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Minivan camper build


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1 hour ago, crockett said:

I have this new car buying desire again, for a while now, but couldn't make up my mind. Another sports car makes no sense, you can't go fast anywhere anymore. A new fat truck makes not much sense, because I don't trailer much. On top of that, an open bed makes less and less sense in my book, because you can't keep anything in it. It gets rained on or stolen. A sedan is just a useless people mover. A large SUV offers less cargo room than a minivan.

Chances are I will sell my pickup later this year, and get a Sprinter cargo van. They come with V6 diesel, 4WD, and still can tow 7500 lb.

And I might turn it into a camper / multipurpose / bug-out / off-road vehicle.

Did a first build on their website:

2021 Sprinter Cargo Van
170" Wheelbase High Roof
6 Cylinder Diesel

Total: $61,596

Driver’s side front corner view of a Grey White SPRINTER Cargo Van


Would lift it, better tires, LED lights, winch.. along those lines...



I’ve driven a van much like the sprinter, lifting it is a good idea.  You can ground one quick if you’re not careful.  

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400 watt. This is so exciting! Fully autonomous system. Will never need shore power or run the engine for my power needs.

Will definitely build my own solar array and Lithium battery bank for my next house, be off the power grid entirely and not pay a dime on power bills.




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Here is a pic of my caravan. I added white vinyl to every window except the front. This looks kinda goofy, but I love it. It gives me privacy in the back, and it keeps out the heat. 

I also included my two vicious attack dogs. 19 lbs for the big one and 11 lbs for the fluffy one. They alert me to any threats and give me enough time to wake up.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Getting close to be done. Here an update:

The wires for the rear of the car used to go through the rear seat cubby. So I split them up and rerouted all to the sides.









Then it was time to make the "composting" toilet. No 1 and 2 gets separated by a so called urine divider. This is a new "technology" in the RV community.

No 1 goes into a small tank, which I can empty with an electric valve and the push on a switch in the center console. Hence when the rear of the van is parked on some public land.

I used 6 inch piping with endcaps. Testing the seals with water here:





I also bought a miter saw, and built the toilet base that will house the urine tank, the composting canister, the electric valve and a fan that vents any smell outside the vehicle.






Installed in the rear:



Vent and drain under the rear bumper:





Time for the bed frame with slide-out. Couch at day time, twin bed with extra length at night.











Only 3 jobs remaining: sewing boxed cushions / 2 piece mattress, building 3 drawers under the bed for dry food items / clothing / kitchen utensils, and gluing the vinyl flooring in. Should be done within 1 to 2 weeks.

In the rear - also under the bed - is room for beach gear (small / folding camping chair, small camping table, beach umbrella), a small tool box, jumper cables, 12 v tire pump, propane for a small backup stove, etc.

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Another update.

Got my new industrial sewing machine setup and dialed in for the foam mattress / sofa covers. These things don't compare to your average household sewing machines. Nothing is automated, you really need to learn the machine and maintain it every day you use it, They come with an oil pan much like a gas engine in a car.

Will place an order for the fabrics and tread tomorrow, so that will take another week at least. Will go with something summery like the sample in the photo. Camper van needs a splash of happy color inside.

Only an idiot buys a 2000 dollar sewing machine so he can make his own camper conversion foam covers. Well, and I do.






High density foam arrived today. Will need a hot-knife for a clean cut. Got 2 pieces altogether.





As I mentioned earlier in this thread, I installed 2 pressurizing fans in the cabin exhaust vents, in the rear of the vehicle, hidden behind the sides of the rear bumper. They pump cooler air into the cabin and the hot air gets pushed out of the front windows which will be cracked open by half an inch, hidden under the wind deflectors.

I routed one of those fans up into a rear side cubby, with a vent that aims the cool air right into my face when I'm sleeping. I tried this last night for a few hours and was able to sleep comfortably.

Here the fan visible behind the flange for the duct:





Duct and vent installed:




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6 minutes ago, Swampfox762 said:

Do they lock in place, or are ya gonna need some kind of a latch to keep em from comin out when ya make a turn??


They are soft-close and they lock into place. I'll have to find out if the resistance to open them is enough for driving around with full drawers. If not, I'll add some magnets in the back.

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2 minutes ago, crockett said:


They are soft-close and they lock into place. I'll have to find out if the resistance to open them is enough for driving around with full drawers. If not, I'll add some magnets in the back.

Magnets...That's a Great Idea.  You can sure tell I was a Lineman.  I never would have thought of that.:greensupergrin:

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2 hours ago, Swampfox762 said:

Magnets...That's a Great Idea.  You can sure tell I was a Lineman.  I never would have thought of that.:greensupergrin:

Using magnets for drawers is a "new" thing I believe, ever since rare earth magnets became mainstream. Even a small one can pinch your finger badly.

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1 minute ago, Swampfox762 said:

Awesome! Did ya do magnets or haven't checked the "turning a corner" yet? Really nice man.

That will have to wait until I'm all done and did my first weekend trip. One more week of work:


30    - fix slide out frame
30    - order alarm system
90    - paint drawers and rear frame 3 times
15    - seal toilet seat

60    - sand all flooring
120    - cut and glue in vinyl sheeting

120    - cut and install molding
60    - design and install table leg

15    - cut mattress
180    - sew covers

240    - install Alarm / kill switch


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