Boardhead build thread

Airtime

Active member
Some pics of the modules.

Utility module. Using 1020 on top for a stiffer upper gear garage deck, and takes no additional space. Also 1020 on inner rail supporting battery above wheel well. Outer rail is 1010 but will be attached to van wall.
Utility Module 8 Aug 2020.jpg

Galley. Sink will be on left, drawer bank on right. Isotemp Slim Square mounts in back wall of sink bay. Just added a standard 4" toekick because I have big feet.
Galley Module 8 Aug 2020.jpg

Fridge/microwave. Isotherm Freeline 115 on top, microwave/convection oven underneath, space for tips of sailboards under that, and a storage bay at the bottom.
Fridge Module 8 Aug 2020.jpg

Shower. 24" x 36". Toilet will be Thetford Curve with 4 gallon cassette in short term, but looking at leaving options open for plumbing for a possible macerating toilet in the long term.
Bath module 8 Aug 2020.jpg

Sailboard module. Boards rest on lower shelf above passenger side wheel well, accessible from rear doors of van. Gear bags go behind wheel well. Sails, booms etc. go on the upper gear deck below the platform bed. Used 1020 for upper rails, same as the Utility module on driver side, to leave flexibility to carry heavier loads on that deck.
Sailboard Module 8 Aug 2020.jpg
 

Midwestdrifter

Engineer In Residence
Looking good.

If you need to, you can make plates to attach the 80/20 profiles together in solidworks, then export for laser cutting. Pricing can be reasonable, and its a big time saver over hand cutting and drilling them yourself.
 

VanGoSki

Well-known member
Airtime, I am in total awe of your design skills. Do you design airplanes for a living?

That said, your L/R scale seems to be off on your floor plan, or your cabinet dimensions are wrong. That 25" deep galley cabinet would extend over 1/3rd of the way across the width of your van. But it looks more like a quarter of the way in the drawing. So you're going to be more cramped than this looks. I'm assuming the 3500 is 70" across like my 2500, no?
 

Airtime

Active member
Airtime, I am in total awe of your design skills. Do you design airplanes for a living?

That said, your L/R scale seems to be off on your floor plan, or your cabinet dimensions are wrong. That 25" deep galley cabinet would extend over 1/3rd of the way across the width of your van. But it looks more like a quarter of the way in the drawing. So you're going to be more cramped than this looks. I'm assuming the 3500 is 70" across like my 2500, no?
Thanks! No, I'm am an engineer but EE not aeronautical. I just recently picked up Solidworks to try it out for my van build and I'm liking it. The gear garage in particular has some constraints fitting 8' long boards, and seeing my earlier designs in 3D convinced me they wouldn't work and I was able to change them to a better solution.

The extrusions are actually easy using the weldments feature and downloading the 80/20 library. I drew the fridge, water tank etc. and found the seats, bikes and boards online. I just ordered my Utility module and Sailboard module cut to length by the supplier, using the cut list I generated in Solidworks. I'll see how it fits soon, first package arrives tomorrow. Then I'll move on to the more complex and visible modules.

On the galley, it's 21" in this drawing, not 25". Not sure where you saw the 25"? I may actually make it less than 21", I'm looking at the floor space as I finalize my design. Currently it is 30.5" from galley cabinet face to the bench frame.

The tightest dimension is between the Fridge module and the shower at about 21.5". My goal is for the fridge to open all the way without hitting the shower wall. Having the fridge up high where the van is narrower does take up some extra inches in floor width but I think it will be worth it to be able to just stand and see into the fridge.
 

gltrimble

Well-known member
Your floor plan looks similar to mine. My Isotherm 195 sits directly across from my shower. The fridge is positioned height wise to fit into the wall recess. The fridge takes up 22” of floor space. The shower takes up 25” leaving a galley of 23”. The galley widens to 25”+ at the range and sink. Make sure you have adequate room to remove the fridge if needed. My shower surround is also removable if more room is needed to service the fridge. I also located my lithium batteries under the floor similar to Hein”s suggestion.

278DC183-329C-4971-B8F7-7041650F1977.jpeg1E191D79-96FF-494A-A4FC-95A0CA5DF43F.jpeg
 

VanGoSki

Well-known member
Jeez, my apologies. I just looked through your plans and have no idea where I got 25" for the galley. I thought it was weird because that's even bigger than kitchen cabinet bases which are pretty standard at 24". But I must have been hallucinating. :unsure:

BTW, I'm a retired SW engineer in the SF Bay area and used to windsurf every day after work during the windy season. I had a few camping trips at the gorge as well. I had an old orange VW bus all racked out with places for my boards, sails and everything else inside the van, and even had room for a bunk. CA License plate 4DWIND in case you ever saw a van like that. Who knows, once my conversion is done, I may even start sailing again. I still have all my gear. Outdated as hell now no doubt, but I always had a blast on it.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to watching this masterpiece of yours come to fruition. :cheers:
 

Airtime

Active member
Your floor plan looks similar to mine. My Isotherm 195 sits directly across from my shower. The fridge is positioned height wise to fit into the wall recess. The fridge takes up 22” of floor space. The shower takes up 25” leaving a galley of 23”. The galley widens to 25”+ at the range and sink. Make sure you have adequate room to remove the fridge if needed. My shower surround is also removable if more room is needed to service the fridge. I also located my lithium batteries under the floor similar to Hein”s suggestion.
Wow that's an outstanding conversion, really well done! Yes my layout is almost the same as yours, except I'm doing a bench/storage seat under the driver side window. In a past Class B we enjoyed sitting there looking out through the open slider door.

I have my fridge up at the ceiling driven by a couple of things: 1) the gear garage extends into the Fridge cabinet to allow 8' long sailboards to be stored and 2) the microwave/convection oven has a door that opens downward, so the oven must be down low. Because of that, I can't take advantage of the extra space you got by fitting your fridge into the wall recess. I tried! But there is enough room for the fridge door to open fully, and both the fridge and oven will be very accessible. I'm also making mine modular so I can remove sections if needed.

For the batteries I originally planned undermount drop-in lithium batteries but ended up building up a lithium pack from bare cells, so I'm putting it in side in an electrical cabinet above the driver side wheel well. It is 24V 280Ah which is 5.6X a Battleborn, yet the entire pack with compression plates is only 15" W x 12" D x 10" H. The 15" dimension fits nicely in the 16" wheel well width of my dually, with the inverter and the rest of the electrical system alongside it.
 

Airtime

Active member
Jeez, my apologies. I just looked through your plans and have no idea where I got 25" for the galley. I thought it was weird because that's even bigger than kitchen cabinet bases which are pretty standard at 24". But I must have been hallucinating. :unsure:

BTW, I'm a retired SW engineer in the SF Bay area and used to windsurf every day after work during the windy season. I had a few camping trips at the gorge as well. I had an old orange VW bus all racked out with places for my boards, sails and everything else inside the van, and even had room for a bunk. CA License plate 4DWIND in case you ever saw a van like that. Who knows, once my conversion is done, I may even start sailing again. I still have all my gear. Outdated as hell now no doubt, but I always had a blast on it.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to watching this masterpiece of yours come to fruition. :cheers:
Thanks! We may have run into each other at some point, I was in the Gorge all the time. My first windsurfing rig was my Toyota pickup in the mid-80s, followed by a Ford E150 cargo van set up for inside gear storage and a platform bed above it. Then in the 90s I had a couple of Class Bs, an Okanagan B-190, and later an Airstream B-190. Great rigs, the bed over the cab made them pretty spacious. But it was a pain having gear up on top, especially loading up on a windy day after a long time on the water.

We spent most weekends plus a 2 week vacation each year roaming the Gorge and Oregon Coast for over 20 years. So we've got a good feel for what living in that space is like. Except now I want the gear inside :). The Sprinter 170 is 3' longer than the B190s were, so after subtracting a 6' platform bed our living space will be a net 3' shorter. I gain some space back because the B190 had separate toilet and shower, my Sprinter bath will be combined. And then our bench seat will be just 42" instead of the 72" bench/second bed we had.

Anyway, I'll post as I go. First extrusion package (Tnutz) arrived yesterday, another coming tomorrow. I don't think my build will be quite at the level of fit and finish of @gltrimble or some others I've seen. Mine will be a bit more functional/industrial. I tend to like exposed structure, so I think the extrusion framework will be pretty cool.
 

Airtime

Active member
Building has begun! I built up the two modules I ordered so far (sailboard garage and utility module). I have them placed in the van for trial fit but not bolted to it yet. I haven't done insulation etc at this point. I'll install my electrical and water system in the utility cabinet and try it out for a trip in that unfinished state. I'm making all the structure modular so it will be easy to take in and out. I ordered the extrusions from the cut list spit out by Solidworks, and everything fit perfectly as per the model.
IMG_0249.JPGLeft front view 8 Aug 2020.jpgRIght rear view 8 Aug 2020.jpg

I ordered the utility module first, and I was kind of in a hurry so I ordered it with tapped ends but not access holes specified. Also decided after the fact to beef up the top rails to 1020 so had to cut all the vertical members and re-tap the ends. For the sailboard cabinet, I got the 1020 top rail change in prior to ordering, and had both tapped ends and access holes machined, so I didn't have to do any rework on that module.

Assembly of the two frames, including all the rework on the utility module, took about a day. Everything fit perfectly. And I like the series 10, it is plenty stout and takes up less space.

Also very happy with Tnutz, thanks @OrioN for that tip. Both shipments were well packaged, no scuffs or dents. And I like the $0.50 per cut and per machining operation vs. the $1.95 that 80/20 charges. The downside vs. 80/20 is they are only set up to order the end access holes, not at arbitrary distances in the middle of an extrusion. But I did buy the 80/20 fixtures for access hole drilling and they are great, made that part trivially easy.

Thanks to all who have documented their builds using 80/20, especially @GeorgeRa, @Graphite Dave, and @OrioN. I've learned a lot from your threads and posts and it's fun to be applying it on my own build now.
 

Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
Be sure you thermally isolate the 80/20 from the van steel. Seems aluminum is a very good conductor!

Consider rotating the toilet 90 degrees. Probably too late for that. Much easier to use when you face the aisle and does not require as long a cabinet space.
 

Airtime

Active member
Be sure you thermally isolate the 80/20 from the van steel. Seems aluminum is a very good conductor!

Consider rotating the toilet 90 degrees. Probably too late for that. Much easier to use when you face the aisle and does not require as long a cabinet space.
Yes I do plan a thermal break, as I plan to make this a 4 season rig.

On the toilet, definitely not too late to change, I haven't built or cut anything there yet. I'll do the bath module last. I'm on the fence as to type of toilet. Leaning toward cassette for simplicity but want to leave the option open for plumbing for a macerating toilet and black tank in case I ever decided to add that it. To start with, I've got a Thetford Curve porta-potti which is very similar to a cassette toilet and has 4g fresh, 5.5g waste. If my wife and I decide we like it after we gain some experience with it, then I may do a permanent cassette toilet install so I can pull the cassette from outside.

Or may just stay with the porta-potti as it seems to have similar functionality at about 1/5 the cost, and only downside vs. cassette is that I would have to take the porta-potti outside and separate the cassette (wife won't want it separated inside). The extra overhead on the dumping task seems small. And it is very simple, no holes to cut, no plumbing to run, can orient whichever way I want.

On the shower dimensions, both my wife and I want to have the door closed when using the toilet, along with a decent vent fan. Both for privacy and for smell mitigation. A van is a small space as you know. Our Airstream B-190 had the toilet in the very back next to the shower, with a collapsing door blocking it from the forward living area. This was quite nice actually. Having it up front essentially in the kitchen area is less optimal but that's the tradeoff for having indoor gear storage and platform bed.
 

Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
Or may just stay with the porta-potti as it seems to have similar functionality at about 1/5 the cost, and only downside vs. cassette is that I would have to take the porta-potti outside and separate the cassette (wife won't want it separated inside). The extra overhead on the dumping task seems small. And it is very simple, no holes to cut, no plumbing to run, can orient whichever way I want.

On the shower dimensions, both my wife and I want to have the door closed when using the toilet, along with a decent vent fan. Both for privacy and for smell mitigation.
I had the portapotti oriented like your drawing in the Sprinter conversion. Since I was pressed for space in Transit I rotated the toilet 90 degrees in the Transit build. Found it to be much more usable. I do not have a door or shower curtain so that may have made it possible.

Interesting that the buyer of the Sprinter saw the toilet rotated 90 degrees and he changed the Sprinter toilet to match the Transit orientation.

Understand the composting toilets but do not see the benefits of the cassette configuration. Both the cassette and the portapotti require carrying the container to a dump location. Cassette has a exhaust fan but that could be added to a portapotti if desired. I have a smaller capacity portapotti so it is easy to carry the whole toilet outside for separating and cleaning. I do not mix #1 with #2 so that helps with the odor issue.
 

Airtime

Active member
I had the portapotti oriented like your drawing in the Sprinter conversion. Since I was pressed for space in Transit I rotated the toilet 90 degrees in the Transit build. Found it to be much more usable. I do not have a door or shower curtain so that may have made it possible.

Interesting that the buyer of the Sprinter saw the toilet rotated 90 degrees and he changed the Sprinter toilet to match the Transit orientation.

Understand the composting toilets but do not see the benefits of the cassette configuration. Both the cassette and the portapotti require carrying the container to a dump location. Cassette has a exhaust fan but that could be added to a portapotti if desired. I have a smaller capacity portapotti so it is easy to carry the whole toilet outside for separating and cleaning. I do not mix #1 with #2 so that helps with the odor issue.
I know there have been many threads on toilet selection. I'm not religious about it, there are pros and cons to all. I've had a lot of experience with black tanks. Dumping is not a fun chore but necessary. With the right chemicals odor is manageable. Large capacity and very low water usage means more time between unpleasant dumping chores.

For my use case, a traditional black tank won't work due to location of the toilet. If I want a black tank, then I would need a macerating toilet. Which I may or may not ultimately do, but I think they use a fair amount more water and I'd like to be more efficient. Plus the installation and maintenance complexity.

I haven't yet used a porta-potti or cassette. I'll be trying the porta-potti first because it is cheap and simple and similar enough to cassette so I can see how that works out before committing to a big hole in the side of the van.

As for cassette vs. porta-potti, the porta-potti wins on cost and on no installation required. The reasons the cassette is interesting for my use case:
1) Separation of black tank access from living space. Especially important for my wife. She's a very clean/sanitary oriented person. A cassette makes dumping an outside chore that never interrupts kitchen flow, and zero risk of any interior sanitary accident.
2) Better odor control due to exterior venting, according to many who have used them (and how would you vent a porta-potti anyway?)

BTW, how do you avoid mixing #1 and #2? Jugs for #1 and porta-potti for #2? What if both? Not interested in doing that, just want a toilet that takes it all and keeps it well separated from living space.
 

Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
BTW, how do you avoid mixing #1 and #2? Jugs for #1 and porta-potti for #2? What if both? Not interested in doing that, just want a toilet that takes it all and keeps it well separated from living space.
I use a "Quik" chocolate container for # 1. Much easier to use for a male and very easy to dump and clean. Not as easy for a woman but they do make special funnels for that purpose for women. Whether you or I could convince our wives that is a good idea is open to question. I usually travel alone.

I opted for the portapotti because I did not know where I would store a black tank discharge hose. I do not find cleaning the portapotti pleasant but not that objectionable. Dump it and then use a garden hose to clean it outside the van. About the same as dumping and cleaning a cassette. We just travel in the van and are not living in it full time. I would probably change to a composting toilet for # 2 if living in the van.

I would think a small fan located near bottom of the portapotti and discharging to the outside would eliminate any odors from a portapotti. Would require another opening to provide replacement air.

One portapotti requirement is to select one that has provision to be fixed to the floor with clips so it is stationary. I also installed mine so the portapotti is at the correct height.
 

Airtime

Active member
I decided to finally mount the solar panels I bought some months ago. I had bought Renogy 160D-SS 160W panels largely because of the form factor--they are 26" x 51.5" and so are the perfect length to direct mount on the rails, with no overhang and with a low profile. With these panels I can fit a total of four on my roof for 640W total, allowing for a Maxxair fan in the middle and a Lewmar skylight/access hatch in the back. BTW looks like the price has gone up since I bought them, they were $178 and now are $205.
https://www.amazon.com/Renogy-Watt-Monocrystalline-Solar-Panel/dp/B07MZKY9H5

I looked for some mounts for this form factor but then decided just to fabricate some using square tube and angle aluminum. It worked out very well. I used 1.25" square 6061-T6 tube, 1/8" thick, for the roof rail mounts. These are perfect width and height to match the roof rail and lift the panels to clear the roof. The panels rest on top of these blocks. Then I used 6061-T6 angle to mount the panels to the blocks. Some slotted holes (not visible here) allow some fine adjustment for the width of the panels. I can loosen the nuts for the rail sliders to reposition as needed. Here is one example:
IMG_1796.JPG

Total cost to mount the two panels was less than $80--about $40 for the aluminum, $30 for the rail sliders, and less than $10 for other hardware.

I have the front two panels temporarily mounted. Two more will go further back behind the Maxxair fan I have not yet installed. I have the front two pretty forward to start with. Once the Maxxair fan is in, I may slide them back a bit, also I plan to add an air dam on the front.
IMG_1793.JPGIMG_1794.JPGIMG_1792.JPG

Now I'll work on the back two panels, should go quick now that I've done it once. Then get my electrical system moved from my bench into the utility module so I can connect up the panels!
 

Airtime

Active member
With the two rear modules successfully built, I'm working on the Galley which is a bit more complex.

Here is the work in progress on the model. I have a preliminary design for the drawers, what is left is to incorporate the Accuride glides attached to the 8020 frame following GeorgeRa's model, and confirm 8020 and drawer dimensions before ordering cut and machined 8020 for the module, drawer boxes, and drawer fronts.

Galley 16 Sept 2020.jpg

The box in the back of the sink bay, overhanging the rear part of the step in the slider, is the Isotherm Slim Square water heater. I'll run the plumbing down into the step and under the van to the driver side where the water tank and shower are. Earlier I had the frame extending down into the step, but I've decided to extend the floor material and keep the Galley frame bottom flat and on top of the floor. I'll build something else to enclose the step area underneath.

For latches, I had seen Southco latches in several builds including @GeorgeRa's approach with the latch mating with an 8020 slot. But he used 15 series and I'm using 10 series. I was able to download the latch model into Solidworks and model how it could mate with series 10. The latch is the Southco M1-15-61-8. The drawing calls out a 0.2 inch nominal dimension when closed. I used 0.5" thick door material and added a 1mm thick cabinet door bumper. It fits perfectly. Later once I build the drawers and try it, I'll make a dimensioned drawing I can share if anyone is interested.

Southco latch closed.jpg

Southco latch open.jpg

I don't like "RV" sinks, I like deep sinks that can hold a frying pan. So I've decided to use a smaller version of the Ruvatti sink we have in our kitchen, the RVH7116. I plan to install it with a 1/4" reveal so that I can put a cutting board or piece of countertop material in it to have work surface when the sink is not in use. Using this faucet to go with it, I bought it and it seems solid.

Once I finish modeling this I'll order the frame, drawers and panels. Hopefully the 3D CAD will enable me to get it accurate and right on the first try. It's worked well so far on the simpler modules! In any case I'll post on the results when I build it.
 

RVBarry

Well-known member
using 10 series...
Later once I build the drawers and try it, I'll make a dimensioned drawing I can share if anyone is interested.
Yes, please!
 

Airtime

Active member
Well I broke down and ordered an expensive MOAB bed today from Adventure Wagon. It's so expensive that I feel I need to justify it :oops:

It is a well engineered solution with flexibility where I really do need it. I did also look at their full interior kit, but just not convinced on the value there for my use case. I think the modularity and all-over structural beef-up is great if you are a user that really is going to reconfigure your rig frequently. But I don't really need all that structural reinforcement and L-track in the mid and forward areas, just in the gear garage. I also looked at RB Components, Overland, and doing my own with Harbor Freight ATV ramps or 8020.

But in the end I'm not going to fabricate everything in my conversion myself, I'll pay for quality engineering and fabrication to accelerate my build where I can, and focus my efforts as much as possible on design enabled by 3D CAD--and getting the conversion done so I can use it.

Here's what I like about the MOAB bed:

1) Adjustable height in 1" increments.
This is the main driver. My Utility Module and Sailboard Module over the rear wheel wells are 32" in height. On trips where I'm not carrying much gear, just road tripping around the country, I can set the bed low for comfort and sit-up headroom. But then some of my trips will be carrying a big load of gear--windsurfing equipment, bikes, plus camping gear. For those trips, I can set the bed higher, say 42-48". I'll still have more headroom than I ever had in my Airstream B190, plus I gain a 10"+ full 6'x6' layer to put all kinds of gear, still with bikes down below.

2) Quick removal of panels. I can stack them above the Sailboard Module, along with the to-be-procured 3 piece mattress, and then have a hallway from front to back (when the bikes are out). And I think it's low enough force that my wife could also manage it--and she does want to be able to do it. We divide and conquer pretty well when making or breaking camp.

3) Vertical and horizontal L-Track with structural reinforcement in the gear garage area.
This is where I do need L-Track. With the MOAB kit and optional extra gear rails, I'll have reinforced full height vertical L-track plus the horizontal L-track underneath the bed rails. I don't really need it in the forward areas, that will be my self-contained RV living area and won't change much.

4) I'll admit it, I just like the design and engineering.
I like the Black Hex material and the look and light weight of the panels and rails. I like the reinforcement under the L-track. I want my conversion to have an overall well-designed and somewhat industrial aspect, and I think the bed fits that aesthetic.
 

Airtime

Active member
Back to the galley design. Made some changes, also learning how to do rendering in Solidworks. Here's the latest, rendered. I need to play with the lighting a bit more. Also I just noticed that the Southco latch in the top right drawer has the ring rotated backwards. Must have happened when I was pulling drawers in and out, I'll have to check the rotation limits on that part.

EDIT: Just noticed that my extrusion joints are all messed up (thanks @OrioN!) , I had made some changes and thought I had done all the Trim/Extends. Definitely have to clean that up!
Galley high res preview 19 Sep 2020.JPG

My objective is to finish it and send out the 8020, drawer boxes, and machined HDPE drawer fronts and doors for fabrication. I've done the following:
- tweaked the drawer fronts a bit to get some reasonable clearances
- added a flip-out drawer in front of the sink plus some doors
- added another 1050 extrusion between the flip-out drawer and the doors to provide a visual break and to have something for the door latches to latch to
- rotated the sink 90 degrees to get some room for the flip-out drawer
 
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Airtime

Active member
I did a quick cleanup of my frame, the joints had gotten messed up. Here's what I'm thinking on actual joint configuration. I ran an interference analysis and it's all clean now. Any inputs from 8020 experts on the frame would be great.

Galley frame 19 Sept 2020.jpg
 

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