Going to make a long discussion pretty short and just say “holy crap I bought a camper van!”. I’ve been wanting to this for a while and a lot of research, internet surfing, and noodling has led me to a 2014 RAM Promaster 159″ wheelbase extended with the 4 banger turbo diesel.
I bought the van in Pittsburgh and immediately went on a 2 week adventure to get it back to Denver, followed by a trip to Moab. I borrowed an air mattress, couple of chairs, a table, propane heater, and an LED lantern from WalMart but otherwise used my backpacking gear. Stayed in a couple of parking lots, a WalMart, and a couple of cool campgrounds. Great success, but learned a few things:
1) Insulation is key. The bare metal van is f’in cooold
2) No one gives a damn about this van, it’s perfect for stealth camping. Going to have to keep that profile
3) It drives WAY better than I expected and 23mpg combined on my bigass road trip back to Denver. 26-27mph @ 55mph 21 or so @ 80mph.
Now that it’s in Denver, it’s time to start modifying and getting it all campered out. I’ll be following the footsteps of very many van builders and using their blogs and sites to help me get this done. Especially Traipsing About and Vanderlust. I’ll be using Vanderlust as my main inspiration for the layout, and taking some ideas for bike storage and otherwise from Traipsing About. I also have a friend, Tom Doran, that runs FreedomVans that has helped me a lot with the solar setup.
The main goals for this camper van is to:
1) Have a super comfy bed (queen size) to sleep compfortably on the road
2) Carry 2-4 bikes inside, security and cleanliness
3) Have sort of a kitchen. Need to heat up water, meals, and have a fridge
4) Be off the grid. I want solar power. I want to be able to camp wherever and not have to worry. I don’t like RV parks that much
5) Be stealth. As I said above, I want to camp anywhere. Trailheads, gravel roads, amazing sites, wal mart lots, hotel parking lots.
So far I’ve purchased the solar panels, batteries, electrical system, wiring, pastidip, and slider for the bike mount. After the solar is installed and the electrical is mocked up, it’s going into Colorado Camper Vans to get the insulation, interior panels, and bed platform made. I was thinking of doing all this work myself, but these guys are going to do it super fast and at a very good price. It will also be done in 2 weeks vs the 2 months that it would have taken me working on it at night after work. The day it comes back (Xmas Day), I get to hook the solar/batteries up to the lights, install the bike slider, and I’m leaving for Sedona, AZ for a 10 day adventure.
As a reference, here are a couple of planned pics of the interior. The main highlights are:
1) Queen size bed with bike storage below
2) 58″ couch with electrical underneath and a table for working and eating
3) 20 gallon water tank that feeds the kitchen, with sink and fridge
4) Lots of storage next to the bikes and a full wardrobe next to the bed
The “To Do” items for the next few weeks are
1) Lowering the rear of the van and extra support spring removal
2) Build version 1 of the bench seat and mock up the batteries and electrical to make sure everything gets installed properly by CCV
3) Plasti Dip the wheels and debadge the logos. Will look a whole lot better with that
4) Build the sliding bike rack. I can build the whole thing in the garage without the van and just install into van once I get it back