Sorry if this is really dumb but I'm thinking about converting an E350 RB into a basic, simple camper but don't know a thing about it. Are there books or websites that explain the process and all the do's and don'ts?
Naaah... seriously, you have to consider what you want in your rig.
- Pop-Top roof by Sportsmobile
- 3rd seat behind driver for the Little Man
- big window beside said seat
- dinette converts to bed at rear of van
- windows each side of dinette
- bit 'o cabinetry between 3rd seat and dinette
- bit 'o cabinetry across from aforementioned cabinetry
Gotta have a 12v system - isolator, charger gizmos and breaker gizmos and wiring stuff and battery, etc - I know nuthin' about it... but I'd want a 12v/110v refrigerator in one of the cabinets and it's gotta have power... not to mention a few lights, etc.
Refrigerator, 12v / 110v
Air Conditioner, either a window unit or portable
Now I need my wiring to encompass integration of 110v shore power
simple water system - 10 gallons fresh, 10 gallons gray with pump (probably a manual pump at faucet)
No propane - heat with ceramic heater, dont need a cooktop for our use but somebody else might cook outside on a Coleman and no water heater (but if we wanted hot water we would go with fast recovery electric).
It all starts with a van, roof modification, install windows, install rough in wiring and plumbing, install base floor, etc.
I have honestly considered buying an old 70's Toyota Chinook and putting the camper on my '89 Toyoya xtracab v6, dimensions permitting.... but common sense always prevails and that's one project that has never gotten off the ground.
I suspect there's some folks in big RV's who would consider a full-house, all-options Roadtrek a "basic, simple camper" . You've got some good advice and references in the posts above.
I've given the DIY idea a lot of thought, a few times. My take? Think about what you want to do in / around the camper, in what environment, with how many people (probably not totally plan-able, esp. if this is your 1st, but try). Boondocking? State / federal CG's? Full hook-up CG's only? Extended travel? What DIY skills & equipment you have, and what budget, will be part of the picture, too.
Then think about what amenities you consider 'necessary' for this ... standing room, A/C, heat, toilet, cooking, shower, etc. With a 350 chassis, you can pretty much have it all if you want it. But each added amenity will require support systems, which may permit more amenities.... As a for instance, a kitchen sink requires some kind of pump and supply tank, and a gray water tank and dump plumbing; but now you've got the systems to support a cold-water shower, too, if you locate the gray tank correctly for shared drains.
I think most of us agree that standing room is the first priority on the list, tho' home-builts sometimes get by without. Adding the top later may take extra work. Decide if you want a pop-top or a hard top.. pop top is great for CG's and will fit into many garages, but may present sound / heat problems overnighting in a rest area or parking lot.
Visit the SMB, PW, and RT web sites to see what's possible, and how the pros do it. Then go to a dealer, or find a B on a used car lot, to really soak it up... take lots of pictures. Just remember that each 'feature' that you see has hidden plumbing, wiring, or both associated with it.
Stop by your local 'big RV dealer', and ask for a copy of their supply catalog; should be about 600 pgs. of all RV stuff, and will give you a wonderful perspective on what's available. Between just that catalog and Home Depot, you could build a very nice B.
And there's not a thing wrong with the 'evolve-it-as-you-go' approach either. Start with a foam pad, a sleeping bag, an ice chest, a lawn chair, and a few cardboard boxes... I once upon a time spent a fair number of happy nights in a shell on a Toyota 4x4 pickup that way... even had a (candle) chandelier . You've got a lot more room and possibilities.
Jim, "Instant human... just add coffee, and shake violently!"
'06 Tiger CX 'C Minus' on a Silverado 2500HD 4x4, 8.1 & Allison (aka 'Loafer's Glory')
I started with a 1994 Dodge low top van, which had an "electric" bed in back--which was a good king sized bunk. I cut a hole in the roof and installed a "Fantastic Fan". Next a porti potty, with bungi to hold it down. I already had a Norcold 100 lb capacity chest freezer/refigerator. I put in a cabinate from Lowes, two doors and two drawers, simple flat wood/laminate top. Put in a sink, and 6 gallon jerry can for fresh water, with a hand pump and a 6 gallon plastic can for Grey Water. Put in a microwave, and hot plate. 1500 Watt Inverter with a 130 amp hour AGM battery for 110 Volts when on the road. Finished it off with a flat pannel LCD TV. I used it for a year--and decided I had to have standing head room--so for $7500 found a used Road Trek which was fairly easy to fix up and I am much happier. The lack of head room was the major issue!
Bob and Marie Austin
Angel miniature poodle
2007 Holiday Rambler Ambassador 40 PDQ
Toad 2012 GM Yukon XL 4 x 4
My 'fantasy project' for years has been mating my SR5 4WD chassis with one of the late 80's - mid 90's ~21' mini-C's on a Toyota chassis, or just buying one and stuffing it with the 4WD components. I'm dure it's been done, but I suspect it's a lot of work... somethng I grow more and more adverse to in my recliner years
Jim, "My software doesn't have bugs... it just develops random features."
I wish I could find the picture, but it goes one step beyond the redneck camper. It was a chopped two-ton chassis rigged to pull a 5'r, but the trailer was a flat bed with TWO TCs, a Jeep and three or four ATV's.
Towing a boat behind the 5'r.
My Sprinter converstion project keeps getting stalled. Maybe if someone trashed the old C, I'd get more interested.