A Three Year Update on the Journey with my 2010 Sprinter


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Note: Some picture are in the process of fixing. This site apparently ignores EXIF data, so I have to manually modify all affected images.

Inspired by those who have come before me...GeorgeRa, asimba2, GraphiteDave, SprinterPaul, JJolls, and many others. These are great contributors and I have only taken bits and pieces that have otherwise mostly been done before. Like standing on the shoulders of giants. So let us begin...A VW-inspired layout with a 2 person bench seat able to seat and sleep four comfortably.

Part 1: Picking up the Van - Inspection and Back to Square One

Sept. 2016: After pining over Sprinters for several years, and searching for one somewhat seriously for about a year, I came across a van for sale in New Jersey that seemed to be about as good of a deal as I had seen. Nothing spectacular, but a solid looking NCV3 with under 100K miles and under $20K sales price. Anything on the west side of the country was going for probably several $K premium due to the high demand. It was a 2010, which at the time I thought was an advantage over 2007-2009 models (pre-DEF), because of the slight increase in engine specs, but the DEF is probably a complexity I'd rather not have to deal with. But alas, here we are and hopefully with all the latest components, we can travel MIL-free for years to come.

From the original ad:

So we purchased a 2010 white cargo Sprinter 2500 144 high roof with rear door windows. This was $19500 and the van had 99K miles on it. You could maybe find a van like this for about $12K today. This was a work van that lived in New England early in its life, so it has a lot of minor rust throughout the body. Some of it was cleaned up, probably prior to selling, so it actually looked pretty clean. Three years later, some of it is starting to make a noticeable appearance and is currently being addressed. There were a bunch of old shelves inside.

Old racks and shelving from the rear:

Old racks and shelving from the slider:

So I flew out to New Jersey to pick it up. My flight was delayed several times in Chicago, and barely made it in that night. The dealer stayed open until about midnight so I could get the van. At that point I was pretty exhausted, it was dark, and I wanted to just get going. So headed back on the 2200 mile journey back west in a completely unknown rig. Just a little stressful. But I had my sleeping back and Thermarest, so here we go. First night spent in a rest area off the PA turnpike, I76. The next morning, I had the MIL jump on and started what would become a long relationship through the first year of ownership.

At the time, I hadn't seen all of the DEF-related issues that plague these early AdBlue NCV3 vans. I also did not have a scannere with me, but I did figure it was emissions related and chose to just carry on and cross my fingers. It was a loud drive with the empty cargo van, missing plastic wall panels, and metal/wood racks rattling around. The engine felt good and sounded good, surprisingly quiet, especially for what I know of diesels. So, since I got a late start, I knocked the drive out solo in basically two 15-hr drive days. It was brutal, but I had to be back to work Monday. Other than the MIL, we made the drive back to SLC, UT and averaged about 18 or so mpg driving about 80 mph most of the way. Didn't seem too bad for a big tall van.

First I wanted to strip all of the racks out and clean up the van. It was a work van, and showed based on the 'roughed up' condition of the rear cargo area. Scrapes and dents here and there. Also getting all the maintenence up to date was high on the priority list. I wanted to get all of that sorted before starting into any type of conversion. If I needed to cut my losses due to unforeseen major issues, I'd want it to happen before spending $10K and hundreds of hours on a conversion. So we started with fluids, filters, and brakes. The brakes were not working well and needed to be fixed. And then we removed everything in the cargo area.

Shelving and racks removed:

Getting started on the cleanup:
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Part 2: Working on Some Issues and Routine Maintenence

The scans indicated a failed DEF heater (do a search, very common on early DEF vans), but I was not really in a climate where it mattered, and I could smell the SCR in the exhaust, so figured it was probably working normally otherwise. So I drove it for quite a while like this. Basically until I had to have it tested for reinspection. The initial inspection happened to fall on a year where it didn't require emissions, so lucked out during the first year. Again, the emissions were working just fine, only a failed DEF heater was causing the MIL. I could also see that the DPF was regenerating periodically and seemed to be working properly.

I figured that although I had some DEF issues to resolve, I could at least get started on my 'Weekender' conversion. The plan was a pretty simple simple DIY conversion so that my wife, son, and two dogs could get out for hiking, biking, climbing, skiing, and kayaking. It sounds like a lot to squeeze into a 144 tall roof van, but I wanted to maintain everyday usability, and parking in a normal sized spot is priceless in many areas. I wanted to keep it fairly inexpensive, lightweight, and easily removable. I wanted to be able to easily take everything out of the van and just have cargo space.

The plan was to start with the things we know we needed and start using the van to figure out where the pressure points were. And what we could and couldn't do without. We know we needed some safe seating for our son, a place to sleep, and a place to put all of the gear. That much got us started and using the van. We realized we wanted some insulation, a roof fan, and a heater for those cold nights. A refrigerator would eventually replace the cooler and solar panels would help keep up with the modest power requirements. It was fun getting out in the van, and even in its unfinished state, it offered lots of advantages over tent camping with gear.

I've typically maintained all of the vehicles I've owned (as I never have had anything under warranty), so it was a bit of a painful experience to learn how locked down many of the MB systems are. It wasn't possible to just replace the NOx sensors, for instance, because they needed to be SCN coded with the high end dealer communications tools. So I ended up buying two scan tools; one simple MB adn also a clone of the MB Xentry/Star scanner. Now I can at least arm myself with the most information possible before heading to the dealer for anything that is needed. I wish I could spend more time with learning the ins and outs of the Xentry system, because I think I can use it for a lot more than I currently am doing with it.

Service parts and supplies:

I did a full service (oil, oil filter, fuel filter, air filter) in Oct. 2016. I get the special oil on sale at NAPA for about $5.99/qt. I am doing oil changes at 10K mile intervals. Oil analysis suggests that this is fine, and with 14 quarts, I'd rather not change it more often then is beneficial. Brakes (pads and rotors) were done in June 2017 at 105K miles. Total cost was $276.48. The front DS caliper was seized to the pin and required some work to fix. I purchased a spare just in case it could not be freed up, but was able to fix the one on the van, so now have a spare front DS caliper for future. Replaced the DPF bracket also in July 2017 at 106K miles for $24.79.

This would explain why the brakes weren't working all that well:

Also was monitoring the DPF function and status with iCarsoft scanner:


NOx Upstream:

NOx downstream:

Found a good deal and good reviews on the Falken WildPeak tires, which are pretty aggressive, but surprisingly quiet. These ran $693.40 installed. These were put on Sept. 2017 at 107K miles. I also blacked out the wheels since they were getting a little rusty and looking pretty ratty. Around Dec. 2017, I developed an occasional whistling sound and eventually it became a boost leak that threw a code. The rubber seal at the inlet to the turbo resonator had let loose. I ordered a new one, and also a new resonator. This repair was done Dec. 2017 at 111K miles for a cost of $125.96. It was clear it had been leaking for some time, and this fixed both the code and the whistling never came back either.

Falken WildPeak Tires:

Resonator seal blowout:

Some new parts:

At one point, in the middle of January 2018, I attempted to repair the DEF heater and level sensor. But I was working out in the dark, in the snow, in 20 degree F temperatures and just couldn't get it all resolved. After reassembly, I was getting a low pump pressure code and ended up going to the dealer to resolve it. Just around this time, I got very lightly rear ended on the freeway in my 1993 Audi S4, and because of the rarity and expense of the car, a few scrapes on the bumper yielded a $3200 payout. I did a quick clean up and mostly removed the scrapes and used the money for the Sprinter emissions system fix. Turns out I broke the outlet nipple (think cold and brittle while working outside in the snow) of the DEF pump. I lost about $300 trying to DIY and failing here. Had I had a little more experience and known the fragility of certain parts, this part could have been successful. But sometimes you have to pay to go to school. I'm OK with that.

Xemodex DEF heater/level sensor kit:

DEF tank in the dining room:

DEF heater wiring:

DEF heater and tank in the sink:

In the meantime, I had purchased 2X R05 NOx sensors for a deal from an online MB parts dealer. I had my dealer also replace them while they did the work on the DEF tank. Of course, I get a call saying the bung was stripped and I would need to buy a $4K exhaust now. No f'ing way, I said. Take it to a muffler shop and have them weld and re-tap. They did and it ended up being like $150. That's just how the dealer works. They know where they make the money. So I basically used the insurance money from my S4 to get all my emissions issues cleaned up on the van, actually was $2782.37. At some point, I also replaced the DPF bracket ($21.05), which is known to crack over time. I didn't feel so bad since it was kind of like letting someone scratch the bumper on my car in exchange for fixing the entire emissions system on the van. So now everything was up to date and working well. So far, the MIL has not made a reappearance since this work was done back in May 2018 at 112K miles, or about 11K miles ago.

DPF brackets:

DPF bracket installed:

NOx sensors RO5:

A couple more oil and oil filter changes at 112K miles in May 2018 and another just recently in Mar. 2019 at 122K miles. These changes run about $80-100 depending on how much you can get the oil and filter for. I've also been trying to record when DEF has been added, and if it was triggered by a low level warning. So far I've captured the last two fill ups Sept. 2018 at 117K miles and just recently July 2019 at 123K miles. This suggests about 2.5 gallon ($20.23) usage over about 6K miles. Usage seems low, but I can see it is working by monitoring the NOx sensors and you can also smell the SCR-treated exhaust. I recall seeing roughly what it should using, but can't remember at the moment. A back-up camera (Yantech) was purchased from Amazon for $125.00 and has been working great also.


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Part 3: Phase One Conversion

So, like everyone here, the process of converting starts with a lot of research. Looking at other campers and vans, browsing forum build threads, watching Youtube videos, and trying to put together all of the pieces that will work for your situation. Everyone has different needs, which is why there are so many different approaches to everything. We started pretty early on with the flooring. Overall, we tried to keep things simple and tried to recognize tradeoffs that were happening. For the floor, I used some adhesive backed vinyl planks that a glued to the top of the factory flooring. It works, but I'm not 100% happy with it. Good enough to move to the next step. I knew that if I tried to optimize everything along the way, I would never finish. You can always go back if something isn't quite right, but we wanted to get to using it pretty quickly.

Modifications to the factory floor:

Gluing up the filler pieces from the old rails:

Putting the vinyl planks on factory floor panels:

Floor installed with seat brackets in 2.5 position:

Well, are you ready yet???:

Cutting and trimming the slab doors to use as bed platform:

Gluing them back up:

Here we are loaded up with 3 kayaks inside and 3 bikes outside:

All of the plastic wall panels were removed to see what the interior walls looked like. We could see rust due to water intrusion through the trim clip holes. This is also common and addressed ad nauseum here. I tried to clean up and repaint as much as possible, but figured I could come back in later if needed. We picked up Noico foil-faced noise dampener to add to the existing Dynamat around from some past projects. This definitely made it sound less tinny. Added it to the wheelwells also.

This is some of the worst of it:

Tried cleaning up where I had access:

Cleaned up and painted:

Dynamat and Noico installed:

Dynamat and Noico installed:

I started on the bed and bench seat next. I wanted to use the factory bench because of it'd modularity and safety. I did have to put mounting provisions into the floor, and I located brackets (eBay for $214.89) in what is known as the 2.5 row position. I wanted some extra room for the dogs, and figured we'd have some sort of galley that we needed some room for. In Oct. 2016, I found a matching factory 3 person bench seat local in SLC for $500 and grabbed it. A little pricy, but it was an exact match on the fabric and was local to me. So it was worth a little extra, and it was in like new condition. Actually much better than the one I ended up converting to a 2 seater later on. The bed was previously featured in a thread titled "The $99 platform bed", because you can literally build it for under $100. This obviously did not include the memory foam mattresses ($275.00) from Amazon. Since we were going to be sleeping in here now, we also put the MaxxAir fan in. This was May 2017.

Mounting brackets for the IKEA Skorva crossmembers:

Installed crossmember:

Installed crossmembers (there are actually three):

From underneath:

From the front

Seat mounts in the floor:

Now on to the windows...

Guide holes drilled from the inside:

Slider window installed:

I did this solo, so used foil tape as I cut to keep the panel in place and stationary:

From the inside:

Cutting the hole for rear window:

From the inside:

Glued some wood in to give regain some rigidity and fill the gap:

Ready for the windows:

Espar Installation getting messy:

But also was able to clean up some areas too:

Espar D2 from underneath:

She is always waiting for us to go somewhere:

We were able to get the van out for several trips over the summer of 2017. It was didn't have many amenities at this point, but was showing us what we had to look forward to. We were still using a cooler and a little portable cabinet ($60) to serve as a makeshift galley. Trips to skiing, kayaking, camping in Albion Basin, Goblin Valley, Great Basin NP were highlights of the summer. We were ready to make some improvements. Next up was the heater, some windows, and getting things planned and ready for some solar panels. Oc-Nov. 2017 saw us put in the 4X CR Laurence windows ($1470.92)along with the Espar D2 heater ($1126.76) installed under the passenger seat. Later this should be joined by an aux. battery. I purchased roof rails ($285.00) from an online dealer. We also wanted to try and get things fixed so the Xentry clone ($735.40) was purchased during this time for troubleshooting. A Kuat bike rack with the Pivot unit to allow it to swing out and clear the rear doors has been working great also.

Factory roof rails:

Exposing the holes:

Up top:

Inside mounting; notice Noico installed also:

Xentry Troubleshooting:

We also use the iCarsoft unit because it is a lot less cumbersome for simple tasks:

This is the winter we attempted the DEF system repair, but failed. It was a good learning experience for both DEF system and using Xentry clone system. Thankfully, this is when we were able to get the emissions all sorted out and get on some more trips and do some more conversion tasks. For this year we added some 1/4" birch wall panels, and at the end of the summer upgraded to a Dometic CFX50 refrigerator. The solar has been great because I just leave the refrigerator on, powered by the sun, and kept on with the battery overnight. No cables, no charging, and a nearby cold beer whenever it is needed. I added a Blue Sea distribution panel with fuses along with the small OLED voltage meter. This, in addition to the Victron phone app, provides all the monitoring that I need right now. Very happy with this setup.

We opted for 2X Grape solar 100W panels ($211.56) that we would mount to the factory rails with some 80/20 crossbars. This coupled to a Victron 75/15 MPPT controller ($130.00). I ordered a sealed AGM battery but they sent the wrong one which was fully refunded. But I decided to use it temporarilty while I got the solar and electrical system set up. I figured I'd rather toast this battery than one I actually have to pay for. The downside is that it is not sealed and uses "AGM technology" but is not strict AGM battery. So I have it temporarily installed behind the driver's pedestal, sandwiched between it and the galley to the rear. Not out of sight, but somewhat out of mind at this point. Bigger fish to fry, so moving on...

Wiring diagram:

Solar panels:

Smaller than I was expecting:

More stuff:

Getting ready to poke a hole for the solar panel wires. For some reason, I didn't take any pictures of the solar install that I can find, so I'll have to get up and take some of the rack, panels, and feed-thru.

Solar wiring location:

I currently am not running an inverter, and the house battery is isolated from the starter battery since I have not wired in the isolation relay. So far, this setup has been working satisfactorily.

Solar controller and distribution block:

In the fall I trimmed out the small rear windows so I could get the interior panels reinstalled. It was one of those jobs I had been putting off, but glad its done and over. Trying to get most of the interior panels finished up so that we can get the Thinsulate ($650.00) insulation installed behind them. The summer of 2018 also saw some great road trips in the van, with a highlight trip of over 2K miles up to BC for some hiking, climbing, and mountain biking.

Lynx levelers have been a nice addition to get the van leveled:

Some more inside rust due to the trim clips in the rear quarter section:

I made trim rings out of plywood:

Glued/screwed together:

Fitted them behind the panels and trimmed out with router:

Glued and screwed to the panel:

Trimming out the rear windows:

I've been using the factory 'washers' like the plastic panels used, now NLA:

Coming together:

I purchased Sportscraft swivels ($500) and also the shorter OEM seat bases from online parts source. Here we are getting the Espar re-situated in its new home:

Secure bike stowage while hiking up to Garibaldi Lake:
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Part 4: Phase Two Conversion - 2 Person Bench and Galley

Sometime over the past couple years, I had seen the 2 person bench seats, and guys like JJolls and SprinterPaul doing 3 to 2 seat conversions. I knew that this was the missing piece to my puzzle and with the room along the drivers side opened up, we could get the VW-inspired galley setup we were after. I had originally thought of ways to work this around the 3 person bench, but wasn't really excited about it. So with some measurements, we started laying things out in Solidworks so that we could come up with a frame design. I opted for using 80/20 Quickframe because I wanted to keep things extra light, and I knew this stuff is plenty strong enough. Especially considering the fabric cabinet we had been using up to now. I designed it around the Dometic CFX50 and found a sink/faucet combo that would work. I wanted the Dometic folding setup, but couldn't justify spending the $450 for it, so with a little research and elbow grease, we came upon a setup for under $100.

I used coroplast from Home Depot for the doors running in some dual slot channel I found on Amazon. The fixed panels are held in place with caulking. I also found some little reverse buttons door pulls used on sliding or pocket style doors. This is pretty flimsy, but actually meets my needs pretty well. Aside from an overly intrusive dog that likes to flinging her behind around and blowing through the doors occasionally, it only takes a few seconds to reinstall and stays in place just as needed otherwise.

Sliding doors on the galley:

Then it was time to start figuring out how to modify the seat. Luckily, most of the research was done and I could just follow along if I can keep up. So we started cutting and sewing and before too long, had the bench and galley in position. I was able to complete the seat without welding by using sleeves and pinning them in place. It is very, very solid. I figured I would weld it up once I get my welder set up again, but it is not a priority at the moment. Things were finally coming together for the final layout. So I then pulled all of panels and added some more Noico and added Thinsulate behind all interior panels and also above the headliner. Then I started on the b-pillar trims. The interior details are mostly completed, aside from some corner trim for where the roof and walls meet. But I've been holding off on that trying to figure out if I wanted some upper cabinets, which could cover all of those gaps. Adventure Wagon MULE bags look like a great option and are on the top of my list. Them being easily removable is another bonus.

I tried some ideas using the 3 person bench, but always was a compromise:

Picked up a spare 3 person bench in case I wanted to go back at some point:

And then there was two:

Cuts before adjustment with the grinder:

Last test fit of the seat and galley:

After a crash course in sewing:

Nearly ready:

Working on the galley design:

Cut list:

The skeleton:

Dometic CFX50 Test Fitting:

Sink after cutting rim to allow for undermounting:

Sink and faucet installed with removable cutting board:

Sink mounting:

Waiting on completion of the 2 person bench seat:

Sometimes you just have to stop and admire the beauty that surrounds us:

It's a match made in heaven:

Rear of bench:

Galley and table:

Under refrigerator storage area:

7 gallon fresh and gray water tanks fit under the sink:

Adding more sound dampener to the front headliner area:

Let's get rolling. My old scissors worked OK, although after many cuts, the pressure points on my thumb and fingers were a little sore:

Thinsulate added and attached with spray adhesive:

Thinsulate added to PS:

Thinsulate added to DS:

Adding Thinsulate around the rear windows:

Adding Thinsulate into the wall cavities:

Panels reinstalled and OEM wheel well covers:

It is a VERY snug fit. The galley isn't technically mounted, but its not going anywhere:

Galley with removable/folding table:

Folding table underside:

Inside eating/hanging out layout:

From the rear with no bed platform:

Galley view with no table:

View into the rear with no bed platform:

B Pillar Trim Template:

Drivers Side B Pillar Trim:

Area under the bed showing IKEA Skorva x-members and mounting plates:

It is still fast and easy to remove the entire conversion in less than 15 minutes. And the van becomes a fully open cargo van. And with the bed and galley designs, it is very lightweight which is important driving up and over mountain passes on a weekly basis.
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Part 5: Cleaning up Some Rust

Now that many of the routine maintenence and big conversion projects were behind us, it was time to start looking at the rust that was really beginning to show. Recall I mentioned rust from the trim clip holes, but there was also rust and/or paint bubbling around many of the door handles and a troublesome spot at the front of the sliding door that had been repaired at some point in the past. Luckily I live in a desert climate with little rain, but winters can lead to corrosion with moisture and salt around for at least one quarter of the year. I had seen that Rustoleum Gloss White enamel was a close match to the factory white paint, so started playing around with some spot repairs. It isn't too noticeable until you get a panel that isn't blended well. But for me, I can deal with it being not a perfect match and will be happy to trade that for rust and rust-stained panels. I figure at some point in the future it will need a full respray anyway, so as long as I can mitigate the rust and keep it looking half-way decent, I am coming out on top.

I first starting fixing some of the areas around the door handles. Then I moved to the slider to address both the trim clip holes and the poorly patched front edge. I really should just replace the whole door, but we'll see how well this holds up. Sometimes I like to see just what I can get away with instead of unnecessary overkill. Mostly I was trying to remove what rust is there, treat or seal it, then apply some filler, primer, and finally paint.

Rusty area under the trim on the slider:

Rusty area under the trim on the slider:

After scraping off some of the bubbling paint around the holes:

Inside the slider:

Front edge looking a little ragged:

This really starts to illustrate what may be lurking behind:

This spot above the slider track is needing some attention soon:

After grinding away the worst of it, there isn't much metal left:

I wanted to retain the leading edges to serve help keep the filler in the right place:

I seemed to have missed some steps in the application of long strand filler, regular filler, seam sealer, and primer. But it is good enough for now. I think this was just before painting and sealing all of the trim clips in place.

Slider front edge filled and primed:

Full slide prior to painting:

The b-pillar area was showing some rust staining coming out from under the trim:

The b-pillar area painted with grommet in place:

Trim clips sealed in place:

Driver's door handle was showing some rust:

Handle removed:

After grinding most of the rust away:

After applying body filler and sanding:

Masking the area for a quick spray:

Area primed and ready for some sanding:

Rear door handles will need some work next:


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Part 6: What Next? Smaller Details and Ongoing/Routine Maintenence

Although the list is likely never going to end, the items are getting less substantial and new ones are being added as things come up.

  • Finishing up some interior trim details
  • Finalize wiring/plumbing on the sink
  • Rear door shower setup?
  • More rust repair and trim clip sealing
  • Fix A/C in the van (not working at full capacity)
  • Replace shocks and suspension bushings

Looks decent when cleaned up:

Parking lot camping up at Cypress, BC:

So far, though, after nearly 3 years with the van, we are happy with what we have created. Basically we have about $20K into the van and about $10K into the conversion, so a total of $30K for a conversion that would easily cost 2-3X as much if we didn't do it ourselves. All paid for and ready to go on the next adventure.

Here are some running costs and statistics not including conversion costs.

Started with just fuel on my S4 about seven years agao, now I try to track most auto costs and maintenence with Fuelly:

Page Two:

Welp, its's time for me to go now...my ride is here:
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I'm trying to add some more information on areas I missed. Here are some images of the solar and aftermarket backup camera. Disregard the black oxide hardware; it was on-hand and pretty much out of view high on the roof. Panels are mounted together with thin aluminum strips running down both sides. I wanted a low profile setup to minimize drag.

Front mount for 80/20 crossbars. Made from scraps on-hand and wanted low profile:

This shows the feed-through cover mounted under the panels

Backup camera:

2X Grape Solar 100W panels. Great addition for high value return vs. money spent:


2008 2500 170" EXT
Front mount for 80/20 crossbars. Made from scraps on-hand and wanted low profile:
Why two washers under the bolt?


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The Victron 75/15 with built-in Bluetooth is a pretty cool little unit and works great for my setup. I also can use the LOAD output for all of my electrical, so I get pretty good usage monitoring out of it, along with the built-in safety features for battery drain protection.

For now, my battery lives here between the galley and driver's pedestal:

There are a few small additions from MB that really helped clean up the look, and provide some protection.

First, the plastic trim to go around the slider step. This was only about $50 shipped. I did get the version with a cutout for a light. If anyone has the part number for the light that goes there, I'd like to pick one up. It is a different shape from the lights elsewhere in the rear of the van.

These rubber floormats work well and really fit nicely: $125 shipped for the set:

Wheel well covers: $128.88 shipped for the pair.

Some missing photos, but can't edit the previous posts, so just adding them here.

Here is the display for the back-up camera. I also like it to keep an eye on the bikes/rack back there:

Here are some USB/12V outlet panels I've added. This one sits under the galley to power the refrigerator and sink pump. I wanted to do it this way so the galley could be removed easily without any permanent interfaces into the van.

The sink pump wiring and plumbing still needs some work. I plan on putting a switch inline with the power to the pump so it isn't always pressurized. With the pressure switch, a leak will empty the freshwater tank and potentially burn up the motor and start to drain the house battery. The Victron solar controller will keep it from taking it all the way down, but figure this is how I'll start with it.

I like to keep this little temp/humidity sensor around just to keep an eye on things. It is magnetic backed, so I just stuck it to the back of the passengers seat pedestal.


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I have enjoyed this thread. Nice work and thanks for posting!
Glad you liked it. I wish I could be better at documenting, but often I just take pictures and before I know it I have a folder of several hundred images that seems to daunting to sort and write up.

And I have certainly benefited immensely from your well done videos and documentation. Gives me something to aspire to. Maybe with my next van...


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Not a lot of major progress lately, but just continuing on with the little details.

I replaced my tall pedestal with the shorter pedestal and swivel. I still have to sort out an e-brake solution to use the swivel, but at least it isn't taking up space in the garage anymore.

Of course, like many projects with this van, doing some simple rewiring and seat base swap turns into a rust management and painting exercise as well. This task seemed to stay true to form.

I finally rewired the Espar to be powered off of my aux. battery instead of having it tapped off the builders terminals. I've not had problems draining the battery overnight, but its always in the back of my mind and keeps me from sleeping worry-free.
I did seem to have a problem when I tried to wire this off the load output of the Victron MPPT. Acted like it was shorted. I may not have mentioned it in this thread, but I accidentally bought a 24V version of the heater and had to install an cheap DC/DC boost converter to run the Espar power. I'm not sure if this is the problem or what, but it seems to work OK when wired directly to the aux. battery, so I have it wired that way for now. I would like to investigate this a little more, but there are bigger fish to fry.

I also finally relocated the EasyStart Timer heater control to the area just behind the slider. This is now in a much more accessible position, and easy to turn on/off/adjust from bed.

Also stained the wall panels with a whitewash type stain. Came out pretty nice and brightens things up a bit. Also put some gray gaffers tape on the walls to help blend in a little better. I still need to do some textured painting around the slider, rear doors, and window above the galley.

Outlets for the galley. One cig. adapter is for the Dometic CFX50, the other powers the water pump and USB outlets.

Added ceiling lights and wired them to switches just under the heater controls. 2 zones of 4 lights each with an extra switch to do something else with in the future.

I think I wouldn't mind having a dimmer for these lights as they can be quite bright.

Added some accents and paint to the slab doors used for the bed panels.

I have ordered some loom to clean up the exposed wiring and will need to dress up the upper corners a bit. I plan on ordering AW Mule bags but between those and the L track required to install them, it is about a $1,200 expense. I'm still trying to justify it given the budget nature of this build. It's getting there though. I still have to get the sink all set up again as it was all torn apart when I was staining and painting everything.


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Nice build! Still working on my 11’ with similar progress. Do you remember which stain you used on your panels? I go back and forth over covering mine with some sort of light tweed fabric, stain, or actually gluing vinyl plank flooring for an accent. Currently trying to figure out the best way to trim out and cover the wiring above the rear doors and the bundle in the rear corner drivers side.


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Nice build! Still working on my 11’ with similar progress. Do you remember which stain you used on your panels? I go back and forth over covering mine with some sort of light tweed fabric, stain, or actually gluing vinyl plank flooring for an accent. Currently trying to figure out the best way to trim out and cover the wiring above the rear doors and the bundle in the rear corner drivers side.
Thanks! I used Varathane Sunbleached stain
I also tried the Weathered Gray but thought it was too dark. About two years ago, I purchased some 1/4" open cell foam and some microfiber suede type materials and was going to upholster the panels. I decided it wasn't worth the effort for what I wanted in the end. Probably about $500 in materials that will probably go to waste. I've done that a few times on this build. I think I have 11 cans of upholstery grade spray adhesive too.

Now that I built this one and figured out how I wanted to do everything (and what not to do), I'd really really like to build up a newer van, maybe a 4x4. But I think I'll just drive this one until it dies because I'm a cheapskate. And besides, kids and dogs are so tough on things, I only cringe a little bit as they destroy aspects of this one...


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Thanks! I used Varathane Sunbleached stain
I also tried the Weathered Gray but thought it was too dark. About two years ago, I purchased some 1/4" open cell foam and some microfiber suede type materials and was going to upholster the panels. I decided it wasn't worth the effort for what I wanted in the end. Probably about $500 in materials that will probably go to waste. I've done that a few times on this build. I think I have 11 cans of upholstery grade spray adhesive too.

Now that I built this one and figured out how I wanted to do everything (and what not to do), I'd really really like to build up a newer van, maybe a 4x4. But I think I'll just drive this one until it dies because I'm a cheapskate. And besides, kids and dogs are so tough on things, I only cringe a little bit as they destroy aspects of this one...
Thanks - I think I saw that color in my local ACE hardware but wasn’t sure how ‘white’ it would be. I’ll have to try a sample.

I’m on a similar path really. Bought the 11’ to use as a ‘sandbox’ in terms of conversion. Find out what we like/don’t like....etc. Thinking of a 170 4x4 at some point when the opportunity comes to hit the road for longer term - but that’s all TBD.


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Thanks for the writeup, and pics. I am playing around with the idea of doing a conversion.
I like your simple sink/fridge cabinet. as well as the table that fits into the cabinet. I like your simple sliding doors, but I could not figure out how you move the sliding doors back, to fit the table in? could you add a couple pics?
keep up the good work.


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The frame is 1" square tube. The door panels are 1/4" and the tracks for both doors takes up about 0.65". This left just enough room to add two 1/4" holes for the pins so the table and doors don't interfere. The biggest issue I have is one of the dogs lacks body awareness and will just push the doors into the cabinet. They are easily put back in the tracks because the coroplast is light and flexible, which has proven to be a double edged sword. But this galley is so cheap and light, it's a tradeoff I don't mind making. See the attached picture for a close-up.



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Thx for the reply, and pic. I think I get it.
u just have thin doors that slide in the extruded aluminum cabinet frame, and can be pushed out of the way, for 'custom table' connections .


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I have added a dual USB port to the galley for the charging of electronics and also added a small illuminated rocker switch for the water pump so that the system is only pressurized when needed. The galley electrical is powered by a single cigarette adapter into the wall for easy removal. The Dometic has a separate dedicated adapter to minimize voltage drop.

Then I proceeded to leave water in the lines when we had a cold spell that dropped us below freezing for a couple days a few weeks back and it cracked a fitting at the faucet connection. So now that will need to be resolved to get back in action. But that may just have to wait until spring at this point...as they say, no project like this is ever truly finished.

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