Below the fridge I left a compartment for a step I designed that ride on a pair of slide rails in the air and then automatically lowers when I raise the step and vice-versa. Don't mind the guy in the clip
Next came the refrigerator area. The refrigerator is a 12v compressor, 80 liter from Thetford and doesn't need any vent grill to the outside of the van. The cabinet is a simple one with a compartment below for the step that serves the bed, 2 side compartments for groceries and stuff on top and shoes on the bottom. I like to have a fixed space for everything . On top of the fridge I used the rest of the IKEA table and created 2 shelves where we can charge our electronic equipment, among other things.
Finally the wardrobe. Due to the width the door which couldn't open completely because of the space available between it and the bed, I initially planned a double door cut in half vertically with a long piano hinge but then, when I looked at the space available, I only lacked a few cm so, I designed and built a special hinge that would compensate the space by changing the pivoting position. On the short clip, the pivoting side of the door can be seen retracting as it opens and so, the door doesn't collide with the bed structure. The cooking hood, which I built myself has the fan motor on the top shelf and the exhaust pipe goes to the bottom of the van.
Naturally there were a lot of "in between" jobs with all kinds of challenges but all of them got done the best way I could.
Everything here was all done by myself alone every step of the way. Everybody I know say that I should do this for a living but, as many "crazy" guys like me, I did all this to show myself and eventually others that I could.
I personally think that anyone can do something like this. All you need is patience and persistence.
Looking back, if I had to do it all over again, few or no changes would be made. I would have a very hard time sourcing many of "once in a lifetime find" materials.
To (almost) finish the inside, a few photos of the upper cabinets. The structure out of aluminium with the plywood doors I made.
I tried to orient the grain of the wood vertically on the main panels and horizontally on the doors carefully planning before cutting the boards.
Those upper cabinets are bolted directly to the van's roof trusses and side chassis with those revit nuts I crimped all over the build.
One of the most difficult jobs, other than the shower base, was finishing all the trims. The van has many odd shapes and took some thinking to solve. A small laser cutter helped a lot making stencils for the small router and also other stuff like this spice rack I made from perspex recycled from LCD TV's The cooking hood made from some aluminium profile I found at my work place and a standard filter and some acrylic laser cut pieces. The motor as I mentioned earlier is on the next cabinet. Another bamboo cutting board from IKEA made the fold out counter/heat shield and a tempered glass shelf added a little protection to the backsplash.
Final finishes on the inside with the vinyl "click" floor on a vinyl/cork subfloor. Front/rear cabin trim. CNC cut tempered glass adjustable/extending table. I found some neat drawer handles with push button but I was unable to get the correct locks so, I made my own.
The two previous campervans I had, an old 1979 Hymer and a 1999 Pösll that I had bought very used, had only a 50 liter fresh water and waste tank with absolutely no room for improvement. The Hymer didn't even have a cassette toilet, just and old Fiamma portapotti so, this time I wanted to go big and decided to go for 200 liter fresh and waste capacity. Actually with an extra 45 liter hot water tank but I'll come back to that later.
Another thing about the old campers was the way the waste tank was attached to the underside with some strip galvanized conduit strap that risked dropping the tank due to salt corrosion. Fresh water tank was on the inside under one of the seats.
This had to be improved so, I built 2 sleds with strong stainless straps for the 2 gray water tanks, one 90 liter the other 110 liter and found room for an insulated 45 liter hot water tank between the axle and spare tyre.
Since the van was in the air, I also mounted my custom made automatic step. By now you should already know that I only buy what I can't build
The step rides on some nylon guides and I designed 2 special geared arms that I had water jet cut. This is driven by a crank mechanism by a 24v truck wiper motor that I rewound for 12v. The motor doesn't yet appear in the short clip. The step opens automatically with the door.
The 200 liter fresh water tank went into the garage "that was supposed to fit the bicycles as well " so, I started to insulate and finish it. The spare tyre tool box lost its original position under the passenger seat so, I made a little niche to accommodate it.
I wanted to avoid service openings on the side of the van for the power socket, water inlet, toilet cassette and more. Since you already have to store the hose used to fill the tank, I decided that this should be permanently connected to the tank.
I took a fire hose rotary connection and a MIG welding wire spool and built myself a retractable filling hose. Speaking of hoses. I don't like the hose and hose clamp method in regular campervan water system so, the only hose and clamp I used was here . The cassette is also on the inside but, on my Pössl, the gases from the vent valve would go into the van so, I removed the back part of an electrical cabinet to use the sealed door to prevent this. I also and made a vent hole to the underside of the van. Little spaces on the back doors were made to store accessories and stuff.
I was not prepared to shell the 1500€ plus they were asking for a Truma gas space/water heater so, I bought a Chinese diesel parking heater which will be mounted on the underside and decided to go solar/electric for the water. This is a whole new post so it will have to wait.
Like I mentioned earlier, I don't like the hose/clamp solution used in campervan water installations so, I used PEX with compression fittings in my plumbing. I run a pressurized system so my faucets are regular home use ones with ceramic cartridges and hot/cold water.
Like I mentioned before, my water system is always under pressure. The insulated hot water tank with 45 liter capacity is mounted under the van is interconnected with the 200 liter tank in the garage. As the hot water is used, it is replaced by gravity from the tank above.
2 membrane pumps maintain the pressure in 2 small pressure reservoirs controlled by 2 electronic pressure transducers These allow me to set any desired pressure on the system. Initially I mounted the hot water pump next to the cold one but this is a high speed motor and the noise was terrible so I moved it to the outside mounted on a rubber sheet that dampens the vibration. The orange pump is the cold water one (had to use a hose and clamps because of the fitting that came with the pump but there is no pressure there so it shouldn't be an issue. On the hot water tank a 12v submerged heater is installed that only runs when the battery is full or when the van is driving. This is usually deactivated because the solar thermal heater works very well. There is a third re-circulation pump that takes the water to the panel to be heated. This is controlled by the system and waits for 2 hours after sun up to start testing for temperature. It measures the return water temperature and if higher than the tank it will carry on otherwise it stops. Usually by 15h00 the water is above 40ºC and at 45ºC the pump stops. In the following morning it's still above 30ºC
On the back of the bathroom wall I installed the water management system. 1- cold water pressure vessel, 2- hot water pressure vessel, 3- rear PLC control box, 4- automatic thermostatic shower mixer, 5- external shower solenoid valve, 6- internal shower solenoid valve, 7- electronic pressure transducers and 8- external shower quick disconnect. The shower water is push button controlled.
The electric system also differs from the "conventional" seen in regular builds. The skylights were placed with space in between to accommodate a +/- 2000x1000 mm 450 W 144 half cell Mono Solar Panel. This panel delivers a maximum of 40.9 V @ 11 A. To take full advantage of this panel, a 40 A MPPT solar regulator was installed that can charge the 12V batteries at a maximum of 35 A.
Since I had almost 2 square meters of panel space, I thought it would be interesting to harvest the sun’s heat on that massive panel. The idea was to glue two PVC “corrugated cardboard” style panels. These panels would be sealed on the edges and a slot opened with the router would allow to direct water through the panel and heat it up. It would be a Hybrid Solar Panel. Gluing PVC to the EVA plastic material is very difficult but I found a special spray glue that is not available to the public but I was able to acquire.
I built the panel and put it to the test and was very satisfied with the result. A tank with around 40 litres of water with a small circulating pump on a sunny Saturday between 10H00 and 12H00 raised the water from tap cold to 38ºC. With a valid experiment I reinforced the inside of the panel with some wood strips to protect from vibrations and made a structure to receive the panel.
Two square meters of panel on the roof driving at 100 Kph might generate a serious force so, some serious measures were taken. Some SS plates were bolted with rivet nuts to the roof end some aluminium supports added. Cables and pipes were routed to the roof and the panel was connected.
I work at a big recycling company as a electrical maintenance engineer in automation control and my hobby is kind of an extension of my day job so, what good is your skills and knowledge for if you don't apply it.
My electrical system is controlled by 2 simple Siemens Logo smart relays with a display panel that are networked and connected to a 4G router. Everything is controlled by these 2 simple PLC's (Programmable Logic Controllers). In addition I made some laser cut panels to install various instruments to monitor the systems. I have a 230V powered battery charger that I can connect to "shore" power mainly to keep the van's battery topped up during long periods of inactivity. The camper batteries can be completely switched off with a main switch to prevent slow discharge but it's not wise to do the same with the van battery. There is risk of resetting the van's computers. The "control zone" is mounted on the trim panel above the sliding door and include the battery charger control which includes the step monitor and external power cable connected (an alarm is sounded if I start the van with this cable connected even without power or the step in the out position), solar regulator remote display, AC and DC power monitors and the PLC display. There is a whole lot of wires to connect all these systems.