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Open Roads Forum  >  Class B - Camping Van Conversions  >  DIY

 > My Chevrolet Express van Class B- camper

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garmp

St Louis, MO

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Posted: 12/22/14 03:13pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Black'95, what a great job!!! First off, it's refreshing to hear from someone who CAMPS. (You know, spend time outdoors). We have had a couple of vans with set-ups like yours (the basement), but just not a well thought out, until we moved up to our Sportsmobile. The penthouse top offers us the ability to stand up when camped, but yet be rather "stealth" if you would and is well worth it to us. No sink/water, cook top, furnace nor frig, as we preferred storage space. Have our porta-potti, water jug, Yeti coolers and Dutch Oven and cook and eat outside.


Our Phoenix Cruiser 2100, "Bob", has turned us from campers into RVers and loving it!


Bigdog57

North Florida

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Posted: 12/22/14 05:54pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Interesting project! I too have recently bought a van, a 1988 Ford E150 Conversion Van. Still taking care of some mechanical issues before doing the camping conversion. I will likely use some of your ideas. :-)

[image]

Black'95

South Dakota

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Posted: 12/22/14 07:54pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Bigdog57 wrote:

Interesting project! I too have recently bought a van, a 1988 Ford E150 Conversion Van. Still taking care .....


I hope you do some posting of ideas and improvements you make to you van as well. I am interested in learning from others too. I will be continuing to make postings in the future of things that I have done to my van. Considering that my wife and I camped from Mt. Dessert Island, Maine to Redwoods National Forest, California and the International Peace Garden, on the Canada/North Dakota border to Saguaro National Monument, Arizona over the last 20 years in our 1990 Blazer "camper" and continued to make improvements up until the last year I owned it, I will probably continue making changes and improvements to the van camper. Future postings will cover more changes and improvements that I have made and will make. We love spending time outside and cooking over the campfire. The van will be an improvement on those days of inclement weather when we have to spend a little time inside, although with our excellent Cabela's rain gear and blue tarp for a rain awning, we spend time outside even when the weather isn't so great. Keep on camping!

Black'95

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Posted: 12/22/14 08:14pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

For lights I am using magnetic LED flashlights. They are handy because they can be re-positioned in many locations in the van or removed and taken with us to the showers and restrooms. I did not want to drill holes in my van so I used flat metal pieces with their ends wrapped in sticky-backed felt squeezed in between the roof liner and the trim pieces on the van.
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I installed a Scosche fm transmitter to the radio's antenna so that I could connect my mp3 player directly by cord. It was much easier to play my music collection, Car Talk downloads, and Science Friday downloads than trying to use CD's.
[image]

I also wanted more 12 volt outlets, so I connected a multiple unit under the passenger side of the dash and ran the wires to the 12 volt accessory plug in the center console. It gave me more plugs for charging cell phones and running GPS and other units while driving.
[image]

On the overhead console unit I mounted a sun glasses holder from an old 2004 Chevrolet Aveo car so I would have one for my wife and myself. I also mounted my analog altimeter there. I made metal brackets, covered them with sticky-backed felt and slid the brackets between the console and the roof liner.
[image]

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My last modification in the cockpit area was to add a couple of "pockets" from my old 1990 Blazer and a fold-up cup holder (one on each side of the console). The van had two cup holders in the console, but my wife and I like to have bottled water available as well as a place for soda or coffee while we drive.
[image]

My next update posting will cover the kitchen unit I built for our van camper.

* This post was last edited 07/26/19 08:04am by Black'95 *   View edit history

Black'95

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Posted: 12/22/14 08:25pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

garmp1 wrote:

Black'95, what a great job!!! First off, it's refreshing to hear from someone who CAMPS. (You know, spend time outdoors). We have had a couple of vans with set-ups like yours (the basement), but just not a well thought out, until we moved up to our Sportsmobile. The penthouse top offers us the ability to stand up when camped, but yet be rather "stealth" if you would and is well worth it to us. No sink/water, cook top, furnace nor frig, as we preferred storage space. Have our porta-potti, water jug, Yeti coolers and Dutch Oven and cook and eat outside.


Thanks. We love to spend most of our time in the outdoors when we are van camping. We use coolers, porta-potti, and cook with a Dutch Oven also. One of my favorite things to do in the morning after I have started the campfire, is to get out my totally blackened metal coffee pot for heating water and pouring it into an old fashioned dripolator coffee maker that I got from a second hand store. That is how I make my "campground" coffee each morning. I hope you will post some of your modifications to your Sportsmobile and other camping ideas to share with the rest of us.

coolmom42

Middle Tennessee

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Posted: 12/23/14 05:46am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Go over to cheaprvliving.com for great ideas on van renovations. Lots of info there about solar, heating, ventilation, etc.

I envy those of you who can stand up in a conversion van. At 5'10" I'm about 3-4" too tall.


2006 Toyota Sienna
Single empty-nester in Middle TN

Black'95

South Dakota

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Posted: 12/23/14 11:02am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The big project that I worked on this fall was a custom made kitchen unit for my camper van to fit the wall and floor contours. I wanted something that would give us the basics for when the weather was bad and we couldn't be outside and not take up much room. I built an L-shaped unit with a sink in the corner. I searched the internet for the smallest sink I could find. I plumbed in two Reliance 2 1/2 gallon water tanks for fresh water and grey water. I built a cedar wood frame and covered it with then paneling to keep the weight down.
[image]

[image]

Next I wired it for 120 volt outlets, 1 four outlet unit and 1 two outlet unit for charging our cell phones, iPads, cameras, etc. I also wired in a 120 volt thermostat below the four outlet unit that I connected to the bottom two outlet unit and easily reachable from sleeping position in the bed. This is so I could plug in a 120 volt space heater in the van for cold weather and the thermostat would turn it on and off during the night as needed. Also installed a 12 volt outlet on one side. I should have located this 12 volt outlet a couple inches lower because when I open the top door it hits anything plugged into the outlet. Just one of the mistakes I made in its build. I won't mention the others.
[image]

The finished installed kitchen unit looks like this and is bolted to the seat brackets on the floor:
[image]

The side towards the driver's seat has the switch for the 12 volt water pump and red indicator light along with a connection for TV when we camp at campgrounds that have cable connections. I use the far hook to hand a cloth bag of magazines for reading on trips and the closer hook to hang a plastic bag to collect garbage.
[image]

With the doors open you can see the water tanks, the shelf above them for storage of the 120 volt hotplate, the storage spot on the bottom right for storage of our 4-cup coffee maker, and the two other storage spaces for whatever my wife wants to put in it. During fair weather we do all our cooking outside on the campstove and campfire. I love to make coffee over the campfire wih my old dripolator.
[image]

I also wired small 12 volt lights into each door so that when you opened the door you can see what is inside.
[image]

The last thing I did was install a camper light above the kitchen unit with sticky felt covered metal brackets that simply slide between the trim and the roof liner. Squeezed the wiring behind the trim down to the 12 volt fuse block mounted in the back of the kitchen unit. The 120 volt cable is connected with a twist-lock plug and the kitchen unit is bolted to the floor with clamps to the seat locking connections.
[image]
[image]

Next posting will be my Porta-potti center console unit.

* This post was last edited 07/26/19 08:10am by Black'95 *   View edit history

Black'95

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Posted: 12/23/14 12:29pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My next project for my camper van was a center console to cover the Porta-potti. I made it out of cedar, put a map pocket on the front, and a top with a wood ridge around it so that things would not roll off while we were driving. My wife came up with the blue pillow that just fit so we could use it as a seat while camping. I mounted some canvas pockets on the side for cell phone storage and other snacks or whatever.
[image]

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My next posting will by my sliding under-bed table.

* This post was edited 07/26/19 10:27am by Black'95 *

stan909

San Bernardino,Ca

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Posted: 12/23/14 03:48pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Beautifully clever.

quietjake

sunny Orygun territory

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Posted: 12/23/14 09:51pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

How refreshing and inventive!!! Thanks for the photo essay!

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