows with the constant slamming, 2) the awning window partially blocks your view both when driving and when sitting in the second row, 3) driver’s awning window combined with the fan would provide adequate ventilation, 4) only one of the awning windows functions on the slider side version.



I purchased the rear 10x36 windows from RB Components for $200 each. They are manufactured by Hehr. I did not purchase the trim rings at $100 each.

Installation of the 10x36 windows is relatively simple. Fabricating the custom trim rings and trimming out the interior was a lot more time consuming. The trim rings from RB Components appear to be the same thickness along the periphery. My measurements showed that the trim ring should be tapered from top to bottom and from front to back to fit more precisely. For most DIY installers the RB Component trim rings are adequate. I chose to fabricate custom tapered trim rings that would be removable.

Plenty of videos are available detailing the window install. I cut the sheet metal backing ribs with an angle grinder. I carefully laid out the cut lines on the inside and outside before drilling some starter holes for my jigsaw. I covered the exterior surface with painters tape to allow me to accurately cut the hole from the outside.





Securing the windows to the sheet metal requires a 1/4” ply spacer on the inside. I reinforced the surrounding area with the same ply attached using construction adhesive. The ply was primered prior to gluing in place.









The windows were installed using 1”x1/8” Dicor sealant applied to the window flange. As I tightened the window metal trim ring screws some of the excess sealant oozed from behind the window. This was easily removed using a plastic trim tool from Harbor Freight.





I used the Hehr window metal trim ring as a reference to fabricate a trim ring pattern from 1/2” Baltic ply. The wood trim rings themselves are made from gluing two 2x6 boards together. I rough cut the interior portion of the trim ring, screwed the pattern to one side, and then finished cut the trim ring using a 2” shaper cutter and a follower bearing on my shaper.



I taper cut the wood trim rings both horizontally and vertically on my table saw. The total taper was between 1/8-1/4”. I also modified the custom trim rings at each end to make them removable if needed before priming and installing them using construction adhesive on the permanently attached end pieces.

I trimmed out the removable trim rings with Marathon fabric before reinstalling them.



I cut the openings in the wall panels using a small router equipped with a follower bearing. The wall panel was secured to the trim ring prior to installing the fabric.

The upholstered wall panels fit snugly against the trim rings. No additional screws were needed to hold the wall panels to the trim rings.











The insulated window covers were supplied by @SprinterPaul. Paul added magnetic metal strips to the aluminum trim rings on the rear sliders that allowed his magnetic window covers to stay in place. Additional magnets allow half the window cover to fold back when ventilation is needed.

The driver’s side insulated window cover has a center split that allows the window cover to fold up to expose the awning windows. Internal magnets hold the cover in place.





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lazylnm

New member
One of the first things I did was test the Espar D5 heater by placing the ambient temperature probe into a bag of ice water. This allowed me to determine the hot water flow path from engine to D5 and thru the H88 rear heater loop.

https://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/201...56d56c8cc8.jpg
What a sanitary installation. What are the hard lines and where did you get them? Sure beats the rubber heater hose I have running around under the van.
BTW - I remember when my undercarriage was that uncluttered. You can actually still see the bottom of the floor.
Great build and workmanship.
 

gltrimble

Well-known member
What a sanitary installation. What are the hard lines and where did you get them? Sure beats the rubber heater hose I have running around under the van.

BTW - I remember when my undercarriage was that uncluttered. You can actually still see the bottom of the floor.

Great build and workmanship.


The rigid black plumbing is included with the H12 and H88 options.


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puiumeu

New member
We are about to start a similar 4 berth build here in Edinburgh. I have a lot to learn and less choice of suppliers. I am very impressed with your build and may have lots of questions..
We need a 4 season van, 4x4 and as self sufficient as possible. Planning for a series of extended trips.
Struggling to source a base vehicle at a sensible price.
Eager to see more...

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gltrimble

Well-known member
FLOORING

My Crew 170 4x4 van came from the factory with three layers of flooring material. The bottom layer was a thin layer of foam probably intended to minimize squeaks between the bare metal floor and the composite wood floor. The second layer is a two piece 3/8” thick composite wood floor. The composite material is very durable and I fully intended to reuse it since it was already cut to fit.

The top layer on my crew van was a heavy rubber mat. My plan was to replace the thin foam layer under the composite wood floor with the heavy rubber layer. This would provide a small thermal barrier but the primary goal was noise suppression.

I initially filled all the grooves in the metal floor with neoprene foam for added thermal benefits and noise suppression. All but three of the grooves required 1/4” neoprene foam. The three deeper grooves required two layers of the foam. I used 3M 90 to glue the foam to the metal floor.

Xcel Large Neoprene Foam Sheet - 54" Wide x 12" Length x 1/4" Soft/Medium for Cosplay, Costume, Padding, DIY, and Gaskets, Made in USA, Easy Cut Technology https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01JSWJTNY/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_3udxDbNJ4MSEW



I planned to install multiple lengths of flush mount L-Track in my cargo area floor to secure both bikes and cargo. Once installed the L-Track is thicker than the 3/8” composite flooring. To accommodate the thicker L-Track and better reinforce the floor I added an additional 1/2” layer of Baltic ply in critical areas. This included the L-Track areas, borders, seat mounts, and anywhere cabinets would require a secure mounting platform.



In areas not reinforced by the 1/2” Baltic ply I added a 1/2” layer of poly-iso foam.



My plans also included a galley and water tank that would overhang a portion of the slider step. I used this opportunity to add 1/2” ply for added support. I also filled the existing seat mount holes since I had no plans to use the three person crew bench. I also filled any D-ring holes that would not be accessible.





To install the L-Track I made a simple template for my router that cut the composite flooring and a small bit of the underlying Baltic ply. I later primed the newly cut wood before installing the L-Track. All the floor mounted L-Track is bolted through the floor using 5/16” stainless taper head hardware.







As previously mentioned I installed the OEM rubber flooring under the wood floor. This required some minor trimming of the rubber flooring along the edges to ensure the floor would sit flat.

Finish flooring included coin flooring for the cargo area and boat carpeting for the forward areas. The coin flooring was first glued to the floor before I used a router equipped with a follower bearing to expose the L-Track grooves.

I was able to cut duplicate carpeting pieces out of the 8.5’ x 10’ boat carpeting. I will use the second carpet as a future replacement.

For the aluminum trim I was able to use one existing trim piece behind the driver’s seat after adding some foam “fill” below the factory floor mat. This brought the floor flush with the new 1/2” higher carpeting. For other trim pieces I used various aluminum profiles from a local metal supplier and Home Depot.

32 oz. Pontoon Boat Carpet - 8.5' Wide x Various Lengths (Choose Your Color!) (Granite, 8.5' x 10') https://www.amazon.com/dp/B013ROP8TI/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_qdexDbQDJ37G7

















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radair603

Member
Super nice finish details. I wish I'd installed L-track in the floor like yours, although it's actually not too late. The hole in the rear side panel for the rear door holder is always an awkward spot but yours looks pro.
 

smcochra

New member
BATTERY AND AUXILIARY ALTERNATOR

For batteries I am using four Fullriver AGM 6 volt 224 amp GC2s. I went with AGM batteries primarily for cold weather performance and cost with the idea of converting to lithium in the future as prices drop.



I custom fabricated two identical undercarriage mounts just forward of the rear wheels on my 170 4x4 van. The two removable battery cages each bolt to two 2” angle brackets secured to the van crossmembers. Each bracket secured by three 3/8” rivnuts.









To install the batteries I used a Harbor Freight aluminum motorcycle jack that dropped down to approximately 3” in height, just enough to slide each pair of batteries under the van without jacking up the van.







I also installed the Nations 280 amp auxiliary alternator and a Balmar 614 voltage regulator. The regulator is programmed for AGM batteries. I ordered my van with the N62 alternator mount which made the install very simple. Basically one bolt to mount the alternator. The new longer belt was also a quick install. Once I confirmed that the new belt was the proper length I cut the shorter OEM belt with a razor knife. The original belt could not be easily removed without some disassembly of the fan. I did have to unplug a couple connections to the fan before slipping the new belt over the fan. A large screwdriver was all that was needed to slip the new belt over the tensioner that was included with the N62 package.

I mounted the Balmar 614 on the firewall sharing some bolts that hold the cabin air intake filter. The Balmar 614 comes with a wiring harness that connects directly to the alternator. One additional connection is required for the ignition source. I routed a wire to an ignition source located in the driver’s seat base, entering thru the firewall opening and then up the “A” pillar and down the “B” pillar. My headliner and associated plastic pillar covers were already removed for the conversion.





I ran a pair of 2/0 copper welding cables wrapped in plastic loom from the alternator to the passenger side batteries. I used the same size 2/0 cable between the two pairs of batteries and also from the driver’s side batteries to a 400 amp slow fuse mounted just below floor level. The fuse feeds a 3000 watt Go Power pure sine wave inverter mounted directly above the floor. It also feeds the DC breaker panel.

I created a ground connection to the frame adjacent to my 400 amp fuse. I then installed my Victron battery monitor shunt directly above the floor.







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So this amounts to ~900aH? Can you comment on battery sizing and operating your stereo system (+ sub/amp)? Is the head unit powered off the house batteries or starter?

Awesome build - thanks for the writeup.

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Wyuna

New member
It would be 448 ah as I’d imagine the 224 ah 6 volt batteries will be wired together to form a 12 volt system
 

gltrimble

Well-known member
So this amounts to ~900aH? Can you comment on battery sizing and operating your stereo system (+ sub/amp)? Is the head unit powered off the house batteries or starter?

Awesome build - thanks for the writeup.

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Yes, 448 ah at 12 volts. My Pioneer head unit is currently powered off my starter battery. May add an option to power it off the house battery in the future but in no rush to open up the dash and the maze of wires behind it. My subwoofer amp is powered by the auxiliary battery but my long range plan is to eliminate the auxiliary battery and switch the AGM batteries to lithium which will increase my usable ah capacity even without the auxiliary battery. The current AGM setup is more than sufficient to operate 7+ days without any solar or other charging source.


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kfo

Member
Yes, 448 ah at 12 volts. My Pioneer head unit is currently powered off my starter battery. May add an option to power it off the house battery in the future but in no rush to open up the dash and the maze of wires behind it. My subwoofer amp is powered by the auxiliary battery but my long range plan is to eliminate the auxiliary battery and switch the AGM batteries to lithium which will increase my usable ah capacity even without the auxiliary battery. The current AGM setup is more than sufficient to operate 7+ days without any solar or other charging source.


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30 amps a day? My Isotherm 85 probably uses that amount. Am I missing something? Your system must have some insane efficiency tweaks.
 

gltrimble

Well-known member
30 amps a day? My Isotherm 85 probably uses that amount. Am I missing something? Your system must have some insane efficiency tweaks.


30 amps is best case when the fridge remains closed all day. I did add 1” of poly-iso insulation on all sides except the door. I also have a secondary cooling fan on the backside.


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gs850gx

Member
I thought 2 6v 224 ah batteries in series produces 224 ah at 12v or in parallel 448 ah at 6v. Watthours has to be the same for either configuuration. 6 X 448 = 12 X 224

D
 

gltrimble

Well-known member
BED PANELS

Initially I looked at using prefabricated aluminum bed panels from a number of suppliers. Overland Sprinters offered some excellent choices that were competitively priced. Overland also offered to custom size my panels to my dimensions. Because my panels were going to be unique dimensionally and in how they attached to the walls, I decided to fabricate them myself.

I actually had a spool gun and the proper welding gas for my MIG welder but had never used it with aluminum. I did get a quote from a local weld shop to do the welding if I cut and prepped all the aluminum. They wanted 8 hours to complete the work at $100/hr. For that price I decided I should at least make an attempt at welding the panels myself. All of the aluminum 1” x 0.125” aluminum tubing cost about $200. In the end all the welds were solid just not the prettiest.

My plan was to fabricate a total of 4 bed panels instead of the usual 3. I also wanted to shorten the width of the four panels from side to side. The reason for four panels was to make them lighter and easier to handle. I also planned to store the panels on the side walls when not in use. The smaller panels would fit two per wall. The narrower panels would also be less likely to bind against the walls when removing them. A friend had difficulty removing his bed panels because of the snug fit against the walls.

This picture compares the size of my bed panels with a friends Overland bed panel.



The side rails were fabricated from 2” angle with a 1” angle on top to retain the bed panels from the side. The rails are spaced 2” off each wall. The 1” angle adds another inch to the sidewall gap. I fabricated a total of four supports for each side rail. A total 12 5/16” rivnuts were used to attach the steel supports to the van sheet metal. I ended up using 4 rivnuts in the “D” pillar because the sheetmetal was so flimsy. The finished bed panels sit approximately 39-40” off the floor, enough room for most bikes with the front wheel removed.









The bed rails are also bolted to the supports for easy removal and installation. The edges of the bed rails, both top and side are covered with vinyl door edge guard material to minimize any metal to metal rattling. I had the bed rails powered coated once they were complete. Long term I might replace the steel bedrail with an aluminum version.



To determine the correct aluminum bed panel width I inserted some upholstered scrap wood panels between each of the rail supports to simulate the finished wall panels. This yielded a bed panel width of 62” x 19” for each of the four panels. Assembled the bed panels measure 62” wide x 76” long. There is a 1” gap at each end of the bed and a 3” gap on each side. So the sleeping area measures approximately 78” long x 68” wide. Perfect size for a queen sized 3” thick Temporpedic mattress topper which actually measured 78” in length. The side pockets are a great place for phones and water bottles.







I fabricated the rear most bed panel to take full advantage of the window indents. This adds another 3-4” in length. Rather than make holes for the side factory grab handles in my bed panels, I lowered the handles slightly and shortened them by 1” to utilize some existing holes for the rivnuts. The final wood panel profile followed the window indent. One last feature was the addition of aluminum interlocking 2” tabs on the bottom of the bed panels. This eliminates any movement between panels when climbing on the bed and helps to retain the bed panels over rough roads.









Each bed panel was covered with 1/2” prefinished birch ply. The panels were attached using countersunk machine screws from the bottom side. The panels are covered with a 1/8” landau foam and Marathon fabric.





All parts were removed to install the fabric covered wall panels. The supports bolt thru the wall panels and the rails bolt directly to the supports. I added some upholstered trim pieces to hide the supports and provide a location to mount the rear overhead cargo lighting.















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gltrimble

Well-known member
Great build! I used some aluminum ATV ramps ($150) which are temporally installed with wood braces, once I get the hight I want dialed-in I'll add steel or aluminum support rails.
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I also looked at using the Harbor Freight ramps for my bed platform. Took a tape measure to the store for accurate measurements, but decided to go the custom route.



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gltrimble

Well-known member
PLUMBING

My water system consists of a 46 gallon fresh water tank, an Isotemp Spa 15 liter water heater , and PEX plumbing feeding one indoor shower, one outdoor shower, and a 7” galley deep sink. The indoor shower and sink both drain to a 16 gallon gray water tank. I also have a Thetford Curve toilet.

I located the fresh water tank inside the van to avoid freezing. The tank sits in a “coffin” that makes up the lower half of my galley. My logic was to put the water tank on the lower half of the galley rather than storage compartments that would be difficult to access without getting on your hands and knees. The water tank also extends below my range/oven.



The coffin is fabricated from 3/4”pre-finished maple ply. The coffin extends over the slider step well. The floor was previously raised 1/2” and extended over this portion of the step well. This allowed me to locate the Shurflo pump in the step well void directly under the tank.







The 46 gallon tank is from Amazon. The dimensions were perfect for this application.

Class A Customs 46 Gallon Water Holding Tank NSF Approved T-4600 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007MSLP7A/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_LVKIDbA9D41A5

The coffin interior was slightly wider than the tank. I lined the sides with 1/8” foam for a snug fit. All of the tank plumbing fittings were on the end where I had left approximately 3-4” of space to accommodate not only the water lines but also the drain and the propane. I installed an AC/DC heating pad in the bottom of the coffin just in case. The tank is wrapped in a plastic bag which drains to a tell-tale opening in the bottom should a leak ever occur.

I filled the tank with wiffle balls to minimize any sloshing of the water. Later I located food grade wiffle balls.













The Shurflo pump is mounted to a 1/4” thick aluminum plate which allows me to easily remove and service the pump when needed. The pump output penetrates the step well wall as does the propane, drain, and both hot and cold water. Each penetration has a rubber grommet for a snug fit. A bulkhead fitting was used for the 3/4” sink drain. A simple toilet angle valve is located upstream of the pump inlet. This allows me to isolate or drain the plumbing system without draining the entire water tank. The wiring feeds the pump and a level gauge. The propane line feeds my Force 10 range/oven from the driver’s side propane tank.











The 1.25” tank gravity fill and 1/2” vent line terminate at the upper galley cabinet. I added an 8” access port to the top of the tank. This port is easily accessible by removing the lower galley drawer.







The upper portion of the galley cabinet containing the sink and drawers is attached to the lower cabinet. The upper half is basically modular and can be removed if needed. All the rigid plumbing remains attached to the lower cabinet structure.

To minimize the weight the upper cabinet is frame and panel construction. The frame consists of 3/4” maple and the panels are 1/4 pre-finished maple ply. The recesses created by the 1/4” ply allow me to add future flip down/up table tops.













PEX plumbing extends to the rear of the van for the outside shower. PEX also extends to the driver’s side where it ties into the hot water heater and the indoor shower. All of the exterior PEX was wrapped with electric heat tracing, aluminum foil, and finally foam pipe wrap for freeze protection.





Easy Heat AHB-118 Cold Weather Valve and Pipe Heating Cable, 18-Feet https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00002N96H/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_kILIDbG5WWG5K

The Isotemp Spa water heater is located on the lower driver’s side directly behind my Factory Espar D5 heater. The fresh water is heated by the engine coolant lines the majority of the time. The engine can heat the fresh water to 180-200F. I can also use the Espar to heat the water to about 130 before the Espar shuts down. The Isotemp electric heating element is capable of reaching 165F. A mixing valve limits the discharge water to 140F. I previously detailed some mods I did to the engine coolant lines to accelerate the heating of the fresh water. A digital gauge provides the hot water temperature.





Both the indoor and outdoor shower use an Ambassador mixer valve. This is an amazing valve combing both temperature and volume control in a very small format. The 3/4” quick disconnect on each shower valve feeds a simple Camco hand shower wand with on/off controls. The quick disconnects are from usplastics.com. I will provide more detail regarding the shower in a future post.





Ambassador Marine Aidack Hot/Cold Shut Off Valve/Mixer, Chrome https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00TIAJ0YA/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_Z3LIDb364N1VZ

The gray water tank is a 16 gallon poly tank that fits between the rear differential and the spare tire on my 170 van. Both the sink and indoor shower gravity drain thru small Camco traps to the gray water tank via a combination of 3/4” and 1” flexible hose. I installed both a 1.5 “ and 3/4” drain on the gray water tank. The 3/4” drain has a motorized stainless ball valve while the larger drain is a standard RV style slide valve.

The tank has an access port on top for cleaning. The tank is secured using four threaded knobs and all-thread allowing for easy removal. A level gauge feeds my See Level tank level monitor.









Akent Motorized Ball Valve 3/4" Stainless Steel Ball Valve with Full Port, 9-24V DC and 2 Wire Auto Return Setup CR-04(3/4") https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZ9P9G4/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_Y2LIDb8ZWCNJ8

Valterra 7103 ABS Gate Valve, Black, 1-1/2" Spig https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B95PVGS/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_tai_v3LIDb7YM7R3Z





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