19' 144 4x4 Front Yard Build

klif01

Member
Well, after a year of discussing this with my wife, we sold the Tacoma and bought a van. I thought I would create a thread to house the progress mostly for me to look back on but also because I'm not going to name the van/make an Instagram or youtube page.

Purchased the van end of July 2020 mid pandemic and it was delivered August 6th!! We had it shipped from a dealer across the country (to take advantage of 0% financing on the 19's) and this was one of the last 19's with the options I deemed necessary (swivel seats, led lighting package). It came with cloth seats which we will probably convert to a/m leather eventually but for now they serve the purpose.

This is our first new vehicle purchase and we ended up at $55,805 out the door.
The van, a 19' cargo high roof has windows behind both seats, premium plus package, driver convenience, exterior lighting, 4x4, comfort plus, swivel seats, and the parking package.

My wife got to drive it first when the semi dropped it off because I was in a walking boot. (High ankle sprain from mountain biking 3 days prior). She's still questioning this purchase decision at this point and probably questioning my decision to post these pictures.IMG-3941.jpgIMG-3942.jpg

Just another 144.

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We had family living with us at the time in between their move so I got some fantastic niece time "helping" me add some sound deadening.

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klif01

Member
The build is pretty par for the course but exciting for me as a first time van build. I've got prior experience building some rock crawlers (custom designed 4 link suspension on my 85' 4runner and backyard fab) so I like to get my hands dirty and learn as I go.

This will be used mostly as a weekend warrior home base with the occasional longer trip. We backcountry ski, bike, climb, and paddleboard so this van will have a fixed platform bed, garage space with slide outs for the bikes, and space for everything.

Espar heater to keep us warm in the winter while ski camping.
Maxxair fan
85-130~ fridge
1-200AH lithium batteries
200w solar
BTB charger
no shore power
built-in cooktop - haven't decided between gas and induction yet, plan to use the van for a bit and see how it works for us.
sink - undecided on water storage size
decent window coverings - we love to sleep in and we want to keep the temperature reasonable in the van for our dog.
temperature monitor - blink camera and my work mifi for temperature alerts IF we decide to leave the dog behind. Most of the time she joins us on the adventure.
 

klif01

Member
My brother in law bought the truck from me and moved across the country. Since my wife went with them to help with the move that gave me a lot of time to work on the guts of this van and test it out for a weekend camping trip with the dog.

I used some firing strips on the floor with closed-cell foam filling the ribs. On top of that some foamular before the 1/2" plywood. IMG-4170.jpgIMG-4171.jpg

We had a great first couple of nights in the van and I got back on the bike (albeit probably a little too soon).
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Dog approves.
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klif01

Member
Since the van showed up I feel like I'm single-handedly propping amazon stock prices up with daily deliveries. Got the solar, one battleborn 100ah battery (will use it for a while to see how our needs are and add a second if necessary). Testing solar at night doesn't really work in case you're wondering.
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So, I'm not a woodworker, don't have a table saw, and I'm not perfect but hey it's turning out good so far. Lost of test fitting, measuring with bikes, and now I know a lot more of my neighbors who are stopping by to see what the hell I'm doing every day after work in my front yard. Here are a couple of photos of the pre-wiring for lights, fan etc. before the insulation and ceiling goes up. The fan will be over the front at the request of my wife, light sleeper and we plan to do a lot of winter cooking in this thing. I'm using marine wire for all the pre-wiring and my electrical system will be housed on the drivers side wheel well. 62001097088--3FC665D0-79B4-4F36-AA42-BD79F2521365.JPGIMG-4315.jpg
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The dog still approves.
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klif01

Member
After finishing a rough bedframe, not fully attached but holds human weight it was time to take the van for a long weekend of camping biking and fishing. We went up to the Steamboat, CO area and my wife got to spend a few nights in the van. She's coming around now!

Dog approves of the bed. It's attached to the side with plus nuts and a plywood structure. We first went with a 6" memory foam mattress and found it just a little too thin for our liking so we bumped up to an 8" mattress which is our sweet spot. We can barely sit up in bed but still have room for the eventual flooring/slide outs with bikes mounted.
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It sure is nice to not even need a campsite with the van, just a decent pull-off when you show up late at night on a holiday weekend to a popular dispersed camping area.
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But sometimes you get lucky with a much better spot the next night right along the elk river.
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After this trip I got my roof rack. Front range outfitters. I had to get some help from the neighbors to get this thing up there but quickly after I could get my solar installed. My 100w Renogy panels fit perfectly and the bolt holes align to where I can bolt it directly to the rack crossbars for a slim profile. Getting to the bolts is a pain in the ass but doable (besides they shouldn't need to come off very often). For now, I just have some kilmat between the solar and the bars for rattle reduction but need to get a more permanent rubber gasket of some sort. At the same time I also added the penetration for the solar wiring, first holes in the roof!!!
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klif01

Member
Can you tell it's been a busy couple of months? Haven't spent much time with friends due to quarantine so this has been a nice project to work on!!

Now for the electrical. I wired up the B2B and used the open 80a fuse slot on the bus bar under the drivers seat, then also tapped into the ignition powered EK1 to turn the charger on. Not shown in the pictures is a separate 50a breaker between the battery and the charge (40a renogy dc-dc).
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I'm no expert so I used a lot of online resources. Personally I found faroutride.com to be the most helpful and have mirrored a lot of their build. For now I only have the one battery but have room for two of these on the wheel well if I move the dc-dc. Time will tell what we need especially once we decide on a fridge and what type of cooking we're going to be doing - induction vs propane.

It's probably hard to see but I used a victron 100/30 solar controller.IMG-4429.jpgIMG-4430.jpg
Most everything installed, lights work and my pre-wiring works.

Also, insulation FYI is 3m Thinsulate with reflectix acting as my thermal break over panels.
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klif01

Member
We almost went out for another weekend but instead had a really productive weekend working in the yard. With impending cold weather, I wanted to get the espar installed and also got to knock out the fan. Not shown, I got some help from my wife, she installed her first of many plus nuts and got the rest of the reflectix installed. Now the inside of the van feels like a space ship. IMG-0600.JPEG
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I also started testing some options for ceiling material. Turns out the cedar tongue and groove planking doesn't look that great. IMG-4450.jpg
 

klif01

Member
The dog still approves, and now we're packing up for another weekend in the van to test out that fan and heater!!IMG-4473.jpg
We went out to the Crested Butte area of Colorado (along with what felt like all of Texas) to get some biking and leaf-peeping in. IMG-4478.jpg
My wife got back on her bike after also suffering from a crash this summer (stitches, tooth knocked loose etc.) I'm glad she did because the 401 was pretty epic. Also got on doctor park (not pictured)

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VanGoSki

Well-known member
Nice pics! Congrats on the new van.

What kind of wire are you using with that white jacket? It looks almost like Romex, which would work but overkill for low voltage circuits.
 

klif01

Member
This week I picked up some window covers from https://www.vanessential.com/ since he's local to colorado. Super nice guy and I would highly recommend for the price compared to other options available. They have a good fit (except for the drivers rear, it's a little short but shouldn't be an issue once we have cabinets in to hold the bottom against the window). I've also added a couple finishing boards to the front of the bed/back door and started the ceiling. I decided to go with 1/2" birch plywood on the ceiling with a tung oil finish to provide me with some mounting points and rigidity for lights etc. Installed with plus nuts throughout the roof railing. We may paint the ceiling some day if there is too much wood in the thing but for now it's a cozy contrast.

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klif01

Member
So here we are, 62 days later and a few things have changed (besides my baby oak tree starting to change for fall).

$7,200 and some change in the van so far, not including itemizing all the home depot trips/plywood, screws, other materials etc. yet. Next up is to decide on a fridge so I can finalize my layout and install the floor.

Done so far:
  • Espar
  • Maxxair fain
  • 200w solar/1 lithium battery
  • front runner roof rack
  • tinted windows
  • subfloor
  • bed frame
  • 3m insulation and reflectix thermal break
  • garmin mini dash cam hardwired
  • speaker upgrade (unplug tweeter)
  • trailer hitch
  • ceiling lights
  • garage light (two more to come)
  • van essential window covers
  • pre-wiring for fridge, and gimbal fan
  • some oak trim, finished with tung oil
  • partial ceiling

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klif01

Member
Nice pics! Congrats on the new van.

What kind of wire are you using with that white jacket? It looks almost like Romex, which would work but overkill for low voltage circuits.
Likely overkill but I don't want to re-do anything. Depending on the circuit it's 12 or 14 gauge marine wire - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B082VHJKWJ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s02?ie=UTF8&psc=1 each connection is crimped and heatshrink terminals and I've added corrugated wire loom to areas with sharp edges or potential for rubbing.
 

klif01

Member
Got another ceiling panel done, added a carbon monoxide/smoke detector, and started working on a bike rack on slides outs that showed up this week. I have another pair of these 550lb Ryadon slides for a drawer in the remaining space to help with garage access. I will build that drawer once we get the floors installed.

I'm curious for anyone reading what you did with insurance. When I bought it we just insured it as a passenger vehicle but now I'm looking at classifying it as an RV in Colorado to insure it as an RV or at least get the best rate we can while also covering everything. I have nothing to hide from the company, just don't want to end up in a "gotcha" situation where there is a customization limit or something that causes a loss to not be covered. Not sure if I actually have to register it as an RV but want to insure it correctly. Being a home build there is no one to subrogate against if the customization causes a loss. My broker's example was if a cabinet falls off due to my poor install and causes me to crash, or if I don't wire the solar correctly and burn the vehicle to the ground, just more risk for a company to take on.
 

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RVBarry

Well-known member
Hi, some insurance companies will allow you to add a fixed value for extra insurance.
Make sure you keep all your receipts and serial numbers in case you ever have to file a claim.

Whether you can register it as an RV will depend on state law.
Insurance varies amongst each carrier. You may want to get some quotes first to see if there's any benefit.

My limited understanding is that if a carrier agrees to provide insurance, they are liable for accidents. But they can still drop you afterwards for future coverage if they feel like it.
The only possible exceptions I can think of would be if you commit fraud (lie), or possibly if you were using the vehicle for criminal enterprise.
 

RVBarry

Well-known member
BTW, reading the full policy for any exceptions and limitations is the best way to be sure. With your lawyer if needed.
Especially watch out for any language about vehicle modifications or cargo.
 

klif01

Member
Sorry for the instagram story photos, that's the only place I've captured the progress recently. tim109 is the handle there if you would like to follow along.

My fridge, Isotherm Cruise 85 elegance, showed up, works great, and I finished a headliner shelf. I'm really happy with how the carpeting turned out on the shelf as I've never attached a carpet/felt to anything before. I'm indifferent about the shelf functionality so far though. I love some extra storage for the window covers, first aid kit etc. but I have hit my head every.damn.time I walk up front in the fan. It's going to take some getting used to.

I've got some cabinets on order so those will be the next project getting the fridge secured and setting up the water and cooking system on the other side of the van!

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lindenengineering

Well-known member
Got another ceiling panel done, added a carbon monoxide/smoke detector, and started working on a bike rack on slides outs that showed up this week. I have another pair of these 550lb Ryadon slides for a drawer in the remaining space to help with garage access. I will build that drawer once we get the floors installed.

I'm curious for anyone reading what you did with insurance. When I bought it we just insured it as a passenger vehicle but now I'm looking at classifying it as an RV in Colorado to insure it as an RV or at least get the best rate we can while also covering everything. I have nothing to hide from the company, just don't want to end up in a "gotcha" situation where there is a customization limit or something that causes a loss to not be covered. Not sure if I actually have to register it as an RV but want to insure it correctly. Being a home build there is no one to subrogate against if the customization causes a loss. My broker's example was if a cabinet falls off due to my poor install and causes me to crash, or if I don't wire the solar correctly and burn the vehicle to the ground, just more risk for a company to take on.
You have raised some very important questions within this above post.
In short the "What IF"?
Having purchased a few crashed Sprinter write off's for parts salvage, two wrecked units in particular I acquired at auction at Clodie (now Manhheim on Sta Fe" Drive) both seemingly survived the frontal collision impact survival space cell deformation, but the DIY build out went crashing forward in one unit, and judging by the "BioHazard" of human tissue adhering to the interior I concluded it was a "fatal".

I appear to be the only contributor to doggedly mention the risk against what appears in most cases to be some fine efforts to build a nice interior in a van worthy of comment or posting on this forum.

Only yesterday we were presented with a 2017 Sprinter for Webasto install. Sited in the cabinetry at floor level I noticed only three 6mm bolts attached the plywood structure via nutserts placed into roof stick uprights at floor level thus attaching it to the side structure ! I had to ask myself would just those three bolts hold a cabinet with "stuff" inside & stay put in a 40 mpg frontal collision ?

Yes I know its a topic that no-one wants to address nor think upon the chance of such a possibility by some of us in the business. Basically Dennis acting/posting as the killjoy . But it needs to be stated!
It often passes through my observations (Collison resistance integrity) as I/We go about fixing private vans and well known RV professional build out RV's.
All the best & nice build out effort.
Cheers Dennis

 

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